St Anne’s School

The original application for a school was made as early as 1818 and approval was granted on 10 December 1833. The deed dated 13 May 1837, marks the beginning of the St. Anne’s School.

From 1811 onwards there had existed the National Society for promoting the education of the poor in the principles of the Church of England, and it was as a school subsidized by this society that Oldland included “National” in its title. In common with other Voluntary schools, it was what was officially known as an “elementary” school, namely, “a school at which elementary education is the principal part of the education there given, and does not include any school or department of a school at which the ordinary payments in respect of instruction, from each scholar, exceed ninepence a week.”

H.T. Ellacombe, wrote, “A National School for 200 children was built near Oldland Church (within the boundary of Bitton hamlet) in 1838 at a cost of £650, the land being given.” In actual fact, by a deed of conveyance dated 22 August 1837 ” a site for a schoolroom and offices to be built for the purpose of promoting the Education of poor children in the principles of the Christian religion according to the Doctrines and Discipline of the United Church of England” was conveyed by Samuel Whittuck to the Incumbent and Churchwardens of Bitton “in consideration of five shillings.” An inscription on a tablet on the south wall of the building records that the building was erected in 1837, and an endorsement on the deed of conveyance (also referred to as the “trust deed”) shows that the school was “enrolled on 10th January 1838.”

The official reason given for the establishment of a Church of England School in Oldland was “the poverty of the district” but an additional reason may have been the growth of dissenting chapels and schools in the district.

Inspection and the School Curriculum

The report issued in July 1865 was generally quite satisfied with the way that the school was run. The inspectors wrote that:

“The general condition of this school has improved since last inspection. The at more numerous and rather more regular.”

Nevertheless teaching methods were criticised. The failure of the Third Standard to come up to scratch in arithmetic was attributed to “want of practice in Notation”. Although “duly attended to” the inspectors wrote that “Scriptural instruction would be more satisfactory if a little less mechanical”. The grant based on an average attendance of 93 pupils was set at £51 19s 4d. In 1870 the inspector’s report was rather more enthusiastic: “The school is under good influence and taught with zeal . . . Very fair progress has been made in elementary subjects.” Twenty-three years later just the opposite happened. The report for 1893 contained criticism of most aspects of the school:

“Reading is too often devoid of expression and wanting in intelligence. Spelling and the style of handwriting is poor throughout the school . . . Many of the scholars were listless and inattentive during the examination.”

The amount of grant given to the school was not only dependent upon the regular attendance of pupils but also on their general behaviour and on the expertise demonstrated in each subject

“The grant for singing by note was again endangered . . . the higher grant for disciplining and organisation will not be recommended until the children behave better and the school-‘ room and apparatus are kept in a more orderly state.”

The report issued for the year ending 31 January 1902 praises the work that is being carried out and approves the standard of discipline. The only criticism is of the lighting of the school; the inspector rather hopefully recommending that “larger windows are needed in the walls”.

Subjects were split into two main categories -religious knowledge and secular knowledge. The boys and girls concentrated upon different subjects according to their stereotyped roles; for example on afternoons when the boys studied arithmetic the girls concentrated upon their needlework.

Oldland school and Schoolhouse, 1837 Photo courtesy Bath In Time/Bath Central Library
Oldland school and Schoolhouse, 1837 Photo courtesy Bath In Time/Bath Central Library

As a Church of England School, St. Anne’s was eligible for a government grant, following the Act of 1833. In fact it received a grant of £100 from the Government and a further £130 grant from the National Society but relied on a continuous income from subscriptions and children’s pence. The original building was only 31 feet by 21 feet and was designed to cater for 75 boys and 75 girls, m separate rooms connected by folding doors. An additional building was added later, 20 feet long and 14 feet wide, to accommodate increased numbers of children on roll. However, average attendance in the early years was only 110, well below the full complement. This problem of erratic attendance was to prove a consistent problem over the years.

1950 – 2014

In the mid 1950’s the school consisted of the present old buildings (what is now the Hall and Kitchen) and the outside toilets together with the School House (now St. Anne’s Cottage, 1 School Road). Numbers on roll increased for a time and a fourth class was established in the Church Hall Gunction of Barry Road and School Road) but began to fall as the village “dried up”. A survey of the buildings led to a proposal to close the school in 1958 but this was strongly opposed by the then Vicar and others so no action was taken on the proposal. In retrospect an old pupil remarked that St. Anne’s couldn’t be closed as it is “built on rock”. At one place in the cellar this may still be seen!

The 1950’s were also the years of exam results (Eleven Plus) and the school boasted 11 pupils to the Grammar School in one year. An obvious claim that bedrock and sound education are the foundations of St. Anne’s.

Housing development began in Oldland and the Education Act Development Plan finally confirmed that St. Anne’s should not close but be extended and enlarged to a one-form entry Junior and Infant School. This was achieved not by extensive building but again a class in the Church Hall and the first of what have become familiar Terrapin Buildings in 1963.

The new building (a “Nucleus”, as the architect described it) was built in 1967 and the school then had six classes, four in the new building, one in the old school with a glazed screen and the other in the Terrapin. At that time the old Infant Room next to the Hall was converted into the Kitchen.

As housing development continued there was pressure for more places in the school so additional Terrapins were supplied both for the extra places and to remove the class from the old building to create the Hall. The latest addition was the Elliott Building to create more places as the Longwell Green development began. Since then the school has operated with a planned admission level of 45 per year, allowing for a total of 315 places

Source: ‘St Anne’s School Oldland Common: 150th Anniversary 1837-1987’