A BAKE-off and a whole school party launched a primary school's 50th anniversary year of celebrations.

In September 1968, Chase Lane Primary School opened its doors for the first intake of pupils.

there were 173 pupils and a new open-plan themed school - something that proved controversial with parents at the time.

Over the years the school has grown and now has 450 children, more classrooms and even its own swimming pool.

Headteacher Julie O'Mara said to mark the anniversary the school will be holding a variety of events throughout the year.

She said: "The children had a really brilliant day at the launch.

"A lot of the work is going to be coming up throughout the year.

"But we held a cake competition for the launch and had 69 cakes entered by children and their families.

"Some have never baked before.

"They were so lovely and amazing and then they were given prizes.

"At lunchtime the children then had a party picnic lunch outside - because we are such a large school we normally have to stagger lunchtime but they were all able to eat together.

"Afterwards we had a surprise magician to finish the party."

Other events set for the year will include burying a time capsule, planting a tree and creating hundreds of ceramic leaves for a display tree.

Mrs O'Mara has been researching the school's history.

She added: "Mr Brown was the headteacher when the school opened.

"He kept a logbook from when it first opened and it has been lovely to read.

"We have obviously extended the school over the years and added classrooms as well as a gym and swimming pool.

"The whole style of teaching and learning has changed - now there is a lot of pupil dialogue and helping children to become active learners.

"We have second and third generation families at the school.

"This summer we are going to have an exhibition with old photographs throughout the years and artefacts like old notebooks.

"We are appealing to see what people have got we could include in the exhibition and also their memories of Chase Lane."

The event will be open to the public.

Anyone with information, artefacts from their schooldays at Chase Lane and photographs are asked to email the school at admin@chaselane.essex.sch.uk.