Mr. A. H. Bailey (chairman of Rushden Urban Council) presided and the speaker was Mr. G. E. Churchill, deputy education officer for the county.
Welcoming the speaker, the Chairman said that the residents were very hazy about what was likely to be the future development in Rushden, and there had recently been disquieting rumours of delay in the provision of much overdue schools in the town.
Mr. Churchill said that the development plan drafted by the Education Committee had not yet come into force, and had not been approved by the Minister. He reviewed briefly the duties of local education authorities under the old Act and showed what was required under the new Act.
Though the Act required sites for schools to be large, exceptions had to be made in schools which must be kept going inside towns where expansion was impossible.
School buildings also, where possible, had to conform to new and better plans. Rushden Alfred-street School, under the development plan, would accommodate very many more children.
Estimated capital costs were £500 for site works and £50,000 for the buildings, that cost to be incurred in the years 1959 to 1967.
Provided that schools were built fairly recently, they were not to be pulled about.
The present development plan was divided into three stages (1) the nursery stage (voluntary attendance), (2) primary, for infants 5 to 7 and juniors 7 to 11, (3) secondary for children of 11 plus.
The Tennyson-road School, Rushden, would be the town’s nursery school. It was proposed to build a new one on that ground. The size of classes in junior schools was to be reduced from 50 to 40 when enough teachers were trained.
More women teachers were wanted, as they, rather than men, had charge of younger children.
The county development plan proposed the closing of two schools in the Rushden district Chelveston (the children to attend the school at Higham Ferrers and Newton Bromshold (children to attend schools in Rushden). Village schools were of great value to the village community as a national social centre, and in the advantage to the villagers of the presence of the headmaster or mistress. But there was difficulty in the “one-teacher school” of giving proper education to children varying in ages from 5 to 14.
Secondary education was to be given to all children in future instead of to only 10 per cent. Wellingborough Grammar School and Wellingborough High School were probably the best in the area, but even they did not come up to the new regulations for buildings and so on.
Until new secondary schools were provided, there was bound to be competition to get into existing grammar schools, because everybody knew they produced people who got good jobs.
Experiments would have to be made in the new modern schools, many of which had still to be built. Of the 31 for the county, two would be in Rushden the present intermediate School and another at Tennyson-road still to be built.
Each would be of the “three-form entry,” giving 30 scholars to each form 90 at each school.
The speaker finished by describing briefly the measures for dealing with children unfit through physical or other causes to attend ordinary schools. He said the plan was flexible because it was impossible to plan for ten or 15 years ahead.