A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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Schoolmasters were recorded in 1590 and 1602, and c. 1610 the curate himself taught a school. (fn. 1) In the 18th century four poor children were entitled to attend the free school founded at Fen Stanton under Joseph Ellis's will of 1729. (fn. 2) In the late 20th century income from his bequest still assisted Fen Drayton young people when studying. (fn. 3)
The curate started a Sunday school by 1818, (fn. 4) whose master regularly brought his pupils from his schoolroom to church in 1825. (fn. 5) In 1833, when it had over 70 pupils, it was maintained by subscriptions, (fn. 6) as was the church day school established by 1846. That then had 42 pupils, mostly girls. (fn. 7) In 1851 the mistress was an elderly butcher's wife. (fn. 8) Later that year the new curate, Frederick Shaw, replaced her with a girl of 16, trained at Swavesey National school, who taught until the early 1890s. Until 1878 Shaw supported the school mostly from his own resources, abandoning school pence in 1873. About 1862 he built on a purchased site a new teacher's house and schoolroom which still stood in 1987 east of the high street. Shaw himself taught there once or twice a week until the 1880s, but by 1873 had abandoned an attempt to run an evening school single-handed. After he died in 1890, the ratepayers agreed to support the school with voluntary rates and contributions from the town land income. It remained a church school until the county council took it over in 1903, (fn. 9) buying the building, (fn. 10) which could accommodate 100 children.
There were almost 50 pupils in the 1880s, (fn. 11) but numbers declined to 30-40 from the 1890s until after 1910. (fn. 12) After the older children were sent to Swavesey in 1924, attendance dropped to 14-18 until 1936, but rose sharply, following the smallholders' coming, to 44 in 1938. (fn. 13) A new primary school building for 60 pupils north of Cootes Lane was opened in 1970, the old school being converted to a house. (fn. 14) After attendance halved to 44 c. 1980 closure was considered. (fn. 15)