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Wiltshire Community History

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Luckington - Alderton School

A school was built in Alderton by the new lord of the manor, Joseph Neeld, in 1844 for 35 children. It was built after the renovation of St Giles church, when much of the church was taken down and rebuilt, so the school was able to use much of the surplus stone from the church building site. As well as building and endowing the school, Neeld also paid for firewood to heat the school. In 1856 the school mistress received £10 per year chargeable to the Neeld estates. It was liberally supported by both the Neeld's and the vicar. In June 1858, it is described as a School House, with teacher's residence attached, erected by the late Mr Neeld, with an untrained Mistress teaching a mixed group of 20 to 30 children.

The curriculum consisted of classes such as Arithmetic and Scripture, which in October 1872, Emily Taylor examined the children on and "found them backward in that subject," whilst there were also Reading and Needlework lessons. Throughout the years from 1878 onwards the girls developed in their needlework skills, meanwhile we also see Singing, Geography, and Poetry brought into the curriculum, with separations between the Infants and older children. The late 1800s bring in conversational lessons for all ages on varying subjects, along with object lessons as well, before the 1900s bring in such lessons as History.

Many students often got re-admitted into schools after long absences owing to the importance of attendance and admittance numbers in obtaining grants; an Inspector often came to check this attendance. Some children leaving the school were from Navy backgrounds, so their moving from school to school was expected, although good conduct was often not, with School Log Book's stating that their conduct was excellent, "quite different from what is generally supposed. Meanwhile others were merely moving parishes with their families, or sent to live with other relatives.

Absences that hit Alderton School were such things as illness with wet weather causing a number of absences due to colds, and snow often meaning the younger children were unable to make the journeyl to school. Scarlet fever hit the school in 1873 causing numbers to be very low in the following months. Whooping cough affected several students in 1879 and again in 1883, with measles also causing absences. Influenza caused the school to close entirely in 1902 as the Master was ill with it, before being closed by the Medical Offier in1907 for a few months due to a tonsillitis epidemic.

There were also cases of children leaving school to go to service or for seasonal work, working in the fields doing activities such as picking up potatoes, or just general farming. Some would also be absent in order to nurse children for their sick mothers or look after their sick parents and siblings.

Holidays seem to consist of a two week break at Christmas, much the same as you would see today. Children would also often get days off school if the room was wanted for something else, such as the Clothing Club sale. A week break is given in April for Easter, along with the with Whitsun holidays in June, before a month off in August for the Harvest Holidays. Five weeks off were given in 1899 for a new floor to be laid in the schoolroom and sitting room of the school house, whilst in the same year a half holiday was given for the Queen was visiting Bristol, giving people a chance of seeing her. A long holiday was also given on the 28th February 1922 for the marriage of Princess Mary at Westminster Abbey; they were often also given permission to attend hunting meets, especially with the Prince of Wales present.

School visits consisted of such things as going to see Flower Shows, and being given tea by the vicar, (an annual event), whilst they were also often visited by Lady Neeld and Mrs Prescot, during the 1870s, who they would inspect the children's work. Along with many visits from the vicar, who would also often assist in classes. Alderton also visited by Diocesan Inspectors who in September 1873 suggested that this could soon become a 'good school' however more focus was needed on Hymns and Holy Scripture. In the 1900s you tended to get visits from the School Nurse and County Dentist also.

Punishments consisted of such things as writing lines for behaviour such as bad language and not telling the truth. They would also be kept in as punishment for throwing stones, gross disobedience and insolence, others getting a the cane for such behaviour in the early 1900s.

March 28th 1923 sees notice that the School will cease to exist as a Public Elementary School under the Board of Education after the Easter Holidays. Children from Alderton then attended Luckington School. The school house is now a private home.
 

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