Church Preen's first school opened on January 15th, 1872, with twenty
children ranging from six to thirteen years of age.Only six of these children had
been to school before,but they were to learn the three R's in a fine new
building designed by Norman Shaw—the architect of Scotland Yard—who
had been commissioned by Mr. Arthur Sparrow, the owner of the manor.
Today, 90 years later, the new bounty Council primary school is nearing
completion in a field adjoining the old. The number of pupils, about
45, is much the same as in the 1870's and there are still only two
teachers to look after them, though both are now qualified. Yet the two
contrasting buildings epitomise the change in methods of teaching and
educational theories that have taken place in the intervening years.
What would present day children do if, like their predecessors of the 80's,
they were told 'to write on their slates what they knew of the Air?'
What would their great grandfathers, constantly exhorted, as the
headmaster's log records, "to come in clean boots" make of the tiled
footpath in the new main halt?
Norman Shaw's school was built a mile from the village, on the road to Hughley, and consisted simply of a house for the teacher with a large hall attached. It is a delightfully proportioned, sensitively designed building of stone and tiles with some bogus half-timbering added for decoration.
Although architectural quality of this sort was very rare in the 70's the school incorporated no unusual educational idea and was far more concerned with external appearances than the comfort and amenity within. The high empty hall, with its tall windows set too high for the children to see out, must have been a cheerless place. Indeed we learn from an H.M.I, report of 1914 that "some framed pictures have been provided and greatly improve the appearance of the school room.