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stevehowarth

Impact of war on schools

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stevehowarth

Has anyone done any work on the impact of the war on schools?

I'm in the process of researching Ermysted's Grammar School, Skipton, N. Yorks.

I'd be pleased to hear from anyone who is engaged in similar work or who can suggest decent secondary sources.

Some of the themes I am encountering:

Staff shortages, introduction of cadet/scouts, harvest voluntary work, school vegetable patches, inflation, shortages, tribunal hearings for masters claiming exemptions etc.

Look forward to Pals' feedback

steve

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Jonathan Saunders

I have been through a local school log for the war years (Rainham (Kent) Council Schools that sadly closed this summer and no doubt will be demolished and redeveloped as flats - moan over).

I am just looking through my notes now and I note staff problems as there was several supply and uncertified teachers appointed during the years although I did not take details of all of them. It was a "mixed" school (seperate boys/girls under one Headmaster) and in fact in 1914 there had been 3 Masters and probably half a dozen mistresses. All three masters went off to war at some stage, two kia and another won the MC with the Grenadier Guards. I know I am digressing but two great entries relate to him:

"23/2/1915 - Mr Pitcher leaves school today by permission of the Kent Education Committee to join the Artist's Rifles."

"7/3/1921 "Mr WH Pitcher returned to duty today after being absent in war service since 23/5/1915".

Incredible ... a six year sabatical! (via Belgium, France, a Blighty wound and then Russia)

To return to the point, when the Headmaster (Harold Greenhalgh) received his release, he was replaced by a Temp Headmaster who remained until April 1920 - the Headmaster having been kia. The two Asst masters were replaced by women, so obviously a reduced number of male teachers were available. My guess is that the Temp Headmaster was too old for war service.

Also after the original HM had been kia a heated debate took place (as reported in a local paper) at the next Parish Council meeting as to whether the Gvmt should be lobbied to return the Nations Headmasters from active service, such was the feared impact of the loss of this particular Headmaster on the future of this village's childrens education. As he had volunteered and not been conscripted it, was decided not to pursue this but it was a serious enough issue to be reported in the local paper.

In 1917/8 there were regular poor attendances entered in the morning log as a result of air-raids the previous evening. Also children were to be kept at school if a raid took place during the day. The school was closed several times because of outbreaks of epidemics such as scarlet fever, german measles, influenza etc (although this presumably would have happened irrespective of the war but I am unclear whether the children were more susceptable to diseases because of even poorer nourishment than usual). The school was also closed when there was fuel shortages, severla of these in 1917 and 1918.

Also it is clear two of the mistresses were obviously under stress at certain points and this presumably was because of news/concerns from the Front - in fact the Headmaster's wife who was also teaching at the school was absent for just over a month with a "nervous breakdown" around the time he enlisted. She also left suddenly "to catch London train" and did not return to the school for several days - I wondered if this was when her husband was at an OTC (although I think it may have been a month or so earlier than he was commissioned - his file is one of the few officer files not at the PRO).

In addition the school performed a lot of good work almost as soon as war ws declared, such as collecting food parcels (eggs were specifically mentioned) and giving concerts to the patients of the local military hospitals, establishing firm links with one of the hospitals that lasted until well after the Armistace.

I hope some of this was of interest and helps.

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stevehowarth

Thanks to Signals for an interesting reply. I think it is the norm for Elementary schools to have a headmaster's log, which is an excellent record of the day-to-day running and issues in the school. Your research threw up some interesting stuff; well worth reading. Much of it reflects the sort of strains and initiatives that I have found at Skipton (Ermysted's Grammar School).

Its interesting about the Head's wife going AWOL. Female teachers were appointed at Skipton for the first time during the war and, reading between the lines, found it difficult to keep discipline. None remained as permanent staff after the war.

The school I am researching was a secondary school and had no comparable record. It does however have a triannual school magazine (The Chronicles of Ermysted) and Governors Meetings' minutes.

steve

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Jonathan Saunders
Its interesting about the Head's wife going AWOL. Female teachers were appointed at Skipton for the first time during the war and, reading between the lines, found it difficult to keep discipline. None remained as permanent staff after the war.

Just to prove your point the Temporary Headmaster made the following entry, 14/8/1917:

"This afternoon I had occasion to speak to Mrs Greenhalgh, regarding a boy sent out of her room. When she decided that she must leave if the boy remained. This she did at 2:20pm. The matter has been placed in the hands of the Managers".

A further entry states she resumed her classes next day.

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Jonathan Saunders

Thinking about the example I gave above, I should have added that Annie Greenhalgh was an experienced teacher and a mother of two children herself, therefore I think in her specific case, it was the additional stress caused by war worry - her husband then being in/or about to depart for F&F.

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Jim_Grundy

In my research into what happened in my own home town, Hucknall in Nottinghamshire, I've found one or two interesting things. Yes, there was considerable pressure to take children out of school to work on the fields. Judging from my correspondence with one man who was of school age during the war, the children themselves were not given any choice in this. He also told me that they worked with German POWs, one of whom, tired of being 'ragged' dumped him in a thorn bush! Another young boy was injured on 'official duty', breaking both arms whilst gathering 'conkers' in 1917 for the Ministry of Munitions.

There certainly were staff shortages during the war locally as several teachers joined up (one winning the DSO as a lieutenant) and at least one teacher resigned, being unable to cope with her job, looking after her mother and dealing with the stress resulting from her husband being reported missing, presumed k.i.a. Fortunately for all concerned, he was a prisoner and lived to return home safely.

A rather less happy story is of the female teacher, whose parents were of German origin, being forced to resign her job after various threats were made against her and the school should she remain in post. Her brother was in the British army, as was her brother-in-law, but this did not protect her from strong anti-German feeling amongst local people.

One young teacher registered as a conscientious objector in 1916, being told at his tribunal hearing that it was a "mistake that he was allowed to teach". He was arrested, served time in Wormwood Scrubs and eventually sent to France in the Non-Combatant Corps. He never was allowed to teach again and lost two other jobs post-war because of his beliefs.

I have found most of the this information from local newspapers, council committe papers and through correspondence with those who were there or their families. Hope it is of some interest.

Cheers,

Jim

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j.r.f

steve

thanks so much for your thread.I have reciently found three school memorials from my local school.These were combined in the big shake up.It is interesting that they were different types of school and will bear comparing when I have amased the information.At the moment I am still collecting from STD andCWGC.Already there are differences between the schools.That is to say there are more commisions from the higher grade school.I had not yet thought of looking up the old log books etc. but I shall be down to the local records offrice as soon as posible.

I would like to ask you and other pals if it is true that the myth that the lads all joined the same regiment together is untrue.So far my research into the local church memorials and the schools is an even spread across services and regiments.Your comments on this would be apreciated.

JOHN. :D

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j.r.f

pals

Since last post,no pun meant,I have looked up the digital catalogue for the Bristol Record Office.The material in there is truely staggering.I would recomend that Pals take a look at their record office.Maybe some of those trips to the P R O in London mat not be required?I know that as soon as I can there will be a trail from my house to the Records Office in town.

Cheers.

JOHN :D

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stevehowarth

Thanks to Signals, Jim and John for further contributions to this thread.

Regarding balance of officers and other ranks, being a secondary, grammar school, 25 out of 54 old boys killed were officers. A '6th form' (post 16) education seems often to be the passport to a commission.

The vast majority served in the army; only 2 in the navy. This seems at variance with John's findings. Skipton is very much inland, which might explain the shortage of willing sailors.

As for joining the same regiment, there is some evidence for this in Skipton. A Roll of Honour for the School in the local newspaper in October 1914 shows about half had joined the 6th Bt. West Riding Regiment. School links might be important here, but I bet that other local institutions (churches, sporting clubs, work places) facilitated recuitment to the local battalion. As the war progresses, however, and conscription is introduced, the attachment to regiments appears much more random.

Steve

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Jonathan Saunders

Steve,

Apologies if stating the obvious but I would imagine conscripted men had less choice in what regiments they were conscripted in, irrespective of whether ranker or officer. I believe this may have been one of the inducements for the Derby Scheme but I am sure another PAL can clarify the position.

Also as Rainham is situated on the Thames estuary I can confirm there was a reasonably equal split between army and navy men, which I would not expect to be mirrored by inland villages.

Sigs

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Terry_Reeves

With regards to Jim Grundy's post. A similar thing happened to a Coventry school teacher at his tribunal hearing. He was was given a terrible dressing down after which the tribunal chairman told him he would be recommending to the local education board that he should never be employed as a teacher again.

Terry Reeves

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Cliff. Hobson

From the Village School log-- children were absent while their Mothers were searching for food. On several occasions a shortage of school teachers despite the Supply Teacher system which began in 1910. At one point the school was closed so that Staff could distribut cards for meat rationing. School Gardens were introduced, the Girls took several days off to go blackberry picking, over 300lb of fruit was sent to Bolsover Jam Factory 1918 ( wonder if it was Ticklers) Several Old Boys on leave from France visited the School, one an Ex-Teacher related how he had bailed out from 4,000ft. from a Sausage Balloon that had been set on fire.

Envelopes foer the National Relief Fund for Belgium were distributed. Boys over 12 years of age were permitted to work on the land but the School Grant was cut by 25%. Finally the day of peace arrived with holiday celebrations, sports, teas and presentation of mugs.

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stevehowarth

Cliff

Which village are you referring to?

Thanks for your contribution; it has been of great interest.

Steve

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Magnumbellum

In my research into what happened in my own home town, Hucknall in Nottinghamshire, I've found one or two interesting things. .

One young teacher registered as a conscientious objector in 1916, being told at his tribunal hearing that it was a "mistake that he was allowed to teach". He was arrested, served time in Wormwood Scrubs and eventually sent to France in the Non-Combatant Corps. He never was allowed to teach again and lost two other jobs post-war because of his beliefs.

I have found most of the this information from local newspapers, council committe papers and through correspondence with those who were there or their families.

Could the name of the CO teacher please be forwarded to the Peace Pledge Union Achivist, to ensure that the man is included in the PPU CO databsse:

archives@ppu.org.uk

Thanks

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