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Article by Margaret Craddock (1978, amended 2005)

History of Education in

Burton Latimer

Part IV - Observations on Latter Half of 19th Century

Facts mainly taken from Church records in the form of Manager’s School Minute Book, Parish Magazines and Church School Log Books.


The voluntary schools required annual subscriptions from parishioners in order to cover the cost of running the schools.  These tended to fall off with the advent of Board schools and constant ‘nagging’ was necessary on the part of the Rector in order to boost subscriptions.  In addition, the children paid a fee to attend the school.  In 1867 it is reported that “Some were sent home for their money as they pay very irregularly” and in 1873 the fees were 2d per week for the first child in the family.  Children are reported playing truant and spending their school money.  An annual grant was paid for each child in average attendance.  An example from the Parish Magazine for 1899 states:

“Our teachers must once more be congratulated on earning the highest grant possible viz: 20/6 in the Mixed School and 17/- in the Infants School exclusive of the 1/9 per head (boys) for drawing and 1/- (girls) for needlework.”

These grants depended on the HMI visiting the school annually and making a satisfactory inspection of the work being done and the way in which the school was run.

A typical Balance Sheet for the Endowed School for 1899 is shown in Appendix E.

Aid Grants were apparently applied for periodically and usually smaller sums were allowed than had been requested.  These were often increased after protest.  The following example from the Managers’ Reports of the Endowed School, August 1901, indicates the usual way in which an application was dealt with.

“The Rector reminded the Managers that at the last meeting they decided to apply for Aid Grant £118 – the amount granted during the last 4 years having been £165 less than earnings.  On May 23, he received a notification that £53 had been recommended by the Committee; a strong protest against a continuation of such treatment as this brought on June 6th a promise of an additional £22 10s.  The feeling of the Managers was that our schools had not received fair treatment.”


The various members of the teaching staff at that time are described as follows:

Monitor, Monitress, Probationers, Pupil Teachers, Teachers under Article 68, 50 or 51, Certificated Assistants, Head Teachers

Salaries were continually reviewed by the Board of Managers of the school after application by the Teacher.  Salaries ranged from £10 per annum, to £175 for the Head Teacher.  The managers had the power to increase or withhold salary and consideration was given to HMI reports.  For example, it was stated in the Managers’ Minutes that an increase was not granted for one particular teacher because “her discipline was not satisfactory”.  There seemed to be a continual change of teachers and also much interchange between schools.  Pupil teachers were obliged to attend classes at Kettering for three days a week so their class teaching would be relatively ineffectual.  Monitors and Monitresses frequently found difficulty in controlling classes and were found unsuited to a teaching career.

Absence without leave by a teacher prompted the following item from the records:

“It was decided to ask the Education Committee to notice Miss Hodson’s action in being absent from school without leave.  The Managers were of opinion that such is prejudicial to school discipline and the mere loss of a day’s salary was not an adequate correction.  They thought a letter should be sent by the Secretary of the Education Committee.”

A further item from the Parish Magazine reports on a complaint of the length of the summer holidays by a parent.  The Rector states that the matter would be taken up by the School Managers, “but it must be remembered that teachers require a rest as well”.


The following report is an example of the annual report made after the visit to the school by the HMI.  This report is for the Endowed and Infants’ Schools.

Mixed School   The school is in very good order and the children are making good progress but it would be advisable for the Head Teacher not to have sole charge of a class, as this renders supervision of the staff difficult.  Drawing and Designing deserve much praise and book-keeping is well taught but progress made in Shorthand, in which the girls take little interest, is slight.  The Shorthand characters should be formed more readily and with greater accuracy.  The reports on the periodical examinations should be entered as soon after the examination as possible.  Care should be taken that a copy of the Statutory Regulations for Public Elementary Schools (El. Ed. Act 1870 – Sec 7 and Art. 4 of the Code) is always conspicuously displayed in the school.  An early marking of the Registers would encourage punctuality.  A thermometer should be placed in each room.  The school walls require colouring.  The Registers should be checked at least quarterly in each department by the Managers.

Infant School   The schemes of work are satisfactory and prepared with care.  The children are well behaved and are making good progress in all their work.

Finedon Road Infants School   There has been a change of teachers during the year.  The general progress is satisfactory and the methods are fairly intelligent; but though the classes are small, the mistress requires the help of another monitress, so that no class may be left without a teacher.  Short pencils should not be allowed.  A thermometer should be placed in the babies’ room; the large stones should be picked off the playground.”


Evening Classes were commenced at the Endowed Schools in October 1899 and were held twice weekly at 7.30 pm.  About 40 names were on the books and the subjects studied were Commercial Arithmetic, Commercial Geography, Chemistry and Mensuration.  These subjects were said to be useful and interesting and there was to be no charge at all for the classes.  The average attendance was 29 and it was stated that it was disappointing to find that so many gave up.  Grants were received of £15. 14. 6. from the Board of Education and £10. 12. 0. from Northants County Council.  Subjects added for the following season were Music, Ambulance and Physiology.  In 1902 the Board of Education ordered that a fee should be paid and 1d. per week was charge, refundable to those making the minimum number of attendances recognised by the Department

The subject matter was further extended in 1903 to Drawing, Reading, Elementaary Science, Shorthand and Domestic Economy.  However, in 1904 the classes were terminated following an unfavourable report by the Board of Education Inspection and a reduced attendance.


The Endowed Grammar School was equipped with a gallery which was used to enable the teacher to overlook the school for repetitive and oral lessons.  In the days of excessive pupil numbers it was regarded as essential.  This was at one time equipped with seven tiers of seats and was finally removed in 1907 after pressure from the Board of Education.


Two examples from the records indicate the measures used at this time.

“Two managers remarked that they had received complaints from parents that the Master used the cane too excessively.  The matter was left in the Rector’s hands.

“One of the elder girls had been disobedient several times so this afternoon I told her to take her hat and go home.  She was impertinent and I punished her – upon which she turned round and was very impudent.  I put her out of the lobby and sent her home.  Her mother soon made her appearance and was very violent.”


As early as 1867 there is a record of homework being given in the Mixed School where children attended from the age of 7.


Maintaining good attendance at school seems to have been a continual problem.  The usual run of illnesses, colds and coughs were added to by Scarlet Fever, Measles, Scarletina, and Mumps.  Often the schools were closed for weeks at a time for epidemics.

In 1872 the records state that there was a great demand for juvenile labour, the boys being required on the farm and in the riveting shops and the girls for machine shoe work and shop work.  One teacher reported in 1870 that the parents keep the children at home for such trifles.  These ‘trifles’ when listed include:

“High winds; Finedon Feast; Kettering Feast; Amusement at the Village Cross; Cold damp weather; Opening of new grocer’s shop; Plough Monday; Thunderstorm; Temperance Picnic; Sunday School treat at the Baptist Chapel; Tired from Sunday School Treat held previous day; Wombells Menagerie passing through village; Snow; Church Restoration; Gleaning; Haymaking; Cowslip picking; Kettering Fair; Cranford Feast; Harvest; Funeral; Picking up acorns; Sticking; Scaring; Potato picking in allotments; Picking up twitch; Taking dinners to the reapers; Watching weddings at Church; Picking flowers for May garlands; Pig keeping; Getting new clothes from clothing clubs; Road to school in dreadful condition; Helping to clean up at home”.

In addition, the younger children usually left school completely for the winter season.  After the annual HMI inspection the children who had attended regularly were rewarded by an orange, and the older children by a 6d.  Teaching must have been exceptionally difficult as the children were constantly being admitted or re-admitted to school.  They were taken from the age of 3 years.  Sometimes parents lied about the child’s age in order that they might be accepted earlier.


During this period there seemed to be an endless stream of visitors entering the school daily.  These people were usually the local clergy, their wives and families who often helped with the classes.  Many of the upper class ladies of the village also attended, often bringing needlework to be done by the older girls.


There is no mention of medical attention until January 1909 when periodical medical examinations of the children are recorded.


Much time was given daily to religious instruction, learning hymns, etc.  The Rector was often involved in these lessons.  The children were expected to attend certain Church services, eg Ash Wednesday, but were told to ask their parents if they wished them to attend.


Accounts of a teacher’s immorality and scandal between a Headmaster and a mistress resulting in dismissal of the mistress) are given in the Managers’ Reports.


Mr Albert Granger submitted the following for a “Memories of a Villager” Competition – January 1958.  He attended school in the 1880/90’s:

“I started school at the age of three years.  The Church Infants School was then where the big school is now but at that time it consisted of only two rooms.  The old school was used for the older children.  There was no playground then and we were sent to play in Old Orchard at the back of the Rectory grounds.  The field was so large and dotted with trees that we used to hide from the teachers and sometimes it was hours before we were coaxed back to lessons. . . . We all left school at the age of 11 and on the last day were all taken to Stanion in a brake drawn by two horses to be examined.  After having tea we came home and never went to school again whether we had passed or not.  Before we started work we had to fetch a certificate from the Rector.  On May Day although it was not an official holiday they would not mind us being absent from school.  We used to get up very early in the morning and go out into the fields and break branches off the trees and make flower garlands.  The girls would be dressed in white.”

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