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Wiltshire Community History

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South Wraxall - National School, South Wraxall

In 1831 a day school was held in one of the village cottages and attended by only 10 children. By 1841 a trust was created for a school in union with the National Society. The new school was started by Reverend Henry Harvey and built at a cost of £179 on land belonging to John Wiltshire. The school was financed with £20 from the National Society and £37.10s. from the Government as well as £99 from church collections. The large schoolroom measured 28 feet by 16 feet 6 inches and the smaller class room (built later) measured 17 feet 6 inches by 14 feet 3inches. The porch was flanked on either side by coat hooks and a toilet existed outside and was accessed from the playground.

In 1858 the Warburton Census of Schools reported, 'At Wraxall 40 to 50 children, mixed, are taught on the old system, by a dame. The condition of this little school is not satisfactory, but there is a deficiency of books and apparatus, and the instruction is of the most rudimentary kind. The floor of the school-room is of stone; the building good, though erected on the type of village schools 20 years ago; an oblong room (say 26 x 16) with wall desks.'

The first teacher was Eliza Collett and later Mrs. Adams, and then Miss Jane Bimary by 1880. By 1898 the Head Teacher was Mrs. E. M. Dovey who stayed at the school until 1929 and was succeeded by Winifred Magram. Assistants included Miss Rudman and Miss Amy Betteridge and later Miss Ethel Scott by 1922. By 1950 there were two teachers to cope with 29 children on the roll and Mrs. Evans remained as teacher until the school's closure in 1972.

During the latter part of the 19th century fees were paid for each child until 1891, one penny or twopence a week, collected by the school teacher. The head teacher was aided by assistant teachers, pupil teachers and monitors. The pupil teachers were usually taught by the head before the start of school and would often go on to become teachers themselves, perhaps going to the Diocesan Training College. Younger monitors were used to help look after the infant children. School holidays were similar to today with less time at Easter but more at Whitsun and summer holidays were often referred to as Harvest Holidays as the children would be expected to help with the harvest by supporting their parents; perhaps taking them food and drink in the fields for example. Other holidays included a half day after any inspections, and days off for school treats and choir outings. Seasonal work in these small agricultural areas also required time off school and bad weather prevented attendance due to lack of suitable clothing or blocked roads. Illnesses were more serious than today and sometimes these epidemics would close the school.

Subjects taught centred around the '3 R's - reading, writing and arithmetic and scripture was taught by the Vicar. Older children would also learn history, geography and natural history. Singing and recitation were considered part of the syllabus.

In 1859 the number of children on the register was between 40 and 50 and the school was described as 'not unsatisfactory.' The average attendance by 1893 was 45 out of 60 on the register rising to 70 by 1894. Wiltshire County Council took overall management of the school in 1906 and further information can be found under Church of England School, South Wraxall.

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National School, South Wraxall
National School, South WraxallImage Date: 1906
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
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National School, South Wraxall
National School, South WraxallImage Date: 2011
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
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