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The History of Education

As early as 1745 the Thurston Dale Charity provided for the teaching of 12 poor children but no provision had been made for a building. Later this charity was used to provide prizes for attendance and good work in Brassington Schoo1, and since 1964 to provide the school with additional books for the library and prizes at the end of each year.

In 1835 the people of Brassington made a collection to provide a Sunday School - 170 people subscribed £133.1.9dwhich seems to have been both a Day and Sunday School as the result of an agreement with the National Society.

In 1846 the National Society made a countrywide survey. It seems that the National School was still flourishing as a Day and Sunday School. There were 40 boys and 11 girls in the day school with a paid master drawing a salary of £29.17.0 a year. The annual expenses were £34.17.1, of which the National Society paid £25.0.0.

In 1859 a Government return indicates that the same building was still in use. The salary of the teacher had risen to £31.5.0 per year, and the children paid 3d, 2d and 1d a week, probably according to age. The clergyman was meeting a deficit of about £2 in the accounts, and funds were so low that nothing was being spent on books for the children. The attendance varied from 49 to 29 and it was thought that if a grant could be obtained from the Government a more efficient school. could be created.

In 1870 a survey, as a result of the Forster Act, found a village popu1ation of 800 with a likely school popu1ation of 100. A Committee was set up to build a new school and the present building was erected and paid for by public subscription.

Masters 1872 - 1884
  • D Taylor 1872 - 1874
  • C H Poynton 1874 - 1875
  • W Loose 1875 - 1881
  • C Forshaw 1881 - 1883
  • A Shenton 1883 - 1884
During this perod of 12 years there was a rapid turnover of Masters. Generally there seems to have been a pattern of non-attendance of children. There also seems to have been some problems with discipline not only with children but with parents taking their children's part.

Masters 1885 - 1894

  • T Winnall 1885 - 1894
This seems to have been a troubled period in the School's history. Attendances had not improved. Education at this time had to be paid by parents and there are frequent reports of children being sent home for their school wages followed by clashes between the Master and irate parents. During this period the school had financial difficulties although lack of funds had been felt as early as 1875, possibly due to the insistence of the Rev. W Campbell that the school should not be transferred to the School Board. Apparently a majority of the Committee wished the school to be transferred but the Rev. Campbell managed to get seven of the Managers to object, and it was not until 20 years later that the transfer was made.

The fact that the school was finding difficulty in raising enough money shows itself in various ways. The year 1891 was particularly bad so far as attendance was concerned, snow, illness and chores being factors.The school had been closed for the Summer holiday when haymaking started, but bad weather followed and 'Hay is not finished' was the comment. When school reopened many scholars were absent in consequence. This would have the effect of reducing the Government grant and the Committee wished to charge school fees to make up the deficit between the 'late average school fee' and the 'fee grant', but their request to charge 1d per week was reduced to 1/2d.

Lack of money made it difficult to for the Managers to carry out necessary repairs. There were reports in 1887 of nearly all the windows being broken and in 1892 of windows being covered with advertising cards, brown paper, and board of an old alphabet card. This indeedmust have been a difficult time for the school and for Mr Winnall which was to end with the school being declared inefficient and Mr Winnall being replaced by Mr W Garner.

Masters 1897 - 1915
  • W Garner 1897 - 1915
This appointment marks a turning point in the fortunes of the school. In Mr Garner the school obtained an enterprising and determined man, with compassion, a sense of humour, and a depth of vision that seems far before his time. He reported that 'there was a decided lack of TONE. Shall endeavour by example and precept to cultivate to a much higher standard than has evidently prevailed heretofore'. He used a practical approach and made every effort to involve the child. From his predecessors he had inherited difficulties implanted in the childrens' attiitude to school and the work that they did there. He chose encouragement and reward and this seems to have paid dividends. His influence was not confined to school. He organized Xmas Pantomimes, a string band, a night school, old scholar reunion parties, and was Church organist into the bargain.

In 1896 a new Infant Room was built and taken into use in April 1897. It was built as the result of a £555 loan which included new Cloakrooms, new closets, and repair of the original buillding and furnishing.


In 1899 came an event which raised great interest locally. Willie Slater marked left. Transferred to Ashbourne Grammar School by winning a County Council Scholarship

Unfortunately in February 1914 Mr Garner was taken ill and was temporarily replaced by Mr H Ward.

Masters 1914 - 1919
  • H Ward 1914 - 1915
  • J Jones 1915 - 1919
It can have been no easy task for John Jones to follow W Garner. He seems also to have been forward thinking with his ideas. He continued to run the night school and organise concerts and was generally active in the village.

The "Empire" and all that it stood for in terms of "duty" and "gentlemanly values" stand out in his personality. A man who lost no opportunity to "salute the Flag" and World War 1 provided ample opportunities to have the children out in the yard for this purpose. Every major victory would be acknowledged in this way and the flag lowered to half-mast in memory of those that died. WW1 must have been uppermost in the minds of people living at this time but there are few references to show that it greatly disturbed the running of the school or the life of the village.

Unfortunately he was to be the second Master in the history of Brassington School who failed to reach retirement as a result of the influenza epedemic which had such a disastrous effect on the country following the Great War. He died on 27th February 1919. The School was taken over by Mr Sydney Smith, lately demobilised.

Masters 1919 - 1932
  • P Dent 1919 - 1932
Mr Dent is another who is remembered with affection by the village. A keen sportsman who played in the cricket team and was Secretary of both the football and cricket teams. Not only did he play the Church organ but also the piano at social events. Unfortunately his records in the School Log give few clues to his personality, nor does he record very much detail of school life, concerning himself with attendance figures and comments relating to the illnessses and weather conditions that affected these.

Masters 1932 - 1952
  • R Baldwin 1932 - 1952
Mr Baldwin was the longest serving Master of Brassington School. Many changes were to take place during the 20 years that he was Head, both in the appearance of the School and in education generally throughout the country.

Initially the changes largely concerned the fabric of the school and as a result of its face-lift the school would have looked much as it does today both internally and externally. If the electric light was to be a modern luxury certainly the same could not be said for the plumbing. Water lavatories were not installed until 29th February 1952.

On 13th September 1939 war was declared. 36 children were evacuated from Manchester and were allocated Mis Warner's room for their use. In June 1940 a further 26 children were evacuated from Southend. In Januuary 1945 more evacuees admitted, one from Guernsey and 4 from London. Arrangements were made for scattering the children in case of an air raid alarm. The children who lived no further away than Well St would return home. The other children were allocated as follows:- Mr J Allsop's cellar - Miss Powell and 13 children, Mrs J Warner's cellar - Miss Swindell and 10 children, Mr J Oulsman's house - 9 children from Aldwark and Tithe Farm.

Milk in Schools scheme started in 1941 and in 1946 school dinners were started. In 1947 the school was closed for 8 weeks due to severe weather and lack of fuel. In 1949 all children aged 13 plus on 1st September were transferred to Wirksworth Senior Modern School. In January 1950 all 11 plus children were transferred to Wirksworth Senior School and on 4th January 1950 the School re-opened as a Junior School.

Mr Baldwin is remembered with affection by the children he taught but unfortunately he was the third Master who would not reach retirement. A school trip to Windsor Castle had been arranged, and Mr Baldwin was organizing the coaches immediately before departure when he died. Mrs May Shakeshaft-Jones(Warner) temporarily took charge.

Mistress 1952 - 1957
  • Mrs M Jennings 1952 - 1957
Apart from those occasions when ladies had temporarily taken over the Headship this was the first time that the school had been run by a Headmistress.

Mistress 1957 - 1961
  • Miss Pattin 1957 - 1961
Mrs Shakeshaft - Jones and Miss Walker were to support Miss Pattin for the next four years. There were 52 children on the roll in 1958, 56 in 1959, 46 in 1960 and 41 in 1961. The school continued to thrive even though numbers had begun to diminish.

Master 1961 - 1964
  • Mr T Hunter 1961 - 1964
By September 1961 numbers had gone down to 39 children on the roll, there was no alternative but to become a two teacher school, so after 38 years service to the school Mrs Shakeshaft - Jones was unable to finish her teaching career at the school. In March 1962 she was transferred to Wirksworth Junior School.

In 1963 Mr Hunter introduced new Mathematics, Reading, and Music Schemes, and shortly after this he called the first Parent/Teacher meeting.

In December 1964 Miss Walker, the last of the pupil teachers who had taught in the school for 21 years, retired.

Master 1964 - 1969
  • Mr Mitchell 1964 - 1969
If Mr Hunter had started his career as Master at a time of steadily declining numbers, Mr Mitchell soon found his numbers were to increase, and that 14 new long distance children from Bradbourne would need the services of the Dicken taxi, after the closure of Bradbourne School. In Mrs Shakeshaft - Jones and Miss Warner the school had had a stable staff for many years but it was now to enter a period of rapid turnover. In his four years as Head Mr Mitchell employed 8 Assistant Teachers. This was an unsettled period for the children. There were to be changes educationally. The 11 plus was to disappear and after leaving Brassington the children were to receive Comprehensive Education.

Master 1969 -
  • Mr K B Hall 1969 -
This history of Brassington School is largely taken from an account written on the 100th Anniversary of the School in 1972.

To be continued