Tiser interview: Melanie Lawson, headteacher at Ladywood Primary School

Ladywood Primary School Headteacher Melanie Lawson.
Ladywood Primary School Headteacher Melanie Lawson.

Melanie Lawson always wanted to be a teacher. She remembers going home from primary school one day and telling her parents she wanted to be like one of her teachers, Mrs Lee.

She has now been in the profession for 23 years and has been headteacher at Ladywood Primary School in Kirk Hallam for eight years, where she is currently busy preparing for the school’s 50th birthday celebrations in January.

She told the ‘Tiser: “The school is going to be 50 so we are looking at inviting a number of people to the school that were here in 1966.

“There will be lots of things for the children to think about, such as the fact that when the school first opened England had not won the world cup yet, a man hadn’t landed on the moon and decimals hadn’t been invented.

“There used to be a Church of England School in the village which is a house now. That must have been Kirk Hallam pre-school which closed at Christmas in 1965.”

As part of the anniversary celebrations a number of special events will be taking place throughout the year at the school, including maths lessons based around the number 50, grandparents going to the school to give talks, and children exploring 60s music and fashion. One of the pupil’s dads is in a mod band called The Modest and they will perform at the school.

There will also be a birthday party where children can either wear party clothes or sixties clothes. Around 40 former staff will attend.

Melanie, who lives in the area with her partner and 13-year-old daughter, said: “One of the things we want is to hear from people who have memories or photos of the school from 50 years ago.

“We will also be doing a world map to try and find out how far Ladywood learners and staff have moved away from the area. There are people who now live in New Zealand so we will get them to send postcards to tell the children what it’s like. It will be interesting to see how far around the world people have gone.

“Children today are celebrating science and space in relation to British astronaut Tim Peake (who will run the London Marathon in space), 50 years ago children would have been getting ready for the moon landing.

“We are trying to cover everything in the curriculum as part of the celebrations. It has been really enjoyable looking at photos.

“We have one photo of a lady but we don’t know who she is. We know she’s not a former headteacher but we assume she must be someone significant.”

Melanie, 45, was taught at schools in Ilkeston. Firstly at Scargill, then the former Ilkeston secondary school. 
When she was in sixth form she did work experience at Dallimore Primary School. Apart from two years teaching in Eygpt - where she took her class to see the pyramids - Melanie has always taught at schools in Ilkeston. Before Ladywood she taught at Stanley St Andrews School. She said she now often finds herself wondering which of her pupils will go on to be teachers.

She said: “It’s good to celebrate success of local people who are doing well and achieving. I always wanted to be a teacher. I had a wonderful year three and four teacher called Mrs Lee and I said to my mum and dad ‘I want to be Mrs Lee.’

“I did two years teaching in Eygpt but chose to come back. I have a fridge magnet that says ‘Grow where you are planted’, that’s how I feel.”

The school will turn 50 on January 6 and the celebrations will begin in the new year.

If you have any pictures or memories of Ladywood Primary School you would like to share with them, you can email them to info@ladywood.derbyshire.sch.uk or post them to the school at Oliver Road, Kirk Hallam, Ilkeston DE7 4NH.