A HISTORY of Skipton's Aireville School has been written by one of its former teachers who spent almost 20 years teaching hundreds of pupils at the school.

Changing School: A History of Aireville School by John Tomlinson tells how the school - which converted to an academy in September, 2014 and became Skipton Academy - started on its current site in April, 1958, when it was officially opened by the Rt Hon Iain Macleod, the Skipton born MP who was to briefly become Chancellor of the Exchequer under Prime Minister Edward Heath in 1970.

Before moving to the Gargrave Road site over looking Aireville Park, secondary age pupils had been taught at The British School, as it was known, in a building now occupied by Ellesmere Press in Otley Street, and then to a new building in Brougham Street, which is now the home of Parish School. Pupils, up to 15 years old, were also taught in temporary huts on The Bailey, the site of the now headquarters of Skipton Building Society.

Mr Tomlinson says he had wanted to write a history of the school for some time, as it had played a large part in his life. Another former teacher, David Eager, who taught history at the school, had produced a leaflet some years ago, but he felt it was time to ‘expand on David’s work’.

He talked to many former headteachers, including Brian Davies, David Rogerson, and Stuart Mason, and spent hours scouring old log books, which include day to day comings and goings, as well as going through old copies of the Craven Herald and documents and photographs of the Rowley Ellwood collection, now looked after by North Yorkshire County Council.

He also received photographs and memories from past colleagues and pupils, who include Skipton councillor, and a former chairman of Craven District Council, Cllr Chris Harbron, and award winning photographer, formerly with the Craven Herald, Stephen Garnett.

“ It was in 1978 that I first became aware of the school when I was looking for a new job,” writes Mr Tomlinson, in his introduction to the book.”The previous few years had been spent training teachers in Leeds at James Graham College of Education and later Leeds Metropolitan University. Returning to school was not an easy decision but there had been so many changes in education that teacher trainers can soon become out of date and it was time for a move.”

He continues: “Aireville School provided that move and I soon became aware of its history and traditions and its place in the life of the town and the history of Skipton.”

He started writing the book back in 2011, and has now finally got it published, with the financial help of the Skipton Mechanics Institute.

Mr Tomlinson says while he has tried to present a clear picture of the school’s history, it cannot be totally objective, because he was a participant in its development for such a long time.

“Although I have tried to present a clear picture of the school’s history I am aware that I am not totally detached and with the best will in the world will present some aspects filtered through my own values, prejudices and educational philosophy,” he says.

“Many people have contributed over the years to the growth of the school and fortunately a number of head teachers are still alive. As a balance to my own observations I have been fortunate in that all of them have agreed to contribute some of their own memories of their period at the school.

“In addition, the school has been forged by the contribution of many local people from parents and governors to local councillors.”

He looks at how national and local events have moulded the school and its development, how the site and its buildings have changed, as well as the staff and pupils, the many changes in education over the years, and also where things have not changed at all.

“It chronicles the disagreements between people with strong religious views and their hold over education. It shows the gradual move from education in the sole hands of churches, mainly, but not entirely, the Church of England, through to control by the state and local councils and back again,” he writes.

It also includes some fantastic old photographs, of lessons, sports teams and music groups.

An initial print run of 50 copies has almost sold out. Any proceeds from sales will go to Skipton Academy. Books cost £10 each and any profits go to the Skipton Academy. They can be ordered by emailing: airevillepublishing@gmail.com