Godstowe Reception outside

Godstowe School – updating a classic!

In this guest blog from Godstowe School, Heather Morley tells us how the project to update their school history came about…

It felt like the right time to bring a history of Godstowe up to date in 2017. The first version was published in 2001, and as the headmaster was about to retire, I volunteered to take on the job. Adding two new chapters, updating lists of school governors etc wasn’t going to be a big headache, was it? Well, no it wasn’t – thanks to the team at Gresham Books.

What were the ‘red line’ issues, ie what were the vital pieces of the jigsaw needed to enable the project to happen at all? There were two: how much would it cost, and could we find the original text and photos from the previous edition to form the basis of the new book?

We quickly established that there was no digital store of the 2001 book, produced by a typesetter long since retired, but that at least we had a (rather disorganised) stash of old photos that would no doubt include most of the original scanned images used previously. Nicholas Oulton from Gresham and I batted various print run costs back and forth, but ended up agreeing on printing 800 copies that would cost around £20 per book. This  cost included re-scanning the text and photos – an arduous job! The school agreed to foot the bill, and so off we went.

Firstly, I set about sorting through the dusty old boxes and found about 80% of the photos and transparencies we needed. The rest were carefully scanned from the original book, or replaced by similar ones that would illustrate the point equally well.

Meanwhile, I drafted outlines for the two final chapters, for approval by the school’s senior team. Once agreed, I sent questions to key individuals who could fill in the many gaps in my knowledge of how the school evolved in the period 2001 to 2017. It took a couple of months, a bit of prodding for answers (life is busy!), and a lovely tea party for retired staff, to get the material I needed. The headmaster also arranged for the school photographer to visit; he took all the photos I asked for in my brief, and some lovely other ones too. That said, my favourite image is one taken by the school’s communications manager of a five-year-old girl solemnly pensive before blowing out her birthday candles!

I was assisted by a couple of friends in keying in the seemingly endless lists of scholarships that have been earned by girls in recent years. This sounds like a boast, doesn’t it, but in the years 2001 to 2016, the number of awards totals 342 – so no easy task! Yes, you read that right: Godstowe girls scored 342 scholarships in 16 years, an average of over 21 per year – can any other UK prep school beat that number?

Nick sent me some possible dust-jacket designs, and we quickly decided which to go for: a bright red Godstowe red with the school’s motto crest on the front. A smart black hard cover with silver text completed the smart new look.

I submitted the new text and photos in February, which were slotted in by Laura at Gresham, who had by then scanned and reset the original 16 chapters of text. Once that and the cover designs were approved by all the necessary parties in early April, it went to print. The approval process was really straightforward, with a large hard-copy sent to me in the post. I read and re-read it, and marked my edits clearly in pink ink, so that I could easily spot them and relay that feedback to Laura.

The books were finally delivered about three weeks ago, in early May. They look fantastic. We were lucky enough to secure sponsorship towards the cost of the new books, and so are able to sell them to staff, pupils and alumnae for just £10 each. We are all really delighted with the end result, and feel that Gresham have done a great job. And what’s more, if or when the school updates this book in a few years’ time, it will be so much more straightforward with a digital version stored safely for the future.

Heather Morley

16th May 2017

Find out more about Godstowe School HERE

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