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Proliferation of private schools in bay

WASHED AND PRESSED: Children of Reculver Church of England School
WASHED AND PRESSED: Children of Reculver Church of England School

HERNE Bay was a popular venue from the mid-19th century for private educational establishments. By 1912 there were no fewer than 13 in the town catering for both boarding and day-school facilities for both boys and girls and offering a range of subjects and facilities. For example, Downs Park College Boarding School for Boys offered Individual Tuition: Successful Preparation for Public Examinations: Civil Service, Professions and Commerce and also “entire charge of pupils where parents are abroad”. This image taken in the early 1900s showing pupils celebrating by dancing around the Maypole at one of the private schools in the area is typical of similar events that would have been carried on in many other schools of the period. They provided entertainment for visitors and friends as well as a forum for the presentation of certificates, cups and medals earned by pupils for academic and sporting achievements during their school year.

Over on the edge of town at Reculver, meanwhile, was a typical Victorian village school and as late as 1915 the average roll was never more than 50. Our image shows the children of Reculver Church of England School with their two teachers taken in the early 1900s. The school was founded as a National School for the parish of Reculver under a trust deed signed by the Vicar or Reculver and Churchwardens in 1874 and opened in 1875 with just two rooms. Until 1948 it was an “all age school”, taking children from the age of five up until the leaving age of 14. Village schools typically had smaller classes; however, the age groups would be varied. It wasn’t uncommon to see a six-year-old child working in the same classroom as a 10-year-old. Due to the size of school classrooms, lessons became regimented and adopted a significant amount of repetition. Usually this would consist of the classroom teacher writing on the chalkboard and the children copying this down.

Herne Bay Times, March 4th 2015

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