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History of Our School

This page has been created by Kestrel Class (year 5/6). More information will be added over time - hopefully including information about Bradford and Nynehead Schools.

A photo of unknown date of the children with Mr Coombes (head teacher between 1904 and 1937).

National Schools

Before the current school was built, children were taught by governesses in the village or at Oake National School (a national school was a school set up and run by the church and supported by subscriptions). It is unknown when the national school in Oake was established; however, it was in existence as early as 1861 with Miss Mary Berry as its teacher. There were separate national schools in Bradford, Nynehead, Hillfarrance and Heathfield at this time.


The Elementary Education Act of 1870 stipulated that in any parish where there were more children than places at the national school, a school board would be established to ensure all children had the opportunity of an education and a new board school to be created. In 1874, the national schools of Oake (under the charge of Miss Berry) and Heathfield (under the charge of Mrs House) merged to form one school in Oake with up to 50 children taught by Miss Berry. The following year, 1875, Hillfarrance's national school was converted into a board school to support all of the children in the parish. Later instability at the schools led to a united school board for the parishes of Hillfarrance, Oake and Heathfield in 1876. Whilst this was being set up, children were still taught either in Oake by Miss Berry or in Hillfarrance by Miss Mann. Following the early death of 'the much-loved' Miss Berry due to emphysema in May 1879, many of the children made the journey to Bradford for their schooling until the new school was in use.

An article published in the Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser (12 April 1876) detailing the creation of the school board for Hillfarrance, Oake and Heathfield. The newspaper article has been kindly digitised by the British Newspaper Archive. 

Founding of the School

After the completion of a new school building (the current school hall), the school could be opened. In early October 1879, the Hillfarrance, Oake and Heathfield United Board School (a board school was a school ran by a school board) was established at the current site with Miss Elizabeth Tamblyn as the head teacher. On its first day, it had 8 children; the next day, the attendance doubled in size. The first school inspection report from February 1881 mentioned that the school had a good beginning, but 'not enough sewing or knitting was shown'. Miss Tamblyn relieved charge of the school in March 1882.

After Miss Tamblyn, there were a range of headteachers who moved into the 'School House' (the house next to the school) with their own styles until 1904 when Mr Coombes became headmaster. In World War One, he served in the Kings Royal Rifles, so Mrs Coombes (his wife) took over the role of headteacher. Following his return after the war, the couple continued working as they had done before the war with Mrs Coombes assisting her husband. After 21 years of them being in charge of the school, they received a book (see picture below) and other types of gifts (stainless cutlery and a chiming clock). The couple retired in 1937 after 33 years at the school. Mr Coombes' funeral was held in the local church with many locals paying their respects.

The book presented to Mr and Mrs Coombs, the invitation to the presentation and a photo of the couple.

School Developments

In July 1964, an outdoor swimming pool was built at the school. All 47 pupils helped to raise the £180 it cost through a jumble sale and a skittles week. The swimming pool was located behind the Victorian school building (now the school hall) - where the wooden shed and music room is now. The children were taught swimming lessons in the pool. The pool was also available in the summer holidays under parental supervision. In 1982, parents raised a further £400 for a new liner for the pool. The pool remained in use into the 1980s when the pool had to be closed and the children had to go elsewhere for swimming lessons.

A new 'pratten' building (a 'temporary' classroom) designed by F. Pratten and Co Ltd. was built in 1974 to provide space for a further classroom. This was located parallel to the old building and in line with the phone box outside the school gates. This building remained in use until 2010 when it was knocked down to make way for the new building. You can see the remnants of this building through the grey concrete blocks in line with the car park gate and the playground. It is also still visible on Google Street View.

'Skittleball' was a popular playground game at the school as well as many other local schools. A boy in year 6's grandad (Alan Keitch) remembered playing this game at the school in the 1950s and explained these rules to his grandson:

The rules are simple. There are two teams with attackers and defenders in each team. The attacker's job is to win the ball and pass it to other players in their team and knock over the other team's skittle pin. The goal of the defenders are to stop the attackers from scoring.

In the 1970-1971 school year, skittleball was still a popular sport played by Oake School and this team won all twenty-one matches they played that year.

Centenary Celebrations

In 1979, the school celebrated their centenary (when you celebrate something when it has been opened for 100 years). To celebrate the centenary, all 39 students and adults dressed up in costumes from the Victorian Era. They also made a sign saying 'Oake School Centenary 1879-1979'. After all of their hard work, they all got together and took a photo before they walked to the church for a celebration.


A programme from the centenary states the celebrations:

  • Tuesday 18th September: a coffee evening and bring & buy (to help in giving our funds a helping hand).
  • Friday 29th September: a flyover by a squadron of helicopters from RNAS Yeovilton. 
  • Monday 1st October: Service of Thanksgiving at Oake Parish Church, 6PM for you [parents and guests] and the children.
  • Tuesday 2nd & Wednesday 3rd: Open exhibition of some of the children's work 6-7:30 PM.
  • Thursday 4th: School Concert - "The Year of the Child" 6:00-7:00 PM.
  • Friday 5th: 
    • Historical Dress Parade 1:30 PM
    • Tree Planting Ceremony 2:15 PM
    • Entertainer 3:00 PM
    • Children's Tea 4:00 PM
    • Centenary Dance - Village Hall - 8:00 - 12:00. The centenary celebrations will be concluded by a dance in the village hall to the music of "Party Sound". Refreshments will be inclusive of the ticket price £2.00, and there will be a bar for those who feel faint.
  • Tuesday 9th October: We cannot let an event of this magnitude go by without an outing, and so on Tuesday 9th October all the children will be going to Cricket St. Thomas. there will be no charge as this is by nature of a "treat" but we cannot afford to feed them as well so please send packed lunch and drinks. Return home will be a little later at 4:15 PM and children from Tone Vale will be dropped off at the main gate.

The head teacher, Mr Michael Taylor's, report of the celebrations details these events in more detail.

Oake and Bradford Community Primary School

Oake School amalgamated with Bradford in September 1984. Prior to this Mrs Erica Tucker was acting head of the school after the departure of Mr Taylor in 1981. There were concerns from both sides (Oake and Bradford) about this change, but due to low numbers, the amalgamation took place. Due to this, children from Oake and Bradford came to the school increasing the children on roll. Mr Mark Smith became the headteacher of this 'new' school and temporarily took charge of Bradford before its closure. The new school's uniform was navy blue with a tree as its logo.

The children and members of staff at Oake Council Primary School before the amalgamation.

In 1986, all of the students were excited for the Christmas Fayre on the last day of term and to meet Santa, but what Santa did not expect was that he would get locked in a cupboard. He was so stuck that he had to ring the operator who eventually believed him and got them to ring the head teacher (fortunately, there was a phone in the cupboard which was used as an office) who let him out. If there was not a phone in there, he would have been trapped in the cupboard for the whole Christmas holidays. This incident was so popular that it made the national news and managed to get into three large newspapers (The Mirror, The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph). It was also reported in local papers in more depth.

Developments in Oake

Laura was a six-year-old girl when she was guest of honour at a new housing development in Oake in 1997 whilst a pupil at our school. She had won a Persimmon Homes competition to name a road we know: Saxon Close. Her prize was to unveil the Saxon Close sign, open the estate and a £15 book voucher. She said she was learning about the Anglo-Saxons at school, and that they were the first to cultivate the soil on this land. Due to this, Laura cut the ribbon to open the estate in Oake.


Amalgamation with Nynehead School

Oake and Bradford Community Primary School amalgamated with Nynehead CofE (VC) Primary School in 2010 to form the Oake, Bradford and Nynehead CofE (VC) Primary School we know today. Before the new school opened, the school held a competition to design the new school logo and the colour of the sweatshirt. Many families designed a logo and the colour they wanted before entering. Prior to the change, Nynehead had a dark green uniform and Oake and Bradford had navy blue. It changed to baby blue with three jelly babies (red, blue and yellow) as created by the Hayes family (as in Mrs Hayes the TA in Kestrel Class). 


From 2006, both Oake and Bradford School as well as Nynehead School were led by Mrs Bridgeland until the amalgamation. From 2010, Mr Gilding, whom many will remember, took charge. Following a spell with Mrs Barrett as interim head, Mrs Barnes became the head teacher in 2019 and is still the head teacher at present.


In the summer holidays of 2023, the newest building, used for individual and paired music lessons and ELSA support, was built between the Victorian hall and Little Acorns Pre-School.

List of Head Teachers:


Head teacherDates In Charge
Miss E Tamblyn1879 - 1882
Mr G Chapple1882 - 1891
Mr G Hayes (interim)1891 (2 weeks)
Mr D Evans Bonvonni1891 - 1894
Mr J French1894 - 1896
Mr M Jones1891 - 1901
Mr J McClelland1901 - 1904
Mr H Coombes1904 - 1914
Mrs E Coombes (acting)1914 - 1919
Mr H Coombes1919 - 1937
Mrs S Beacon1937 - 1951
Missing information 
Mrs D Burrows1952 - 1964
Mr H Booth1964 - 1970
Mr T Smith1970 - 1973
Mr M Taylor1973 - 1981
Mrs E Tucker (acting)1981 - 1984
Mr M Smith1984 - 1991
Mr D Nutt1991 - 1997
Mrs B Stainton (acting)1997
Mrs P Scott1997 - 2006
Miss A Bridgeland2006 - 2010
Mr N Gilding2010 - 2018
Mrs J Barrett (interim)2018 - 2019
Mrs R Barnes2019 - present


If you can provide any memories/information about the school from as far back as possible to the 1990s, we would be really interested to hear them (and possibly use them in our history lessons)!


Oake School History