History of Our School

A schoolmaster has been recorded at Great Bedwyn from as early as 1580.

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, when the parish was much larger than it is now, there were up to 13 day schools recorded in as being in operation.

Charitable bequests from William Cox and W. G. Pike in the early 1800s supported educational provision in Great Bedwyn. Cox’s charitable land bequest particularly funded 10 boys aged between 5 and 10 to read and eventually, in 1824, funds accumulated to cover the fees of a schoolmaster, Josiah Clark. Children had to pay extra if they wanted to be taught writing or arithmetic. Josiah’s son continued the teaching after his father’s death in 1837 but presumably the school closed around a decade later as in 1847 the funds from Cox’s charity were split between the mistress and master of the National School. Funds from the charity continued to be used towards education until 1993.

In 1835 the National School, pictured above,  was completed and built by John Lloyd for the cost of £380. 8s.6d.

From the 1890s, inspectors are regularly informed of truancies at the school and often intervene when certain pupils’ absences become consistent. April 1894 reads “A letter was sent to the school attendance officer with a list of irregular scholars as a large proportion of students are getting into the habit of taking one or two days off a week. The percentage of attendance was 52% last fortnight”. In October 1894 it took three letters from the attendance officer to the game keeper of the local estate before the boys who were being employed for beating there returned to school (this was a recurring problem).

The school was generally run by a head teacher, a certified assistant teacher and several pupil teachers or monitors. On two occasions within this period the head teacher and assistant teacher are a husband and wife team. The most notable head teacher was Edward Robert Pole who improved both conditions and attainment at school from the 1890s well into the new century.