History

History 2Withington Church of England Primary School has been a place of learning for village children since 1856.

In 2006 our Victorian school was 150 years old and celebrations took place in the village to mark the occasion. The school was a progression from home teaching by a village resident in the High Street and the conversion of the Old Court House into a school building. An intake of 11 children were included in the first school log book which increased to fifty children by 1864. During the early days absenteeism was a significant problem. The boys were often away for days undertaking farm work including harvesting, ploughing, leading horses and following the Hunt. Field work began early in the year followed by picking Lilies Of The Valley in the woods, planting potatoes and nut harvesting.

HistorySevere weather conditions also kept children out of school which was often closed during winter and spring due to severe storms, rain and snow. Heavy snowfalls meant that roads were in a shocking condition both within and outside the village. In 1865 the first school picnic was held for pupils and parents with nearly a hundred attending. The first religious education began in the school in 1866 followed by singing and poetry. In 1882 the new headmaster recorded that children were out of control and had dreadful spelling. He started after-school work to improve both reading and spelling. If children met the ‘4th Grade Standard’ they could leave school at eleven or twelve years old.

In 1890 the school was improved with the installation of five earth closets, roof repairs and a new gate. New books were bought too. This however did not improve the inspection report (which at the time was never satisfactory) which indicated that children were backward in all subjects with several children being ‘incapable of learning anything’. Not a problem we have today, thankfully! Towards the end of the 19th Century the lighting in the school was further improved by replacement of the latticed windows with clear glass. Another new stove was installed and the floors arranged to be cleaned every week. A cloakroom and playground were added and the earth closets removed. Until then a rough piece of ground called ‘the Pound’ at the back of the church had been used as a play area but there were continuous complaints about children encroaching on the churchyard.

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