Old Silksworth School Report

This school has 53 pupils with an age range from 5 to 11 organised in two classes. The school buildings have marked limitations and the playground facilities are extremely small. These shortcomings are offset to some degree by the beautiful natural surroundings in the village and district.

The children are of a good type; they are well-mannered and delightful to work with.

The English in both classes reaches a fairly satisfactory standard. The children speak well and responded readily during the visit. Their written work shows progression and they are acquiring a love of reading. The older pupils are making good use of the small school library and there is evidence of reading at home for pleasure. Some dramatisation is taken in both classes by the assistant teacher. This requires greater development and there should be more use of spontaneous dramatisation in the lower class.

The oral and written tests set in Arithmetic revealed that the children generally reach a good standard. During the visit methods of getting a more realistic approach to this work, particularly with the younger children, were discussed.

History and Geography are given rather formal treatment and a greater use of the material available in the district would be helpful.

The Head Teacher takes Music in both classes and a fair repertoire is being taught. Country dancing has recently been added to the curriculum for the top class and shows promise.

The Art teaching shows progression and is applied to other subjects in the course.

The Nature Study is strengthened by the use of the school garden in which there are separate plots for group work. More could be done in the use of the school environment which provides good opportunities for observation of natural phenomena.

The Head Teacher (Miss Charlton) was only appointed last year and has made a promising start. During the course of the visit she was advised on various aspects of the school’s work and the development of her ideas will be looked forward to with interest.

5th June 1952

This small school has fifty-four pupils on roll. There are two classes, one of infants and one (taken by the Head Mistress herself) of juniors.

The premises are old and the facilities limited. One of the two classrooms, used by the infants, is very small and greatly restricts movement. Storage space is negligible. The substitution of light modern furniture for the heavy dual desks would enable the best use to be made of the limited space and would greatly assist the service of the meal. One of the two small cloakrooms has been utilised as a scullery; the other contains four hand basins of antiquated pattern. There is no waterborne sanitation; the earth closets are exceptionally well maintained. The whole school has recently been greatly improved by re-decoration. There is, at present, no hard surface, but the Authority plans to provide one by utilising a small plot of ground adjacent to the school.

The eager, confident attitude of the children is delightful. The youngest pupils quickly settle down into this friendly community, where the older children care spontaneously for the young. The smallness of the room hinders the provision of interesting occupations for the youngest children, and perhaps they spend more time than is desirable in desks working at formal subjects. Most of the youngest children talk freely and well, but the rest of the language work is somewhat slower. The beginning of reading seems unnecessarily slow and laborious, with an excessively analytical approach; the opportunities for writing do not yet give the children scope to show their real powers. It would be beneficial if the range of artistic and creative work could be widened. Each day the children have some opportunities for physical education; their social training is good.

Most of the work of the junior pupils is wisely done on an individual basis. The normal, fluent conversation of the classroom is a very pleasing feature of the oral work. Reading is generally satisfactory; that of a number of pupils is excellent. The task is now to provide them continuously with reading matter appropriate to their needs. Written English is rather disappointing in extent and in interest; the generous time allotted to exercises in usage does not seem to produce effective results. Number work, individually taught, reaches a satisfactory standard.

Pupils are keenly interested in their environment and are moderately well informed. The brief records seen in History, Geography and Nature Study lack quality and significance. More maps are needed to encourage a study of the locality and to exercise the lively intelligence of these pupils.

Some carefully worked embroidery is done by the girls, as well as simple needlework and knitting. The scope of the boys’ craft seen was limited. Further consideration might profitably be given to the expansion of the art and craft generally.

This is a happy school, and credit for this and for the eager response of the children goes to the Head Mistress. Further consideration will need to be given to some aspects of the work before the potentialities of these willing and intelligent children are fully realised.

May 1954?