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Maricourt Catholic High School & Liverpool: 60 Years of the School and the City

Six Decades of Progress

Founding staff and students.
At Maricourt Catholic High School we recently celebrated our 60th anniversary, having provided an education to thousands of children since way back in 1957. Back then, Queen Elizabeth II was just five years into her reign, Liverpool Football Club were languishing in the Second Division of English football, and The Beatles didn’t even exist. If those last two seem unthinkable today, treat that as a showcase of just how far the city has come over the past 60 years. Alongside those developments in the arts, sport, culture and much more, Maricourt Catholic High School has stayed true to its most crucial ethos of secondary education for all across seven different decades.

Across the entirety of the 60 years between our founding and the day you are reading this piece, Maricourt Catholic High School has existed alongside the city of Liverpool as a whole, a city that has acted as a beacon of progress and innovation in the face of an ever-changing world. We have adapted whenever necessary, undertaken much needed progress and pushed forward in ways we could never have imagined back in our infancy.

Maricourt Begins

Founder of Maricourt Catholic High School, Sister Mary Magdalen of the Sisters of Mercy acted on instruction from Rev Mother Teresa Lightbound to create a catholic faith secondary school in Maghull, Liverpool.
By 1956, Sister Mary Magdalen of the Sisters of Mercy had been teaching English and Latin at Broughton High School in Liverpool for six years. During the winter of that year the revered mother, Mother Teresa Lightbound, met with Sister after making the trip from Liverpool’s Mother House.

The order already had a prep school based at another branch house in the Maghull area, called Quarry Brook, which had recently undergone an inspection by the ministry of education with a view to it becoming one of their private schools recognised as ‘efficient.’ Mother Teresa had come bearing good news: that school had passed. Little did Sister Mary Magdalen know that Mother Teresa was about to task her with a bold mission that would lead us directly to where we are today over 60 years later.

Whilst discussing a lack of secondary Catholic education in Maghull, the obvious subtext was for them to do something about it. And do something about it they did, as Mother Teresa saw it fit to ask Sister Mary Magdalen whether she herself would be willing and able to start a secondary school in Liverpool.

The proposed site for the new school, Quarry Brook House, was previously the home of Frank Hornby, the inventor of Meccano.

As construction for the new school continued at the Quarry Brook site through 1957, Sister Mary Magdalen sought a temporary fix for her and the school’s first agreed upon pupils. This came in the form of the pre-existing convent parlour, on the agreement that the initial pupil intake be limited to fifteen. This became sixteen due to their having eight double desks.

The original name of the school, ‘Mater Misericordiae’, translates to Mother of Mercy, which Sister Mary Magdalen considered to be an appropriate choice given it would be run by the Sisters of Mercy. Similarly, the school motto of ‘Gaudeamus in Domino’ means ‘let us rejoice in the Lord’, which once again spoke to the ethos and values of the Sisters.

The school’s distinctive maroon uniforms had been chosen by Sister Mary Magdalen with the help of her pupils in the school. In the late 50s, Sister Mary Magdalen had observed that the colour maroon seemed to be reserved solely for boy’s uniforms. Though small and seemingly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, this was in fact an early sign of the school’s habit of walking new paths and setting new standards in the field of education and its institutions. These days, of course, maroon is one of the most popular school uniform colours across the entirety of the country.

12th September 1957 saw sixteen children attend the first day of classes for Maricourt Catholic High School, based temporarily at the convent parlour as the construction for the new school building continued for another three months or so. In that very moment, and again on 14th January 1958 as the school moved across to their new home, history was made, and Maricourt never looked back.

Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

The exterior of Maricourt Catholic High School convent building.
On the Thursday evening of 12th July 2018, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving in Maricourt Catholic High School’s sports hall for parents, past pupils, current and former members of staff and the Sisters of Mercy. On Friday morning, Father Grant Maddock celebrated mass for all the pupils in the school. Both masses were joyful, uplifting celebrations, acting as the climax of our school’s 60th diamond jubilee year.

In his tribute to the foresight and wisdom of the Sisters of Mercy, Archbishop Malcolm praised Sister Mary Magdalen’s foresight and sense of mercy in agreeing to make the school a co-educational comprehensive school in September 1968, when the school changed its name to Maricourt and had an intake of over 1400 pupils.

Sister Mary Magdalen held the position of Headteacher for 32 years. Indeed as Archbishop McMahon pointed out, there have only been three Headteachers in the school’s entire history, underlining the stability and high regard in which the school is held.

One of the highlights of the Mass was the Mercy Anthem, sang beautifully by the choir of school children and specially written by the school chaplain Mr. McCabe. The Archbishop also singled out the liturgical dance for praise.

During the Mass, Father Grant commented on the positive ethos and spirituality in the school: “I feel there are great things happening at Maricourt.”

After the Mass, the children were given an extended break time, candy floss and a lolly ice, which they all thoroughly enjoyed. As one of the pupils wrote in a thank you letter to Sister Mary Magdalen, the first headteacher and still going strong at 92 years of age: “Thank you for the school, the amazing teachers and for the education, without you I would not be here learning all sorts of things. Thank you for all the trips and sports.”

Mr. Brendan McLoughlin, the current Headteacher, commented: “Sixty years ago Sister Mary Magdalen laid the foundations for the successful school that we have today, with Christ at our centre and the desire to ensure that every child flourishes and achieves their potential.”

A Journey Through Time

Located on the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary Liverpool city skyline reflects a developing mixture of the city’s major buildings from the 19th century and more recent office developments.
Over this 60 year period, Maricourt has become an established Catholic High School in the beating heart of the UK – Liverpool. Having ridden the wave of change across education, we have also over seen the rapid rise of technology, introducing aspects of modern life and learning into the classroom time and time again. The everyday attitudes of our students, staff and governors are a reflection of the times we live in, proving to be a microcosm of the very best things in society and even human nature. Now more than ever, we seek to provide a space for learning that is open and exciting without forgetting founding principles such as hard work, discipline and community.

In the meantime, the city of Liverpool has been witness to shifts, changes and innovations aplenty. From the 1960s onwards, Liverpool has solidified itself as not just a nationwide powerhouse but a world leader in the arts and culture. Music has been a particular source of pride for the city as artists hailing from Liverpool or the wider Merseyside area have gone on to dominate arenas and charts across the world, none greater than the biggest band of all time, The Beatles.

School present day.
The city has also become synonymous with great football (and vice versa) through the prominence and success of both Everton and Liverpool Football Club. The latter dominated English and European football throughout the 70s and 80s, on their way to becoming one of the most decorated football clubs in the UK. Similar trailblazing in everything from politics and acting to architecture, TV and film has seen Liverpool grow exponentially alongside the ever adapting Maricourt Catholic High School.

With Maricourt standing as one of the largest Catholic schools in the wider Merseyside area, and a proud history of 60 years behind it alongside its trailblazing nearby city, the journey continues.

As Sister Mary Magdalen wrote in reference to the Sisters of Mercy, “the future would prove that they too would become innovators in the field of education.” The past 60 years have proved the Sister right, and long may it continue.

Maricourt Catholic High School
Hall Lane
L31 3DZ
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