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From the Knockiandue School Logbook
From the Knockiandue School Logbook
The Knockiandue School (Keose) Log (1892 to 1952) gives a lively picture of daily life at the school.
On the evening of Friday, 2 December 1892, fire broke out in the classroom and the Daily Register and Summary Register were burned, together with the Log Book and letter portfolio.
The number of pupils on the roll in 1892 was 106 - 53 boys and 53 girls.
In 1893, the HM Inspector's Report reads:
The classroom is much too small for the numbers taught in it and the seats in the gallery should be provided with backs, suitable for the infant classes. The behaviour of the children however, is all that could be desired and the change in the general style of the work under the new headmaster William Bruce is very great and the prospects of the school are very promising. If the same steady perseverance is continued, as must have characterised the work of the past few months, the school in another year might easily rate with the better schools of its class on the Mainland. This means a good deal when the bilingual difficulty is borne in mind.
Long summer holidays were not in place in these days and entries in the log in June state that "Herding and peat cutting are responsible for a decrease in attendance" whilst in July "Tuesday, being the principal market day (Latha na Drobh) for the year in Stornoway, no school was held",
However, pupils were given a month's holiday at harvest time in September and again in April to help with the Spring planting. Harvest Thanksgiving at the end of November was always a holiday as were New Year's Day and the Communion Fast Day. There was no recognised Christmas holiday as we know it today but the children had frequent half-day holidays which were given throughout the year and especially if there was to be a 'fanking' in Keose or Laxay.
Attendance was frequently adversely affected throughout the winter months due to stormy weather, blizzards and outbreaks of illnesses and epidemics such as bronchitis, measles and scarlet fever. The Parish doctor often ordered the closure of the school for a period of up to six weeks due to an outbreak of measles, whooping cough, etc.
By 1927, the roll had dropped to 55 pupils. The Compulsory Officer (or Whipper-in) was a weekly visitor to the school where he was given a list of absentees and he subsequently carried out visits to the homes of defaulters to establish reason for absence.
Another frequent visitor to the school was Rev Donald MacCallum as manager of the School Board, his duty being to examine the school register and the attendance of staff and pupils. In his capacity as local minister, he also examined the progress of the children in Bible knowledge at the end of each school year.
Before the turn of the Century, school materials were supplied by Messrs MacPherson, Stornoway and a typical delivery was as follows:4 quires foolscap; 100 sheets examination paper; 4 dozen slates (infants and seniors); 1 Admission Register; 2 Daily Registers; 2 Reading Books (Standard III, IV, V); 1 Arithmetic Book; 4 dozen penholders; 4 dozen inkwells
It is interesting to note that one or twice there featured an order for several Navigation Course textbooks.
In the Spring of 1927, mention is made of the purchase of several loads of peats for the school to keep fires going as the supply of fuel had already been exhausted for that year. In November it is reported:
Children arrive daily very wet and remain wet and uncomfortable all day. The fuel provided is wet and takes a long time to heat the classrooms. The chimney of the main classroom smokes badly and the work suffers accordingly.
January 10th, 1928 began with a severe snowstorm and the roads were impassable, even for adults, so no pupils arrived in school. Bad weather right through February and March of that year often disrupted attendance and caused prolonged outbreaks of bronchitis, influenza and measles. Extensive repairs were carried out on the building during the summer. The infant room was enlarged, both rooms were lined with wood 'celotex', central heating was installed, fed by an anthracite furnace which was situated in the corner of the classroom and the exterior of the premises was painted.
The first mention of a District Nurse visiting the school to examine pupils appears in October 1928 and Dr Brodie, Senior Medical Officer visited the school to carry out the first annual medical inspection. In 1931 it is reported that a dentist treated several children in the school.
The 'Qualifying' examination had been established and took place in May of each year in the presence of an outside supervisor.
By this time, summer holidays, Christmas holidays and Easter holidays had been established and frequent Closure Orders by the Medical Officer of Health were given. In January, 1930 the Closure Order on account of measles was initially for one month but when school was reopened in February, the illness was still rife in the district so the Local Authority recommended closure until March. When such outbreaks occured, the school was disinfected by the Sanitary Inspector and normal attendance could be disrupted for periods of a month or more.
For many years, the midday meal for school pupils who were not within running distance of home was a 'piece' - be it bread, oatcake or scone with butter and perhaps cheese or crowdie. By 1933, it was policy within all schools to hand out to children a hot cup of cocoa at lunchtime to have with their 'piece'.
In 1942, a directive from Ross and Cromarty Education Committee to all head teachers, drew attention to wartime rationing and the possibility that all parents may be unable to provide their children with 'pieces'. The Food Office in Stornoway was to authorise schools to set up a School Lunch Centre and in January 1943, Knockiandue became participants of the scheme and bread, margarine, jam, sugar and warm milk were supplied to constitute a light midday luncheon for the pupils.
School dinners were first introduced in August 1952 and all pupils took advantage of this welcome scheme and iIn January 1954, milk was provided in third-pint bottles to all pupils.
In 1935, the school was enlarged and reconstructed, consisting of two large and airy well-lit classrooms, together with ample cloakroom accommodation. New toilets have also been installed. Electrical wiring of the school was carried out in September 1954 and electric light and power plugs were provided.
Kinloch Historical Society