Headmaster's Report 1863

In Gloucestershire Archives there is a manuscript copy of the Headmaster's Report for 1863, written by Rev. J Franklin Hiron.

Mary Fielding

The report relates to the period immediately following the building of the new Grammar School buildings on the High Street.  Clearly there had been, and still were, problems.

Campden, April 9th 1863

My Lords and Gentlemen,

At Xmas last it was my painful duty to report to you that the condition of Campden Grammar School was in almost every respect unsatisfactory.  Bearing that report in mind and remembering also that barely three months have elapsed since the new rules were passed, you will not expect to hear from me now that the school is yet in a state altogether satisfactory.  But I am happy to be able to report that it has made at least as much progress as I expected.  The boys now prepare their work much better and take greater interest in it than they did, while the work itself is of a higher character than it was.

But the chief point of amendment is in respect of the greater cleanliness of person and the greater neatness and respectability of dress.  As might have been anticipated all these improvements have been accompanied by a corresponding improvement in the habits and manners of the boys.  Indeed altogether a higher tone is beginning to prevail among them.

Notwithstanding these hopeful signs, however, I cannot conceal from myself; – and I ought not to conceal from the Trustees, that the task of reviving Campden Grammar School has, so far, only been begun.  That work with all its risks and all its difficulties is still before us.  The new regulations and our first quarter’s experience of them must be looked upon only as a foundation upon which we have yet to build.  To the best of my belief no serious objection to the new rules has hitherto been raised; and, up to this time I have been able to carry them out with I believe little or no offence to anyone.  But having said this it becomes my duty to tell the Trustees, – with all respect, but at the same time with all candour – that I have now done for Campden School all that I believe can be done for it until the new buildings are completed.  If they are to be completed at once, the work of rejuvenating(?) the School may grow, and (with God’s blessing) prosper.  But if there is to be any delay in carrying out the Building Scheme, then I beg to assure the Trustees that there will be only too much reason to fear that we may drift back again into our former condition; while the very best that can be hoped for is that the School may be able “by hook or by crook”, to maintain its present somewhat improved position.  In the interest of the school itself, therefore, no less than in my own behalf, I beg formally to request that the Trustees will take immediate steps for promoting the speedy completion of the buildings.  My opinion with regard to carrying on the work is known to nearly all the Trustees, but I should be very glad of any further opportunity of explaining my views to them.  I shall also be very much obliged to them, if they will allow me to report in person the result of the recent examination for the two free scholarships now to be filled up; & to explain the temporary arrangement I have made for securing some little assistance in the school.

To this report I append certain accounts, to which I beg the attention of the Trustees.  No 1. is a bill of £1.13.0 for prizes distributed at Xmas; the late Headmaster having left word in some written memoranda that £5 were voted annually by the Trustees for defraying the cost of prizes.

No 2. is an account of £13.10.0, an expense incurred by me for lodgings and house rent. – Provided the building is at once proceeded with, I will withdraw all claim for rent from the time of my election up to Michaelmas next (1863) if, in consideration of my thus finding a house for that time – the Trustees will defray the expense of the temporary Schoolroom, which are higher than those of the ordinary schoolroom.  The Statement of those expenses up to the present time is given in account  No. 3; they amount (as will be seen) to £4.15.0.

Before I conclude I must ask to be allowed to thank the Trustees, first of all, for the confidence they have reposed in me by placing me at the head of Campden School at a period of its history, when experience, fact and a high sense of duty are more than ordinarily needed.  Much, however, as I distrust my qualifications for the work, I should distrust them still more, – but that I have in the second place, to thank the Trustees for the support they have so far given me by readily listening to and carrying out my suggestions.  I ask, my Lords & Gentlemen, that neither your confidence nor your support may cease to be given to me.  I have already said that the work lies before us.

Under any circumstances the change to a better state of things must be gradual if it is to be an abiding, & not a spasmodic, improvement.  That improvement will not be very easy, nor the time required for it very short, unless the Trustees & the Head Master pull well together.  But with perfect accord between them, the Head Master will be able to offer to the Trustees such advice & suggestions as his experience may have proved to be sound; while they will be able to give to him such respect and support as will put it into his power to discharge the duties of his position, not without courtesy indeed but – with firmness and decision.  And with such united efforts I believe we may all look forward, with confidence to seeing by & by, in Campden, as the fruit of our labours, – a more than ordinarily useful, and perhaps a great – middle class school.

I have the honour to remain, My Lords and Gentlemen, Your very obedient servant,  J. Franklin Hiron

Appeal in aid of the Restoration and Enlargement of the Grammar School

In the following year, it is interesting to note a further reference to social class in a printed brochure appealing for further funds for the re-building:

21st April 1864

“The Middle Classes for many miles round can now be accommodated with a high-class Grammar School, in which they may attain the benefits of the latest and most improved system of education; – benefits which have long since been liberally provided for the poor, but of which the Middle Classes have not had their fair share.”

This page was added on 09/01/2015.

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