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Wartime

SCHOOL IN WARTIME AND BETWEEN THE WARS

 

The first significant entry in the School Logbook in March of 1911 states that the school had been closed because of an ‘epidemic’ but despite this ‘the school had retained the memory of what had evidently been carefully taught’. 

Head Teacher in 1911 was William Busby, with his wife Rosetta as Teacher of the Infants.

Hugh Maurice Hurren, known as Maurice, had commenced as Pupil Teacher in 1910. (He went on to do his teacher training at St Peter’s College, Saltley in Birmingham. He enlisted there when war broke out but sadly he was to die on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was a Sergeant with the Royal Warwickshire Battalion and won the Military Medal. His older brother Sidney had also been a Pupil Teacher at the school. His grandmother Emily Hurren was a private teacher. His father was watchmaker Alfred.)

In September of 1911 a new school well was sunk during the holiday and water was sent for analysis. 

In April 1912 the Inspector commented ‘There is a feeling of vigour and naturalness throughout this department, which shows itself in the children’s response both in oral and written work. Training in such an atmosphere makes for energy and self reliance: it is much to the Head Master’s credit that such qualities are so prominent in a rural school.’

The school garden continued and there is a note that in February of 1914 the boys were gardening all day. 

The First World War

War was declared in August 1914 but there are few mentions in the logbook. The girls had a laundry class in the autumn term of 1914 but by March of 1915 the Special Subject Centre was ‘in the hands of the military’ and there were no woodwork classes.

On June 13th 1917 the school received notice of an Air Raid at 11.47am from the military authority and dismissed the children. On 20th several children were absent from school in the afternoon as they had gone to Theberton to see the wrecked Zeppelin, brought down by an aeroplane on 17th at 3.30am. On July 19th 1919 there was a Peace Celebration when all the children were entertained to tea and each received a medal.

With the 1918 (Fisher) Act education became compulsory and the minimum school leaving age was raised to 14. 1921 saw the introduction of free school meals.

On  December 23rd 1926  the children were entertained to tea by Mrs Hambling at Rookery Park. The school was then closed from that day for the Christmas holidays.

On June 11th 1927 ‘a considerable amount of damage was done to the school garden gate and fence by bullocks belonging to Mr. F. Balls’.

In 1928, after Mr Busby’s retirement, Montoro Francis Jennings became Head Teacher. (Montoro is thought to be a family surname).

Empire Day continued to be celebrated on May 24th and for example in 1929 the flag was hoisted and saluted, the National Anthem sung and there were special lessons on the Empire until 11 o’clock.

Weather conditions still affected attendance and on July 4th 1929 there was a heavy downpour of rain resulting in only 58 children present out of 144.

The school still closed for events such as Sunday School treats, and was used for the Yoxford British Legion fete, the Flower Show in the summer months, as well as for General Elections.

There were annual Christmas teas and treats, now given by Mrs Hambling of Rookery Park such as on December 19th 1930.

The school was closed in the afternoon of July 14th 1931 to allow school children to be present at the funeral service of Mrs Lomax (Grove Park) who was one of the Managers of the school.

On October 30th 1931 teacher Mrs Busby terminated her appointment after 38 years’ service.

Charles Lomax, who had been Chairman of the Managers of the School, died in December 1932 and was buried in the churchyard on January 26th 1933. The Head Teacher and the Senior Group were present at the funeral.

On February 7th William Busby, former Head Teacher for 35 years, died.

In 1933, 16 school children travelled to Lowestoft on November 18th to see the Herring fishing. In the afternoon they saw the picture ‘90 Degrees South’ the story of Captain Scott’s journey to the South Pole.

On March 29th 1935 ‘terminated my duties as Headteacher here with gratitude’. This was John William Petley, who came to Yoxford after Mr Jennings left. He then went on to become Headteacher in Woodbridge.

On April 1st 1935 Charles Robert Hacon commenced duties as Headteacher. Born in Chelmsford, Essex, in 1889, he was of Suffolk origins. He was a teacher by 1911. He was a war hero, having served as 2nd Lieutenant in the Machine Gun Corps and was awarded the Military Cross in September 1918 ‘for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in command of four machine guns’. 

On September 27th 1937 the school was closed all day on account of the wedding of Miss Margot (Margherita) Hambling, daughter of Sir Guy and Lady Hambling of Rookery Park. She married Fl. Lt. Maurice Hare.

June 2nd 1939 saw poor attendance of only 83/103 owing to children visiting the Suffolk show with their parents.

The Second World War broke out later that year and on September 3rd cupboards were cleared for an evacuated school’s use. Mr Hacon saw Mother Campian (Miss Gibson), Head of St. Vincent’s School, Becontree, Ilford and discussed arrangements for the first joint use of school premises. On February 7th 1940 the children’s gas masks were examined. One was found faulty and the owner was instructed to take it to the police. In October the Head warned the school of the danger of the new type of delayed action bomb.

Free school milk, a third of a pint, (approximately 470 ml) was introduced to all children from 1941 by a Government concerned about children getting enough nourishment.

On June 10th 1942 the Head writes ‘I received a complaint this morning of certain boys picking gooseberries from private bushes. I punished the culprits lightly (one stroke of the cane), one of the boys ran home whilst I left them. His mother came to school this afternoon, was rather abusive, and objected to my punishing her boy for misbehaviour out of school hours. She became so unreasonable that I had to leave her talking’.

On May 12th 1944 the school was closed for the afternoon to enable children to see tank and workshop demonstrations in connection with ‘Salute the Soldier’ week. (This was part of a Government-led War Savings Scheme whereby communities throughout the country were given targets to raise money for the war effort. There was one each year, commencing with the ‘Spitfire Week’ of 1940.) On July 24th Mr Hacon admitted 32 evacuees ranging from five to 14 years of age.

The 1944 (Butler) Education Act created theTripartite system of Grammar, Technical and Secondary Modern Schools, Selection to be decided by exams at 11 (the 11-Plus).

In 1947 the school leaving age was raised to 15.

On July 29th 1948 Mr Hacon commented on the Opening of the Olympic Games. This was the Summer Games, held in London until 14th August.