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The History Of Our School

School, with the first headmaster writing in the Log Book “Commenced School after the Harvest Vacation.  John Fincham – Master.”  Since that time headteachers have stayed for only a year or so (John Fincham 1871 – 1872) and Mr Tink (1872 – 1873), but others have stayed, and left their mark on the school, pupils and village alike – Mr Knights (1889 – 1922), Mr Stafford (1922 – 1941) and Mrs Dennis (1977 – 1998).

The school took the children through their whole school life – in just two classrooms.  The current Large Room was split into two with a curtain across, both these classes were taught by the headteacher, and a pupil teacher – who was generally a young person from the village who had no qualifications, but worked their way through the system by learning “on the job” and the Small Room the headmaster’s (usually) wife who taught the youngest children.  In this way upwards of 90 children were taught, and the large numbers, and the custom of the time, meant that almost all lessons were taken with the children remaining seated at long desks and forms.

Taken at the turn of the century with the school and main door behind

Taken at the turn of the century with the school and main door behind

With it being a Church School the local clergyman took a keen interest and the Log Books speak of regular visits by the Reverend whoever of the time – who would examine the children on their scripture knowledge.  Other regular visitors were the Molyneux- Montgomerie farmily who lived at Garboldisham Hall.  The School is pleased to continue close liaison with the Church, having all major celebrations such as Easter, Christmas, Bible Presentation and Harvest in the church, to which everybody is invited, and also School assemblies from time to time.  These services are taken with our present incumbent and/or ‘guest’ Rectors.  In addition, the school goes to the Methodist Chapel once per term to celebrate an assembly there.

In the early years, the school was also home to an Evening School where older children could continue their education having completed their allotted formal education time

Attached to the School was a School House, which was for the use of the Headteacher, and later was let, by the Church, to a tenant.  When the last tenant died, the School requested, and was granted, it’s use, and in the 1990’s FROG’s Hall came into use providing the School with a Library, Technology room and much needed storage space upstairs.  More recently upstairs in FROG’s Hall has been revamped to provide a head teacher’s office, a resource store and small working area.

With numbers in the school remaining high, extra space was required to provide smaller class numbers, and two “temporary” mobiles were placed in the front playground.  Sadly these somewhat dilapidated buildings remained in place for over 30 years, but were finally replaced in 2005 with two new purpose built classrooms in the shape of the Victory building.  So called because it was built in the bicentenniel of Admiral Lord Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar – and a victory to have got rid of the mobile classrooms!!!  In addition, a field to the south of the school was leased from a local farmer, and the School now has its own adjoining playing field.

Taken at the turn of the century with the church behind. The wall which they are standing against is still there

Taken at the turn of the century with the church behind.  The wall which they are standing against is still there

Whilst hot meals have been cooked and provided on-site since the 1940’s, the School still lacked a dining hall, but through prudent use of the School’s Capital Devolved Budget, sufficient funds were secured to build new kitchen facilities and dining area, but through innovative design, this area was made suitable for a School Assembly Hall and overflow teaching area.  This new build was officially opened in summer 2013 and has proved an invaluable asset.

However, nothing in education remains static, and with the introduction of a new curriculum in 2014 it was realized that the School required a further classroom space.  Funds, as always were at a premium, but a self-help scheme, allowed us to purchase a fully insulated, double glazed log cabin, completed during the Summer Holiday, which has proved a great hit with staff and pupils alike.  Also to accommodate this new curriculum, the School joined Norfolk County Councils “Refresh” Scheme, which has allowed a complete re-vamp of computers and ancillary equipment throughout the School.  Currently Staff and Governors are working towards the building of two (2) toilets and the re-modelling of the cloakroom in the Victory building, to provide much needed extra toilet provision for the older pupils.

Re-modelling of the grounds of the school has been undertaken through much help of the Parents and Friends of the School, and has resulted in the charming environs seen today.

This is a picture of the school dated 1906

This is a picture of the school dated 1906

The School Log Books provide a fascinating insight into School (and village) life over the past century and more.  In 1877, on September 18th, attendance was very bad with many of the children still gleaning in the cornfields, owing to bad weather having prolonged harvest.  Whooping cough, in the days before vaccination, appears to be an annual scourge on attendance, it being commented upon in 1883, and similarly school was closed in February 1891 because of an outbreak of measles.

It is interesting to note that today, the majority of pupils come from outside the Garboldisham catchment area – a sign that so many small village schools have closed – viz. Blo Norton, South Lopham, Bridgham,  Eccles, etc.  We are fortunate that our School remains vibrant and viable with presently over one hundred pupils, but we do have to remain vigilant and ready to “fight our corner” to ensure that the traditions and education which has been provided for so long in our charming buildings, continues.

Mary Feakes
Ex Chair of Governors