The history of the New Road School in Wootton Bridge on the Isle of Wight.

If you attended this school or taught there we would be pleased to hear from you.


Chapter Two

From Foundation To Closure

Robert Stayner Holford, owner during the latter half of the 19th Century of what had been the Wootton Manor Estate, seems to have been a considerable local benefactor. He had already given land for the High Street Methodist Church and was to donate land to build a Sunday School in Church Road, also for a churchyard extension. In 1866 he gave land to build a village school. The original deeds record that he conveyed a piece of land in New Road, known as Bridge Mead, to the Minister and Churchwardens of Arreton (since this part of Wootton was in Arreton Parish). The aim of the school was stated to be, for the education of the children and adults of labouring and manufacturing and other poorer classes.

Adult classes are recorded as taking place in such subjects as drawing, book keeping and carpentry on a fairly small scale (perhaps 20 students).23

The school was funded by a Trust and administered by a Committee (elected by members subscribing at least 10s 24).The Committee had to be members of the Church of England, property owners and to have subscribed at least 20s to the Trust. It was to be maintained largely through the voluntary subscriptions, which would be raised from Arreton Parish as a whole and divided between the various schools in the district. Grants from various charities are also recorded. For instance, in 1870 a grant of £10 was received from Mann's Charity and other sums from the National Society, a Government grant of £92 and a contribution from Wootton Parish of £100 in consideration of places being reserved for their children. The financial security of the school was, of course dependant on the generosity of subscribers and Wootton School came near to closure in 1875 because of lack of funds 25. This must have been a wide spread problem and would have been a factor leading to Government control of education.

It was a Church of England school and remained so until its closure in 1969, though following various administrative changes in the early 1900s this fact was overlooked until the 1950s when Rev Arthur Genower, while researching his history of St Edmund's Church, rediscovered the original deeds. 26

The initial board of Managers consisted of, the Vicar of Arreton, Rev Hilton Scott, Rector of Wootton and Rev Vernon Tippings, the Vicar of Binstead. Local landowners on the Committee included several names still familiar, Joseph Galt of Fernhill, George Rendall of Wootton Farm, Charles Hawker of Westboume, Edmund Liebert of Woodside, and James Alfred Mew of Woodside. They seem to have taken their responsibilities very seriously, and made regular visits of inspection to the school.

As was typical at that period emphasis was placed on biblical teaching (the Bible was to be read daily) and on religious instruction, though a conscience clause existed for members of other denominations. Any disputes about religious education were to be referred to the Bishop. The rest of the curriculum consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic, and history, with needlework for the girls. After ground was donated for a school garden, the boys were directed to gardening. 27

The official opening took place on May 18th 1867 at a ceremony attended by local dignitaries. The record of this event, in the IOW Observer, together with frequent dated references to the school in the Arreton Parish Papers are proof that the school existed earlier than has been thought. In addition an entry in the Log Book, dated 28th June 1949, records "Mr. Sanders visited. Aged 80 he had entered the school at the age of 5 in 1869" The evidence indicates, however, that the building did not reach its final form until some years later. It originally seems to have consisted of only the main room. The Managers soon realised that the space was insufficient for the needs of the local population (despite the existence of a local private school)28. A second fund to build an infant's room and masters residence was set up, with HM Queen Victoria once again at the head of the subscription list, for an amount of £20. The new facilities were in place by 1873. This date, now on the wall of what used to be the Head Teacher's residence is probably what led to the belief that the school was not built till then. Further work, carried out by local builder and Manager, William Please took place over succeeding years. The Arreton Parish Papers record a series of payments totalling £132, for work carried out, though details of the work are not given. 29 The school was again in urgent need of enlargement in 1882. The work was again carried out by William Please. The original architect was Richard James Jones, whose name appears on a set of plans dated 1867. The later plans were drawn up by R Peress.

The main building and the master's house were both modified in 1906 when a parlour was built on the site of the original pantry and a larder, closet and passage on the site of the original parlour.

The school was under the control of various bodies over the years, though the premises remained church property. It was in the hands of the Diocesan Board of Finance in the 1960s when the new school was being built. Initially Wootton School was funded and managed as a National School, by the National Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. It was referred to in early documents as the Wootton Bridge National School, though at some point it became known as Wootton School. Schools also became known as "Board Schools" as a result of the Education Act of 1870, which placed education in the hands of Boards of Managers.

In 1902 education became the responsibility of Local Education Authorities. The Log Book for September 1903 records that, on the expiry of the Education Act "this school is now an unprovided School". A new Log Book was supplied by the IOW County Council. The School became known as a Council School in May 1905, though it did not receive the title of North Arreton Council School till April 1906 (this area still being part of the Parish of Arreton at that time). This was probably a result of the agreement between the managers and the LEA (3rd June 1905), which transferred the school to the LEA for 21 years with the church retaining use of the building in the evenings and at weekends. The existence of the lease was not rediscovered till the 1950s when a fresh agreement was signed.30

The 1904 Education Act codified such changes. It also placed emphasis on Secondary Education, hence the frequent mention in the years that followed of pupils sitting examinations for secondary school.

On 1st April 1933 Wootton School became the responsibility of the Newport Borough Education Committee. It became an Infant and Junior school in 1953 and received a new number of 2029 in the same year.

Drawing of rhe school as it was in the 1940's.

Wootton New Road School as it was in the 1940's.

Pupil numbers rose dramatically during the 1960s, owing to the rise in village population and a need for a larger school became increasingly felt. Land was finally acquired in Church Road and building of the new school commenced in 1968.

The PCC considered buying the old building for use as a Church Hall but the plan was abandoned. A parish magazine for July 1969 records that the County Council had agreed to purchase the building for Youth Work. At the present day it is used by various local organisations for a variety of events and purposes and as a Youth Hostel during the summer.

  • 23 Log Book 1891-1890
  • 24 50p, though worth much more in modern terms
  • 25 Managers Minute Book 1856-1891
  • 26 Parish Magazine May 1946
  • 27 Managers Minute Book1856-1891
  • 28 Managers Minute Book
  • 29 Unfortunately it has not been possible to consult the papers on the school held at the National Society Archive in London
  • 30 Oxford Companion

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