Piling Primary School is situated in the heart of St Helena’s capital, Jamestown, with a spectacular view of James Bay in the South Atlantic Ocean, hence our logo appropriately features a dolphin and a fairy tern. Our school colour is red and our motto reads ‘together as one’.
Pilling Primary School currently has 126 pupils and is an inclusive school catering for pupils from Nursery (3+ years) to Year 6 (11 years) before transitioning to the Island’s only secondary school, Prince Andrew School in the central part of the Island. There are 20 staff members that include a Head Teacher and Deputy Head Teacher, class teachers, teaching assistants, a School Secretary and an Auxiliary Worker. Our school catchment area spans Jamestown, Briars, Rupert’s, Sea View, Alarm Forest, and Lower Half Tree Hollow. Children are transported to school by bus from the outlying areas in the catchment. Those living in Jamestown walk to school; the residential area being a linear settlement along the valley floor, spanning roughly one mile from the coastline.
Pilling School has a wealth of history and is a Grade III listed building. It was built between 1937-1940 and originally the building was used for military purposes during the war. It was the Boer Hospital and it housed the Zanzibar Prisoners who were in exile on the Island. When the prisoners left the Island, the building was used as a dwelling place housing a number of families. They lived there for a number of years, and thereafter, vacated to other premises as the building was to be converted into a school. In the year 1941 on 22 July, all schools were brought under the control of the Island’s government. The Governor in command at this time was Sir John Pilling. He was in command from 1938-1941. The school was named after him. Barbara B George’s Book entitled ‘The History of Pilling School’ is one of many collections that detail its fascinating history.
In 1988 (on 5 September), there was a change over from a two tier system of Education to a three tier system. The Senior Schools on the Island in the various districts were renamed Middle Schools and the Junior Schools were renamed First Schools. From 1988 the school operated as Pilling Middle School (8 – 12 years) under the Headship of Mrs Rita Nicholls. Miss Elaine Benjamin, the current Head Teacher, took over the leadership of the school in 1998, the same year that ex-Head Teacher, Mrs Rita Nicholls retired.
In May 2005, falling student numbers and staff reorganisation called for an amalgamation of Pilling Middle School with Jamestown First School, an adjacent building built in 1959. The split site school was renamed Pilling Primary School under the Headship of Miss Elaine Benjamin, following the retirement of ex-Headteacher of Jamestown First School, Mrs Muriel Leo.
In 2007, as a result of continuous falling roles, and hence the need for vertically grouped classes, the lower building (ex-Jamestown First School) closed, and all primary pupils, were accommodated in the original Pilling School premises, continuing as Pilling Primary School under the Headship of Miss Elaine Benjamin; this arrangement continues today.
All primary schools on-Island follow the UK National Curriculum, delivering the core subject areas of Literacy, Numeracy, and Science, and other non-core subjects that include History, Geography, Music, ICT, PE, PSHCE, RE, Art and Design Technology. There is much scope in the curriculum to include local knowledge e.g. local History/Geography, Cooking, Craft and Music are also offered as extended activities. The Early Years (Nursery and Reception) follow the UK Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum again giving much scope to include local knowledge and educational visits outside of the classroom, where much of the learning is done through focused and purposeful play. We aim to fulfill our school vision statement ‘ to have a passion for learning and to be proud of our achievements’.
Pilling Primary strives to promote links with the community and other stakeholders; such includes outdoor learning activities, theme days, extracurricular activities and functions. The school is well known for its busy community programme at Christmas, supported by a proactive Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Events such as the ‘Family Bonanza Night’ in the school playground and the ever popular ‘Festival of Lights’ continue to attract many tourists to the Island and are key events on the St Helena Calendar.