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 Three

Headteachers And Staff

In 100 years Wootton school had a total of 7 Head Teachers. The first was a Mr. Guy. The names of Mr. & Mrs Guy appear, apparently, as sole staff on an attendance record, which begins in 1869. There were only 67 pupils in the school at that time. By 1876 there were 97 pupils and four teachers, Mr.and Mrs Guy, Mr. Caws and W. Moody, a pupil teacher. Head Teachers often had extra curricular duties as well. Mr. Guy played the harmonium at church services, probably held in the schoolroom," for which he received, in 1875 a payment of £8.7.6.

The next Head Teacher was Mr. Edmund Brading. We know much more about him as his descendants have preserved family records. When he became Head he was 29 years old. He does not appear to have gone to a training college (colleges were still rare), but was a certificated teacher and had gained a prize for excellence from the Science and Art Department of South Kensington.

He was previously schoolmaster of Rookley School and became head of the Wootton Bridge National School on October 1st 1876. As well as his teaching duties he took an active part in local affairs. He was church organist and choirmaster, conductor of the Wootton Brass Band, as secretary of various clubs, organised local events and took part in local politics as well as taking on various other responsibilities. At the time he became Head there were 5 members of staff, which included Mr. and Mrs Brading, Mr. Moody and two monitors. The mix eventually seems to have been one or two certificated teachers, one or more pupil teachers, who would still have been in training, and one or more part trained candidates. In May 1895 the school staff consisted of the Head, Edmund Brading, who was a certificated teacher, the Infant teacher, Mary Andrews Article 68 (probably a partial qualification), three pupil teachers, Kate Coffen, Agnes Saunders and M. Souter, who were at varying stages in their training, and two candidates, Bertram and Florence Brading. 32

We regularly find in the Log Book for the period references to the pupil teachers being absent from their duties to take examinations, successful passage of which was necessary to remain in their posts. Extra grants were paid for the successful candidates.

Mr. Brading was given three months notice by the School Managers in November 1898. The ostensible reason given was that he had lent stools to the Carnival Committee without permission. The genuine reason, however, remains a mystery as a note in the Log Book comments that he had done this for the last 22 years without complaint. He finally left the school in the following February. He remained in Wootton and from 1902 lived at what is now the Cedars Public House and afterwards at the Lindens in Station Road.

The next Head Teacher was Harry Sait 33. He retired on September 31st 1919 on the grounds of ill health. There had been many absences due to illness, including one lasting a full year. This, involving as it did disruption to teaching, as well as the frequent staff changes which occurred was to the detriment of work and discipline. The situation was made even worse by insufficient staffing levels, which resulted in oversized classes. At one point in 1912 one teacher was in charge of a class of 60 in 3 grades of diverse ages and abilities. Another had been transferred to the Infants class, though without experience of Infant teaching. Frank Steers served from October 1919 until November 1927. He was replaced by Sidney (Skipper) Leonard who retired in 1936 at the early age of 45 owing to ill health "brought on by wounds received in the Great War ", as the Logbook for July 1936 informs us.34

Charles Read was the next Head. The Logbook records that his appointment was temporary, but he remained until 1944. During his Headship the Second World War broke out, with resulting disruption due to the presence of evacuees, wartime restrictions and frequent air raids. He was replaced by Alan James Blundell, who left in July 1953. He too had suffered from illness. The Log Book for the period records 7 months absence due to phlebitis. At this time Miss Scott took charge of the school and was given an award by the Education Authority for her work. Mr. Blundell resigned in 1953 to go into Secondary teaching and was replaced in turn by Mrs Megan Marley, who had previously taught at Barton School. At this point the school ceased to be an all age school. It was now organised as a Primary School, for Infants and Juniors up to 11 years. During Mrs Marler's headship the new school in Church Road was built and the New Road school closed.

During the Second World War school life was inevitably widely disrupted. Despite the proximity of two major ports, the Island was considered a safe area, suitable for evacuees, a view that Islanders who found themselves in the firing line undoubtedly did not share. Enemy bombers used the Creek as a guide and on occasions jettisoned their remaining load on their way back to base, while aerial "dog fights" were a familiar sight. Later in the War the Island was designated as a "pink area", meaning that enemy invasion was highly probable.

With the arrival in September 1939, of 23 evacuees and their teachers from Meon Road School in Portsmouth, lessons were taken in split shifts, from 8.45-12 noon for the Wootton pupils and from 12-4.15pm for the evacuees. All but one teacher returned to the Portsmouth School the following Easter though the children remained and took part in a normal timetable. Eventually many of them drifted back home again till only a handful of evacuees were left.

More information on this period may be found in Mr. Osborne's book, An Evacuee's Story

  • 31 The schoolroom was licensed for services
  • 32 Log Book 1891-1905
  • 33 Log Book 1903-1924
  • 34 Log Book 1924-1944

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