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Transcribed by Jacky Lawrence
Chelveston School Log Book 1895/6


Jan 21st.               

The school was opened as a Government School this morning. The attendance was fairly good. The classification of the children is extremely difficult, many of an advanced age being unable to count or say their Alphabet. Therefore it has been necessary to place in the Infant Department many children who should properly be high up in the Mixed Department. Again in the Mixed Department boys of 12 and upwards are put into St. II as they have never been to school and are ignorant of the first rudiments. They have up to now worked, in the majority of cases as farm labourers all day long. There is practically no school apparatus at present; though some necessaries are on order they will probably not be here before the end of the week. Hence it is not possible to work systematically until everything is here.

Nell and Harry Dawson
Nell and Harry Dawson
Photo courtesy of John Bottomley
Note: George Harry John Dawson in partnership with
Messrs Walker and Turner founded Walturdaw.
For convenience of registration and for teaching I have grouped the children of the upper school into two classes.  Sts. IV & III make up the

1st class and Sts. II & I make up the 2nd Class.

Owing to the very neglected state of the children I am grouping low for the first school year and am taking the work of the first four Standards only. I intend to adopt Scheme ‘S’ for this year.

The staff at present consists of myself – George Harry John Dawson, Trained Master; my wife Ellen Dawson as assistant under Art 68 for Infants and a girl Eleanor Brittin as Monitress.

Jan 22nd.

Bad weather prevented a full attendance the snow being very thick upon the ground. The attendance was 70 out of 75 on the books. The Rev. E.W. Forrest visited the school.

Jan 23rd.

Attendance very low, numbers of Infants not sent on account of snow. Several older boys and girls are in the habit of staying away in the mornings without having obtained Labour Certificates as Half Timers. I have stated their case to the Managers as being peculiar. There having been no Government school here prior to Jan 21st 1895, numbers of children are over 11 and go to work but have not passed the Bye-law Standard (III) and therefore cannot legally be Half-timers unless special arrangement can be made for them by the Department. I have advised the Correspondent – the Rev. James Dun – to write at once for advice on the subject.

Jan 25th.

First week ended with a much smaller number of attendances than promised at beginning. Have asked the Correspondent to represent to the Managers the fact that Eleanor Brittin is not old enough to teach all day as a Monitress and the need of getting someone capable of helping Mrs. Dawson with the Infants.

Jan 25th.

Apparatus arrived this morning. I have adopted ‘Westminster Readers’ and ‘Waverley Readers’ for both the groups of older scholars. For Infants in I & IIs Longmans ‘New Readers’ and ‘Waverley Primer’ with a set of the National Society’s Graduated Reading sheets. The Infant Boys do drawing instead of Needlework. Three new children admitted. Attendance low. Snowy. Complaints made from parents that schools are not sufficiently warm for Infants in the mornings & they are accordingly kept at home.

Feb 1st.

The average for this week is low owing partly to bad weather and partly to the fact that there are still a number of children under 14 not attending. Rough Timetables are up in both Departments on approval. The Syllabus for the older Scholars for the first school year (about 6 months I am told) consists of:-

Arithmetic Scheme S
Reading in the two groups from 2 sets of Reading books, Waverley Readers and Westminster Readers
Needlework  for Girls. Mrs. Dawson finds the Girls very ignorant about Needlework and so is taking Needlework as a Class Subject so that the work may be thorough; the time given to Needlework is 3 hours per week.
Geography I am taking Scheme S for the boys
Drawing  The usual requirements. Infant Boys (not Babies) do Drawing, Squared Copies and squared slates and books.
Singing  Tonic Solfa throughout the school and songs. Children have never (with one or two exceptions) had any previous acquaintance with Tonic Solfa and the work is therefore very difficult with them.

Feb 4th.

School attendance not materially improved. The work of Discipline and Organization is very difficult, the children, especially the boys, being very rough and quite unused to any restraint. The Syllabus for Infants, besides the three Rs makes provision for Needlework (Girls) and Drawing (Boys). Singing and Recitations: Marching and Singing: Musical Drill: Paper Folding and Mat weaving for Infants, Bead Threading & Brick Building for Babies.

Feb 8th.

The weekly average shows a slight increase. The attendance is low principally on account of weather.

Feb 11th.

Owing to the entire lack of knowledge concerning the rudiments of Drawing I am taking all Standards at present as a whole class for ruling Geometrical figures on slates and then making a Freehand copy of the ruled one. I have singled out six of the best boys and allow them to draw on paper after making good copies on their slates.

Feb 12th.

The Infants have been taught three songs during the last fortnight:-

                                                                ‘Marching Song’

                                                                ‘Little Boy Blue’

                                                                ‘A Doll Ditty’

The Infants march to the first named song. I find the noise, which is of course inseperable from Infant Teaching, interferes considerably with the work of the older scholars. This is owing to there being only a slight partition afforded by a pair of curtains.

Feb 15th.

Average for past week lower than the previous week. Many children are ill with colds. Chilled feet etc. During the past month Mrs. Dawson has taught the Babies ‘Hurrah for the Postman’ as Recitation and the other Infants ‘The Sparrow on the tree’. The first class of older Scholars have learnt ‘Six Blind men of Indostan’ and second class have learned (in past) ‘The Coming of Spring’.

Feb 22nd.

Average better this week though not good. The breaking up of the prolonged frost has had a great deal to do with it as Infants are sent more regularly. The Babies have learnt partly a new Recitation entitled ‘Mary and her cat’. The Infants take great interest in their Varied occupations. The girls have a very poor knowledge of needlework and Mr. Dawson finds it very difficult to make any headway with them.

Feb 26th.

Holiday in afternoon for paperchase.

Feb 27th.

Had the Attendance officer in and gave him names of several irregular attenders and of several non-attenders. He called at one or two places.

Feb 28th.

Notice of Managers Meeting.

March 1st.

Appointed Grace Blackman to help half a day each day in the Infant School. Nellie Brittin and Grace Blackman will therefore take alternate weeks to teach in mornings & the afternoons for the present. I have represented the desirability of appointing a Monitress qualified to teach whole days but it is impossible to find a fitting person at present. The average is better for the whole school.

March 4th.

Grace Blackman commenced her duties as Monitress this afternoon. Attendance bad this morning a lot of children away with bad colds.

March 5th.

Admitted two boys from Raunds. Family removed to this village, both backward. Admitted a village lad this afternoon named Thomas Holyoak. On Monday Frederick Harrison, a lad nearly 13, attended school for nearly the first time in his life. He hardly knows his letters.

March 6th.

Admitted new girl. Mrs. Dawson unable to take sewing this afternoon owing to severe neuralgia.

March 8th.

Improvement in Attendance. I have found it necessary to move Kate Allen from Standard III to St. II owing to irregular attendance and deficient groundwork of knowledge.

March 11th.

Grace Blackman away from school with bad throat and influenza.

March 13th.

Mr. Parish the Attendance Officer called and I gave him a list of irregular children.

March 15th.

Attendance is better in the average than it has been hitherto reaching 70.6. I have taught the boys and girls in mixed Dept. A song entitled ‘On the sea’ by Donizetti. The boys and girls have alternatively had play in the portion of the playground which is completed.

March 18th.

Grace Blackman still away with Influenza and a throat trouble bordering on diphtheria.

March 22nd.

Attendance better. Several boys have left having reached the (Thrapston) Bye Law Exemption age. Viz. 13.

March 25th.

Great gale yesterday damaged the school to such an extent as to render it unsafe. School to be closed his week to allow for repair.

March 29th.

Owing to bad weather the school is not repaired as yet.

April 3rd.

School not opened until this day (Wednesday). Attendance low.

April 5th.

Average for the last week lower than it should be. Several children have not attended at all this week.

April 9th.

The Rev. J. Dun visited the school and checked the registers for the Quarter.  Jas. Dun Correspondent   Nellie Brittin is attending all day as a scholar and now the average is nearly 80 the staff is not sufficient. The Infants Dept. has 49 children in it and has only one teacher (Art 68) attending 4 hours a day. I have no one to help me with the upper division. Mr. Dun has promised to endeavour to secure an Ex. P.I. in order to bring the staff up to the minimum.

April 11th.

This afternoon Registers were closed at 1.30 so as to break up for Easter at 3.30. It is proposed to open school again on Wednesday next.

April 17th.

Opened school again this morning. Attendance rather low.

April 18th.

Re. Jas. Dun visited the school I again represented to him the great disadvantage I was working under. There are 90 children on the books 53 of these being infants. The only assistance I am given is that of Mrs. Dawson who is supposed to attend as Art: 68 for four hours a day. Consequently for the remaining hour and a half I am wholly unassisted in the management of nearly 90 children. I have repeatedly asked the Chairman of Managers to provide an Ex. P.I. to assist with Infants and Needlework but no steps are taken to remedy this.  I have asked for assistance repeatedly (see p. 12) but to no effect.

April 23rd.

The Vicar visited the school. I again asked him for assistance as there are 92 on Books, 53 being Infants. He informed me that a meeting was to be held this evening by the Managers to consider staff.

April 24th.

Last evening the Vicar said that an effort would be made to get assistance.

April 29th.

A temporary monitress has been engaged to assist with the Infants, Emma Todd.

May 1st.

The school was closed this morning at the desire of the Managers on account of the large absence owing to May Day festivities of the children of village. Opened in afternoon with an attendance of 46.

May 3rd.

Have taught the children in the upper Department four songs viz.

                                                                ‘On the sea’       -              Donizetti

                                                                ‘Humpty Dumpty’

                                                                ‘Sleighing Song’

                                                                ‘The Tin-maker man’.

May 6th.

On Monday morning the Attendance is always slack. I have sent lists of bad attendance to the Officer but have seen or heard nothing from him for a month. This afternoon Mrs. Dawson is away to attend a Confirmation at Irchester. The arrangements are therefore altered – Tuesday afternoon’s work being taken this afternoon; whilst on Tuesday the girls will have sewing and the time-table lesson for Monday.

May 8th.

The Attendance Officer called and promised to look up Frank Horford, Herbert Barfield and Amelia Sparkes who attend only 5 times per week.

May 10th.

We are still working the school without sufficient help. Ever since April 2nd I have had the whole school upon my hands for the first hour every morning.

May 14th.

Sent list of irregular attendances to the Officer at Thrapston.

May 16th.

School under Mrs. Dawson’s superintendence for an hour or two this day.

May 22nd.

Elsie George, a candidate on probation, commenced duties this morning. Finding the working of scheme ‘S’ in Arithmetic too difficult for the attainments of the children at present, I have decided to take Arithmetic in each Standard as in Scheme A.

May 24th.

Class II, upper division have learnt ‘The Voice of Spring for Recitation’. I found today that only 2 out of 20 children can tell the time by the clock.

May 27th.

Re-admitted Mary Jane Ashford to the school.

May 31st.

The week’s work has been very satisfactory. The children have attended very well and taken some pains with their work.

June 5th.

Amelia Sparkes was summoned by Attendance Officer for coming 5 times per week instead of 10. The magistrates dismissed the summons and remarked that as the girl was 12 years old it was quite time she could help her mother half day. They said the fact of her not being qualified for half time was the fault of School Trustees in not having a Government School sooner. They ordered her to attend school 5 times per week.

June 7th.

Attendance very fair considering the fact of its being Bank Holiday week. Monday and Tuesday were given as Whitsuntide Holiday.

June 11th.

Rev. E. Forrest visited the school.

June 14th.

Throughout this week I have given arithmetic on paper to Sts. III & IV. They work very creditably considering their previous ignorance of penmanship.

June 19th.

Mr. Parish, the Attendance Officer came and took names of children who attend irregularly.

June 21st.

I gave the boys in Sts. III & IV a test examination in Geography this morning. They answered very well indeed. Average is 72.2 this week.

June 25th.

The first class (Sts. III & IV) have learnt ‘Twilight’ by Longfellow for recitation in addition to ‘The Better Land’. Paper work in this class done very well indeed.

June 28th.

Registers close today for School year. It is proposed to give the children a week’s holiday next week being Feast week.

June 28th.

                                I have examined the School Register

                                & found [     ] marks correct.

                                                                                                Jas. Dun

The Vicar has supplied me with new Registers.

July 1-5

Chelveston Feast week. School closed.

July 8th.

Test examinations in preparation for the visit of H. M. Inspector on Thursday 11th.

July 9th.

Forms IX and 60 filled up and signed by Managers.

July 10th.

Proposed course of Object lessons for Infant Department 1896 Examination:-

1 Vegetables etc. 2 Animals, birds etc.
1. Potato 5. Cow 10. Swallow
2. Apple 6. Horse 11. Owl
3. Tea 7. Sheep 12. Spider
4. Orange 8. Cat 13. Mouse
9. Hen 14. Rabbit
3. Natural Phenomena 4. Trades 5. Objects
15. Rain 20. Blacksmith 25. Pens
16. A River 21. Shoemaker 26. Pencils
17. The Sun 22. Baker 27. Matches
18. The Sky 23 Bricklayer 28. Chair
19. Frost 24. Carpenter 29. Coal
30. Clock

July 11th.

Mr. Varnon, H.M.S. (Assistant) Inspected this school. The Examination was very searching. The following three songs were presented:-

1. ‘Out on the Sea’                                          } The first and last

2. ‘Sleighing Song’                                          } songs were heard

3. ‘Humpty Dumpty’.

Infants. The following songs were prepared:-

1. ‘Little Boy Blue’. 2. ‘Gaily Singing’. 3. ‘Sing a song of sixpence’.

The first and last were sung. Afterwards the Inspector gave one or two exercises in Tonic Solfa. The examination was not conducted by ‘sample’. Each child took all subjects. The examination did not conclude until 1.30 pm and a holiday was given in the afternoon.

July 12th.

A fair attendance and a good average for week.

July 15th.

Mr. Cartwright H.M.S visited the school, checked the accounts, and viewed the school offices, furniture etc. He also saw the Musical Drill. New Desks were recommended by him throughout the School, also new cupboard and apparatus. He gave the children a half holiday. He inspected the needlework specimens.

July 19th.

Several of the children who have passed Standard IV have ceased attending and the attendance is rather poor.

July 24th.

Have grouped desks differently as suggested by H.M.S. and taken the older children from Infant School.

July 26th.

Gave half holiday. Four girls have left having passed Bye Law standard.

July 31st.

One more girl left school. I have received new apparatus, comprising new board & easel, new books, drawing materials, globe, compass, word building frames etc.

Aug 4th.

Being Bank Holiday – School closed this day.

Aug 7th.

Received from Vicar notice that Drawing Examination would be held next June.

Aug 15th.

I have [            ] & called names of sufficient number of children in Registers & found their names duly entered.

                                                                                                Jas. Dun

Aug 16th.

School closed this day for Harvest Vacation. Date fixed for return being September 16th.

Sept 16th.

School closed for one more week on account of harvest operation being unfinished.

Sept 23rd.

School opened this day. Attendance moderate. Gleaning is still about and children are kept at home for this purpose.

Sept 27th.

The attendance this week in afternoon has been bad. Average 58.2

Oct 4th.

Attendance improved this week (68.1) Admitted two new children.

Oct 8th.

The Arithmetic throughout the School is progressing favourably, the children are beginning to show some intelligence in their work. I am classing the two Standard IV boys with the boys of St. III for Geography of England. I find the new globe and Mariner’s Compass very useful indeed.

The Report 1895

                                                Verbatim Copy of H.M.S.’s Report

Mixed School    

‘The School has been under the New Teacher barely six months and considering the very backward state when he took charge it is evident that he has done his best to raise the low standard of attainments. The order in the upper part of the School is fairly good, but the babies are restless and somewhat disturbed by the elder children. Reading and writing are very fair but promised to improve. Arithmetic is very weak except in the Fourth Standard. The boys know but little Geography at present & for the Second Standard a small globe is necessary. Needlework is good. A start has been made in Singing by note. A book cupboard is needed and many of the desks are old and should be replaced by new ones’.

Infants’ Class    

‘About half the so called Infants’ Class consists of children who, under ordinary circumstances, would be in the first standard and upwards. These should be formed into a preparatory class of their own. Fair progress is being made and on the whole satisfactory results may be expected next year. The gallery desks should be re-arranged. Useless benches give the room an untidy appearance’.

My Lords note that though Drawing has been taught to the elder boys, they have not been examined by the Science 7 art Department. The Grant is paid this year under Art 92 of the Code but I am to remind you that Art 85(b) requires as a condition of Annual Grants that the instruction in Drawing shall satisfy the Science & Art Department. Application should be made at once to the Secretary of the Science & Art Department, South Kensington S.W. in order that the School may be examined before the end of the current School year. 

                                                                                                Jas. Dun

Oct 10th.

3 pm.     I have just punished four boys – John Webb, William Brittin, George Allen, Manning Browning for improper behaviour to girls on the way home from school. Complaints were made to me this afternoon at 2 pm by Mrs. Curtis whose daughter, Agnes, had been molested this dinner time. In investigating the matter I found that the practice had been going on for some time and further that the same boys were the principal offenders. In order to stop the low moral tendency of these acts I have punished the four boys above mentioned with the cane upon the hand. John Webb and William Brittin received 4 stripes – Manning Browning & George Allen 2 stripes each in the presence of Ellen Stock, Lizzie Stock, Hilda Twelftree, Kate Allen, Agnes Curtis – schoolchildren; Mrs. Dawson, my assistant and Elsie George, monitress.

                                                                                G. H. J. Dawson
                                                                                                Head Teacher.

Oct 11th.

Average somewhat better. Vicar visited the school.

Oct 17th.

Meeting of Managers at 4.15 pm. It has been decided to have doors and back put on bookshelf as the cupboard is so damp and quite unsuitable for keeping books in.

Oct 18th.

The School is opened three evenings a week now for a continuation class. Attendance this week not so good children have been away odd half days potato picking.

Oct 21st.

Admitted 3 new children.

Oct 23rd.

The Vicar visited the school.

Oct 25th.

The attendance is still rather slack. Monday mornings and Friday afternoons especially suffer.

Oct 28th.

The Vicar came in and gave the order for renovation of school cupboard.

Oct 31st.

Mr. Chettle, a non-resident manager visited the school this afternoon for the first time since the change of Management.

Nov 6th.

Received Drawing Circular from Education Department.

Nov 8th.

Average for week is 73.

Nov 12th. 1895

I called certain names in the School Register & found them duly entered.

                                                                Jas. Dun

Nov 15th.

The average is still good, 72 this week.

Nov 18th.

The attendance this morning was rather low owing to prevalence of bad colds. Attendance 57 out of 80.

Nov 22nd.

Average low for this week on account of illness.

Nov 27th.

Attendance very bad (38) – closed school and held no afternoon session.

Dec 3rd.

School closed this morning on account of illness. Elsie George, the Monitress for Infants away ill.

Dec 5th.

Managers decided to close school on account of illness. School to meet again on December 31st (Influenza Epidemic)


Jan 1st.

School opened yesterday with an attendance of 52 in morning and 67 in afternoon. Have notified the Inspector.

Jan 6th.

Better attendance this afternoon (73). The mixed school boys & girls have started reading & spelling from their second set of Readers.

Jan 8th.

The children in mixed department have started to learn a new song called ‘Little Pedlars’.

Jan 10th.

The Vicar visited the school and handed to me A Proficiency Schedule from H.M.S. certifying that Arthur Blackman, Ellen Brittin, Laura Twelftree & Lily Curtis had passed St. IV at the last examination July 1895.

Jan 14th.

Have commenced Arithmetical Cards with Standards III & IV. Sts. I & II can do notation very well indeed now.

Jan 17th.

School progressing satisfactorily. Rev. J. Dun visited.

Jan 16th.

Mr. J. Gill – Sub Inspector, visited the night school and inspected the work of the Boys principally, he having inspected Girls in December.

Jan 21st.

Have left the school for some time today in hands of Mrs. Dawson as I am suffering from abcess in internal ear.

Feb 10th.

The School has been closed since Jan 22nd owing to serious illness of Head Teacher. H.M.S. was notified by Hon. Correspondent of School closing & by Master when school reopened. During this period the Gallery steps have been widened and the desks placed more conveniently. Curtains have been placed over the doors and the windows mended. The firegrates have been repaired.

Feb 17th.

School opened this morning with an attendance of 76 out of 82 on books.

Feb 21st.

Vicar visited School and tested Registers. Average for week 73.6.

                Feb 21 1896.       I have called a certain number of names in each

                School Register & found the entries correct.

                                                                                                Jas. Dun

Feb 26th.

The Rev. B. Clifford – Cullwick visited the School.

Feb 28th.

The average this week had been affected by the leaving of two families of children numbering 7 who have only attended part of the week. They have removed to Raunds. The average is 71.

March 5th.

The spare benches and boards which had hitherto been stored in the school were removed this morning.

March 6th.

The card work in Sts. III & IV has been very well done this week. A difficulty is found in getting round both Stds. To explain problems to and at the same time conduct lessons in Sts. I & II. The Reading of St. I is backward and the spelling in St. IV boys. The work in the Infants’ division is good special attention being given to spelling in the First Class from Dictation & reading in Class II & Babies. Word building is taken systematically and has a good effect.

March 9th.

Elsie George, the Monitress for Infants is absent through illness.

March 13th.

There is a poor attendance today owing to a circus in a neighbouring town. It has pulled the average down to 63.

March 13th.

Miss George has been absent all the week through illness.

March 18th.

The Drawing of the Boys is fairly satisfactory. The best of the Infants are allowed to do their Drawing in Books ruled with squares. St. II Paper work is good with one or two exceptions. I encourage the drawing of thin lines. St. III & IV are doing good work, especially St. IV.


Several children absent this week from illness. Average 67.8. General work of the school for the week is satisfactory. Dictation in Mixed School is not good yet, mistakes being made in small words. Practice is wanted.

March 27th.

Improvement is shown in drawing of Infants in Squared Books. The Drawing in St. IV is very good, the boys taking great pains with it. The general work in School for the week has been satisfactory. An alteration in lessons has been made each day in order that Sts. I & II might have Dictation which seems weak as yet. In Infants’ School the preparatory St. I has had special attention. Mental Arithmetic requires a lot of time devoted to it.

April 1st.

The attendance is small this week owing to prevalence of colds amongst the children. One new boy has been admitted to the Infants’ School this week. The Vicar visited the School on March 31st.

April 2nd.

School closed this (Thursday) afternoon for Easter Holidays. It is proposed to open school again on Tuesday April 7th.

April 7th.

School opened this morning. Bad attendance. Present 50. Many away visiting.

April 8th.

Registers closed at 9.15 this morning so as to finish ‘two hours secular instruction’ by 11.15. From that time to 12 it is proposed to take Scripture. Notice of Scripture Exams on April 24th is posted up.

NRO Ref SLB 19
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