Self portrait of a village school: Longtown school log books 1873-1910
Self portrait of a village school:
Longtown school log books 1873-1910
by Nina Wedell
A new school built in about 1869 was the first purpose built elementary school for all children in the Herefordshire village of Longtown and its surrounding countryside of dispersed farms, smallholdings and cottages. The school was sited at the hub of the village in the grounds of a ruined medieval castle which presided over otherwise remote uplands at the Welsh border. At around the time the school opened, a new opportunity for schooling came to Longtown and its surrounds through the 1870 Elementary Education Act which underpinned a national provision for basic literacy. The Act enabled state funding for compulsory education of children aged five to ten years; in later legislation the age range widened from three to eleven and then twelve.
An architect’s drawing shows the original school with two porches leading to two rooms, a smaller for infants and a larger for older children.
The original school at Longtown
In 1895 the smaller room was extended, to include a third porch entrance for infants and allocate the original two porches for boys and girls separately to enter the larger room. A house for the head teacher or ‘master’ was also built then. The enlarged building continued in use until 1979 when a new school opened on another site in the village. The former school was converted into a terrace of cottages in the 1980s.
The photograph below shows the building as it is today; three separate dwellings each with an entrance porch. The former School House for the master is the building beyond. In the background are the ruins of the castle keep, and in the foreground the main village road.
The former extended school and master’s house at Longtown
The master was required to keep a diary or log book at least once a week ‘to specify ordinary progress, and other facts concerning the school or its teachers’. So began some 900 handwritten pages of entries in three volumes covering the period from 1873 to 1910. These pages were photographed by the Ewyas Lacy Study Group for the digital archive on this website, by courtesy of the governors of Longtown Community Primary School where the log books are held. The cut-off at 1910 allows protection of privacy for a century from the year when the photographs were taken in 2010 and put online. (Click here to see).
Although the cut-off at 1910 allows a generous separation of time from anyone living today, it is likely to be within two or three generations for some local families with deep roots in the farming community. Throughout the log books comments are made about named individuals, both pupils and teachers: it should be borne in mind that these give the masters’ one-sided report about the attitudes, behaviour and achievements of individuals in the life of the school. If there are potential sensitivities, it is arguable that they are far outweighed by the historical value of depicting an early formative period in rural schooling.
This study consists of a selection of extracts, which give a picture of how the new opportunity for education was put into practice on a day-to-day basis. At first glance, the entries seem preoccupied with little more than pupil attendance numbers and reasons for non-attendance, recorded on nearly every page with a great deal of repetition. However, a closer look can pick up revealing details here and there about how the school was run and how it fitted into the social fabric of the community. My aim has been to select quotes that have something to say about school routines and expectations, which often evoke a different way of life and different attitudes to education - though some remain all too familiar to teachers, parents and pupils alike. Explanation has been kept to a minimum of background information possibly needed for understanding the context. Otherwise, the quotes speak for themselves in conveying a sense of time and place in the story of Longtown school.
Instructions in the log book state that ‘No reflections or opinions of a general character are to be entered in the Log book’. While the masters purport to follow this guiding principle to give an impression of impersonal reporting, there is more than a hint of their own personalities and preoccupations coming through. Some were more strict than others, and a few seem to have had a flair for teaching. It should be noted too that the masters were writing specifically for their employer, the School Board, to whom they were accountable for the success of the school, and ultimately for their job. The focus on adverse weather, illness, the attraction of market days, resistance from parents and so on, reflect a concern to explain non-attendance on factors beyond the control of the master. The School Board apparently kept an eagle eye on the log books, implied by the masters’ efforts to deflect criticism away from themselves. This bias is suggested by such regular complaints as the inadequacy of other staff and the attendance officer, and bad behaviour from pupils. Occasionally there is veiled criticism of the School Board itself, such as the tight control of funding, and reluctance to prosecute defiant parents. Many subtexts run through the log books - they are not an unbiased report.
Here, very briefly at the outset, are some basic facts for the period covered by this study. Longtown school was founded as a Church of England school for ‘the education of children and adults or children only of the labouring manufacturing and other poorer classes in the Township of Longtown’. There was one qualified, or ‘certificated’, teacher who for most of the period covered refers to himself as the master (they were all men at the time) and is the term used here, though latterly the term ‘headmaster’ appears occasionally. Initially the master was assisted by a pupil ‘monitor’ and a sewing mistress, and later as the enrolment grew also an ‘assistant teacher’ (sometimes a trainee but not certificated). Of two rooms, the smaller was for infants age three to six taught by the monitor or assistant teacher, and the larger for older children, ranging from around age seven to twelve or fourteen (eventually the minimum and maximum leaving ages). The older children were grouped in seven ‘Standards’, labelled in Roman numerals from Standard I to Standard VII, according to their level of achievement, all taught in the same room. The Standards also corresponded to age expectation as far as possible though children could be required to repeat a Standard once or even twice. The curriculum was principally for teaching the 3Rs; other subjects included geography, drawing for boys and needlework for girls, and whole group activities such as singing and ‘drill’. Religious education was undertaken by the vicar. The school was managed by an elected School Board, later called Managers, composed of prominent community leaders and local clergy who were responsible for carrying out government regulations. (For convenience the term School Board will be used to cover both designations.) They employed an attendance officer with the aim of reaching full enrolment and regular attendance by contacting families and liaising with the master. A yearly inspection by HMI (Her/His Majesty’s Inspector) was a major event in the school calendar: the pupils had individual examinations in the 3 Rs, and the HMI reports punctuate the log books with an evaluation of the school’s performance on a range of matters such as discipline, quality of teaching, and adequacy of the school’s facilities. Other records note the day-to-day issues of pupil behaviour and contact with parents (usually bad behaviour and difficult parents) but there are many instances of treats and special events such as school outings, prize-givings, tea parties and ‘concerts’ - in which the School Board and their wives and daughters often played a leading role.
This, then, is the background to topic areas that emerge from the record of Longtown school. As drastic culling is needed for the sake of coherence, the quotes selected are intended to give a balanced view of the significance of topics rather than how frequently they exercised the attention of the writers; some often repeated notes lose their force while others rarely mentioned are important clues to the purpose and functioning of the school. That said, the major topic areas are presented as headings, shown below, for a selection of quotes – all adding up to a vivid picture of a village school in the late 19th and early 20th century.
ENROLMENT AND ATTENDANCE
The all-important concern was to ensure that eligible children were enrolled and attended school regularly. However, this aim was undermined by two significant causes of resistance from families.
The 1870 Act addressed an increasing need for literacy, and although felt most keenly in fast growing industries and cities, the legislation applied across the board to reach the rural labouring class. The children of more well-to-do families went elsewhere, such as the grammar school in Abergavenny, or had private tutors or governesses. Lower in the social scale were ‘dame’ schools in private houses (at least one, for a penny a week, was ‘on the mountain’ above Longtown). For the poorest there were charity schools for a few, like a small school held in St Peter’s church at Longtown. But schooling was not available to all. The new opportunity for literacy among farmers and farm workers would have been valued by those who recognised its importance in a changing society and by those seeking to better themselves. Others saw little or no need to change their traditional way of life and work, and indeed relied on their children’s labour in home and farm work. It followed that persistent absentees often came from families who needed their children at home as well as from disinterested, or even hostile, families.
A weakness of the 1870 Act was that compulsory schooling was not free until two decades later. Local rates covered part of the cost, but families could also be required to pay. In Longtown, families paid a fee of 2 pence per week per child, except where waived by special concession or paid by the Poor Law guardians, until fees were abolished in 1891. This would have been a considerable financial burden for many families, and could well have contributed to various forceful exchanges with parents reported in the log books. At the frontline of contact with parents, an attendance officer checked up on persistent absentees and identified children not yet enrolled.
While these issues would have been well recognised at the time by the masters and School Board alike, the log books reflect the practical tasks devolved to the masters at grassroots level – making enrolment and attendance a major target concern
Early entries give very little idea about the number enrolled or attending:
- School increasing in numbers. Still very small. (Sep ‘73)
- Commenced the week with a pretty fair number. (Jul ’74)
- Attendance about as usual though irregular. (Jun ‘75)
- Attendance not so high this week. (Jun ‘75)
- Attendance all through the school very much better. (Jun ‘76)
- Attendance low today. (Jan ‘78)
- Many are still away, some with reason & some without. (Aug ‘79)
Despite this vagueness, where figures are given it seems that some 35 children were enrolled at around the time the school opened. Later on a more systematic record was kept to provide figures. The highest enrolment (not to be confused with the attendance rate) recorded is 113 in 1888. However, there was not a steady increase, but various peaks and dips typically ranging from 70 to 98 pupils over the years. There is some evidence that initial resistance to schooling gave way to acceptance by parents and children: the highest enrolment was reached before fees were abolished, and although this could be accounted for by a peak in the child population, it could also suggest that compulsory schooling was becoming an accepted norm.
The catchment area was (in theory) a three mile radius from the school. Longtown is a linear village, as the name suggests, with houses aligned to the main village road for over a mile, and beyond for another mile through the neighbouring hamlet of Clodock. Similar distances led to dispersed farms and cottages across the parish. It was normal for children, even some ‘village’ children, to have a significant walk to school. There was some concern for younger children:
- Admitted Helen Robert, nearly 7 years old. Resides over 3 miles from school. (Jul ‘85)
- Admitted a boy named Wm Parry George to school last week. He will be seven years old next October...He was only a few days at Newton School before he came here, as the distance was too great being over two miles & bad road. (Jul ‘87)
- Very rough morning – raining heavily. A great many children absent. Although Allen Prosser and his brother Leonard came from the Charity, a distance of over three miles (Oct ‘87)
- Owing to a dispute with a parent at the Charity Farm regarding the distance the Board at their meeting on Friday last requested the Attendance Officer and self to measure the said distance. This we are going to do this afternoon. [Next day} The distance to the Charity Farm is 2 miles 714 yds. (Oct ‘96)
- The long distance scholars who start before eight arrived in a very wet condition and I thought it best to dismiss them. (Nov ‘99)
- Admitted 3 new scholars all of whom are in a backward state having previously lived 3 miles from any school. (May ‘04)
- Two infants, one little boy of 6 and a little girl of 5, were able to come a distance of three miles to school, and yet big boys of 12 and 13 in the IV and V standards were prevented from coming by rain. (Nov ‘05)
Enrolment fluctuated within each year, as children could be admitted or leave at any time. Some were new recruits, especially in the early years as school-age children were identified, and there was also some to and fro between Church of England schools in other parishes. A Baptist school attached to the chapel about 100 yards away (just out of sight) functioned from time to time when it was a pull, usually temporary, for some children.
- Admitted one girl. (Jun ‘73)
- Admitted 5 boys and 3 girls. (Dec ‘73)
- Admitted 4 Boys and 2 Girls from the Baptist school – just closed.’ (May ‘74)
- Readmitted Hugh Hybert from school over the way. (Jul ‘75)
- The Rickardses returned again – after attending the Baptist School some weeks. (Jul ‘77)
- I find several have gone to Newton School (Oct ‘77)
- Gilbert & his brother off to Baptist School (Dec ‘77)
- Three new scholars have been admitted this week. (May ‘79)
- Four children admitted, two from Craswall school, their parents having come to live at Llanveynoe, and one from Longtown Baptist School, also one from Walterstone Bd School. (May ‘79)
- MA Morgan & Thomas Jones returned this morning after several months’ absence. (May ‘79)
- 11 children have been admitted during the present month. (May ‘80)
- Two more infants admitted today one 6 yrs old last April, and the other 5 yrs old last February. (Jul ’81)
- Two children have this week come in from the Baptist School. [Three days later]: Another girl Ann Grenow has come from the Baptist school to this one this morning. (Nov ‘81)
- Mary Ann Gilbert came here from the Baptist school today. She is over 11 yrs of age and cannot do First Standard work (Aug ‘82)
- Three of the Joneses came back from the Baptist school today. (Nov ‘82)
- Mr Price Attendance Officer called this morning. This afternoon I sent him a list of irregulars and one of 10 children of school age but not attending. (May ’83)
- Two children admitted this week. They belong to men on the Ordnance Survey and consequently they will remain only a short time here. (Nov ‘85)
- There is a great number of children of school age who have not come to school yet. In this school there ought to be at least 20 infants. We have at present seven. (Jun ‘86)
- Alice George, who has been away from school for nearly a year, returned this morning. (Jul ‘86)
- Admitted SA Smith this morning. She was a pupil at Michaelchurch School.(Oct ‘87)
- Admitted Harry Prosser, son of Wm Prosser, Cwm, Walterstone, member of the Walterstone School Board. (Nov ‘87)
- Admitted Mary Ann George – 3 yrs old yesterday. (Dec ‘87)
- Admitted Arthur Davies Pritchard into the sixth standard. He has been away from school two years. (Dec ‘87)
- Nothing worthy of note occurred this week. The average attendance this week is over 100. (Jan ‘88)
- I find upon inquiry that a large no. of children between the ages of 3 and 6 might be in attendance. I called upon the parents, and prevailed upon some to promise to send them. (Apr ‘90)
- Admitted Jno Edwards This boy has been attending the Grammar School at Abergavenny. (Jan ‘91)
- [Readmitted] Margaret Griffiths. [She] has been at Abbeydore Union [since] she left here. Very backward. [Page torn; words in square brackets are extrapolated.] (Feb ‘91)
- Admitted Warren Miles today, just three years of age. (Apr ‘91)
- Admitted Mary Jane and Margaret Whistance. These children are nearly 8 and 9 years of age respectively, but have never been in a school, having been in Fwthog District. (Mar ‘92)
- The scholars this year are composed of more than half little ones who I fear will be unable to attend in bad weather. Sep ‘97)
- Admitted 1 new scholar, 1 boy left gone to Newton school. (Jun ’99)
- Admitted Arthur George, Infant 3½ years old. (Sep ‘01)
- Admitted John Nicholls aged 9 years. He has attended school at Brynmawr and is fit for 2nd standard. (May ‘02)
- Admitted 3 new scholars all of whom are in a backward state, having lived previously above 3 miles from any school. (May ‘04)
- Admitted Florence and Vincent Edwards...They have been attending Walterstone School. (Oct ’04)
- Admitted Arthur Greenow. He is 7 yrs of age in July, but has not been to school before. He has to come three miles to get to school. (Mar ‘05)
- I have removed the names of the Wilton family (5) from the Registers as they have gone to Devonshire to live. I am very sorry to lose them as they are 5 of the most regular and sharpest children in the school. (May ‘05)
- Admitted Lucy Gooch and Tom Parry. The former is 10 years of age and has been attending a private school at Abergavenny The latter is a child of 4 yrs. (May ‘05)
- I am informed that Marjorie Watkins will attend school at Walterstone as the distance to this school is too great. (Jul ‘05)
- Readmitted Arthur Davies who has been attending school at Cwmyoy. (Dec ‘05)
- Admitted Oliver John Gooch. He is 12 yrs of age and has been attending Abergavenny Grammar School for the last two years. (Jan ‘06)
- I have removed from the Registers the names of Arthur and Albert Davies, as they have gone to the workhouse at Abbey Dore.’ (Feb ‘06)
- 5 Infants have been admitted during the past fortnight, and with 36 [infants] on the Registers Miss Price now has her hands full. (Apr ‘06)
- Readmitted Ada Monkley who has been attending Craswall School. (Oct ‘06)
- Admitted Doris May. We have now exactly 100 on the Roll.’ (Jun ‘08)
- Maud Lane returned to school today after an absence through illness of more than twelve months. (Sep ‘08)
Non-attendance was a continual frustration for the masters. Over and over again the reasons are explained, the chief causes being home and farm work, market days, bad weather and illness. Truancy and parental indifference were also sometimes noted. On the whole, it seems that a fairly steady day-to-day attendance rate was around 70-85% of enrolment. Looked at in a more optimistic light, this percentage suggests that about two thirds of the children enrolled were attending (barring exceptional circumstances), and it can be expected that a core of children among these would have come to school regularly. In other words, the constant repetitions of reasons for non-attendance tend to emphasise failure rather than success. One occasion of 100 percent attendance was recorded, in 1905: the master noted this as a ‘feat unique in the annals of this school’ and gave a holiday the next day. For one quarter of the same year the average attendance reached 95 percent and fifth place in the county.
However, epidemics could reduce attendance to as low as 40% for several weeks at a time; in bad weather sometimes only a handful of children turned up and the school was closed for the day; at harvest time the older children often stayed away for farm work; and local markets were always a magnet. The quotes below comment on the many reasons for absence.
ABSENCE WITHOUT PERMISSION
- Several of the bigger boys absent, busy with gardens. (Apr ‘75)
- Today several girls absent on the Hill gathering cranberries etc. (Jul ‘75)
- Many children gathering apples and potatoes. (Oct ‘75)
- William Davies present again, a very irregular attender...and mostly from the most paltry reasons. Wm had to stay in to do some writing, but as soon as my back was turned, ran off home, and was absent this afternoon. Will be punished tomorrow. (Aug ‘78)
- The attendance so thin in the beginning of the week has improved during the last two days since the Attendance Officer has been round. (Apr ‘79)
- It is now within 7 weeks of the end of the School year: about 30 per cent are absent daily, and I am convinced that 9 out of every 10 of them have no reasonable excuse for absence. I have this day sent a list of 24 absentees to the Attendance Officer, 21 of whom have to be examined. The following is a copy of a medical certificate I received this week – “Feb 7, 1880 I certify that Emily Harris is not able to attend School, having to nurse her mother who is ill. Signed Leslie Thain, Longtown”. If a doctor can give a child leave of absence on such grounds, the next thing one may expect will be a certificate for some of them to stay at home to nurse the baby – a very common excuse. (Feb ‘80)
- The attendance this week has been most disheartening. Sent a list of 35 absentees to the Attce Officer today. It seems to me of little use spending my time in writing these lists – I see no benefit gained by them. (Mar ‘80)
- Wm Davies absent all the week under plea of illness. On disbelieving the statement I am referred to the doctor. He is well known to have been doing errands for Mr Gretton of the New Shop. (Mar ‘80)
- Sent to ask why Benjamin Taylor is absent this afternoon. No reason was sent, the message sent by the mother was “Tell him I’ll come myself some day to make out for it”. The boy was chopping wood at the time. (Mar ‘80)
- Only one person has ever been prosecuted for non-attendance at this school – some 12 months since. Many I could point out have richly deserved it. (Apr ‘80)
- The First Class has been very thin on account of the haymaking. (Jul ‘81)
- Harriet Jones absent all the week. Want of boots is the excuse her father gives, but she has been gleaning either with or without boots. (Sep ‘81)
- Jno & Emma Price this morning were said to be gleaning, but were found on the turnpike road loitering about at the same time. (Sep ‘81)
- Sent to ask the reason why Chas Pritchard is not at school – Answer – “I will not ask you or anyone else when I shall keep the boy at home. Will keep him when I like”. (Oct ‘81)
- John Price again playing away from school this morning... away again – punishment seems useless... John Price playing truant on Monday, Tuesday afternoon & today. (Mar ‘82)
- Sent a list of 25 absentees to the Attce Off. Seven of these are illegally employed. (Jun ‘82)
- Haymaking is causing the absence of many children at present. (Jul ‘82)
- [At Board meeting:] I made special mention of Jno Price who had made 4 attce out of 40. (Aug ‘82)
- Jno Price came to school this morning after playing truant six days. (Nov ‘82)
- Punished Geo Hughes for truant playing (Monday & Tuesday). (Mar ‘87)
- Charles Price a 3rd Std boy – when asked his morning why he was absent yesterday afternoon, said that Mr Thomas, Llanwonog Farm, asked him to go and lead his horses for him. (Jul ‘87)
- A few children were away today (Tuesday) on account of the market at Abergavenny. (Jan ‘88)
- Great number of children absent today, many of whom have gone to Abergavenny Fair. (May ‘88)
- The attendance is very small indeed (32) but is probably due to the hay harvesting and wimberrying. (Jul ‘90)
- Sent absentee forms to over 30 parents. (Sep ‘90)
- Several children have a very bad habit of staying away one or two days a week. (Nov ‘90)
- There has been a considerable improvement in the attendance this week. No fewer than 57 having made the full number of attendances. Average for the week 76. (Nov ‘90)
- Urban, Rosa and Emily Nicholls are absent without any apparent cause. These children have got into a very loose way. Sent up to enquire after them and boy returned with the following explanation “Mother had gone early to town and he slept till after school time, so the children could not come”. This is the excuse for absence in morning. They have remained away again this afternoon. One boy saw Urban Nicholls down the village at the Smith’s shop door playing. (Dec ‘90)
- George Watkins (St I) turned up this morning, having been absent since Nov 14th 1890. He does not know his letters. His sister is still absent. Last attendance Oct 14/90. (Jan ‘91)
- Many children are away helping with sheep-washing. (Jun ‘91)
- Philip & Ar Geo Nicholls away again this morning. Came at noon. Excuse given, “Please, sir, I was binding”. (Sep ‘92)
- Many are away picking potatoes. (Oct ‘92)
- 6 boys, who went fishing, came late this afternoon. (Mar ‘93)
- Market day. Many absent “minding the house”. (Jun ‘93)
- A wedding at Clodock at 2 o’clock (Dr Frost & Miss Griffith) has taken away many scholars. (Jun ‘93)
- Flower Show at Pandy kept away K Jones, W Long & others (Aug ‘93)
- Maggie Wms again absent – cleaning the house for Saturday. (Sep ‘93)
- Today is the market-day at Abergavenny, and several children are kept at home for various reasons. Surely if one child was made an example of before a magistrate the children would not be kept from school so often for such reasons as minding baby, keeping house, for a change, etc. (Sep ‘93)
- Holiday tomorrow – Longtown Fair. Some children present in the morning have absented themselves this afternoon. They were wanted at home to help their parents in preparing for the Fair. [Next day:] Longtown Fair. The usual holiday was given. [Next day:] Many absent this morning, kept busy at home clearing up after the fair. (Sep ‘93)
- Several children absent today attending a Thanksgiving Service at Old Castle. (Sep ‘93)
- Edgar Johnson, a very backward boy, kept away to pick up apples in his father’s orchard. (Sep ’93)
- A Thanksgiving Service held at Clodock Church took away 7 children. (Oct ‘93)
- I sent for Margt Wms this morning: she is 11 yrs old and has passed St III. Word was sent back that she was wanted at home to help her grandmother. She has been irregular for some time past...Maggie Wms again absent. Went with grandmother to Abergavenny market. (Oct ‘93)
- Edgar Johnson was employed by Mr M Harris from 10 o’clock up to dinner-hour, to carry the game home. (Oct ‘93)
- Willy Griffiths was kept away to pick up crabs to make vinegar for Miss Mary Farr of Longtown. Emily Nicholls kept away to mind the baby while her mother goes away carrying, and Ethel Cook kept away to mind her sister, while her mother minds her own sister. (Oct ‘93)
- T Saunders was absent putting manure on the fields on his father’s farm. (Oct’ 93)
- Eleven boys, who were sliding on the pond at Pen-y-dre, were late this afternoon. (Jan ‘94)
- Market day in Abergavenny. Very poor attendance. Our attendance is always low on a Tuesday. (Jan ‘94)
- Mabel and Harold Wms came late this morning. They confess to lying in bed too long of a morning. (Jan ‘94)
- 9 children came late this afternoon. The boys played at “Fox & hounds”; this made them forget the time. (Feb ‘94)
- Our first boy Lionel Miles has only attended school one day this week (Monday). It would be better for him to leave than to attend in this way.’ (Jun ‘94)
- A Horse Fair at Abergavenny has taken way several of our scholars. (Jun ’94)
- Today is the third day of the Hereford Flower Show. Poor attendance all the week. (Jun ‘94)
- Several children came late this afternoon. Their excuse was that they had been watching the “soldiers”: A company passed the school at one o’clock. (Jul ‘94)
- People are busy hay-making and most of the older scholars are at home assisting. Out of 32 higher standard scholars only 8 are here today...Some standard V and VI children have left until winter. (Jun ‘95)
- Today a Club walk and sports takes place at Michaelchurch – in consequence only 37 are here this morning. (May ‘96)
- Beautiful day – 52 present- elder children kept at home to plant potatoes and assist in other agricultural work. (May ‘97)
- [Note sent to parents:] Unless your daughter attends school more regular I shall be compelled to place her in a lower standard. (Dec ‘98)
- A ploughing match and tea party have reduced the attendance (Oct ‘99)
- Several elder scholars absent, being mostly employed by their parents illegally. Notice has been sent to Attendance Officer (Jan ‘03)
- Herbert Williams, who has been absent for a month, was well enough to attend the Market at Abergavenny on Tuesday, but is not well enough to come to school (Feb ‘05)
- There are 89 Children present today out of 90 on the Registers. The percentage for the week is 96.6 I believe this is the highest percentage ever attained in this school. I can find no record of anything higher for at least 20 years. (May ‘05)
- We have today accomplished a feat unique in the annals of this School viz that of having every child present. We have 92 names on the Registers and the attendance at both sessions has been 92. I have for months been offering a day holiday for a full attendance & shall therefore give the children a day holiday tomorrow. (Jun ‘05)
- In spite of a special appeal to the children yesterday afternoon the Fair which is being held at Abergavenny today has kept away 12 children who were present yesterday. They are mostly the children of parents who will never put themselves to the least inconvenience in order that their children may attend school regularly. (May ‘07)
- Sheep shearing accounts for the absence of 3 or 4 of the bigger boys. (Jun ‘07)
- Mr George Williams, Bryn Farm informed me this morning that his two boys Albert and Harry have been playing truant. This is the first case of this kind that I have known at this school since I have been here.( Dec ‘08)
- There is the usual Tuesday morning drop in the attendance. It is a fine morning and yet there are 16 children absent. Some children are regularly kept at home because their parents attend Abergavenny market. (Nov ‘09)
Children walked to school along unpaved lanes and rights of way and across fields. Bad weather had an enormous impact on attendance. There were many instances when so few children turned up that the master closed the school for the day. It is not difficult to imagine how the children, and their parents, would have felt after a struggle to get there only to turn back for a return to home. Even when the school remained open in rain or snow, wet clothing and footwear would have made for an uncomfortable day at school.
- It was so very wet today no children came to school. (May ‘80)
- The great snow storm has prevented any children getting to school, which has consequently been closed the last three days. (Jan ‘81)
- A great number of children still absent from school, many of whom cannot come on account of the late flood having carried one or two of the bridges over the brook away. (Jun ‘86)
- Owing to very severe weather, very few children came to school (12) & these few were wet through. So Mr Harris & myself thought it better to close the school. (Dec ‘86)
- Very rough morning – raining heavily- although Allen Prosser and his brother Leonard came from the Charity, a distance of over three miles. (Oct ‘87)
- Very stormy weather – only 13 children in school out of 108 on the books. About 8 out of the 13 were wet through. No school. (Nov ‘87)
- Deep snow. No children came. No school. [Next day:] No school. [Next day:] No children came, owning to deep snow. Closed school for the week. (Mar ‘89)
- Raining heavily in the morning. More children than I expected in school, but very few infants viz 10. (Apr ‘89)
- Deep snow on the ground at 8am when it began to rain heavily. No children came & consequently no school. [Next day:] The weather continues bad. [Apr ‘89)
- It was a very wet day and there was only a small attendance. The wind was rather too boisterous as well. Some, however, came from a long distance, whilst those near at hand stayed away. (Oct ‘90)
- A heavy fall of snow overnight. Only half a dozen children came. Closed school for the day The weather has been unusually severe this week. Many of the roads being dangerous for travelling. The weather is more severe than any man in the district can remember. (Jan ‘91)
- Many children have been unable to attend school this week on account of the slippery state of the roads which are literally sheets of ice. (Jan ‘91)
- David Powell came to school at noon today, bringing with him a note stating that the roads were too bad for his brother and sister to come. (Jan ‘91)
- Opened school at nine o’clock. Not a single child turned up. There was a very strong wind all night accompanied by snow which now lies on the ground to the depth of 18 inches. In many places it has drifted to a depth of five or six feet, and I daresay many roads are blocked. [Next day:] No children again. School closed. Some of the roads are completely blocked, and a way has had to be cut through in many places. [Next day:] Opened school again this morning, only 28 children in attendance. (Mar ‘91)
- School not opened. A tremendous downpour of rain from 5 in the morning. Impossible for children to get here. (Jun ‘91)
- Wednesday and Thursday were very stormy days, there being violent thunderstorms at short intervals. The consequence was, many children were away (Jun ‘91).
- It has rained all day since about ten and the roads are flooded...This has been the worst week for rain for some years. (Oct ‘91)
- A very stormy morning. No children came and school unopened on Monday...No School today. Impossible for children to come. Hurricanes & Rain all night. (Dec ‘91)
- Deep snow (14”) on the ground. No school. [Next day:] No school again. [Next day:] No school. Closed for week. (18-25 Jan ‘92)
- Roads very slippery all week – dangerous for the infants – not many have been here. (Jan ‘95)
- Road still in wretched walking conditions – another dreary school day – 14 here. It is awfully trying. (Jan ‘95)
- Wet morning only 32 here – very wet for children who have to pass through fields as the grass is so long. (Jun ‘97)
- A very rough morning – at a quarter past eight a very severe storm came on the rain accompanied by a strong wind sweeping all before it. The long distance scholars who start before eight arrived in a very wet condition and I thought it best to dismiss them. Registers not marked. (Nov ‘99)
- The snow is 6 inches deep this morning. At 9.30 there were only 11 children present so school was closed for the day. The Infant Mistress was unable to get to school. (Jan ‘05)
- Snow fell heavily all last night...A school concert arranged for this evening will have to be postponed.’ (Feb ‘06)
- It has rained, more or less, every day for the last fortnight and this keeps away children who live at a distance. (Oct ‘06)
- There was a heavy fall of snow during the night, and towards morning this turned to rain, the result being that the roads were covered with slush about two inches deep. (Feb ‘07)
- Fine weather all the week has effected a great improvement in the attendance, and the School is once more assuming its normal well-filled appearance. This is putting fresh heart into the Teachers, and a really good week’s work has been done. Once more the percentage of attendances has risen above 90. (Apr ‘07)
- It is a terribly wet morning, and as only 41 children are present out of a roll of 93 the registers have not been marked. Several of those who were present were wet, but we had good fires and they were soon able to dry themselves so it was not thought necessary to send any children home again. (Oct ‘07)
- [Episode of heavy snow for 2 weeks:] There was a heavy snow storm during the night...the school was closed at the conclusion of the morning session. Snow was falling heavily at 2.30pm...[Further entries:] No school today. The snow is very deep. Only 26 children managed to reach the School...Snow still lies deeply all around and the frost last night was intense. There are only a quarter of the children present this morning so the registers will not be marked, and we shall close for the day at noon...as there was quite a foot of snow on the ground the Managers decided not to open the School until Wednesday morning. I have despatched a telegram to that effect to HM Inspector...We reopened School this morning with an attendance of 30 out of 96 on the roll... Snow still lies deeply all around...the Mangers have closed the School until Monday...snow at least 6 inches deep. The result is that we have at School only 18 elder scholars and 2 Infants....39 children present this morning out of a roll of 96... We open School this morning with brighter prospects. The snow is practically all gone and there are present 84 children, some of whom have been absent for three weeks on account of the weather. (3-22 Mar ‘09)
- It is a fine morning but our attendance is down to 74. I attribute this to the fact that it was raining in torrents when the children left school yesterday afternoon and many of them must have been drenched before they reached home.( Apr ‘09)
ILLNESS, ACCIDENTS AND EPIDEMICS
Many cases are reported of individual children being absent through illnesses such as colds and flu, and there were a few cases of tuberculosis and other unspecified diseases, as well as some disabling accidents and deaths. Staff illnesses, also reported, caused major disruption. Occasional epidemics, some lingering for weeks at a time and affecting pupils and staff alike, had a devastating impact and sometimes led to closure of the school: in particular flu, measles, whooping cough and impetigo were the most long enduring outbreaks.
Pupils’ individual illness and accident
- Whilst at prayers this morning Thomas Ellis by some means fell from the form on which he was kneeling and inflected a severe gash on his head by coming in contact with a desk, (Aug ‘79)
- Lawrence Watkins returned to school after an absence of several months. An accident was the cause of absence. (Jan ‘82)
- Edith Lloyd came to school this morning after an absence of many months through illness. (Jun ‘87)
- Thomas Lewis - a fifth standard boy – met with a severe accident early on Saturday morning. He cut his heel with a mowing machine. The Doctor says he will not be able to put his foot to the ground for at least a month. (Jul ‘87)
- Mrs Seaborne came to me on Saturday to tell me that her daughter Elizabeth is ill from the ‘chicken-pox’ and consequently she is absent today and will be for some time, and her brother Joseph. (Dec ‘87)
- Sarah Ball is still very ill, and it is not likely she will be able to come before the summer. (Feb ‘88)
- Today Wm Grffiths was sent home by the authority of the Chairman of the School Board, as his face appeared to be covered by sores of an infectious nature. (Jul ‘89)
- I find two children are away today suffering from measles. (Jul ‘89)
- Dr Thain advised the exclusion of the “C Ball” family as the mother is suffering from Diphtheria, which spread through Newton (the adjoining parish) in a few days, consequently the School was closed by the local medical authority. (Dec ‘89)
- Wallace Prosser (a boy in St V) had an accident during Whit week and is now in Hereford Infirmary, having had his finger amputated. It is not likely he will be here for some time. (May ‘91)
- I find that Priscilla Powell has broken her leg and will not be able to come until after Harvest. Thos Jno Powell is suffering from neuralgia. John Lewis has got bronchitis. (Jul ‘91)
- Received the following certificate in reference to the absence of Arthur Watkins...’I certify that Master Arthur Watkins of Llandore (Olchon) is unable from ill health to attend school. Signed LL Thain MRCS etc. (Jul ‘91)
- Received the following certificate from Dr Thain in reference to Priscilla Powell who has been absent from school since 3rd June. “I certify that Priscilla Powell of New Inn, Lower Mascoed has a painful weakness in the thigh and should not walk but a few yards. She is not capable of walking to her school.” Signed L Thain. MRCS LSA London etc.(Nov ‘91)
- Received the following certificate “I certify that Miss Sampey Watkins is not able to attend school being in delicate health.” Signed L Thain MRCS etc (Nov ‘91)
- Wily Griffiths is away with a lame foot. Thomas Beavan is suffering from diarrhoea. There have been complaints almost every day of sickness. (Mar ‘92)
- Willy Griffiths absent again with his bad foot. Virginia Edwards still absent under doctor’s hands (Mar ‘92)
- Many children are suffering from chill blains. Several had to stay at home being unable to get on their boots. (Mar ’92)
- Many children are away sick and suffering from sores and eruptions. (Apr ‘92)
- Received the following note respecting Ed Jno Watkins and Annie Watkins “The children are very unwell. Edward was able to rise yesterday. He is a little better today, but cannot walk much.” (Apr ‘92)
- Received the following Certificate: “I hereby certify that Miss Sandy Isabella Watkins of Lower Werndee is suffering from bronchitis and is quite unable to attend school. Signed John Powell Surgeon, Ewias Harold)”. (Jun ‘92)
- Clara Edwards whilst playing on the green fell into the saw-pit and cut her head rather badly. I had to send her home after it was attended to and her sister went along. (Sep ‘92)
- Dr Thain called and reported that Clara Powell was suffering from scarlet fever. He wished to examine the throats of the children, as Clara Powell was in school last Thursday, to see if there were any symptoms developing. He did not notice any, but wished the children to be immediately sent to him, should any such case arise. (Sep ‘92)
- The father, James Watkins, of one of our younger girls, Sar Annie Watkins, 8 yrs old. St II, informed me that she was dying. The Dr says the disease is “tubercula”...Mrs Dyer visited Sarah Ann Watkins in her home. She (Mrs Dyer) found her in a state of coma. Some wasting sickness takes off all the children in this family...Sarah Ann Watkins aged 8 yrs died this morning – the third of this family who has died of the same sickness. Her little sister, the best of the Infants, is very ill. (May ‘94)
- Agnes and John Watkins returned after an absence of six months. Agnes I am informed is subject to heart disease. (May ‘95)
- Opened school 60 present. An eye disease among the children is keeping some at home. (Jun ‘95)
- D Davies ...has bad feet and often for days in unable to get on his shoes. (May ‘96)
- Most of the children are suffering from colds – teaching has been difficult owing to the continual coughing. (Oct ‘97)
- The Proctor children have returned to school this week after 10 weeks absence, owning to an attack of Scarlet Fever. (Jul ‘01)
- Urina Williams has left school under medical advice, she having a severe attack of St Vitus Dance. (Feb ‘02)
- Annie Williams and her little brother returned to school today after an absence of 7 weeks. They have had measles in the house. (Feb ‘05)
- Doctor Townley certifies that John Williams (Llanwonog) is suffering from gastric catarrh & is not fit to attend school. Dr Townley certifies that Urbane Williams is suffering from diarrhoea & is not fit to attend school. (Nov ‘05)
- Dr Townley informs me that my little girl is in a very weak state and thinks she has been working too hard in school. He advises me to let her take things very easy for a time. (Jan ‘06)
- Nellie Townsend, a little girl in St I was seized with an epileptic fit during the morning session, & was so ill that I deemed it advisable to send for Doctor Townley. I am informed that she has had three more fits since Monday but is now progressing towards recovery. (Apr ‘06)
- Doctor Townley...informed me that May Phillips & Winnie Hyde, both of whom are dangerously ill with Pneumonia, will not be able to attend school for some weeks. (May ‘06)
- The heads of the three Prices are simply alive with vermin. The boy’s head is one mass of lice. My wife & Miss Price have spent an hour over him with hot water, soft soap & Jeyes Fluid. They have undertaken to clean the heads of all three children instead of sending them home as I, at first, thought advisable. (Mar ‘07)
- I have sent home John Prosser as he is suffering from a skin eruption. [Next day:] Lily Williams (Brooks) has been told to stay at home for a few days for a similar reason. (Oct ’07)
- With the permission of the Managers I am attending the Petty Sessions at Abbeydore for the purpose of applying for a Vaccination Exemption Certificate so shall be absent from my duties during the greater part of the day. (Nov ‘07]
- Four out of every five [children] seem to be suffering from colds, for the coughing all round the room is simply incessant. The noise is so continuous that oral teaching is out of the question. (Jan ‘08)
- Maud Lane returned to School today after an absence - through sickness – of more than twelve months. (Sep ‘08)
- Fine weather all the week and a clean health sheet have helped us to create a record. An average of 89.5 with 92 names on the registers gives a percentage of 97.2, and this is the highest since I took charge of the school in Oct 1904, (Jun ’09)
Staff illness and accident
- There was no examination on Friday. Master suddenly taken ill...[4 days later:] Master unwell all week. (Dec ‘76)
- Am suffering from an attack of influenza and shall leave the school this afternoon in charge of Miss AJ Price. (Jun ‘91)
- Mrs Nichols is still unwell and by “doctor’s orders” is to remain indoors for some time. Miss Price is taking the needlework. (Sep ‘91)
- Miss Farr is suffering from an attack of influenza and is unable to be present at her duties. [3 days later:] Miss Farr resumed her duties at school today, though she is far from being recovered. (Feb ‘92)
- Mrs Nichols is unable to take Sewing today owing to baby being ill. (Jun ‘92)
- Mrs Helliwell being very ill and the nurse having to go I am obliged to neglect my duties a little (Jul ‘96)
- Thursday and Friday Sept 24 & 25 I was compelled to remain tn bed ill. Mrs Helliwell & Miss Price carried on the school... (Sep ‘96)
- The Monitress was sent home this morning as she was unwell. (Nov ‘04)
- I was absent from my duties yesterday. My wife was thrown from a carriage on Tuesday and very much hurt, so she was unable to take the Sewing Class today. (Feb ‘05)
- Mrs May was unable to take the Sewing Class this afternoon as she was suffering from a severe attack of neuralgia. (Dec ‘05)
- The Monitress is absent from school in consequence of sickness...[4 days later:] The monitress has been absent all the week, and I have found teaching 60 children in 6 standards rather heavy work. (Apr ‘06)
- I have been under the Doctor’s care since Jan 16th and this is the first time I have been able to attend to my duties since that date. Miss Price has taken charge of the School during my absence. Inflamation of the tonsils has left me with a very tender throat, and the Doctor says I must use my voice very sparingly. I am afraid that in consequence of this I shall not be able to adhere strictly to the Time Table. I was not able to take Drill today...My voice is now much stronger & from today all lessons will be taken according to Time Table. (28 Jan-4 Feb ‘07)
- I sent Miss Prothero home at 10am today as she was not well, and had all the standards to myself for the rest of the day. (Mar ‘07)
- Mrs May is so unwell this morning that she is unable to attend to her duties in School...My little girl is so ill that Mrs May is obliged to be absent again today...My three children are so ill this morning that Mrs May finds it impossible to be in school. (Jan ‘08)
- Mrs May is able to take her class today. She was too unwell all last week to be able to attend to her duties in school...Mrs May is on the sick list again today...Mrs May is still unwell...Mrs May is not well enough to be at school today. Although not fit to do so she has come in to help me this afternnon as Miss Prothero is away. (14-22 Sep ‘08)
- The appointment of a teacher in Mrs May’s place will be a great relief to me. (Oct ‘08)
Among the diseases reported some reached epidemic scale, lasting more than a month and leading to closure of the school for a week or so, in some cases more than a month. The major diseases reported are: scarlet fever in 1877; measles (1889, 1902, 1910); flu (1890, 1897, 1904, and 1906); whooping cough (1890, 1900, 1902,); smallpox (threat of in 1897): mumps (1899); impetigo (1906-07). The selected accounts below show how seriously these diseases impacted on the school.
Swift and drastic action taken to forestall an outbreak of smallpox in 1897 was successful:
-Had a note from the Medical Officer saying school must be closed owing to one of the children’s brothers having been sleeping with a small pox patient.“No school must be kept until the rooms are white limed – thoroughly disinfected and washed”. The chairman & doctor thought a week at least the school must be closed. Notified HMI through T Llanwarne Esq...Opened school today - 28 present - room smells very strong of carbolic (School closed 9-21 Apr ‘97)
The longest epidemic reported was impetigo which lingered for several months in 1906-7.
-Many of the children are suffering from a mild form of eczema which the doctor says is contagious....in consequence of the spread of the skin disease (Impetigo) mentioned above, and acting on the advice of Doctor Morgan, the Managers have today closed the School until Monday 26th inst. [For three weeks from 8-26 Nov ‘06]...The Master was requested by the Mangers to examine the children carefully, and was instructed not to allow any child to attend School as long as he shewed any sign of the skin disease...I have told Annie Williams not to attend School for a while as she had a breaking out on her face, and signs of more coming...Robert Wilson came to School this morning with two large scabs on his face. He was at once sent home...Florrie Price was this morning found to have scabs on her back and was sent home. 38 children present today, 57 absent... a special meeting of the School Managers was held, and it was decided to communicate at once with Doctor Jones, the Medical Officer of Health...32 children present...28 children present today out of 94 on the Registers...In consequence of the very few children in attendance we have not worked according to the Time Table. The School closes today for the usual Xmas Holiday of 2 weeks. [School reopened Dec 31 but closed for another week to Jan 7]... There are still many children suffering from impetigo...”Impetigo” shows signs of again spreading. Since last Tuesday I have had to send home five children who showed unmistakable signs. (2 Nov ‘06 - 11 Mar ‘07)
The outbreak of whooping cough in 1890, one of three epidemics, lasted for a month.
- Whooping cough has made its appearance in the neighbourhood...Several children attending Sch today appear to have whooping cough. I sent one away as I was positive about his case. Many have violent fits of coughing, but as I have had no instructions from the medical officer, I allow them to be in attendance. I have requested parents to supply Med Certs for any child or children who cannot be present on Thursday for the inspection...Opened school this morning. So few presented themselves that they were dismissed before 11 am.....I dismissed for the week,...I commenced work again today. Very few present. Whooping cough has become very prevalent indeed. ..The average attendance has dropped below 40, whooping cough rages not only among children, but also among the adults. (17 Mar-15 Apr ‘90)
Flu was the most frequently reported disease, in outbreaks lasting from about 2 weeks to a month. The quotes below show how staff could be affected as much as the pupils.
- Was unable to attend school on Friday owing to being seized with a severe attack of influenza which confined me to bed for 3 days - Mrs Helliwell took charge...Have not been able to leave the house for over a week. Last Tuesday the Rev GV Collison kindly volunteered to keep the school on but as only 14 were present it was deemed advisable on the advice of the Chairman and the doctor to close the school for the remainder of the week. The influenza is very bad in the district nearly every house has one or more suffering. In my own house four of us have been in bed for over a week. The Monitress is very ill. Did not attend school today until the afternoon meeting. Miss Price in charge...[following week:] The average for the week is only 35. Work is suffering very much – more than half the children are ill. (1-12 Mar ‘97)
- There are now 17 children on the sick list all suffering from the same complaint. Doctor Townley informs me that it is an epidemic of Influenza accompanied in all cases by mild pneumonia...Very little progress is being made as so many children are away every day. The returns for the week are the lowest for 18 months. On the Roll 92, Average 73.6, Percentage 80.0...many children still on the sick list...Several children who have been absent for periods ranging from 14 days to one month resumed attendance this morning. (11 Jun - 9 Jul ‘06)
- Dan Ellis absent through sickness all the week- Thomas since Tuesday...[2 days later:] Daniel Ellis dead – died on Thursday at 2pm. Thomas still absent - ill....[3 days later:] Dismissed a little earlier for children & myself to attend D Ellis funeral...[next day:] Thos Ellis well again but cannot come to school yet for a time. (Oct ‘76)
- Rosa Pearce’s funeral. Master absent in afternoon from School. (May ’77)
- George Jenkins, a 3rd Standard boy died his week. I allowed several of the elder scholars to leave school at 3.40 to attend the funeral of poor Jenkins. (Oct ‘79)
- One of the scholars, Elizabeth Pritchard, was downed during the holidays. (Sep ‘85)
- Three boys, against the rules, bathed in the stream adjacent to the school...Wm Griffiths, in sheer audacity, went into the deepest part, laughing and swearing...He was drowned in the very act. (Jul ‘94)
- Regret very much to have to record the death of Wallace Long (St VI) of “Inflamation of the Brain”. After three weeks of very painful illness the poor little fellow passed away yesterday at 4pm....In consequence of many of the children being desirous of attending the funeral of Wallace Long, the registers were closed at 9.20 and11.30 and the school closed at 1.30 (Nov ‘94)
- Received notice that Kate Jones monitress died at 6 o’clock last evening from Pneumonia. (Jun ‘00)
- Received notice that “Caroline Watkins” an infant in this school died last Saturday aged 7 years. (May ‘04)
- With great regret I have to record the death of one of our scholars, Polly Howells, a little St III girl, died on Tuesday of consumption. She had not been well enough to attend school since Nov 2nd. She was one of the brightest and most intelligent children I have ever taught...The Teachers and about 50 of the children attended the funeral of little Polly Howells on Saturday. (Apr ‘07)
THE MASTERS AND SUPPORT STAFF
The school opened with one full-time member of staff, the master. Very little information is given about the masters’ personal circumstances or professional background, but a few details can be pieced together from log book entries, or otherwise gleaned from census information. The qualification for most masters, if not all, was ‘Certificate 2nd class’ - apparently the standard required at Longtown - which refers to two years of training in an optional one, two or three year course. Some of the masters came from surprisingly distant places in England, apparently not always as a first job; some were married with young families whose school-aged children attended the school. Initially there was not a designated house for the masters, who lived in different presumably rented houses in the village until a purpose-built master’s house was built next to the school in about 1895.
Some four years after the school opened, the first ‘pupil monitor’, required to be at least 14 years old, was appointed to teach the youngest children. Later still, ‘assistant teachers’ became additional full-time support staff A distinction between the two roles is not entirely clear; some assistant teachers appear to have been monitors promoted to a higher status who were effectively trainee teachers preparing for a recognised teaching certificate, and at least one (and possibly others) went on to college training. Both monitors and assistant teachers were given individual tuition by the master, usually for half an hour from 8.30-9am before the start of school. On a part-time basis, a key member of staff was the sewing mistress who seems to have worked three afternoons a week. This role was typically taken by the master’s wife who was also occasionally called on for temporary teaching help. Finally, the vicar had overall responsibility for religious education and made an appearance at his convenience to teach scripture or take morning prayers.
The school staff are considered below under two headings: ‘Masters’ and ‘Support Staff’ (click for each section). The log book entries written by successive masters give a sense of their personalities, priorities and concerns, and from other sources there is some information about their personal circumstances. Information about the support staff is largely from the masters’ point of view, and negative comments need a cautious interpretation.
NAMES AND DATES OF MASTERS 1872-1914
John Davies, WH Thompson, Henry Hill, George Whyham (all temporary)
30 November 1872 - 7 August 1874
25 January 1875 – 9 August 1878
23 September 1878 – 4 June 1886
David William Jenkins
7 June 1886 – 31 May 1889
H Bell, Richard Rhydderch, James L Mitchell and Richard Parry (all temporary)
31 May 1889 – 4 August 1890
John William Nichols
4 August 1890 – 29 November 1892
Charles William Dyer
30 November 1892 – 18 July 1894
AR Morton, F Wareham and Joseph Makinson (all temporary)
10 September - 30 November 1894
3 December 1894 – 28 February 1900
16 April 1900 – 30 September 1904
3 Oct 1904 – 30 Jan 1914 (cut-off date Dec 1910)
John Davies, WH Thompson, Henry Hill, George Whyham; all temporary from 30 November 1872 to 7 August 1874 (Vol I pages 1-20)
It is not clear when the school opened, as a log book was not provided until 1873. An inscription on the fly page notes that ‘Mr John Davies was schoolmaster on Nov 30th 1872. He left April 4th 1873 after giving me notice. He was not able to enter any remarks in this Book as the Book had not arrived [signed] Charles L Eagles.’ Plans for the building were under way in 1868, and allowing time for construction, a time between 1869 and 1872 is unaccounted for. In what year the building was completed and whether John Davies was the first master remains unknown at present.
With that proviso, the log books suggest an unsettled start. Of the first four named masters, one was there for only six weeks and others for four, five and six months. The school was closed for five months before the next master arrived. During this time, in 1874, reference is made to a sewing mistress (unnamed) who took the girls for needlework three afternoons a week.
Only one of these earliest masters is identifiable from the 1871 census: Henry Hill, recorded as Schoolmaster, age 48 born in Colwall, Herefordshire, and Hanna his wife; residence: ‘Building’, possibly the property now known as ‘New Building’ about a mile from the school on the lane towards Michaelchurch.
Thomas Driffield 25 January 1875 – 9 August 1878 (Vol I pages 21-74)
In Thomas Drifffield’s first two years he was the only full-time teacher, coping with an enrolment of 70-74 children. His plight was recognised in a school inspection (HMI) report for 1876 which notes that ‘A paid Monitor or Pupil Teacher should be at once engaged, to which the master added ‘I find more need every day of a monitor or Assistant’. Not long after, James Hughes was appointed: about 15 years old he was probably no longer enrolled, having taken his last exam at Standard IV some three years previously. (‘Standards’, from I to VII, are discussed in the section on Curriculum). Complaints from the master punctuate the log book during his employment along these lines: ‘Pupil teacher very late in afternoon...Pupil teacher troublesome at present’. (Feb ’78)
Mr Driffield was possibly unmarried: the sewing mistress during this time was Mrs Rickards, whose name appears in 1876, which may indicate that there was no Mrs Driffield for this job usually given to a wife. A Mrs Mary Rickards who in the 1871 census was a shopkeeper in Longtown may have held this post.
During Driffield’s headship an HMI report notes that ‘The school was not examined last yr  as Mr Driffield had neither filled up the Forms nor kept his Registers properly’, a criticism which may have led to his departure (and according to the next master, his dismissal) in August 1878.
Thomas Lawrence 23 September 1878 – 4 June 1886 (Vol I pages 75-206)
The school found a new stability lasting for eight years under the headship of Thomas Lawrence. For most of his tenure he was commended in the HMI reports: ‘Mr Lawrence has been here six months and is succeeding very well; Mr Lawrence has been on the whole very successful during the past year; Mr Lawrence’s school is well disciplined...and he has taught it well on the whole; Mr Lawrence deserves great credit for the very satisfactory way in which his scholars have passed their Examination’ (HMI reports 1879-83).
However, the praise was followed by a threat from the School Board to reduce his salary, apparently because of a decline in pupil enrolment. Lawrence then wrote this spirited defence:
This year this school has received the best report, and highest grant ever obtained in it. In the fact of this and after nearly five years’ service, the Board has reduced my salary by nearly £20 per annum, giving me the chance to stay but it appears they think they are treating me handsomely now , as they hint that if I go, they can easily get another master for £10 less still. When I took the school I wanted them to guarantee £100 per year, which they would not do , and now that by improving the school and increasing the grant I have made it come to more than that sum, they have cut it down to what I fear will now make it less than £100. The latter sum I believe was paid to the previous master free from all risk of grant till he neglected his work, and lost the grant entirely, so that I consider I am placed on a worse footing than he. This is saving the rate payers with a vengeance, but it is putting a £15 or £20 rate on the schoolmaster. This is not the first time I have been cropped here. In the testimonial they have given me, they say I have given them every satisfaction . I wish I could return the compliment . (Jul ‘83)
Lawrence attributed the fall in numbers to a changing distribution of children’s ages in the local area. After counting the number of houses in the village with school-age children he noted:
I have this day sent in to the Board a statement concerning the attendance or rather the low number of children on the books at this school at present compared with the number on the books two or three years ago. Below is a list of Residences & children who have left them and gone out of the district. [A list follows of 15 properties and number of children living at each.] All these houses are inhabited now (except two) but there is only 1 child of school age in place of those 44. A good many children too have passed their standards from 3 to four years ago. They are still living in the district – or their parents are – so that there is no room for other families. It is also a great mistake to suppose that the bulk of scholars here are residing in Longtown. Far more than half of them have to come long distances across fields and from the mountain side. On making a list of houses on both sides of the main road from Mr Prothero’s to the Blacksmith shop on the Pandy road, more than two miles, I find that out of 61 houses there are 43 from which there is not a child who can be compelled to attend sch. (Jun ‘85).
Lawrence stayed on for another year, presumably not an easy time in his relationship with the School Board. Posterity is indebted to him for the amount of vivid detail in his log book entries.
The 1881 census notes Thomas Lawrence as Schoolmaster, age 30, born c1851 in Huntington Herefordshire, Louisa his wife age 29 and three children age 4years to 2 months. His residence was ‘School House’, which judging from the location of this entry in the census –which follows a geographical route of houses - would have been in the immediate vicinity of the school (but not the eventual purpose-built house provided for the master from c1895).
There were frequent changes of support staff, though usually two employed at any one time. When Lawrence began his appointment William Watkins was already in place as monitor. William was then about 14, having reached Standard IV the previous year. He was followed a year later by Alfred Thomas who stayed for three years, was highly regarded and possibly switched from monitor to assistant teacher. Other monitors were Henry Hyde and William Grenow, both apparently pupils; Louisa A Smith, who appears to have been a trainee teacher staying for two years; and Mary Ann Williams a former pupil aged about 16 when she began. Mrs Lawrence was the sewing mistress, and at her husband’s departure the school would have lost the sewing mistress too.
David William Jenkins 7 June 1886 – 31 May 1889 (Vol I pages 207-284)
During Jenkins’ three year tenure the enrolment rose from about 80 to 113, possibly explained in part by an impetus to bring younger children into the Infants class. An early entry notes ‘there is a great number of children of school age who have not come to school yet. In this school there ought to be at least 20 infants – we have a present seven’ (Jun ‘86). Jenkins was praised in HMI reports for improved achievement in the yearly HMI exams. However his tenure of three years came to an abrupt end, when Jenkins announced that he had been appointed to another school and then left with just a week’s notice: ‘A special meeting of the School Board was held here today at six o’clock to see if they could possibly release me at the end of this week (having been appointed Master of a school near home). It was agreed that I could go on my getting a substitute for a short time’ (May ‘89). There is no record of the whereabouts of the new school, but it may have been in the vicinity of Hereford, as the day after this meeting Jenkins noted his absence from teaching duty at Longtown: ‘Had to go to Hereford on business’. Could this have been to confirm his availability for the new appointment?
Mrs Jenkins was the sewing mistress. Mary Ann Williams continued as pupil teacher, though cautioned in HMI reports to improve her studies and qualifications. Another assistant, Anna L Evans, began in 1889 to teach Infants and Standard I.
H Bell, Richard Rhydderch, James L Mitchell and Richard Parry (temporary) 31 May 1889 – 4 August 1890 (Vol I 284-314)
A succession of four temporary masters followed for over a year. One of them, Richard Rhydderch, wrote to the school many years later to ask for confirmation of his appointment in Longtown, information he needed in preparing his employment record. His handwritten letter, headed Islwyn, Rhyl and dated 13 March 1927, was inserted into the log book and reads:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I wonder whr you have in the school an old Log Book giving records of services rendered in the year 1889. I worked a month or so at the Longtown Board School as Head Master, but being a boy from a populous industrial area and used to much company, I felt so lonely there that I abandoned my job voluntarily and charged the School Board not a cent for my services, which I continued honourably as long as was needed to enable my successor to arrange to begin work there in my stead. We had three of us been before the School Board, and although I was youngest I got the job. I have always felt very much ashamed of my decision to leave so unceremoniously though I comfort myself with the fact that I was absolutely sincere and straight over the business & worked well while I was there. Now I am making up my teaching record I should be much obliged if you would certify formally that I started work date -/-/1889 and left /-/-89 & sign it for me. On reflection, I think the place is a charming country spot and that I was young and foolish at the time, otherwise I should not have left so quickly.
Thanking you for any trouble I may put you to in this matter I am
Tly Yrs, R Rhydderch.
[Marginal note:] I forget absolutely how long I stayed. I know I cleared off each wk-end to my home on the hills via Abergavenny. It may be only a month.
During this period there were two assistants: Mary Farr and Arabella J Price, the latter a trainee for the teaching certificate, whose duties included subject teaching in Grammar, Geography, History and Music.
John William Nichols 4 August 1890 – 29 November 1892 (Vol I pages 314-411)
John Nichols was a resourceful teacher who widened the school’s horizons by a number of no doubt popular initiatives: holding two fundraising concerts to pay for a school library and to provide prizes for achievement and highest attendances; organising a school outing by train to Penarth, paid for by subscription; and seizing the moment for an interesting experience: ‘Gave the children a half holiday in order that they might see the Royal Artillery’ (Jun ‘91). He apparently applied for dictionaries from a commercial sponsor: ‘This morning I received a parcel of Dictionaries about 100 from a firm of Tea Dealers in London. I gave one each to the children in Stds III to VII’ (Jul ‘91). Nichols also arranged for a ‘museum’ case to be installed for displaying objects of interest and study. During his tenure an evening class was set up, with an initial attendance of 15. His log book entries cover a wide range of detailed information – another bonus for posterity. There is no indication of why he left the school.
Meanwhile, Arabella Price was preparing for her teaching qualification; having study leave, taking the exams for ‘Second Class Stage 1’ and eventually qualifying as assistant mistress, while Mary Farr’s appointment was not renewed after September 1892. Mrs Nichols was the sewing mistress.
The census for 1891 gives this information: John William Nicholls age 29, born c1862 at Horseforth, Leeds, Yorks; his wife Annie Louisa, schoolmistress born Evesham Worcs; no children; residence at Rose Cottage, Longtown. Again judging from the geographical route of census returns, Nichols probably lived at a property still called Rose Cottage about 200 yards from the school.
Charles William Dyer 30 November 1892 – 18 July 1894 (Vol I pages 411-Vol II page 28)
The school seems to have had a difficult time during Charles Dyer’s headship, ending with his sudden death from an unspecified illness. Major problems for him, frequently repeated, were the inadequacies, in his view, of the teaching assistant Arabella Price and the new monitor John Davies: Miss Price’ was said to be impudent, and to show little aptitude for keeping order and interesting the Infants; and John Davies was frequently late, or did not turn up, for his morning tuition from Dyer from 8.30 to 9am before the start of school. Things came to a head with Miss Price when Dyer refused permission for her to go to a drawing exam, which she attended anyway saying later that she had leave from the School Board (she was the daughter of a Board member). After other confrontations, Miss Price resigned and left the school forthwith. Meanwhile John Davies was replaced by John Farr as monitor (thought to be no better than his predecessor), then joined by Miss Farr reappearing. Concurrent with these staff altercations, Dyer reports more punishments for pupils than any other master, usually unspecified but sometimes one or two strokes of the cane on the hands. The frequency may just mean that Dyer was more assiduous in reporting discipline than other masters – or perhaps reflects an actual increase.
Mrs Dyer was sewing mistress, and at least one child was a pupil, a son Charles E Dyer, who won prizes for attendance, doing well in the HMI exams and for drawing.
Dyer’s last entry in the log book was on 18 July 1894: ‘Midsummer holidays commenced’. This was about two weeks earlier than usual for the Harvest vacation which usually began around the beginning of August, so it may be that Dyer was already ill. The next entry in the log book was 10 September: ‘Owing to the illness of Mr Dyer I took charge of this school as Temporary master. AR Moreton’. Dyer’s death was reported on 5 October: ‘Mr Dyer (late master of this school) who has been ill since July, died last night’; and his funeral three days later: ‘School closed all day on account of the funeral of the late Master’ (Oct ‘94).
AR Morton, F Wareham and Joseph Makinson: all temporary for three months from 10 September to 30 November 1894 Vol II pages 30-34
Joseph Helliwell 3 December 1894 – 28 February 1900 (Vol II pages 34-146)
After the temporary replacements for three months, Dyer was succeeded by Joseph Helliwell, Master of Craswall school, whose place at Craswall was taken by Joseph Makinson, the last of three temporary masters at Longtown. Notable during Helliwell’s time was the extension of the school building, to enlarge the ‘classroom’ (for younger children). In 1895 the work was under way, with long delays and continual distress from dirt and crowding in the ‘schoolroom’, normally for the older children but during alterations was the only usable area for all ages. Helliwell was frustrated too, by major epidemics leading to school closure at various times between 1895 and 1900. The disruptions took their toll on the master, shown by this entry: ‘Another discouraging weeks work 71 on books average 31. I have no heart for work it seems to be working against fate...progress nil’ (Apr ‘98).
Several assistants and monitors were recorded: Miss Farr had left shortly before Helliwell was appointed and was replaced by Emma Price. Monitors reported are Lionel Miles in 1895, G Nichols in 1896, Annie Bridgewater beginning in 1897 and Kate Jones in 1899. Mrs Emily Helliwell was the sewing mistress.
Helliwell may have had family connections in Yorkshire and possibly returned there when he resigned in 1900: ‘I shall be away tomorrow (Friday and Monday) am going to Yorkshire on urgent business’; [three weeks later:] ‘My duties as master terminate today’ (8 and 28 Feb ’00).
George Harris 16 April 1900 – 30 September 1904 (Vol II pages 147-214)
George Harris was older than other masters, with children old enough to help out in teaching arrangements that look something like a family business. His wife Mrs Emily Caroline Harris was sewing mistress; his daughter Bertha Harris took over as monitress from Kate Jones who was on sick leave (and later died of pneumonia) in 1900; his adult daughter Caroline Harris was put in charge of the school while Harris was temporarily ill, and was then replaced a few days later by Mr Arthur Harris, ‘late of Cooper’s School’ [a relation?]; Theresa Harris was monitress in 1902/3. Other staff were Emma Price continuing as teaching assistant in the Infants class from 1900, and Mabel Prothero, a former pupil who had reached Standard VII, starting in 1903. Despite these stop-gap changes of personnel, at any one time there would have been just three full time members of staff.
The HMI report in 1901 notes ‘The teaching is kindly and careful’ but recommends ‘Greater firmness in discipline and more exactness in arranging the work’. In 1902 the government grant was partially removed: ‘HM Inspector is unable under Article 105 of the Code to report that the staff is efficient within the meaning of that Article’ (July ‘02). The issue appears to have been that Harris introduced a more flexible regime of classroom management: as he put it, ‘...placing the scholars in two divisions, answers much better than the old method of separate standards’ (Nov ‘01). He also seems to have widened the curriculum, such as by giving a lesson on the Census of 1901 ‘to the elder scholars...in which the children seemed interested‘ (Mar ‘01); and, for the girls, ‘some instruction in Cooking and nursing the sick from Miss Matilda Dods Instruction books’ (Feb ‘02). HMI noted, among other criticisms, that ‘Physical Training is not taught in accordance with an approved scheme’ (May ‘04).
Harris’s last log book entry says: ‘According to arrangement with the School managers I cease from today to hold the office of Teacher’ (Sep ‘04). The ‘arrangement’ in fact amounted to dismissal as HMI did not recommend renewal of a funding grant for the school: ‘Formal warning...is therefore given that the next Annual Grant may be withheld...The Board of Education should be informed what steps the Local Authority proposes to take to restore the school to efficiency’ (May ‘04).
The 1901 census gives this information: George Harris, Board Schoolmaster, age 58; born Harwell, Berks; wife Emily Harris age 54 b Street, Hants, Board School Mistress; children Bertha age 18 Assistant School Mistress, Emily age 15 and George age 11. They lived at the new purpose-built School House in Longtown. Before coming to Longtown the family lived in places far removed: in the 1881 census at School house in Bury, Sussex where Harris was schoolmaster and organist; and in the 1891 census at Landscove School House,Totness, Devon, where Harris was elementary teacher and organist.
Albert May 3 Oct 1904 – 30 Jan 1914 [Cut-off for this research at 15 December 1910] (Vol II page 211-Vol III page 97)
Albert May comes across as an inspiring teacher, judging from his success in maintaining the highest level of attendance of any previous master, and improving the morale of staff as well as standards of teaching. On his arrival he found the school in a sorry state: ‘The more I go into the work of the School the more bewildered I am. I know not where to begin or what to do’ (Oct ‘04). A year later he had turned the school around: the diocesan inspector noted that ‘The excellent tone of the school reflects the greatest credit on all concerned. A visit to this school is a real pleasure’ (Nov ‘05). A steady increase in the attendance rate eventually reached 100% on one day, when May proudly noted ‘We have today accomplished a feat unique in the annals of this School viz that of having every child present...I have for months been offering a day holiday for a full attendance & shall therefore give the children a day holiday tomorrow’ (Jun ‘05). May organised funding for outings to Pennarth; initiated other special events such as a mock election prior to a General Election in 1906 and teaching the boys to swim (in the river). He was clearly a staunch patriot, who celebrated Empire Day in style including a march to the Green, salute to the Union Jack, and a message of loyalty sent to the king by telegram.
Assistant teachers were Emma Price and Mabel Prothero, and Mrs May as temporary teacher until followed by Agnes Pinnock in 1908. Improved morale is suggested by praise for the new assistant, Miss Pinnock, described as ‘fully capable’, whose competence gave him more time for ‘superintendence of the whole school’ (Oct ‘08). Two teaching assistants during May’s headship also stayed much longer than their predecessors; Mabel Prothero for seven years and Emma Price for fourteen (both leaving to get married). Miss Pinnock left after three years to become head teacher of a school in Lincolnshire. Emma Price was the sister of Arabella, who had been continually at odds with Mr Dyer: in contrast, Emma had a long career as a valued Infants teacher. Mrs May, the sewing mistress, was employed full time on a temporary basis. Apparently in delicate health, she was frequently absent with illness, and at other times stayed at home to look after a sick child (there were three children in the family).
The 1911 census for Longtown records Albert May, age 41, born 1870 in Exeter, Devon; His wife Maud Annie, age 32, born 1879 in Torquay, Devon; their children Winifred age 14 and Doris 6 both born in Torquay, and Philip age 3 born in Longtown. They lived at School House next to the school.
The record of Longtown School in this study ends in December 1910, before the end of Albert May’s tenure in January 1914. His subsequent career is not known.
The status and role of support staff is not always clear from the terms used. ‘Pupil monitor’ and ‘pupil teacher’ both occur, without necessarily implying current enrolment as a pupil: some seem to be still enrolled but clearly some were employed shortly after leaving school. Again, ‘assistant teacher’ covered a range of experience and qualification. A few monitors who were studying and taking external exams towards ‘certification’ as teachers are referred to as ‘assistants’. Other assistant teachers did not have the required qualifications to teach the ‘Upper School’ but were acceptable for teaching Infants.
The HMI annual reports indicate the status of support staff in terms of ‘Articles’ in various regulatory codes of practice. Article 68 indicated competence to teach Infants, and Article 50 competence to teach all levels, including subject lessons. (I have not succeeded in research efforts to find the specifications for these regulatory codes relating to 19th century legislation, but their significance for staff deployment is implied in the log books.) No qualifications are stated for the sewing mistress. In practice there were different patterns of deployment. The sewing mistress (usually the master’s wife) was presumably employed by virtue of relevant skills, though at least two also had teaching certificates. On the whole, other support staff began teaching in their teens, with differing levels of attainment, ambitions and skills; some short term and others staying for several years, some teaching Infants only, some teaching the Upper School alongside the master.
Gaps of time between one monitor or assistant leaving and another starting could leave the school seriously understaffed, occasionally leaving the master single-handed. The number of support teachers increased over the years: initially a single monitor, then a monitor and one teaching assistant, and eventually for a brief period only, two teaching assistants in the Upper School. Again, the suitability of support teachers improved over the years: from monitors whose own achievement level was at Standard IV or V, to others later on at Standard VII.
The masters’ often blunt criticisms seem directed towards the School Board, with a heavy implication that more suitable help should be found. However, between the lines there are extenuating circumstances: most support staff had home responsibilities such as helping with farm work or caring for sick parents, and they were expected to study and take exams for the ‘codes’ on top of their teaching load. We have a one-sided view of complex inter-relationships between the master and support staff –whether affinities or clashes. As one illustration, the careers of the two Price sisters, Arabella and Emma, suggest very different attitudes towards them by several masters. Both were daughters of the vice chairman of the School Board, Frederic Price, and had been pupils who became monitors and then long term teaching assistants, but with an interesting contrast of aspiration. Arabella comes across as a highly motivated student preparing for certification: when she started, the then master Mr Nichols gave her a great deal of encouragement and allowed her time off for study; while the next master, Mr Dyer, was constantly disparaging and refused her time off even to attend an exam. Arabella eventually qualified for teaching in the Upper School and gained a ‘Queen’s Scholarship’, but after an apparently stormy encounter with Mr Dyer she resigned with immediate effect. Her career thereafter is not known. Emma followed, beginning as a monitress with the Infants, gained qualification for teaching at that level only and continued with the Infants for fourteen years. Mr Dyer had opposed her appointment on the grounds that she would be ‘too raw a hand’, but soon after his death the School Board approved her appointment and she became a proficient teacher. When she left Mr May wrote: ‘Miss Price’s engagement as Teacher of the Infants Division terminates today, and I am exceedingly sorry to lose her help. She is leaving to be married’ (Aug ’11). Later in the year she was invited back for a presentation: ‘Mrs A Johnston, who for fourteen years taught the Infants, was presented with a silver cake basket subscribed for by the Managers, Teachers & Children. Several of the parents and Managers were present’ (Dec ’11).
NAMES AND DATES OF MONITORS AND ASSISTANT TEACHERS
James Hughes. Mar 1876 -?1878.
William Watkins. Sep 1878 - ?1879
Alfred Thomas. Jul 1879 - May1882
Henry Hyde. Sep 1880 - Sep 1882
Wiliam Greenow. ?Jun 1882 - ?1884
Louisa A Smith. Jun 1882-?1884.
Mary Ann Williams. Sep 1884-?1888.
Arabella J Price. ?Jun 1888 - Oct 1893
Anna L Evans. ?1888 - ?Jun 1889
Mary Farr. ?Jun 1889 - July 1892 & Oct 1893 - Oct 1894
John Davies. Apr 1892 - May 1893
John Farr. Aug 1893 - ?Jul 1894
Emma Price. Oct 1894 - Aug 1911
Lionel Miles. Sep 1895 - Oct 1896
Clara Probert. Nov 1896 - ?Oct 1897
Annie Bridgewater. Jan 1898 - Nov 1899.
Kate Jones. Nov 1899 - Died Jun 1900
Bertha Harris. ?Aug 1900 - ?
Theresa Harris ?Jul 1902 - Oct 1903
Mabel Prothero. Oct 1903 - Jan 1909
Agnes Pinnock. Oct 1908 - May 1911
The quotes below are those made by successive masters. The first mention of a named monitor or assistant teacher is indicated by bold type.
Notes by Thomas Driffied
- I find more need every day of a monitor or Assistant – 3rd & 4th Class full. (Feb ‘76)
- James Hughes commenced as ‘Monitor’. (Mar ‘76]
- Monitor absent on Thursday at Confirmation. (Mar ‘76)
- Pupil Teacher absent from Lesson. (Oct ‘76)
- Pupil teacher neglected lessons today – his own lessons. (Nov ‘77)
- Pupil teacher very late in afternoon...Pupil teacher troublesome at present. (Feb ‘78)
- “Pupil teacher” or rather “Monitor” was taken ill today at noon & was compelled to be absent in afternoon. (Apr ‘78)
Notes by Thomas Lawrence
- Monitor William Watkins (Sep ‘78)
- Alfred Thomas commenced his duties as pupil teacher in this school today. (Jul ‘79)
- Alfred Thomas attended the PT exam. (Mar ‘80)
- [HMI report:] A Thomas has passed well but shld attend to Euclid (Apr ‘80)
- Henry Hyde commenced duties. (Sep ‘80)
- [HMI report:] A Thomas has passed fairly but should attend to Algebra & History. (Apr ‘81)
- I find Alfred Thomas exercising very great patience of late, & working very hard with his classes. (Jul ‘81)
- A testimonial subscribed for by the scholars, teachers, & parents was presented to Alfred Thomas this afternoon in recognition of his conduct & services during his apprenticeship in this school. (May ‘82)
- Wm Grenow & Hy Hyde asked leave today to go to Hay (Jun ‘82)
- Miss Smith [Louisa A Smith] began teaching in this school today (Jun ’82)
- Hy Hyde left (Sep ‘82)
- MA [Marry Ann] Williams began teaching on the 15th inst. (Sep ‘84)
- W Grennow went home this morning as he was not well... Gave W Grenow leave for today (6 & 17 Nov ‘84)
- [HMI report:] Unless MA Williams greatly improves especially in Arithmetic and History she will fail next year. (May ‘86]
Notes by David Jenkins
- MA Williams absent all the week through illness. (Apr ‘87)
- [HMI report:] MA Williams should be informed that she is not qualified by this examination under Article 50 or 52. She can be qualified for Article 50 only by passing the examination specified in Article 46. [Apr ‘88]
- [HMI report:] AL [Anna L] Evans is recognised under Article 84 [as] Assistant. (Apr ‘88)
- I attended the meeting of the School Board in Michaelchurch. Left School in charge of PT. (Mar ‘88)
- Arabella Price monitress asked leave to go at 3 o’clock and was granted. (Jun ‘88)
- I informed monitor that no lessons after school hours would be given again for some time because of her father’s ingratitude. (Jun ‘88)
- Arabella J Price went for her Examination at Hereford (Scudamore Boys School). Oct ‘88)
Notes by temporary master
- [HMI report, in list of staff:] AJ Price – Grammar, Geography, History & Music (Jun ‘89)
- [HMI report:] M [Mary] Farr is recognised under article 84 (Jun ‘89)
- Received notice from the L Ed Dept per Llanwarne Esq about the PT AJ Price. She will be allowed to sit for the exam in April next taking the papers of the 2nd year, but will be required to take the Third Year’s papers in the following Oct, as she would have done in the usual course of things. (Nov ‘89)
- I was 30 minutes late this morning having been detained by a late train. The PTs opened School and I found the work in progress and the School very orderly when I entered at 9.31am. (Mar ‘90)
- The PT steadily improves in her work. (Mar ‘90)
Notes by John Nichols
- Attended the PT’s exam held at Blue Coat School Hereford. (Apr ‘90)
- Granted leave of absence to Miss Price during the afternoons of this week for private study. (Oct ‘90)
- [HMI report;] AJ Price has passed fairly but should attend to History & Music (May ‘91)
- Received notice from Education Department that Miss AJ Price’s engagement may be extended to the 3rd March 1893. (May ‘91)
- Am suffering from an attack on Influenza and shall leave the school this afternoon in charge of Miss AJ Price. (Jun ‘91)
- Miss Price received notice this morning that she had obtained a 2nd class in Stage I (S& A Dept) Mathematics. (Jul ‘91)
- Miss Price had half holiday today for private study. Shall endeavour to allow her two or three half days a week until after Scholarship Examination. (Apr ‘92)
- John Davies’ homework not prepared. (Apr ‘92)
- Miss Price had half day today for private study. She will have four half days per week until after Exam in July. (May ‘92)
- Miss Price has leave of absence this week in order to attend the Scholarship Examination at Cardiff. (Jul ‘92)
- Board Meeting today at Craswall. I shall attend there and leave the school in charge of Miss Price & Miss Farr, after mid-day. (Jul ‘92)
- Miss Price received information that she had passed Scholarship Exam. (Oct ‘92)
- I am very pleased to be able to note the ability which John Davies already displays in his work (Oct ‘92)
- Received notification from Department that Miss Price is qualified as Assistant Teacher under Art 50, also that John Davies cannot be accepted as Candidate on Probation until after HM Inspector’s annual visit. It is proposed that he will then be apprenticed at once on his passing the required Examination. (Nov ‘92)
Notes by Charles Dyer
- John Davies the paid monitor came at 9.30am. (Jan ‘93)
- Miss Price was impudent. (Feb ‘93)
- The difficulties of this school have been very great during the four months that I have had charge. Miss Price shows little aptitude for keeping order and in interesting the Infants. (Mar ‘93)
- John Davies complained to the Board to-day that he had had no lessons from me. I pointed out to the Board that he was not yet a Candidate so that he could receive no lessons until he was successful in passing his exam. (Apr ‘93)
- I asked Jno Davies to come at 8.30 for lessons. He did not did not come till 9 o’clock exactly. (Apr ‘93)
- John Davies came at 9 o’clock. He said he had work to do at home. I reprimanded him severely, but he did not promise to do better in future. (Apr ‘93)
- John Davies Home-work not prepared. (Apr ‘93)
- J Davies came at 8.40 instead of 8.30 am. (May ‘93)
- John Davies left this afternoon. (May ‘93)
- The Board have left St I without a teacher, as Jno Davies has had to leave school to assist his mother with the mill. (May ‘93)
- I have had no help with St I for nearly five weeks. The first and second classes cannot receive enough attention while I have St I in hand as well. (Jun ‘93)
- Miss Price, the Ex-Pupil teacher came to me at one o’clock today while I was assembling the scholars to ask leave to go away and take a Drawing Examn. I refused as I do not intend giving the teachers leave of absence to the neglect of their work in school. However, Miss Price took leave on her own responsibility and left her class without a teacher at 2.45 (May ‘93)
- I had to complain to Miss Price that she had beaten M Whistance on the head for some fault in school. I requested her not to strike the children at all. I noticed, however, several children had been crying in her room this afternoon. They have a very miserable time of it, without a doubt. (May ‘93)
- This afternoon on returning to school I found a note awaiting me from AJ Price, the Ex-PT, saying that she had leave of absence for this afternoon and tomorrow from the Board. John Davies, the monitor left last Friday; he was a little help to me. Now I am left without being consulted in the least either by the Board or Miss Price with the Infants and six Standards, and with no time to make arrangements to supply their places...[Later the same day:] I find that St II (Miss Price’s class) cannot work a Subtrn sum correctly...[Next day:] Miss Price still absent, and the Master has not been consulted, he has the school with Infants all to himself. It is impossible to follow the Time-table. (May ‘93)
- Miss Price returned, but gave no explanation of her conduct of May 16th...Reproved Miss Price for striking Dav Williams an infant this morning. (May ‘93)
- Yesterday Miss Price had charge of about 10 Infants all day. They were so disorderly that I had to tell Miss Price about it. The afternoon was no better though the lesson was sewing. (May ‘93)
- The Master was compelled to speak to Miss Price about again striking the children on their heads. (May ‘93)
- The Infants, 9 in number, were in the school-room with me under the charge of Miss Price. One boy, Harold Williams, stood out of his class for half an hour, doing nothing. I pointed this out to Miss Price. She pleaded that he would not do as he was told, and impudently asked me what was she to do when she had a child who would not do as he was told. She seems to have no tact whatever in the management of Infants. (Jun ‘93)
- The Infants (only 14) made such a noise that we could scarcely do our ordinary work. I told Miss Price about it at 12 o’clock. There was nearly as much noise in the afternoon. The girls occupied the class-room. The Infants were in the School-room with the boys. (St I to VII being under my care). (Jun ‘93)
- Miss Price has not been working by the Time-table. I find that she has taken no singing since the Inspection (Apr 5). I know that she has taken very few object lessons, only 5, since that date. (Jun ‘93)
- Miss Price sent me a note this morning by her sister which ran as follows:- “I have permission from the Board, for my sister to take my class today, during my absence”. This is not true as the Board did not give her permission at their last meeting, no mention being then made of Miss Price’s wish to go to the “Chester Show”. She means that her father, a member of the school board, asked Mr Harris , the Chairman of the Sch Bd, for leave for his daughter to go to the show. This is the third time Miss Price has absented herself during 6 weeks...This neglect of duty is sure to tell against the school at the examinations. (Jun ‘93)
- I have had no help with St I for nearly five weeks. The first and second classes cannot receive enough attention while I have St I in hand as well.’ (Jun ‘93)
- The order of the Infants was very bad. We had them in the school room all day. I told Miss Price about it. They were especially disorderly in coming in from play in the afternoon. (Jul ‘93)
- John Farr commenced teaching as paid monitor. (Aug ‘93)
- I have taken John [Farr] regularly for lessons for some time past. He says he has passed Standard VI, but now, if examined in St V he could not pass. He has been at work otherwise than school-work for nearly two years. (Sep ‘93)
- John Farr, monitor, works steadily, but he has a lot to learn before he can be ready to pass the St VI again. (Sep ‘93)
- Miss Price has had St II and Infants (3 boys (II) and 14 (Infants) in the school-room. The order she has had is so bad that I have had to stop several times until quiet work has been obtained. (Sep ‘93)
- The School Board held their meeting at Longtown today. It was decided to appoint Miss Mary Farr, who will be an Assistant under Art 68, in the place of Miss Price (Art 50) who has resigned, and has received permission to leave at once. Miss Farr commences on Monday October 9th.(6 Oct ‘93)
- I take John Farr at 8.30 to lessons. He is exceedingly backward in Reading, Arithmetic, Geog, Grammar both written and spoken, especially. He did not arrive until after 8.45 am. (Dec ‘93)
- Miss Farr and John Farr, monitor, were both absent all day...Miss Farr and Jno Farr still absent themselves without leave...Miss Farr was again absent for two days. Her mother is ill. She thinks it is her duty to mind her mother first, and leave our ignorant Infants to their own devices expecting me to provide a teacher for them... No doubt she has been speaking privately to a member of the School Board, so that her neglect of duty in the school may be lightly passed over. (5–16 Feb ‘94
- Mr E Gwillim and Mr Griffiths members of the school board called at the school today and informed Miss [sic] that Miss Farr had resigned charge of the Infants. They asked me to mention a teacher who would be likely to suit in her place. I know of nobody in the village who could teach. They mentioned the name of several village girls over 18 yrs of age who are anxious to teach. I told them plainly that these had had no experience as teachers, the work being far beyond their power, that, in fact, for several months they would be useless as teachers and would have to be taught themselves. They went to see Miss Farr, and when they returned said they had decided for Miss Price [Emma Price ] a daughter of the Vice-Chairman of the Sch Board, quite a raw hand at the teaching, to take Miss Farr’s place for one week, then Miss Farr would return to teach until the Board met again early in April. They had decided, they said, so I considered it useless to protest. So the school must suffer for want to an efficient Assistant. [Note in margin:] Miss Price never was appointed – Miss Farr returned after 3 week’s leave. (Feb ‘94)
- Mrs Dyer, who was approved by HM Inspector, the Rev A G Arlington of Tunbridge Wells during the years 1887-1892 as an Assistant under Art 68, began to teach the Infants for 1 week. Miss Farr will return next week. (Feb ‘94)
- John Farr’s salary, the Clerk tells me, was raised to 3/- a week.’ (Jul ‘94)
- I reprimanded John Farr, monitor, for fighting in the play-time with Edgar Johnson. (Jul ‘94)
- [HMI Report:] The first standard and the Infants are well taught by Miss Farr, but her task is almost impossible owing to the small size of the room and its unsuitable furniture. (Jul ‘94)
No notes by temporary masters
Notes by Joseph Helliwell
- Admitted Lionel Miles St VII (Mar ‘95)
- The Board met today to appoint a permanent master for this school. Mr J Helliwell of Craswell school was appointed. The present temporary master was elected to succeed Mr Helliwell . Miss Farr’s resignation was accepted and Miss Price [Emma Price] was appointed to succeed her. (Oct ‘94)
- The monitor has left during the holidays and I am without one now. (2 Sep ‘95)
- Lionel Miles appointed by the Board on Friday as a Candidate on Probation – commenced duties today. Art 68 does not seem capable of having Infants and St I so I am taking St I under my own care. (9 Sep ‘95)
- The monitor has not once done all the lessons set...The monitor improves a little in his teaching but he only does about the quarter of lessons set him to do. (Sep ‘95)
- The monitor doing much better with his lessons. (4 Oct ‘95)
- I have spent a good deal of time this week with the Infants and am taking the teacher in lessons on School Management and Notes of Lessons in the hopes of helping her to better grasp the work undertaken by her. Cautioned her about tapping the little ones on the head with a pointer.’ (11 Oct ‘95)
- The monitor does not show much aptitude for teaching. (Nov ‘95)
- Miss Price away by permission. Mrs Helliwell being very ill and the nurse having to go I am obliged to neglect my duties a little. (Jul ‘96)
-Today I was detained at the house until 1.30 owing to Mrs Helliwell’s illness – sent word up for Miss Price to mark the registers which I found correctly marked on my arrival at 1.35. No sewing taken this week. (Jul ‘96)
- G Nichols is still absent under the pretence of being ill. The monitor is almost useless- the children under his change do not take the slightest notice of him and his aptitude for the work is nil. His lessons are also much neglected. (Apr ‘96)
- Monitor only done one nights lesson this week. (May ‘96)
- Monitor improving a little (Jun ‘96)
- Monitor leaves today. (Oct ‘96)
- Clara Probert commenced duties as Monitress of Nov 1st – but is only going to stay a year. (Nov ‘96)
- The Monitress is very ill...Miss Price in charge. [Mar ‘97]
- The temporary monitress away today by permission.(Mar ‘97)
- St II under the care of the monitress are the weakest in school. The teacher takes no interest in her work. (Oct ‘97)
- The monitress wishes to leave today. Having no one to take her place she is willing to continue a little longer so that another might be appointed. (Oct ‘97)
- Annie Bridgewater commenced today as monitress. (Jan ‘98)
- Monitress useless – could do better without her. (Apr ‘98)
- Monitress of little use with St II children do as they like with her, she has no control over them. (Oct ‘98)
-Monitress does more harm than good should be a great deal better off without her (Feb ‘99)
- Monitress leaving today to take a place at Cheltenham. (Nov ‘99)
- Kate Jones commenced duties as monitress today. (Nov ‘99)
Notes by George Harris
- Kate Jones monitress absent on account of illness. Bertha Harris has assisted instead. (11 Jun ‘00)
- Received notice that Kate Jones died at 6 o’clock last evening from Pneumonia. (14 Jun ‘00)
- [HMI report:] Bertha Harris monitress (Aug ‘00)
- The school has been carried on by my daughter Caroline Harris in consequence of my having been under medical treatment with a severe attack of inflammation in my head...Mr Arthur Harris late of the Cooper’s School, Egham has carried the school on this week and will take charge until I am able to do my duties. (12 & 19 Oct ‘00)
- [HMI report:] Theresa Harris monitress (Jul ‘02 & Jul ‘03)
- Mabel Protheroe commenced work as monitress here (Oct ‘03)
- Mabel Protheroe has been appointed by the Managers in the place of Theresa Harris, who has resigned to go to Pulborough Sussex in Post Office work. Mabel Protheroe was a scholar in this school and reached 7th Standard, and is likely to be a good monitress. (Dec ‘03 )
Notes by Albert May
- [Note by Vicar:] Miss Price’s class [Infants] always had a good word at the inspections. (Dec ‘04)
- Monitress seems to be working with more method & her standard are making progress. (Oct ‘05)
- The Monitress is absent today through sickness. [Next day:] Monitress still absent. I have had to get Mrs May to come & assist me in school. (Jun ‘05)
- The Monitress has been absent all the week, and I have found teaching 60 children in 6 standards rather heavy work. (Apr ‘06)
- The Managers have granted Miss Price leave of absence from her duties today in order that she may attend the Choral Festival at Hereford. (Sept ‘06)
- The managers, at a meeting held this evening approved of Mrs May’s sister taking charge of the Sewing Class for a short time. (Jul ‘07)
- Miss Prothero had toothache so badly this afternoon that I sent her home at 1.45...Miss Prothero is unable to do any teaching in consequence of a swollen face...Miss Prothero will be absent all day as she has gone to Abergavenny to see a dentist. (Sept ‘08)
- I have had to work standards III to VII nearly all the week, and consequently I am not at all sorry that Friday afternoon has arrived. The appointment of a teacher in Mrs May’s place will be a great relief to me. (2 Oct ‘08)
- Mrs May’s duties as full time Teacher in this School terminate today. (9 Oct ‘08)
- Miss Agnes Pinnock commenced her duties as Temporary Assistant Teacher today.’ (26 Oct ‘08)
- Miss Pinnock is fully capable of teaching and taking charge of the Upper Standards so that I have been able to devote more time to the superintendence of the whole school than at any time since I came here. (Oct ‘08)
- The Managers have been notified that Miss Agnes Pinnock, who has been acting as Temporary Assistant Teacher since Oct 26th, has been appointed permanently. (Dec ‘08)
- Miss Prothero is no longer on the staff of the School, so that we now have only two teachers in the Upper School in place of three, this will necessitate a rearrangement of the classes. (Jan ‘09)
- We commence a new School Year today. 13 children have come up from the Infant Room to form a new St I and with 74 names on the registers of Elder Scholars there will be ample work for Miss Pinnock and myself’ (Jun ‘09)
- Miss Price is too unwell to attend to her duties today...In view of the fact that it is likely to be some weeks before Miss Price will be well enough to resume her duties the Managers have applied to the Education Committee for the services of a temporary teacher. (28 Sep – 7 Oct ‘09)
- Miss Prothero commenced duties as Temporary Assistant this morning. She is taking Miss Price’s place in the Infant Room.’ (11 Oct ‘09)
- Miss Price resumed her duties this morning after an absence of twelve weeks. (Jan ‘10))
THE SCHOOL BUILDING AND FACILITIES
The project for building a new school was sponsored by the Marquis of Abergavenny, who provided the land and architect’s plans in 1868 and may also have paid part or all of the building costs. As Lord of the Manor of Ewyas Lacy, the Marquis owned Longtown castle and a large number of properties in the parish which were part of the ancient manorial lands. The land donated for Longtown school measured one rood (a quarter of an acre). The plan below shows the position of the school site in the castle precinct, which is surrounded by the remains of earthwork defences enclosing a motte, or mound, and circular stone keep. On the east side of the road an open grassed area called ‘The Green’ was used by the school for outdoor activities. On the west side of the road, the remains of ancient retaining walls apparently marked off land that was out of bounds for the pupils, though there was a small yard immediately behind the school used as a playground.
The site of Longtown school in the grounds of Longtown castle
DEVELOPMENT OF THE SITE
The school when first built had two rooms: the ‘classroom’ for Infants and the ‘schoolroom’ for older or more advanced pupils, with two porch entrances for boys and girls. An architect’s drawing of 1868 shows the design of the school (click here to see the full plan below).
Architect’s drawing of the front elevation of Longtown School, 1868
The detail below of the floor plan gives the width of the classroom as 12 feet, and of the schoolroom as 38 feet. Although the depth is not given on the plan, a measurement elsewhere (quoted below) notes 17 feet 10 inches.
The original school floor plan
By the late 1880s the school was overcrowded: ‘Average [attendance] for the quarter 81.78’...'The school is quite full, in fact too full. I find it very difficult to work properly in this small room with such a number’ ( Jun ‘87). In 1894 the HMI report insists on enlargement of the premises: ‘The first standard and the Infants are well taught by Miss Farr, but her task is almost impossible owing to the small size of the room and its unsuitable furniture. It would be a great advantage to enlarge the room, which can easily be done, and meanwhile the present cumbrous desks should be removed, and the proper gallery desks should be fitted...The Infant’s room should be enlarged and made more suitable for their instruction, otherwise My Lords may be unable to pay a grant except for the elder children’. (Jul ‘94)
In 1895 building work was under way to enlarge the classroom, to which a third porch was added for an Infant’s entrance. At around the same time, a house for the master was built next door. The Marquis of Abergavenny apparently contributed to these developments, or even funded them fully, as suggested by a visit he made to the school in 1893 which was probably for preliminary discussions. The log book notes that ‘The Marquis of Abergavenny visited the school... He is going to build a cottage for the schoolmaster’ (Oct ‘93).
Entries during the building works show a great deal of upheaval from September to December 1895, and completion was not reported until August 1896.
- The alterations to the Classroom suggested by HMI are now being carried out but are a long way off being completed. Infants and St I are working in the large room. (Sep ‘95)
- Board meeting held here today. The classroom not being available the Board held their meeting in the large room hence no school was held in the afternoon. (Sep ‘95)
- The work is suffering very much from having the Infants in the large room. (Sep ‘95)
- Sewing taken this afternoon. The garments cannot be commenced in the over crowded room. The discipline is very difficult to maintain in the noisy room. (Sep ‘95)
- The classroom is a long way off being completed and the work suffers from the over crowded room. (Sep ‘95)
- The work is not progressing as it ought to owing to all the children being in one room. The classroom will be weeks yet before it is completed at the present rate it is being done. The garments cannot be commenced in the dirty room. (Oct ‘95)
- The school work is being carried on under great disadvantages and must suffer for the neglect of the contractor. (Oct ‘95.)
- Only one man comes to work and he has failed to put in an appearance the last three days... Garments not started yet. The sewing mistress intends commencing next week with them and they will take their chance of being dirtied and spoiled. Singing is suffering very much owing to the Infants & Mixed Time Table working well together. (Nov ‘95)
- The Classroom is still unfinished but have pressed the Contractor very much to finish the inside he has pushed on and it is probable we may have the use of it on Monday though we shall have to come again when the window is begun of. (Nov ‘95)
- Had the classroom today – good school 67 here. (Nov ‘95))
- The window in the classroom begun today – consequently we are once more all in the large room. (Dec ‘95)
- The yards are in a dreadful dirty state and it is impossible to keep the room clean. The porches this week have had the appearance of a ploughed field. (Dec ‘95)
- The yards have had stones put on them and partly paved making it much more comfortable and clean. (Mar ‘96)
- The dormer window in the large window is to be put in during the weeks holiday. (Apr ‘96)
- The infants’ room has been enlarged, the main room is now much better lighted and ventilated, a third cloakroom has been built; the approaches to the school have been flagged, the playgrounds improved, and the offices rearranged.(Aug ‘96)
- [Visit by CH Cowling HMI to measure rooms]: ‘The dimensions of the two rooms as taken by Mr Cowling and myself are: Large Room 37’9” X 17’10”; Class room 21’8” X 17’10”; and the accommodation on the 10 sq ft X 9 sq ft bases is put at 110’. (Apr ‘08)
A yard at the back of the school extended to remnants of an ancient retaining wall at the edge of the inner castle bailey; this area between the bailey and the school was used as a playground at break times. A shed in the middle of this yard housed the ‘offices’ (earth closets) with a separate entrance on each side for girls and boys.
The former yard extended to the right beyond this car park area
Across the road, the Green made a convenient outdoor space for many school activities and special events as well as a play area before and after school times.
The Green at front of the school
The village road and former School House are on the left
Various places in the vicinity were out of bounds to the pupils, some at break times and others on the way to and from school.
- I cautioned five boys about going down the road beyond the limits of the Green. (Jul ‘78)
- Cautioned the children about going to the river, trespassing in Mr Harris’s orchard and their danger in climbing about the old tower. (May ‘79)
- Punished Hy Hyde & John Pritchard for running in Mr Harris’s mowing grass. (Jun ‘79)
- Punished H Smith, D Price, John Farr, A Howells for going up on the hill yesterday afternoon without leave. (Jul ‘87);
- Forbade boys going down to the river to bathe. (Jul ‘93);
- I warned Miss Farr about letting her horse at large on “the Green”. It was galloping about in mad fashion while the children were going home. Our little children cannot get out of its way in time to prevent an accident. (Mar ‘94)
- Three boys, against the rules, bathed in the stream adjacent to the school (Jul ‘94)
- I am to enquire what steps are taken to ensure the safety of children when playing about the sawpit adjoining the school which HM Inspector reports is dangerous. (Jul ‘99)
FACILITIES IN THE SCHOOL
HEATING, LIGHTING AND WATER
The notional season for heating, from a stove for wood or coal in each of the two rooms, was apparently from November to March. The School Board imposed a frugal budget, on one occasion refusing to pay for a delivery of coal. Fires lit at times other than the designated months are often specifically mentioned, presumably to justify using fuel at unauthorised times in response to bad weather. Mention of coal or wood deliveries to the master’s house suggest that the School Board provided his fuel. An early entry notes that the pupils brought a contribution to heating, but whether this was a regular payment or for how long it continued is not recorded.
- Fires commenced in School. (29 Sept ‘73)
- Children brought coal money (6d each). (Feb ‘75).
- Some of the [Board] members made a great deal of fuss over an extra ton of coal that was brought to this school in March, and refused to pay the haulier for it. (Apr ‘89)
- Beautiful morning but cold. No fires in school & classroom. The children look very miserable without fires to warm themselves. [Next day:] Fires lit today; [Another day:] No fire in the classroom, obliged to have the infants in the school-room. (Apr ‘89).
- Fires were lighted in School for the first time. ¾ Cord of wood was supplied to the school. (Nov ‘89)
- Received one cord of wood today for use in school and one at Master’s house; also one ton of coal on Tuesday last at Master’s house. (Oct ‘90)
- Received a ton of coal for school use on Saturday. (Nov ‘90)
- It has rained in torrents since about 7 o’clock this morning, and in spite of this our numbers are 53. Lit a fire in school for those who were wet to dry themselves. (Sep ‘92)
- The school is very cold and many children have been unable to work. The ink is frozen. (Feb ‘95)
- Work is almost impossible in school owing to the intense cold. Children fairly shiver and many lay down their work unable to proceed through the numbness of their limbs. (Feb ‘95)
- The wood for lighting the fire has not yet arrived – the caretaker refuses to light the fire and in consequence the teachers have had to perform that part of her duties. (Oct ‘97)
- Rained very hard this morning only 12 here and all are wet as the coal has not arrived. I thought it best not to keep the children in their wet clothes – school closed registers marked.. [3 days later:] Coal came today. (4 & 7 Oct ‘99)
- At 8 o’clock this morning a thermometer placed in the open registered 14 degrees of frost, and when school commenced at 9 o’clock the temperature of the Schoolroom was below freezing point. (Dec ‘04)
- [HMI report:] The arrangement for warming the principal room is not sufficiently effective. (Oct ‘05)
- Commenced fires today...Ice noticed this morning for the first time. (16 Oct ‘05)
- A new grate has been placed in the large room, and though not very handsome in appearance as a heating apparatus it is much more effective than the old grate & adds much to the comfort of the room. (Jan ‘06)
- The large room this morning is most uncomfortably cold. At 9.15 the temperature is only three degrees above freezing point. (Mar ‘09)
- Fires were lighted today for the first time. (12 Oct ‘10).
Too much heat was also an occasional problem, and on one occasion led to a dramatic thunderstorm:
- Scholars very uneasy & uncomfortable from the intense heat. (Aug ‘76);
- The weather was very hot and close. The children appeared dull & sleepy in the afternoon. (Jun ‘93)
- School very hot – scholars seem half asleep. (Sep ‘95)
- Both children and teachers find the heat very trying. The temperature in the sun at 4pm today was 120°. (Jul ‘05)
- The thermometer today registered 125° in the sun, and as there was no breeze the heat in the school was quite oppressive, rendering work almost impossible. (Jul ‘05)
- The heat this week has been so great that Children & Teachers have found it impossible, particularly in the afternoon to work at high pressure. (Jul ‘07)
- This afternoon and yesterday the temperature in the large room has risen above 80°. [Next day:] 1.40pm. A terrific thunderstorm is raging around us. The children are so impressed that they are unable to do anything but sit and watch for the flashes of lightning which are dazzling in their brilliance; the claps of thunder are simultaneous with the lightning showing the nearness of the storm. Rain is falling in torrents. (Jul ‘07)
No mention is made of lighting. Windows at the front and side of the school facing east and south respectively may have provided reasonable natural light on bright days, but small windows facing west at the back would have been inadequate. If oil lamps were used, they seem not to have been effective on dark days, especially in winter. From one log book entry it seems that lamps were not used, or at least were not available when needed, during the school day (from 9am to 3.pm): ’The light is very bad this afternoon’ (Dec ‘09); ‘It is so dark at 2 o’clock this afternoon that only oral lessons can be taken’ (Nov ‘07). However, lamps would have been needed for evening classes or other evening events held at the school.
Nor is there a direct reference to a source of water, though it was apparently supplied from a well. A communal dip well across the road by the Green supplied a group of local cottages. If this or another well was used it was clearly out of bounds for unsupervised use by the children: ‘New Board met in class room this aft at 2.30 Complaints were made about the children having water from the well’ (Jun ‘99). An enigmatic reference to ‘received two pails for porches’ (Jan ‘91) suggests that these may have been for water to clean hands or muddy boots before the children came into school. Possibly children brought their own drinking water from home. Information about water supply otherwise comes from log book entries after the period covered by this study. One refers to contaminated water: ‘The filter supplied by the Education Authority is out of order, and the children are drinking water from the contaminated well’ (Aug ‘12). Piped water came the following year: ‘Water has been laid on at the school, and is available for use for the first time this morning’ (Jul ‘13). Confirmation that water was supplied in the porches comes from another later entry: ‘Mr Johnston [a school manager] called this morning and examined the tap in the boys’ porch, which has gone out of order’ (Mar ‘16).
The ‘offices’ were earth closets. From the first HMI report is seems that these were sub-standard at that time: ‘The playground should be properly fenced in, the offices repaired and made decent’ (Jan ‘76). Some years later there was a better report, ‘The repairs done to the wall of the offices are satisfactory’; and during the rebuilding project ‘the offices [have been] rearranged’ (Aug ‘96). Otherwise, again the later log book entries give more information: ‘Mr Johnston visited and took measurements for new pans & earth boxes (May ‘14); ‘The Boys’ Offices were without any earth or trowels, and one seat was in a defiled condition. The Girls’ Offices contained 1 trowel for 3 closets, and the wooden screen for the Infants urinal was broken. The walls to the boys’ yard need repair’ (HMI report Nov ‘16).
Plan for the ‘offices’, 1868
FURNITURE AND SUPPLIES
The children sat side by side on benches at long desks. Other furniture mentioned is a cupboard, blackboard and easel, museum display case, and a harmonium (an early acquisition). Supplies noted, such as books, maps, slates and ink wells, sewing materials, toys for the infants, suggest that both rooms were stocked to capacity, if not cluttered. As the school intake expanded, a shortage of desks became a serious problem.
- Window repaired. Blackboard now in use. Still require another. (Feb ‘75)
- A rather confused week on account of School cleaning & Concert; the latter towards the purchase of a Harmonium for the school... Received Harmonium. (16 Apr & 7 May ‘75)
- Cupboard in Class Room of little use – wrongly placed. (Mar ‘77)
- Mr Harley here raising Benches today. I allowed the children to go home a little earlier. (Mar ‘78)
- I received the bell, wheel & bolts on Saturday last. Hartley is ill at present, but hopes to be able to fix it in a few days. (Jun ‘79)
- Reopened School [after Harvest holidays] – The holidays extended to 5 wks instead of 4 on acct of the repairs of the School being completed. (Sep ‘80)
- No school in the afternoon by order of the Bd in order to varnish the new desks. (Oct ‘87)
- The school is quite full, in fact too full. I find it very difficult to work properly in this small room with such a number [average for quarter; 81.78]. There ought to be four more desks. Recd a new Blackboard & Easel, Kindergarten toys etc for the Infants. [Next day:] Recd a desk - 9 foot long – from Michaelchurch. (Jul ‘87)
- Seven new desks (four for the infants and three for the mixed) having been supplied, we shall be able to work better now. (Sep ‘87)
- Commenced school this morning with new desks throughout the school. (Oct ‘87)
- It has been passed that ...a proper museum cupboard be placed in the school.
- Received a Museum Case for school yesterday. (Oct ‘91)
- Board meeting at Crasswall reported again about desk accommodation for Classroom (May ‘96)
- Desks for classroom at last arrived. (Jun ‘96)
- Clock stopped – need repairs...Clock been put alright. (2 & 6 Jan ‘99)
- We have now 70 children in the large room, this is quite 10 more than we can accommodate comfortably in the desks. (May ‘06)
- [Note by correspondent] We have 73 children in the large room and this number provides an occupant for every seat in the room, in fact some of the desks are overcrowded. (Jun ‘07)
- We begin a new School Year this morning. 12 children have been moved up from the Infant Division, and the large room is now full to overflowing. I have had to place an additional desk in the room but even now there is not sitting room for the 80 children whose names are on the Registers of the elder Scholars. (Jun ‘08)
A range of teaching equipment is mentioned:
- Rec’d for school under ‘School Board’ Acct the following: 2 boxes of Pens; 5 quires of Foolscap - 2½ quires of Blotting Paper – Printed copy of Conscience clause – Registers & Summary, & Tuning Fork. (Aug ‘75)
- Received a fresh supply of CB Ex Bks, Blotting Pap, Pencils etc. – a single Copy or Exercise B being in stock at the time I took charge of the School. (Oct ‘78)
- Recd a fresh supply of books, slates etc for the school. (Jul ‘86)
- Received a case of cotton specimens from Messr Horrockses, Milles etc Preston. (Oct ‘90)
- Received parcel of books which were urgently needed, on Wednesday (Oct ‘90)
- Have added a case showing manufacture of Mustard and one showing that of Candles to the School Museum. (Oct ‘90)
- Received a number of books etc on Monday to the value to £2.15.0 to be distributed as prizes to the more regular children. (Mar ‘91)
- Received specimens of Tobacco Leaf which I have arranged on the school walls. (Apr ‘91).
- Received a Supply of Books etc for school. New Set of Geog Readers for St IV to VII, New Arithmetics I to VII, Rulers etc. (Jun ‘91)
- This morning I received a parcel of Dictionaries about 100 from a firm of Tea Dealers in London. I gave one each to the children in Stds III to VII. (Jul ‘91)
- Received...a supply of school books, including Metric Chart, Reading Sheet, Illustration of Carpenter’s shop and Railway Station. (Oct ‘91)
- Received a parcel of 34 new books for School Library. (Nov ‘91)
- Received from Mrs Johnston of Clodock three very nice bound volumes “Chatterton”, “Sunshine” and “Home Words” as a present to the School Library. (Mar ‘92)
- Received a supply of books and apparatus from J Marshall & Co & two large new maps of Ireland and Scotland., Demonstration Sheets in Drawing etc. (May ‘92)
- Received a supply of the “School and Home Magazine” for Upper Standard reading. (Jun ‘92)
- Received a supply of books and stationery from Marshalls, also a map of North America. (Oct ‘92)
- Received some stationery and 40 pairs of dumb bells for Physical Exercises from Marshalls (Apr ‘95)
- Had 20 boxes of bricks introduced into the infants room this week which appear to be much liked. (Apr ‘96)
- The new stock ordered three weeks ago has not yet come – have no ink in school and the slates are almost all cracked or broken. (Oct ‘97)
- Slates at last arrived. (Dec ’97)
- The stationery ordered a fortnight ago has not arrived so am not able to arrange work properly. (Jul ‘99)
- Board meeting at Crasswall this aft, asked for a tray for modelling and a monitress. (Nov ‘99)
- Mr Collison presented the school with 6 hymn books today. (Oct ‘00)
- The Board has provided the sewing and knitting classes with a good supply of materials, and the needlework etc is well in hand. (Oct ‘00)
- The Managers supplied the school with a new set of readers for 1st class “Rural Readers”. (Nov ‘03)
- Drawing and Needlework materials for which I have been waiting two months arrived today. The Boys will now be able to commence their Drawing Lessons and the Girls their Needlework. (Dec ‘04)
CLEANING AND REFURBISHMENT
Repairs were carried out on an ongoing basis, including a major refurbishment in 1910 (though the work done is not specified). There are numerous complaints about cleaning and maintenance.
- Reopened school. The holidays extended to 5 wks instead of 4 on acct of the repairs of the school being completed. (Sep ‘80)
- [HMI report]. ‘The repairs done to the walls of the offices are satisfactory. A hollow in the yard near the boys’ offices needs filling up & the west wall of the classroom to be protected from damp. (May ‘82)
- [After Harvest holidays:] Reopened school – the school having been whitewashed and painted and not being dry, and harvest not being nearly over, we have had an extra week’s holidays. (Sep ‘83)
- Margaret Powell gave up the work of school cleaner of her own accord entirely, and is succeeded by Ann Griffiths. (Oct ‘87)
- Could not commence school in proper time today, as the school doors were not opened, and the fires not lit. Ann Griffiths, after being sent for, arrived at 9.10. Commenced school-work at 9.40. Omitted scripture lesson. Very wet and cold day. (Apr ‘88)
- School opened at 9.30. Chimneys swept. (Nov ‘88)
- Dismissed school a little earlier this afternoon to have the school cleaned. [Next day:] This school was examined by Mr JC Colville HMI and Mr Seer. Messers Harris, James Price and F Price (members of the School Board) were present. Revd GV Collison called in about 12 o’clock. (Apr ‘89)
- Mrs Price sent 1 lb of soap on Wed last wk. (Feb ‘90)
- Closed school at noon for a fortnight. During the holidays the school will be boarded round and painted. (Dec ‘91)
- It has been passed that three new closets be erected in the girls’ yard at once (Sep ‘91)
- [HMI report:] The ventilation of the Boys’ offices must be improved (May ‘93 )
- School closed Monday and Tuesday for Whit holidays School to be whitewashed and closets to be emptied. (May ‘96)
- Received two pails for the porches. New lock for coal place. (Jan ‘91)
- Opened school today – 28 present - room smells very strong of carbolic and desks were so dirty that I was obliged to get two girls to dust them. (Apr ‘97)
- Reported about the weeds in the yard and also the old desks. (Jul ‘97)
- The desks are very dirty the dust often being taken off by the scholars sleeves. (Oct ‘97)
- The school has been whitewashed but it has not been washed out owing to there being no water. (Sep ‘99)
- There were no fires, and the rooms had not been swept when school opened this morning. The teachers had to light the fires. I was informed that the School cleaner could not attend to the School. The cleaning arrangements of this school leave much to be desired. (Mar ‘07)
- The windows are getting so dirty that very soon I shall have to open them to admit the light...[Next day:] I notice that the lower windows of the School have been cleaned since yesterday. They were so dirty that one could fail to notice the difference at once. (Mar ‘07)
- [HMI report:] There is no suitable urinal for the boys in the infants’ division.(Oct ‘07) - Some minutes were wasted at the commencement of the morning session because the desks, which were removed on Friday evening, were not put back in their right places. (Nov ‘07)
- The cleaning of the Schoolrooms is shamefully neglected. Several times lately I have been so ashamed to see the dirty, untidy state of the rooms that I have set boys at work dusting & cleaning. We have not had fires for three weeks but it was only yesterday that the grates were cleaned up, and probably it would not have been done then had I not raked the ashes out all over the floor. Complaints to the School Cleaner seem to have no effect whatever. (May ‘08)
- [HMI report:] There appears to be no apparatus for controlling the round ventilators in the ceilings, and two of these ventilators are in consequence always closed, The walls of the schoolrooms need colourwashing. The Boys urinal appears to be very imperfectly drained. (Sep ‘09)
- Mr GH Jack visited the school and inspected the ventilating system of the school with a view to improving the extract. (Oct ‘09)
- The renovation of the school is still unfinished and the Managers have been compelled to close for another week... At last we are able to reopen after a closure of seven weeks (Sep ‘10)
The architects’ plan for the school drawn in 1868 is shown in two sections below
(Click here to return to text.)
Architect’s plan for Longtown School, 1868
(showing half the drawing)
Architect’s plan for Longtown School, 1868
(showing half the drawing)
CURRICULUM AND ACHIEVEMENT
THE SCHOOL DAY
School opened at 9am and finished at 3.30 pm, Monday to Friday. A notional hour’s dinner break was sometimes shortened in order to close the school early, such as in bad weather or when attendance was exceptionally low. It is not clear how many children may have gone home, or stayed at or near the school during the mid-day break. In either case, late arrivals in the afternoon were a matter of concern to masters and the School Board: ‘Jno D Pritchard warned against coming so late – the said Jno plays about till nearly school time in afternoon then has to go home for dinner’ (Feb ‘75); ‘Received a communication from the Clerk saying that the Board desire for the future that one hour only shall be allowed for dinner, and that the school shall be closed at 3.30pm. (Oct ‘81 ). There seems to have been a playtime break as well as dinner break: ‘Kept several from Play time for carelessness in their Arithmetic.’ (Jan ‘87)
The daily timetable began with prayers followed at 9.30 by lessons of which the 3 Rs were the most significant. Boys and girls were taught together in the mornings and on at least two afternoons. However, on up to three afternoons a week girls were occupied with needlework, while at those times boys had alternative lessons, which sometimes involved being outdoors. A range of other lessons fitted into the school day or week without an indication of the timetable being given. The 3 Rs were known as ‘elementary’ subjects, and others such as geography, history and drawing as ‘extra’ subjects (HMI report Apr ‘83). Group singing held a prominent place in the curriculum, with a selection of age appropriate songs for younger and older children, and similarly a selection of poems or prose for recitation. Physical education was in the form of ‘drill’, which depending on the weather was taken outdoors on the Green opposite the school. Religious education was under the purview of the Church of England: its curriculum was set and examined by the diocese, not by the government, and lessons were usually taught by the vicar.
These various lessons were the basic framework for the school timetable. The masters would have been continually focused on the goal of preparing for the HMI inspection each year when the adequacy of teaching was assessed, largely by results in the government exams. The frequent loss of time from all the well-rehearsed litany of bad weather, illness and epidemics, work at home, market days and so forth was an everyday threat to the master’s own success in bringing pupils to the required level of achievement.
Logbook entries on the curriculum and achievement can be set out very broadly under four headings: Pupil Groupings and ‘Standards; Teaching and Learning; Religious Education; and Evening Classes.
PUPIL GROUPINGS AND ‘STANDARDS’
Pupils were grouped and taught at seven ‘Standards’, prescribed by government regulations for Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. As far as possible, children were grouped by age from around age seven when they moved from the Infants to begin Standard 1, usually in the schoolroom (though occasionally when the school was understaffed, Standard 1 remained in the classroom). Pupils in the schoolroom were taught by the master, in the course of time with help from an assistant teacher. These older children were also known as the ‘Upper School’ to distinguish them from the Infants who were taught in the classroom by a monitor or assistant teacher. Another term used is ‘mixed classes’, which apparently referred to subgroups of children according to their level of achievement within a particular Standard.
Each year an examination in the 3 Rs was conducted by an HMI, and a yearly register of the results was kept in the logbook for 14 years after the school opened (thereafter presumably being recorded elsewhere, since the exams continued to be held each year). These surviving registers are an invaluable source of information about the progress made by each pupil from year to year and the Standard eventually reached. Table 1 below sets out the numbers of children taking exams at each Standard. It shows that for the first few years all pupils were at the beginning stages of the 3 Rs, which would be expected as the school provided the first local opportunity for elementary schooling for all children. Thereafter numbers typically thinned out at Standard V, though there were some years of continuing achievement at this level. Those reaching Standard VI were exceptional, and during this period only one reached Standard VII (which the government introduced in 1882).
TABLE 1: PUPILS TAKING EXAMS, STANDARDS I TO VII 1873-89
(no exams 1874, 1876 and 1878)
Number taking exams
In most years there was a falling off of pupils progressing beyond Standard IV: the level of achievement at this standard was ‘reading a few lines of poetry or prose, at the choice of the inspector; writing a sentence slowly dictated once, but a few words at a time, from a reading book, such as is used in the first class of the school; arithmetic [to have learned] compound rules for common weights and measures’. Standard V required ‘reading a short ordinary paragraph in a newspaper or other modern narrative’. The departure of most children before Standard V was completed suggests that these school leavers may have had difficulty reading a newspaper.
It was not uncommon for a few to repeat a year or even two. A similar mismatch of age occurred when older children entering school for the first time were taught at Standard 1 in the classroom with the Infants. Masters sometimes refer to children as ‘backward’. Various reasons given for a disappointing attainment are irregular attendance, enrolment of a child who had never before attended school, transfer from another school, or lack of progress under a previous master. In effect, ‘backward’ can be a demeaning term for low ability as perceived by the master, or the absence of opportunity for a prescribed level of achievement. It comes across as a catch-all explanation for the master’s lack of success in reaching educational outcomes expected of him.
A few entries point to children with learning or behavioural difficulties which the school would probably have been unable to address.
- Admitted a boy named Charles Watkins, late pupil at Crasswall School. He has such an impediment in his speech, that I cannot understand a word he says...I have today carefully examined Charles Watkins whom I admitted on Monday. I find him unable to read or spell one word. Asked him to write the word ‘father’ on his slate – he just put down “speh”. Gave him 3 sums to work, one easy addition and two easy subtractions – he had the three sums wrong. Now, I cannot understand this, as the children who live near him and who profess to understand what he says, say that he has passed Standard I and that he was placed in Standard II. I shall see Mr Jones respecting him, probably before the end of the week. [Two days later:] Yesterday evening, as it happened, Mr Jones was at Longtown. He informed me that Charles Watkins was an ‘exception’ in Standard I at the recent examination of his school. (May ‘88)
- Admitted a few infants one Amy Radcliff being deficient in faculties. She is constantly shouting out and when spoken to she begins crying in the most hideous tones. The infants work has suffered from her conduct this week. (Apr ‘96)
Preparation for the HMI inspection and exam was the focal point of the school year. This took place on one day, often in April or May, and was conducted by one Inspector with one or more members of the School Board in attendance: ‘The Government examination took place today, the Inspector being EW Colt Williams, Esq...Mr Price of the Groves Farm & the attendance officer were present & 85 children of whom 69 were presented’ (Apr ‘80); ‘This school was examined by Mr JC Colville HMI and Mr Seer. Messrs Harris, James Price and F Price (member of the school board) were present’ (Apr ’89). The children were tested as individuals for the 3 Rs on a pass or fail basis, but group activities such as singing, and the level of achievement in ‘extra’ subjects were assessed by the Inspector in general terms such as ‘good’, ‘fair’ or ‘weak’. Anticipation of an impending HMI inspection was an anxious time for the master and pupils, with many practice exams beforehand. Not all pupils took the HMI exam each year: those insufficiently prepared for the Standard at which they had been taught were not entered, and some children were absent on the day of the inspection. The proportion of successes relative to the number of children enrolled was a crucial test of the school’s success, as the HMI report following the exam was the ultimate criterion for government grants and the masters’ continuing employment. In recognition of the stress to teachers and pupils alike, the School Board usually allowed a holiday in the afternoon or day following the exams.
The selected quotes below illustrate the masters’ concerns about pupil groupings, Standards and the HMI exams.
- Gave a general Examination to all classes. Standard III rather deficient in Arithmetic, Standard II in Spelling. (May ‘73)
- Examined all classes. Standard III still backward owing I believe to irregular attendance. Standard II improving in their spelling. (Jun ‘73)
- Examined Standard II in Dictation and Arithmetic. 75 per cent passed in Former 60 percent Latter. (Sep ‘73)
- [New master on 4th day:] Chiefly taken up in placing Pupils in their proper Standards (Nov ‘73)
- Preparing Standard I for Examination, deficient in spelling, reading better....½ hour at Middle day occupied in preparing Standard 2 for Examination....½ and hour at middle day taken up in trying to get Standard 2 well qualified for Examination, deficient in spelling...doing my very best to prepare all that I possibly can for examination...The whole of the day taken up in preparing Standard I for Examination on Friday which will contain 6 Pupils Standard 2, 7 Standard 3, 2 Standard 4. Not any Standard 5 or 1...The whole of the day taken up in examining the Pupils for Examination tomorrow. (2-11 Dec ‘73)
- Morning, Examination took place. Afternoon Holiday. Given by the Rev CL Eagles. (Dec ‘73)
- [New master on 1st day:] School opened again, with 10 Scholars; 13 in afternoon. Cannot make any classification yet. (Jan ‘75)
- Examined each boy and girl. Reading in most cases far beyond Writing and arithmetic. Arithmetic & figures nowhere among the younger ones. (Jan ‘75)
- Writing and Arithmetic very backward in 3rd and 4th classes – children in those classes never had any before this year. (Mar ‘75)
- Government Inspection...80 children present, 66 presented. (Apr ‘81)
- I have tried every method I can think of teaching spelling with Sts II & IV. I have today changed for another. I shall have in future every word (difficult) in the lesson written on the BB and the class will spell them out aloud. Then dictated. (Jan ‘88)
- The following are a list of children, who, in the opinion of the Head Teacher, require another year’s training with the Infants in the Classroom, and whose names will therefore be placed in the exception schedule next year from examination in Standard One [4 names listed]. (Apr ‘88)
- Certificates were given by Mr Harris to all those children who passed HMI’s Examn in Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (Jun ‘88)
- Attendance keeps up very well. The children seem very anxious about the examination. Average for this week 79.5 (Mar ‘89)
- Henry Lloyd came back to school today. Placed him in St V. Only made 49 attendances so far this year. It is an utter impossibility for him to take up St VI as he has lost a great deal through bad attendance. (Jan ‘91)
- Have placed children in their standards for the year. Every child has been removed up one standard. Maggie Lewis who passed in St IV will try St VI. (Apr ‘91)
- Ed Jas Watkins promises to come more regularly, being very anxious to learn the work of St IV. (Feb ‘93)
- The Upper School shows considerable anxiety to master their work & pass a creditable examination. Lessons not according to Time Table today. (Mar ‘93)
- The approaching examination is causing an effort to be made to send the children – an idea being prevalent that a few weeks of regular attendance before the day of inspection is sufficient to secure a “pass”. (Apr ‘95)
- Year after year a certain section of the upper standards turn up on the eve of the examination and cause a lot of worry and anxiety as they expect being advanced a standard higher than the one previously examined in. (Apr ‘96)
- A great many changes are taking place in the village which will deprive me of some of my intelligent children and makes the forthcoming examination not so favourable as it was a month ago. (Mar ‘97)
- The children are making some progress; and placing the scholars in two divisions, answers much better than the old method of separate standards. (Nov ‘01)
- St III is by far the weakest in the Upper Group, the Arithmetic and spelling in this standard being far from satisfactory. In the Lower Group (St I & II) the Reading and Spelling are so very poor that next week I propose putting the Monitress with the Upper Group and taking the Lower myself. (May ‘07)
- The Needlework specimens worked by the girls were despatched to London for inspection by the Directress of Needlework. (Apr ‘08)
- All except two or three children have been moved up a Standard and new work commenced in all classes. (Jun ‘08)
- Following is a verbatim copy of a report of the Directress of Needlework on exercises done by the girls at HM Inspector’s visit on Ap 7th 08: “Girls (35 exercises) Fair; Infants (10 exercises) Very Good. Girls: Many of the exercises are far from satisfactory”. (Dec ‘08)
TEACHING AND LEARNING
Rote learning was an accepted norm. Constraints of space, with 50 or more children in the schoolroom working at different Standards and with minimal resources, would have made the rote memorising of facts and figures a welcome option. There is some evidence that this approach was not entirely successful, for instance in applying mathematical rules in practical problem-solving.
More flexibility is suggested in the ‘extra’ subjects. Subjects mentioned for most years are needlework, drawing, geography and history. Of these, drawing and geography were for many years on offer only to boys, when these lessons were taken at times the girls were occupied with needlework. Needlework consisted of making various garments (from fabric or knitting) and apparently held a high priority in the curriculum; one entry notes that it was taken on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. The garments produced were sent for assessment to London to a Directress of Needlework who reported back to the HMI. It seems that the space needed for setting out needlework projects could be arranged in various ways. In one report ‘The girls occupied the class-room. The Infants were in the school-room with the boys’ (Jun ‘93). Otherwise, in fine weather the older boys sometimes went outside the school premises, such as for drawing the castle, practicing rural crafts, or learning to swim. Eventually geography was extended to girls, and needlework to Infant boys. (Might these arrangements suggest various expedient solutions to problems of space and teaching personnel?). Agriculture was eventually added for boys but a proposal to introduce add chemistry appears not to have been followed up, while cooking and nursing made a brief appearance for the girls. The vicar seems to have given catechism lessons to girls and boys separately. However, for the 3 Rs at any rate there was no gender separation.
The curriculum included a subject area called ‘Objects’ for Infants and Standards I to III. Lists of the objects studied suggest that the aim was to expand pupils’ general knowledge about familiar objects (for example, elephant, boots, water): it can be surmised that the lessons could cover an enormous range of topic areas for any one object. These lessons were linked with the school museum display.
Singing held a prominent place in the curriculum and provided an opportunity for whole-group participation. Some eight songs, age appropriate for younger and older children were required in the government curriculum. Songs were often performed for visitors, such as a member of the School Board, the vicar’s wife or other local ladies, when they called in at the school. Recitations learned by heart were also required, and again were age appropriate. Outside activities such as drill took place on the Green, weather permitting. Drill appears sometimes to have been neglected since an HMI report notes too little exercise as a factor in pupils’ restless behaviour (even though some had had a long walk to school).
‘ELEMENTARY’ AND ‘EXTRA’ SUBJECTS
The selected quotes here show the different views held by different masters toward pupil attainment and their own teaching tasks. Homework seems to have been given by some, though not as a regular expectation.
- The sewing mistress takes the girls in Needlework on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. (Apr ‘74)
- The majority of the 1st class are working Compound Multiplication and Long Division which they can do pretty fairly. (May ‘74)
- The II Class reading improves nicely also the writing a little. (Jun ‘74)
- All the tables are well known by the upper part of the School. (Jul ‘74)
- Gave those few who were working ‘Weights and Measures’ some problems to do – it is evident that they have never had anything of the kind before. (Jul ‘74)
- The Table weights and measures are well known throughout the school. I have devoted that time to teaching Geography viz the Counties of England – particularly Herefordshire with its towns, rivers etc. (Jul ‘74)
- Arithmetic and figures nowhere among the younger ones. (Jan ‘75)
- Gave some of 2nd class Pence Table (Jan ‘75)
- Arithmetic in a backward state. (Feb ‘75)
- Gave Home Work this week – very badly done. (Feb ‘75)
- Spelling for Homework. (Mar ‘75)
- Discovered a small system of copying in 1st Class (May ‘75)
- After Sewing, had Singing practice.... [another day] Singing in afternoon from 3 to 3.30. (Dec ‘75)
- The Home Work in 1st and 2nd Classes has been done very carelessly throughout the week. (May ‘76)
- Stopped allowing books to be taken home for Homework on account of several books being missing. (Aug ‘77)
- Stand II has improved very much in reading during the last fortnight and great credit is due to Miss Williams PT for having worked so well with them. They are still backward in spelling & Arith. (Jun ‘86)
- I have found it necessary to place 4 Standard I boys...with the infants being utterly ignorant of the alphabet and figures. (Jun ‘86)
- [in HMI report:] Buttonholes need attention. (Apr ‘87)
- Great attention has been given to button holes since the Gov Examn and they are improving very much (Nov ‘87)
- Sewing this afternoon, and Geography & map drawing for the boys. (Jun ‘88)
- In the afternoon the sewing materials etc made up by the girls during the past year were given away to the scholars by Mrs Harris, Miss Harris and Mrs Price. (Jun ‘88)
- Tested the Geography this afternoon. St IV, V, VI are fairly well up in India, Australia & New Zealand, and can draw fair maps of these Colonies from memory. St III answered well in England & Wales. (Oct ‘88)
- Sewing in the afternoon. I find that most of the girls have nearly finished knitting their stockings, and most of the lower standards have done their garments. They will have done by Xmas. (Dec ‘88)
- The paper-work is becoming quite a pleasing feature in the school. (Mar ‘90)
- I have adopted the Phonetic method of teaching spelling in the infant class, and I find a great improvement in the Reading. (Jul ‘90)
- The Infants (Boys) commenced Needlework this week. (Nov ‘90)
- Henry Lloyd came back to school today. Placed him in St V. Only made 49 attendances so far this year. It is an utter impossibility for him to take up St VI as he has lost a great deal through bad attendance. (Jan ‘91)
- In future the girls will take Geography with the boys as a class subject and Needlework according Art 10/2. (Jun ‘92)
- The Vicar instructed a Class in the Church Catechism in the morning, and in the afternoon took six of the first class boys out for a lesson in sketching. (Jun ‘91)
- I have been paying particular attention to the Grammar, which is a very weak point in the school. (Jul ‘91)
- Lesson on “Cocoa Beans” to older children. (Sep ‘91)
- It is proposed with the permission of HM Inspector to take Chemistry and Agriculture during 1892-3 for boys’ (Apr ‘92)
- During the past 7 weeks Mrs Dyer has worked very hard at the Sewing. It was very backward, not a single garment being finished or one specimen given out before Dec 1. (Jan ‘93)
[HMI report:] Needlework is satisfactory but the herringbone of the third Standard is poor and several of the prepared garments are in an incomplete state. (May ‘93)
- Six infants are only about 4 yrs old. They have sat doing nothing for some time. I have set Miss Price on teaching them their alphabet and showing them how to hold their slate pencils. (Jun ‘93)
- The knitting of the girls must have been much neglected during the past two or three years, or surely the girls would shape better at it now. It certainly must receive a double share of time and attention now and for at least three months to come. (Sep ‘93)
- Geography of Europe very bad. Towns on the Rhine; what noted for? Children have very bad memories. (Oct ‘93)
- Commenced Long Division with St IV. All the girls seem to master it very quickly, but the boys are very slow. (Oct ’93)
- I must find time to give more grammar to Standards II, IV, V and VII. (Nov ‘93)
- Only 12 girls present. Mrs Dyer spent the whole day in teaching Sewing. (Jan ‘94)
-I received word from J Marshall & Co that Ledsham, Manchester do not publish a selection from Hamlet. I must therefore [blank] the Scheme in this particular. (Jul ‘94)
- The Rev Collison (vicar) came this morning and gave a Drawing Examination to a number of the elder boys. (Oct ‘94)
- Not one Infant can knit and many girls have not been here since present sewing Mistress commenced teaching 8 weeks ago. The work is very backward and gets on very slowly with such bad attendance.(Jan ‘95)
- Have begun home lessons this week and the scholars seem to take great delight in doing them. (Feb ‘95)
- Drawing exam at 2 o’clock. (May ‘97)
- Drawing results to hand “Good” being awarded. (Jul ‘97)
- The Vicar came in today and assisted in the Reading lesson on agriculture. Questions were answered satisfactorily. (Jan ‘04)
- The children were taken on to the Green for Drill this morning. (Oct ‘04)
- [New master on 1st day:] The greater part of the day was spent in testing the work of the various standards in the Mixed Department. Many children did not know what standard they were in, and the results generally were most discouraging. The papers which were worked will be preserved. I can find no approved Scheme of work, and no provision is made in the Time Table for either Drill or Object lessons. I shall at once prepare a new Time Table. (Oct ‘04)
- I found the First Class unable to do Compound Long Division & Multiplication so they have spent the week at these two rules. St III has been working Addition and Subtraction of money, St II Simple Subtraction, and St I simple addition. I have commenced the Geography of England with the Upper Group, and Geographical Definitions in the Lower. (Oct ‘04)
- A test was given to the various Standards today with most unsatisfactory results and my three weeks teaching seems to have had very little effect. Arithmetic in all classes is so miserably weak that I see nothing for it but to start each class with the arithmetic of the Standard next below it. The work so far has been most harassing and the only thing that encourages me is the fact that the attendance improves week by week. The girls have as yet done no Needlework for want of materials, there are not even needles & cotton for them, and the boys have not been able to do any drawing for want of lead pencils. I could only find ten pencils in the school. (Oct ‘04)
- A test, given today to all classes, shews that progress is still painfully slow. In St III there are still children who do not yet know three times table. (Dec ‘04)
- Arithmetic is very mechanical in the lower Standards, and when set in problematic form were not attempted by any of the children. (Feb ‘05)
- Have today made arrangements for moving all children into a higher standard on Monday. Distributed exercise, copy, and drawing books which have been filled during the year, also examination papers which have been worked. (May ‘05)
- All children commenced their new year’s work today. 11 children were moved up from the Infant Class to St I and the large room is now quite full there is not sitting room for another child. (May ‘05)
- The Sewing Mistress is unable to make progress with the Needlework for want of materials which were ordered last July and have not yet been supplied... Needlework materials which were ordered in July have arrived today. The sewing for some weeks has been almost at a standstill for want of these things.(11 & 25 Sep ‘05)
- In view of the polling in the constituency on Monday next, the last lesson this afternoon was devoted to an “election”. Voting papers were distributed to all the elder children and they were allowed to record their votes in the usual way. The papers were afterwards counted, and it was found that Capt Clive had been “elected” by a majority of 17 votes on a poll of 60. (Jan ‘06)
- Books from School Box distributed for first time this afternoon. All the books (50) in the box were taken out by the children. (Mar ‘06)
- This morning I examined in the three “R’s” the infants who will next week be drafted into Standard I...Agnes Williams and Harry Cooper, who, on account of their age, will have to be promoted to St I, know absolutely nothing of arithmetic. (May ‘06)
- The Rev GV Collison took a Catechism Class this morning, and in the afternoon the Rev gentleman took St V boys out to make a sketch of the Castle tower. (Sept ‘06)
- The lst Class boys were employed in doing up the flower beds in front of the School this afternoon. (Mar ‘07.)
- I took 20 of the Upper Class boys to see a demonstration in grafting. (Apr ‘07)
- Our Nature Knowledge Lesson this afternoon took the form of a walk to the river and a bathe, 20 of the elder boys having a lesson in swimming which they so much enjoyed that they have asked to repeat the performance weekly. Only the boys of St IV and upwards were taken. (26 Jun ‘08)
- The boys in St IV & upwards were taken for a swimming lesson on Wednesday. (3 Jul ‘08)
- Drill was taken today as the weather yesterday was unfit. (Nov ‘08)
- We celebrated the King’s Birthday by singing the National Anthem. The History Lesson in the afternoon dealt specially with the life of King Edward. (Nov ‘09)
- This has been a very disappointing week. The attendance since Monday has been so poor that little real progress has been made in any class, and a review of the work done only accentuated ones dissatisfaction and anxiety. (Jan ‘10)
- Swimming was taken this afternoon as the weather was very hot. (Jul ‘10)
The list below shows the range of objects to be taught. A display case included some of the objects studied, and soon after its appearance was replaced with a ‘proper museum cupboard’. It seems that this part of the curriculum was undervalued by one master: ‘There does not appear to be that strict attention to the Object Lessons in St I & Inf which there ought to be. One or two smart children do almost all the answering. (Jan ’94)
Object lessons 1890-91
15. Railway station
16. Carpenter’s shop
17. A House
18. Day & Night
-Have introduced into school the following cases showing processes of the respective manufactures:- Cotton & Silk Threads; Matches; Cocoa and Pens; Wool & Soap. (Sep ‘90)
- Had large case of Cotton specimens fixed on the wall. (Dec ‘90).
- [HMI report:] ‘I am directed to call the Board’s attention to the last paragraph of Article 85(b) of the Code, by which it is made a condition of the payment of the Annual Grants that Object Lessons shall form part of the ordinary instruction given in the first, second and third standards.’ (Aug ‘96)
RECITATION AND SINGING
Infant & Standard I
A visit to the Lambs
Standard II & III
Standard IV – VII
Lay of the Last Minstrel
Standard II – III
Standard IV – VII
Extract from King Henry V
Singing was performed at the HMI Inspection. Annual selections of eight or so taught during the course of a year are listed in the log books:
Songs for 1885
1. I had a dream
2. O tis merry when the moonbeams
3. Come look at my beauty
4. O bear me back to Normandie
5. Who shall die first
6. In the harvest morn
7. Billy & me
8. God save the Queen
1. Come shoulder your rifle
2. I saw a ship a sailing
3. The fox jumped up
4. Billy & me
Songs for 1892
1. No surrender (two part)
2. Be kind to the loved ones at home
3. Drive the nail (two part)
4. Trip it lightly along (two part)
5. O welcome, welcome lovely May (two part)
6. The Hunter’s Song
7. Hurrah, Hurrah for England.
Songs for 1894
Religious education was given high priority, with the vicar as overseer and principal teacher. The 1870 Act established that denominational teaching should be separate from the secular curriculum – indeed the Act allowed parents to withdraw pupils from religious teaching on grounds of conscience as a provision for non-conformist and other dissenters. This provision is alluded to in one entry: ‘[Received] printed copy of Conscience clause’ (Aug ‘75). However, there is no record of a child withdrawing from RE lessons at Longtown.
Two successive vicars participating in the school were the Reverend Charles Eagles (vicar 1849-84) and Reverend George Collison (1884-1916). The master had a support role; while normally taking prayers at the start of the school day, he otherwise acted as a delegate for the School Board’s directives. Indeed the Board at one point debarred the master from taking RE lessons. The Board also seem to have kept a strict eye on the time given to morning prayers, scheduled for half an hour. A diocesan inspection carried out once a year: seems to have focused on the catechism, the life of Jesus, and memorising Bible passages, hymns and prayers.
The vicar also led morning prayers from time to time, at his discretion. The Reverend Collison took a keen interest in his teaching role, but was not always mindful of fitting in with the school timetable. As well as lessons in RE, he gave generous support as an additional teacher, mainly for drawing and geography lessons with the boys.
Because of its Church of England status, the school building was taken over by the vicar on major holy days for religious instruction. Days mentioned are Ash Wednesday and Ascension Day. (Easter and Christmas came during school holidays).
- Catechism rather deficient in all Standards (Nov ‘73)
- Heard all the Catechism 1st thing in the morning. Standard II and III very deficient. (Jan ‘74)
- [Diocesan Inspector’s report:] The condition of the Religious Knowledge in this school is still very satisfactory. The 2nd and 3rd Division passed very well, but the 1st appears to require a little more attention, especially with respect to the Repetition of the Creed and the Life of our Blessed Lord. (Jun ‘78)
- Received the following copy of a resolution passed at the last Board meeting. “Resolved that the Schoolmasters be requested to report as to the opening of their schools with reading the Bible, and that they be informed that the Board wishes the children to read the Bible themselves and that the Masters should explain it to them”’ (Jul ‘79)
- Ash Wednesday – no school Rev CL Eagles claiming the day for Scripture. (Feb ‘82)
- [Diocesan Inspector’s report:] The school has passed a good examination in Religious Knowledge. Especial attention has been paid to the most neglected point of last year, viz Private Prayers, these are now well known. The children as a whole are more accurate & seem to take a greater interest in their work. (Jul ‘83)
- Holiday, being Ascension Day & one of the days when the school belongs to the Vicar & Churchwardens. (May ‘85)
- [Diocesan Inspector’s report:] The general result of the examination may be said to have been good. The children appear carefully taught, and many of them answered brightly and well. The Repetition of Scripture, of hymns, and of private prayers was well known. (Aug ‘87)
- The Rev GV Collison visited the school to select some of the best church-children to sing in church. (Nov ‘87)
- [Diocesan Inspector’s report:] The condition of the Religious Knowledge in this school has improved and may well be said to be good. The children in the younger division specially answered well in their Old Testament History. Some of the slate work was written with very considerable care and attention. The repetition of Scripture, of Hymns, and of Private Prayers was well known. A Relton, Diocesan Insepctor.’ (Jul ‘88)
- [Diocesan Inspector’s Report:] The private prayers and the Commandments were said especially well. (Nov ‘96)
- [Noted by JH Wylie, Board member:] At 9.17 by school clock singing was being taught in the large room and Arith in the Infants Room – though by Time Table both rooms should have been taking New Testament. (Jun ‘97)
- Alteration of Time Table. In future I intend taking half an hour for Scripture viz from 9 to 9.30 and Singing or marking of Home lessons from 9.30 to 9..40. On referring to the Code I find the proposed alteration above suggested must be sanctioned by HMI so shall continue to work according to the present Time Table viz Scripture until 9.30. (Aug ‘97)
- The Vicar took the Scripture lesson yesterday with which he was pleased at intelligent reading. (Nov ’03)
- The Vicar was present during Scripture lesson today. (Dec ‘03)
- School was used this morning by the Vicar who took Religious instruction until 9.50 (Feb ’04)
- [Diocesan inspection:] I was greatly struck with the keenness, reverence and intelligence which marked the whole of the work of this school. Under the present teaching staff one confidently looks for excellent results in the future & a great advance in accuracy in writing and knowledge of details. The excellent tone of the school reflects the greatest credit on all concerned. A visit to this school is a real pleasure. (Signed) Fred Worsey. (Nov ‘05)
- Some of the time usually devoted to Scripture has this week been spent in teaching Xmas Carols. (Dec ‘05)
- The Vicar instructed the Upper Class girls in the Church Catechism from 9.15 to 9.45.’ (Apr ‘07)
- The Vicar, Rev GV Collison, arrived at the School at 9.30 for the purpose of instructing a class in the Church Catechism. This meant that we were not able to work according to our Time Table which provided for the commencement of secular instruction at 9.30 I pointed this out to Mr Collison, but he informed me that by the terms of the Trust Deed he had the right to give religious instruction in the School up to 9.45 am.’ (Jan ‘08)
- The Vicar came in to take a Class in the Church Catechism. The Rev gentleman arrived at 9.20 when lessons were in full swing, and as he takes his class into the Infant Room it meant a disturbance of the whole school. The lesson consisted of simultaneous repetition of the Nicene Creed and questions thereon, and lasted ten minutes! (Jan ‘09)
- The Vicar instructed a class of Boys in the Church Catechism. (Feb ‘09)
The building was also used periodically for evening classes. These were particularly significant, since they provided both adult education, part of the declared purpose of the school, and continuing education for pupils who had left day-time schooling. During the period covered in this study there is no report of a pupil going on to a secondary school: two or three pupil monitors trained as assistant teachers at Longtown school and at least one went to a teacher training college, but there was no local opportunity for secondary education. The evening classes at Longtown, would have provided teaching at the level of the Standards taught in the elementary curriculum. Longtown’s classes are first reported in 1890, and thereafter their success waxed and waned according to local demand..
- Will hold a preliminary meeting this evening to the formation of an Evening School. (Oct ‘90)
- Received instructions from the Board...to call a meeting in order to consider the formation of an Evening Continuation Class in connection with County Council Scheme and Educ Dept. Have sent circulars to all eligible ones in district for meeting on 18th inst (Aug ‘92)
- Commenced Evening School last night. Attendance 15. (Sep ‘92)
- The Board Meeting is held at Michaelchurch today. I am obliged to attend in order to confer with the Board respecting the formation of an Evening Continuation School and other matters affecting the school...The Board decided on having a Continuation School as soon as permission is granted from the Ed Dept. (Oct ‘95)
- Night school opened tonight 9 present. (Oct ‘95)
- The night school is progressing favourably. 21 now on the books. (Nov ‘95)
- The Rev Mr Collison came in this morning and heard the upper Stds read – he also visited the Evening School – took the same subject and complimented those present for turning out on such a dark boisterous night. (Dec ‘95)
- Night school closed for two weeks (Dec 95)
- Very rough stormy night – not one turned up – no school...No one turned up in time tonight, so as to allow me to mark the reading lesson...No one here again for first lesson – boys say they can’t get off earlier now the days are getting longer. (Jan ‘96)
- The classroom is being used at nights as a reading room (Jan ‘98)
- Emily Broome has left school for domestic employment. She has done good work in 7th Standard...Emily Broome has left school as above, but is attending twice per week in evening school for music lessons on harmonium. (Aug & Sep ‘00)
THE SCHOOL BOARD (LATER MANAGERS)
Longtown elementary school replaced an earlier Church of England charity school, set up in 1811 at St Peter’s Church a few steps away along the main village road. The new school continued to be a Church of England School, as the 1870 Act permitted state funding for schools with Anglican religious instruction. These were known as ‘National’ schools, and the first page of Volume I of the log books is entitled ‘Longtown National School’. A deed for land granted by the Marquis of Abergavenny to the Archdeacon of Hereford in 1869 makes it clear that the Marquis’s grant was linked with the Anglican charity ’The National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor’ which had established schools from the early 19th century. The school in Longtown was intended
‘...to be erected to be for ever hereafter appropriated and used...for a School for the education of Children and Adults or Children only of the labouring manufacturing and other poorer classes in the Township of Longtown and for no other purpose. And it is hereby declared that such schools...shall always be in union with and conducted according to the principles and in furtherance of the ends and designs of the National Society for promoting the Education of the Poor in the principles of the Established Church...’ [Click here to see the full deed]
The impetus for building the new school is credited to a curate of Longtown and Llanveynoe, the Rev Edmund Davies, as reported by a later vicar:
The Rev Edmund Davies was Vicar [sic] of Longtown and Llanveynoe from 1866 and to this gentleman belongs the credit of building and equipping Longtown School – which was later hired to the School Board for educational purposes, from Monday to Friday each week, between the hours of 8.30 and 5pm, except on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Ascension Day and certain other days, when the right of the use of the school belongs to the Church authorities. There is no memorial to Mr Davies’s work – except, perhaps, the school itself. This brief note is recorded to remind all of the duty owing to the Church and to God – to see that the children have not only a secular education – which alone is a lame thing, but a religious education also, an education in those church principles which are at once Scriptural, Apostolic, Catholic and Protestant. [Booklet: ‘The Parish Church of St Clodock’ by the Rev H Astbury, Vicar of Clodock , chapter 3. (Click here to see)]
By the time the new school was completed it was eligible for government grants for running costs. As noted above, from the Church’s perspective the premises were considered to be ‘hired to the School Board for educational purposes’. The clergy were deemed to have the prerogative for religious teaching, as shown in this quote:
- The Scripture lessons have been discontinued, the Board having informed me that it was not part of my duties to give them. (Apr ‘79)
The School Board was elected by rate payers to manage four local schools, at Newton, Craswall and Michaelchurch Escley as well as Longtown. Its members were prominent men in these communities, including members of the clergy; initially it was chaired by John Gilbert Harris, local steward for the Marquis, and later by John Gwillim. Meetings were usually held monthly and at least quarterly at one or other of the four schools, apparently during the day (perhaps to make use of daylight hours for travel) and when taking place at Longtown the pupils were usually dismissed early. At meetings, the master regularly reported on enrolment and attendance figures, backed up with the constantly repeated catalogue of absences and lists of persistent offenders for the attendance officer to visit.
The school occasionally provided a venue for other purposes (there was no village hall at that time) and some of these uses were given priority over lessons.
- Holiday all day – ‘School Board Election’ for this district – Longtown, Craswall etc. (Jun ‘75)
- Dismissed school at 11.20 , as the committee of Thomas’ Charity required the room for the purpose of distribution. (Dec ‘87)
- Received notice that the District Council Election would be held in the schoolroom on Monday afternoon, which will necessitate a half holiday April 7th. (Apr ‘02)
- The school is being used as a Polling Station (General Election) today. (Dec ‘10)
The Board had overall responsibility for all aspects of school administration including finance, staff appointments, enforcing regulations for enrolment and attendance, maintenance of the building, and overview of the curriculum and staff competency. Some of these responsibilities were later transferred to the county: the Education Act of 1902 brought into being the Local Education Authority (LEA) within the County Council, itself newly established by the 1888 Local Government Act. The School Board members then became Managers, affiliated to a larger district level of management, the Dore Rural District. This change is reflected in Volume III of the logbooks by the title ‘Longtown Council School’ on the opening fly page. The school retained its status as a Church of England denominational school, now classed as a ‘voluntary’ school. Not many references are made to the role of the LEA, but the few noted show some of the structures for governance transferred to the county, such as attendance checks, inspection of the premises and visits by a Schools Medical Officer.
- Visit on behalf of Board of Education. Thos Williams (Jul ‘03)
- John Wiltshire Esq, Secretary of County Council “Education Authority” visited the school today. There was a very good attendance in both rooms. But he thought the attendance of elder scholars was low, and would be looked after by the Attendance Officer. (Oct ‘03)
- Mr Dryland, the County Surveyor, called at the School this morning & inspected the new grate which has been placed in the large room. (May ‘06)
- In view of the spread of the skin disease from which too many of the children are suffering, a special meeting of the School Managers was held, and it was decided to communicate at once with Doctor Jones, the Medical Officer of Health. (7 Dec ‘06)
- Doctor H Jones, Medical Officer of Health, visited the school this afternoon in response to a letter from the School Managers. He said that officially he could take no action as he was not Medical Officer to the Education Committee. (10 Dec ‘06)
- Mr Wilshire, the County Education Secretary, visited the School this morning. (Nov ‘07)
- Doctor Jones, Medical Officer of Health, and Mr Jack, the County Surveyor, visited the School premises, playgrounds & offices. (May ‘08)
- Doctor Gold visited the school this morning and medically inspected a number of the children, (May ‘09)
- The County Surveyor visited the School on Monday and inspected the work which has been done to the school buildings. (Sep ‘10)
Inscriptions in log books vol 1 and vol 3
reflecting the change from local to county administration
Very little is said about financial management. Running costs came from local rates, government grants, and, until fees were abolished, a small fee from the families of most pupils (with discretionary waivers and reductions) and payment from the Poor Law Board of Guardians for others. Poverty was the norm among the farm labouring class in this remote area and school fees would have been prohibitive for some families. Among the few entries on finance there is reference to the government grant payment, and to a requirement for the accounts to be on public view.
- The bill to the Dore Board of Guardians for the fees paid by them of the children attending the school - was made out for the half year ending June 26 ‘74 - and delivered. (Aug ‘74).
- Bill sent in for Union Children. (Jul ‘75)
- School fees are to be paid weekly in advance. (Jan ‘76)
- School Board Meeting today – Resolved that the School Fee be at one uniform rate of 2d after 31st March. (Mar ‘76)
- I had to attend the Audit of the School Board Accounts at Abbey Dore today, and was consequently absent from school. (Jan ‘84)
- The Board have decided to accept the Fee Grant so that henceforth this school will be free. It is hoped that it will have a material improvement in the attendance...I shall endeavour to prevail upon the parents to allow the children to bring fees as usual and deposit them in the Savings Bank (Post Office). (Sep ‘91).
- The amt of Grant per head is 18/-...Total Grant (14 mos) £74.13.4.’ (July ‘94 and HMI report)
- School account placed on Notice Board of the school for year ending May 31st 1902 according to instruction by the Clerk of the School Board. (Aug ‘02)
HMI reports were copied verbatim into the logbooks and signed by a ‘correspondent’ who deputised for the inspector to verify their accuracy. For many years the correspondent was Thomas Llanwarne, a solicitor in Hereford. The name of the inspector is not usually given, but from 1881-88 annual inspections were carried out by EW Colt Williams, a regional government inspector for Herefordshire, Radnorshire and the Forest of Dean. The HMI reports are an invaluable source of information about educational priorities at the time, though more so for earlier years as after 1904 they become brief or missing altogether (perhaps reflecting a change in record keeping at County level?). A transcript of all HMI reports written into the log books can be seen elsewhere on this website. (Click here )
The School Board had overall responsibility for enforcing enrolment and regular attendance as far as possible. Various measures were taken to meet this aim: by liaising with families through an attendance officer; by visits of Board members to check the registers; by ensuring that the school was open for a required minimum of attendances per year; by seeking to ensure that children stayed at school until the legal leaving age; and by taking persistently defaulting parents to court. These are the main topics routinely noted in which the School Board is very much a presence in the background
The attendance officer, first mentioned in 1879, was an essential link between home and school. They are not usually referred to by name, and sometimes abbreviated to ‘AO’. Those named were Mr Price; Mr Buchan, Moses Jenkins of Craswall who was followed by his son William Jenkins (temporary), Mr Farr; and George Price, the son of Frederic Price a school manager. Despite the daunting task of cajoling parents and withstanding the frustrations of masters, one attendance officer, Moses Jenkins, held the job for 12 years. By the time George Price was appointed in 1905, changes in school management introduced by the LEA had widened the role of attendance officer to cover 15 schools. These were spread across a huge rural area and presumably meant less contact with schools, though Longtown school may have had some advantage in being the closest to George Price’s home at Grove farm in Longtown.
- The attendance so thin in the beginning of the week has improved during the last two days since the Attendance Officer has been round. [First mention of AO] (Apr ‘79)
- On asking Julia Thomas why she was absent on Friday with her two brothers the answer was ‘Please Sir, Mr Price (the attce off) said we were not to come when it is wet. (Apr ‘80).
- During the last three months or thereabouts the Attce Officer has not called to ask about the attendance. I have left off sending lists to him. I found it was only wasting time. (Apr ‘80)
- .22 children are absent this afternoon...I know of the reason for the absence of one of them...As for the Attendance Officer, he seems to have left off attending to this school. (Mar ‘81)
- Gave the Board a list of 14 children not attending any school, the result being that the Att Off received strict orders to look after them and one man was summoned (Oct ‘81)
- Sent a list of 25 absentees to the Attce Off. Seven of these are illegally employed. (Jun ‘82)
- Board meeting here today. ..told the Board of six more who are of school age but not attending anywhere. (Jul ‘82)
- Board meeting – Sent in a list of 33 absences...I have found no result from the above list, as the attendance this week (ave 42) is the lowest for a long, long time. I sent again to the Attce Officer this evening to tell him the state of the attendance...Monday. No improvement this morning. Have sent round to all the parents within reach – from one to two miles. (Aug ‘83)
- The Board had a special meeting here on Monday to appoint an Attend Officer. Mr Jenkins of Craswall was the successful candidate...The Attendance Officer has not visited the sch since his appointment. (13 & 31 Jan ‘90)
- Mr Moses Jenkins visited today, and served a few notices upon parents to appear before the Board. (Jun ‘90)
- Reported Alice George to the Board Attendance Officer in order to call and see if she is really ill. [Three days later:] Received the following certificate:- I certify that Alice George is unfit to attend school’. Signed L Thain. (Feb ‘91)
- Moses Jenkins Attendance Officer died today...the funeral of Moses Jenkins took place this evening. He has held the office of Attendance Officer for this Board School nearly 12 years. His son William Jenkins has been appointed in his stead by the School Board today, pro tem. (1 & 4 Apr ‘02).
- Mr Jenkins called today about absentees; but the attendance is at present satisfactory. (May ‘02)
- I have received a letter from Mr R Moore, Clerk to the Abbey Dore Rural District Attendance Committee stating that Mr George Price of the ”Groves” Longtown has been appointed Attendance Officer for this and the other 15 schools in the Dore Rural District. We have been without an Attendance Officer since last December. (Apr ‘05)
As the age distribution of children eligible for schooling fluctuated from year to year, the School Board attempted to boost enrolment numbers by enrolling very young children. A number of instances are noted of children aged 3 or 4, when the Infants classroom, for a time at least, included a Kindergarten section: ‘Kindergarten commenced within the Infant Class’ (Sep ‘90). At the upper age range, several pupils are noted as staying on beyond completion of Stand VII, the highest level of the curriculum: ‘Three boys are still remaining in School after passing Standard VII. Alex Johnston’s attendances are not counted as he is over fourteen’ (Apr ‘92).
A survey of the child population by the then master John Nichols in 1891 reports demographic changes affecting enrolment, similar to the survey carried out by Thomas Lawrence in 1886 making the same point:
- During the past week I have made out a list of all the houses within two miles of Longtown School by nearest road and I find the population reaches 449,... Along the main road from Mr Prothero’s to Clodock (over 2 miles) there are 59 houses with a population of 164 yet there are only 20 children who can be compelled to attend school. There are 27 children who come more than 2 miles and some of these even 4 miles. (Jul ‘91)
School managers were required to visit the school to check that the marked tally matched up to a head count. Various Board members called in from time to time, leaving a brief signed note confirming attendance numbers.
- At a meeting of the School Board the Registers of Longtown School were examined and verified by the Chairman and Vice Chairman and found correct. HH Wood.’ (Jul ‘80)
- Mr F Price and Mr Jas Price attended in the afternoon to verify the Registers etc. (Apr ‘86)
- I attended this school at 11.20 am and chequed [sic] the Registers and found 113 scholars on the Register and 34 absent nearly all through illness. JG Harris. (Jan ‘88)
- Have written off over 200 children as ‘Left’ in the Admission Register. Not one child had been written off for five years. (Sep ‘90)
- [HMI report:] The Registers must be tested on behalf of the Board at least once a quarter, at irregular intervals, as required by paragraph 6 of Appendix II of Instructions to HM Inspectors. (Jul ‘94]
- I visited this School at 10.45am. All the teachers and 86 children were present. The Registers were correctly marked. Frederick Price Manager (Jun ’07)
REQUIRED MINIMUM OF ATTENDANCES
The attendance register was a crucially important record of the daily presence or absence of individual pupils. If a child came too late to be marked as present within a designated time for the roll call (with about a half hour leeway), the mark of ‘absent’ could not be corrected on the register. For this reason the log books sometimes note the names or numbers of children coming late, to indicate that the attendance was in fact higher than that shown in the register. Many pages of the log book give details of the children who came late along the lines of this example: ‘Seven children came late this morning. No one came late this afternoon’ (Dec ‘92). Children were exhorted to be punctual: ‘¼ of an hour after Prayers, occupied in trying to impress upon the Pupils, the great advantage upon punctual attendance of their coming to school (at 9 in the morning) a fault I greatly found fault with, they all promised to be more punctual for the future’ (Dec ‘73).
The number of attendances was measured in two ways. One was the roll call which was taken twice daily, at the start of the morning and afternoon sessions, to give a total of attendances reckoned in half days. The other measure was the number of half days the school was open during the year, usually about 410 to 420 half days, which allowed for holidays at Christmas and Easter and in the summer, and normally a few occasional days off at the discretion of the master or School Board. The minimum requirement was 400 half days. A shortfall below this number would threaten the viability of the school, which was a worry for the masters when the school was forced to close during bad weather or epidemics. Just such a prospect was faced in 1895 when the School Board decided to make up the minimum quota of half days by opening the school on Saturdays.
These two measures presented the masters with a continual dilemma. On some occasions when there was a need to close the school early - such as to make the building available for a School Board meeting or prepare for an evening concert, or perhaps to give some or all of the pupils permission to attend a special event elsewhere during school time - the master chose to reduce or dispense with the mid-day dinner break and take an immediate ‘afternoon’ attendance. This strategy enabled him to mark two attendances before dismissing the school much earlier than usual. As another option – such as in bad weather – the master sometimes closed the school without marking the registers at all. This strategy enabled him to avoid a low register count when very few children turned up. The advantage of closing was that the ‘average’ quarterly returns for attendance would not be lowered.
If the minimum number of half days could not be met, the master would resort to paring down the number of days allowed off during the summer and Christmas breaks; or at the worst by holding Saturday school as long as necessary to make up the shortfall. These choices gave some room for manoeuvre in keeping roll calls as high as possible while meeting the required quota of half days.
- [HMI report:] No single child had made 400 attendances although the school had been opened 411 times. (Jan ‘78)
- In consequence of pouring rain at 12 o’clock today I retained the children till 2 o’clock and then dismissed them for the day. (Aug ‘79)
- [HMI report:] Although this school has been open 429 times in the year and is situate in a large village, only three children have made over 400 times during the year. (Apr ‘81)
- It has rained pelting nearly all the week, and spoiled the average for the Quarter. Many of the routes the children come are impassable with water. (Jan ‘85)
- Made two attendances between nine and half-past two, by omitting the Scripture lesson, as a great many of the children wanted to go to the Baptist Tea-party. (Sep ‘87)
- Made two attendances between 9am and 2pm by omitting the scripture lesson, in order to attend the School Board meeting at Craswall at 3pm. (Jun ‘88)
- A very heavy fall of rain all day. Attendance only fair. Omitted Scripture. Allowed ten minutes for dinner and shall close at 2.15, marking for two attendances. (Jan ‘90)
- A very wet morning and consequently a small attendance. This will lower the average for the week considerably. I shall commence with secular work at nine & keep on till 2.15 allowing 15 mins for dinner & thus mark for two attendances. (Oct ‘91)
- Received letter from JC Colville Esq intimating that there is no objection to our opening on Saturday. (Jan ‘92)
- Opened school today (Saturday). Attendance fairly good. (Feb ‘92)
- Many of the elder children have asked to be away for hay harvest so that School will be closed for a fortnight. Reopen 1st August. (Jul ‘92)
- Received Instruction from the Board to close school on Friday 19th inst for one week on account of corn harvest. (15 Aug ‘92)
- The rain is incessant...Closed school for the day before the time for closing the Registers. Only 10 children present. (Dec ‘93)
- Only 2 children attended this school today...I closed the school for the day, having waited until 9.15 am to see if anyone else arrived. [Next day:] At 9 o’clock there were present only four children...One more came before 9.30 and at that time I dismissed for the week. (Dec ‘93)
- On Tuesday afternoon the school had been open 400 times from June 1st 1893 to May 8th 1894. Three children, AM Bridgewater, CE Dyer and Roy Dyer attended 400 times. (May ‘94)
- In consequence of many of the children being desirous of attending the funeral of Wallace Long, the registers were closed at 9.20 and 11.30 and the school closed at 1.30. (Nov ‘94)
- School closed today for Xmas Holidays, will re-open again on Dec 31st. Am unable to have a fortnight’s holiday owing to the few attendances already made. (20 Dec ‘94)
- School must be kept open however few attend consequently the average must suffer severely. The work is fearfully behind and I am sorely puzzled to know in what way I am to improve it when so many are daily away. The circumstances are distressing and disheartening. (Jan ‘95)
- Had word today (per T Llanwarne Esq) from JB Colwel HMI that it is legal to open school on Saturdays. I intend doing so when the weather gets a little better. (Jan ‘95)
- Number on books 68 – average for week 54 – whilst for quarter it only reaches 46. (Mar ‘95)
- As the 400 attendances can now be made no school will be held tomorrow Saturday. (Apr ‘95)
- The average for the year is 52. This is the lowest attendance registered for years, and probably during the whole records of the school. As regards regularity the school is perfectly disorganized. The first half of the year was greatly taken advantage of by the continual change of Temporary Masters then followed the severe winter during which an average of 16 was marked...so as to get in the 400 attendances. For the same reason Saturday meetings were marked with the result that not half the scholars were usually present. (Jun ‘95)
- The average this week is the largest for years it reaching 69. (Sep ‘95)
- Another discouraging weeks work 71 on books average 31. I have no heart for work it seems to be working against fate...progress nil. (Apr ‘98)
- Mr Miles, a manager...thought the attendance was very good. Average 72.7. Number on Registers 90, equal to 80%. (Jul ‘03)
- I am very pleased to be able to record the fact that the percentage of attendances this week has gone above 90. I can find no record of a similar occurrence for at least five years. (Nov ‘04)
- From the list issued by the County Education Authority & which I have received this afternoon I find this school stands fifth in the county with an average of 83 & a percentage of 95 for the quarter ended Dec 3rd 1905. (Mar ‘06)
- It is a horribly rough morning & raining in torrents. Only about 40 children were present so the registers have not been marked. Those who came were kept at school until the usual hour for dismissal, but the Time Table was not adhered to, the time being devoted to backward subjects & children. (Mar ‘06)
- Snow has been falling heavily all the morning, & so few children are present that I am unable to mark the register. (Mar ‘06)
- We had 95 children present yesterday out of a roll of 96. (Apr ‘10)
The employment of children by their parents, which the masters routinely noted, proved almost impossible to regulate. In 1899 the minimum leaving age was raised from eleven to twelve, though children could stay on to thirteen or fourteen. Those leaving for paid work at age twelve were required to have passed Standard V exams and obtained a work permit. The school held exams at Standard V for those children who sought to apply for a work permit or ‘certificate of exemption’.
- I...brought...3 cases before the Board – of children who are employed but who are not entitled to labour certificates. The Clerk informed us that as the children are now 13 years of age, it would be useless proceeding against them. I therefore take their names off the registers. (Dec ‘82)
- Mrs Nichols informs me that Rosa has gone out to service. I pointed out that she had no right to be so employed not being of age and not having passed the St of exemption. She intends seeing the Board to get her exempted if possible. (Sep ‘95)
- Tomorrow D Williams HMI holds an exam in the school for labour certificates (Jun ‘98)
- Ada Watkins and Deborah Gwillim desire to be examined for Labour Certificate on Saturday 18th. They are both 12 years old, and have been in 4th Standard during last year. (Jan ‘02);
- Ada Watkins has left school, having passed the requisite standard for exemption, V. (Feb ‘02)
- Several of the elder girls have left school for domestic service, being 14 years of age, and others passed V Standard, Labour certificate. (Jun ‘02)
- Received examination schedule of Candidates for Labour certificates, stating that Albert Evans & George Harris passed in all 3 subjects, but that Horace Miles failed in arithmetic. They were all examined in Standard V of the Code 1902. (Jun ‘02)
- Mary Howell has left school aged 14 years, she has during last 6 months been in Standard VI with very good results. Margaret Seaborne also left being 14 years old. She was taught on Standard V. (Nov ‘03)
- Received Notice that an Examination for Labour certificates would be held here on Saturday next. (Jan ‘04)
- Two boys gave notice today that they would like to be examined for Labour Certificates on Saturday May 28th next, in this school. (May ‘04)
- Several of the elder scholars have been withdrawn from school either by age or labour certificate. (Sep ‘04)
- Eva Proctor (Aged 13, St IV) and Mabess Williams (12 St V) were examined for Labour Certificate...Eva Proctor and Mabess Williams passed the examination for Labour Certificate. (May ‘06)
Masters sometimes complained that the School Board were lax in taking defaulting parents to court, though occasional prosecutions were carried out:
- The attendance is still no better, although the School Board promises every Meeting to enforce Compulsory Attendance. (Aug ’77)
- Only one person has ever been prosecuted for non-attendance at this school - some 12 months since. Many I could point out have richly deserved it. (Apr ‘80)
- Holiday. Master having to attend at Abbeydore respecting some school attendance cases. (May ‘82);
- Two boys, Burmah & Lawrence Watkins, sons of Geo Watkins of Mynydd Ferdyn, a well-to-do farmer, have been absent from school a month, Burmah making 3 days in the time & Lawrence none. The reasons given by the boys this morning are as follows:- Lawrence says he has been employed by his father cutting Swedes for the cattle & cleaning out the beast houses. Burmah most of the time has been shelling clover. “Mother wanted to send us to school last week, but father wouldn’t let us come”. Mrs Watkins told me once before that she wished Mr Price [Attendance Officer] would summon her husband for keeping the children from school. Burmah is 9 yrs old and Lawrence 11 yrs. Since writing the above Lawrence has handed me the following medical certificate. “I certify that Lawrence Watkins has undergone a severe operation for (necrosis) mortification of the shin bone and that the wound is not yet healed, nor has the bone entirely recovered. It is very undesirable that he should stand or otherwise use it for any length of time”. SH Steel MB[?] Abergy April 18 1882. In spite of this certificate the boy sticks to his text – that he has been doing the work he told me of. (May ‘82)
- Many children at work who ought not to be. The clerk told me at the last Board meeting that it was no use prosecuting those who are away, until it is too late for them to make the requisite number of attendances. None of those children whose names I sent in to the Board hold certificates to enable them to go to work, nor are they eligible for them. Some of them have passed in two subjects. (Aug ‘82)
- Jno Price came to school this morning after playing truant six days. [Next day] Reported Jno Price’s misdeeds today to the School Board. (Nov ‘82)
- Board meeting – Again called the attention of the Board to the irregular attendance of Geo Watkin’s three children. Also to John Price’s case again. The result was that the Board ordered both parties to be summoned. (Dec ‘82)
- I distributed bills to all the children calling the attention of parents to the new Education Act and urging upon them the necessity of a regular and punctual attendance of children, and informing them that in cases of negligence they would enforce the law. (Sep ‘91).
- Maggie Wms absent yesterday, minding the shop. When reproved for this, the girl laughed, thinking the matter a very light thing. I shall urge the Board at their next meeting to take steps to prevent these daily & half-daily absences. (Aug ‘93)
- Yesterday there were four children absent employed illegally by their parents. They are thereby liable to a fine of 40s if the law were carried out. MJ Whistance (10), Margt Whistance (9) were haymaking; Ar Hy Prosser & Kate Prosser were cutting wood. (Jun ‘94)
- Many children are absent today, being (some of them) illegally employed to help their parents in the fields. (Jul ‘94)
- Emily Nichols and SAE Moore are to be at last summoned for irregular attendance. (Sep ‘95)
- Mr Jenkins the (AO) informs me that...the Board intend to summon Alf Nichols and W Price if they fail to attend school “tomorrow”. (Jun ‘96)
- Alf Nichols a boy 11 years of age is not attending school he is working at a farm and I appealed to the Board to summon the employer for illegal employment. (Sep ‘99)
BEHAVIOUR AND CONTACT WITH PARENTS
The log books give an unbalanced picture of pupils’ conduct: Masters typically reported punishments dealt out to individual trouble makers, while praise for model students was a rarity such as in this entry: ‘Maggie Williams St IV brought credit on the school at the examn. She did well in Singling, Grammar, Recitation, Arithmetic etc. I have advanced her into St VI with the consent of her grandparents’ (Jun ‘96). The ideal of good behaviour was a well disciplined class in which personal obedience and group conformity were paramount virtues. These values are evident in HMI and other reports, which show that the masters had variable skills in finding the right balance in maintaining order and pupil interest: indeed they tend to draw a veil of silence over their own efforts, although among the quotes below one master bravely comments on behaviour problems in his class.
- Pupils very orderly and well behaved, heard all the Catechism1st thing in the morning. (Jan ‘74)
- [HMI report:] Discipline is very good, but the children might show more vivacity and answer questions more generally. (Apr ‘84)
- [HMI report:] The children are under very good control and they pass a successful examination in most respects. (May ‘92)
- [HMI report:] The master should insist on stricter discipline. There should be no attempts at copying and all class movements should be conducted in a quiet and orderly manner. (May ‘93)
- [HMI report:] The school is orderly and the results of examination fair. (Jul ’94)
- The children on all possible occasions copy and talk. Should the master turn his back quite a buzz is heard in the room. (Dec ‘94)
- [HMI report:] The present Master, who has been in charge rather more than six months, has the children in very good order, and he is effecting general improvement. (Jul ‘95)
- [HMI report:] The teaching is kindly and careful...Greater firmness in discipline and more exactness in arranging the work should readily effect improvement. (Aug ‘01)
- The Rev GV Collison came this morning and gave the children religious instruction remarking the children were orderly and well behaved. (July ‘03)
- [HMI report:] The discipline and the general tone of the school are highly satisfactory...The children show keen interest in their work in which they are making very good general progress. (Sep ‘09)
A need for cleanliness is sometimes raised as an issue:
- Thomas Jones has taken offence & sent his four children to the Baptist School because I have insisted on his sending them regularly to school with clean skins. (Nov ‘81)
- The Nicholls never come in time and are always in a dirty state. (Mar ‘91)
- Willy Griffiths came to school in such a filthy condition that I sent him home to change and clean himself. He had fallen into the mud on the road. (Nov ‘91)
- Last Friday all came very clean and tidy except one. (Feb ‘93)
- All came very neat and clean today. (Mar ‘93)
. Wm Price came to school very dirty. He was severely reprimanded and I hope will never be dirty again. (Sep ‘93)
- Wall Long punished for having dirty boots. Punished Wm Griffiths for having dirty boots. (Mar ‘94)
For some years there was apparently no planned strategy for reinforcing positive attitudes towards school or school work, either to the school as a whole or to individuals. Rewards for good work - a few pence or sweets - were sometimes handed out to a few individual pupils by visitors, but apparently in an unpredictable way. Visitors also distributed sweets and cakes to the whole school from time to time, though this seems more of an indulgence from benevolent givers than an identifiable reward. Rewards to individuals for achievement and regular attendance were introduced in 1884 by an annual prizegiving (discussed in the next section on Visitors and Special Occasions.)
Otherwise, the record suggests exhortation towards improved conduct by threats, warnings and punishment. The logbooks provide a catalogue of misdemeanours:
- I find great lack of obedience respecting matters of discipline in school. Kept whole school in a short time to practise quietness & to enforce obedience. [Next day:] Discipline in Scholars improved. (Feb ‘75)
- A boy, Sydney Evans, had his head cut by a stone thrown by Wm Pearce during “Recreation”. William was punished for “stone-throwing” & the other scholars in school cautioned. (Aug ‘75)
- Punished a boy of the 1st Class for cruel interfering with the comfort & quietness of the younger boys. (Oct ‘75)
- Warned the bigger boys against encouraging the lesser boys to fight & quarrel. (Oct ’75)
- Kept a great number in at Playtime for being late. (Jan ‘76)
- Albert Bright absent, having run away...[4 days later:] I hear Albert Bright has returned to his guardian and has partly promised to be in school again. [A week later:] The last named boy (Bright) has not returned yet. (Feb ‘76)
- Mary Rickard broke school window – ordered to pay for it. (May ‘76)
- Discovered a fourth class book had been torn & the leaves replaced but wrongly. Each one in the class denied any knowledge of it. (Jan ‘77)
- Two or three pieces of mischief discovered but the perpetrators still “at large”, will probably soon be found. (Feb ‘77)
- Stone throwing begun again- one boy’s head hurt – the culprit was well punished. (Jun ‘77)
- Punished Jno Prosser for wasting bread. (Aug ‘77)
- Again had a number up for roughness and mischief out of school hours. (Nov ‘77)
- Gilbert Phillips punished. [3 days later:] Gilbert & his brother off to Baptist School. (Dec ‘77)
- John Price ran away to the Baptist school today without his mother’s knowledge...John Price is back here again today. (Nov ‘79)
- Reprimanded a lot of the boys for throwing clods at each other at play time.’ (May ‘82)
- Punished Elizth Pritchard, after she had told several abominable lies. (Nov ‘84)
- Have had a good deal of trouble with two or three boys this week. Have had occasion to punish John Parry and Joan Williams for carelessness and obstinacy. (Feb ‘86)
- Punished H Smith, D Price, John Farr, A Howells for going up on the hill yesterday afternoon without leave. (July ‘87)
- Punished DW George (2nd Standard boy) and Thomas Nicholls (3rd Standard) for fighting on the ‘Green’ yesterday at 3.45 while playing football. The punishment, which was six stripes on their hands to each, was inflicted by me before the whole school at 9.30am. I am afraid that if this sort of thing was allowed to pass without severe punishment we should soon have the Longtown of Old back again – for Longtown in the past was noted for its pugilists – especially on a Fair day on the ‘Green’. This is the first flight I have seen or heard of between my school children since I’ve been here. So I thought I would ‘nip it in the bud’. (Dec ‘87)
- Punished John W Edwards at 3.15 pm for idleness after repeated cautions. The punishment was two stripes, one on each hand. (Mar ‘89)
- George Price of Lower Cwm was slapped this morning for carelessness and laziness in Dictation lesson. He had 15 mistakes, although he had had a quarter of an hour for supervision of lesson. (Jan ‘91)
- I found several cases of bullying on the part of some of the older scholars while at play, and at once took measures to put a stop to it, at the same time intimating that any future cases would be dealt with more severely. Harry Price received four strokes on the hands, two on each. Thomas Saunders one on each hand. (Oct ‘91)
- On Wednesday Louis Bridgewater was brought to me for not obeying her teacher on three occasions & I punished with a stroke on each hand. On returning to her place she thought evidently it was very nice to be punished and immediately commenced talking and laughing. I called her out and spoke to her about it, and this had the desired effect. (Mar ‘92)
- George Price refused to hold out his hand for punishment for coming late. He has left the school-room without leave, and must submit to the discipline of the school before being allowed to return. [2 days later:] George Price returned this morning. He promises obedience. (Feb ‘93)
- Punished 2 boys for ‘grinning’ (Feb ‘93)
- Punished Alf Johnson and Geo Price (Lower Farm) for fighting on Friday evening last after leaving school. (Feb ‘93)
- Spoke to the children on the evil of swearing. (Mar ‘93)
- Four boys....were punished for swearing. They received one stroke each, as this is the first offence. (Mar ‘93)
- Punished T Saunders for troubling the girls in their play. (Mar ‘93)
- Punished David Davies, two strokes, for telling a lie. (May ‘93)
- Maggie Williams received one stroke for laughing during prayer. This is the first time a girl has been punished by me for misbehaviour. She richly deserves it. (May ‘93)
- Punished Willy Griffith, St III boy, for wanting to fight on leaving school. (Jun ‘93)
- Punished Alf Nicholls for coming late. He was just too late to be counted present. (Jul ‘93)
- Wm Griffiths and John Probert received 2 strokes each for disfiguring the history books of St III with blots of ink. (Sep ‘93)
- Louisa Bridgewater St III... is doing much better now. She appears to be trying hard to become a good girl. (Sep ‘93)
- Punished Edgar Johnson and Albert Price for fighting in the interval – one stroke to each hand. (Oct ‘93)
- Punished David Davies for using dirty language in the dinner-hour. (Oct ‘93)
- Punished Lionel Miles for “grinning” when we expect a visit from the Chairman of the Board. (Oct ‘93)
- Punished Edgar Johnson of trifling instead of working his sums. He has been 7 mos learning Long Division, and he has not been able to work a sum in this rule yet. (Oct ‘93)
- I had to reprimand John Farr for bandying names with a scholar during school hours. (Nov ‘93)
- I cautioned the children against the evil habit of swearing, while journeying to and from school. (Jan ‘94)
- The Rev GV Collison called at the school to see two little boys Allan & Geo Proctor who were found drawing stones out of his (Mr Collison’s) wall on Saturday last. (Feb ‘94)
- Punished D Davies and C Lloyd for shooting Eliz J Evans with a bow and arrow last night in Clodock churchyard. Davie Davies has told lies in the matter. I have forbidden bows and arrows to be used in the school. (May ‘94)
- Found some very objectionable writing in the boys offices which has been rubbed from the wall. (Dec ‘94)
- Albert Smith III Standard was cautioned for lighting Lucifer matches in the schoolroom. (Jan ‘01)
- I found it necessary to cane severely 11 boys for interfering with girls during the dinner hour and yesterday afternoon after school. (Jun ‘07)
The ultimate sanction was dismissal from the school, about which these reports:
- Two boys Thomas Bowers and James Hughes very troublesome this afternoon. Compelled to threaten them of suspension from School. (Nov ‘73)
- Geo Phillips has been troublesome – absent now dismissed altogether from Longtown School. (Jul ‘78)
- Jno Price has been at his truant playing again three days this week. The Board contemplates getting him into an industrial school. (Nov ‘82).
- I hear Jno Price whose mother has been three times summoned for his bad attendance, has been ordered to a training ship at Saltash. (Feb ‘84)
- Jno Price was taken away today by Sergeant Butler. (Mar ‘84)
PARENTAL ATTITUDES AND CONTACT WITH SCHOOL
Again, the logbooks give a heavily biased account of parents’ attitudes towards the school, almost always reporting indifference or hostility towards the masters’ attempts to improve attendance and behaviour.
- Mrs Evans called to complain of her boy having been undeservedly punished; this boy gives me a great deal of trouble. (Oct ‘75)
- Alfred Wallace Gardiner was absent this morning. His excuse on coming this afternoon was ‘Please Sir, mother wouldn’t get up to get me ready.’ (May ‘79)
- On John Williams refusing to be punished, saying he had been ordered by his father to do so, I sent him home till his father will explain matters. [Next day:] John came to school as usual this morning, but with the same message. I sent him back again saying I could not have him here till I have seen his father. I feel compelled to take this step in justice to the discipline of the school...I should like the opinion of the Board as to whether the step I have taken in this matter is a proper one or not. To allow such messages to be brought here & delivered before the whole school by a boy, would in my humble opinion be to sanction a grand step towards rebellion. A Board meeting is held here today & this will be laid before the members of it....On laying the above case before the School Board on Friday, Mr Williams was sent for. He put the blame upon his wife, saying he knew very little about it, but from what he has since told me, it is quite certain he knew all about it, as he again declared he would not have the boy punished at all. I again assured him that I would not have his children here unless they could be punished when they were deserving of it. Possibly two days’ thinking over the affair has caused Mr Williams to see his error, as his four children are here again today, although he threatens to take them away. I have retained them at school but shall send him word this evening that I do so only on the condition that he is willing for them to be subject to the same discipline as the rest of the scholars. The Board said I had acted in a very proper manner in the matter. (Jun ‘79)
- John Price ran away to the Baptist school today without his mother’s knowledge...John Price is back here again today. (Nov ‘79)
- The following is a copy of a medical certificate I received this week – “Feb 7, 1889 I certify that Emily Harris is not able to attend School, having to nurse her mother who is ill. Signed Leslie Thain, Longtown”. If a doctor can give a child leave of absence on such grounds, the next thing one may expect will be a certificate for some of them to stay at home to nurse the baby – a very common excuse. (Feb ‘80)
- Two children Elizth Williams & her sister Eliza have been withdrawn from this school this week because they were kept in a few minutes to finish a lesson. (Oct ‘80)
- John Price played truant three days this week...John Price again absent no less than four times this week. His mother says she can do nothing with him. Men about here with carts & wagons are more to be blamed than the boy, as they often pick him up on his way to school & take him with them. (Feb ‘81)
- This afternoon I received a note from Mrs Hoddell who asks if from 7 o’clock to 12 is not long enough to be without food - & this I suppose because the girl may have been kept in school a few minutes some day lately to finish her work. What time she has her breakfast I do not know or anything of her before 9 o’clock. (Mar ‘81)
- This morning I sent George Jones to ask why his sister Harriet was absent. He did not come back nor is he here this afternoon. I also told his younger brother Stephen to ask his mother to mend his clothes, & to put buttons on them & send him clean & decent to school. None of the four are here this afternoon and on sending to know the reason the father only sent a saucy answer viz that he wd come down & “separate” me. [Next day]: Upon questioning these children this morning I find they were gleaning & nutting. Sent Stephen home to be washed as he comes dirty continually: his father being much put about at this, tells me he cannot keep them clean or tidy, as he only gets 2d per day each for them to live upon. (Sep ‘81)
- Kinsey Watkins, a well-to-do farmer’s daughter 11½ yrs of age has today returned to school after wasting 12 months at home. On enquiring about her, the answer sent has invariably been that she was ill or coming next week: now that I have an opportunity of questioning the girl herself I find she has been kept at home most of the time to work, though she says she was ill the first part of the time, certificates were given [sic] (Oct ‘81)
- I find that Thomas Jones, who was summoned and convicted for sending his three children to the Baptist school, has now taken George away and sent him there too. (Feb ‘82).
- Jacob Prosser has taken Laura & John away & sent them to Walterstone school because they were not examined. They had not made their times, and consequently were sent home on the examination day. (Apr ‘83)
- Found on Agnes Pritchard a pair of stockings which she had stolen from the school. Made her take them off. Miss Smith lent her a pair to go home with...Agnes Pritchard has not been here since I took the stockings from her. I shall lay the affair before the Board tomorrow...Board Meeting. The Board decided to summon Mrs Pritchard for receiving the stolen stockings. She had evidently put the girl to take them. (8 Feb - 7 Mar ‘84)
- Saw Mr Hughes today. Enquired after his boy (Bertie). He told me in a half hearted way that the boy did not want to come and he did not think he should send him. I reminded him that the examination was coming near and he said “Oh well, I don’t think I shall send him He’s been poorly”. As a matter of fact the boy has been playing about for weeks. . (Jan ‘91)
- Mrs George called to say that her daughter Alice should come on Monday. This woman is continually trying to make up excuses for her daughter who, by the way is a regular dunce. I had told her that if she kept her at home any longer she would have to produce a doctor’s certificate. It has evidently brought her to bay. (Jan ‘91)
- Mr Powell (David Powell’s father) called last night and stated that the reason David did not come more regularly was because the other boys thrashed him when on the way. Made enquiries and find that this statement is untrue. (Jan ‘91)
- Alice George absent again today. Sent to enquire reason. Reply ‘Her boots are bad’. Three weeks ago the same excuse was made and the mother told me she was having some new ones that day. I never can place any confidence in the woman’s tales. (Jan ‘91)
- Alice George away again today. Sent a notice to her parents. [Next day:] Received a reply from Mrs George stating that a certificate would be brought to school. None has arrived. This is typical of Mrs George. (Feb ‘91)
- Mr Nicholls sent this notice this morning ‘Dear Sir, I am sorry to say that Philip is not able to come to school, he was hardly able to walk home yesterday’. These children do not make one-third of their attendances at school. (Feb ‘91)
- Willy Griffiths was sent to me this morning for being lazy and I punished him, giving him a stroke on the hand. Rhoda Griffiths was sent out also by Miss AJ Price & I gave her a tap on the hand and told her she had to remain in school till 12.30pm. As soon as I left school Mrs Griffiths came and took Rhoda Griffiths out of the school. They did not come to school this afternoon, so I sent for them and had the reply ‘Jim says they aint a’coming’. I went to the house and the children were playing about, but Mrs Griffiths refused to send them. What authority is a teacher to have over such children trained in such habits of disobedience to their teachers. (Feb ‘91)
- Alice George has been from school for three weeks. Her mother says she is ill, but I cannot place any dependence upon her word as she has deceived me too often. It is my opinion that she is ‘dodging’ to get her child from school. (Apr ‘91)
- Edgar and Lorrimer Johnson were late this morning 15 minutes. There were 7 children late & 74 present at 9 am. All who were late had to remain in school after the others had gone. Mrs Johnson came to school in my absence and took her children away. They were kept away from school in afternoon and in consequence, I sent a polite note telling Mrs Johnson how unreasonable such conduct was. A verbal reply ‘I will send them when it is convenient to me’ was returned. I then sent a final notice to attend the Board. (Mar ‘92)
- Mr Watkins of Cwmcoched takes the liberty of having his children at home one or two days every week. The following note was handed in this morning as a reason for absence. “Edward is not able to come. He is very poorly in bed yesterday. Annie do not like to come without him.” These children are a regular nuisance in the matter of attendance and nothing short of magisterial proceeding will alter them (Nov ‘92)
- Emily Nicholls came late this afternoon. Mrs Prothero complains that she continually troubles her little girl. Today she has put dirt down Mabel’s back. (Oct ‘93)
Nothing is said about parents who conscientiously sent their children to school, nor those who defaulted only by necessity for understandable reasons such as the walk to school in bad weather, illness, harvesting and other farm work - and probably market days at Abergavenny could be included, when children either helped to carry produce or stayed at home to ‘mind the house’.
There was no organisation (such as a Parent Teacher Association) to involve parents in supporting the school, either for educational goals or fundraising. Presumably parents were encouraged to attend fundraising concerts held occasionally in the evening, and funds raised ‘by subscription’ may include parent contributions. Among the few positive remarks about parents’ involvement is a touching gift of apples from a parent, quoted below. Otherwise, wider community support is mentioned overwhelmingly as the patronage of Church and gentry.
- Afternoon Mrs Eagles and Miss Downer honoured the school with a call. (Dec ‘73)
- This being Bruce Povey’s birthday (4th) his mother sent four baskets of apples for distribution among his school mates. (Apr ‘84)
- The average attendance has been reduced very considerably owing to sickness. The parents either appeared personally to excuse their children or wrote a letter. Many promised to be in attendance on Monday next. (Feb ‘90)
- The Penarth trip has been got up by subscription among the members of the Board and also the gentry in the neighbourhood. (Sep ‘92)
VISITORS AND SPECIAL OCCASIONS
In the to and fro of visitors to the school, some came on a fairly regular basis such as the vicar to take lessons in religious knowledge and School Board members to check the registers. It was also the custom for local ladies to call in to give general support and encouragement by hearing the children sing or read, inspecting the needlework and spreading largesse in the form of sweets and cakes. Sometimes such visits would have been disruptive, as shown by a note of exasperation from the master creeping into this report: ‘The Copy Book writing was done a little better today than it was done on Friday last, when we were constantly interrupted by gentlemen entering the school-room.’ (Jan ‘94)
The extent of involvement from the Reverend Charles Eagles and the Reverend George Vaux Collison in religious education seems to have differed: while both were entitled to make impromptu visits during school hours, less mention is made of the Rev Eagles than the Rev Collison. There is ample evidence that Collison was a hands-on participant in the school, both on the pastoral side as well as taking lessons, particularly drawing lessons for the boys. The Rev Davles, curate at Llanveynoe who reportedly was the moving force for building the school, makes rare appearances in the record. Occasionally other clergy visits are mentioned.
- Revd Edw Davies visited the school in the afternoon. (Feb ‘79)
- Holiday, being Ascension Day & one of the days when the school belongs to the Vicar & Churchwardens. (May ‘85)
- Revd C Davies visited the school at 3.20pm. (Sep ‘87)
- Revd GV Collison called in about 12 o’clock. (Apr ‘89)
- The Rev W Sellon vicar of Llanveynoe with Craswall, visited the School to get a list of School Children living in the Parish of Llanveynoe. (Nov ‘89)
- The Rev John Jones MA late Vicar of Garway visited the school. (Jan ‘90)
- The Vicar came in today and assisted in the Reading lesson on agriculture. Questions were answered satisfactorily. (Jan ‘04)
- The Vicar assisted yesterday at the Drawing Class. (Feb ‘04)
- Rev Mr Collison came in this morning and gave a drawing examination (Dec ‘94)
- The Rev GV Collison visited school today and questioned the elder scholars on Agriculture with which he was satisfied. (Mar ‘04)
- The Vicar, the Rev GV Collison, visited the school this morning and very kindly presented the boys with a complete cricket set. (Jun ‘09)
- The Vicar visited the school this morning and gave woollen gloves to six children who have a long way to come to school (Dec ‘09)
A second group of visitors, School Board members, were required to call unannounced from time to time, Various members took on this duty, noting and signing a record of their visit in the log book. Their participation in the school extended to their wives and families, who composed a third group of regular visitors: the local ladies. Mrs Eagles, wife of the vicar, was a stalwart visitor who called in once or twice a month and was usually accompanied by one or two of the Misses Downer. Indeed, the Rev Eagles appears, in the main, to have left informal visiting to his wife. By contrast Mrs Collison is rarely mentioned and seems to have taken relatively little interest in the school: during Collison’s tenure, the main visitors were the wives and daughters of School Board members. In particular, Miss Harris, a daughter of the Board chairman, involved herself in no doubt popular initiatives for special treats and prizes. It is not clear whether the visiting ladies were seen as deputies for School Board members, or were otherwise self-appointed well-wishers. It is apparent, however, that (whether invited or not) their visits were accepted by custom.
- School visited by Mrs Eagles, who heard Standard I reading. (Oct ‘73)
- Mrs Eagles called & looked at Sewing. Mrs Eagles also gave a boy a small present for his care in Arithmetic. (Jan ‘77)
- Mrs Eagles called and brought the children ½ lb of sweets. (Jul ‘77)
- Mrs Eagles called & brought the children some Gingerbread nuts to be scrambled among them. (Aug ‘77)
- Mrs Eagles called & brought the children a treat of Nuts. (Oct ‘77)
- Mrs Eagles and Miss Downer called to bring sweets & cakes by way of a Xmas treat for the children. (Dec ‘79)
- Mrs Eagles and Miss C Downer called in the afternoon and looked over the needlework. (Jun ’80)
- Mrs Eagles & Miss E Downer visited the school in the afternoon bringing sweets & gingerbreads for the children. (Jul ‘80)
- Mrs Eagles visited the school bringing a present for the children...Mrs Eagles came in the afternoon and heard the children sing. (Jan ‘81)
- Mrs Eagles & the Misses Downer visited the school in the afternoon bringing some cakes for the children. They expressed themselves as well pleased with the singing. (Apr ‘81)
- This afternoon Mrs Harris, Mrs Price, Mrs Griffiths and Miss Harris came in & inspected the needlework etc, heard the children sing & gave away some prizes. They said the whole of it gave them much satisfaction, especially the quality of the sewing and knitting. (Aug ‘81)
- This afternoon the sewing materials made up by the girls during the past year were given away to the scholars by Mrs Harris, Mrs Price, Mrs Lawrence & Mrs Griffiths. Misses Jane & Kate Harris were also present and distributed some cakes & sweets amongst the children.’ (Jul ‘83)
- Mrs Eagles & Miss Downer came in the afternoon – heard the children sing several songs, & inspected some of the copy books. They expressed themselves as well pleased with both. (Dec ‘83)
- Mrs Griffiths came in in the afternoon bringing some cakes & sweets for the children whom she heard sing several songs. Mrs Harris accompanied her. (Jul ‘84)
- This afternoon the sewing materials made up by the girls during the past year were given away to the scholars by Mrs & Miss Harris, Mrs Price (Groves) and Mrs Jenkins. (Jul ‘87);
- Rev and Mrs Collison giving prizes for needlework this aft. Mr, Mrs & Miss Norton present. Needlework distributed on the 13th by Mrs Price. (Jul ‘98)
- Mrs Price and Mrs Protheroe distributed the garments and stockings, socks, and scarves done in the school during last school year. (Jul ‘01)
Among special events, prize giving appears to have been introduced in 1884, eventually to include needlework and knitting, best attendance, passing well in the HMI exam, and good conduct. Funds for the prizes came mainly from the proceeds of concerts and one or two local charities, contributions from the School Board and their families, and on one occasion at least a donation from the master. The Rev Collison seems to have initiated special prizes for religious knowledge and drawing.
- Miss Harris came in this afternoon, examined the girls’ work in the classroom, and kindly offered prizes to the girls who should show the best needlework at the end of the year. (Oct ‘84)
- After checking the registers this morning, Mr Harris addressed the whole of the Scholars concerning their attendance and conduct, and most kindly promised prizes of the value of 15/-, 10/- and 5/- to the three children who shall make the greatest number of attendances in the year, and also one value 2/6 for good conduct. (Oct ’84)
- The garments etc which the girls have made during the year were given away this afternoon by Mrs Harris, Miss Harris & Miss Griffiths. The prizes were given. (Aug ‘85)
- Last year’s sewing materials given away this afternoon by some of the Board Member’s wives & daughters. (May ‘86)
- Miss Harris visited the school in the afternoon, & gave the prizes which she promised last year to the children who would shew the best sewing. The prize winners were Jessie J Roddick, Mabel Miles, Emma Price & Priscilla Nicholls. Miss Harris also kindly promised prizes next year again for the same thing. This lady takes very great interest in this school. (Aug ‘86)
- In the afternoon about 30 books were given out as prizes to the children who had made the greatest number of attendances during the past year, also for the best in Scripture and Arith. Miss Harris was present. (Sep ‘87);
- In the afternoon, Mrs & Miss Harris visited the school and kindly gave prizes to those children who had done the best sewing and knitting during the past year...These ladies kindly promised prizes next year again for the same thing, and two extra prizes for those who could make the best button-holes. (Oct ‘87);
- Revd GV Collison, Vicar, visited the school at 3.20 to give four 15/- prizes to those children (two out of the parish of Longtown & two out of the parish of Llanveyno) who passed well at the recent Government Exam (in the case of Longtown in the highest Standard) & who conducted themselves during the past year to the satisfaction of the master. (May ‘88)
- In the afternoon the sewing materials etc made up by the girls during the past year were given away to the scholars by Mrs Harris, Miss Harris and Mrs Price. Mrs Jenkins was also present...Mrs Johnston, Glanant Clodock kindly sent sweets for a scramble, but being a wet day, Miss Harris gave a few to each of the girls, while Mr Price gave a few to each of the boys. Miss Harris also promised a treat to all those children who would attend well, before breaking up for the Harvest Holidays. (Jun ‘88)
- About forty-three books were given away as prizes. Mrs & Miss Harris (Gilbertstone) and Mrs Jenkins were present at the distribution. Miss Harris gave several nice books to those girls who had shown the best sewing. (Dec ‘88)
- The garments etc made up by the children during the past year were given out this morning at 10am. Mr Harris, Miss Harris, Mrs Price (Groves) & Mrs Jenkins were present. After the garments etc had been inspected, Miss Harris addressed the children and said that she would give prizes for the best sewing & knitting at the breaking up of the school for the Harvest Holidays. Miss Harris then left. Mrs Harris & Mrs Price gave to each girl the garment made by herself, and the stockings were given to the boys who were really in need of them & who came regularly to school. The children were afterwards assembled on the ‘Green’ where they scrambled for biscuits & sweets kindly supplied by Mrs Harris. The children showed their appreciation of the kindness by hearty cheers. (May ‘89)
- The Rev GV and Mrs Collison called in to examine the needlework. They were highly pleased and selected 2 children in each Standard who were to have prizes for Needlework and 2 for Knitting...The Rev GV & Mrs Collison visited the school and distributed prizes to the Girls. The Prizes were very good ones and were a source of great pleasure to the girls; Writing Cases, Work-boxes, Satchels etc were among them. (Dec ‘90)
- Distributed prizes to the children amounting in value to £4.13.1, £1,2.6 being from Mrs Sellon out of the St Thomas’s Charity. The remainder £33.14.7 being the proceeds of a concert last winter and a subscription from myself [Mr Nichols]. Miss Harris and Mrs Price (Groves) kindly distributed them and were very well pleased with the children. There were 56 Books, 7 Writing Cases, 16 Water Colour Boxes, 10 Boxes of Instruments and 1 Medal for Regular Attendance. (Apr ‘91)
- Mr Collison called in during the week to distribute the 15/- prizes to children residing in the parishes of Longtown and Llanveynoe. (Apr ‘91)
- Rev GV Collison & Mrs Collison selected the children who were to have prizes for best needlework this afternoon. Mr & Mrs Harris attended and kindly distributed biscuits & sweets to the children. Afterwards Mrs Harris and Mrs Price gave out the garments to children who seemed delighted with them. (Apr ‘92)
- The Rev GV & Mrs Collison called yesterday and gave prizes for needlework and knitting. Misses Harris (2) and a friend were accompanying them. The children were well pleased with their prizes. (May ‘92)
- The Rev Mr Collison, Vicar of Longtown, visited the school, looked at the drawing and offered two prizes to the boys. (Mar ‘93)
- The Rev & Mrs Collison and Mrs G Harris examined the garments made by the girls. They selected the best needlework girls for prizes...The Rev Mr and Mrs Collison and Mesdames Harris and Price visited the school and distributed the prizes for needlework. They also gave out the garments to the girls. (Apr ‘93)
- The Master [Mr Dyer] gave 5/- in prizes of 1/- each to those who answered well in the Govt Exam. (HM Inspection) viz in Geog, Gram, Singing, Meanings, Recitation & Mental Arithmetic....The Rev Mr Collison kindly visited the school; gave a lesson to the First Class; and distributed the above prizes for me. (Jul ‘94)
- The Rev Mr Collison gave away some charity money to a few Longtown children. (Jan ‘97)
- On Dec 28 the children’s annual entertainment took place when prizes were distributed (funds for same raised by childrens entertainment) by the Rev GV Collison. The first prize, a silver watch was won by John Evans. (Jan ‘98)
- Mr Protheroe distributed 47 books, entitled the “King’s Realm” to the elder scholars, and 28 medals to infants and 1st Standard....Mrs Collison attended on Thursday afternoon, and presented the girls with useful articles for prizes for good needlework and Stocking and Scarf knitting in the school. Jul ‘02.
- Distributed prizes sent by Messrs Lever Brothers, Port Sunlight, for writing competition.( Dec ‘05)
- Silver medals kindly paid for by the Rev P.G Kekewich were presented to Winnie May and Alice Watkins for having made the full number of attendances for the year ended May 31st 1906. Mr W Prothero presented medals to a number of children who had not been absent or late during the month of September 1906. (Oct ‘06)
- The Vicar visited the School this afternoon and presented books to fourteen girls for regular attendance and diligence at his Catechism lessons.’ (Jan ‘08)
- The Rev PG Kekewich (Manager) visited the School this afternoon and presented silver medals to five children who had not missed an attendance during the School Year ended May 31st 1908. The children were Katie Bridgewater, Mary Williams, Jack Proctor, Jack Johnson & Bob Hyde. The Rev GV Collison also presented book prizes to the boys of his Catechism Class. (Jul ‘08)
A prize earmarked for children from Llanveynoe was provided by ‘Thomas’s Charity’ set up by Elizabeth Thomas, widow, in 1759 for teaching Bible reading and sums to 16 of the poorest children in four parishes, including 4 children from Llanveynoe. This was commuted to a prize for all Llanveynoe children attending Longtown school, and for others passing well in the Religious Knowledge exam.
- Rev HT Wybrow, Rector of Michaelchurch called and paid over £2 (Two Pounds) as amount due to Parish of Llanveynoe for “88 & 89” from Mrs Thomas Charity such sum to be expended in Books supplied by SPCK. The selection of Books to be left to the discretion of the Head Teacher of each School, and presented to those Scholars, resident in the parish of Llanveynoe, who passed the Diocesan Inspection with conspicuous ability. (Jun ‘90)
- Received prizes from SPCK. ..I distributed the prizes this afternoon, giving each child residing in Llanveynoe one, then the others remaining were presented to those children who passed most successfully in Religious Knowledge. (Jul ‘90);
- The following received prizes out of the Mrs “Thomas” Charity; they must be “Llanveynoe” children: [16 names & book titles listed]. (Jul ‘94)
Livestock fairs for cattle and sheep were held in Longtown three or four times a year, and generally in the same months; February, April, September and November. At least one of these dates, the September fair, had been established in the medieval borough of Longtown. The school was closed for these events; as can be imagined the village would have been bustling with people and animals from near and far, and many of the children would have been involved in participating along with their families.
- Longtown Fair – Holiday. (Apr ‘91)
- Monday, Longtown Fair, A holiday as usual. (Nov ‘02)
- Monday a Holiday. Longtown Cattle Fair. (Feb ‘03)
- No school today being Longtown Fair day. (Sep ‘03)
SCHOOL INITIATIVES AND PERMISSIONS
A range of special events took place during school hours, in the locality or further afield on an annual school outing. Occasionally, the master gave permission for some or all of the children to attend events elsewhere in the community, including tea parties at the Baptist school which seem to have been a magnet. The funeral of two school managers was observed by closure of the school. Some events, such as fundraising concerts held in the evening, presumably involved the children and their families.
- Holiday this afternoon, Harvest Thanksgiving Service at Church. (Oct ‘73)
- Half holiday in the afternoon to prepare the room for a Concert in the evening. (Apr ‘74)
- School Party at the Vicarage at 4 o’clock. (Aug ‘76)
- Dismissed a little earlier today on account of contemplated “Tea Party” to be held in this School for all the children in the District. (Aug ‘78)
- Commenced school half an hour earlier in the afternoon so as to dismiss sooner, as the room was required to be prepared for a concert. (Oct ‘78 )
- Holiday on account of Mr Harris giving the children a treat, in honour of the marriage of Lord Geo. Neville. (Oct ‘83)
- Made two attendances between nine and half-past two, by omitting the Scripture lesson, as a great many of the children wanted to go to the Baptist Tea-party. (Sep ‘87)
- At 4 o’clock in the afternoon a treat was given to the children. The school had been artistically decorated by the Misses Harris (Gilbertstone) the organizers of the treat. The number who attended was very much larger than heretofore, about 105 children were present. The tables were presided over by Mrs Collison, Mrs Harris, Miss Harris and Miss Maude Harris, and these ladies were ably supported by Miss Griffiths, Mrs Jenkins, Mrs Price (Groves), Miss Evans, Misses Miles, the Revd GV Collison & Mr Harris. The children were very much pleased with the sports on the green after tea was over, and showed their appreciation of the kindness shown them by the way they gave cheer after cheer as they went to their respective homes for those who had contributed to their pleasure. (Sep ‘88)
- Several children asked for, and obtained, leave to go to the Oldcastle Harvest Festival this afternoon. (Sep ‘89);
- During the [Christmas] holidays there will be a Concert in aid of a Prize Fund for the School. (Dec ‘90)
- Gave the children a half holiday in order that they might see the Royal Artillery. (Jun ‘91)
- It is proposed on Friday next to take the Sts III to VII for a day’s outing to Newport. The money has been raised by subscription and now totals £7/5/- I am pleased to note that the Chairman of the School Board JG Harris Esq and other members responded to the appeal in a hearty manner and were pleased that the children should have such an opportunity of improving their general intelligence. I could scarcely credit it that about a dozen in the first class had never been in a train. (Jul ‘91)
- Half Holiday today to prepare room for a Concert this evening for the purpose of establishing a library in this school. Concert very successful. About £2/5/- clear to buy books. (Nov ‘91)
- Closed school a little earlier as several children wished to attend the tea-party at the Baptists School Room. (Nov ‘91)
- Tomorrow will be observed as a holiday. The elder children will be taken to Penarth and the younger ones will have a tea in school, which will be kindly provided by Mr Harris Chairman of the Board. The Penarth trip has been got up by subscription among the Members of the Board and also the gentry of the neighbourhood. (Sep ‘92)
- Several children ask leave to attend a Bazaar at the Prim Meth Chapel here. (May ‘93)
- A wedding at Clodock at 2 o’clock (Dr Frost & Miss Griffith) has taken away many scholars. (Jun ‘93)
- Mr Harris promised to give the children a tea-party o n Thursday at 4.30 in honour of the royal wedding. ... The school had holiday in honour of a Royal Wedding. Mr Harris, Chairman of the School Board, gave the scholars a tea and a treat on the “Green” opposite the school. (Jul ‘93)
- The Marquis of Abergavenny visited the school. He left £2 with me for a treat for the scholars at Xmas. Scholars sang “God Save the Queen”. He is going to build a cottage for the schoolmaster. (Oct ‘93)
- Yesterday, just before 11 am, Mr Harris, the Chairman of the Longtown Sch Board, Died, aged 73. He has been a member of the Board since its formation, nearly 20 years ago. [4 days later:] Closed the school. Funeral of the late John Gilbert Harris, Chairman of the Longtown Sch Board. (13 & 18 Dec ‘93)
- We intend to hold our Children’s Tea on Friday next at 2 o’clock, attend to 3 o’clock...Holiday Tea party given to the children by the Marquis of Abergavenny. (Jan ‘94)
- Concert in school on the 26th funds for days outing in summer for the children. (Dec ‘94)
- A Cantata given in the school tonight by the scholars funds [sic] for a days outing in summer. (Apr ‘95)
- Tomorrow a Demonstration of Sunday School children takes place at Newton – a holiday will be given so as to allow the Longtown contingent to be present. (Jun ‘95)
- Started a Nigger Troupe this week. (Nov ’95)
- Today we have a Cantata in school – funds for a days outing in Summer. No school held in the afternoon. (Dec ‘95)
- Flower show in the neighbourhood...I marked the registers this aft at 12.45 and dismissed at 2.45. (Aug ‘96)
- Am taking the scholars to Cardiff Exhibition tomorrow. Funds raised by entertainments during last winter. Notified HMI. (Sep ‘96)
- A concert to be held in school tonight the proceeds of which will be devoted towards prize funds for regular attendance. (Feb ‘97)
- Julbilee tomorrow – school closed.’ (Jun ’97) [June 22 Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee]
- Mr Harris [son of JG Harris and successor as agent for the Marquis] paid for the scholars into a menagerie visiting Longtown. (Apr ‘98)
- Board today decided to close school on Thursday and Friday next owing to the Club Fete at Longtown. (May ‘98)
- By permission of the Board the school is closed today for the celebration of HM Coronation festival until June 30. (20 Jun ‘02)
- The school was closed this afternoon to allow the children to attend the ploughing competition at Longtown. The elder boys of this school were to compete with other boys from adjoining parishes. (Oct ‘02)
- There will be no school tomorrow as a Foresters’ Fete is being held in the village. (May ‘06)
- Today being Empire Day suitable lessons were given in both rooms and the afternoon session closed with the singing of the national Anthem. (May ‘06)
- The school will be closed tomorrow as I am taking the Children for an Outing to Penarth. (Jul ‘06)
- I have this morning received a letter from Mr JH Gilbert Harris (Agent) informing me that the Marquess of Abergavenny proposes giving the children of this school a tea and sports on Tuesday next in celebration of his 80th birthday. (Sep ‘06)
- Today being Empire Day I this afternoon delivered a short lecture on the British Empire, and closed with the singing of the National Anthem. (May ‘07)
- The School will be closed this afternoon in order to give the Teachers and Children an opportunity of attending the funeral of Mr W Prothero Snr, who has been a Manager of this School since 1902, and for twenty five years previous to that was a member of the late School Board.’ (Mar ‘08)
- The School will be closed tomorrow (Friday) as the Children are being taken to Penarth for the day. (Jul ‘08)
- Empire Day. After prayers this morning we sang the national Anthem and the patriotic song “The King”, short addresses were given by the Head Teacher and the vicar, the Rev GV Collison, to the whole school, and every lesson during the day had some reference to the occasion. At noon all the children marched on to the Green where they saluted the Union Jack and sang “God Save the King”. The Vicar then despatched a telegram to the King at Buckingham Palace, and at 4pm the following reply was received. “Buckingham Palace – I am commanded by the king to thank the children of Longtown School for their expressions of loyalty. Knollys”. We were unable to have a half holiday on account of the number of attendances which were lost during the bad weather in March. (May ‘09)
- 24 of the elder girls, in charge of Miss Price, have gone to see the wedding of Miss Prothero who was a teacher in this school for some years. (Feb ‘10) [Mabel Prothero’s husband was James Gane of Craswall.]
- The School will be closed tomorrow in consequence of the funeral of King Edward. [Log book entry bordered in black] (19 May ‘10)
TAKING A LONG VIEW BACK
This study has picked out certain themes running through the log books from a commentary that otherwise has little coherence. Although some quotes could be slotted into more than one theme, these groupings serve to show the main preoccupations of the master in the day to day life of the school.
‘Then and now’ comparisons spring to mind continuously. Some conditions accepted at the time now look extremely harsh: particularly a long walk to and from school in all weathers for many of the children, and overcrowding in a building without basic amenities that are standard today.
Here I would like to look at two changes that emerged in an ongoing record of nearly four decades.
The school was initially intended for the ‘labouring, manufacturing and other poorer classes’. Such an explicit class distinction was embedded in Victorian society. Most children in a rural community had little expectation of social mobility or education beyond elementary level, as local work opportunities for the ‘poor’ were on the whole limited to farm labouring for boys and domestic service for girls. Nevertheless, the powerful impetus for literacy at national level reached out to rural communities where charity schools run by religious denominations were already moving in the same direction. In this setting, patronage from the Marquis of Abergavenny as Lord of the Manor would generally have been seen as a fitting response. So too would paternalism from the upper echelons of Longtown society, principally the clergy and their wives and School Board managers, their wives and daughters. They filled the role of gentry in the relatively modest scale of social distinction in this remote farming community. It is clear from the log books that enormous deference was paid to these benefactors.
However, the very dominant sense of paternalism is far from the whole story: the log books suggest that the ‘poor’ were by no means the only recipients of such beneficence. Eventually, children from most local gradations of social class were enrolled at Longtown, including the children of ratepayers such as yeoman farmers and shop keepers and even school managers (among then William Prothero and Frederic Price) and children transferring from private schools in Abergavenny (among them Alex Johnston, who as an adult became a manager himself). The marked change from the initially targeted class of the ‘poor’ to a wider intake suggests that the village school became acceptable to most families. This change would certainly have been due to Education Acts promoting universal education from 1870 onwards.
A second issue worth looking at is development of an institutional framework for elementary education. The School Board, composed of local residents, had an impressive range of duties: among them were managing the school’s finances, ensuring that government regulations were carried out, identifying eligible children and taking steps to enrol them through the attendance officer, arranging prosecutions when thought necessary, checking on attendance, monitoring the curriculum and teaching style, arranging for school repairs and improvements. For most of these tasks the School Board was answerable to national government regulations mediated by HMI. When the Local Education Authority came into being a new tier of school governance was introduced. Most of these duties were transferred to the county, which involved a wider administration area, the Dore Rural District, and specialist services such as the school medical officer and the county surveyor. To some extent, then, the first few decades from its founding mark a unique period of localism in the history of schooling in Longtown, outgrown when duties and aspirations expanded to secondary education and beyond. Debate about the appropriate roles of central government, LEAs and local communities persisted through the 20th century. How local school management will evolve in this perennial three-way division of responsibility remains to be seen.