Stoke Park Secondary School came into being as a direct result of a need for further Secondary Education in Coventry. At a meeting of the Education Committee on 16th December 1916, it was decided that, as all secondary education was on the western side of the city, it would 'look for somewhere in the desirable neighbourhood of Stoke'. As a result of this meeting 'HAREFIELD' - formerly known as 'HOPE'S HARBOUR - in Bray's Lane, Stoke, was found to be suitable premises for the proposed school.
At a further meeting on 23rd January 1918, the Education Committee resolved to name the new school 'The Stoke Park Secondary School' - thus the seeds of 'Stoke Park' were well and truly sown.
Records show that 87 girls entered Stoke Park School on 20th January 1919. The house, 'Harefield', which was the original school had a curving drive, edged with trees and shrubs from the five-barred black gateway, to the impressive front entrance (only to be used by staff). Education for the 1st term consisted of the 3 R's with the addition of Geometry and French (the only language taught), whilst Algebra was added in Term 2 and Latin in Term 3. By the end of the 1st year numbers had increased and more activities had been added to the curriculum including Sports. Although Saturday was not designated a school day, pupils could have dancing lessons on Saturday mornings taken by a teacher from Birmingham. A music master also came from Birmingham.
The first Speech Day held by Stoke Park was on 10th February 1922 and was in the Parish Rooms, Bray's Lane. Mr C Grant Robertson MA, CVO, the Principal of Birmingham University was the principal guest speaker and presented the prizes. Even then, although it was only three years after the opening of the school, it was obvious that space was at a premium. As pupil numbers increased, Speech Day was moved to St Mary's Hall. It was held there from 20th January 1923 until November 1930. From 18th November 1931, the venue changed to Bablake School Hall until 19th November 1936, this Speech Day held at the Technical College. In 1937 and 1938 they were held at the Methodist Central Hall. Speech Day 1939 actually was held on February 16th 1940, in the school hall in Brays Lane (having been deferred).
It was not, however, until 24th September 1926, that a new wing was opened. This extension contained a gymnasium, a chemistry and physics laboratory, a domestic science classroom, library, 5 extra classrooms and a kitchen for the provision of meals for the students. There was now accommodation for 300 girls, a distinct improvement on the original where there was room for only 130 girls. As well as a new extension in 1926, Stoke Park had a new Headmistress Miss S Mitchell from Sheffield High School. With Miss Mitchell came the introduction of the House System during the school year 1925-26.
At the outbreak of war many girls were evacuated to Leamington. Those who remained in Coventry only attended school twice a week to meet with teachers, hand in work and receive assignments. As 1939 and Spring 1940 seemed very quiet many evacuees drifted back to Coventry and by the beginning of the Autumn Term very few pupils were left at Leamington. After the Blitz of November 1940 many pupils were rendered homeless. At Stoke Park 1939-1946 the back lawns were dug up and huge air raid shelters built. If the sirens sounded pupils had to go down into the shelters and continue lessons. At this point in the Stoke Park Story, it is important to note that the 'NEW BUILDING' in Dane Road, which had been destined for opening in 1939 did, in fact become a war-time temporary fire station, manned by the National Fire Service (Auxiliary Fire Service).
In 1943 a wing of the Dane Road School was opened up. The walls were unplastered and the bricks were painted over. The blackboards when new were a dark GREEN (a new innovation) but as they were used they looked exactly the same as any blackboard. Pupils went to Brays Lane for Gym lessons and for Science and Domestic Science and played Hockey at North Warwickshire Cricket Ground, Binley Road, and Tennis and Rounders at St. Margaret's Playing Field, Ansty Road. School dinners at Dane Road were brought in from outside from the British Restaurants.
When PEACE was finally declared, Stoke Park, along with the rest of Coventry had to try and pick up the threads of a Pre-war England once again. Many of the girls and their families had suffered traumatically losing loved ones and friends and with their homes badly damaged or razed to the ground, life was never to be the same again. Building at Dane Road School resumed and gradually during 1946 and finally in the summer 1947 the rest of the school joined the junior forms who had been taught there since 1944. Miss Mitchell, who had been the Headmistress since December 1925 retired on 31st March 1947 and was replaced by Miss Eileen Mary Nixon whose appointment began on 1st April 1947.
In the late 50's and into the "Never had it so good 60's" Stoke Park School thrived. The school was now under one roof, the building work completed and the grounds and sports facilities used to the full. The dedicated staff were mostly from the old Brays Lane School but more young and married teachers were joining and male teachers started in 1959/60.
In 1962 plans were set in motion for a swimming pool to be erected at the school and this, after years of hard work by, parents, pupils and staff, was completed in 1967 with a grand opening.
The next period of change and upheaval took place in the early 1970's, and after the retirement in 1972 of Miss Nixon, comprehensive education had come to Coventry! Stoke Park, along with its Sister School Barrs Hill, was to become a co-educational Comprehensive School and Community College. To steer the school through this very traumatic time Miss Barbara McLauchlan was appointed to be its Head Mistress.
In 1975 the school became a co-educational comprehensive school. With the arrival of a larger school intake including boys, further building work was required to accommodate the new range of subjects and facilities required, including the two-storey building adjacent to the church yard, and a new sports hall.
Then in 1978 we became a Community College and building work continued, so that we had more craft rooms, a Sports Hall, a Youth Lounge and so on. As well as classes in the evening, many community activities took place in the day time, with for instance, the Senior Citizens' Club, a Mums and Toddlers Group, and adults taking part in some fifth and sixth form classes.
In 1985, as if to emphasise the changes of the previous 10 years and that the school's history was to change irrevocably, the school's first male head teacher, Mr Bill Wolger, succeeded Miss McLauchlan in January.
The rate of further change has accelerated in recent years. The National Curriculum has ensured and standardised a wide range of subjects for all pupils. Much of the school's equipment has changed, particularly the extensive use of computers in all subjects. The school manages its own budget, in excess of £5 million per annum. The school's geographical catchment area has changed three times since 1985: first, to the north to include Stoke Heath; second, to contract to exclude most of Stoke Heath; and now, to the south beyond Stoke Park itself.
Stoke Park School is about to begin the construction of a new sixth form building on site. The design has been finalised, and building work is due to start mid 2007, so watch this space...