The first day school in Howden-le-Wear was a charity elementary school opened by the Non-Conformists Church. The Wesleyan Day School was opened on the 18th August 1856 and provided education for the village and surrounding area.
It was held in the Sunday School Rooms, High Street, more recently sold and converted into a private dwelling. This continued as the only means of education until 1887 when the Bedburn Board had the Howden-le-Wear Board School built.
The numbers of children on the registers depended a great deal on the availability of work in the region. When the coal mines were operating there was a great influx of scholars but, as collieries closed people sought employment elsewhere and the numbers of pupils dropped considerably. Absenteeism was a major problem. Very often they were of a serious nature due to an epidemic. The epidemics were so severe on many occasions that the whole school had to close. The weather also determined attendance, very often during the winter months the surrounding roads were impassable. The dark days also often enforced early closure because the oil lamps gave insufficient light. Lack of heating also often enforced closure. The local schools relied upon local coal mines providing the coal for heating the stoves and fires. When miners went on strike,coal was not delivered. Lessons were often taken in very cold conditions and on occasions the children were sent home.
Alterations and Additions
In 1935 alterations and additions were made to the school building. Extra classrooms were built. The school was still heated by solid fuel,with an open fireplace in the Reception Class. Generally children acquired all of their education at one school. The more academic pupils were transfered to Crook Tops or Wolsingham Grammar School depending whether their parents agreed. Many families could not afford this extra expense and required their child to find employment in order to supplement the family income. As new Education Acts were introduced education was only provided to the age of eleven. The older children were then transfered to Hunwick Secondary Modern School or if they passed the two parts of the “Eleven Plus Examination”, they became eligble for a place at Wolsingham Grammar School. With the introduction of the Comprehensive System children transfer to the Secondary School of their choice. As new teaching methods were introduced and class sizes were made smaller, more classroom provision was required. When the school house was no longer required by the Headmaster, the ground floor was used as extra classroom space, and the upstairs rooms provided extra storage space. In 1970 a prefabricated building was erected in the school yard to accommodate two classes.
A New School
In 1974 a new school was built on part of the original school field and this is the site still in use today. The school received a full refurbishment in 2005. Today, the school has 87 children on roll and currently operates 4 mixed year group classes along with an eight full time equivalent place private Nursery, Howden-le-Wear Pre-School Limited.
Our History in Pictures
Please select the link below to view images of our school from 1856 to 2011.