School logbooks not only provide fascinating glimpses of school life in times gone by, but also show how external events may colour that life.
The impact of World War Two
One such historical event was World War Two. Its impact is illuminated here in the pages of the logbook for Maxstoke Church of England School covering the years 1928-19631. Attention is drawn to those entries relating to the bombing raids suffered by the village of Maxstoke dated 12 June and 9 July 1941. These were not new experiences: the logbook is punctuated by entries relating to other raids and the effect they had on attendance figures.
Other references to the war allude to the arrival of evacuees at the school, from other Warwickshire villages and from Coventry and Birmingham. The arrival and departure of children from the school are a conspicuous feature of the entries in the logbook during the war years as are the references to coal shortages and children being absent from school because they were helping on the land with the potato harvest.
The rhythms of school life continue
In other respects, the routines of the school continued inspite of the war. The health of the pupils is addressed by the visits of the School Nurse examining their heads for lice, by the School Dentist checking their teeth and by the School Doctor conducting vaccination programmes. Each week the School Attendance Officer visited and the level of attendances is assiduously described. Indeed, low attendances occurred more frequently through the incidence of epidemics of flu, mumps, German measles or scarlet fever and truly bad weather. Heavy falls of snow in the opening months of the year appeared to have a more profound effect than bombing raids.
All elementary school headteachers were legally bound to maintain a school logbook and there had to be a minimum of one entry made each week. The striking feature about school logbooks is their essentially factual nature. This was a deliberate policy and not one driven by the outbreak of war. Certainly, any questions relating to the levels of distress and fear suffered by those experiencing bombing raids or evacuation are unlikely to be answered by school logbooks.
This article was Document of the Month for the Warwickshire County Record Office in October 2008. Further articles can be found on their website.
1 Warwickshire County Record Office reference CR1147/2.