Methods of Teaching and Subjects Taught
All members of the group agreed that subjects were taught formally from the front of the class and included, reading, writing, English, arithmetic, geography, history, science, drawing, scripture, "times table and poetry". As a church school great emphasis was put on Religious Instruction (RI). The RI Inspectors report of 1920 states: "The Scripture teaching is carried out with care, ... the recitation was good". But the report for 1922 said: "on the whole the answers were given intelligently. The infants were a little backward owing ... to ... lack of sufficient staff... This remark would appear to bear out a recollection that there were only three staff and three classes some of the time. The RI Report of 1923 commends the singing.
Regular examinations were held throughout the year and included:
(i) The Children's Record Book Examination
(ii) The Education Committees Test
(iii) The Minor Scholarship Examination
(iv) Drawing Test
From the early 1920s practical instruction was given in cookery, gardening, bee keeping, needlework, domestic science, science and woodwork.
The school had very limited space and the cookery and domestic science lessons were held in the Laundry at The Rectory by invitation of Canon Richard Abbay, school manager and rector.
Mr. Thorn taught the boys gardening for two hours on a regular basis. The school garden where "veg. and stuff" was grown, was situated opposite the Falcon Inn at the top of the Town Lands Allotment field, 5 minutes walk from the school. The plots were judged yearly for the Steward Memorial Scheme. The highlight of the year was the Earl Soham Flower Show and pupils were given a day off to prepare for it. In 1924 the decision was made to hold a "...new Technical Instruction Class". No further details are given.
His Majesty's Inspectors (HMI) report records that there were "no facilities for children to attend a practical Instruction Centre." The school had acquired tools and a workbench, and the work on the school allotment "link(ed) . . .with the science teaching". The following timetable is given:
Mondays - Domestic science - girls
Tuesdays - cookery - boys
(both the above taken by Miss Abbay, and later by Mrs Watson)
Wednesdays - Woodwork - boys
One former pupil said "we done sewing when the boys were gardening and science".
Another recalled that science was undertaken in the small lobby off the Seniors' Room.
It is believed that the services of Canon Abbay, Miss Abbay and Mrs. Watson would have been on a voluntary basis, all being of considerable standing in the village.
It was not until the new Village Hall opened in 1935 that the teaching difficulties eased. The Local Education Authority (LEA) agreed to rent the Village Hall for thee days a week, enabling the provision of Practical Instruction, Physical Training, games, a canteen and a means of drying wet clothes, all facilities that had previously been lacking.
Boys and girls took cookery lessons and domestic science. The woodwork benches were covered with table tops and "we had huge great saucepans when we all boiled our puddings". The girls were taught how to make beeswax polish and do laundry work.
HMI Report, 1936 records the school was "essentially rural... four classes... 103 children (half seniors)... 24 from other Junior Schools". It was also noted "The Headmaster and staff ... (were) prepared to review and modify old methods." Attention was paid to those children who were more interested in practical subjects than books, and the "standard of work … was better than that obtained by older and more direct methods."