It’s back to school time.  This year it will all be a little different, but things could be worse!  We’ve been looking at Topsham schools’ logbooks held in the museum . . .

Kept children round the fire, obliged to depart from routine and do what numbed fingers would allow.  Too cold to hold a pen.  Ink frozen. (21 January 1867)

Only one in the class brought sums today and . . .  I have promised all who come without sums with the cane. (18 December 1868)

Punished a great many for being late.  Some appear to be the better pleased for getting the cane. (14 December 1869)

Children come very irregularly – all kinds of excuses when I call on the parents – no shoes, no clothes, home to mind the baby, gone fishing along with father etc. (2 August 1876)

Arithmetic is very bad.  Singing is very fair.  The Grammar was nearly a total failure.  (Inspector’s Report, November 1878)

School will open at 1.30 and close at 3.30 as the children cannot see their slates by 4.00 as there is no artificial light in the school. (6 January 1902)

Children appear to be sleepy, tired and stupid, which is not surprising when such a large number work in the fields from 5 and 6 o’clock in the morning until School time and then from 4.30 until dark. (6 June 1904)

There is still no lavatory for the infants and no drinking water has been supplied. (21 October 1908)The high North window in the main room fell wholesale into the school room this afternoon and a teacher narrowly escaped being killed. (6 February 1913) 

Have fun at school, everyone!