There are two forms completed by Rev. Gordon for the Department of Education but obviously not sent. One concerns Miss Hardwick, completed probably in 1876 and another, following her resignation, about Mrs Daws the teacher appointed to fill her place. It may be that these forms were not sent because Reverend Gordon died in December 1877.
Questions asked by the Department of Education concerning teachers in the school appear to modern eyes to be very intrusive. They ask about the moral probity of the teachers and how they spend their free time. Miss Hardwick was described as never having been reprimanded for laxity of morals and she described her evenings as being spent in inspecting the girls’ needlework and the boys’ knitting, self improvement, attending choir practice conducted by the clergyman’s daughter, and ‘home duties which include keeping my cottage (or at least trying to keep it) in order myself, planning for my plain, simple though comfortable dinner for the day following and at least ironing one hour on Sunday evening.’
To improve their chances of getting a good teacher, the Reverend Gordon then asked Colonel North if they could restore the cottage into one house again to attract a good teacher.
Judging from Mrs Daws’ answers to the questions asked by the Department of Education they did not succeed. Born on 13th May 1851, she had had seven years experience as a teacher before coming to Elsfield. She was not certificated, not willing to be, and had had no training. She had assisted for twelve months in a school which was under inspection in Wormbridge, Herefordshire. She was married to a carpenter and they had two daughters aged eight and five, both born in Wiltshire, so they were obviously newcomers to the village. Mrs Daws was considerably less forthcoming about her evenings than Miss Hardwick, merely stating that they were spent in family and household concerns.
The school at this time had nineteen pupils and the form gives some interesting details about the accounts. Voluntary contributions were £41, of which the school pence from the children was £6-2-8d, with money brought forward from the precious year being £5-0-6d, a total of £52-3-2d. Annual expenditure was £38-1-4d on salary, £2-10-3d on books and ‘other appurtenances’, presumably chalk and stationery. Fuel and lighting cost £1-18-6d while rent for the school room and house was £2-19-0d. Other expenses came to one shilling.
The school was described as a public school i.e. held in premises secured by deed for Education, with Managers acting under that deed, who appoint and control the Teacher. It was not a Private school with private managers or indeed an Adventure school conducted by the teacher at his (or her) own risk. The building belonged to Colonel North and Baroness North. It was used for a Sunday school and night school during the winter months and also for choir practice long after school hours once a week. The room was 19.2 ft long, 16.4 ft. wide and the ceiling height 12 ft. There was ample light, good drainage, sufficient ventilation, separate offices for boys and girls and the building was in good repair, so the Reverend Gordon’s fears about the inadequate building expressed in his previous letters to Colonel North were unfounded. It was not however necessarily true, since according to the Log Books it was not until 1881 that the floor of the schoolroom was boarded and while the work was being done the children had lessons in the school house. The school was stuffy in summer and sometimes very cold in winter if the supply of coal and faggots did not last out. In 1888 the order of lessons had to be changed round because there was not enough light to sew by in the afternoon so the sewing had to be done in the morning. The school was also probably not very clean. There was a cleaner only once a week in the early years of the Log Book records and the children did the rest of the work. It was not until 1908 that a full time cleaner was employed.
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