Hatherleigh Community Primary School Caring about learning and learning to care

School History

From slates to smartboards


In 1870 a School Board was elected in Hatherleigh and land purchased for a new school, to be built at a cost of £2000, for 290 children, with an adjoining Master's House.


An entry in the School Log Book on 17th June 1876 reads 'Last day in the old National Schools, gave the children holiday in order to have the books, slates and other things taken down to the New Schools'. Teaching recommenced two days later.


At this time boys and girls over six were taught separately and although attendance was compulsory for children living within three miles of the school many children took unofficial days off to plant potatoes, help with the harvest or look after sick relatives. Attendance at that time cost 2d a week.



The school day started at 9 a.m. and finished at 4 p.m. (3.45 in the winter months to allow country children to get home in daylight) with a two hour break from 12 noon to 2 p.m. for the midday meal.


School terms seem to have been longer in those days but there were quite a lot of holidays for things like Church and Chapel Anniversaries, a visit from the circus or a fair.


The Log Book records very poor heating arrangements in the school and in January 1880 the school was closed because the children had been crying with the cold, ink froze in the inkwells, and stoves were heating only their immediate surroundings. Central heating was finally installed in 1975.


Little is known about the lessons in those early days, but the log book does mention object lessons on such diverse subjects as the Butterfly, Copper, Obedience and a Kitchen Range. Recitations included 'A Night with a Wolf' and 'The Wreck of the Hesperus'.


In 1956 Hatherleigh ceased to be an all-age school, with the older children transferring to Okehampton for their Secondary education.


From certain angles the school still remains the same solid Victorian building that it has been for over 130 years but, inside, the children, teachers and teaching are very much part of the 21st Century.


Taken from the section entitled 'From Slates to Ball Points' in the Hatherleigh School 1876-1976 Centenary Souvenir booklet.