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Bishops Cannings - Bishops Cannings C. of E. (Aided) Primary School

The first record of a school in Bishop's Cannings was in 1818 when 130 children were being taught at Sunday school. A further 30 children were being taught at the parish clerk's day school. In 1819 there were two classes in this day school providing an education for 60 children.

The national school was opened in 1830. The building could accommodate 90 children and had a house for the teacher attached. There were two classes in 1833, one for boys and one for girls. These classes were partially supported by subscription. There were also three schools for infants whose parents paid for the whole cost of their schooling. Mr Southeron Estcourt in 1858 endowed the school with £20 a year forever! Annual running costs of the school were about £38 so this was a substantial amount. In 1859 there were 30-40 children in the national school being taught by an uncertified mistress. The population of the village was 1,246.

Towards the end of 1859 Richard Oliver took over a Headmaster of the school and would be its master for 27 years. The school had two classes now separated by age than by gender and an assistant, Miss Eckett, was employed to oversee the infant class and teach the girls embroidery. Other subjects taught at the school were the three "R"s of education; reading writing and 'rithmatic as well as dictation, ciphering, spelling, history, notation, numeration, scripture and singing. The annual inspection reports praised the children for the high level of their singing and many songs are mentioned in the log books including: "Wait for the Wagons", "Summertime" and "The Long Day Closes". Religious instruction was given according to the principles of the Church of England, prayers were the first part of the school day and very often the Vicar would visit the school as teacher, inspector and manager.

One Vicar in 1870 noted that there was a great difficulty in keeping children in school past their 7th birthday as: -

"this parish has great scarcity of labour, not only are the boys removed but the little girls too at an age much earlier than in other places. As there is no resident landlord, the tenant farmers exercise an unrestricted power. Owing to the low wages being paid, the parents are eager to get their children to work as soon as possible."

This was a sentiment that was to be echoed again and again by Richard Oliver as he voiced his increasing frustration in teaching children that were often absent for weeks, months and in some cases years at a time. He remarked in 1873 that one pupil had left school aged 9 in order to go out to work. In a rare occurrence in 1874, Elijah Hillier of Roundway was able to go to the British School in Devizes. His brother, Albert, was not so fortunate as in 1878 he left school aged 10 with a labour certificate, although this was rare also! In 1880 things got a little better when the government rose the leaving age to 10 but there were still long absences during sowing and harvesting times.

The weather did not help attendance. During Richard Oliver's time at the school most winters saw the closure of the school for at least 2 weeks through violent thunderstorms and heavy falls of snow. In January 1881 he remarked: -

"A dreadful snow storm set in about 10.00am which lasted about 36 hours, in many of the roads and lanes the snow was 8 to 10 feet thick, the children could not get to school in consequence."

A week later there were still 53 children unable to get to school especially those from the villages of Horton, Bourton and Easton.

There were many illnesses that struck the village: - scarlatina (1871), mumps (1872), measles (1873), ringworm (1879), whooping cough (1881), chicken pox (1883), typhoid fever (1885), diphtheria (1891) and influenza (1895). In 1873, 45 children were infected with measles and in 1877 20 children were ill with scarlatina. In such cases the school would be closed in order to minimise the number affected. Even with these precautions William Nash of Bourton dies of scarlatina in 1878.

Annually school holidays included the village feast unusually taking place in September and "the treat" where the Vicar would host a tea party on the vicarage lawn with games of cricket or football afterwards. Quite often there were more attendants at these events than there were at school.

There were other occasions when the school closed for the day or half day these included: - sports day and races on Roundway Down, the Oddfellow's Jubilee Fete, the village flower show and a bank holiday flower show in Roundway Park. In May 1885 there was a half-holiday as the whole school went to Roundway Down in order to see the review of the yeomanry by the Duke of Cambridge. On very special occasions the school would be closed for longer as on 21st June 1897 when the school was closed for 3 days due to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

In 1884 the school started giving "object lessons" where children were asked to thoroughly investigate objects such as apples, oranges, elephants, wind, storm and thunder. With the introduction of "royal readers" the standard of reading greatly improved and by the 1880s children were regularly taught poetry such as: "The Eve of the Battle", "Tiny Tim" and "Lines composed upon a Westminster Bridge".

In 1886 Richard Oliver retired. The school was then managed by Mr Rutherford (1886 - 1887), Mr & Mrs Moss (1887 - 1888), the latter who complained a great deal about the height of the ceiling in the infants classroom, and Mr George Ruddle (1888 - 1922) with his sister Sarah (1888 - 1897). Mr Ruddle had many assistant teachers during his time at the school also he had the additional help of a pupil teacher. He was also responsible for the school at Coate and was often arranging for one of his teachers to work there.

The school building was often used for meetings and events. The Wiltshire Friendly Society regularly held their meetings there and it was used for the East Wilts General Election as a polling station in 1911.

In 1907 the school was moved from the thatched building standing at the crossroads to a new building. The old building is now used as a village hall, whether this is the school from 1830 is not certain.

The 1906/07 school building was used without extension for half a century and in 1955, by which time the school had been granted voluntary aided status, there were 107 pupils at the school. Shortly after this the older children, aged over 11 years, were transferred to Southbroom Secondary Modern School in Devizes. The school continued to grow and there were extensions and modernisations in 1959, 1974 and 2002.

The school now has seven classrooms, a large hall with gymnasium equipment, a kitchen that is used for design technology classes, a library and resources room, a group teaching room and an ICT suite. Most of the pupils come from Bishops Cannings, Horton, Coate, other local hamlets, and the expanding housing estates on the eastern side of Devizes. In September 2005 there were 137 children on the register. The school has good sized grounds with two playgrounds, a games field and a conservation area.
 

Note: School Still Open - Current Details:

Address
The Street
Bishops Cannings
Devizes
SN10 2LD
Wilts
  
Telephone No.01380 860633
Fax01380 860633
Age Range4 to 11
District Council Area
NurseryNo
ResidentialNo
Special Facilities AvailableNo
Web Sitewww.bishopscannings.wilts.sch.uk

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Bishops Cannings C. of E. (Aided) Primary School
 
Bishops Cannings C. of E. (Aided) Primary SchoolImage Date: 2004
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
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Bishops Cannings C. of E. (Aided) Primary School
 
Bishops Cannings C. of E. (Aided) Primary SchoolImage Date: 2004
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
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Bishops Cannings C. of E. (Aided) Primary School
 
Bishops Cannings C. of E. (Aided) Primary SchoolImage Date: 2004
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
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Bishops Cannings C. of E. (Aided) Primary School
 
Bishops Cannings C. of E. (Aided) Primary SchoolImage Date: 2004
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
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Bishops Cannings C. of E. (Aided) Primary School
 
Bishops Cannings C. of E. (Aided) Primary SchoolImage Date: 2004
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
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