One of the most significant names in the history of Smithdon High School became part of its future when the Hunstanton school’s extensively refurbished buildings were formally declared open by the wife and daughter of long-serving teacher Eddie Pendall.
Mr Pendall, who taught English and Geography, played a hugely important role in school life from its founding in the 1950s through to his retirement in the 1990s, as well as being a pillar of local community life. Now his name will be part of school life in the 21st century after the new art and ICT suites were dedicated to him, and formally opened by his widow June and their daughter Hilary Clark.
“He sounds like a great character whose energy I for one, envy,” said Smithdon’s head teacher, John Hirst. “I think his values of dedication, community and creating opportunities for young people are those shared by the leadership and staff of Smithdon today.”
Mrs Pendall said her husband would have been thrilled to know his name was now part of the fabric of school life.
Smithdon is already a place of significant architectural interest because of its bold post-war Brutalist design, and now a host of new rooms designed for art, food tech, ICT, meetings and exhibition spaces have been completed, as well as the sports hall having undergone a significant makeover during lockdown in a project that cost around £1m in Government funding.
In addition to the Pendall Building, the main teaching block, opened in 2000, will now be the Shaw building, named after then-head Catherine Shaw, with the building housing Maths being named after Chris Holt who was also in attendance today.
Also present at the opening ceremony was MP James Wild. He said: "The improvements the school has made both through these buildings and the progress of students is impressive. Investing in education will help create more opportunities for young people at Smithdon to realise their potential.”
Lockdown allowed building work to continue without many students on site, and Mr Hirst said it had been an exciting race against time to get the work done before their return. “It was a little nail-biting to get the building finished in time for the students’ return, but that was achieved and the impact on the learning and wellbeing of all who use it has been truly transformational,” he said.
Prospective pupils and their families can contact the school office to pre-book tours of the school, and for those who cannot make it in person, there is also a virtual tour of the premises available through the school website.
Head boy Jack-Harry Roper agreed that the new facilities had made a huge difference to school life. “The new Pendall Building allows us students to get on and enjoy learning in a brighter and warmer environment rather than being sat in uncomfortable chairs in cold and dull classrooms like before,” he said.
“The new carpets and ceilings make it feel polished and clean. I’m glad to see some time and money being put into the school for the students’ benefit. I believe that it is a great addition to the school.”
Head girl Eleanor Hollin-Hill echoed his sentiments. She said: “The new and improved buildings will have a major impact on the students and learning. The refurbishment is the perfect way to show off the ever-improving standards of the school.”
Smithdon, on Downs Road, is part of the West Norfolk Academies Trust, an umbrella group that manages 11 primary and secondary schools across the region. Andy Johnson, executive head teacher of the West Norfolk Academies Trust, said this could be the start of an exciting new era at the school.
"The staff and pupils have had to deal with so much disruption this year, but despite that they produced great exam results in the summer, and now this makeover for the school should really help Smithdon push itself forward, making it a really aspirational place,” he said. “When the school was built, it was designed to look and feel contemporary, and I think this is the perfect upgrade for the 21st century.”
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