Schooling In West Haddon

School Life

The school year

The school year ran from November 1st to October 31st until 1955, when it was changed to run from September 1st to August 31st. At the end of each term the school was dismissed at a Church service.

School started with register at 8.55am (as it does over a century later), lunch from 12 until 1.45pm then closing at 4pm. The hours are the same today, but lunchtime has gradually reduced to shorten the day (now 3.15) and save on heating. Early in the 20th century the hours altered twice a year. Lunchtime was reduced by half an hour from November to March, so that children could get home before dark (daylight saving did not come into being until 1916), and during July -so that the children could take teas up to the hayfields. On the day of the Pytchley Hunt Meet, school would close at 11am and reopen after lunch, otherwise attendance would be low. This appears to have ceased by W.W.II.

Throughout the nineteenth and first half of the Twentieth Centuries, it was common in rural areas that an important part of a family’s income came from what they or their children earned working as casual agricultural labourers. Time off was given for such reasons as blackberry, pea or potato picking, or bird-scaring – in fields or orchards. Amongst the girls there were also many instances of absenteeism due to having to stay home ‘nursing’ siblings whilst Mother worked in the fields. There was also absenteeism for ‘gleaning’ corn left after harvesting and used for chicken feed and collecting acorns (probably for pig feed).

An ‘Act to Regulate the Employment of Children in Agriculture’ set out to limit the number of days a child could be absent from school for the purpose of agricultural labour. Certificates of attainment or of minimum attendance were required before a child could legally be employed during school time. An amusing log report states ‘J.G. re-admitted on 4th to make up his attendances, left on 11th having attained required attendances under Agricultural Children’s Act.’


Dates of holidays were only announced a month beforehand. There were 2-week holidays for Christmas, 1½ at Easter and Whitsuntide and 4 weeks in August at Harvest time, this could vary according to harvesting and sometimes was as late as September. In addition there were days off to attend Church on Ash Wednesday and Ascension Day and for Sunday School Outings (both Chapel & All Saints), also when the School rooms were required for General or Parish Council elections or the annual Rummage sale or Church Bazaar. This no longer happens as the village hall is used.


November 9th 1874 – West Haddon Feast Day – Half day holiday.

July 25th 1882 West Haddon floral fete day

May 24th 1940: the ordinary timetable was suspended as usual for Empire Day observance. During the morning the lessons concentrated on Empire topics. In the afternoon parents were invited to join he staff and children in hymns and prayers, with an address from the Headmaster followed by the saluting of the flag and singing the National Anthem. There was a tableau representing Britannia and the colonies, the children then sang national songs and gave a display of dancing and skipping, and two pounds, seventeen shillings and sixpence was raised.

May Day



All children had to learn the ‘Three R’s’. The lessons of the Upper school also included singing, history and geography. Whilst the girls learnt sewing, knitting and weaving, the boys learnt map drawing, woodwork and gardening. Whatever they produced was often sold for school funds. For example in 1906 when an average salary would have been £?? : pillowcases were sold for 8d, pinafore 10d, petticoats 1/6, an apron 10d, overall 2/-, nightdress 3/6, duster 2½d, a pair of cuffs 2d, needle-case 1d, a handkerchief 1d, and a kindergarten toy 1d.

The school garden was at the top of the school grounds next to the schoolhouse, which is now part of the playground.

Gardening was such an important part of the school curriculum

Photo of Boys gardening?

that in 1914 it was part of the Head Masters job description.

It was taught to the boys of the upper school – those over 11 years, whilst the girls took needlework.

On February 10th 1915 Mr Lawrence, the Gardening Inspector, visited and advised to get the garden ready for sowing’.

It was especially important during both World Wars when the produce made a valuable contribution to rations. Prices for vegetables in 1919 were: broccoli 2d, cauliflower 2½d, peas 4d a lb, cabbage 1d, marrow 2d, broad beans ½d, potatoes 1d a lb or 9/4 a cwt., beetroot 1d a bunch and flowers 1d a bunch.

In March 1917 39 eggs were sent to Northampton hospital.

Photo of boys and new shed?

A gale destroyed the old tool shed in 1938 so the boys made a new one in their woodwork classes. Until it was finished the tools had to be stored in the soil house behind the girl’s lavatories. Whilst Mr Lattimore the Headmaster supervised he made a spinning wheel for the girls. REMOVE IF NOT USING PHOTO

The school log for 1952 reads; March 21st” Received potatoes for the school garden. In October, ”Mr Viles, Asst. Horticultural Instructor, called to see the school gardens. The school was regularly visited by the Horticultural inspector and received many awards for its efforts in the garden during the forties.

it was recorded in a school log for September 1982 ‘picked all the cooking apples from the tree to sell at 5p a pound for funds.’

Although that school garden had been long gone, a small piece of land was cultivated in 2002 (check) where children grew flowers and some vegetables at an after school club. In 2008 along with an upsurge in allotments in the country as a whole a part of the school field was again set aside, and fenced off, for cultivation.

A pond...