Monthly Archives: February 2016

Q&A: the 1930s at Dashwood

P1450281There were questions galore in this week’s Book for Breakfast. As we read about the 1930s in the Dashwood History book, we noted down questions of two sorts. One was the factual type of question: who was this person… what did that mean… where was that place? And the other type was a bigger sort of question, usually beginning with the word why? These queries related to historical and cultural issues – and we might have to think hard to answer them.

We took turns to read around the group, and everyone could go and stick their questions up on the white board as we went along.

There were certain things that seemed familiar in this period of the school’s history. The stores records showed that teachers had copies of 1939 Stores book extractBlack Beauty for the children to read. This classic title is still on our school’s recommended reading list, along with others that we have talked about reading in Book for Breakfast.

P1450289We also remembered hearing about Dashwood’s infant school on Britannia Road before. This was where Bernard Samuelson‘s workers could send their children. He was an industrialist whose name is recorded on the current Banbury Library building, which he also funded. Two people said that after we had talked about foundation stones in our meeting, they had spotted examples of them around Banbury. Good work!

P1450253Group members also remembered how to read the word ‘née’ meaning ‘born’ in French – showing what a woman’s surname had been before getting married. Examples in the 1930s chapter were Josie Gisell, née Castle, and Gwendoline Barnes, née Jarrett.

But by the end of the 1930s chapter, there were still lots of questions on the board for us to tackle, either using the archive material in the book, or using our other knowledge.

P1450259Everyone could come and choose one or two questions for the group to try to answer. We talked about why the infants had to move to a new building as the book said they did in 1932. This also linked to the question was the school overcrowded? We knew that Banbury had been growing, and that in the early years had accommodated 518 pupils. So perhaps by the 1930s the number of children was such that separate infants’ provision was required.

Another question was about whether a mixed school meant boys and girls, or mixed older and younger pupils? We knew that initially the classes were separated into boys and girls, but this word ‘mixed’ P1450262meant that boys and girls were now being educated together. We talked about how women had gained an equal right to vote as men in 1928, so perhaps ideas about men and women’s roles were changing, along with approaches to learning. In the book there was a photograph of a class of scholarship pupils, boys and girls together.

Someone asked why had the school leaving age been raised to 14? as the book mentioned had happened in 1918. We thought perhaps it was to do with life P1450252expectancy getting longer, or jobs becoming more specialised and requiring more education. Then someone raised the question of why some children left school and went to work at 14 – a young age compared to today. We discussed that their wages would be important to the family, as there was no welfare state providing support for families at this time (a universal family allowance did not come in until 1945).

We had also read in the book that some children left school due to illness, and a few even died at the young age of 10 or 11. Why was there no proper care when children were sick? one group member P1450277asked. The group knew about Alexander Fleming and penicillin, the wonder drug which cured deadly infections and diseases such as pneumonia. Fleming made the discovery in 1927, but the new antibiotics weren’t widely available until after the Second World War in 1945.

The school registers, we could see, recorded the children’s fathers’ names, along with where they went after Dashwood. Some gained scholarships, some went to work, others sadly became ill, and one or two ended up in a P1450266remand home – a young offenders’ institution. Why did the register need to record the children’s fathers’ names? one person asked. We supposed it was to do with linking family members up together – and as the book said, many generations of the same family often attended Dashwood.

Do different generations still attend Dashwood? one group member asked. As we looked around the room, we could see that this was not the case for the current group, whose parents had moved from other places to Banbury. Would the group members’ children attend Dashwood? One member reflected it P1450288would depend on whether she went away to university, or decided to stay locally, or move for a job – or indeed whether she had children!

A factual question raised by two people was what was the Metcalfe prize? Gwendoline Barnes remembered receiving this in 1934. To answer this we could turn back to the pages of the log book, where in November 1916, the P1450256head teacher recorded that the Thomas and Henry Metcalfe charity had decided to award a 10 shilling prize for good conduct, regularity in attendance, and proficiency. We agreed to try to find out more about who the Metcalfes were.

We didn’t get to answer all the questions, so two that were left related to the souvenir spoons that the Mayor of Banbury gave out in 1937 to celebrate George VI’s coronation. What was special about a spoon? they asked. Would you prefer a different souvenir gift? What might it be?! Let us know.


How is school similar to a century ago?

20160205_092641In the last blog post we reported on a debate we held during Book for Breakfast looking for evidence that school has changed radically in the last century. In contrast, this post presents the views opposing the motion:

This house believes that Dashwood has undergone a revolution in the last hundred years.

The last post showed that lots of things have changed since Dashwood was built – from the location of the school itself, with its outdoor toilets, to the fact that one hundred years ago, girls and boys played and learned separately. So what arguments did the opposition gather to counter these arguments?

20160205_092053Mujtaba’s evidence was that we still monitor attendance today, just as they did in Edwardian times.

He pointed out that the log book records a visit by the HMI – an inspector, just as we have now. (Although one difference is that it was His Majesty rather than Her Majesty’s Inspector!) 20160205_092512

Anastazja pointed out that the school badges were similar now to then – and the school colours are still green and gold.

The handwriting children learned was cursive, just as today – she noticed this from a diary by Annie Meadows who was at Dashwood in 1912.Annie Meadows writing

Anastazja also said that we still have assembly today, and that the subjects of lessons are similar.

Ellis summarised his team’s points and added that school uniform is still compulsory, as it was a century ago.

We still have class photographs taken, he spotted, and pointed out several examples. We also 20160205_093110still win attendance certificates.

So who do you think made the best arguments – or what evidence do you feel really shows that school has changed, or is essentially similar to one hundred years ago?

Leave your views by sending us a comment!

1902 boys in caps



How has school changed in the last hundred years?

For the last few weeks, the Book for Breakfast group has been reading a book that’s all about the history of our school, from 1902 (when the school opened on its former site near Banbury town centre) to 2008 (when it moved to its current location). The book’s content is based on the archive of photographs, records and plans that the school still has, and you can find out more about it on the Dashwood Archive site.

P1450233As we read about Dashwood’s early history, it was clear that some things about school were very different, while others were remarkably similar to Edwardian times.

20160205_091901We decided to have a debate to see what evidence and arguments we could put together using the book and the archive, relating to the motion:

This house believes that Dashwood has undergone a revolution in the last hundred years.

Beth chaired the debate, made sure we did 20160205_093507things correctly and announced the different speeches. Cameron was the time-keeper, giving everyone two minutes to speak, with a period in the middle when points of information could be raised. Rezija was our court reporter, whose notes have helped with this blog.

20160205_091750To propose the motion we had a team with first speaker: Dione, second speaker: Rabiya, and summary speaker Natalie.

To oppose the motion we had first speaker Mujtaba, second speaker Anastazja and summary speaker Ellis.

1902 building view

So, what were the arguments made by the proposers to show that Dashwood today is radically different to a century ago?

Dione pointed out that boys and girls were separated a hundred years ago at Dashwood – showing evidence in a photograph in which 20160205_092250you can see a wall dividing the playground.

The school had different entrances for boys and girls and they even had separate head teachers. Dione also said that children had to pay to come to school, unlike today.1902 Staff

Rabiya’s evidence of change was that the teachers had to wear uniform in the early years, and she showed this in a photograph of staff.

She also pointed to the log book, in which the head teacher would make handwritten records of each day’s events, which we do not have any more.

1902 girls log bookNatalie summarised and added that location of the school has changed and the new building is very different to the old one, which a century ago had outdoor toilets.

She showed the attendance certificates looked different, and that in those days, children skipped between lessons accompanied by a teacher playing the piano.

Are you convinced? Join us in the next blog post to find out what the evidence for the opposition was.