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Baydon - National School, Baydon
|Between 1818 and 1933, there were two day schools for 28 children. In 1833, Baydon had a Sunday school. It was not until ten years later, on 28th January 1843, that a parcel of land was set aside for use as a school which has stood the test of time. This was given by the Right Honourable William Earl of Craven; it was put in charge of the vicar, churchwardens and the overseers of the poor. |
The land given in 1843 remains the site of the school. It lies to the north of the main road running through Baydon. No grant was given to the school, so it is presumed that the vicar, churchwardens and local people paid for the building of the school. The school opened in late 1843. Boys left when they were nine, girls at the age of 11 or 12. This was not a hard and fast rule and attendance itself fluctuated depending on weather conditions, illness, and work that was necessary on the farm or at home.
The figures in 1846/47 show that 20 boys and 26 girls attended the school on weekdays, and there were an additional 30 boys and 26 girls who came on a Sunday.
The first headmistress was paid a salary of £25 p.a. This cost was met by subscriptions and fees.
In Warburton's Census of Wiltshire Schools in 1858, it was said that: "The children look clean and orderly, and the elementary instruction is pretty fair."
On 2 November, 1891, free education started at the school. The attendance that summer was poor due to high incidences of whooping cough and diphtheria and the charmingly titled "chilled feet", which was more injurious to a child's health than its somewhat twee name suggests. Fluctuating attendance was normal practice and a constant battle for the teachers. For example, in 1896, there was a mass absence to due an outbreak of chicken pox and in 1917 an outbreak of the measles caused the school to be shut for nearly a month.
However, the headmistress at the time, Miss Aldridge, did report seeing a marked improvement in attendance after the start of free education. But the battle for high attendance was not won, and those in charge of the school had to work hard to keep their charges at school.
Children were also kept at home in order to help the family; to work in the fields or to look after brothers and sisters when their parents were out picking potatoes. Miss Aldridge wrote in 1893 that "the babies sent by mothers with their older children are often very tiresome and a great hindrance."
In later years, impetigo and scarlet fever were common, and the school nurse often excluded children from the school because of their "dirty heads". Natural phenomena also affected the school; on February 1956 it was so cold that all the water and school toilets were frozen solid.
The school had been shut in the period leading up to the commencement of free education, but re-opened in May 1891 with the addition of new managers. In the school log-book there is a reference stating that the school had been closed "for some time" but does not give any more detail. An Inspector from HMI (Her Majesty's Inspectorate) wrote the following year that "this school has had great difficulties to contend with, but is getting into shape now. The children are backward at present and I should advise the teacher to abandon the class subject and devote all her energies to the obligatory subjects."
The lessons taught to children seem wide and varied. In 1892, the object lessons included, among others; the lion, the camel, the cow, a lamp, a watch, butter, forms of water, bread, cocoa, gloves and silk.
At the end of the 19th century the log books show frequent "punishment pages" chronicling the misdemeanours made by youngsters and the punishments they received. For example, in 1897 headmistress Jane Evans wrote: "Have had trouble with the discipline among the big boys lately. This afternoon one was playing and stamping on floor. I told him to come out of the desks and on his refusing to do so I lifted him out and gave him three or four stripes. I could not pass a thing like that over or I should have no order in school."
Miss Evans seems to have had problems with her school. She resigned in 1898 after four years at the school; when resigning she complained of the "sad state" of the school. She wrote: "I set to work and have strained every nerve to raise the condition of the school. My reward for doing so is managers deciding to take away my share of the grant and to also to make me go equal shares with an assistant in the house. Therefore, as I will not submit to these conditions I am leaving Baydon."
The school's religious education was looked after in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th century by Reverend Pitt, who taught scripture and other religious lessons almost every day. The church was of course very important and the school submitted to regular Diocesan inspectorates as well as HMI assessors judging the school. In 1893, the Diocesan Inspector wrote: "The school as a whole passed a fair examination in religious knowledge. The infants and the first standard groups did well but the upper groups did not answer well in gospel subjects."
Her Majesty's Inspector was even more critical of the school. He wrote: "I am sorry to report that the school has made no progress whatever since last year and I am afraid that the instruction is sadly at fault. None of the classes show a satisfactory knowledge of their work and I feel obliged, to my regret, to declare this school inefficient." This meant a formal warning was sent to the managers who faced the prospect of their grant being withheld.
|National School, Baydon|
|Image Date: 1996|
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
|National School, Baydon|
|Image Date: 2011|
Image Details: Michael Marshman