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Goldington Green School

Goldington Green School about 1900 [Z50-51-21]
Goldington Green School about 1900 [Z50/51/21]

Goldington School Board was created on 9th February 1872. It took over the running of Goldington Green School, built in 1866 “at a cost of £1,400 raised by subscription, for 174 children” as Kelly’s Directory informs us.

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 & 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 entry in the scrapbook is for January 1909: “Mr Alexander and all his staff deserve the highest credit for the admirable state of efficiency in which every class of this school is maintained. Reading is clear, distinct and intelligent. Writing is excellent and Arithmetic taught on modern and intelligent lines. The other subjects of the curriculum - a very full one - appear to be equally praiseworthy. The fact that a closure of three months did little or nothing toward impairing the efficiency of the school - so quickly did the children regain lost ground - speaks volumes in praise of the thoroughly sound educational work done in this school top to bottom”.

The next visit was in November 1911: “This School is well organised and in all Classes the instruction is characterised by thoroughness, intelligence and success. Order and tone are excellent and the level of efficiency reached is highly creditable to the Head Master and his Assistants. The feature of the School deserves special commendation viz. the remarkably good handwork done by the boys”.

Because of a lack of resources no inspections were carried out during the Great War. The next inspection was in November 1920, when average attendance was 115: “The better staffing of this school has led to marked improvement in the efficiency of the teaching. Indeed the school has not for a long time shewn to such advantage. Better progress is now made by the scholars in the Mixed Division as they move from class to class, and the attainments reached by those in the top class are creditable. The Arithmetic of these is particularly strong, and, in Geography and History, the children not only possess knowledge, but can express what they know. There is a good supply of reading books and the benefit of the wider reading that is thus made possible is clearly shewn”.

“Meanwhile the Infants’ Division has not stood still. The teaching of the youngest children has greatly improved; the older ones have made very satisfactory progress in the elements of Reading and Arithmetic. In both classes there is much of that happy interest which characterises a well-taught Division. An experiment in allowing a weekly period for Free Occupations which has been made in the Upper Classes of the school, has met with considerable success. The occupation chosen by most of the children is Nature Study, and remarkably good collections of wild plants have been made. In this and in other subjects the Staff give their best and the children respond”

In November 1923 average attendance was 160: “The condition of this school is most creditable to the Head Master and to his Assistants who are working very well indeed. The work begins with real keenness in the Infants’ rooms, where the children go ahead with enjoyment in the hard work which they are expected to do. In the upper school this enthusiasm continues: the usual curriculum is sensibly and easily covered, and the Botany books of the children contain good and varied collections. The subject arouses great interest - in fact one child discovered a gipsy wort said by authorities not to be found in this county. Handwork, painting, the use of the “Free Time” school records, and “private study” all deserve a word of praise. As the Head master is very far from strong, his work and organisation should receive special recognition”. Andrew B Alexander had been headmaster since at least 1898.

The next inspection, in July 1925, was confined to the premises: “In view of the information that certain improvements to the school buildings are contemplated, I should like to suggest that as the room used by the lower class of the Mixed Department is awkward for Teaching purposes, an extension should be made into the playground, sufficiently large to allow that end of the room which is very dark to be free for storage or other useful purposes. There would seem to be no objection from the point of view of playground space. The Physical Exercises can be taken (as was done at Cardington in Mr Young’s time) in the space in front of the school: in the Girls’ Playground: and on the green”.

The final report in the scrapbook dates from February 1929, when average attendance was 135: “Since the present Head Teacher has been here, a most interesting and successful form of liaison between the school and the community has been initiated. Some two years ago he and others concerned formed a Parents’ Welfare Association to further school interests for present and past scholars, and to provide equipment and facilities not provided, or not fully provided, by public funds. This Association has been the main channel through which a full sports equipment, a flagstaff, a piano and a gramophone have been supplied to the school. A powerful wireless installation which may be used in the school but is for use by past scholars and members of the Association after school hours, is also about to be obtained from the same source. Funds, too, have been raised to take parties of children to Plays of Shakespeare at the theatre, and to Folk Dancing demonstrations and festivals. The school and its life are thus closely linked with the village; there are now 105 members, drawn from Parents, Managers and local Residents. The Master and his Committee have been very materially helped and guided by the Head Master of the Secondary School in Bedford to which the children sometimes pass on”.

“The School contains 4 classes. The Infants’ Class is conducted by a very able Mistress and is a remarkably well taught and very happy class in which the children progress naturally and very rapidly. The top class contains the 3 standards V, VI, VII and is in the hands of the Head Master. He finds “Standard V” rather behind the normal when they reach him but by the time the children have passed through the second and third years under his charge they have improved enough to justify high commendation of the Master’s own work. It is in the Third Class that the excellent start made in the Infants’ Room discontinues: it is in the hands of an ex-Infants’ teacher, who, employing oceans of red ink in correction  and much kindly remonstrance and exhortation, has not the driving nor disciplinary power to get the children further. In the Second Class the teacher begins to catch up some of the lost ground; but here again progress seems hardly commensurate with the hours she must spend in correction. Consequently children make errors in the higher standards that should have been eradicated before they reached the top class. This was specially noticeable in tests given to Standards V and VI in Arithmetic and Composition, whose work was below the normal in too many instances. Even the Head Master, probably trough over anxiety is inclined to correct far too meticulously, so that some corrections of important mistakes in Composition do not carry enough weight. In Physical Training too a lot of time is given to explanation of elementary positions which should be perfect years before this stage”.

“Singing is a good feature and the children read Music at sight well. There is some appreciation of literature and the recitation is said well, though there is some reluctance to recite individually. Besides the usual library books there are two good encyclopaedias of which good use is made. The following comments on certain aspects of the work will, it is hoped, be useful. As to the errors in V, VI mentioned above. The mechanical work in Arithmetic is weak. Spelling: examples f mistakes from 6 papers in VI were - bean (been), Arther, figer, thro (throw), quarrel, persewt, (k)nown, colonie, sivilized, pleasent, magnificiant; from Standard V, - as past, befor, Reichard, captian, enjoining, as to lay in bed. This goes to show that the correction has not been effective; as the mistakes must be either careless or owing to the training not getting home”.

“The silent reading test was well done in all three Standards. The cardboard models are well executed but the Drawing is only fair. This criticism applies to the other classes also. The children are well behaved and very fair under examination tests”.

In 1934 Goldington was absorbed into Bedford Borough. The borough ran its own schools under specially deputed arrangements from the local education authority and, since the scrapbook is restricted only to schools run by Bedfordshire County Council, it was no longer included.

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. Goldington became a County Primary school.

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 1974 Bedford schools also returned to the control of the county council as Local Education Authority. In 2009 Bedfordshire County Council was abolished and Bedford Borough became, once more, LEA for Goldington. Goldington Green. The school, however soon became an academy, freeing it from a considerable amount of LEA control. In 2017 the school status changed further when it became a primary school for children aged up to eleven as three-tier education in  Bedford Borough slowly and patchily reverted to two-tier - primary and secondary.

Goldington Green Academy June 2017
Goldington Green Academy June 2017