A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 6, Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey With Highgate. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
A schoolmaster taught at the Bell House at Whetstone until it was burnt down shortly before 1662, (fn. 1) and a charity school existed from 1809 to 1853. As early as 1832 a National school had been proposed for Friern Barnet and the chapelry of Whetstone but it was not until 1853 that one was built. In 1859 an infants' school was established at Whetstone to serve both districts. Schools for New Southgate in 1860 and the Freehold in 1866 were followed by infants' schools for All Saints' in 1883 and St. John's in 1886, both of which soon took junior girls. (fn. 2) Ten extensions to schools between 1881 and 1901 (fn. 3) enabled the Church to cater for the growth in numbers of pupils from c. 80 in 1853 to c. 240 in 1860 and 1,139 in 1905. (fn. 4) Friern Barnet was anxious to avoid a school board (fn. 5) and engaged in a constant struggle to raise funds, in which the ecclesiastical districts stood together. St. Paul's schools, which were annexed to St. Paul's, New Southgate, (fn. 6) were situated in a poor area and supported chiefly by the parish church and All Saints. A school board was suggested in 1877, when both St. James's and St. Peter's schools required extension, (fn. 7) and averted in 1883 by extensive repairs to St. Paul's schools, (fn. 8) towards whose rebuilding in 1893 New Southgate contributed only one-fifth of the cost. (fn. 9) Heavy running costs (fn. 10) were alleviated by the Education Act of 1902, (fn. 11) although responsibility for St. Peter's school was not transferred to the vicar and churchwardens of St. Peter-le-Poer until 1936. (fn. 12)
Under the Education Act of 1902, elementary education in Friern Barnet was controlled by Middlesex C.C. (fn. 13) In 1906 the education committee opened an infants' school and in 1908 founded a junior mixed and infants' school in Holly Park. (fn. 14) By 1927 those two schools received more than half the pupils in the parish (fn. 15) and in 1928 Oakleigh infants' school was founded. (fn. 16)
Following the Hadow Report, St. Peter's and Holly Park schools were reorganized as senior schools and pupils were to be transferred between church and council schools. (fn. 17) The agreements were breaking down in 1938, when St. Peter's school was condemned and Holly Park again admitted juniors, (fn. 18) but were retained at the outbreak of the Second World War. Although there were more places than pupils, in 1936 there was a campaign for a new secondary school. At that time 265 children attended schools outside the parish, especially Woodhouse grammar school in Finchley. (fn. 19)
Under the Education Act of 1944, Friern Barnet was controlled by a district education subcommittee. (fn. 20) A county secondary school was opened in 1960-1 and Holly Park again became a primary school. Two new primary schools were opened in 1950 and 1954 and three Church of England schools moved into new premises from 1969, while St. James's and Oakleigh infants' schools closed.
In 1809 the vestry established a charity school for boys aged 5-9 and girls aged 6-13, to be financed by voluntary subscriptions and the sale of the children's work. (fn. 21) By 1819 there was also interest from £150 which had been saved. (fn. 22) All the children were to learn to read and the girls were also to be taught needlework. They were to attend morning and evening classes on weekdays and three services on Sundays, with holidays for Christmas and haymaking. (fn. 23) Classes met in the prayer room of the alms-houses, (fn. 24) where the teacher or teachers lived. (fn. 25) Intended for 10 boys and 10 girls, (fn. 26) by 1819 the school was failing to serve all the poor. (fn. 27) There were 65 children in 1847, (fn. 28) when George Smith left £100 in trust to the school, (fn. 29) and there was no longer room for them in 1853. (fn. 30)
St. James's Church of England primary school, formerly Friern Barnet National school, replaced the charity school in 1853. (fn. 31) Adjoining the almshouses to the north and originally planned for 80 pupils, the accommodation was increased to 120 at the government's request. (fn. 32) It was attended by 133 boys and girls in 1865-6 (fn. 33) and numbers increased steadily to 208 in 1884, (fn. 34) when the infants moved. (fn. 35) From 1889 it catered only for boys. (fn. 36) It received bad reports between 1887 and 1893, but in 1900 was thought an admirable village school. (fn. 37) Numbers were halved to c. 100 in 1909 by the exclusion of Finchley children (fn. 38) but recovered from 1926, reaching 168 by 1938. (fn. 39) Classrooms were added in 1877 and 1935 (fn. 40) and in the 1940s extensions were proposed on the glebe at the rear. (fn. 41) The school was planned to close when the new All Saints' school was founded in 1969 and did so in 1975, (fn. 42) from which date the premises were used for nursery education.
In 1859 an infants' school was formed as an offshoot of Friern Barnet National school. (fn. 43) The site, given by John Miles, fronted Friern Barnet Lane and lay just outside the parish. (fn. 44) It was intended for children from both Friern Barnet parish and Whetstone chapelry. (fn. 45) The average attendance rose steadily from c. 56 in 1860. (fn. 46) In 1884 it was sold to the chapelry of St. John, Whetstone, as most of the pupils lived there. (fn. 47)
St. John's infants' school in Glenthorne Road, Colney Hatch, was founded with the proceeds from the sale of 1884, (fn. 48) replacing a temporary school for c. 80 children at no. 65 Holly Park Road in 1888. (fn. 49) In 1890 St. John's National school for 72 girls was founded on a neighbouring site. (fn. 50) It was mixed from 1898 until 1908 and thereafter catered only for juniors. (fn. 51) Although interdependent, the schools had separate headmistresses until 1930. (fn. 52) An average combined attendance of 130 in 1894 increased to 234 in 1914, (fn. 53) but fluctuated from 130 to 180 between the World Wars. (fn. 54) New classrooms were added in 1898 and 1911. (fn. 55) Rebuilding was essential in 1960 (fn. 56) and the school moved to new premises at no. 280 Crescent Road in 1969, (fn. 57) when it was called St. John's Church of England junior girls' and infants' school. (fn. 58) In 1975 there were 250 pupils on the roll. (fn. 59)
St. Paul's school, New Southgate, originated in 1857 as an infants' school in rented rooms, (fn. 60) which were extended in 1866. (fn. 61) There were c. 40 pupils in 1860. (fn. 62) There was no government grant until 1874, when it became St. Paul's National school for boys, girls, and infants and moved to the former school-church in Ely Place. (fn. 63) In 1887, when there were 186 pupils, the school was noted for absenteeism. (fn. 64) It closed for extensive repairs in 1883 (fn. 65) and a classroom was added in 1889. (fn. 66) After being condemned in 1893, (fn. 67) it was completely rebuilt with 302 places close to the railway line and had an average attendance of 237. (fn. 68) There were more pupils than places in 1905, (fn. 69) 201 pupils in 1914, (fn. 70) and 130- 40 in 1975, when it was again overcrowded. By then a neighbouring site had been acquired for a new school. (fn. 71)
Cromwell Road National, later St. Peter's, school opened in the Freehold in 1866 (fn. 72) and was so called after moving to new premises fronting Sydney Road in 1868. (fn. 73) It served a poor neighbourhood and until c. 1879 standards were very low. (fn. 74) In 1920 the school again received a bad report. (fn. 75) Since the number of boys and girls rose from 50 in 1869 to 425 in 1914, (fn. 76) it remained overcrowded in spite of the addition of classrooms in 1877, (fn. 77) 1897, and 1907 (fn. 78) and the removal of the infants in 1906. There was a slight fall in numbers until c. 1930 (fn. 79) when it was designated a senior mixed school for 200. (fn. 80) In 1938 the Middlesex education committee declared that it must be rebuilt. (fn. 81) It was bombed in the war and not reopened.
All Saints' National school for infants was founded next to the church in 1883, on land given by John Miles. (fn. 82) It owed its establishment partly to a projected dissenting school, which had led to plans for an Anglican school in Blackhorse Lane in 1870. (fn. 83) A classroom was added in 1889 for girls from St. James's school (fn. 84) and the premises were extended in 1904. (fn. 85) From 56 in 1886 and 126 in 1893 average attendances grew to 146 in 1908, (fn. 86) when they began to decline until after 1922. (fn. 87) Despite the transfer of the infants to a council school in 1928, (fn. 88) there was an average attendance of 131 in 1938. (fn. 89) In 1969 the school took over the former Oakleigh infants' school for the girls and added classrooms for the infants, whereupon the old building became redundant. The new All Saints' Church of England primary school had a roll of c. 250 in 1975. (fn. 90)
Sydney Road council school was established in 1906 for infants from St. Peter's school. (fn. 91) It moved to permanent premises in 1907 with accommodation for 312 (fn. 92) and by 1914 had 299 pupils. (fn. 93) Under the Hadow Report it became a junior mixed and infants' school and was extended in two stages to provide 524 places in 1936. (fn. 94) There were 377 pupils in 1938, when it had been renamed Hollickwood school. (fn. 95) The original building was demolished in 1974 and there was a roll of 224 in 1975. (fn. 96)
Holly Park council school was opened in 1908 for 300 mixed juniors and extended in 1915 to take infants. (fn. 97) Accommodation was reduced from 752 to 676 by 1932, when it became a senior mixed and infants' school. (fn. 98) There were 441 pupils in 1938, (fn. 99) when it began to admit juniors again, (fn. 100) but it still had a senior department in 1964. (fn. 101) The infants' extension closed in 1965 and was demolished in 1969, when a new building for infants was erected. In 1975, when it was a junior mixed and infants' school, with nursery classes there were 326 full-time and 51 part-time children on the roll. (fn. 102)
Oakleigh infants' school was founded in 1928 as All Saints' council school and renamed between 1932 and 1936. (fn. 103) Initially catering for infants from All Saints' school, the numbers rapidly increased to 223 in 1938. (fn. 104) In 1969 it was closed and handed over to All Saints' school. (fn. 105)
Queenswell primary school was established in 1950. It was built partly on the glebe east of Friern Barnet Lane and used temporary huts erected as the railway clearing house during the Second World War. The first stage in replacing the huts was completed in 1974. The school had a roll of c. 450 in 1975. (fn. 106)
Friern Barnet county school stands on a 3½-a. site between Hemington Avenue and Crescent Road. The main buildings were erected in 1960-1 in two stages and an arts' department and third laboratory have since been added. Pupils were transferred from Holly Park school before the official opening in 1961, when they numbered 500. In 1975 there were 600 pupils and it was still a secondary modern school, as schemes to become comprehensive had been rejected. (fn. 107)
Coppetts Wood primary school was founded in 1954 for infants and juniors. Numbers grew from 130 to 380 and in 1975 there were 330 juniors and infants and two nursery classes of 60. A mobile classroom was added in 1973. (fn. 108)
The dissenting school at Whetstone in 1859 for c. 160 children aged over three was probably in Finchley. By 1883 there was a school for boys and girls at Oakleigh Park which had been proposed in 1870 by Brethren and Baptists. (fn. 109)
In 1884 the rector, Frederick Hall, founded a middle-class school for boys in Colney Hatch. (fn. 110) Known as St. John's high school for boys and after c. 1890 as Friern Barnet grammar school, (fn. 111) it had its own preparatory school from 1904. (fn. 112) A trust deed of 1900 permitted its use for Sunday school and parochial purposes and vested the management in a committee chaired by the rector. (fn. 113) Initial losses were borne by Hall (fn. 114) and fees of eight guineas a year in 1887 were later raised. (fn. 115) Originally housed in St. John's school-church, (fn. 116) later replaced by a one-storeyed building, the school was enlarged in the 1950s and replaced by a two-storeyed block in 1973. (fn. 117) There were high standards in 1892 and 1904 (fn. 118) and in 1936 it was said that the school, although small, was the pride of the district and made a county secondary school unnecessary. (fn. 119) Numbers grew from 73 to 112 between 1882 and 1912, (fn. 120) reached c. 150 in 1937, and then declined. There were 175 pupils in 1975, when it provided grammar school education up to 'O' level. (fn. 121)
When the boys' high school became solvent in 1891, the rector founded a high school for middleclass girls, for which he detected even greater need, at the Firs, Friern Barnet Road. (fn. 122) Although an educational success, the school had only 33 pupils from kindergarten age upwards in 1892 (fn. 123) and was never self-supporting. It closed in 1900. (fn. 124) In response to public demand, the Revd. E. G. Hall revived it in 1912 as Friern Barnet grammar school for girls, at Edenbrae (fn. 125) and later Friarshill, Torrington Avenue. (fn. 126) Catering for girls aged 11 and above, (fn. 127) the school had 76 pupils by 1918, (fn. 128) but in 1926 the rector leased the premises to Mrs. D. M. Roberts. (fn. 129) Friarshill school had closed by 1941. (fn. 130)
The Sisters of the Sacred Heart taught children aged 5-14 in a private house in Oakleigh Park South from 1936. Numbers rapidly grew to 120 in 1939 and 220 in 1945. During the Second World War two other houses were acquired and the seniors, juniors, and infants were housed separately. Additions consisted of a hall and dining facilities in 1956, a three-storeyed teaching block in 1961, and an administration building in 1971. Mobile classrooms for the infants were needed in 1962, but from 1967, when the school became Voluntary Aided, the seniors were phased out. The number of pupils increased from 300 in 1967 to 412 in 1975, almost all of them Roman Catholics. (fn. 131)