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National School, Hindon

National School, Hindon Date Photo Taken c.1906
Uploaded 15/11/2010 16:21:58
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Map Latitude 51.09422759337336 : Longitude -2.125478982925415
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

In 1854 Lady Octavia Shaw-Stewart gave money to build a school and school house, founded as a Church of England school; this became Hindon National School. In February 1858 the Warburton Report stated that there were between 30 and 40 boys taught by a certified master and one pupil teacher in a good schoolroom with a board floor and parallel desks. There was a good supply of books and apparatus and both discipline and instruction were good. About 35 girls were taught in the same building by an untrained mistress.

The log books for the school begin in 1863 and include daily comments made by the master (head teacher). The log books cover a vast period of time from 1863 to 1919 and during this time leadership of the school changed numerous times, another position that was regularly changed was that of the vicar The Rev. T. Fell was one of the first in the position and Rev. J. Pattinson one of the last recorded in the log book. The Reverend made regular visits to the school and during this time he checked the register and attendance records, and often took classes in Religious Knowledge and Scripture.

A pupil teacher also assisted the master and mistress, this was a young pupil who was paid to teach and then go to school in the evenings so as to get their education. In the log books it often mentions the master being absent from school due to illness and the P.T (pupil teacher) taking charge of the school in his place. This was the case on both the 28th April and 7th - 8th May 1863 on account of the master having left home as his mother was ill.

In the beginning the main 3 lessons revolved around the 3 Rs; reading, writing and arithmetic, with examples of arithmetic in 1863 being addition, simple multiplication, simple short division and complicated multiplication. However as time passed a larger variety of lessons were taught, these included poetry, dictation and spelling. In November 1886 History and Geography for boys was first mentioned as being in the time table, the history lessons covered topics such as Ancient Britons and Julius Caesar. Each standard (class ability) were taught a different level topic. This was the case for all lessons as the school was spilt into 6 standards, based on ability, not age.

Attendance at the school was irregular, with the weekly averages being vastly different from week to week. The week of June the 3rd 1863 had the average attendance of 65 however by 1880 attendance reached a peak of 157 (the highest attendance ever at the school). The attendance figure often correlated to the time of year, hay making and digging for potatoes often kept the older boys at home and for the girls it was when they had to care for their siblings that kept them away from school. In the winter months' attendance also dropped due to weather such as fog, snow and the dark mornings preventing those who lived outside of the village from getting in. Attendance officers regularly came to the school and were given the names of any pupils that had not been regularly attending, often the officers would be asked by the master to find out the reason for the absence by visiting their house.

Another contributing factor to attendance was illness; throughout the period many illnesses spread through the school, in 1863 several children were at home with measles and the next year there were cases of mumps .The year1884 and after saw everything from fevers to whooping cough and scarlet fever in a home. In some cases illness either in the children or in the master meant a holiday was given to the children with the school being closed, this occurred in October 1884.

There were numerous annual holidays throughout the year, Easter and Whitsun holidays in the spring, Harvest holidays in the summer and Christmas holidays in the winter. Harvest holiday dates were not set as they moved, depending on the year's crop and generally lasted 5 weeks although this also varied, in 1866 they were given 6 weeks off. Special holidays were also given throughout the year for a number of reasons; in May 1863 a day's holiday was given on account of a death although whose death was never specified in the log books. Some afternoons or days were given off after a successful examination or in later years because the school was being used as a polling station in the parliamentary elections for South Wilts. On one occasion Lady Shaw-Stewart gave the day off to day scholars as a treat. The Queen's Jubilee in 1887 also warranted a day off school.

As with any other school, punishment was often handed out for behaviour such as running away from school, absence without reason and bad language. One mother even asked for her child to be kept in at dinner because of disobedience at home. Throwing stones and not learning Sunday lessons also meant being kept in at dinner. Other punishments included being cautioned, sweeping the yard and in extreme cases being expelled which is what happened to a boy who was absent for a day, despite promising regular attendance. One rare occurrence was in June 1885 when a pupil's belongings were stolen from under desks; the guilty pupil was caught and dealt with appropriately. New rules were brought in one year and each child was sent home with a copy. When two pupils broke these new rules their names were removed from the register.

HMI reports were an annual occurrence and government reports were also mentioned frequently. In 1868 HMI reported that the accommodation at the school was inadequate. In November 1889 one government report said 'Good progress has been made in the Elementary work, some reading in higher standard is a little unsteady, but writing and arithmetic are very fairly satisfactory'. Various reports all suggested needlework and religious knowledge were very good while other lessons such as arithmetic needed improvement. One test on arithmetic in all standards showed 69 passed while 46 failed. Another examination in religious knowledge was so successful that a holiday was rewarded in the afternoon.

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