STOULTON VILLAGE SCHOOL
Early in the 19th century until 1877 a village school had been held in a barn like structure attached to Vicarage Cottage, to the east of The Vicarage. (Its called "The Tynings". today.)
THE NEW SCHOOL BUILDING
To raise the funds for the new school building the parish levied a civil rate from the community. This plus voluntary contributions, including financial assistance from the lord of the manor, Lord Somers plus his a gift of land enabled the school to be built. It was 16'x30' and built with red bricks from nearby Drakes Broughton. The first governors were Thomas Sidley of Mount Pleasant, Richard Loxley of Wolverton Farm and Joseph Smithen who farmed at Windmill Hill. Schools like that in our village had been founded as a result of Forsters Education Act of 1870 and National Schools were those sponsored by the National Society for Promoting Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church - a name almost longer than the original school building.
THE SCHOOL CHILDREN
In the spring of 1877 the pupils of Stoulton School left their old school building and led by the Vicar, the Reverend Hamilton Kingsford and the Head Teacher, walked along the length of Church Lane to their new building. The school roll included the names of 75 girls and boys, about 30 of them were infants who were taught in the gallery!
By 1900 the new school had settled down well. Rev. Kingsford and his daughter were both frequent visitors, the former almost daily and his daughter almost weekly to teach scripture or even to provide hot soup on cold days. The subject taught included geography, nature study and physical education. This could not have been easy, Miss Johnson and Miss Campbell the Headmistresses in the first decade of the 20th Century rarely had more than one unqualified assistant or monitress and these ladies taught all subjects, all ages and all in one room with an echoing gallery.
By 1903 when Miss Campbell took over as Headmistress it is clear that the keeping up of attendances was a major task. The details had to be noted in the log book and explanations provided if targets were not achieved. Of course it was rare for all the children to be there together, records show that average attendance was about 50. This was not surprising in an area where most of the parents eked out a living on the land and expected the children to help in the busy periods. Pea-picking in July almost always caused a closure, fruit picking and other harvesting likewise. Some girls failed to appear if there was an extra heavy wash day at home and adverse weather conditions affected all children. Snowdrifts across the fields and floods at Hawbridge are referred to throughout the years. In the days before antibiotics infectious diseased like influenza, measles, whooping cough, scarlet fever, chicken pox, impetigo and influenza swept through pupils and staff alike, sometimes causing the school to close. Perhaps this is not surprising, until 1909 the school housed some 70 children in total in one room l6 feet by 30 feet and with a gallery, all heated by a coal fire. The water supply came from a well or even from the roof and the close juxtaposition of the well and the septic tank were commented upon as health experts began to inspect the premises.
Moreover even then disciplinary problems were reported. The local policeman came from his house along the high road to Worcester to caution boys caught stealing fruit and again because a boy annoyed a lady whilst on his way to school. The problems were not limited to boys. The writing of “offensive remarks” on the walls by a girl is referred to and caused a contretemps with the family when she was barred from school. By the end of its first twenty five years the school attendance was averaging some 50 pupils. Mr. W. Acton of Lower Wolverton held the honorary post of H.M. Inspector and his visits and those of his successors are covered in the school log book. Most of the reports were favourable, although the report’s handwriting is not the easiest to read. The voluntary schools were required to be “suitable, efficient and sufficient”.
SUITABILITY, EFFICIENCY AND SUFFICIENCY
By 1909 it was clear that the threefold objective of “suitability, efficiency and sufficiency” was unlikely to be achieved in the existing building. Lady Henry Somerset who was now the Lady of the Manor indicated her willingness to provide more land and plans were drawn up for an extension. The contract went to' Kimber of Worcester' at an estimated cost of £306, and the extension was constructed through the summer holidays in 1909
1909 THE SCHOOL IS EXTENDED AND UPGRADED
When construction was completed, the total costs of £441 2s. 5d. left a surplus of £19 17s. 2d. Shortly after the construction was completed, a wood and glass partition was installed and the gallery was removed which allowed better segregation by age or subject and the consequent reduction in noise. lt must have ameliorated the headaches of the staff. Was it the noise of 30 to 40 heavily shod infants thumping about in the gallery which lay behind the departure of Miss Campbell in 1909 after 6 years service and the appointment of Mrs. Hall?
In 1912 Mr. Kingsford who had been Vicar of Stoulton since 1868 stepped down as school correspondent. Mr. Cockle, as vicar, took over and Miss Anne Broome was appointed correspondent. Somewhat surprisingly during the period of the first world war,1914-18, the conflict, received little if any mention in the log book. However boys who had attended the school earlier in the century did join up - a memorial to those who made the ultimate sacrifice still existing in the present village hall.
Perhaps at the same time, girls from the school, whose ambitions had been restricted by geography, custom and lack of opportunity, found their horizons opened up and were able to spread their wings in other jobs or even in the services, although we have not found any history of this. In 1917 the H.M.I. suggested that the children might save money for the war and such a scheme was started but no record of how much was collected.
In 1919 the inspector’s report was not satisfactory and it was suggested that a further adult teacher was required urgently. A new teacher was recruited, the first teacher on a contract, and the next report in November suggests the school was “much improved”. It is clear by this time that external support services provided by the County Council were becoming more obvious. From 192l there were regular medical inspections and the nurse and dentist dealt respectively withg heads and teeth. Outside specialists in such subjects as domestic science also visited, one to talk on the benefits of milk. The sanitary inspector expressed his lack of satisfaction regarding the standard of drinking water supplies.
During the 1920’s we can see evidence of consolidation as the County Education Committee strengthened its grip on schools such as Stoulton. By 1923 the management of the schools at Stoulton and Drakes Broughton were merged at the county’s behest.
On a lighter, or should it be a darker, note it was necessary for the managers to complain that haystacks at Manor Farm were obstructing the windows of the school. Despite the managers objections the LEA scheme for the re-organisation of schools in the county was progressed and in October 1930 the first steps in the final moves towards closure took place. Mrs. Hall the head-teacher resigned after 22 years in the post and the senior pupils were transferred to the new central school at Pershore, the remaining children except the infants moved to Drakes Broughton School.
The infants school remained active for almost another three years and there are still senior residents of our village with memories of attending as small children.But the school’s days were numbered. Its facilities were inadequate and could only be brought up to scratch at a cost far in excess of what our local community could afford or what the County would authorise.
On March l4th 1934 the Department of Education withdrew recognition of the school. The infants departed to Drakes Broughton, the desks were removed, the chalk dust settled, the doors closed and the bell fell silent. For the first time for over a hundred years children were not coming to school in Stoulton.
2000. After some fifty years, Church Lane once again echoes to the sound of children coming to a school in the village. Within a very short stone’s throw of the site of the previous school a new school for young children was established. Mount Pleasent, sometime Somers Arms, and by coincidence the home of one of the first governorsss, Mrs. Sidley ,now houses a nursery school, catering for today’s busy parents and carries the torch of education again into a third century.
Most people know that Stoulton has a Village Hall it doesn't have a school! but it did! It closed in 1934.