A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.
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A schoolmaster at Staines is mentioned in 1353 (fn. 1) and at various dates between 1580 and 1673. (fn. 2) Although William Gillett, by will dated 1625, left a rent charge of £4 to teach four poor children, (fn. 3) there was apparently no schoolmaster in the 18th century. (fn. 4) By 1795 the parish clerk was teaching the four children and receiving the money, which was later paid to the British school and in the 20th century has been used for the choir boys of the parish church. (fn. 5)
The first regular school to be established was the boys' British school, which was founded in 1808. (fn. 6) It was later said to be in Church Street, but it may in fact have been the building just round the corner in Hale Street which is now the Hale Street Mission Room. (fn. 7) It consisted of one schoolroom and had one master. The number of pupils seems to have fallen from about 100 in the early days to 35 in 1852. (fn. 8) A British school for girls, frequently referred to as a school of industry, was in existence by 1831, (fn. 9) apparently in Hale Street too. (fn. 10) An infant school, also undenominational, was opened in 1833; (fn. 11) it seems to have moved from Church Street to the former Friends' Meeting House in Blackboy Lane between 1844 and 1854. (fn. 12) All the undenominational schools were supported very largely by members of the Society of Friends, though other nonconformists helped to maintain them. (fn. 13) In 1867, or possibly within the next six years, the girls' and infants' schools moved into the Sunday school rooms behind the Congregational church in Thames Street. (fn. 14) They moved again in 1874, together with the boys' school, into a new building opposite the Congregational church. This building still survives, though partially hidden by shops fronting on Thames Street. (fn. 15)
National schools had meanwhile been opened. The boys' school was established in 1823 or 1824 in Thames Street, a little way south of the Congregational church. (fn. 16) It had about 40 pupils in 1833, but lack of funds forced it to close for some years after this until 1845, when it reopened with slightly higher numbers. (fn. 17) It was moved in 1863 to a new building in the London Road, which was later St. Mary's Church Hall and since 1950 has been a dress factory. (fn. 18) A school for girls was established in 1818 and also closed later because of poverty. (fn. 19) It was reopened in 1844 in the Vicarage barn and was moved about 1850 to a new building in Bridge Street which also housed an infants' department. (fn. 20) This is now used by the Womens' Voluntary Services.
By 1880 the British and National schools between them contained some 660 pupils. (fn. 21) In 1884 the girls' and infants' British school was closed and the Education Department demanded that a school board be formed. A board of five members, with the vicar as chairman, was duly elected and during 1885-6 took over all the existing schools and reopened the closed school. (fn. 22) The old schools were not replaced for some time, but eventually, new ones having been built, they were all closed in 1903 and 1904. (fn. 23) By this time the county council had taken over the functions of the board.
In 1890 a Church of England infants' school was built by Sir John Gibbons on the site of the present Shortwood school in Stanwell New Road. This was transferred from Stanwell to Staines civil parish in 1896 and became a board school at the same time. (fn. 24) It was considerably enlarged in 1900. (fn. 25) The Roman Catholic school in Gresham Road was opened in 1893. It then had one room and took children of all ages. (fn. 26) Since 1949 a primary school only, it is now (1957) the only remaining voluntary school in Staines. Numbers have risen from about 20 to 75 in 1957. (fn. 27)
The first school erected by the board was that in Wyatt Road; its buildings incorporated the former St. Peter's Mission Hall on the same site. It was opened in 1896 for infants only. (fn. 28) The Kingston Road school was opened in 1903 for boys and girls. (fn. 29) In 1939 building started on the Matthew Arnold School. It was left unfinished when war broke out but after the Kingston Road school had suffered some bomb damage a few classes from there used the buildings. In 1948 all the seniors from Kingston Road were transferred there, and in 1951-4 the buildings were completed, to house secondary modern schools for boys and girls. In 1957 each school contained about 600 pupils. (fn. 30) The children at the council primary schools in 1957 numbered approximately: Kingston Road 450, Shortwood (Stanwell New Road) 160, Wyatt Road 200. (fn. 31)
From the 19th century at least there have always been two or three private schools, and about 1890 the number rose to seven. (fn. 32) In 1833 there were three boarding schools and one day school, containing together about 86 boys and 30 girls. (fn. 33) In 1956 there was one day and boarding school, one day school, and one infant and junior day school. All took both boys and girls. (fn. 34)