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Grittleton - Littleton Drew Church of England School

In April 1850 the Duke of Beaufort agreed to lease land in Littleton Drew for the erection of a schoolhouse at a yearly rental of 2/6d (12 1/2 p), the cost of building the school was to be paid by the friends of the former Rector of Littleton Drew, Anthony Austin.

The school log book for 1898 records the death of a village child, the cause being scarletina. 1889 saw the building of a school and school house, pupils at that time numbered 46.

The school was closed for a time during 1903 due to diphtheria, one child died from the disease, and in 1904 a second death was recorded. In 1905 the school managers gave permission for children, living at a distance from the school, to be allowed, on wet days, to bring their dinner and stay in the schoolroom during the interval between morning and afternoon lessons. By 1907 the school had only 24 pupils and the Rector was giving religious instruction lessons to the pupils four times a week. At this time he instructed the girls not to curtsey, nor the boys to bow, to the schoolmistress, though some parents protested, instructing their children to continue to show respect to the teacher.

There are several instances of corporal punishment entered in the log book, 2 strokes of the cane being the usual penalty. '3 stripes on the back' were administered to one boy on two consecutive weeks, the reason given was idleness. The following year the same boy was still being caned for 'constant idleness'. During July 1910 the teacher notes the air in school is 'foul with flies' and at this time sawdust was used for school cleaning. In January 1912 there was very deep snow and only 2 children were in school, and later that year it is noted that children were absent, they had followed the hounds.

A half day holiday was granted in October 1915 for the funeral of a Mr. Kent who had died from his war wounds and was buried with full military honours. During 1917 several half-day holidays were allowed in order that children could go blackberry picking. The school collected 96lbs which were sent to Chippenham; those picking the fruit were paid 1 1/2 p (about 1/2 a new pence) per pound. In October of the same year a holiday was granted for acorn picking. 50 bushels were collected and sent to the Government Cordite Factory. In February 1918 there was a national collection of eggs for wounded soldiers. Littleton Drew School sent 50 eggs to London. On 30th March the school was closed for half a day for the Royal Naval funeral of R. Neate at Castle Combe. In 1918 the government were again requesting that blackberries should be collected and over a period of around a month, the school were given half day holidays for fruit collection and over half a ton was sent to the government agency. May 1920 saw the celebration of Empire Day with a picnic at Horsedown Farm.

The Inspectors report in 1921 suggested no improvement in the attainment of children, or the quality of teaching since the last report in 1919. 'The children make no effort'. In 1923 the report says little or no advance has been made. Because of this lack of progress, the closure of the school was proposed by the Director of Education, but the parishioners protested, stating it would be difficult to engage farm labourers if there was no village school. But despite the threat of closure there was no significant improvement in standards and July 1926 saw the closure of Littleton Drew School, the children moving to Grittleton Church of England School

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Littleton Drew Church of England School
Littleton Drew Church of England SchoolImage Date: 2010
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
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