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Wiltshire Community History

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National School, Keevil

National School, Keevil Date Photo Taken 2011
Uploaded 10/01/2011 16:27:24
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Map Latitude 51.32174352529485 : Longitude -2.118813693523407
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Original Media Location: Michael Marshman

The schoolhouse was built in 1868-1869, and was paid for primarily from the pockets of Mrs Chamberlaine - the Reverend Chamberlaine's wife. Rev. Chamberlaine's initials were on the school shield which was carved into the school wall. The plot of land was given by Mrs Kendrick of Talboys. It was built to accommodate 95 children and in 1885 there were 63 children at the school and 60 in 1895.This school adopted the principles of the National Society and began to receive a grant in 1877.

We do not have school log books for the Victorian period but the following will give an idea of what life was like in a village school at the time.

The following general information would be relevant to the school for the latter part of the 19th century. Fees were paid for each child until 1891, normally at the rate of one penny (0.4p) a week and the 'school pence' were collected by the schoolteacher. There would have been a schoolmaster, or schoolmistress, with an assistant teacher and perhaps a pupil teacher. The pupil teacher was taught by the head before lessons started, took exams, sometimes went to the Diocesan Training College eventually becoming a teacher themselves. They mainly taught the younger children.

School holidays were at similar times to those of today but often there was only 2 days at Easter but a week at Whitsun. The summer holidays were of four, five or six weeks and were called the Harvest Holidays as the children either helped with the harvest or carried food and drink to their parents, who were working in the fields. There were more half-day and whole day holidays for special events. Half a day would be given after the annual H.M.I. or Diocesan inspections and there were holidays for school treats, choir outings, chapel teas, Christmas parties and at times when the school was needed for other purposes.

There were also many unauthorised absences. These would be for seasonal work, such as haymaking (June) and early or late harvest (July or September), being kept at home to help their parents, and working when they should have been at school. Bad weather such as heavy rain, cold weather, or snow kept children away from school, often because their parents couldn't afford to buy them suitable clothes and boots. Apart from the usual colds and coughs there were more serious illnesses than today and these included, mumps, measles, whooping cough, scarletina and diphtheria.

The elementary subjects were the '3 Rs' - reading writing and arithmetic. Scripture was often taught by the vicar and children would have attended church for services on some days. Older children were taught history and geography and there may have been some study of natural history. Singing was taught to all ages and all the girls and some of the boys would have done needlework. Drawing had been introduced by the 1890s.

The attendance fluctuated a lot because of illness, weather and work. This was always the case in rural schools at this period. Haymaking featured large during the summer with older children helping with the work and also taking food and drink to their parents in the fields and looking after younger siblings.

In 1906 overall control of the school passed to Wiltshire County Council as the local education authority but a local board of managers (forerunners of the present school governors remained. Further information can be found under Keevil Church of England Aided Primary School.

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