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Wiltshire Community History

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Cadlley National School, Savernake

Cadlley National School, Savernake Date Photo Taken c.1906
Uploaded 28/01/2015 14:08:56
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Map Latitude 51.39651139289725 : Longitude -1.7013412714004517
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

Cadley School was erected by Lord Ailesbury in 1850 as a National School to support the parishioners of Savernake living in and around the hamlet of Cadley in connection with Cadley Christchurch. Lord Ailesbury subscribed £40 a year to its support. In 1858 between 40 and 50 scholars, both boys and girls, were taught by a trained but uncertificated master in what was described as an excellent schoolroom with a board floor and parallel desks. The discipline was described as fair and the instruction as capital. The schoolroom was 36 feet x 18 feet while the classroom was 36 feet by 17 feet; a teacher's house was also built. The school can also be found under the names of the Savernake School or South Savernake C of E School. The school closed due to poor attendance in 1939, when there were only 13 pupils on the roll.

Much of the information about day to day life in Cadley School can be learnt from the school log books that record inspection reports, attendance, staff changes, weather, curriculum and illnesses. School life in this period was more closely tied to the changes of the seasons than today, with attendance dramatically affected by bad weather (in particular snow and heavy rain, with many pupils travelling more than two miles to attend school), harvest and winter illnesses. Annual events such as choral festivals and the Marlborough Fair form part of the yearly cycle of events and often resulted in a half day holiday for all.

The school had a varying attendance with only twelve on the books in 1863 rising to an average of fifty-five in 1881. Long continued absences by children resulted in the removal of their names from the school registers. In 1889 thirty-three children were present and in 1939 there were thirteen pupils on the books with only seven of these present, leading to the schools closure on the 6th April of that year. The scholars were transferred to Marlborough schools.

Many absences relate to poor weather such as snow storms and heavy rain which contributed to the outbreak of illness epidemics. In 1920 the school had to close due to an outbreak of mumps. Furthermore many absences coincided with harvest, where many children were taken out of school to work on the corn fields. The school gave five weeks of holiday for harvest but despite this attendance was always lower surrounding this time. The children had a fair range of annual holidays, similar to those of today. There were two weeks at Christmas, about two weeks at Easter, one week at Whitsun (late May/early June), as well as Harvest Holidays in the summer.

The log books record the curriculum for each standard which includes lists of songs and object lessons. Songs learnt in 1884 include 'Bluebells of Scotland', 'Will you come with me', and 'f I were a sun beam', object lessons revolved mainly around agricultural topics such as cow, pig and tree. Some of the older students learnt about 'my body' and 'gardening'. The children were often involved in sport, with cricket being the most popular activity. In 1882 a cricket match was held against Savernake St. Katherine's School, with St. Katherine's beating Cadley quite significantly.

The children of Cadley School are recorded in 1863 as "idle and noisy", yet teaching standards were impeccable. "The discipline was fair and the instruction capital".

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