Keynsham school mourns founding teacher who taught thousands of young people

Joan Ellison pictured in 2016

Teacher Joan Ellison, who notched up half a century at Wellsway School in Keynsham, has died at the age of 86.

Joan was the last of the five original teachers who were at Wellsway when it opened in 1956, unusually with a secondary modern and a grammar on the same site.

Joan Laramy, as she was then, taught PE and games, for eight years until she left to have her family. She returned on supply in 1973 to what had become the comprehensive school and later rejoined the staff team, becoming head of special needs provision. Joan retired in 2001 but continued supply teaching until after her 50th anniversary.

She regularly took part in the popular annual maths weekends in the Forest of Dean in the 1980s and 1990s and was involved with foreign exchanges and overseas trips. She was a key participant in the Wellsway School 60th celebrations in 2016.

Joan lived in Keynsham throughout her married life. Her husband Fred, a retired primary headteacher, served for some years as a governor at Wellsway. Their daughter Katrina and son David both attended the school.

Staff in 1959 (Combined Keynsham Grammar School and Wellsway County Secondary School) with Joan bottom right

Former colleague Richard May, now head of IT services for Futura Learning Partnership, said: “Joan cared deeply about all the children who passed through her care. While unashamedly ‘old school’ in her insistence on politeness, manners and standards in general, she moved with the times and was, without doubt, one of the most respected and liked members of staff throughout her time at Wellsway.”

Tina Tabor, who recently retired after more than 40 years at the school, added: “Joan was a lovely lady and totally dedicated to the young people she worked with.”

Netball at Wellsway 1959-60 (Joan is standing on the left)


A maths weekend in the mid-1980s (Joan is kneeling in the centre)

Andrea Arlidge, a former head of Wellsway School and chief executive of Futura Learning Partnership, said: “Joan was a wonderful teacher who made a difference to the lives of thousands of young people in the Keynsham area.  We are proud to have known her and send our condolences to her family.”

Joan’s funeral will take place at St John’s Church, Keynsham, on Tuesday 15th November at 12.30pm.