All Saints' School - Nottingham

Raleigh Street, Nottingham

The foundation of All Saints’ School for Boys on 7th January 1867 occurred at a time when great changes were taking place in the educational system of this country. The Elementary Education Act of 1870 which brought the state into education as never before was only 3 years away, although it was some time before free compulsory education was universally adopted.

The School started with 31 pupils, all boys, in buildings in the grounds of All Saints’ Church. It was only 2 years later on 20th April 1869 that the boys were told to reassemble in the new school premises on a site now occupied by Raleigh Infants School. The School consisted of 5 classes, the first class being the highest and the fifth class being the lowest in attainment. The fees were as follows: 5d a week for each boy in Classes 1 and 2. 4d a week for Classes 3 and 4; and 3d a week for the 5th Class.

In 1873 the School was divided into an upper and lower school. The upper school moved to Forest Road West into a new building which is now Tennyson Hall Youth & Community Centre and then in 1876 it became a mixed school. This rapid expansion of the school is not really surprising as the Parish was growing rapidly.

A strict Monitor

The 20 year period from 1871 saw spectacular growth in urban development nationally, and it is interesting to note that during this period the population of Nottingham went up from 87,000 to 214,000 - the biggest percentage increase of any town except Cardiff.

In its early days the Headmaster of the School, William Gaskell, was referred to as the Master because he only employed a school monitor. His name was Thomas Brown who was probably only 10 or 11 years old. Mr Gaskell made several adverse comments about him in the school logbooks such as “I cautioned the monitor against giving orders to his class when they were receiving instructions from me” and “I asked him to be a little more gentle in his manner when dealing with the children.”

The school logbooks mentioned in the previous paragraph provide a fascinating glimpse into the daily routine of a Church school and of the social conditions of the time. They can be examined on personal application to the Archives Search Room of the Nottinghamshire Records office.

Payment by results

It would be helpful to give a little background information about education nationally. When the School came into existence there was already a system of grants introduced by the Newcastle Commission together with a revised code. It could be summarised by the phrase “payment by results.” The system was for the payment of grants on the basis of certain criteria, which included pupil attendance and the examination success of each child.

It suffered two serious weaknesses. Firstly it failed to provide assistance where it was most needed. The worse a school was, the lower the grant. This acted as a penalty and it gave the school no hope of improving. Secondly it resulted in an increase of rote learning, and even inspectors not opposed to the principle of the Code reported its deadening and disheartening effects. The need to drill the school in the 3 R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) to meet the requirements of the inspectors was reflected in the school’s activities throughout the year. Frequent testing became common - All Saints’ School held a weekly test on Fridays. New thinking about educational methods and the curriculum became paralysed by the Code. It wasn’t until 1867 (the year that All Saints’ School was founded) that modifications were made and amongst other things subjects such as history and geography could be taught which at the same time provided schools with more grant monies.

Church links

Returning to All Saints’ School itself, one is immediately struck by its strong links with All Saints’ Church which had been founded in 1864. The first vicar, the Reverend E Gyles, was a frequent visitor and sometimes took morning prayers or gave a scripture lesson. During a prolonged absence of the Headmaster due to illness, the Vicar took charge of the School. He didn’t do much teaching, but rather the pupils were told to engage in silent exercises!

The logbooks show that scripture was the main element of class teaching. The remaining subjects were referred to as secular: reading, writing, dictation, arithmetic and geography. But history was not mentioned and there was no science teaching. There are frequent references to religious instruction such as “I examined the upper classes in the Catechism and found that they were very deficient on the whole.” “I taught the boys a new hymn ‘As with gladness men of old’, and “I gave them a talk on ‘The Fall of Man’.”

The day was divided into morning and afternoon sessions and also the pupils were given homework to do. An entry on 9th March 1874 says “Home lessons badly done. Their work gets rubbed off their slates going to and from school and I asked the boys if they could ask their parents to provide them with a book.” The following week 38 boys brought them.


School holidays consisted of one week at Easter followed by a mid summer break of 3 weeks beginning about 12th July. Therefore, August was a normal working month. Then a week for Goose Fair and finally 2 weeks at Christmas.

A half day holiday was granted on Shrove Tuesday. The boys played an annual football match against the boys of Old Radford and in later years it was against the combined schools of Old Radford and Hyson Green.

Another special occasion was the Annual Distribution of Prizes, which took place before Christmas. On 17th December 1868, the prizes were distributed by Mr & Mrs Windley. Also present were Revd and Mrs Gyles, Mr Windley Jnr and a large number of ladies and gentlemen of the congregation interested in the School. Each child was given a bun and an orange.

TO be continued next month...

Richard Barraclough

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Last revised 10th November 2005