A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
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AT the time of the education census of 1851, 1,461 children attended day schools in Warwick. Of these three sevenths, or 640, received education at 34 private schools, and the rest, 821, at nine public schools. (fn. 1) Of the public schools the oldest were the King's Grammar School and the Bablake Charity School, both of which have already been described. (fn. 2) In 1854 there were 130 boys and girls attending the Bablake School, (fn. 3) and in 1867 43 pupils at the King's School. (fn. 4) There was one other charity school, the Castle Street School of Industry for girls, established about 1790 (fn. 5) by the Countess of Warwick. In 1833 this depended entirely on subscriptions, and was said to be chiefly supported by the Greville family, and by the Revd. Henry Wise. (fn. 6) The School of Industry was founded for the clothing and education of poor girls between the ages of eight and fourteen, (fn. 7) and in its early days accommodated 60 girls, under three mistresses. (fn. 8) In 1815 there were about 40 pupils. They were provided with a uniform of a brown stuff gown and a straw bonnet, and received free dinners during the winter months. (fn. 9) From 1809 to 1823 the school occupied Thomas Oken's house in Castle Street, afterwards moving to a house on the other side of the same street. (fn. 10) The syllabus consisted of the church catechism, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and instruction in sewing, stockingknitting, and spinning jersey and flax. Four of the senior girls were employed as monitors, (fn. 11) and the pupils' earnings from their practical work were used to help to support the school. (fn. 12) The standard of training appears to have declined subsequently, for a visiting National Society inspector found in 1841 that the girls were employed from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. at various kinds of sewing, with only an hour's break. Two hours each day, however, were devoted to reading and religious instruction under the single mistress employed. (fn. 13) The purpose of the school in the mid 19th century appears to have been to provide a supply of domestic servants. (fn. 14) In 1881 classes were held in a low-ceilinged room only eleven feet wide. (fn. 15)
In 1849 some 91 children, 32 boys and 59 girls and infants, attended classes in the Warwick Union workhouse. (fn. 16) This school was originally established in St. Mary's parish workhouse in the Saltisford where, in 1815, there was said to be a good schoolroom, in which the children were taught reading and religion. (fn. 17) After a brief period of use as a Union workhouse after 1836, the Saltisford building was sold, and the inmates moved, in 1838, to a new building in Packmore Lane. (fn. 18) There, in 1872, there was said to be class accommodation for 33 boys, the same number of girls, and 44 infants. (fn. 19) In 1849 two rooms were in use. (fn. 20) On the resignation of the schoolmaster and mistress in 1840, new appointments were made at salaries of £30 and £20 yearly respectively, with provisions. The new master was a former tailor, (fn. 21) and in 1849 the elder boys were being taught tailoring and shoemaking. (fn. 22) In 1852 the boys were also cultivating two acres of ground, and the girls were operating a laundry. (fn. 23)
Most Warwick schoolchildren not privately educated were taught, in 1851, in schools conducted by the two national educational societies. In 1854 the three National schools had a combined average attendance of 360, (fn. 24) while the average attendance at the Warwick British School in 1852 was 95. (fn. 25) The National Society appears to have begun work at Warwick in 1815, when classes, attended by 27 pupils, were held at the gaol. It is not known what type of inmates was taught, but in 1816 the eight pupils were all girls. (fn. 26) About the same time a day school was begun in St. Mary's parish, (fn. 27) and it was attended in 1819 by 100 boys and 45 girls. (fn. 28) In 1833 the schools were held in separate buildings, St. Mary's boys in 'a most inconvenient and objectionable schoolroom in St. Mary's churchyard', (fn. 29) and the girls in St. Nicholas's parish. (fn. 30) The girls' school is said to have been conducted at first by a committee of ladies, independently of the National Society, because of 'political and other hostility', presumably from nonconformists. Later the schools were supported by voluntary subscription with the aid of occasional small grants from the National Society. In 1834 a newly-built brick Wesleyan chapel in Chapel Street was offered for sale, with two attached cottages. (fn. 31) With the aid of grants from the government (fn. 32) and from the National Society the building was acquired and re-opened as a boys' school in 1835. (fn. 33) Adaptation was not entirely successful, and in 1841 a National Society inspector found that 'half of the boys sat always silent because of the unpleasant reverberation of sound so common and inconvenient in large unfurnished rooms' (fn. 34). Some time before 1845 a floor was built at half height to provide an upper and a lower classroom, (fn. 35) and the girls and infants were moved into the school for the first time. (fn. 36) A government grant was obtained for these alterations, (fn. 37) and in 1846 the school trust deed was endorsed to provide for state inspection. (fn. 38) At this period the boys' school was organized in seven classes, under a master with one assistant. (fn. 39) In 1851 there was an average attendance of 119 boys and 70 girls. (fn. 40) Education was free until 1847, when a weekly fee of 1d. a child began to be charged. (fn. 41) The syllabus in 1854 comprised reading, writing, arithmetic, geography and history. (fn. 42) In addition to the 'Borough School', as the Chapel Street school was called, there were, in 1851, two infant schools conducted by the National Society. St. Nicholas's School in Smith Street was fitted out at the expense of Elizabeth and Ellen Landor in 1833, (fn. 43) to hold 150 children from both Warwick parishes. (fn. 44) It was conducted as a National school from 1836, (fn. 45) and did not receive any state aid until 1880 when an annual maintenance grant was accepted. (fn. 46) The premises were described in 1881 as 'nothing more than two old cottages thrown into one'. (fn. 47) By the terms of a trust established in 1844 the school was to be open to children between the ages of two and seven, at a fee of 1½d. a week for the first child of a family and 1d. for any others; (fn. 48) otherwise support came only from voluntary subscriptions. In 1850 classes were taught by a master and mistress. (fn. 49) This school appears to be identifiable with that described in the Church Schools enquiry of 1846-7 as a 'dame school'. It was held in a single room, and the average attendance was 40 boys and 40 girls. (fn. 50) St. Mary's and St. Paul's School in Theatre Street was completed in 1849 with the aid of grants from the National Society, (fn. 51) and from the Committee of Council. (fn. 52) It was described as 'a neat substantial stone building with playground', costing about £450, (fn. 53) and provided accommodation in a single room (fn. 54) for 216. (fn. 55) The site was presented by the Earl of Warwick. (fn. 56) The average daily attendance in 1852 was 84. (fn. 57)
The British Society does not appear to have been active in Warwick until the 1840s. In 1845 the Warwick British School was opened in a schoolroom built in 1838 for the Sunday school which had been conducted by Brook Street Congregational chapel since 1798. (fn. 58) The school premises in 1881 consisted of two narrow classrooms opening from one another, the chief one 'a gloomy room with windows looking out on a burial ground'. (fn. 59) According to a report on the school's first year there was an average of 134 boys on the books, and an average attendance of 105, (fn. 60) but the school is elsewhere said to have been open from the beginning to both sexes, (fn. 61) and in 1852 certainly included girls as well as boys. Children attended between the ages of six and fourteen paying 2d. a week. The syllabus comprised reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and drawing. (fn. 62)
In the thirty years between 1851 and 1882, when the Warwick School Board was formed, the increase in the town's population, and a widening public interest in education were reflected in a steady expansion of school accommodation. The Borough School was enlarged in 1880 to accommodate 240 more children. The extensions were financed mainly from public subscriptions, supplemented by an £85 grant from the National Society. A second classroom was added to St. Mary's and St. Paul's School in 1871, (fn. 63) and this school and the Warwick British schools were improved in 1880 after a joint public appeal for funds. (fn. 64) Four new schools were opened in the period. The Church Schools enquiry into the facilities available in St. Nicholas's parish remarked in 1847 on a 'great want of a boys' and girls' school in a populous portion of the parish called Emscote' where there was a population of about 1,000. When All Saints Church was built to serve the neighbourhood in 1861 a mixed National school was built in conjunction. It had, at first, only one room, (fn. 65) but in 1872 a second building was added, with a large room and five smaller classrooms, (fn. 66) and there were further enlargements in 1880. (fn. 67) In 1874 the children, who paid 2d. and 3d. a week, (fn. 68) were taught by a master and a mistress. (fn. 69) The average attendance in 1884 was 260. (fn. 70) A state annual maintenance grant was received from the school year 1875-6. (fn. 71)
In 1856 a second British school was opened in High Street, (fn. 72) apparently by the High Street Unitarian chapel, for it was subsequently known as High Street Chapel School. (fn. 73) A new school building was completed in Theatre Street in 1856. (fn. 74) Described as 'a neat brick building' (fn. 75) in 1880 it provided accommodation for 168 pupils. (fn. 76) The building cost was £685, of which the government paid £261. (fn. 77) Attendance more than doubled between 1865 and 1880, increasing from an average of 76 (fn. 78) to 159. (fn. 79) Both boys and girls attended. (fn. 80)
From 1869 a part of the Wesleyan chapel in Market Street housed a denominational school, (fn. 81) which received an annual grant from 1870. (fn. 82) The classes were held in basement rooms, partly below ground level, (fn. 83) in which there was provision for 46 boys, the same number of girls, and 70 infants. (fn. 84) Although there were at one time 91 children on the books, (fn. 85) the annual average attendance never rose above 53, and the school was closed in 1875. (fn. 86)
In 1876 an Education Department representative visited a Roman Catholic school in West Street and found 19 pupils over seven in attendance, as well as younger children. The school building, near the Roman Catholic church in West Street, consisted of two cottages joined together to provide a single large room, and the children were in the charge of an expupil-teacher. (fn. 87) The Warwick Advertiser, commenting in 1856 on the purchase of the church site, remarked that 'schools were to be proceeded with immediately'. (fn. 88) The church of St. Mary Immaculate was opened in 1860, (fn. 89) and the school may have been established about the same time. It was still open in 1881, (fn. 90) but had fallen out of use by 1892. (fn. 91)
The enterprise of the voluntary societies helped to make possible the postponement of the formation of a school board for Warwick under the Act of 1870 even beyond the introduction of compulsory education in 1880. A crisis was precipitated in 1881, however, when a government inspector recommended discontinuing annual grants to Warwick British School and St. Nicholas's School, and gave warning of a possible future condemnation of the School of Industry. (fn. 92) The Bablake Charity School had already been closed in 1875 as a result of a Charity Commission Scheme. (fn. 93) While this Scheme provided for the allotment to elementaryschool children of 30 exhibitions to the King's Grammar School, (fn. 94) its immediate result was a substantial reduction in school places. The Board's inspector estimated that, taking into account an increase in Warwick's population of 800 between 1871 and 1881, accommodation was required for 1,750 children, and that a current deficiency of 70 places existed. The closure of Warwick British School, St. Nicholas's School, and the School of Industry threatened to raise the deficiency to 385. (fn. 95) In addition the existing public elementary schools in the borough were 'of a poor character and quite unsuited to the requirements of the present day'. (fn. 96) The figures and the conclusion were both contested by the town council and by the managers of all the schools. It was argued that much of the increase in population was of a middle-class character, not requiring provision for public education, and the reports of the school attendance officer were cited to show that average school attendance was only 1,327. (fn. 97) Nevertheless the inevitability of a school rate was eventually recognized, and a school board for Warwick municipal borough was constituted in May 1882. (fn. 98) By the end of the year both the British schools had applied to be absorbed by the board, (fn. 99) and in 1883 they were re-opened as temporary board schools, while two new board schools were being built. St. Nicholas's School was also kept open and, for a time, St. Mary's and St. Paul's School was used by the board. (fn. 100) When the board schools were opened in 1884 the British schools and the National Society infant schools were all closed. The School of Industry had already been closed in 1882, and an endowment which it then possessed transferred to an orphanage at St. Peter's, Isle of Thanet, for the maintenance of an orphan girl from Warwick. (fn. 101)
Westgate School, in Bowling Green Street, one of the new schools, was built for three departments: boys, girls, and infants. It had places for 850 children, (fn. 102) accommodated in a total of three large rooms, a gallery, and six classrooms. (fn. 103) The average attendance in 1888 was 799. (fn. 104) Coten End Board School was at first used only for infants, and was built with four classrooms and a gallery, (fn. 105) accommodating 466. The average attendance in 1887 was 132. (fn. 106) A mixed boys' and girls' department was opened in 1892, (fn. 107) which had, by 1900, an average attendance of 220. (fn. 108) Its facilities comprised, in 1924, six classrooms and a hall. (fn. 109)
After the reorganization of 1884 the remaining denominational schools, the Borough, All Saints, and St. Mary's R.C., continued under independent management. In 1887 a separate infants' department was opened at All Saints with an average attendance the following year of 62. Attendance in the boys' and girls' department was then 202. (fn. 110) In 1924 the school premises included two infants' and six other classrooms. (fn. 111) The Borough School was rebuilt in 1896 in three departments, one for 200 infants, and two for 180 boys and girls respectively. (fn. 112) In 1924, when no substantial alterations had been made, its facilities comprised two infant and six other classrooms. (fn. 113) A new Roman Catholic school was opened in West Street in 1905 (fn. 114) with two classrooms (fn. 115) and accommodation for 100. (fn. 116) In support of a successful application for a building grant in 1904 the priest-incharge of St. Mary's gave the number of Roman Catholic children in his parish as 104, of whom 36 were less than five years old; (fn. 117) the average attendance in 1907 was 71. (fn. 118) In 1954 there were 81 infants, 13 boys and 22 girls on the school roll. (fn. 119)
In the period between the enforcement of the Education Acts of 1902 and 1944 the pattern of elementary education in Warwick underwent little change. Up to 1938 no new departments had been added and division into junior and senior departments had not been effected in any of the five public schools in the borough. Accommodation statistics indicate a slight but steady decline, consistent with improving standards, and balanced by an increase in the number of places available only in the case of Coten End School, which appears to have been enlarged in 1913-14. (fn. 120) No new schools were opened, apart from a nursery school established in 1946 in former war-time premises in Emscote Road. This was transferred to new premises in Priory Park in 1959. (fn. 121) There was little late-Victorian housing development in Warwick, although Leamington was growing very rapidly at that period. Warwick in the early 1900s became a rather middle-aged town, and the number of school children declined steadily apart from a temporary increase as a result of the rise in the birth rate after the First World War. This trend is reflected in the school population statistics: 1,928 (1904); 1,756 (1910); 1,804 (1924); 1,773 (1928); 1,710 (1938); 1,633 (1946).
Provision for public secondary education did not begin to expand significantly until the last years of the 19th century. The Warwick Educational Charities Scheme of 1875 created a schools foundation which comprised, in 1879, as well as the reorganized King's Grammar School for boys, a Middle School for boys up to the age of fifteen and a Girls' High School. The Middle School was built close to the site of the old Grammar School in the Butts to accommodate 150 boys with some boarders, and in 1881 had 136 pupils. (fn. 122) In 1896 it is said to have been 'converted into a "School of Science" in the nomenclature of the Department of Science and Art'. (fn. 123) Its premises were, in fact, used to accommodate the Warwick Technical School which had begun to receive a Department grant in 1893. (fn. 124) Although some classes were held during the day most pupils attended in the evening. By 1896-7 the syllabus had been organized into three divisions - art, commerce, and science - and there were 208 pupils on the books of the various classes. (fn. 125) From 1895 20 scholarships tenable at the school were offered to elementary school pupils. When the Middle School and the Grammar School were united in 1906 in premises on Myton Road a part of the old buildings was rented and retained for the use of a 'Warwick Technical and Art School' maintained by the town council, with the aid of a special county grant. (fn. 126) In 1918 this was closed and its premises were taken over by the High School. (fn. 127)
The Girls' High School was opened in April 1879 with 22 girls and occupied the house in Smith Street which was the birthplace of Walter Savage Landor. The name 'Landor House' was adopted in 1892. By 1909 there were 209 pupils and the school had been twice enlarged, in 1883 and 1908; some of the former classrooms of the Middle School were also in use. In 1916 the kindergarten department, established in 1887, was moved into the old rooms of the Bablake School in the former St. Peter's Chapel over East Gate, and in 1918 structural alterations were completed linking the old building with the nearby school. At the same date the former Technical School premises in the Butts were rented for the kindergarten and infants' department. There were then 350 pupils in attendance. (fn. 128)
Under the terms of the 1902 Education Act grants were made to the High School and the Middle School by the county council in return for the provision of free places for selected pupils from the elementary schools. When the Middle School and the King's Grammar School were united in 1906 as Warwick School, that school also became eligible for grant. This situation continued until 1946 when Warwick School became independent.
Developments in public education in Warwick after the Second World War (fn. 129) were governed by the Education Act of 1944 and the Warwickshire development plan for schools, drawn up in 1947 but not finally approved until 1953. These measures required all voluntary schools to define their status, and outlined the reorganization of the educational structure to provide separate primary, secondary modern (in Warwickshire known as 'high schools'), and grammar schools. As a result Warwick School opted for independent status in 1946 and Warwick King's High School for Girls became a direct grant school in 1959. About 43 boys and 60 girls continued to be sent by the county council to these schools annually and in 1957 such pupils made up nearly half the total numbers attending. In 1965 the number of places taken up annually at the King's High School for Girls was reduced to 45. St. Mary's R.C. School was granted 'aided' status in 1953; the Borough C.E. School accepted 'controlled' status in 1950 and All Saints (C.E.) School in 1954.
The reorganization of the schools in the town was complicated by the increase in the number of children, the result of a rising birth rate and the establishment of new housing estates. The change in the school-leaving age in 1947 added to the problem by creating the need for 150 new places. Thus three new classrooms and three new practical rooms were erected in temporary huts on the site of Coten End School, which was reorganized to accommodate senior pupils only in mixed classes. At the same time the boys' and girls' departments of Westgate School were amalgamated, and the premises were used for juniors only. Both schools continued to have separate departments for infants. In 1951 a fire at Coten End School destroyed six classrooms and a hall, and pupils were found temporary accommodation in the Drill Hall at Coten End, St. Nicholas's Church Hall, and St. Mary's Church Hall.
During the 1950s there was an acute shortage of school places: St. Paul's Church Hall, the Liberal Club in Theatre Street, the Congregational Church school in Brook Street, and the old Methodist chapel in Market Street were used as temporary accommodation for the Westgate Infants' School. St. Nicholas's Church Hall was used as a classroom by the Borough School. To solve this problem and, immediately, as a result of the fire at Coten End, the Ministry of Education sanctioned the first instalment of the school now known as Beauchamp High School in 1951, to provide non-selective secondary places. In 1954 Oken High School was opened as a mixed non-selective secondary school, with the result that the 'all-age' schools in the town with the exception of St. Mary's R.C. School, became primary schools. Oken High School accommodated about 700 children, of whom approximately 500 were transferred from the former 'all-age' schools. The remainder were from the rural area and the southern part of Leamington. In 1956 what is now Beauchamp High School was completed; part was already annexed to Oken High School, and part housed the Leamington College for Girls until 1959. In that year the Beauchamp High School (for girls) was established. Oken High School became the boys' school, the girls being transferred. In the same year the Dormer R.C. High School was opened as a special agreement school, serving Warwick, Leamington, Kenilworth, Southam, and the Warwick Rural District. These three schools form, with Warwick School, a 'secondary school base' along Myton Road. (fn. 130)
The removal of senior pupils reduced pressure on the primary schools, which were reorganized. The two council schools and All Saints (C.E.) School were each divided into two departments. At Westgate in 1957 there were classes of 459 mixed juniors and 251 infants, at Coten End 205 mixed juniors and 187 infants, and at All Saints 129 juniors and 70 infants. In 1954 the girls' and infants' departments of the Borough C.E. School were combined to form a mixed junior and infant school, and the boys' school building (fn. 131) was used to establish the Priory Day Special School, which moved in 1962 to new buildings in the Cape district and changed its name to St. Michael's School, a day school for educationally sub-normal pupils. St. Mary's R.C. School became a primary school after the opening of the Dormer R.C. High School in 1959.
In the 1960s further pressure on school places resulted, in 1961, in the building of Warwick Newburgh Junior School on the Forbes Estate, replacing the junior department of Westgate School, and leaving the latter for infants. In 1964 the Aylesford High School was established off Stratford Road, replacing a secondary school in Leamington. The policy of moving schools from the centre of the town to the housing areas, evident in these new schools, may also be seen in the removal of All Saints (C.E.) School to the Percy estate in 1965. At the same time the school was reorganized for juniors, the infants remaining in the old buildings pending the construction of a new school.