Mulbarton School under Walter Simmonds
Walter Joseph Simmonds, was appointed to the school in Sept. 1896 as Head Teacher, with his wife as the Assistant Teacher. He followed what must have been a difficult time for the school, with four Teachers in 4 years from 1893 to 1896. Mr. Simmonds was Head of the school for 26 years. We can learn quite a lot about him from the School Log Book, which he kept meticulously, and from Directory entries.
When he started, there were 90 pupils: 34 Infants; 56 in Mixed School. He found the school far below the standards he expected:
1896: I have endeavoured during the past week to ascertain the state of the
school. I give below a general report on the subjects taught.
Standards I & II appear to be better than others but I have not been able to go thoroughly into their work. Standard III is weak in every subject, especially Reading & Arithmetic. Standard IV cannot yet do simple and compound multiplication; pence table not even known. Sts. V, VI & VII cannot do fractions properly.
One lesson in History appears to have been given within four months and in Geography children did not even know the oceans and continents and could not tell the position of Norfolk. The girls have done no knitting at all, and no needlework has been commenced. The Infants are extremely backward, hardly any knowing letters, and quite one third of the whole number ought to be (by age) in First Standard.
Over the next
few weeks he adds:
Sept 9th Composition and spelling of 1st class very weak. Drawing fair in upper standards, but very poor below Standard IV. No work in the school appears to have been dated and in many cases it has not been corrected.
Sept 16th Reading of St. III disgraceful - General knowledge of children very poor.
Sept 18th The Catechism is unknown in lower standards and is very weak in upper ones.
Sept 28th Paperwork of all Standards is very untidy. There is no good writing at present in the school.
Mr Simmonds was innovative - on arrival, he introduced a football club in 1896, then organised school photos and a lending library as early as 1898. He was an enlightened educationist who introduced new ideas and equipment and discouraged physical punishment
Oct. 27th 1896....Started a Boys' Football Club in connection with the school, the boys subscribing towards it at the rate of a halfpenny each.