Miss Jessie Black
Miss Watson was succeeded by Miss Jessie Black, who took temporary charge of the school on 3rd September 1906 and was permanently appointed headmistress on 1st October.
Hers was to be a long tenure, until her death in 1925.
Joe Cowe, a pupil from 1918-1921 remembers Miss Black. True to her name, she invariably dressed in black.
Joe also recalls the weekly visit of Major Robson to take PT and also the celebration of Royal Oak Day.
(In AOY page 19 is a 1909 picture of a PT/Drill session in the Hall of Harrowgate Hill Boys Elementary School, now (2002) HH Infant School, with the instructor on the right. This is presumably Mr/Major Robson who figures regularly in the Log Books.)
Below are some of Miss Black’s early entries in the Log Book.
The attendance is fairly good but I should like the children to come in more punctually. Several lost their mark this week through being late.
Father Chadwick and Councillor Prior visited the school and checked the register.
Attendance still pretty good, but a great many come late. I have written to the parents…and hope that may have some good effect.
I have had to classify the children in the First Class, as 31 of them were so far in advance of the rest, the latter having been transferred from the 3rd Class, while the former had passed through the 2nd Class.
I find the working of the classes much more satisfactory since their rearrangement.
Prize Giving. Father Chadwick.
Entries during 1907 include:
The attendance continues good and I am unable to admit any more children at present. Number on books 151. Average attendance 128.
At the behest of the Education Office, the children who lived out of the Borough were sent home, 18 in number.
Half-day holiday on account of percentage attendance last month reaching 85%.
Holiday on account of the Darlington Horse and Dog Show.
Half-day holiday on account of the Drill Competition between the schools in the town.
The Secretary (CEO) has granted permission to the Head Teachers to be present at the Technical College to be photographed. Half-day holiday.
I have examined the classes and find that they show signs of steady work during the Quarter.
On 24th March 1908:
HMI Boyde’s Report:
This school is being carried on in two classrooms which properly form part of the Girls’ Department. These rooms are now quite unsuitable for a school of this size and importance, and a satisfactory standard of efficiency will not be attained until the classes can be isolated and the organisation carried out on suitable lines. The LEA should therefore carry out their proposals for the provision of more suitable accommodation as soon as possible.
During the year 1908 the average attendance was 135. A fourth teacher, Miss. E. Raine, unqualified (U), joined the staff on 26th August. (EH1909) (EH = Educational Handbook, an annual publication up to about 1921, copies in Darlington Library).
Some 1909 entries:
Received circular from Education Office intimating that the official accommodation of this school is now 130.
(For picture of Education Office see GJFOPP62)
Miss Nicholls absent to sit L.L.A. examination in Geography.
School finished early to give the children an opportunity to hear the Royal Marine Band.
Registers checked for LEA by Father Chadwick and T. Crooks.
(This could be Councillor/Alderman Tommy Crooks after whom the park on Yarm Road was named.)
Miss Theresa Madden, started here as assistant teacher today.
(We record this fact because Margaret Jeavons (née Skinner) remembers Miss Madden as her first teacher and because she is mentioned on many occasions in the coming years as a habitual absentee.)
During the year 1909 the average attendance was 165. As stated above, a fifth teacher, Miss Madden, unqualified, joined the staff during the year. The ‘accommodation’ figure, as assigned by the Board, had been raised from 130 to 264. (EH1910)
Some 1910 entries:
I gave permission to my certificated assistant to inflict corporal punishment.
Inspector’s Report (26th April):
The discipline should be sufficiently exact to secure the attention, cooperation and due progress of the children. It is least satisfactory in the 1st Class. The method of teaching Reading is in the main satisfactory but progress is slow and the boys of the 1st Class are backward in this subject. The children recite clearly and distinctly, and with some appreciation of the simple poetry they have learned.
The Number lessons have not proved very effective and more modern ballframes should be supplied. Handwriting reaches a fair standard. Most of the singing heard was harsh; better voice training and more frequent practice with the piano should lead to improvement.(One former pupil of the 1930s recalls how he was labelled a 'grunter' or 'growler' and as such was not permitted to join in when the class was invited or instructed to sing.) The children are trained to draw from simple objects; the aim is correct and the execution moderately satisfactory. The kindergarten occupations seem well chosen and they are connected with the various objects taught. The rooms appear to be imperfectly warmed.
There are several cases of measles in the Babies’ Room.
Miss Nicholls leaves today to take a headship.
28 children have been admitted from Rise Carr School this week.
Needlework inspectress visited the school
During 1910 the average attendance was 197. Miss Nicholls (to take a headship), Miss Allison (27th October) and Miss Raine all departed and were replaced by four TCs, Misses Elizabeth T. Laws (2/11/1910), Lily Bishop, Mabel B. Robson, and Alice Escombe. They were all newly qualified, on a salary of £80, except for Miss Laws on £85. This presumably indicated she was a university graduate. Another new appointment was the unqualified Miss Edith I. Mudd, earning £37 10/-. Mrs Wood started on 3rd May. (EH1911)
Some 1911 entries:
School closed for six weeks on account of epidemic of Fever (March).
The four-year old children were excluded today. There were 13 of them (May).
[color red]School closed for Coronation holiday (22nd June).
(Darlington celebrated in a big way the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary. Prizes were given for the best decorated business premises, residences and cottages. A civic service was held in St. Cuthbert’s Church in the morning, and in the afternoon the senior school children assembled on High Row to sing the National Anthem, conducted from the balcony of the Town Clock, and accompanied by Mr. Hoggett’s and the Salvation Army bands. Then they marched to South Park, where entertainments were provided, including a Punch and Judy show, a Trooping of the Colour by the Church Lads Brigade and a display in the River Skerne by the Darlington Amateur Swimming Club. Another way of marking the occasion was the presentation of one newly minted George V shilling to each of 480 aged poor. (GJFOPP30))
HMI Grimshaw remarked on the backwardness of the children and advised that extra lessons be given in the three R’s, so for a time I intend to substitute these in place of some handwork lessons and the morning singing lesson (October).
(This device was often used).
Miss Madden absent to sit Certificate Examination. (November)
(It seems she was unsuccessful, for she is later listed as still unqualified.)
During 1911 the average attendance was 219. There were no changes in the staff. All received an increment of £5 per annum. (EH1912)
Some 1912 entries:
Bad weather. Only 104 present out of 300 (?)(February).
Short lunch hour to enable children to visit Wombwell’s Menagerie in town.
The upper division of the first class attain a very fair standard in Reading, Writing and Counting, and their Singing has improved; there are however a large number of comparatively old and backward children in the lower divisions of this class, and the average age of the third class is also rather high. It appears however that a good many children enter the school at a somewhat advanced age. The pains taken by the teachers in the preparation and illustration of their ‘Observation Lessons’ deserve praise. (17th May )
School closed for Old English Festival (June).
School closed for Poor Children’s Trip (September).
During 1912 there was only one change in the permanent staff, newly qualified Emily Scott replacing Miss Escolme on 12th January. Many staff come and go on supply, due to frequent absence. (EH1913)
Some 1913 entries:
As many of the children in Class 1C are backward for their age, I think it advisable to give a few extra lessons in the three R’s.
By request of the Education Committee the last lesson of this morning’s session was devoted to a talk about Captain Scott.
(Captain Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole on 17th January 1912.
I wonder if Amundsen was mentioned during the talk.)
Modifications in timetable to allow for a daily Health Lesson.
School not held in afternoon on account of Bulb Competition (April).
HMI Report on visit of 11th/12th March:
The staff work very earnestly and carefully.
Their efforts are handicapped
1). in Reading by an insufficient supply of readers, especially of a continuous character for classwork and
2). in the number lessons by the very mixed character of the upper classes, a difficulty which also affects the Reading. Writing appears to be the best subject.
The syllabus of Object Lessons requires revision and the use of modelling as a means of compelling observation should be considered.
The Drawing Exercises should be more carefully graded but in this subject some very creditable work was done. The varied occupations were all sensibly taken.
School closed for Poor Children’s Excursion to Redcar (July).
At the end of 1913 the number on the books, not the average attendance as given in previous years, was 280, and yet the staff was down from seven to five, Misses Bishop and Robson (18th February) having left. (EH1914)
Some 1914 entries:
Drill (PT) instructor (Major Robson) present. Slight deviation from normal timetable. (See AOY 19 for picture).
Variation in timetable to enable children to visit the Beast Show.
School closed in afternoon on account of School Flower Show.
School closed early to allow children opportunity to visit the circus.
School closed for Poor Children’s treat (June).
Inspectors’ Report on visit of 18th May:
There is improvement in the general tone and methods of this school; and if continued attention is given to the development of brightness and resource in the teaching, the results should be satisfactory.
A promising start has been made with the new year’s work; the methods generally are on approved lines. The singing heard merits commendation.
It is doubtful whether so large a proportion of the drawing should be done on blackboards.
No.5 Room stoved to prevent spread of diphtheria, of which there have been several cases (June).
(Note: At Sarajevo on 28th June 1914 Gavrilo Princip shot the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This event led to the First World War, which Britain entered on 4th August. The start of the war is not mentioned in the Log Book but its effect on the school soon becomes apparent.)
On 7th September Miss Doris Cooper joined the staff. On the following day the HT found many children in Class 1C to be backward for their age so she decided to give extra lessons in Reading and Counting, replacing the ten minutes morning singing lesson and the afternoon handwork lesson.
On 23rd November the times of session were changed (i.e. reduced) to accommodate another school.
(This arrangement was presumably due to the fact that the other school was occupied by troops.)
Some 1915 entries:
On 12th January 1915 the school was taken for the use of soldiers, so lessons were moved to the Wesleyan Sunday School in Lowson Street.
(This is the first direct reference in the Log Book to the First World War, which had begun five months earlier).
On 15th January a measles epidemic was declared in the town and from 12th February until Easter, on the advice of the Medical Officer, the school was closed. During this period assistants from the Infants Department helped out in the Upper Departments, which had remained open.
On 30th March Miss Laws left the staff.
On 13th April the school re-opened after Easter and 54 boys and 58 girls were transferred to the upper departments.
On 7th May it was decided that, when fine, the upper classes would sometimes ‘walk out’ instead of taking the usual recreation in the playground.
On 14th May the school returned to its own building, and teaching resumed there, but on 18th May the military moved in again.
On 23rd June the school re-opened in the new St Paul’s building on a part-time basis, alternating mornings and afternoons with Rise Carr Infants from week to week. Attendance was poor, especially in the mornings.
On 1st July 30 children arrived at school very wet from a heavy thundershower and the HT sent them home.
On 12th July the school returned to its own building on a full time basis.
On 9th September Miss Annie Muriel Yare joined the staff.
On 3rd November 17 children from China and Dublin Streets were requested to transfer to St Paul’s Council School. The school was again working half time.
On 10th November several children had chicken pox.
On 9th May the school was working full time.
On 24th May the school closed in the afternoon for Empire Day.
(When did we stop this celebration?)
On 29th August Miss Doris Cooper left for Corporation Road Infants and Miss Gannaway joined the staff. On the following day Miss Yare left for St John’s Infants and Miss Blenkinsopp joined the staff.
From October until Easter 1917 the school collaborated with Rise Carr Infants, whose premises were occupied by the military, alternating mornings and afternoons. Double staff was a great benefit, for more individual attention could be given to the children.
On 7th May Rise Carr pupils returned to their own premises and full-time schooling was resumed in Lowson Street.
24th May was Empire Day. The children assembled in North Road Park in the morning, and the afternoon was a holiday.
In the week of 11th June some of the older boys worked in the School Garden but it was decided not to keep the garden that season since it was wanted for food production.
On 25th August Miss Johnson, (TC and Froebel-trained), joined the staff but on the following day was transferred to the Girls’ Department.
13th September was declared a holiday, it being the fiftieth Anniversary of Darlington as a borough.
On 11th October Rise Carr children were again occupying two of the school’s rooms, so half time working was resumed. School finished five minutes early to allow the ‘little ones’ to get dressed and away before the older children left.
During the week 20th–24th March, the school closed in the afternoons to enable staff to be at the Technical College helping Food Control (?)
The 23rd April was a half-day holiday to celebrate St George’s Day.
(When did this celebration cease?)
On 6th May the timetable was curtailed to enable staff to visit the High School. On the same day Miss Gregg started in place of Miss Madden, who in fact had not actually left.
On 8th May the timetable was curtailed to enable staff to hear the Montessori lecture.
On 10th May the timetable was again curtailed, this time to enable staff to visit the Immaculate Conception School, Southend.
(Southend was the home of Joseph Pease (son of Edward, the ‘Father of Railways’) until his death in 1872.
See SCDUMC for photograph taken in 1870)
On 13th May full time schooling resumed, with a new timetable in operation for the ‘Babies’.
On 16th May Miss Madden resigned after nine years. She moved to Reid Street Infants.
On 26th July Miss Gannaway left to go to DTC for nursery school training.
On 27th August Miss Scott left for Corporation Road Infants. Miss Henderson and Miss L. Marshall joined the staff.
On 11th November the school closed to celebrate the ‘Peace Declaration’ and also because of the influenza epidemic. There were street parties everywhere.
There were no more entries of any significance in the Log Book until 26th June 1919 when the school closed early to allow children to see procession of ‘Naval Heroes.’
On 17th July the school closed in afternoon for the Morris Dance Display at Feethams Field.
(Feethams was once known as the prettiest part of town. In SCDUMC is a photograph taken in 1905. Before the building of Victoria Road the land was open and the southern portion became the home of Darlington FC. There are later pictures in DSD6 and DSD37)
On 21st July the school closed for the Peace Holiday.
On 10th November the school closed because there was no heating due to a leakage in the boiler.
On 25th June the school closed for the Royal Show Holiday.
(The Royal Agricultural Show had previously been staged at Hummersknott in 1895. In 1920 its site was Hundens Park. In SCDUMC is a photograph of Prince George, the Duke of York, being welcomed there by the Marchioness of Londonderry. Also in the picture is the Member of Parliament, the Rt. Hon. H. Pike Pease. See also AOY29).
On 14th October Class II visited the Blacksmith’s Shop in Bowman Street. On the same day the school was heated for the first time since the summer.
On 15th October a notice was received from the Education Office that children residing out of the Borough were not to be admitted.
In the afternoon of 22nd December parents were invited to the school to see the children at work. “They appeared much interested”.
On 11th January seven children residing out of the Borough were excluded.
On 13th January six of the above in the Drinkfield Area were given permission to attend again.
On 17th January all the children who were excluded were readmitted.
On 22nd April the School Nurse visited the school to examine the children as regards cleanliness.
On 8th June the timetable was sent to the Office for approval of morning session being altered five minutes on account of traffic at dinner hour near the school.
On 30th August the school opened after the Midsummer holiday – in the Lowson Street Building, having moved from Bowman Street.
On 28th February the school was closed in honour of Princess Mary’s wedding.
(Princess Mary was the only daughter of King George V. She married Henry, Earl of Harewood. Later she became the Princess Royal and visited the town).
On May 1st the Board of Education gave its report on the April inspection. It was countersigned by CEO H.Whalley, who had succeeded A.C.Boyde in 1920:
The school is organised in six classes and staffed by a Head Mistress and six Assistants, five of whom are certificated.
The two upper classes – Classes 1 and 2 – consist of children usually forming the lowest class of the school for older scholars. Class I which contains the brighter children of this year group is making fair progress in most subjects. Class 2 contains the slower children of the year group and several children suffer from physical weaknesses which have entailed their absence from school for protracted periods. But when full allowance has been made for these difficulties, the standard of attainment is extremely low and little apparent progress is being made. Arithmetic is distinctly weak; very few children read with average fluency, and little ability is shown either to express their ideas in written composition or to spell even the simplest words correctly. The discipline is weak in both classes. The children of Class 2 in particular need to be much more firmly controlled.
Class 3 is making but slow progress in the primary subjects. The children are restless and noisy if left to themselves even for a short time.
The three remaining classes are industriously taught and the children are making satisfactory progress in both the fundamental and the more recreative subjects.
The Head Mistress is keenly anxious for the welfare of the school. In her effort to progress she has recently introduced individual methods of instruction and the class teachers have produced much useful and interesting apparatus for the carrying out of these methods. Signs of improvement are already apparent in the lower classes. A good deal, however, remains to be done before the school can be considered in a satisfactory condition.
School closed for Parliamentary Election (15th November). (Andrew Bonar Law replaced David Lloyd George as PM but was to resign because of ill health soon after.)
School closed for Parliamentary Election (28th February).
(Stanley Baldwin became PM.)
School closed by request of His Majesty the King (26th April).
(The reason for this request was to observe the wedding of the Duke of York (later George VI) to the Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.)
The school closed on account of the Poor Children’s trip to Redcar (July).
Sent child to hospital to get bean extracted from ear – it was managed easily.
Detailed report by HMI Mr.A.H.Dunn, following his inspection of 19th and 26th October (extracts only):
218 names on the books…seven teachers including HT… children make slow progress through the school…too many spend more than the normal time in the lower classes…this retardation results in some being transferred to the junior department not having been in Standard I. Some improvement has been effected since the last report…matters which need further attention include better planning of the work in Reading… Oral arithmetic too needs further attention…Class 2, which corresponds to a lower division of “Standard I”, is by no means in a promising condition. The teacher is working with much industry but the children have not been trained to be attentive and obedient and their progress is not satisfactory…The state of the school is such that the HT should take sole charge of a class so that the class teachers might give more attention to the backward children.
25th February – 4th March:
School closed by recommendation of School Medical Officer.
Darlington Training College students in school for practice.
25th August 1924:
Report by HMI Mr. A.H.Dunn, following his inspection of 14th July (extracts only):
Definite improvement has been effected…the children are more industrious and attentive…most in Standard I are better equipped for transfer to the Junior Department but three are backward and need intensive instruction in the essential subjects. The HT and her assistants deserve much credit but the following points should receive careful attention. Without encroaching on the recreative (recreational?) activities, advantage should be taken of opportunities to secure progress in the essential subjects in the lower classes. Methods should be more carefully thought out. In Reading, need to train children in ready recognition of common words: at present the analysis of words into sounds is unduly stressed. Methods of teaching composition should be revised. Grouping of two higher classes in Nature Study, Stories and PT should be discontinued. The instruction in Class 5 should be more stimulating.
Log Book sent down to Office by request (March).
Miss Blenkinsopp appointed Teacher-in-Charge in the absence of Miss Black (16th June).
At 10 pm on 29th June Miss Black passed away.