A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
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An unlicensed schoolmaster was reported in 1610. In the 1640s and 1650s the vicar, Jonathan Jephcott, well versed in ancient languages and mathematics, was educating Roger Rant's sons and others privately. (fn. 1) A permanent endowment for education was provided when the parish charities were reorganized in 1730: £5 yearly was to be paid to the schoolmaster, already in 1728 keeping a charity school with 24 pupils, to teach ten poor children free. (fn. 2) By 1744 a schoolhouse had been built by the street at the north side of the churchyard, where a master's house also stood by 1800. (fn. 3) The £5 had been increased to £10 by 1818 when three other day schools took another 160 children. (fn. 4) The overseers were then paying schoolpence for up to 15 poor pupils. (fn. 5) By 1833, besides two Sunday schools with 119 pupils, started in 1828 by 'Presbyterians', there were four day schools: the endowed one with only 15 children of both sexes; two with 31 more, whose parents paid; and a National school, one of two started in 1819, with 51 girls, supported by subscriptions, and by 1836 also by the charity and schoolpence. Under the supervision of the curate who also kept a boarding school at the vicarage, the National school was taught (fn. 6) by a mistress, but without sectarian distinctions. In 1837 the parish finally ventured to dismiss, after twenty years' service, the unqualified endowed-school master, who had defended alleged misconduct with a claim to a freehold in his post. (fn. 7)
The result was the establishment by 1846 of National schools for both sexes at which 82 boys and 80 girls were taught. The masters, the first serving 1837-57, were assisted, as remained usual into the early 20th century, by their wives who taught the girls. There was also an evening school for 34 boys. Probably from 1841, a teacher's house was provided on the high street. The schoolroom, then over-crowded, (fn. 8) was rebuilt in 1852 on the old site to take 150 children. (fn. 9) In the 1850s and 1860s the church day and Sunday schools together had 170-200 pupils, of whom the village produced 120-30, but few came from the fen or field cottages. (fn. 10) A Scheme of 1863, accepting the school's Anglican character, formally entrusted to the parish charity trustees, who owned the buildings, both the management of the school and the choice of the teachers and confirmed an increase, made by 1851, in the charity's contribution to £30, half the school income. Schoolpence yielded another £20. In 1868 a certificated master was appointed. (fn. 11) Until 1900 the masters, changing every 4-5 years, (fn. 12) had charge of an average attendance from the village of 70-80 in the 1870s, 90-100 thereafter. (fn. 13)
The vicar, whose daughter kept a poorly attended night school in the 1870s and 1880s, taught regularly into the 1890s at the village school, which he was able to retain as a church school. (fn. 14) For the fen-dwellers, however, he had after 1875 to accept a school board, established in 1878, as a vehicle for maintaining a school at Upware shared with Wicken parish. It was opened in 1879 (fn. 15) with room for 54 children, although attendance before 1900 seldom exceeded 25. (fn. 16) From 1958 the Upware school's older pupils went to Soham village college and it was closed entirely in 1967. (fn. 17)
From 1904 half the village school's £30 endowment, paid into the late 20th century, was intended for the church Sunday school. From 1908 £5 for building repairs was added. (fn. 18) Although the master's house was from 1889 turned into an infants' classroom for c. 50 pupils, another residence being rented, the old schoolroom, supposed by 1910 to take 112 children and actually holding 80-95, (fn. 19) was by the 1920s, thought congested and hard to teach in. From 1923 the older children were sent to Burwell county school, although some parents initially resisted, sending their children for a year to privately run local classes. Fearing closure, the church school managers raised funds to build in 1928, on a site across the street obtained from C. I. L. Allix who took the old school building for demolition by 1929 and gave £500 towards the new one, a new church primary school with three classrooms, opened in 1929. (fn. 20) Attendance, c. 50 in the 1930s, was 70 in 1961 and 80 under four staff in 1977. (fn. 21) New classrooms were added at the rear after 1973. The primary school was still open as a church school, from 1947 controlled, in 1992. (fn. 22)