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Extracts from the Barling School Log Book (1901 - 1950)

Article by Richard Kirton - Saturday 17th June 2017

Peter Griffiths presenting the old Barling School Log Book to acting Head Teacher, Sue Clarke.On Friday 16 June 2017, I arrived at Barling Magna Primary Academy to meet Sue Clarke, the acting Head Teacher. The purpose of the visit was to present her academy with a freshly bound School Log Book from the old Barling School, covering the years 1901 to 1950. Half a dozen of us turned up and went to the assembly: Peter Griffiths, Dawn (Mumford) Bailey, David Bailey, Brenda (Keen) Cornwell, Veronica (Keen) Jones and me.


Sue escorted us to the main assembly room and we sat at the front, facing the teachers and the school children. Peter, who managed this project, then addressed the teachers and school children and explained the purpose of our visit with a very brief history of the old school. The original Log Book was falling apart and Peter showed them the handsome newly bound Log Book along with its old and well worn cover.

Peter explained to the audience that in the early days of the last century, there were many reasons why Barling School children did not go to school. Taking turns, we each read out the following examples of some of these reasons from the first pages of the Log Book in 1901:

July 11th School closed this afternoon on account of Little Wakering Church Sunday School Treat.

July 12th The heat overcame three children this morning - two of them were unable to attend the afternoon session.

July 19th Attendance dropped this afternoon to 114 pupils. Fruit picking accounts for a number of children being absent.

July 24th Attendance decreased to 114 pupils this morning. Still further decreased to 108 in the afternoon owing to rain during dinner time.

July 25th A very heavy shower coming on at three o'clock, the children were kept back in school until 4.35.

September 2nd In the first class only 22 were present out of 36 children. Several children were potato picking.

September 25th Attendance was very low this afternoon on account of a Circus in Southend.

We could see from the children’s faces that they were really focused on our presentation and we were pleased to take a few questions at the end. One very sweet question from one of the young girl students was how the book was rebound and Peter with his old teachers hat on was quick to respond to explain the role of the ‘Book Binder’. Peter then presented the School Log Book to Sue.

Peter commented that at the end, he was very touched by a tall, fair-haired boy from Year Six, who, as he passed, gestured to the six of us and said ‘Thank you. That was good!’ It was so nice of him to register his liking of our presentation.

Once the children had dispersed, we had the privilege of sitting and sharing coffee with some of the teachers in the staff room. I have to say that the children were extremely well behaved and attentive to our presentation and I personally felt it a privilege to be there. I would like to say ‘a warm thank you’ to Sue Clarke and her staff for making us feel so welcome.