Schools - Cliffe History

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“John Browne late of this parish yeoman, did by his last   will of the 7th June 1679 give one tenement: lying in Church   Street in ye tenure of John Browne, also one other tenement   on messuage with th appurtenances lying in Southwood Burough   in ye tenure of Tho. Plaistow. To and for the educating and   teaching of 12 poore children, being the inhabitants of this   parish forever. And that his executor and ye churchwardens   of this parish for the tyme being should elect and choose a   poore man or woman being capable to teach, as also the   children to be taught and that the said premises should be,   by the said master or dame kept in good repair.”

The school founded by John Browne may have been in   the room above the church porch. It seems that the   schoolmaster was indeed a “poore man” for entries in the   churchwardens’ accounts for 1801 include “Gave the   Schoolmaster in whant 4-“ and “Gave the Schoolmaster to go   to Gravesend 8/-.”

This receipt from the church chest reveals that in   1833 Mr. Tho. Spinks, schoolmaster, received a salary of £8   – 15s every three months

The following bill also is   interesting. The earliest part of the present school was   built in 1854 by voluntary subscription. Twelve children on   Browne’s Charity were getting freed schooling. Payment for   the other scholars was 4d, 3d, or 2d a week according to the   ability of the parents to pay. There was Night School on   Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 – 9 p.m.  on payment   of 3d weekly. “The School Pence” supplemented by local   subscriptions and a government grant, paid the salaries of   the Master, Mistress and Monitors. In 1868 the Rectors of   Cliffe wrote that the day school was “very full with an   average attendance of nearly 100%”, and because of the rapid   increase in population owing to the erection of Cement and   Pottery Works the school was enlarged in 1871 and again in   1879. In 1923 the three departments Boys, Girls and Infants   were amalgamate with Mr S.C.Sibson as headmaster, at this   period of time there were nine assistant teachers and well   over three hundred children, in January 1948 the school   became a Primary School, providing education for children up   to eleven years of age, the older children now go off daily   to Grammar and Technical Schools in Rochester and Gravesend,   or to the modern Secondary School in Wainscott. The latest   alterations have been the introduction of kitchen and   canteen for the supply of hot mid-day meals for   schoolchildren.

The school house in Church Street carries a tablet   which reads “John Browne gave by will 1679, Rebuilt 1868.”A   note in the Parish Almanack for that year gives the cost of   rebuilding as £200.

Cliffe Council Temporary Infants School was opened on   Dec. 4th 1905 with 59 children. It functioned where the   Cliffe Temperance Club now stands until the permanent modern   building dated 1910 was formally occupied on February 21st   1911. Cliffe Council Infants then became its official title.   The oil lamps were replaced by electric lighting in January   1936. A flying bomb damaged the ceilings and most of the   glass in July 1944, which event caused Cliffe to be   recognised as an official government evacuation centre for   school children. No children from the school went away   publicly but three were taken privately by their parents   under the Strood Rural District Scheme.


Owing to the fall in roll by September 1946 the usual   staffing of Head mistress and one assistant was again   allowed after this period.
The school meal service commenced on October 3rd 1949,   food being brought from Cliffe V.P. (C) School daily by van.

Cooling Street School, providing accommodation for   120 children, was opened in January 1907 with a roll of 68   pupils, ranging in age from five years to fourteen years. It   functioned as an all age school until 1926, when boys of 11   years and over were transferred to Cliffe School. Water   sanitation was installed in 1935. In 1936 girls id 11+ years   were also transferred to Cliffe. By now the roll had fallen   to 20 when it became a one teacher school. The present day   roll is 44 with Headteacher and one assistant. In 1947 a   kitchen was built providing hot midday meals for staff and   pupils.
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