Rochford - A rural primary school II

By Helen Barnard

This article has drawn on the log books for the Rochford Council and Board Schools, which are kept in the Essex Records Office in Chelmsford. 


Girls were first admitted to the Rochford Board school in 1885 and were schooled separately from the boys (who had been attending since 1873). As in the boys' school, the girls' mistress was obliged to keep a log book noting matters of interest in the daily running of the school.

The Great War cast its shadow over the county between 1914 and 1918. On 24th May 1917, both the girls and boys of the Rochford schools assembled together in the playground and sang hymns. They were then addressed by a Mr Francis (chairman of the school managers) who "reminded them of their duties as children of the Empire".

On 13th June 1917, the mistress' log book records that German airplanes passed over Rochford on their way to London and that some mothers, feeling alarmed for their children, came to the school and fetched them away.

The entry for Victory Day (11th November 1918) is short but nonetheless touching in its simplicity and elation: "A Victory Day! A most wonderful day in the history of the world and the British Empire. Mr Francis visited the schools and told the children about the armistice and the termination of the horrors of war. He directed their thoughts to the goodness of God and called upon them to remember those who had willingly laid down their lives and concluded by asking them to join in singing 'Praise God from whom all blessings flow'...and three cheers for the king. A holiday was granted in the afternoon."

In subsequent years, the anniversary of Armistice Day was marked by the pupils walking to the Square to observe a 2 minutes' silence and singing the national anthem.

In the 1930s, children were still being taken out of school on a regular basis to work in the pea and potato fields and although such cases were reported to the attendance officers, little improvement was noted. An entry for 28th May 1931 records the attendance officer's visit to the school mistress to update her on a case which had gone to court (the Uyse family) which had not resulted in a conviction. The mistress comments that 'one girl had not attended school since Christmas and her sister has only been a fortnight in all these months.'

The 1933 School Inspector's report concludes, on an optimistic note, that Rochford is 'a happy community working with persevering cheerfulness against heavy odds'.


This page was added by Helen Barnard on 10/03/2011.
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