The salary paid to the Head depended on attendance, so it was important that children attended every day! Many questions were asked if you missed a day. There Lindfield’s village school eighty years ago was a man employed by The Board of Education to chase up absentees and it was a disgrace if the School Board Man was seen at your home! I remember Mr Newman held this position while I was young. He lived in the cottages facing the Common near the Pond and his son ‘Chic’ was a great friend of mine. Older children were often kept off to help at home in times of need.
Lessons were very formal. There was a lot of repetition and learning to read meant reading round the class and woe betide you if you missed the place in the set book. This must have been agony for those who found reading difficult. Arithmetic came straight from a text book with sums to copy. Writing was copy work from the blackboard on to specially lined paper. There were history and geography lessons and drawing but very little painting.
I remember competitions arranged for collecting and displaying wild flowers, leaves and twigs. I remember my parents helping to mount my collections on sheets of brown paper.
Full article available on pages 20/21.
By Eric Dawes
I was born in Lindfield in 1926 and attended the Village Council School from 1932 to 1938.
The old school on the Common was a good well-built Victorian building for children from 5 to around 14 years old. There were five or six classrooms, those for the older children were ‘stepped’ with several levels, like a lecture room.
There were no corridors and windows were set high up – no doubt to avoid any distraction during lesson time. Heating was basic in the form of a ‘tortoise’ stove near the front of the classroom. The caretaker would fire these up early in the morning and then the teacher would keep them going with coke all day in the winter. The cloakrooms were simple - cramped, cold and not well appointed. A few crude sinks provided cold water and a drinking tap. They were not heated and very wet coats were sometimes hung on the large fire-guard round the stove. Toilets were outside in the playgrounds – one for girls and Infants and one for boys.
Classroom desks were long, seating four to six children with a little shelf underneath for books and papers. Dual desks came later. All desks had holes for the little china ink wells. There were great tall store cupboards, a blackboard and easel and a tall stand-up teacher’s desk (near the stove!) There were some very uninteresting pictures on the walls, alphabet letters for the lower classes, times tables for Juniors and maps and diagrams for the Seniors.
Punishments were handed out in school and there was little reference to parents over this. Discipline was strict but always fair. The cane was used frequently – boys on the hands or backside, girls on the hands, always administered by the Head. Teachers had a favourite ruler that was used on knuckles to ‘correct’ bad writing, talking in class and poor work. Playtime could be stopped and younger children made to ‘stand in the corner’ for long periods. Keeping children ‘in’ after school was common.