The BWI Archives
1927 ~ The Managers' Minute Books
Ruislip Church of England School
- 1927 -
Below we present the
record of meetings the Managers held during 1927. The first two
took place without the Vicar due to his ill health.
Early in the year a
decision had to be taken about a replacement for Arthur Smith when he took
up the Headship of the new county secondary school. Since the church
school would be significantly reduced in size and age range, with the
transfer of all children aged 12 and above (possibly around 50 in number)
at Easter, the Managers made an internal appointment, Beatrice Grist,
the longest serving member of staff at the time (appointed in April 1910),
and one who had proved herself an able teacher. Unfortunately, they also
had to make Edward Wraight redundant in order to bring the staff
ratio in line with the number of pupils that would be on roll. The Log
Book suggests that he was able to find an alternative post.
Much of the
Managers’ time was occupied with trying to save the Church of England
status of the school. This
process had begun the previous year when it became apparent that the
necessary works to the building would be too expensive to implement.
They had already considered leasing the building for 25 years to
Middlesex County Council, who would then pay for all upgrading to meet the
appropriate standards. However,
this would require the school losing its religious affiliation, something
they were very loath to do. The
greater part of 1927 had the Managers testing out other sources of
funding. During the
discussions there is an interesting allusion to ‘road making charges’.
The reference is not clear; roads in the nineteenth century were
maintained by the parish Vestry (as evidenced by Thomas Marsh Everett’s
occasional references to them in the Parish Magazine).
This responsibility presumably passed to Uxbridge and then Ruislip
and Northwood Urban District Councils after the turn of the century. These
‘road making charges’ suggest that a discrete levy was being placed on
all property, including the school, to assist in funding road construction
and repair. The Managers, therefore, wanted to know what liability might
exist for them, once the school was leased to Middlesex County Council.
As the Managers were
unwilling to seal the fate of the school themselves, they arranged a
public meeting for June, but from that it was clear parishioners were not
prepared to maintain the school if the result was a significant financial
burden that could not be afforded.
The advent of Miss Laura Sawbridge, however, seemed to offer hope that a new building could be erected, one that fully met the then current requirements.
The events recorded
over the 1920s in the Ruislip Church School Managers’ Minute Books were
also being played out across England. While Laura Helen Tudor Sawbridge
(1875-1942) was to play a pivotal role in the survival of the Ruislip
Church School, she was also active on this national level. She was the
oldest child of the Rev. John Sikes Sawbridge who was the Rector of
Thelnetham and Canon of St Edmundsbury. Through
the 1920s various parliamentary education bills generated much discussion
about the future of church schools and the place of religion in education.
To greatly simplify the various issues, the leadership of the Anglican
Church increasingly found it difficult to maintain its schools and
therefore looked for an appropriate compromise with the state.
One approach would be to abandon the ‘dualist’ arrangement of
church and state schools, in return for the state providing all the
financial support for the church schools. This in essence, was the route
that had been proposed for the Ruislip school by Sir Benjamin Gott. At the
same time there was controversy as to whether religion should be taught in
state funded schools. Both
Laura Sawbridge and her father were vocal on a national level in their
concern that the disappearance of church schools and the lack of religious
teaching in the county schools would lead to a secularisation of the
country and with it a lowering of moral standards. Two associations were
formed that fought for the retention of church schools (the Church Schools
Emergency League, initially focused on Manchester, and the Association for
the Defence of Church Schools.) Their main contentions were that in
surrendering church schools to funding by the state, they would be passing
significant control of their buildings to local authorities, that they
would lose managerial majority in decision making processes relating to
their schools (moving from 2/3rd to 1/3rd church representation), and they
would sacrificed the power to appoint Head teachers. (This aspect of
English education history is poorly reported in any detail, however see
George Sochan, The Cultural Role of Christianity in England, 1918-1931:
an Anglican Perspective on State Education, PhD thesis, Loyola
University, Chicago, 1995, and George Sochan, ‘The Failure of the
Amending Bill: No National Consensus for Religious Education in England,
1920-1923’, Review of History and Political Science, Vol.3 No. 2,
December 2015, 7-20.)
What stood out in Laura Sawbridge’s involvement at Ruislip, was her tireless efforts to avoid the loss of the Church affiliation, and that she appeared to have had connections in the right places that local clergy did not have. Her papers held at the London Metropolitan Archive relating to the Ruislip Church School show that she was also actively engaged in supporting the survival of a number of other Church Schools. Unfortunately towards the end of 1927, despite Laura Sawbridge raising the hopes of the Ruislip Managers, these were dashed just a few weeks later.
It should be noted
that the Vicar’s minute keeping was extensive during this period, though
in places could lack clarity. Presentation
of material in the Minute book includes several printed items.
Where these have been inserted, we have provided a hyperlinked
thumbnail, and a brief description of the content.
First uploaded: 15 March 2021
Last revised: 19March 2021