Spooner Row is a small, friendly, traditional village school, situated on the northern edge of Spooner Row village. It has strong links with the Spooner Row Acorns pre-school group, which shares its site. The school is part of the Enrich Learning Trust, which also includes the High Schools of Wymondham High Academy, Long Stratton High School and Neatherd High School in Dereham, with Kenninghall Primary School joining alongside that of Spooner Row at primary level.
The main school building is Victorian and maintains a commanding position within the village. It was built in 1875, with its build cost recorded as being £1,063 and 10 shillings. The playground wraps around 2 sides of the main building and has recently benefited from an explosion of colour with children’s games painted onto the tarmac. The main school and its support buildings have been extensively adapted over the years to meet the needs of modern life in a primary school. It also benefits from a conservation and wildlife garden, along with it having access to the nearby playing field. Teaching is organised in four teaching groups, which vary in size and composition according to pupil numbers.
Head: Bridget Hanton
Telephone: 01953 603356
Address : Station Road, Spooner Row, Wymondham, NR18 9JR
In January 1873 the Wymondham School Board discussed a letter from the Education Department asking for information about education in the Wymondham area. A total of 130 places were identified as required for the area including Spooner Row, Wattlefield and Burfield.
Things moved quickly and in February of the very same year it was agreed to build a school a short distance from the Station at Spooner Row to accommodate children from 6-13 years. In March permission was received to proceed from the Education Department. In the meantime a room was rented to the Wymondham School Board from William Clarke for £5 a year. This was probably the school run by Harriet Ringer in a large house now demolished.
Mr. J. Pearce, the appointed Architect drew up the plans and these were put out to tender with advertisements placed in the local papers. Colman & Woodbine’s price of £1,063.10.0d to build the school was agreed and the contract was signed on 1st April 1874, only 16 months after the original discussions had taken place. In July of the same year, a tender was agreed for the erection of the school house.
The position of master was offered to Thomas Day, master at Fairland School in Wymondham, at a salary of £100 a year. The role also came with the school house rent free and it was agreed that Mr.Day’s wife would teach the girls needlework. Shortly after moving in on 24th February, Mr.Day asked for post for a linen line, an oven in the kitchen, shelves in the wash house, and blinds for the windows.
The date for the opening of the school was fixed as May 31st 1875. By the beginning of July there were 110 children on role, and monitors were being trained to help with the teaching. Later in February 1886 the local Education Board became concerned about the low attendance at Spooner Row. Mr. Day thought it was due to an epidemic of measles and the fact hat 26 children had left the district. He was however told to report the monthly attendance figures. The end of the report also mentions that parents had complained that the Bible was not being read daily. Mr. Day admitted to this and was instructed to rectify this wrong.
Throughout the school’s early history, there is a fluctuation of attendance according to the agricultural seasons, the epidemics of childhood illnesses, and the effects of walking to school in poor clothing. On February 21st 1906 the headmaster reports “A very wet and snowy morning. Attendance very thin. I miss the Scripture considering it more prudent to attend the drying of the children’s clothes.” On Sep 21st 1908 the headmaster notes “Owing to the continued bad weather the harvest operations have been prolonged and consequently the holidays extended to 6 weeks.” On Jan 10th 1910 illness appears to have struck the village n that the headmaster writes “School reopened this morning after prolonged closure for diphtheria. We have spent the day finding out what the children have forgotten.”
There as always a connection between the school and the family at Wattlefield Hall, the employer and landlord of most of the fathers of the school children. At the end of the summer term Mrs Routh Clarke came to supervise the essays and apples were sent from the estate for the children once a year.
The war years produced there own special difficulties, evacuee children attended the School, although from the available records many of them did not stay in the area long. Often children and mothers came together, in some cases several children, many of them from Gravesend. Some in fact stayed less than a year, arriving in October 1940 and leaving in January of the next year. Conditions must have been already cramped in such small village cottages, so accommodating 2 or more extra people must have been no easy task, especially when they came from what must have seemed another world.
One villager who welcomed a mother and baby into her home was baffled by their strange ways. She always took a jug of hot water up to her evacuee and baby. No mains water back then, it came from a well outside in the garden) and it was used to wash the mother and baby, wash the clothes and wash up after the evening meal. She wondered about the order for the various washings!
In March 19th 1943, the Headmaster wrote “Several Suton children were absent this morning on account of disturbances in the night when land mines and incendiaries were dropped in Sawyer’s Lane and neighbourhood.” Soon after gas masks started to be seen in the village.
The School played a part in regularly checking the children’s gas masks and in 1944, it made an application for rubber boots for the children via he American Red Cross and Women’s Voluntary Service (W.V.S)
On 8th and 9th May 1945 Victory in Europe (V.E.) Holidays were granted to commemorate the cease fire in Europe but Midsummer Exams started at the School as arranged on May 10th.
Pupil numbers have always fluctuated from the 130 when the school was built to 150 children in 1912. But by 1928 the roll had fallen to 93 and dropped gradually to that of only 71 in 1971. In 1975 the School celebrated its 100 years anniversary and one parent at the celebrations pointed out that children were still using outside toilets which froze in the winter.
Thank you to Alison Peters for this submission.