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Wiltshire Community History

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Luckington - Luckingon Community School

A National school was built in Luckington in 1874. It was managed by a school board until 1903, when it was transferred to the County Council and by 1907 there were 60 pupils attending. The school was originally a two classroom building, with a school house attached.

Unfortunately there are no Victorian school log books in Wiltshire & Swindon Archives, but 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) or twopence a week and the 'school pence' were collected by the schoolteacher. There would have been a schoolmaster, or schoolmistress, with assistant teachers, pupil teachers and monitors. The pupil teachers were taught by the head before lessons started, took exams, sometimes went to the Diocesan Training College and eventually became teachers themselves. They mainly taught the younger children. Monitors were also paid but tended to be younger and helped to look after the younger children or teach the infants.

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 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. 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 later school log books offer an interesting insight into the day to day running of the school and how it has changed over the years. In June 1902, the head mistress refers to "peace" being declared. She doesn't specify what this peace is, but we can assume it is the end of the Boer War in Africa. She writes: "Peace has been proclaimed. The children…left the school at 12 o'clock and paraded the village, carrying flags and singing patriotic songs. Biscuits, sweets and nuts were given to the children. Holiday was given this afternoon. The children will long remember this day."

The weather, illness and employment often prevented children from attending school, something recorded meticulously in the log books as attendance was vital in terms of the school continuing to receive monetary grants. A typical example from May 1903 read: "The attendances are still very low, especially in the infant class. There have been two or three wet days." Illness was obviously more common and dangerous than now. In December 1903 the headmistress wrote: "The children absent are suffering from severe coughs and colds. It is most distressing to hear the children coughing in school."The older children in particular were sometimes required to work in the fields, or support parents who were doing so and in the summer of 1904, "Some of the boys have been absent haymaking. Several ask permission to leave the school early to take tea to their parents in the fields."

The children were sometimes given holidays to mark an event and on 14th April 1905, a holiday was given because the Beaufort Hunt's Steeplechase Races were taking place nearby, this being a regular event at the start of the 20th century. Sometimes the school children were taken out of school for a trip. On 28th February 1923, the head took the upper standards to a performance of "The Merchant of Venice" at Malmesbury Secondary School.

The log books also give us a sad insight into the realities of the time. On 12th November 1907, "Albert Snell was taken from school this morning by the policeman. He has been stealing money. It will be a good thing for the poor boy if the magistrate sends him to a home or reformatory; he has no real home," and the next day, "Albert Snell returned to school this morning, the magistrate let him go free, the father promising to look after him."

The various reports from visiting inspectors over the years were generally positive.
His Majesty's Inspector in 1903 wrote: "The order is good, the children are making on the whole satisfactory progress. They should improve arithmetic. Drawing and needlework is good. The habit of answering out of turn should be checked." The Diocesan report from March 1914 reads as follows: "A quite satisfactory syllabus had been worked through by the teachers during the past year and a very creditable knowledge was shown by the children generally."

The school report from 1918 read: "The children are now in good order; they are doing their best and are working happily with their teachers. The attainments of the scholars were very low when the present head teacher took charge, and the drawbacks arising from these children's previous school life are naturally by no means yet overcome, but some of the work shows improvement, especially in class two." The report in 1944 said: "Detailed schemes of work have been prepared, group work has been organised and the older children are keeping useful notebooks for several subjects.
"Outside interests have been used to widen the children's experience and to give greater reality to much of the work."

In September 1939, two private evacuees arrived at Luckington School. Many of the pupils took their gas masks to school on their first day of education during the War and in June 1940 more evacuees arrived from Grays in Essex. The school was shut for two days at the end of World War Two to celebrate peacetime. On 25 July 1955, Captain C. Williams of S.S. Talacre, visited the school. He was captain of the ship which had been adopted by the school 11 years previously under the Ship Adoption Scheme. Letters and gifts had been exchanged between the school and the ship since then and Captain Williams brought sweets and gifts for the school children.

In the spring term of 1961, the school won the attendance shield for the Malmesbury, Purton and Cricklade area for that term and in the autumn of 1965, a new classroom was built by Pratten builders, afterwards known as the Pratten Building.
In February 1972, the school had their first scheduled power cut due to the miners' strike and the head teacher wrote: "This is undoubtedly the first of many to come if the strike continues."

Despite the number of pupils dropping to 16 in 1986 the school continued and two years later there were 25 at the school and this had risen to 35 in 1992. By the 21st century there were over 40 children on the register.
Recently renamed as Luckington Community School it now serves the village of Luckington and the surrounding area and works closely with Luckington Pre-school, on the same site. The original building of 1874 has been extended recently to include a modern hall and reception area/library. A new computer suite was set up last year, with 10 PCs.
In 2011 there are 46 pupils in 2 classes. There are two full-time teachers, a High Level Teaching Assistant, another part time Teaching Assistant while the head teacher teaches in both classes. The school links with other small schools in the area for a variety of activities, such as sports tournaments, music festivals and a residential visit.

Note: School Still Open - Current Details:

The Green
SN14 6NU
Telephone No.01666 840297
Fax01666 840297
Age Range4 to 11
District Council Area
Special Facilities AvailableNo
Web Sitewww.luckingtonschool.info

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Luckingon Community School
Luckingon Community SchoolImage Date: 2011
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
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Luckingon Community School
Luckingon Community SchoolImage Date: 2011
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
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