A Victorian School
Extracts from the School Log Book
New Code of Regulations for 1872 required "The Principal Teacher must make at least once a week in the Log Book an entry which will specify ordinary progress and other facets concerning the School or its teachers...."
Extant Log Books for Mulbarton School begin on Feb. 8th 1875 when Elizabeth Smith took charge. The first Report explains some background:
REPORT of the
Scripture Examination given on 17th June 1875:
The School passed a fair examination especially when regard is had to hindrances from the illness of the late excellent teacher, the consequent suspense of the School till the appointment in February of the present Mistress with the prevalence of Scarletina lately among the children. The order and discipline of the School seemed good and the children happy.
The week school
reopened, Rev. Lucas visited on 4 days. Average attendance 62, apparently
taught together in one room. Attendance seems to depend on the weather - and
March 1st - 40 children present, weather being unfavourable.
May 27th - 29 children, weather being unfavourable.
June 25th - Several children away this week - parents wanting them.
Rev. Lucas visited several days a week, and at times taught lessons other than
Scripture. He also provided necessities:
March 2nd - received from the Rev. Lucas 2 dozen slates and 2 dozen Bibles.
A little later it was pen holders and Scripture Prints.
Teacher-in-charge recorded some of the lessons she gave:
March 25th - Gave a lesson on the Camel
April 13th - Gave a lesson on the Rhinoceros
To cope with
numbers, older pupils were chosen to teach the younger:
Feb. 25th - Took Maria Brown from 1st Class to teach lower classes.
This becomes an oft-repeated pattern over the years - either as regular Pupil Teachers or Monitors/Monitresses, or as a stop-gap due to staff absence.
Holidays include Easter (anything from Good Friday only to 1 week); Whitsun (usually 1 week); harvest (4 or 5 weeks - start date varying according to date when Harvest begins locally); Christmas (usually 2 weeks); half-day for Valentines Day; Ash Wednesday; Flower Show; Odd Fellows Dinner; and other special occasions (e.g. reopening of Church after refurbishment, 11th Nov. 1875)
Elizabeth Smith resigned at the end of 1875 and was followed by Elizabeth Ostler in 1876. Immediately, she "took for a trial Olive Church, a girl from the first class, as a Pupil Teacher." In March, a school Visitor reported "A Pupil Teacher is much needed"
found the pupils "backward both in spelling and writing.... Examined second
standard in simple subtraction, out of twenty only five had the sum right". She
introduced several innovations. Attendance is generally up around 77-80:
Jan 24-28 - Allowed the first class to write on paper for the first time
March 20-24 - Allowed III Standard to use paper for arithmetic.
May 15-19 - Allowed chn, in Infants' Class to go out to play for a short time each day this week.
July 31- Aug 4 - Took some of 1st class to Yarmouth, rest of school kept on by assistant.
report of June 22nd would now class Mulbarton as a "failing school":
The School has only been open since the beginning of this year under a certificated Teacher. Some work has been done but the Arithmetic is very weak especially in the second and third classes. The Infants are being taught but little and the Mistress cannot do justice to the School either in Instruction or Discipline without further help. The Accounts should be kept in proper form. The supply of Reading books is insufficient. There should be a urinal for boys.
was immediate -
July 17th, Miss Jarman entered duties as Assistant mistress.
July 14th - School closed on account of interruptions from new building.
Sept. 11th - Commenced using [new] Classroom this week.
Report of July 1877 states: The
school has been improved by the addition of a classroom, and the order has much
improved since last year.
October 23-27 - The attendance for the week Very Good especially lower classes. Out of 24 on Infants register 22 made 10 attendances.
Nov.20-24 - Allowed 1st Standard to use Copy Books for the first time.
December - school started late on several mornings due to poor light.
Both the Head and the Assistant left at the end of the year.
Vincent Griffiths took charge on Jan 8th 1877, with Miss
Harriet Priscilla Meadows as Assistant teacher.
Feb 18th - began to work from a new Timetable. Average attendance now 83 and above.
April - knitting lessons on two afternoons from Miss Mundy. Attendance poor owing to so many children having the measles.
April 13th - May 4th - School closed on account of sickness.
There is a glimpse
of the Infant programme in June:
Gave a lesson each day to the Infants. Monday writing. Tuesday reading. Wednesday object lesson. Thursday writing and Friday counting.
In June came an Inspection:
...The examination has been conducted under some disadvantage from the recent closing of the school on account of illness, and the teacher will have to work hard to reach a satisfactory standard. The Infants should have regular daily teaching from the Mistress. The supply of Reading books is still in some parts of the school insufficient...
New reading books arrived June 22nd
The Scripture Examination Report speaks of improvement "under the present management".
Miss Meadows left at the end of term, and Miss Sarah Ann Amos commenced duties as Assistant teacher on Sept. 17th. Attendance poor due to whooping cough.
teachers seem to have continued into 1878, and attendance was as high as
99 by May.
April 8-12 - Took Elizabeth Dye a girl from the first class as a Monitress during three hours of the day, last week for the first time, think she will succeed in her duties.
In June we read of both Rev and Mrs. Lucas coming to the school - and later Mrs. Lucas comes in regularly to teach sewing and knitting. During the hot weather classes are allowed to have lessons outside.
Report, July 5th 1878:
The order is good and the children do their elementary work on the whole fairly well. The arithmetic is inaccurate and wanting in neatness. The classroom should not be overcrowded. Miss Griffiths will shortly receive her certificate.
are allowed out to play for recreation and the infants are allowed to finish
school at 3.45 pm
Attendance declines towards the Harvest Holiday: Several children absent helping to gather fruit.
Aug 2nd - Miss Murrell of Norwich (Training?) College gave Reading lessons to the Third and First classes on Thursday morning.
By Aug 8th - Attendance very poor owing to Harvest having commenced. Closed school on Thursday for the Harvest Holiday.
Sept. 9th school reopened but Attendance not good owing to harvest not being quite finished.
Oct 11th - Many children were away picking up acorns, so few were present on Friday morning that the school was closed in the afternoon.
In winter months, afternoon school starts at 1.30 and ends at 4 pm
The school is in a satisfactory condition and is going well. The children answered creditably, particularly the younger portion of them, several of whom showed a very fair amount of intelligence. The Old and New testament might have been done better by the 1st group, but they answered well to questions in Catechism & Prayer Book, and the writing on slates was really good. The mistress and her assistant are painstaking and the religious knowledge of the school as a whole is up to average. It would be well is a little more order could be enforced amongst the boys, the conduct of some of whom needs amending. Might I suggest the advisability of teaching private prayers to the children....
comment on unruly boys was taken to heart the following year:
Jan 13th 1879 - Caned two boys who gave their teacher much trouble in the 1st class.
It paid off -
Report of scripture Examination (May '79)
That the condition of the children both as regards behaviour speaks well for the care and attention which has been bestowed on them by the mistress. The boys are far more orderly and though in some there is yet room for improvement, as a whole they are to be commended.
The Infants did really well especially in Old Testament and Catechism, and the repetition of Scripture was excellent... The great failing noticeably is that the majority of the children leave the questions to be answered by about half a dozen of the quicker ones amongst them. It would be well to endeavour to remedy this. The writing on slates was very good...
The two Monitors deserve praise for their quiet attention and readiness in answering - and also a boy whose name I believe is Rice. He deserves encouragement.
- the Inspector's Report:
The School is orderly and the children have done their work very fairly, and in better style. Desks should not be five deep. More desk accommodation is needed. Grammar and Geography are weak....
- gave the children a half holiday on Friday afternoon, there being a cricket
match played on the Common. Attendance good throughout the week, average 100.
July 7th - 11th - Gave one girl a Certificate of proficiency. Admitted one girl on Monday. Attendance during the week poor, owing to the unfavourable weather. Mrs. Hackblock visited the school on Friday afternoon to pay for eight children fees for the quarter.
Robert Huggins got a Certificate of Proficiency the following week. In August 2 children received certificates of Attendance.
Harvest Holiday did not begin until August 29th due to wet weather. Both teachers left.
Eliza E. Bolton
took charge 10th October 1879, with Miss Eliza Clarke as Assistant
Teacher, and had a hard start:
Have had several times to deviate from Time Table owing to lack of a monitor. Attendance very poor - chn. out gleaning.... Order and work of the assistant's class has been very poor.... Have had to work Arithmetic with Standard III after school hours on account of their backwardness in that subject.... Devoted some time to the 1st and 2nd stand. The former need thorough teaching; many of them barely knowing their letters. Tried Emma Cooper as a monitor..
Oct. 3rd - Have worked first and second classes this week together, leaving assistant entirely with the first standard; plan has answered better than any other as yet adopted.
BIG innovation in the face of poor standards was Homework:
Nov. 17th - 21st - Gave chn. Some homework for the first time on Tuesday. Several of the parents burnt the papers containing it: plan seems likely to meet with opposition.
Nov. 24th - 28th - Assistant has taken the needlework class this week; has managed it better than she has any other class.
Dec. 5th - Tried Herbert Church as a monitor for the third class, which he managed well.
First mention of a boy as monitor. Standards (or, at least, test results) were creeping up and 'the spirit for work' improved.. The Assistant seems to have left....
Jan 5th 1880 - Miss M. Harvey commenced duties as assistant teacher. Her class has not been orderly, though some work has been done.
Jan 23rd - Several complaints have been made by parents about the school windows being open during school hours; but it I absolutely necessary to ensuring a healthy atmosphere that they should be.
April 12-16 - Have admitted several children. On Friday a girl named Alborough was taken forcibly out of the school by her father in direct opposition to my injunction that she should remain.
Both the Mistress and the Diocesan Examiner wrote of rising standards and better behaviour by April 1880. But the Inspector was harsher on July 6th: Both the discipline and instruction in this school are far below a proper standard. The supply of reading books is insufficient. My Lords will look for different results next year as a condition of a grant.
and Miss Harvey were replaced by Alice Eleanor Hardingham, Mistress, and Ellen
Alice Plow, Assistant on July 12th. The Vicar visited most days.
Attendance, punctuality and discipline improved. By July 23rd - 'The
tone of the school has improved this week', and on July 30th - the
children are to have a "treat".
Nov. entries indicate winter pattern: Children have assembled at 1.30....registers have been closed at 1.45, secular instruction stopped at 3.45, then Prayers and Dismissal.
did not begin well: School has not been conducted on account of the weather.
Children have been unable to get to school owing to the roads being blocked up
with snow.... [Then...] the sudden change in the weather, the snow melting so
rapidly that the roads are flooded with water.
April 14th - The average [attendance] is lower this week because children sent home who did not bring their pence... [This problem repeated most Aprils]
April 18th - Received this morning - 2 doz. New Royal Primers; 1 doz. Royal Readers No.2; ditto No. 5; 1 doz. Chambers Reading Books Standard IV; an alphabetical sheet.... [The following week] Received a large Map of England & Wales and 4 class Registers.
May 26th Geography Standard II (1) Definitions of terms as applied to Land and Water (2) Points of the Compass (3) Meaning of a Map, with special reference to (1) and Neighbourhood (4) Outlines of Geography of Norfolk. Standard III and over Geography of England & Wales, Standard IV and over Geography of the Colonies (Published by Marshall)..... Boys take Geography on Needlework afternoons.
- Inspector's Report
The School has improved greatly in Discipline and is good in that respect. The Reading has also improved, but both Writing and Arithmetic are very weak. All children should be present at the Inspection and not only those whose names are on the Schedule. A larger supply of books is required.
...A holiday was given on Monday as Mistress went with the Church Choir to
July 29th - A holiday was given on Monday in consequence of the Meeting of the Oddfellows at the World's End (this is a general holiday for the labouring classes and mechanics).
That a decided improvement is to be seen in the discipline and general character of the school. The children still shew signs of feeble management and inefficient teaching, but under the present mistress both defects will no doubt be remedied....
Commenced fire this week.
Dec 2nd - Attendance would have been much higher if children had not stayed away in consequence of stag-hunting yesterday afternoon.
1882 Inspector's Report
The School does not show the improvement I had expected last year. The Discipline is weak and the work the children shewed in the examination was far from satisfactory, especially in Arithmetic. The Needlework grant is recommended with much hesitation, as so large a portion of the Girls are presented in the lowest stages. A proper map easel is needed. The issue of a Certificate to Miss Plow is deferred for a better report.
Miss Plow left
on July 21st Edith Hardingham has taken her place until Harvest
Holidays. Alice Flood commenced duties Sept. 11th.
Nov 3rd - Miss Flood examined Class I this morning and Mistress Classes II and III. 59 children were examined. 10 failed in Reading, 23 in Writing and 21 in Arithmetic. Standard I are weakest in Arithmetic, Standard II in Writing and Class I in Arithmetic.
Report for July 26th
I beg to report that so far as the discipline is concerned, the ill effects of the influence of the late assistant Mistress is discernible and the religious instruction of the children has consequently suffered.... The Mistress is evidently doing her best....
Alice Hardingham resigned at the end of the year.
a Master was appointed - the first for decades. David Walter Parsons took
charge on Jan 8th and thus began a new regime....
Immediately lists low standards (esp. in Arithmetic); reading books and slates in bad condition; no school song.
Over next few weeks received several new slates.... 3 doz. Royal Readers and other articles.... New Historical readers, Geographical readers, new blackboard and easel.
Jan. 19th - Caned Arthur Sturman and Isaac Lake for insulting an old lady of the village.
Better attendance, better punctuality, better discipline, and by the end of March the monthly examination resulted in an 86% pass rate. 'A decided improvement especially in writing' recorded April 27th. Quite a lot of new children admitted.
April 6th - The weather being fine this week, the children have assembled in ranks outside and marched into school in proper order.
First mention of the "Attendance Officer" calling - and then coming most weeks, sometimes several times a week.
May 4 -
includes list of the poetry learned for Recitation
Standard I "The Spring" by M. A. Stoddard
Standard II "Casablanca" by Mrs. Hemans
Standard III "We are Seven" by Wordsworth
Standard IV "Wreck of the Hesperus" by Longfellow
Standard V "Elegy written in a Country Ch.yd." by Gray
May 11 - James
Turner Esq. One of the Managers of the school sent small sums of money for
girls who had done their examination needlework with credit.
After the Whit Holiday - Mary Ann Barrett appointed monitor for this quarter.
June 1st Admitted two new scholars on Monday. William Beaumont the new scholar was severely punished today for impudence and insubordination. Received for school use 2 dozen "Robinson Crusoe", 4 dozen other reading books, also Grammar, Arithmetic and Poetry books, Recitation cards and Needlework frame.
Report, June 1883
The School has only been four months in charge of the present Master. It has improved considerably in Discipline and Instruction though many of the children are not yet up to the work of their Standards. Needlework has improved considerably. The Infants need more attention. You are requested to state the grounds of the Managers' dissatisfaction with the Conduct of Mrs. Plow.
- James Beaumont the late new scholar was punished severely today for
insubordination; during he master's absence in the classroom he deliberately
left the school and went home. He returned with his mother in the afternoon and
promised to reform.
July 13th - Isaac Lake has been granted a "Half time Certificate"...in accordance with Article 15, New Code.
The Master is a choir member - and closes the school for the choir outing to Yarmouth (Bank Hol Mon) and children continue to have an annual treat..
- Several children absent Tuesday owing to an auction sale being held in the
village; one boy played truant and was punished.
Sept. 28th - Mr. & Mrs. Wingfield visited the school; the former is a manager of the Welling (Hereford) Schools. He expressed himself highly pleased with the order of the school, and remarked how tidy, neat and clean everything looked. Mrs. Wingfield thought the Needlework very creditably done.
Oct. 12th - Five children have been sent home for their school pence and not returning have somewhat reduced the weekly average.
Oct. 26 - The 2nd quarter of the school year ends today with an average of 93.6 an increase of 1.2 on the first quarter. The Infants have made satisfactory progress this quarter - Miss Flood takes them for Arithmetic twice a week viz. on Tuesday and Thursday; the first division have their reading lessons in the main room under the master's supervision. Mary A. Barrett and Ann Waller have been monitors past qr.
List of Object
Lessons to be given for the next half year [teacher and dates listed]
Animals: Cat, Cow, Dog, Horse, Elephant, Duck, Lion, Fish, Bird, Camel, Mouse, Fox.
Objects: Potato, Apple, Bread, Candle, Coal, Sugar, Salt, Orange, Soap, A Letter, Chalk, The Body.
[The lists remain much the same in later years, with additions such as Donkey, Reindeer, Frog, Window, Boots 7 Shoes, Wheelbarrow....]
- half-day off as there was a concert in the school that evening, the proceeds
from which bought a new desk.
Nov. 30th - This week's average is the highest since the school has been under government inspection viz 104.3
Dec. 14th - Miss Flood absent, sitting the Certificate Examination.
1884, Feb 8th - There was a stag
hunt on Tuesday which caused three boys to lose their attendance marks...
Feb. 27th being Ash Wednesday, the children assembled at 8.45 and went to Church at 10.45.
March 14th - Intelligence has been received from the "Education Department" that Miss Flood obtained a place in the 2nd Class at the late Certificate exam. and is now qualified under Art. 64.
March 28th Admitted three new scholars on Monday aged 10, 8, and 5 respectively, not one could write their names or letters. [By May av. Attendance up to 107.4]
May 2nd - The school year ended on Wednesday; the average for the whole year is 97.7 being an increase of 16 on the previous years and the school pence has increased nearly £5.... The school has been opened 439 times being an increase of 14 on last year. Fred Loveday and Harry Larter have attended every time the school has been opened; the latter has not lost an attendance for the past three years.
- Poetry for recitation:
Standard I "The First Grief" by Mrs. Hemans
Standard II "The Homes of England" by Mrs. Hemans
Standard III "The Inchcape Rock" by Southey
Standards IV & V ditto and "Graves for a Household" by Mrs. Hemans
Inspector's report, 1884, notes 'The School has improved during the year especially in the lower part of it... [Criticises Spelling, Arithmetic, Grammar, Recitation] The Grant is recommended with much hesitation as the second and third Standards knew their work....The Infants...do not know much of the Object lessons they have received. The higher Grant is recommended with some hesitation.'