A History of Education and Schooling in Hethersett
and schooling in Hethersett owes much to the vision of a number of
benefactors over a considerable amount of time.
addition, close links with the church have ensured that youngsters
through the ages have enjoyed a solid foundation in what is commonly
known as the 3Rs.
history of education and schools in the village is a mixture of the
ancient and the modern with Hethersett today providing full-time
education from nursery through to the age of 16.
foundations for this were laid by a number of characters whose shining
examples stand out today. Without
them education in Hethersett over the ages would have been very much
poorer. Throughout the
history of village education runs a close link with the church with
local clergy and rectors acting as school managers over the past 200
paid for and non-compulsory education began in the village in 1817 –
almost 200 years ago, but two of the current schools are modern
additions to the education system.
first school building went up in the year that Venezuela became an
independent country and James Munroe was inaugurated as the fifth
president of the United States of America, the year that novelist Jane
Austin died and John Constable painted Flatford Mill and the year in
which there were riots in Derbyshire by workers over low pay and
Waterloo Bridge was opened in London.
first National School building in Hethersett was situated just across
from the present Middle School in Queen’s Road.
The original building was demolished in 1980 and today the site
is a private bungalow, but in the front garden is a commemorative
new British School was built in Henstead Road between 1850 and 1854,
just a few years before a major new section of the National School was
put up in 1860 on the present Middle School site.
building of both the British and National Schools came as a result of
individual and group efforts by people, irrespective of their religious
persuasion who had sometimes the money and always the vision of
improving the lives of others through education.
in the nineteenth century William Hughes bequethed the sum of £300 a
year towards the education of six children to be chosen by the
village’s parish minister, the churchwardens, the overseers and the
schoolroom was therefore erected in 1817 with funds raised by voluntary
contributions and the Parochial Returns for 1818 record that there were
60 children supported by subscription and four children educated from
the income amounting to eight guineas from the endowment in what became
known as the National School.
village curate, the Reverend John Edwards, was one of the driving forces
in setting up the school and this set the standard for a close
relationship between education and the church which exists to this day.
Apart from the Rev. Edwards, sums of money were given by the
Reverend J. Buckle, J. Browne Esq, T. S. Norgate Esq and one or two
others. The school took up
less than 'a 40th part of an acre.'
was at this time a small girls school and Rev. Edwards observed that:
'the poorer classes thankfully avail themselves of the means provided
for the education of their children.'
1833, 125 children attended the school. They were charged one shilling
(5p) a quarter apart from the six who were paid for from the endowment.
The returns of the National Society’s School Enquiry for
1846/47 recorded that 68 boys and 41 girls received instruction in the
school. Of this number 48
boys and 32 girls attended both on weekdays and Sundays, 19 boys and 6
girls on weekdays only and one boy and three girls on Sundays only.
were taught by a master and assistant mistress and five paid monitors. The total expenditure in salaries amounted to £44. 6s and
the estimated annual cost of maintaining the school was £63 1s.
this time education was neither free nor compulsory.
By 1861 fees at the national School had risen and varied from one
penny to sixpence per week depending on the occupational status of
1860 the Rector of Hethersett, the Rev. William Collett, applied to the
National Society for aid towards erecting a new mixed school measuring
53ft by 18ft to accommodate 120 children, with a teacher’s house
attached. The site, valued
at £92. 10s was taken from glebe land and the cost of the new
schoolroom and proposed teacher’s house amounted to £751 15s 6d.
A government grant of £280 4s was received and
£44 11s 6d was raised locally. Other substantial grants included
£30 from the National Society.
new school was completed in 1861 and the original building was retained
as an infants department.
boys and girls sections were divided in May 1871 when the boys' section
added more geography and history to their curriculum and took over the
former infants and original national school building.
was proposed to charge 1d per week for the children of farm labourers,
2d or 3d for the children of gentlemen’s servants and mechanics and 6d
for the children of small farmers.
The school received an annual government grant and an additional
classroom for infants was added in 1883 at a cost of £173, raised by
local subscription and with local builders Bailey and Son carrying out
the work. The largest
monetary donation was of £26 5/-d from the Reverend and Mrs. Collett.
building followed comments by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools that
'a classroom for infants would be a great improvement. ' This amounted
to a directive and order and so the work went ahead.
Directory of 1864 describes the National School as 'a spacious brick
building with master’s house and good playground attached which was
built in 1860 at a cost of £700 and attended by 50 children.
The master receives £8 3s 4d yearly from £272. 8s 8d three per
cent consols left by William Hughes for the education of six poor
children. The old school,
built in 1817, now an Infant School, has also about 50 children in
same directory describes the British School as 'A pretty brick building
in the pointed style, erected in 1854, and attended by 40 boys and girls
and 30 infants.' In 1861
the population of the village is noted as 1,169.
1883 the National School had 111 girls and infants and 66 boys on its
roll. The average
attendance was 54 boys and 84 girls and infants.
The average attendance at the British School was 60 mixed
of the credit for the building of the British School must go to the
efforts of Caroline Lindley who tirelessly raised money to provide
education for both children and adults in the Great Melton district.
original benefactor of the British School was Edward Lombe of Great
Melton Hall who financially supported the project but died in 1852 which
is the point at which Caroline Lindley enters the story.
visited her brother Joseph who was the agent for Edward Lombe. Caroline had a great interest in the provision of education
for children and, although by this point in her 50s and living in
London, she raised sufficient capital for the school to be established
in Henstead Road.
Lindley was a friend of London businessman William Ellis who, despite
having no connections with Hethersett, was to play a major part in
education in the village.
was manager of the Indemnity Marine Assurance Company and had a
reputation for integrity whilst being both successful and affluent.
He had little use for personal extravagance and devoted a large
portion of his income to education throughout the country.
wishes were for children to study Social Economy alongside the 3 Rs. This included the study of moral principles and behaviour
'leading to honest workmanship and reliable business dealings.'
Ellis believed these principles would lead to a happy and
prosperous society full of industry, skill, economy, sobriety, honesty,
punctuality, courage and fidelity.
established schools in numerous parts of London including the Birkbeck
School, London Mechanics (1848), the Finsbury Birkbeck School (1849),
Paddington Birkbeck School (1850), Bethnal Green Birkbeck School (1851),
Westminister Birkbeck School (1851) and Beckham Birkbeck School (1852). The Birkbeck schools were named in memory of George Birkbeck
a mechanics lecturer, scholar and philanthropist.
London he established schools in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leith, Manchester,
Salford, Blandford, King’s Sambourne in Hampshire, Dunton Bassett in
Leicestershire and of course Hethersett.
Caroline Lindley approached Ellis she found his heart as open as always
and in her diary of 23 July 1853 notes:
Mr Ellis’ answer to my letter, overjoyed with it and school bought.'
purchased the British School with money belonging to himself and vested
the property in four trustees – himself, his son Edward, Joseph
Lindley and Julian Hill. The
first management committee consisted of Caroline Lindley of London and
William Buckingham, William Morton, Benjamin Baker and James Spurgeon of
was obviously much taken with Caroline Lindley whom he described as:
'Possessing feelings ever ready to melt at the sight of misery and an
intelligence prepared to examine the various means suggested for its
relief, and to seize and apply the real ones.'
commending Caroline’s efforts, Ellis said: 'To us be the delight of
aiding her in her labour of love.'
altruism ran in the Lindley family as Caroline’s sister Kate founded a
school at Warmfield in Yorkshire.
National and British schools worked side by side until their
amalgamation in 1951, when it proved obvious that neither of the
existing schools could reach the standard in buildings and amenities
laid down in the Education Act of 1944.
the British and National schools were amalgamated in 1951 the British
School building was sold to the church and the proceeds used to
establish the Caroline Lindley Trust which is still in existence and
gives grants for the further education of men and women aged between 18
and 25. In this way the
name of Caroline Lindley lives on.
stated aims of the British School were to provide 'liberal and
unsectarian' education for boys and girls, teenagers and adults.
Sunday and evening classes were provided for working teenagers
and adults who couldn’t attend the day schools.
attendance in Hethersett became compulsory with all fees for elementary
education being abolished in 1891.
In 1918 ancilliary services such as medical inspections were
also hint at the existence of shorter lived educational establishments
in the village.
1836 White’s Directory hints at three 'Academies' in the village. There is the possibility that these could have been three
non-conformist schools run respectively by two people with the name of
Faulkner and a Thomas Matthews. No other records of these 'schools'
seems to exist.
advert appeared in the local press in 1851 stating that:
'Mrs Falkard’s preparatory school will open by Elizabeth Collins school
mistress. ' In addition the
census for 1851 mentions a private school in 'a house on the turnpike
between the Queen’s Head and the King’s Head.'
entry lists those involved in the venture as:
Collins school mistress (aged 38), Mary Collins a mother, Sarah Lock
governess (aged 22), Lucy Lock boarder (aged 11), Ringer boarder (aged
8, no Christian name given, Adele Lock boarder (aged 7), Alice Ringer
boarder (aged 7), Maria Collins boarder (aged 6), Harriet Mitchell
boarder (aged 5) and Emily Burn servant (aged 14).
was the British and National Schools, however, which continued to
dominate education as the village approached the end of the century.
number of log books of the National School have survived and give an
interesting insight into education in the village between the years of
1862 and the early 1900s.
entries cover the subject of poor attendances for a variety of reasons
including acorn gathering, fruit harvesting and numerous illnesses both
amongst the children and staff. There
seemed to be many other distractions, however, which kept attendance
down. These included:
Fair – small attendance' (24 March 1864)
in village – poor attendance (27 April 1865)
attendance –OldFellows arrive (22 May 1865)
of the boys absent to see soldiers pass through village' (6 October
very irregular – wet weather, many of the little ones having bad
boots' (10 October 1873).
managers felt that one way of getting more children to attend was by
raising the fees as the entry for 27 March 1874 states:
to raise fees hoping to ensure more regular attendance.'
times fees seemed to be arbitrary and at different levels for different
girls school fee was raised 1d per week on account of her irregularity'
(26 July 1878).
girls' section seems to be dominated by illness amongst both the
children and staff and bad weather which severely affected attendance.
There are many entries in the log such as the following:
'The usual monthly exam was held yesterday but owing to the week’s
holiday and the absence of teachers during the month, the results are
not as good as could be wished (19 February 1900).
time off seemed to be given on an ad hoc basis:
half holiday was given this afternoon as the greater number of the
children were desirous of seeing a wedding.' (17 May 1900).
the school was praised when the school inspectors attended:
– the school is very efficient.' (20 May 1868).
'Singing was marked with care and reverence. The writing out of prepared
portions of the catechism was excellently done. The tone and discipline of the school are excellent.' (25 May
there were a number of pupil deaths reported from illnesses such as
diphtheria and croup. The
teaching staff seemed to change on numerous occasions as well.
Mrs Sarah Rotherham resigned her post on 7 July 1871 to be
replaced by her sister Lucy Clark.
She returned as assistant mistress the following February, was
appointed temporary head mistress in May and left again in June.
On 12 April 1874 she resumed in charge of the school.
flavour of the teaching at the turn of the century is given in a list of
lessons approved by Her Majesty’s Inspector.
For the infants these included: Birds and their nests, ducks and
geese, the swallow, pigeon, insects, the ant, butterflies, Honey Bee,
fish, the herring, the salmon, corn, barley and wheat, hay and straw,
trees, stone fruit, cherry, plum, the apple, cabbage, onion, peas and
beans, the potato, rabbits and hares, the frog, hair, fur and wool,
umbrellas, railway stations, shops, the grocers and farms.
for standards one to three included many of the above plus feathers of
birds, birds wings, parts of a flower, pollen and its work, the house
fly, bees and their hives, the spider web, roots of plants and how
plants are nourished.
above this had subjects such as the geography of the British Isles and
Europe and the history of the Tudor period.
that time the school had four registered members of staff – E. J.
Stace (Certified Master), A. E. Stace (Certified Mistress), E. R. Prewer
and Mary E. Curson.
in 1920s Hethersett is recalled by Vera Wyatt who was born in the
village in July 1912 and still has vivid memories of the National
'I can remember my first teacher so well. Miss Casey, dressed in her starched white apron, so that her
black dress did not get dirty, and her strong but soft ankle boots.
'In the winter time she would also wear gaiters, which had to be buttoned
together using a button hook. She
was a maiden lady, and I believe that she really loved her little class
of little ones, as she sat in the middle and re-countered her stories,
and helped us to make models with our various coloured plasticine.
'She also made us start to read and write using copy books.
There was a line of impeccable writing with four clear lines
underneath which we had to copy.'
the years numerous comments have been made about the lack of space at
various schools. In 1900 a school inspection commented that at the
National School 'The infants room is crowded and it is hoped the
managers will see their way to enlarge it at an early date.'
83 years later the local Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury newspaper
was advocating additional space for the Middle School: 'It doesn’t
take a clairvoyant to realise that numbers will not always be falling. A decision to improve the school in the near future would be
a decision for common sense and the future well being of the children.'
village was occasionally the focus of education for the whole county of
Norfolk. The county free
library scheme was introduced in January 1925 when the National School
was chosen to stock 'books of every type' and a Mr Cann undertook to act
as librarian. In May 1925 the original old school was renamed the Church
Room and when not required for church purposes could be hired on
application to Mr Cann.
the Second World War the National School provided education to 30 war
evacuees, most of whom came from East Ham in London.
The school received no additional teaching staff to cope with
this influx. The majority
of the evacuees stayed until the end of the war and one girl remained
with her foster parents until she was an adult and then she married a
war certainly seems to have put off many proposed improvements to the
National School. In May
1939 there were plans for 'a better lavatory and cloakroom
accommodation, electric light, central heating and new floors.
' The work was deferred 'until the international situation became
appears to have been September 1945, when the Hethersett parish magazine
reported that improvements were to be made at the National School.
A canteen for meals and the installation of electric light to the
school and school house were planned.
suggestion that budgeting may not have been all the prudent, however,
came in an August 1948 appeal for contributions of about £60 to clear a
deficit before the new rector, Mr Townshend arrived to take his position
as chairman of the managers. It
is not clear from the records whether this amount was forthcoming.
being in existence for just over 100 years, the British School building
became the parish church hall. The
National and British schools amalgamated to form a primary school in
1956. This continued in existence until the present day Middle School
came into being in 1978.
year 1954 was the last one that the National School had children of all
ages. In September 1954 all
the children over the age of 11 were moved to schooling at Costessey
1956, four classrooms were completed to the north-east of the old
building and the children from the British School were transferred as
their building shut down.
Middle School in Queen’s Road has a number of the original 1860
buildings as well as a foundation stone from 1817.
Its full title is Hethersett Voluntary Controlled Church of
England School – again underlying the Christian ethos that still
opportunity for children to spend the years from the age of four to 16
within the village came about with the foundation of two new schools in
First School began its life in 1972 and was officially opened on Friday
11 January 1974, by Margaret Thatcher, who at the time was secretary of
state for education and whom of course went on to be one of the
country’s best known prime ministers of the twentieth century.
opening ceremony took place in front of many county dignitaries
including the Dean of Norwich Cathedral (again underlining the strong
Christian connections). The school’s stated aims were: 'To provide an
environment where children entering school for the first time can grow
in confidence and competence.'
school had an unusual look with the individual classrooms leading off
from a central hall used by the children for assemblies and other
functions. A nursery unit
was subsequently added to the side of the main building.
year 1972 also saw the opening of a swimming pool at the Middle School
which was used not only by the children but by the wider community.
quartet of schools for all ages was completed in 1979 with the building
of Hethersett High School on land in Queen’s Road adjacent to the
Middle School. The school
was officially opened by John MacGregor Member of Parliament for South
Norfolk. At the opening the
Chairwoman of Norfolk Education Committee Judith Walpole stated that it
was good to be present at a celebration instead of dealing with
the other major schools in the village, Hethersett High has expanded
over the years into one of the county’s top achieving high schools. It
opened with 210 pupils and a staff of 15. Today it has over 600 pupils.
It was built on a 'pavilion style concept with separate teaching unit
buildings grouped around a central library and resources area.'
the years the high school has experienced all of the usual problems
associated with educational establishments including complaints about
the inclusion of temporary classrooms.
In 1985 it encountered an unusual situation, however, when pupils
staged a protest to show their anger at the actions of members of staff
who they claimed were threatening their chance of exam success in their
fight for improved pay.
teachers can go on strike at another time of year that doesn’t affect
exams,' they told the local press.
Barrie Frampton dismissed their allegations and called the pupils
'misguided as public examinations had continued as normal.'
school’s immediate future was under a greater threat in the year 2000
when a serious fire destroyed computers and sports equipment and also
caused considerable structural damage.
Despite this the school hit back with a building programme to
bring it back to strength.
well as the state education schools, Hethersett boasts one of the
country’s top independent girls schools – Hethersett Old Hall
School. This provides day
and boarding facilities for girls aged between four and 18 and boys aged
from four to seven. At the
time of going to print the school had 271 pupils which included 46
Hall School was founded in 1928 by Mrs C. P. Andrews as a preparatory
school at Hellesdon House near Norwich.
She opened the school for her two daughters, a niece and three of
the girls’ friends. Mrs
Andrews turned outbuildings into classrooms and staff flats and new
teachers joined. Hellesdon House had the feeling of a country rectory
but soon became too small.
moved to its present site on the former A11 at Hethersett in 1935 when
Mr and Mrs Andrews quickly added a dining room, new classroom and a
gymnasium. As the second
world war approached, the number of pupils reached 50. Over subsequent
years the historic Georgian house has been at the centre of development
and modernisation whilst keeping its essential character.
the war the school was re-located to Hay Tor in Devon due to concerns
about the safety of children in Norfolk.
On returning to Hethersett, the staff and pupils found the Royal
Army Service Corps ensconced and so the school took up temporary
residence at Old Catton, just outside Norwich.
When the Hethersett site was de-requisitioned, it once again
returned to be a seat of learning.
Andrews relinquished control, handing over to Mrs C. M. Brabner and Miss
M. P. Thomson. Mr and Mrs
Andrews continued to live at the school, however.
In 1950 the estate and enterprise was purchased by Miss
Christabel Lewin. The old
stables were converted into teaching areas with the hay loft transformed
into an art studio.
1958 Old Hall School had over 100 pupils aged from 5 to 12 and six Arcon
temporary buildings were purchased from a defunct United States air
force base. A senior
department was developed in 1965 as the school catered for 200 pupils,
aged between seven and 16, including 60 boarders.
1969 the school was granted full independent recognition by the
Department of Education and Science and a Board of Governors was formed
in 1972 when the school was registered as a charitable educational
trust. Alterations and
improvements continued although some of the more fanciful ideas such as
a dining hall with clock tower (1974) and cloisters (1980) were shelved.
Christabel Lewin, the school had a succession of head teachers including
a Mr Ramsden, Miss Pilgrim, Miss B. Wharton and Miss H Beswick – in
fact six Heads in an eight year period before Mrs Victoria Redington
became Head in January 1983 and worked tirelessly for many years to
modernise the school. In
1986 Jim Prior M.P. opened a new £105,000 teaching block which was the
third phase of a £170,000 extension programme.
The block included new laboratories, a computer room, economics
room and subject teaching areas.
village archives contain many interesting snippets from the history of
Old Hall School. Early
publicity states that the number of pupils at the school is deliberately
kept small due to the fact that the 'happiness, personal development and
well being of the girls is the first concern.'
development of the character and personality of each girl is vital.
Each is encouraged to work for some definite career, be a useful
daughter at home and serve those less happily situated than herself.'
aims didn’t always seem to be achieved, however. In 1982 the soon to retire Head, Hilary Beswick, accused the
pupils of 'intellectual complacency and a lack of practical common
'At worst this manifests itself in the girl who thinks that her parents, having paid the fees, her mere presence at lessons will guarantee academic success.' Miss Beswick urged the girls to put more efforts into their studies.
another occasion a report showed concern that: 'a number of the girls
have been slimming unnecessarily.'
the past few years all Hethersett Schools have been the subjects of
first rate reports from Ofsted (The Office for Standards in Education).
The future of the 3Rs in the village is in good hands just as it is
today and has been for almost the past 200 years.
FOOTNOTE: The education system in Norfolk and therefore in Hethersett changes once again from September 2007 when First and Middle Schools will be done away with and replaced by Infant and Junior Schools. This means that Woodside First School will lose its Year 3 pupils and become Woodside Infants' School and Hethersett Middle School will lose Year 7 but gain Year 3 and become Hethersett Junior School. Hethersett High School will gain Year 7 pupils