History | Norton Greens First School
Norton Greens very first school was held in what we know today as the Primitive Methodist Sunday School next to the Methodist Chapel, opening it's doors on October 9th 1876.
Children of all ages attended until it was decided at a board meeting that all children over the age of nine were sent out. These would of probably attended the school at Smallthorne.
The school room was small indeed measuring 25ft square and housed in the center of the room a 'potbellied stove'. This would of been the only source of heating and very often got quite smokey.
Absence from school would have been quite common depending on a number of reasons, all valid reasons for the local way of life in the village at that time. For example as in August 1878 the school was closed for the afternoon for the 'Norton Wakes'.
Further land was bought from Mr. Simeon Johnson to build a bigger school, which opened three years later on October 20th 1879 and was called Norton Green Board School, designed by the architect Mr. George. B. Ford.
A much larger school with better facilities, Norton Green Board school educated the local children for 104 years. This then closed as Trentside Middle Infants in 1983 after much protest from the local people.
In 1867 the government passed the Reform Act, which gave all heads of every household the right to vote. Following this act politicians became increasingly concerned that if the right to vote was available to the masses then they should be educated. This then led to the *1870 Education Act or "Forster Act" being passed.
Before the 1870 Education Act schools were run as voluntary, ie. church, private individuals or guild schools - vocational as in the guild school where you went to learn a trade or academic as in a church school. Since the Act was introduced these voluntary schools went into decline with Roman Catholic schools being the exception. Board schools provided better buildings & offered higher pay for the teachers.
The following extracts are from the Zion Primitive Methodist Sunday School in Norton Green. Records 1876 - 1879 giving you an insight to the times;
1876 First School - Zion Sunday School
- October 9th - The school has opened this morning and 40 children were admitted. There were present Mr. Dean, Mr. Walker, Mr.Wood, And Mr. Jones. No apparatus at present. E Repton commenced duty as *monitor.
- Oct 10th - Admitted 5 more children, 7 boys are over age, but it is agreed by the board for them to remain at the present.
- Oct 11th - Admitted 15 more children.
- Oct 23rd - The number on the books this morning is 69.
- Nov 27th - School visited by Mr. Wood and Mr. Jones. Looked at the playground which was in bad condition and gave notice for it to be repaired.
- Dec 4th - Mr. Wood came with school apparatus today, several things required still.
- Dec 11th - At the Board meeting last week it was agreed to send out of the school all boys over nine.
- Dec 15th - Frederick Knight over nine sent to Smallthorne school. Recieved a bell to summon children in school.top
- January 19th - Average attendance this week very poor only 49.8% cheifly through sickness.
- February 3rd - Admitted 3 children. Recieved 12 new desks in school.
- February 21st - Recieved a bottle of ink & 3 dozen inkwells for the desks.
- May 7th - Hannah Holdcroft commenced duty as monitor.
- July 25th - Hannah Holdcroft monitor, absent having got the toothache.
- August 20th - Summary of the inspectors report - The school has made a very indifferent start. The children throughout are excessiveley backword & unintelligent & are not in very good discipline. The premises are very ill adapted for anything but a Sunday school. If the school is continued on its present footing a seperate room for infants will be necessary. My Lords hope to see a decidedly improvement next year.
- August 28th - School treat this afternoon. Children met at school & went up to Norton where they met the Smallthorne & Milton Board schools & after marching through the villages they returned to their own schools where they had tea.
- Dec 11th - School smoked very badly, the fire obliged to be put out.top
- January 23rd - 5 children absent through scarlet fever.
- February 8th - Attendance still very poor. A great number of children backword in their payments on account of the badness of work.
- March 12th - Herbet Mayer dead after a month illness the scarlet fever.
- May 6th - Recieved a supply of needlework from the board.
- June 7th - Two sisters Annie Eliza & Mary Lowndes died of the fever during the week.
- June 28th - Average attendance of the week only 32. Many parents refusing to send their children until the fever is quite gone.
- August 26th - Norton wakes. School closed for the afternoon.
- October 24th - 79 children present.top
- February 11th - Some of the needlework belonging to the school has been sold this afternoon.
- September 12th - Admitted 6 children this week. Average attendance 86.4%.
- October 3rd - Have examined the first *standard & have found them backward at putting down their numbers.
- October 20th - Our new school opened this morning by Mr.Dean & Mr. Lewis, members of the Board. There were also present Mr. Wood & Mr. Jones.
All the above records were reproduced by kind permission from Stafford library archives.
*Education Act - The 1870 Act required the establishment of elementary schools nationwide to supplement existing schools & to provide guaranteed attendance for all children in their respective districts. These would be called 'Board Schools'. School Board men were chosen to enforce attendance.
This act gave rise to the forming of 2500 Education Boards in England & gave them power to raise money from the local rates & donations for the purpose of building & forming new schools where they were needed. School Boards could charge a fee of no more than 9 pence a week. If poorer families couldn't afford this then the Board would help with the fees for a limited time.
Members of the Boards were elected from local politicians, businessmen, industrialists or people of high standing.
*Monitor - In the early periods of state education the teachers or heads would usually appoint a monitor from one of the children attending. The monitor was usually one of the children who showed more promise than the others or had received some previous education. The role of the monitor was to help the other children with their lessons & to assist the teacher in most aspects of the school day.
*Standard - The standard as it was referred to was the 'class of children'.top