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Studham School

Studham School about 1920 [Z1130/117]
Studham School about 1920 [Z1130/117]

Kelly's Directory for 1885 contains the following entry: "Church of England School (mixed), erected, with master's house, in 1874, at the cost of Earl Brownlow, for 140 children; average attendance, 140; it is supported by a voluntary rate; William Henry Cartwright, certificated master; Mrs. Amelia Cartwright, sewing mistress". Earl Brownlow was Lord of the Manor.

A land mark Education Act was passed in 1902, coming into effect in 1903. It disbanded the School Boards, which had been set up in various places under the Education Act 1870, 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 (such as Church of England Schools, as in the case of Studham) became known as Public Elementary Schools. Studham Church School duly became Studham Public Elementary School administered, in part by the Local Education Authority and in part by the Diocese.

Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & 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 report dates to 1911, when average attendance was 57. "The main, and only room, should be divided into two portions by a moveable glass partition. As it is at present the Infants interfere greatly with the instruction of the older scholars and moreover cannot without so doing be treated suitably and in accordance with their tender years". Two years later the inspector found: "The school is doing quite satisfactory work and order and tone appear to be thoroughly good", he went on to note that the infants could now be attended to without distracting the older scholars by "kind and liberal provision of a partition by the Managers".

The first inspection recorded after the Great War was in 1922 when: "The school contains several children who are said to be very slow in development". The inspector was unhappy that "The books throughout the school are untidy and badly written and at present correction is not properly done. This must be improved. Speech work, too, is at present poor". By 1924 the average attendance had sunk to 38 but the inspector noted that standards were improving, for example, amongst the older children "There were then only two children capable of work in advance of Standard IV; there are now nine". In 1925 the inspector listed a catalogue of things wrong with the buildings including: "Heating. The temperature of the Infants' room from Jan. 6th - march 19th is recorded as 47° [8.3°C!] or lower 33 times. the stove in this room is cracked so that smoke comes through. The Teachers suff paper into the cracks but this is an ineffective remedy".

By the time of the 1926 inspection report tings had changed: "Since the last report the school has been reorganised as a Junior Mixed wit hchildren up to 11 years of age only" older children now went elsewhere. "The school is not inefficient but it is very far from satisfactory", still reading and speech were considered below average the infants, for example "are helped too much in their difficulties in reading; their misplaced or omitted aspirates and bad vowel sounds are not corrected" as ever the inspector was not a fan of a Bedfordshire accent! The reort for 1929 was brief: "The school nder the present teachers is settling down to work of a much more promising type than has been possible to report hotherto. There is marked improvement: much remains to be done, but the prospect appears to be very hopeful".

Two visits in 1930 and 1931 were reported together, the inspector noting: "At the earlier visit there were 51 on roll; the numbers have now fallen to 36, a much more manageable quantity. Of the children present in 1930, 8 presented special difficulties, such as Mental Deficiency, Chorea, Fits, Asthma, and migration through many schools. Seven of these have left or been excluded on medical certificates. Their last examination papers show improvement. Six others have left whose work also showed a great change for the better in the past two years….As far, then, as the 7-11 section….on this record, and on the work seen in progress at the two visits, the Head Mistress may be congratulated. It is not, however, so satisfactory in the Infants' section, where the tendency to help the children over difficulties in reading and the absence of a properly considered scheme of instruction in this subject result in grave backwardness".

The next report, in 1934, was more promising: "The work of the Infants' section has much improved owing to better methods of Instruction adopted since the last report". the older children continued "to do well" and one child in particular was singled out "In particular the advance in reading of a mentally defective boy, who, curiously enough, is unusually shaky in the use of his hands, and the speech work in this and other cases call for recognition". The final report in the book dates to 1937 when the improvements were marked: "This small school in the heart of the country is conducted with remarkable success by an understanding Head Teacher, who has the complete confidence of the children….The Mistress takes great interest in new developments, attending courses - which involve late hours and long walks late at night - in Luton and elsewhere; and deserves every credit for what she is doing. She supervises the Infants' class, where the Supplementary Teacher is now becoming more useful, with patience; and deals with the more backward children from two large families with kindness and success".

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. Voluntary Controlled schools own their own buildings whilst the staff are employed directly by the governors. Studham school became a Voluntary Controlled County Primary School.

Elevation showing additions to Studham County Primary School 1955 [P86/29/2]
Elevation showing additions to Studham County Primary School 1955 [P86/29/2]

In the 1955 plans were drawn up for additions to the school [P86/29/2]. The plans called for new classrooms to be built at the end of a long corridor running from the 1874 school house which had toilets and a store room running off it [P86/29/2].

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 County Primary and County Secondary Schools. Thus Lower Schools now taught children aged 4 to 9, Middle Schools from 9 to 13 and Upper Schools from 13 onwards. Studham school became a Voluntary Controlled Lower School.

Studham Lower School April 2007
Studham Lower School April 2007

Today [2010] the school is in modern buildings, completely separated from the 19th century school house. This latter building is now private housing.

 The School House January 2010
The School House January 2010