Ashton Park School
Ashton park school was built in the grounds of Ashton Court, a few years before the council purchased the whole estate.
Ashton Park School was built in 1956, and I went there in the late 60’s.
Jack House was an RE teacher, one of the best known in the school’s history.
Ashton Park was part of a brave new, sort of in a sense, experiment in secondary education in Bristol, with the creation of the comprehensive schools. There were a ring of comprehensive schools surrounding the city, Hengrove, and Ashton Park, and Bedminster Down, and Brislington, and you know, Locklease. The idea being that all would go to the same school. This was one of the very first comprehensive schools, in fact the then Minister of Education, Sir David Eccles, he actually came here to open the school. There were a number of people on the staff, who came here with a passion because they believed desperately as to what comprehensive education to being about.
I left school at 16, I went to a boy’s grammar school and I desperately wanted to stay on at school, but my parents had no money so I finished up working in the cutting room in number one factory of W.D.H Wills - just up the road here, making Embassy cigarettes and sweeping the floor, and doing this and that. And then by an amazing series of happenings, I trained as a teacher. I was offered a job at Henbury, but I knew that the following day I was going to Ashton Park School for an interview, so I had to play it cool at Henbury and said to the head that ‘doubtless, you will confirm this in writing’. I then went to Ashton Park for interview, was appointed the job and then became really, I suppose, really part of the furniture. I taught at Ashton Park School where I was Head of Humanities for some 20 plus years in the 1970s, 1980s, into the 1990’s, when I retired. Oh, I’ve had a fantastic time teaching here, I wouldn’t wanted to have taught in any other school. I was having a great commitment to the relationship between the local communities, Bedminster and Ashton, and then the school and all that went on here.
Nila was a pupil in the 1980’s, and also experienced changing cultures.
I was at Ashton Park School from 1986 to 1991; I think it was myself and one other asian girl. Sometimes it was an issue, because I would feel really isolated because there was no awareness around being Muslim, being Asian, being Pakistani. I worked really, really hard at school, I didn’t have that many friends, and the reason being my parents were very, very strict. I couldn’t go out really in the evening, or go out down to town, so that restricted my friendships because whenever I was asked to go out, I would have to say ‘I cant’. My dad in the 1960’s, he came, for a better life. And then after working 5 years, he went back to Pakistan, married my mum, who then came here. She wasn’t born or brought up so here values and her beliefs were very different.
Nila’s sister has sent her children to Ashton Park.
She’s got one child at Ashton Park now, but they’ve all gone through Ashton Park. And it’s very different.
I cannot conceive a school having a better physical situation, than in the Ashton Court estate. Because no matter where you are, you can be teaching on a wet Friday afternoon, yet you can still look out of the window and see the Ashton Court and the gatehouse, and the estate in all their, sort of beauty. That’s important.