Hornchurch secondary school The Albany to change its name to Hornchurch High School
PUBLISHED: 17:00 29 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:25 29 May 2018
A Hornchurch secondary school is changing its name to mark what its headteacher described as "an exciting new chapter in its history".
From next September, The Albany in Broadstone Road will be known as Hornchurch High School, after management decided the new name better reflected the institution’s community values.
The idea had been present behind the scenes for months, but the school’s leadership team put wheels in motion earlier this year by approaching the school’s governors with a proposal to change the school’s name.
Once it was made clear the governors would not oppose a potential name change, the administration began canvassing the school community - including teachers, parents and the pupils themselves – for their opinions on prospective new names.
“We had some really good suggestions,” Val Masson, headteacher, told the Recorder.
“And what quickly became clear was that the majority of them were focused very much on the local community and our geographical place – Parkview, Lakeside, Park Rise, for example – which is great, because community is at the heart of everything we do here.”
Despite being in the running, Harrow Lodge High School was taken off the list after it was revealed that the former Wykeham Primary School, just down the road from The Albany, was changing its name to Harrow Lodge Primary School.
A more unique option was also explored – the school’s leadership team looked into the possibility of using Attenborough High School as the new name.
Ms Masson told the Recorder: “Both David and his brother Richard are national treasures, and, particularly with David Attenborough’s work on shows like Blue Planet and his efforts to combat plastic pollution, there is this message that everyone needs to do their bit and work together.
“That is exactly the sort of message we want to set at the heart of this school – that everyone working together can achieve great things – and we thought that naming the school itself after him would be a fantastic way of representing that.
“The idea was to form the school’s entire curriculum around teamwork, exploration and responsibility – all things that David Attenborough has spent his life embodying.”
With that in mind the school wrote to Mr Attenborough, seeking his personal endorsement to name the school in his honour.
The TV legend replied that he was “truly complimented” by the gesture, but politely declined to officially endorse the school.
He wrote: “I would be sorry if, in the event of your school using [my name], people gained the impression that I had something to do with the governance of your school, or that I had helped it financially. But I leave the decision to you.”
In the end, Hornchurch High School was deemed the name most representative of the inclusive, community-oriented school it will stand for.
But Ms Masson stressed the school’s years as The Albany, and all the heritage associated with it, will never be forgotten.
She added: “This is not just change for the sake of it, what we are trying to do is use the name change to signal that as a school we are still on a transformational journey, and we are always moving forwards.”
A new logo has already been designed, paying homage to the school’s distinctive red ‘A’ while still incorporating a number of new elements to bring the design into the 21st century.
The school has also recently unveiled plans to build a new two-storey teaching block on the current school site that would house its art and design and technology departments in a purpose-built facility.
The building work will be funded as part of the Priority Schools Building Programme by the Education & Skills Funding Agency.
While the 14-month construction is underway, a two-storey temporary block is set to be erected on a section of the school’s field to ensure no pupils or lessons are effected.
It is hoped the new block will be ready to open by March 2020.