|Willow Lane Nursery, Lancaster c 1950|
|From The National Library of Ireland|
Alan’s picture prompt for this week’s Sepia Saturday has a photograph from the archives of The National Library of Ireland, showing ragged little boys outside their schoolroom in the 1890s. The picture is delightfully informal, in stark contrast to the usual ‘class photo' where children sit in rows in height order. I have any number of those, of various family members, in my albums, but I thought I would stick to the informal theme of little boys at school and share these photos of my husband aged about 2 or 3. He’s the little chap on the right, in the first photo, looking uncertainly at the camera.
|Plenty of places to explore here|
Apart from the photographer I wonder who was keeping an eye on the children round the pond. The school where I was headteacher had a pond, but not for sailing boats sadly. Ours was for studying wildlife and had to be surrounded by a fence with a lockable gate, for health and safety reasons!
|Making the most of a huge sandpit|
The following quote comes from, Primary Education (1959) HMSO.*
|"The small child should find in the nursery school an atmosphere of natural affection, a feeling of space and security, an ordered and regular way of life. He should be on friendly terms with teachers and others who minister to the needs of the children, and should have at hand the material through which he may develop his powers and enlarge his experience. In a good nursery school the children show the gaiety, curiosity, friendliness, and spirit of adventure which are as desirable as they are characteristic of this period of life, and they show also increasing self-control as well as more power of self-expression.”|
The same principles are still important in 2011; however, today’s teachers will tell you that the relentless assessment of attainment does mean that there is less time to actually get to know their charges. The staff at Willow Lane in the 50s weren’t hampered by such bureaucracy I‘m sure. I wonder if the teachers of Irelands’ ragged little boys had to fill in pages of tick-boxes and produce individual ‘Learning Journals’ to share with parents. Somehow I think not.
The Pathe newsreel below showcases a nursery school at the start of WW2, when the government actually did think there was a need. If you can rise above the jolly commentary and the fact that a small child is seen having a bath, you will find it.....well, educational. My husband tells me that he and his little pals had individual little beds for afternoon naps, just like those shown in the film. Now that’s what I call really sensible.
*The History of Education in England website which is owned by Derek Gillard