the opening year 1872
Taken from school logbooks,
The original Redmile National school was erected in 1839, and rebuilt on the same site in 1871, at a cost of £400, raised by voluntary contributions. The old school had been erected at the expense of Thomas Powys Outram, rector, except for the site and the timber, which were found by the Duke of Rutland.' When the new school opened that rector's son - George Sandford Outram - was rector.
It was intended to hold about 85 children, in two classrooms. The infants were in what is now the office, classes 1/2/3 with the head teacher were in what is now the infant's room. Both rooms were open to the rafters. The infants measured 12'7" x 17'1" x 17' high, the 'mixed school' measured 35' 1" x 17'1"x 16' 10" high. The front entrance, now a storeroom, was the entrance for girls and infants, boys used the back entrance.
The toilets were outside, in a separate building behind the school, backing on to the garden of the cottage next door (who complained about the 'stench permeating their house and garden' in August 1872). They were called 'privies' and were wooden seats with buckets beneath them. There were no wash basins or sinks, and no running water.
The new school opened on Monday the 24th June 1872. Eight boys left Barkestone school on the previous Friday to join it (Barkestone was boys only at this time). Mr Edward Anthony, the new headmaster coped single handed for the first week with 68 children on roll. Miss Patchett then took over the infants in the second week.
In the first week he writes "I found the children very wild and unmanageable through not being used to control, but by Friday they were much better. I also found a great difficulty in arranging them into classes, as after I had tested them with reading and arranged them accordingly, I discovered that several in both 1st and 2nd class could not write either on paper or slates and that some in the third class could beat them in arithmetic and writing.
The new school is very light and cheerful, well ventilated and roomy. It is however very destitute of school furniture which is to be remedied immediately. The ventilators at the bottom of the walls will be injurious to health in cold weather judging from the draught they at present occasion to the legs!" (The ventilators 'caused an intolerable draught' and by October he had papered over them to try and keep the classroom warm!)
School fees were 4d week - one boy complained that 'he should come no more unless the school pence were 3d not 4d. Fees were reduced for each child in the family, only the first paid 3d, second 2d, third and following 1d. Each child was also expected to pay 6d 'coal money' the first week in November. Fires were started in November, the managers paid a boy 6d week to light the fire providing that he found his own sticks!
From the second week the children became more orderly. They commenced to learn drill which they picked up slowly and learnt about one new song a week - "They are quick in learning songs but their singing is too loud and harsh". Mr Anthony started Geography with 1st and 2nd class 'who knew nothing whatever about it' and struggled to get the children from their 'sing song' way of reading with partial success.
He organised a rota of two children from the 1st and 2nd class to sweep the school (a cleaner was paid to clean the privies) but several refused so he did it himself. He also supplied his own clock until the managers bought one in August.
The attendance dropped at the beginning of July "owing to very wet weather and to parents preparing for the 'feast' and wanting the children at home". School closed 15th - 19th July by command of the managers 'owing to it being Redmile feast and their being sure that no children would attend'.
By 22nd July there were 80 on the books. Mr Anthony reports that work is steadily progressing, the reading is definitely better. He introduced home lessons which were well done and subtraction, long and short division and multiplication up to 6 and 7.
"The heat has been so excessive that some of the children have turned faint and ill and others have had violent headaches. Still the ventilation is very good (remember those ventilators!) and the school is remarkably free from that closeness felt in many schools". Miss Patchett was frequently away due to ill health and so he had all the children but 'order was not so good' at these times.
By August 12 he felt able to 'start the 1st class in ciphering books' - presumably handwriting exercises, 'which they seem to like but are clumsy at'. He also reported that there were 15 or 16 children squeezed into a desk meant for 10 in the 3rd class and requested another desk from the rector, Mr Outram.
August brought Harvest time and on 19th he reports "Corn having been carried on Monday and Tuesday the attendance fell off owing to the children going gleaning". On Friday at 3 o-clock, the children 'tied up maps (probably the only items hanging on the walls), washed inkwells, well swept and dusted the school and furniture and left everything tidy for the Harvest holiday'.
After the holidays the numbers rapidly rose to 90, 'A pupil teacher must be had immediately' - David Bass from Bottesford started in October. There was a 'remarkable paucity of boys', explained by the fact that many boys were sent out to agricultural work at an early age. Some were still absent after the holidays until the end of September 'getting potatoes up'. 'A boy age ten came for the first time and first knows his letters'.
By December a temporary sewing mistress was paid 6d per hour. (Mrs Anthony was the usual sewing mistress). The infants were 'often troublesome this cold weather as they come into school crying with cold.'
The year ended with a 'grand Christmas tree to all the day scholars (92). Two handsome presents of clothing and two toys were given to each child in addition to a half pound lump of cake' (presumably paid for by the managers and/or Rector).