Back to Articles

East Prawle School

Some extra information regarding East Prawle School

This document was compiled by David Welch in the 1970s. It is based on the original East Prawle Board School Log-book, unfortunately missing.

This remote school opened in September 1877, under its one and only Master. FREDERICK WARE had acquired a Provisional Certificate by external examination, like so many others at this period, but had little idea how to run a school. Nine months later, in his first Report, HMI held his fire in the usual way with a newly-opened school, remarking only that ‘the teaching should be much more bright and intelligent.’ With unconscious appropriateness, Ware promptly followed this up by teaching two songs: ‘Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be?’ and ‘Try, Try, Try Again.’

The HMI’s second Report, received in July 1879, let loose with both barrels and is a splendid example of a ‘hanging’ report:

‘The general state of this school is very bad. The attainments throughout are discreditable, the style of instruction defective, and the discipline and tone perfectly unsatisfactory. There is no evidence of method or intelligence. The infants are neglected…the children are fully capable of profiting by instruction.’ Remarks: ‘My Lords are compelled to reduce the Grant by two-tenths. In reference to the Master I am to state the HM Inspector considers him quite unfit to have independent charge of a school, and I am to recommend that he should seek employment as an Assistant as soon as possible.’ …

This experiment with the Master and Sewing Mistress form of staffing was never repeated: henceforth the school was run entirely by Mistresses.

The Old School

From the Chivelstone Millennium Book

A vestry meeting was held in Chivelstone Church on the 3rd November 1870 for the purpose of considering the Educational Elementary Act, with regard to the erection of a school room and house in the Parish. The Rev J C Carwithen (Vicar) was in the chair. It was unanimously agreed that “the tenants are willing to put their shoulders to the wheel if the landowners will contribute according to the value they possess in the Parish and that a school be built at a cost of £320.”

The school was opened in 1876 and the head teacher lived in Torrings Cottage. The original school attendance register has recently been found and is now in the Devon Records Office (Exeter).

In 1917 the teachers were Miss C E Langon, Miss E M Wotton and Miss Ella Putt (Ford). 70 children were on the register aged 5 to 14 years. Boys entered the school through the West Gate and the girls entered the school through the North Gate and didn’t see each other during school hours (9am to 12 midday – 2pm to 4pm). The toilets at that time were buckets with sawdust in them.

The school continued through the war years and an airsdhelter was built on the East side of the playground.

In 1968 a new school was opened at Stokenham and many of the small village schools closed. At this time Newton Abbot schools took over East Prawle School as an outside learning centre. Coombeshead School, Newton Abbot converted the West Side of the school room into two storeys providing sleeping accommodation for children on out of school activities. This development was finished in 1990.