Falstone : The 19th Century Education
Much information regarding Falstone's role as the educational centre for the surrounding district towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century and the history of the Board school can be gleaned from the school logbooks. It is clear that attendance was often disrupted by the needs of the agricultural calendar which meant that children were required to provide additional labour on the farms. Thus attendance was very irregular throughout July 1897 - the month before the 5 week summer holidays - the result, the master reported, of the 'sheep shearing prevalent in the neighbourhood and a great many children go to them' (2 July 1897).
The following week attendance was again 'very irregular . . . . as farms are still busy shearing their sheep' (9 July). The attraction of Bellingham cattle show, later in the month, also proved disruptive, with nearly half the pupils absent because of it.
Eleven years later, after the County Council had been given the role of Local Education Authority, summer attendance seems to have improved markedly, with 96% present (100 % of the girls) in the penultimate week of July 1908 (though attendance was again poor when the school reopened in the following September. However more fundamental problems, relating to the school building itself, were highlighted by the School Inspector's report in the same month:
The School consists of a single room 15ft wide, which is poorly lighted the windows in both sides being overshadowed by trees. Immediately adjoining it is an open disused stable which is a standing nuisance and not being the property of the owners of the School is an obstacle in the way of carrying out necessary alterations. A class-room and a larger cloak-room with better entrances are needed. The situation of the school is by no means a good one, and the question whether a new School should not be built on a better and larger site is one which should be carefully considered by the Local Authority.
Accordingly, the Local Authority was instructed to furnish a definite statement within three months, outlining the steps it proposed to take for the improvement of the school, otherwise the school would no longer be recognised by the Department of Education.
Picture : Falstone Old School