Occasionally the schoolmistress would receive a visit from an aggrieved parent:
7 May 1896 - ‘Mrs Sharp came to complain because I sent her boys’ names
to the attendance officer. I told her I would see
her after school hours.’
1 Nov 1897 - ‘Mrs Thrussell came to school just after the children had
left at 4.25 and abused me with great
vehemence, the cause being that I had kept Violet Thrussell in for ten minutes only,
for talking. She had no justification as the girl had had no harsh punishment.’
To assist the teacher, older female pupils were appointed as paid monitors (they
were described as ‘engaged’). In Preston, the first five monitors appointed were
a farmer, blacksmith and a butler - not from labouring families. They were aged 11-13.
Their duties included passing on the teacher’s instruction, keeping order and chasing
the absentees. Later, monitors were older girls like Ellen Smith who was still working
in the role in 1881 aged 22.
Some flourished as monitors - Bertha Peters was still at her post in 1901, aged 23,
having been a monitor for 10 years. In 1897, it was written of her, ‘Bertha Peters
had to take the infants entirely. She is a good help’ and she ‘has kept the infants
fairly up with their work’.
Other monitors were not so effective. The first monitor, Annie Marriott, resigned
weeks after her appointment. Matilda Swain was reproved ‘for allowing her class to
talk during a writing lesson’. Clara Frost was similarly reproved and resigned two
The headmistress, Miss Hunt (who had a somewhat confrontational style), took another
assistant to task in April 1898: ‘I have asked Miss Coleridge not to put her pointer
so heavily on the new pictures as it spoils them. She reacted in an angry temper
and said I had told her that before. I intended no offence but she seems to
think I have no right to speak of anything and treats me quite rudely if I do so.’
Not surprisingly Miss Coleridge left two months later.
The upheaval resulting from many changes in the teaching staff affected the
quality of education.
These comments were made in 1896: There were ‘grave difficulties’ with the
school; and ‘the fifth standard boys are very bad writers. I attribute this to the
frequent changes of teachers’.
After 1880, the school attendance hovered between 70 and 89 as pupils left school
or moved into or from the village. As the attendance grew, there was clearly a need
for help. The report following the annual inspection in 1882
said, ‘A considerable increase in numbers has increased the difficulty in
teaching this school...an assistant teacher should be engaged at once’.
The assistant teachers were a mixed satchel. Fanny Cain had an ignominious beginning
in 1889 - six weeks after she started it was logged that,’Miss Cain
took the order of the room this week - not very satisfactorily’. Five years later,
in 1894 it was reported that she was ‘careful and painstaking but necessarily inexperienced.
Hence the method of teaching especially in elementary subjects
is defective’. However, Fanny taught at the school for eight years and when she resigned,
Rev. B. Switzer (one of the school managers) presented her with
‘a bag subscribed for by the children’. Another manager, Canon Hensley, gave
Fanny taught longer than Edith Noble. A few days after Edith started it was noted,
‘the assistant cannot keep order and cannot teach first and second standards satisfactorily,
she therefore wishes to resign her post’.
Mary Walker lasted three months - ‘Miss Walker has had to go home today through ill
health. She has not been fit for work since she came’. Another assistant, Emma Parker,
left immediately after three village women made complaints about her treatment of