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South End School playground
South End School playground – places a serious handicap on the organisation of playground sports events because of the lack of space.
The picture of the railings shows the supports which are a constant
menace to young shins.

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 8th July 1955, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Part of the ‘Spotlight on Rushden’ series

Crammed primary schools may turn away new pupils

Rushden junior and infant schools are so overcrowded that teachers say an educational breakdown will threaten if registers grow much larger.

New zoning measures are proposed that will spread the load more evenly over the schools, but this is not considered to be a long term solution.

Rushden’s growth, prosperity and large child population are placing the Victorian infants and junior school buildings under heavy pressure.

The large number of children is accentuating the shortcomings of buildings put up when educational standards were much below those of today.

National Policy to Blame

This problem at Rushden is not only to do with the post-war high birth rate “bulge,” or increased number of pupils, which has now reached the “eleven plus” age group and is passing into the secondary schools.

Rushden’s educational worry is also due to younger children crowding the primary schools.

The town is suffering because national policy now is to concentrate on secondary schools in which the large number of children born in the immediate post-war years can complete their education.

Rushden is getting its share of the expansion of the secondary schools through improvements at North End and Tennyson Road.

But this, it is feared, may push the primary schools out of the picture, and teachers comment: “We are afraid we may have missed the bus.”

The new Tollbar and Queen Street estates, in which young families live, are the homes of many of the children who are now straining accommodation at the Alfred Street and Newton Road schools.

At Newton Road, eighty children will leave the junior school at the end of the summer term, but 130 are due to move up from the infants’ school.

This means that as matters stand there will not be enough room for them, and thirty or forty may have to stay down in the infants’ school.

The effect of not “going up” when they should is likely to handicap them in preparing for the schools examination in a few years time.

In turn, this may affect the intake at the infants’ school, and it is feared that there will be no room for some children who have reached school age.

Attic Classroom

Newton Road is the school which not only uses the hall for classes, but which has been compelled to bringing a totally unsuitable attic into use as a classroom.

A hissing cistern is fixed on the wall above the pupils, the teacher has to stand in a window alcove to lecture, the stairs are narrow and steep, and try as they may the class has been unable to find a position for the blackboard where reflections do not spoil the view of some children.

A new classroom for the school has been promised since last August.

Classes of Fifty

At Alfred Street school the staff faces a similar position. There are several classes of fifty and over, and the hall has to be used as a classroom

A new classroom is expected to free the hall, but work on it is only in the early stages.

South End school has a problem all its own, for, although bordered by a large area of vacant land, the playground is so small that each child has only about three square yards in which to play.

The 306 children have 939 square yards of playground, which includes many odd nooks and corners too small for lively games

The school has tried staggering playtime so that infants and juniors are not out at the same time, but this is not practical because the noise of some children at play disturbs the others.

Other sources of complaint are the fact that children leaving their class for any reason often have to push through and disturb another class; the inadequacy of lavatories, and lack of staff room.

Beside and below the play ground runs a slimy and inviting brook. Projecting supports for the iron railings are a danger to running children.

Some of them anxious to see improvements say that at the last local election both political parties expressed concern about some of these things, but nothing has been done.

Meanwhile, because of the movement of young families away from it, Tennyson Road infants’ school is being denuded of pupils, and there is space there that the crowded schools could use.

Staffing, too, is a problem. Recruitment of teachers is now difficult because of the competition from well-paid jobs on the administrative and scientific side of industry.

Rushden, in common with other places, is feeling the pinch and finding more teachers would not be easy.

Already some staff members travel each day from Northampton and Huntingdonshire.

Unfair Conditions

“About a hundred new families settling in Rushden would be enough to cause the education system to break down, in that it could not absorb all the children” was one assessment of the position this week.

But Rushden, it seems, will “get by,” though the effect on teachers and children of their crowded working conditions is hardly fair to them.

Rushden children as any caller at the schools will find, are clean, tidy, bright, and with excellent manners.

They deserve some at least of these handicaps to be speedily removed.

The Rushden Echo, 4th February 1966, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Call for New School to Beat The ‘Bulge’

Rushden primary schools are overcrowded. Class numbers are only being kept below the danger mark of forty by utilising school halls and other accommodation which, under normal circumstances, would be frowned upon by education authorities.

The fight to contain the bulge – which is likely to get worse instead of better – has now been taken up by the primary committee of the Northamptonshire Education Committee. It has called for a new eight-class primary school on the East-field Estate in 1967-68.

At the moment the overcrowding has not reached the stage where it is affecting primary education in the town. However, if the birth rate continues to expand at the present rate primary schools are going to be faced with a major headache.

In 1959 there were 266 live births in the urban area. In 1964 the total was 319. These figures do not take into account the number of people who moved into Rushden from other areas.

At the moment the average size of primary classes in Rushden is 35 pupils and the average size of the infant classes is 33. This means that some classes have probably already reached the forty-plus mark.

A County Hall spokesman on education told the “Echo” that after the summer term, which is always the fullest; the average could increase to 36 or 37.

Only Way

He said they had only been able to keep classes down to a reasonable average by using school halls and other accommodation for classrooms.

Rushden has three primary schools – Alfred Street, Newton Road and South End. All three are old and outdated buildings.

It is true that a modern extension has been built in Wymington Road for South End. Even so, the primary education committee has been told that the number of children on the roll of the primary schools is so great that when the South End extension is completed – in September – there seems no immediate possibility of substantially relieving the position.

Mr. R. R. Lawrence, headmaster at Alfred Street School, said there were 326 children on the roll and one class had to be accommodated in the hall. He thought an extra classroom would solve the present difficulties.

Newton Road has been using the hall as an additional classroom for fifty years. The headmaster, Mr. F. Dyment, said he was very pleased to hear about the new school.

South End is in a happy position now that the Wymington Road extensions are almost completed, but the headmaster, Mr. F. C. Astle, admitted that, with the influx of children from the new housing estates in the area, the running of the school would have broken down without the new buildings.

More of 'Spotlight on Rushden 1955'

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