Our School History

A History of Our School

The school was opened on Wednesday 27th April 1857 by the Lord Bishop of Oxford.
The schoolmaster was Mr. Harry Battenbush who remained in charge until 1869. Like many country schools at the time, attendance was largely governed by the seasons, the weather and poor health. Children were frequently absent because they were scaring birds, haymaking, or harvesting or because of epidemics.

An extra classroom was built and alterations were made in 1893. By this time standards at the school were high enough to gain a pleasing report from school inspectors:
"The school has been very kindly and carefully taught and the children have made good progress during the past year."

Sometimes in the early years, the school had to be closed due to epidemics of measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough or influenza. In 1907 the school had to be closed for three days to allow for disinfecting.

The children were taught such subjects as scripture, arithmetic, writing and reading. Girls were taught needlework. In the latter part of the nineteenth century history, geography and art were introduced. As the new century progressed the school became well known for its achievements in swimming (practiced in the Thames at the of the Plough pub garden!) and singing. Each year the school took part in the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Musical Festival and in 1923, they won the Challenge Shield beating ten other schools.

By 1930 the number of children in the school had increased to 100 aged from 3 to 14; a result of the closure of Little Wittenham School the previous year. By 1956 numbers had risen to 110 and overcrowding in the two classrooms forced the authority to make temporary arrangements. This involved the use of the Village Hall for the infant classes. Numbers were so high due to some children remaining in the school until the age of 15. Only in 1958, when Wallingford Secondary Modern School was opened, did numbers reduce to 90. They have remained around this number ever since. The Village Hall continued to be used until 1964 when the school was extended with the addition of the infant class rooms. A further alteration was made in 1995 when an extra classroom was "dropped in" (literally!) by a crane. This mobile classroom was fronted by brickwork to make it more in character with the rest of the building.

During the summer of 2012 the most recent structural changes took place when the 'temporary' classroom of 1995 was removed and replaced with a new room with it's own toilets! A new reception area known as the 'welcome area' was also built which has dramtically improved our entrance area.

There may have been many changes at the school over the years but generations of children have played in the same school for well over a hundred years and have benefited from the happy, friendly, family atmosphere of this village school.

For more information read The Chronicle - The Journal of the Long Wittenham Local History Group