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Durnford - National School, Durnford

The National School at Netton opened in 1844 with three teachers and 86 pupils but by 1846 was reduced to one teacher, while in 1859 pupils numbered between 40 and 50. They were taught by a mistress, Miss Martha Mills, who was uncertificated but had spent one year at the Salisbury Diocesan Training College. The school was held in the committee room of a local benefit society that was rubble built with a brick floor; there was no house for the teacher. By 1871 the National School had only 32 pupils,

The school was rebuilt in 1872 while in January 1882, when our earliest log book starts, there was an attendance of 53, which had risen to 61 by June. A teacher and two monitors were in charge. H. M. Inspectors Report in 1892 said the Infants' room was too full for successful working and a new classroom was needed, as were more desks for younger children. In 1893 it was reported the boys offices (toilets) needed doors, and in 1895 there were 53 children on the books and it was still reported a new classroom was needed. The report of 1897 was still requiring a new classroom and desks and in October 1901 there were 73 children on the books with only space for 67. Part of the ceiling fell down during school hours in 1918, when there were also dangerous loose bricks in the doorway. The room was heated by a fire and in 1919 the temperature was below 50F. for two weeks; the grate was said to be inadequate for the room as by 9.00.a.m. temperature was only one degree above freezing. In 1920 the temperature was only 34 and children were marching to enable them to get warm. In December an oil heater was helping to raise the temperature. More of the ceiling fell down in 1922 when the log book states that they were still awaiting repairs to other items. A new classroom was opened in May 1924. In 1949 a new senior class started, held in the Hut for 3 1/2 days per week for children over 13. In 1952 a new stove replaced the old fire-place. During January 1963 the toilets were frozen and children were using those in the village hall, there was a leaking roof, no hot water, and the fire in the infants' room was filling the room with smoke. On January 31st one child collapsed, others felt ill and did not revive quickly when brought into fresh air. No doctor could be contacted and four children were eventually taken to hospital. The stove pipe was found to be choked with soot, ice and snow. A plumber did not repair the toilets until February 14th.

During bad weather the school was often closed, as children could not walk when the snow was too deep. It was noted in July 1920 that after torrential rain the fire was lit in order to dry out the children's wet boots. In 1889 the average attendance was 60. Royal occasions such as the Queen's Jubilee all merited a holiday. In September 1898 the roads were said to be full of traffic and soldiers and no scholars attended school. During the early 20th century, school was often closed when children attended rehearsals for Tidworth Tattoo, or, on one occasion in 1927, when there was an aviation display at High Post Aerodrome. In 1951 the school was closed for two weeks when there were army manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain. Holidays was also given on May Days when the school had a 'treat' and children were given tea in the grounds of Vicarage. Many children were absent during hay-making, the attendance officer was a frequent visitor, but the complaint was that he did not call when two pupils were being employed by the Chairman of the Board of Attendance for Amesbury. Children who were said to be 'dirty' were sent home, and when measles, whooping cough or mumps was present in the village the school was closed.

In 1919 on November 11th the Union Jack was hoisted and a short service took place, to observe the two minutes silence. The flag was also hoisted each Empire Day.

The Vicar often presented prizes for scholars with the highest attendance figures and for those who had passed their exams. In July 1892 the school received a wall chart representing metric weights and measures. The Vicar forbade its use and the School Managers said it was unnecessary in a small country school. In 1894 a villager gave material to the school for the girls to make counterpanes, these were to be given to those who had made them, and in 1898 geography lessons were discontinued as they were said to be of no value. In 1914 the girls were attending cookery lessons at Woodford. In 1921 library books were received and in 1927 the school took part in area sports in Salisbury. The Hon. L. Grenville donated the playing field in 1937, and in the late 1940s the school was playing against Woodford in football, cricket and netball. As early as 1914 an expedition to Stonehenge took part after school; in 1947 there was an outing to Weymouth, in1951 two coaches took pupils to a pantomime in Salisbury and in June there was a visit to London. In 1955 experimental French lessons were introduced. In 1941 it was noted that air raid drill was frequently practised.
Attendance had declined during the 20th century; there were 58 in 1906 and 1910, 43 in 1938 and, after the change from an elementary to a primary school, there were only 20 in 1972.On July 11th 1975 the school closed and pupils were transferred to Woodford school.
 

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National School, Durnford
 
National School, DurnfordImage Date: 2013
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
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National School, Durnford
 
National School, DurnfordImage Date: 2013
Image Details: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
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