School Days at The National School

High Street Project Team

Plans for the National School built in the High Street in 1849. The upper storey was added in 1873. On the left of the picture the layout of the desks can be seen.
Wivenhoe Memories Collection

School Days at The National School

Don Mason was born in 1906 and attended the National School for 5 years until he left aged 12 to go to the Technical School in Colchester.

He talks about his school life in an interview with Nicholas Butler.

Subjects taught – Maths, history, Geography, writing, English literature

Corporal Punishment – The Head teacher “was allowed to cane anybody that he thought wanted punishing… he used to have what he called a punishment room, it was a disused storeroom on the ground floor and this boy was taken into this storeroom every now and again and given the cane and used to come back into the classroom and slouch and sit down in his seat holding his behind or his hands.”

Classes –“Standard One was upstairs, Two was Miss Husk she was the schoolteacher upstairs. Standard Three was downstairs and four.   Mr Wadley had Five and Six.   Six was the top….  If you were very dull you stayed in a class for a longer period you see.   You had to pass an exam then you graduated to the next step up.”  There were 40 – 45 boys to a class.

Writing – “You had to do a fairly good copperplate hand. ..you had the school pen…. The school supplied you with books and pens and pencils, things like that.   You had your own pen box or pencil box, they were collected by a monitor every day.”

Exams – “No. The School Inspector used to come round and ask boys different questions.”

Uniform – “No… the poorer boys wore sweaters, much darned, coloured.   They weren’t particular what colour…. Quite a lot of them had their father’s trousers which were cut down and they used to come just below the knee.   But of course you got some of the luckier boys whose parents were a bit better off….. Grey flannel trousers and blazers and a clean blue shirt or a white shirt and pullovers…….

The School Nurse – “..used to come round once a quarter and look at everybody’s heads…. If you looked a little bit scruffy then of course you came in for a more thorough examination…lice. I remember I caught ringworm once……I passed it on to my sister and it was some sort of awful brown stuff we had to put on our heads…there was a proper epidemic of it.”

Research sources:

  • Tony Forsgate’s early memories growing up in Wivenhoe in the 30s and 40s – click here
  • Transcription of Interview with Don Mason by Nicholas Butler – click here
  • “The Story of Wivenhoe”, Nicholas Butler 8 paragraphs pages 181 – 183 school life Don Mason
  • “Wivenhoe, Its Attractions, Pleasures and Eccentrics”, Dick Barton

To go to the High Street Trail index – click here

This page was added on 31/07/2018.

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