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Everton School

North elevation of the school in 1895 [CDE24]
North elevation of the school in 1895 [CDE24]

A pamphlet produced for the centenary of the rebuilding of the school in 1996 [E/Pu15/1] states: “The founding of the school at Everton, on the present site, dates back to 1837 and seems to have been initiated by the Reverend Challis Paroissien, Vicar of Everton cum Tetworth, with the consent of John [Kaye], Bishop of Lincoln. Among the trustees were several fellows from Clare College [Cambridge], William Astell of Everton House and John Banks Hollingsworth, Archdeacon of Huntingdon. The indenture of 6th February 1837 states: “The said Challis Paroissien is desirous that a school should be founded and established within the parish of Everton cum Tetworth for the Education and Instruction of Poor Children”. Challis Paroissien and subsequent vicars of Everton cum Tetworth were to have “full management of the school” which was “to be conducted in conformity with the principles of the National Society”. Between 1833 and 1839 State finance was provided indirectly for school buildings through the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor; and Everton received one of only ten grants made to Bedfordshire Schools - £42 for new school buildings. The site chosen for the school, forming part of the Glebe belonging to the Vicarage of Everton, was valued at £25 by William Webb Gardner, land Surveyor of Biggleswade”.

“It is not possible to judge how successful this school was - there may be evidence of its affairs in vestry minute books. Challis Paroissien remained vicar until 1839”.

The first Education Act was passed in 1870 (more correctly it was known as the Elementary Education Act). It was a milestone in the provision of education in Britain demonstrating central government's unequivocal support for education of all classes across the country. It also sought to secularise education by allowing the creation of School Boards. These were groups of representatives, elected by the local ratepayers and the Board had the powers to raise funds to form a local rate to support local education, build and run schools, pay the fees of the poorest children, make local school attendance compulsory between the ages of 5 and 13 and could even support local church schools, though in practice they replaced them, turning them into Board run schools (known as Board Schools). Naturally, and luckily for local historians, the Act required a questionnaire of local schools in 1870. The return for Everton noted that there was a National School with accommodation for eight children: “Required: Accommodation for 80 children at Everton. If Everton National School be at once made efficient by supplying suitable desks, books and apparatus, building properly separated offices for boys and girls, and appointing a certificated teacher, and if it be so enlarged as to accommodate not less than 80 children in all, no further accommodation will be required”. In 1873 Everton and Tetworth formed a School Board, under compulsion from the Board of Education in London, so that a suitable school could be built.

The centenary pamphlet quoted above [E/Pu15/1] states that the old schools buildings were cramped and a concern of the School Board and School Inspectors by 1891. In 1893 the number of children on roll was 102, 70 from Everton and Tetworth and 23 from Gamlingay Heath [Cambridgeshire]. The Board of Education in London sent a letter stating that the school buildings were insufficient and that it would only recognise them for a limited period. After some debate Gamlingay School Board agreed to part-fund the construction of replacement premises at Everton and plans were drawn up in 1896 [CDE24], the new school being complete the following year.

A land mark Education Act was passed in 1902, coming into effect in 1903. It disbanded the School Boards and gave day to day running of education to newly formed Local Education Authorities, usually the county council, as in Bedfordshire. The old Board Schools thus became Council Schools whilst the old National, British and other non-Board schools became known as Public Elementary Schools.

Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service has a scrapbook of cuttings of visits made to most Bedfordshire Schools by School Inspectors for a period from just before the First World War through the inter-war years [E/IN1/1]. The first entry in the volume is dated 3rd July 1909: “The claim of the Local Education Authority for Grant to the above-named School has received the consideration of the Board and payment will shortly be made. It is observed that the average attendance exceeded the number for which the School is recognised. Care must be taken that the requirements of Article 19 of the Code are fulfilled”.

The first inspection report is dated 3rd March 1911, average attendance 88: “The School is in good order and improvement has been effected since it was last reported upon, particularly in the Lower Division of the older scholars. Much of the work of the Upper Division is very creditably done. Reading, Handwriting and Composition deserve praise. Arithmetic is not so strong as the other subjects, but this is probably due to interruption of the work by sickness and changes in the Staff. The Infants continue to be kindly, intelligently and successfully taught and an excellent tone prevails. The Managers should check the Registers more frequently”.

Lack of resources meant that no inspections were carried out during the Great War. The next inspection was on 15th May 1922 when average attendance was 77: “The general condition of this School is quite creditable. Adequate progress is made in the Infants’ Class and in the lower division of the older scholars, and a considerable proportion of the work of the top group - Arithmetic, Writing, Composition and Reading - is good. Drawing, too, is quite well taught. Physical Exercises are satisfactory as far as they go, but the time has arrived when a step forward should be taken in this subject. The teaching of Singing which is really poor, should improve”.

The next inspection was on 14th April 1924: “The general condition of this school continues to be very satisfactory. Almost all the work of the top group (Standards III - VII) is good, and Arithmetic, Composition (Standards VI and VII), Geography and History are distinctly above the average. The Singing of this group has markedly improved and Physical Exercises show some advance, but are not yet quite on the lines of the latest Official Syllabus. In Drawing, Brushwork is decidedly creditable, but Pencil Drawing is less satisfactory. Good general progress is made in the lower group (Standards I and II) also in the Infants Class”.

The next report is very short and confined to the toilets: “The offices at my visit to-day smelt very offensively; perhaps more frequent flushing would prevent this, which I understand is not an uncommon state of affairs”.

The visit of September 1926 was restricted to a report on the school garden and on gardening lessons: “The garden is rather small, only about three-fifths of a rod being cultivated by each boy. Good use however is made of the small area available and excellent crops of vegetables and a few flowers are grown. Tools should be better arranged in the shed and more thoroughly cleaned. No notes or records are kept by schoars. The work is good so far as it goes but its range is decidedly narrow. On the other hand little time is devoted to it, only an hour a week from spring to autumn”. In 1927 the school became a council junior mixed school for children up to the age of eleven.

In October 1930 average attendance was 52: “This Junior School, notwithstanding a serious epidemic in the Summer Term owing to which every Infant except one boy lost several weeks attendance, is in a promising condition. There is a general keenness on the children’s part to show their work, and evident interest in it: in the upper section (Standards I to V) the desire to use good phrases and appropriate words in their written English, and the pleasure in learning a variety of poems, are both noteworthy: while in the Infants section quite a number are asking for little sums to do as “Homework”. One or two children are very bright; and one or two families are rather slow, if not quite in the ‘dull and backward’ category. The examinations are very fair in character, and the work seems to reach a creditable standard considering the recent epidemic, and the comparative inexperience of the Infants’ Mistress who is improving very rapidly and working well”.

The last inspection in the volume is for February 1937 when average attendance was just 37: “The Head Teacher has been in charge of this school just over two years. The organisation is sound’ the Schemes of Work are suitable and records of individual progress are kept. Periodic reports are sent to the parents and to the Senior Schools when the children are transferred. A satisfactory level of work has been maintained. Writing, however, still needs more care and points in connection with the grouping of children for Reading, Geography and History were discussed with the Head Teacher”.

“Good use is made of the small space in the infant room. The training here is on sound lines and the progress is satisfactory. The Head Teacher and her Assistant are to be commended for the excellent supply of number and letter apparatus they have made, and for the care with which it is arranged. Improvements are being made to the premises by the addition of a storeroom and caretaker’s room. The offices also need modernising and the windows in both rooms, although large, are all well above the children’s heads. The courteous behaviour and friendly co-operation of the children with each other, and with the staff, makes a visit of inspection a pleasure”. In the margin has been hand-written a note to congratulate the headteacher.

East elevation of the school in 1895 [CDE24]
East elevation of the school in 1895 [CDE24]

The third of the great Education Acts was that of 1944 which established the principle of County Primary Schools for children up to the age of 11, at which time they took an examination to determine the nature of the secondary school they would attend until they were 15, the most academically able going to grammar schools, the rest to secondary or secondary modern schools. The act also created two types of successor to the public elementary schools - the Voluntary Aided and Voluntary Controlled schools. Voluntary Aided schools are those in which the Local Education Authority funds the school but the governing body is independent, they are usually Anglican or Roman Catholic schools. Voluntary Controlled schools own their own buildings whilst the staff are employed directly by the governors.

In the 1970s Bedfordshire County Council introduced comprehensive education, doing away with the 11+ examination and grammar schools and introducing a tier of school between the old CountyPrimary and CountySecondary Schools. Thus Lower Schools now taught children aged 4 to 9, Middle Schools from 9 to 13 and Upper Schools from 13 onwards. In 2009 Bedfordshire County Council was abolished and the new unitary council, Central Bedfordshire, became local education authority for Everton.