Extracted from "A Century of Schooling" by Donald Woodhead
The school opened on 1st September, 1952, with 455 girls, all between the ages of 11 and 14, with the great majority of them coming from adjacent schools, most of which were affected by the re-organisation plan. 104 girls stayed on in the building as members of the now closed Ardwick Municipal School; 142 came from Armitage Street; 73 from Ross Place; 45 from St. Clement's; 13 from St. Thomas's; 25 from St. Paul's; 40 from Thomas Street, with 10 others making up the number. There were 84 in the1st year, 117 in the 2nd year,115 in the 3rd year and 139 in the 4th year. Miss H. Rushton was the Headmistress, and 15 teachers (all ladies) formed the Staff. Two of them, Mrs V. Quinn and Mrs V. Hampson, had been on the staff of the Municipal School. Miss K. Irlam, who became Deputy Headmistress, had, like many others already taught in Ardwick for many years,and she now began a long and distinguished association with the school, which was to last, through further re-organisation, until 1979, a total of 27 years.
Initially, very few building alterations were made. More space was available because the Infants section was closed and dispersed, thus releasing the part of the building nearest to the Secondary Technical School. Clearly, however, improvements were necessary if the school were to get a good start. There was no Hall large enough for assembly, and the Gymnasium of the Secondary Technical School had to be used on certain days. By 1954, St. Matthew's Hall became freed from dinner commitments and was used for assembly, although there was the problem of crossing Devonshire Street. A pleasant and attractive entrance hall, opening directly to Devonshire Street was constructed by 1956, and a small garden area provided in the playground by the Hyde Road entrance in 1957. A wall which had separated the Infants playground from the remaining area was pulled down by 1955, thus giving a good playground certainly large enough to give a netball court, often "loaned" to the Secondary Technical School for netball. Outside toilets still existed, but they were improved by 1962. Gradually, important improvements took place as rooms and facilities were modernisedóa Geography room was re-equipped; P.E. Changing rooms, with lockers, were refurbished in the area adjacent to the gymnasium, for which new equipment was provided; Needlework and Art rooms were established or improved; the Staff room, with new toilet facilities was modernised. Good library facilities were essential and Mr. E. Power, District Inspector, arranged for the existing room to be extended, so that by February 1961, two rooms divided by a sliding partition were in use, together with a small stock room.
Facilities for Domestic Science were provided at Armitage Street Centre and at the house, 62 Tiverton Street, where it was possible to simulate home situations and conditions. Visits to Armitage Street ended in June 1958, when a new extension was opened at the back of the school, along Tiverton Street, using part of the playground. The need for this extra accommodation was first considered in 1955. Work began in May,1957, and the new facilities, Housecraft rooms and toilets, came into use from September 1958, although difficulties with flooring restricted the full use for a time. 62, Tiverton Street was also used, both for Home-making courses and as overflow classroom space. The shortage of ordinary classrooms led to the Authority offering the Octagon building for use again as relief, an offer which was rejected because of movement and other difficulties. By the early 1960's two prefabricated classrooms were set up in the playground. Dinners were served (not cooked) on the premises from October 1952. A serving kitchen was built out of the cloakroom adjacent to the Hall and was modernised in April 1961, and portable tables and chairs were set up in the Hall itself immediately prior to each meal. Mrs Pimlott worked in this canteen from the beginning of the school up to the present, much of the time as assistant in charge.
Games were held in the playground in winter In summer the Duchess of York Field was used. At times, other facilities were used, such as the field at Moseley Road School in the summer of 1955, and Cringle Fields in 1957 for some winter games. The first Annual Sports took place in July 1954, and Swimming Galas commenced the following year. A House system was instituted with the Houses named after Mary Slessor, Edith Cavell, Mary Reed and Helen Keller. Members of the House were encourage to investigate and work round the theme inspired by the name, and the School was fortunate to communicate with a nurse, then aged 90, who had worked with Nurse Cavell during the first World War. There was certainly no lack of interest in outdoor activities. From the earliest days, small groups made regular organised rambles, mainly in the Disley and Hayfield areas and were generally led by Miss Irlam. There was a cyclists' group, and each year, parties from the school stayed at one of the M.E.C. camps at Tintwistle, Lyme Handley, Strines or Ledworth. In September 1964, there was a camp at Clitheroe. Occasionally a Youth Hostels Association Senior Officer came and gave a talk to groups of girls, and in 1966, there were two organised weekends in Edale. The school participated in ''The Way Ahead" Scheme, whereby selected girls went on a residential course which offered both indoor and outdoor training. 5 girls spent a week in Argyll on this course in 1954, and there were also candidates on the one at Avon Tyrell the following year. Janet Davies, from the 4th year, gained the distinction of being selected as a member of a party of 20 from Manchester Schools to visit Leningrad in 1966.