1848 - National School

Day schools were established by the National Society for the Education of the Poor and the British and Foreign Schools Society, who represented the Church of England and
Nonconformist denominations respectively. This Victorian village school was typical of many that were administered by the Societies. Attendance in schools was not made compulsory until 1870 and, apart from enforced absences through epidemics of diphtheria, scarlet fever and smallpox, rural life placed frequent demands on the schoolchildren's time - for bird-scaring in spring, fruit-picking and haymaking in summer, and especially during harvest. What might a typical lesson have been like in schools such as this?

'Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!' The scene is Mr M'Choakumchild's 'plain, bare, monotonous vault of a schoolroom' in Dickens' Hard Times and the speaker is Mr Gradgrind, politician and educational theorist. There were many similar schools, in which knowledge was drummed into children and lessons were conducted under constant threat of 'the stick'. But it was an equally undeniable Fact that, by the time these words were written, something like two-thirds of the population (many of whom had been taught in schools such as this) could read a newspaper, write their names and count their pay. A Parliamentary Select Committee of 1837, however, had complained of 'lamentably deficient' working-class education in England and Wales. Many teachers could barely read and write and classes were often entrusted to older children. This National school, at Nayland in Suffolk, was built in 1848 and originally had about 80 pupils. As might be divined from its layout, the boys occupied one half, the girls the other, with infants later having their own small building elsewhere in the village. Usually there were two teachers and two 'pupil teachers'. In the 1850s it was transferred to the British Society - the National school had apparently got into 'a bad way' owing to 'the schoolmaster taking to drink' - and in 1900 it became a Board school. Some pupils from Nayland won scholarships to further education but the majority would, by their early teens, have left school and started work. This school closed in 1957 when a new one was opened in the village and - scarcely altered externally - it is now a private dwelling.

1817 – Factory School

1859 - Mechanics' Institute