|After the Second World War ended in 1945, Wootton Bassett’s population increased from the estimated 2,800 residents. Wootton Bassett was a dormitory town for Swindon, which saw rapid expansion in the post-war years and several new housing estates. The growth of Lyneham encouraged more shops and businesses to open in Wootton Bassett, and the planned motorway system brought the M4 directly between Swindon and Wootton Bassett.|
The Wootton Bassett County Secondary School opened on Wednesday, 8th January 1958, with 279 pupils aged 11 and above, transferred from the two local all age schools and six schools in local villages. Most areas at that time had all age schools; Purton continued to have an all age school until 1962.
There were thirteen staff (eight men and five women) together with the headmaster, Mr F W King. A short service in the assembly hall was conducted by the vicar, the Rev J Goodman, and the Methodist minister, the Rev F Willcox, both governors, to start the first term.
Back row: Mr R Hopkin (special needs), Mrs J Giles (school secretary), Miss E Knights (Rural Science), Mr K Gore (RI and English), Mrs M Maidment (Needlework), Mr G Francis (Music), Mrs E Parrott (Geography)
Front row: Mrs E Trotman (Domestic Science), Mrs K Ball (General subjects), Mrs I Tullett (Deputy Head and Science), Mr F W King (Headmaster), Mr L Brooks (Senior Master), Mr J Horn (English and History), Mr F Upton (Handicrafts).
On March 11, 1958, the first visit of a School Inspector took place. Mr King wrote in the school log book, “Miss Sayers, HMI, arrived at 1.15 and spent two hours inspecting the building, and later stayed with Mrs Trotman, in the Housecraft Room. Miss Sayers is a specialist in Domestic Science. The visit was informal and ended in an amiable atmosphere at 3.10pm."
The official opening of the school, by the Rt Hon Sir David Eccles, KCVO, MP, President of the Board of Trade, took place on Friday 23 May 1958 at 2.30pm. The vicar and Methodist minister officiated. Most pupils had a day off, but sixty who were in the School Choir, entertained. They sang ‘England’ by Parry, ‘Greensleeves’ and ‘Now is the Month of Maying’. Thanks were expressed by Mr H J Eveleigh, Chairman of the School Governors. About 400 guests, including Mr J H Bradley, the Chief Education Officer, and Mr W E Stevens, chairman of Wiltshire Education Committee, had tea afterwards. A large iced cake, in the shape of an open book, bore a model of the school badge was baked by Pam Cook, the first school cook. Mr King wrote, "Altogether, today has been the most important and successful day so far in our school's life."
On July 25, 1958, the twenty-eight school leavers had all found employment. The school's first full year began on September 8th, 1958 with 352 pupils and 14 staff.
In 1960, Wootton Bassett Secondary School won Wiltshire Schools’ first cross country championship, which took place at Upper Stratton. Robert Pearce subsequently represented Wiltshire at the Schools National Cross Country Championships in Liverpool. In June 1960, he won the 15-17 years Mile race at the County Sports in Devizes and was selected to run for Wiltshire in the South West Championships at Bath. The school gym was built in 1961, when there were 484 pupils. From 1961 to 1981, the town of Wootton Bassett grew from a population of 4,400 to 10,600 and the school rapidly expanded during these dates.
The Log Book notes: On 7th July 1964, Lady Helen Asquith and Mr Sheppard, HMI’s, visited the school. “They remained until 5pm, talked with most of the staff and discussed most aspects of the school curriculum and organisation. Both had lunch in the Domestic Science flat. A long discussion with the Headmaster followed the end of school, from 3.45 until 5pm. On 8th July, Mr Sheppard visited again and stayed until midday. He seemed well pleased with much that he had seen, and was very satisfied with the discipline, uniform and tone of the school.
Mr L F Brooks was acting headmaster in the autumn term, 1967, following Mr King’s retirement in the summer. Upon his retirement, Mr King presented the school with a reading desk and a 120-year-old Bible with a decorative bookmark made by Mrs Kind in the school colours, to remind future generations of the school’s first headmaster. Mr D C Shepherd was appointed as the school’s second headteacher in 1968, having had experience in reorganising Kingsdown School into a comprehensive. Our school was reorganised as a comprehensive in 1972 and was renamed Wootton Bassett School, and many more staff joined. New buildings for Science, Music and Library, together with the Sports Hall, Swimming Pool and a new Sixth Form Centre were built in 1972.
In 1973. The Sixth Form marathon bed-push set a world record by pushing the beds almost 725 miles around a course in the school grounds. The previous record was 644 miles.
After eighteen years, Mr Shepherd retired in July 1986 and Mr J H Thomas was appointed as the school’s third headmaster.
With a rapid expansion of the school, numerous mobile classrooms and the deterioration of the buildings, in 1999 funding was agreed by Wiltshire County Council to build three new schools in North Wiltshire at a total cost of £140m as part of a Private Finance Initiative with the White Horse Education Partnership. Wootton Bassett School was to be rebuilt on the site of its playing fields.
When Mr Thomas retired, Mr C C Montacute became the school’s fourth headteacher in September 2001. Wootton Bassett School moved into its new, purpose built £15M accommodation in February 2002. The new facilities include a large library learning centre, fully networked classrooms, a recording studio, a suite of fully equipped technology workshops and modern science laboratories. In addition the school has extensive playing fields, a floodlit all-weather pitch and the use of the adjacent sports hall and swimming pool. The new school building was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal on 30th September 2002, who would return again on 19 October 2011 to present the Letters Patent on behalf of Her Majesty, The Queen for the town to be renamed Royal Wootton Bassett in recognition of the role the town played during the repatriation of UK military personnel killed whilst serving in Afghanistan.
Wootton Bassett School achieved Technology College status in February 2004.
Mr Montacute left Wootton Bassett School in December 2009 to become Strategic Director at The Schools Network (formally the SSAT), and Mr G A Croxford was appointed as the school’s fifth headteacher. Mr Croxford successfully led the school to be graded outstanding in every category in the November 2010 OfSTED inspection and is thought to be the only 11-18 school in the country to have achieved the result under that inspection framework.
The school converted to Academy status on 1st July 2011, giving it greater control over its curriculum and finances, and was renamed Royal Wootton Bassett Academy on 14th March 2012.