The Conduct of Children

Part 5 – Extracts from the School Log Books – The Conduct of Children

This section is something of a miscellany. It contains entries dealing with behaviour and record of attendance of pupil and also the type of punishments. It also attempts to indicate what the actual school population was at various times.

Perhaps the most noticeable thing about the behaviours and attendance of pupils in the first 60 years of the School is that it is similar to that of today’s pupils. There were a few who were very naughty and their misdemeanours and punishments are recorded as noteworthy. The great majority went to school regularly an caused no great stir.

One of the interesting features here is the attempt to ensure attendance. The abolition of fees in 1891 helped the poorest people while the introduction at Brasside of the red mark system (copied from the London School Board) made a big improvement. The Board also awarded prized for good attendance: in 1904 the County Council did not continue this practice – they chose instead to grant half day holidays for all round good attendance, only giving prizes to individuals for long term unbroken attendance.

The numbers on the School rolls varied from time to time – a reflection of the economic health of the local community. The decline of Brasside, for example, led to the closure of the school and the transfer of the children to Framwellgate Moor in 1935.

Punishment, as reflected in the log books was harsher than today’s society wishes to tolerate. It is interesting to note that unorthodox and unauthorised punishment by staff did not go unrecorded – Head Teachers did reprimand their staff. It would be wrong to see teachers as unsympathetic tyrants, their genuine concern for their pupils is abundantly clear from the other sections of this book. The crucial entries on pupil-teacher relations are found in the Brasside books for 1912 and 1918 – children behave well and work best under teachers who have control and respect – where harsh punishment is scarcely necessary. The still remains the case.

2 July 1920

Visit to Royal Agricultural Show at Darlington. (B)

26 June 1877

Reproved and cautioned Miss Palmer this morning about the dishonesty of copying during an examination having caught her in the act. (G)

15 Aug. 1877

Cautioned J.A Palmer about whipping the children having had a complaint against her from Mrs. Gregson this afternoon.

27 May 1878

(5 pupils) have left, and attend the Roman Catholic School owing to the School pence being lower at the latter place. (G)

13 Sept. 1878

The attendance…during the past week has been remarkably good. Spoke to Miss Matthews about repairing the corporal punishment to too great a degree that I have had complains from many of the parents concerning it. (G)

27 May 1880

A very wet morning consequently a poor attendance only 85 girls and 58 infants being present. (G)

8 Oct. 1880

Very many children are absent gathering potatoes. (G)

21 Jan. 1881

The discipline in this School is very bad children not being able to read and write a single letter or sing one song. The weather has been very severe this week attendance poor. (I)

28 Jan. 1881

Many children are shivering and crying with cold consequently the attendance is still low as parents object to send their children while such is the case. The ink still remains frozen. (G)

31 July 1882

The monitors are so backward that they only teach two hours a day and devote the rest of their time to their lessons. (I)

6 April 1883

Pupil has left school to go to service although only 11 years of age. (G)

28 Aug. 1883

Punished F.A Hall this morning for stubbornness. (G)

26 Sept. 1883

Resolved that in the opinion of the Board undue severity has been made use of in the case of F.A Hall and that an entry be made in the log book to that effect.

With regard to the above… I spent fully 15 minutes in trying to get her to speak in any shape or form as it was something she knew… I knew it was utter stupidity; as she is a girl who often gives me trouble in this way. I punished her with a short cane. (G)

19 April 1886

I punished John Bowes at his father’s request for playing the truant last week. (I)

27 June 1886

7 infants made a mistake at playtime – thinking it was hometime. (Br)

20 Aug. 1886

The men are still out on notice at Cat House Pit…Many of the children are off school on this account as their parents cannot pay their school fees. (Br)

16 Sept. 1886

A very bad attendance this afternoon as a number of the children have gone to Durham to the Circus. (I)

21 Sept. 1888

It is uphill work…and many of the children have anything but good homes so it is very difficult to teach them obedience. (Br)

11 Aug. 1890

Commenced a new quarter in the Register with 108 names on Books.

24 Dec. 1890

Mr. Luke and Mr. Thompson distributed prizes to the children who had made 400 or more attendances during the past year. There were only 17 girls who gained prizes. (G)

Nov. 1894

Report 1894 – Discipline has improved. (I)

31 Jan. 1898

I was obliged to punished L. Bradley this afternoon for disobedience and swearing. (Br)

28 April 1898

I sent J. Marshall home for continued disobedience to my orders and refusing to do his lessons. I have had to punish him several times lately for disobedience and bad conduct during school hours. (Br)

7 Oct. 1898

Next Monday the teacher intends to give early marks as is done under the London School Board. The register will be called as soon as the children are assembled and marked with red ink. All who get 10 red marks per week will have a ticket given to them on Friday afternoons. The children who come in after the first calling of names will be marked as usual in black ink. At Christmas each child who has never missed one early mark will receive a prize or white medal. (Br)

6 July 1900

Have applied for a “Corporal Punishment Book!” (Br)

3 April 1903

There is an imbecile, a girl of eight who had a bench to herself as she upsets the other children when amongst them, putting pencils in their ears. (Br)

24 March 1905

The County Council cannot see their way at present to allow the prizes the scholars have earned last year by their regular attendance and punctuality. (Br)

3 Nov. 1905

A half holiday for 95.3% attendance last month. (Br)

17 Aug. 1908

School reopened after summer vacation, number on the books 200, number present 173. (G)

7 Sept. 1910

Pupil left school at 11 a.m. without leave because she was kept in to write a lesson for punishment. (G)

15 Sept. 1910

Further trouble with same pupil so excluded her until I hear from the Education Committee. (G)

10 May 1912

The Infants are getting to know and obey the new supplementary Assistant. (Br)

6 March 1914

There are only 135 girls on Register. (G)

22 March 1918

The Infants are shaping better under the S.A. now she can keep order. (Br)

12 Sept. 1919

The School closed at noon having earned the Attendance half holiday. (B)

21 Dec. 1921

Received First class Attendance Prize – “In the Trossachs”. (B)

10 Jan. 1922

No. on books 152. No. present 142. This, the worst attendance for 12 months, is caused entirely by sickness. (B)

9 Jan. 1923

Number on roll now fallen to 136. (G)

23 March 1925

Wm. Whitfield, whose attendance has been the worst in the school today went home on being sent into the porch for punishment for lying… father has already attended the police court at Durham for the non-attendance of his children. (B)

23 Jan. 1928

During the afternoon session today, I accidently struck one of my senior boys on the eye with the B.B duster. I attended to him, bathing his eye and sending his father an explanatory letter. (B)

12 Nov. 1930

Attendance officer called today and brought etching for Phyllis Bolt – a scholar who has made five years unbroken attendance. (Br)

20 Jan. 1932

Today at 1.30 Mr. Staplin, father of one of my scholars used abusive and obscene language to me at the back door of the school. His son had been punished for impertinence and had gone home directly. (B)

21 Jan. 1932

Reported the matter above to N.U.T. at Hamilton House. (B)

25 Jan. 1932

Received a reply from Union Headquarters solicitor that the parent has been written to informing him that if he used either obscene of abusive language on the school premises again proceedings would at once be taken against him. (B)

10 Nov. 1932

Leslie Graham received a presentation picture from the Education Committee for 8 years unbroken attendance. (B)

22 Jan. 1935

Boy ran home this morning at playtime for a trivial reason. He has been sent from Std. VII to a lower Std. to find out how many pence in 1/8. He returned to school this afternoon after a visit from, the Attendance Officer and I gave him three stokes on the hand with the cane. (B)