Wilburton school group with Mr Stow.
Mr Stow’s account of teaching from 1916
Mr Stow was appointed headmaster of Wilburton school in 1916, a short time after Mr Marchant had died.
He told me that he did find the children well-mannered and courteous. Boys will be boys and on his second day they decided to test his strictness. There had been an inexperienced temporary teacher at the school before Mr Stow was appointed and took the post. During this period the school became rather riotous. On the second morning after the bell had finished ringing and the pupils filed into school, some of the older boys left the school yard and took a detour through a spinney and eventually arrived back at school at 9:45am.
While this was happening some of the children asked Mr Stow if he was going to run after them as the temporary teacher had done. Mr Stow knew better than that and continued the morning lesson. When the boys eventually returned to the school he said a few words to them but the punishment came at noon. All the other children went home for dinner but the naughty boys had to stand in front of Mr Stow until 12:45pm before they could leave. He told me he never had any more trouble like that again. He did keep a cane and used it in deserving circumstances but not on the girls.
This is the time-table of lessons followed. Each morning began with an assembly followed by scripture. The register was closed at 9:45am. Arithmetic took place in until morning playtime at 10:45am. The last hour of a morning lessons was given to English which could be reading, writing or dictation. Then history or geography would also be taught in the morning during the week. On two afternoons a week needlework was held for the girls. And as Mr Stow disliked painting he taught drawing instead. This was a much freer lesson than it had been in the past, the boys brought an object for drawing. If the results were good the lads could pastel it in.
Singing developed a great deal under Mr Stow who encouraged it both in and out of school. The pupils learnt songs and also (rounds) which were popular, many village folk have heard the singing coming from the school when they were working in the fen 1-2 miles away. Of course the wind had to be in the right direction.
The poems which the pupils learnt came from the books associated to each of the standards. The poems had to be learnt so that they could be recited to the school inspector when he paid his annual visit to the school. Mr Stow introduced a new type of lesson which he called correlation lessons or nature study he would talk about something from the natural world. The pupils would be asked to find examples and they would write about them.
Physical training was not taught by Mr Stow, who ever taught it used government guidance for the exercises which I’m sure there are similar to previous accounts. Mr Stow had been to teacher training college and when he came to Wilburton school, his second post, he could be said to have new ideas. He was strict and kept discipline and the curriculum began to broaden during his time.