Hucknall National School – An Early Start
At the beginning of the 19th century there was no education system for the poor. They were simply treated as spare parts for the Industrial Revolution. Churches led the movement for change. A network of ‘National’ Schools grew up across the country which still exists. But only four schools still bear the name ‘National’; two of them are in Hucknall
Elementary, Watson!: In 1811 a group of High Anglicans met at the London home of Joshua Watson, a wine merchant who devoted his retirement to supporting the Church. The group’s mission was to put an elementary school in every parish. It was the first meeting of the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church in England and Wales or just the National Society. By 1813 there were 30 ‘National’ schools; by 1861 there were 16,000.
Green Days: The first recorded Sunday School began at St. Mary Magdalene ‘s in 1649. It remained the only education available to poor children in Hucknall until 1788 when the church began to pay for a schoolmaster. The first teacher was George Green and lessons took place in his house; it was used as the headmaster’s house for generations. By 1824 there were 60 pupils so an extension was built on for the infants.
‘National’isation: Hucknall School turned into a National school in 1854. This allowed them to access government funds and six new classrooms were added. Before the 1870 Education Act which made state education compulsory for all children, government funds were only available for new buildings and not for teachers’ pay, so cash-strapped National Schools were often subsidised by vicars out of their own income.
Growing up: As Hucknall’s population increased so did the size of the National School. After the 1944 Education Act separate Primary and Secondary Schools were established and in 1963 the secondary moved to new buildings. By 1982 it had moved again and the juniors inherited the buildings of its ‘older sibling’ with a new school for the infants built next door. The Hucknall National Primary and National CofE Academy are two of nearly 5000 schools still run by the National Society.