Huncote Schools

The Sunday School

A Sunday School was erected in Huncote in 1852. It was described as a small, neat brick building.There is no evidence of the people who taught children in the Sunday School but that was the only education available in Huncote at that time. Michael Tanner names Mary Moore and Elizabeth Turner as teachers but he provides no further evidence to suggest when they started or how long they taught there. At various times the Sunday School building was used on Sundays to perform church services in the absence of a church in the village.

Source: Trade Directories; Old Huncote by Michael Tanner

The Day School

The Day School was first listed in 1870 with a final listing in 1877. Mrs Ann Clarke was the mistress but there is no other evidence relating to this school. It is likely that Mrs. Clarke taught a small group of children to read and write in her home. Whether or not she did this for the good of the children or whether she charged a fee is something for which there is no evidence.

Source: Trade directories

The National School

National Schools were provided by the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church. The Society was formed in 1811 and gradually took over schools that had been started by the SPCK*. Michael Tanner says that the NationalSchool was held in the old Sunday School that had been built in 1852.

So on 17 July 1871, Sarah Jane Gadd began her duties as the headmistress of the NationalSchool. There was a close connection with the church and regular visits from the clergy. There was religious instruction every morning although there were many children of non-conformist families who did not take part in these lessons. Sometimes these visiting clergymen took other lessons.

On the 21 July, Miss Gadd recorded that there were only 25 children present. Although this figure quickly improved, there seem to have been difficulties with attendance in the early years of the school. Some children worked for farmers when they were not in school. If the harvest had not finished by the time that school reopened, those children helping with the harvest were likely to be absent. Bad weather often kept children away from school with coughs and colds.

Rigid rules did not help with attendance. If children where not in school by the time the class registers were closed, they did not get their mark for the day. If they did not respond when their name was called, they did not get their mark. This lead to an absurd situation where a child was brought late to school every day but, according to the register, was not at school.

The school inspectors had complained about the standard of arithmetic during Miss Gadd's time at the school. They also complained about the emphasis given to needlework. By 1880, under Miss Sloan, things began to improve and continued to improve. However there were times when a quick turnover of staff clearly had a detrimental effect on the children.

The fee for each child was raised from 2d per week to 3d per week from 30 April 1883. Only five children failed to bring the extra penny and when they were sent home, they all returned quickly with their pennies. In May 1885,the school logbook records the death of a child, the tenth in nine months. No details are given of the children or causes of death but the fact that both diphtheria and measles were present in the village suggests that some of the children may have died from these illnesses.

The attendance officer was frequently called in. In 1889, two boys were recorded as having had frequent absences because they were working for Mr Hobill, one of the school managers. Many of the boys in particular seem to put work before lessons as they grow older and nearer to leaving school. Many of them seem to have taken their final examination in February and then unofficially left school.

Reading the school log books it is clear that some of the head teachers have had very different styles which have left their mark on the school. Until 1926 when Ernest Collingwood was appointed, all the head teachers were women. During the summer holiday in 1907, the school was cleaned and painted and some necessary repairs carried out. The new infant building was opened which meant that the school was less crowded. The log books tell the story of day to day school life in Huncote up to 1931.

This building served the village until the 1960s when the new HuncoteCommunityPrimary School was built which is still in use today. The old school is now a private house.

*the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge

Sources: Trade Directories; Old Huncote by Michael Tanner; School Log Books, E/LB/152/1 – 2