Georgian Learning

Children were not accepted for the school until they were seven, and it seems that many of them could already read when they arrived. It is most likely that they had been taught by their parents, and that those parents had probably been to school themselves.

 

During these years the head master and head mistress provided all the teaching. Every lesson took place in the two school rooms, which were furnished with forms – long benches – for the pupils and just one desk for the teacher. A stationer and bookseller to the school was appointed, but few books were bought – the trustees expected to be asked for permission if any new ones were needed. There are records of Bibles and spelling books being purchased, but very few others.

 

Most writing was done on slates, which could be wiped at the end of each lesson and rarely needed replacing.

 

Much teaching took the form of making the pupils learn lists of words, sentences or sums by heart.

 

In addition, the children had to learn the Catechism – the list of beliefs that all members of the Church of England had to know and agree to before they were confirmed as full members of the church. This meant much more learning by heart.

 

For the boys, their school days consisted exclusively of reading, writing, arithmetic and catechism. But the girls were taught little arithmetic, although they did learn to keep accounts as well as to read and write. They were, however, expected to spend a great deal of time sewing. And within three years of the school re-opening, this was increased. The trustees decided:

 

“that for the future only such of the Girls as are of the age of twelve or upwards be taught to write and those not oftener than one half day in the week upon Thursdays”.

 

At around the same time they told Mrs Bandy to:

 

“provide needles and worsted to set the girls to knitting of stockings for the children’s wear against their next cloathing”.

 

Over the next few years Mrs Bandy and the girls were made responsible for making all the shirts, aprons, petticoats, caps and stockings needed for the whole school. As well as being a cheap way of obtaining these things, the trustees thought skills at sewing would make the girls more likely to get a good job when they left school.