In 1763 there is mention of “a parish school house” in a cottage which had previously belonged to a Francis Lane and for which he had been paying a rental of 1s since 1725. This cottage was situated on Bawdrip Green. Although not a school as we would imagine, but more of a creche for farm labourers’ children. The “teachers” were untrained and uneducated themselves. Discipline was usually high on the agenda!
In 1819 several schools taught a total of c. 20 children and the same number attended Sunday school. By 1825 43 children attended three-day schools supported by parents and 45 went to the Sunday school which continued until 1846 or later. A Dissenting Sunday school, begun in 1822, gave free instruction to 20 children in 1835. There was only one day school, with 11 pupils, in that year but by 1846 two dame schools taught 26 children.
At the vestry meeting on 20th July 1855 it was agreed to try to establish a National School
Built in 1859, enlarged in 1897, on a site that was once a barn. Schools only became compulsory in Victorian times and rural teachers were generally untrained.
In the 1860s there was a dame school at Bradney.
On the 12 August 1881 the school was subjected to an inspection by a Rev. W. Michel who reported as follows “school work is going on steadily and hopefully. The answering throughout was very fair, the repetition good, the written work in every way deserving of praise. The lads belonging to the Sunday school acquitted themselves with credit. They show a very satisfactory knowledge of the Bible, Catechism and prayer-book which they must hold fast.”
53 pupils were listed in 1903, it became a Council School in 1919.
Before 1930 only 1 in 20 children of agricultural labourers went on to secondary education.
Numbers fell to 29 in 1935 and 32 in 1965.
In 1966 the school was restricted to children under eight and in 1988 there were about 35 children on the register. 1994 the school was rebuilt but incorporated the original 1859 structure (see also Fern Cottage for reference to other schools in the village).
St. Andrew’s boarding school for boys was based at Knowle Hall from the 1940s to the 1960s.