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Hastingleigh and Elmsted School -1957 Newspaper Report for Bodsham School
A model Kent school from the outside but children at Bodsham eat meals in Vicarage stables
Bodshams old village school was very proud when the Ministry of Education chose
photographs of its exterior to use as typical of the best type of country school.
It is now hoping that Kent Education Committee will change its mind and
decide that it can afford the £900 Pounds for a new kitchen and canteen for school
meals. Then perfect photographs could be taken from any angle.
For the present kitchen and school dining room are in the vicarage stables.
Mrs E. Cahill the school cook turns out up to 40 perfect meals every day from
a four wick oil stove in what used to be a loose box. The dining room adjoining was a stable
for two horses. Mr T.W. Birch, Folkestone Divisional Education Officer outlining the schools
catering plight to his executive committee said that the difficulty was to keep the building
wind and water tight. The staff were coping heroically but the kitchen was dark and on wet
days mud was trampled in.
This was the most isolated school in the division and it was hardly possible to visit it in one
day from Folkestone headquarters using public transport. The dining room presents an odd
appearance from the outside as the children file across the main road from the school and
reach the old stable half doors, which are still in place.
But inside (and especially on a fine day) there has been a complete transformation.
The Walls are brightly painted; the tiny tables and chairs infant size- are scrupulously clean and Mrs Cahill
says she manages very well considering, on her oil stove. Starting at work at 8.30 am she has her dinners
ready by the stroke of noon and puts the last burnished pan away about 3.30pm. You never think about its being
an old stable, she said.
The village children showed manners fitting a palace not a stable, when a six foot high reporter squeezed among
them to join them at dinner on Tuesday. Mr and Mrs F.D. Nancollas the only teachers in the school of 59
pupils have whatever their difficulties, kept their tiny establishment well in the stream of the best modern
education ideas. The children show the results in every action. They were bright and friendly with the strange adult.
Ten years old boys rattled merrily on with descriptions of local farming and their hopes for the future.
They suffered from no hampering shyness, displayed no brashness .
At the end of the meal it was a five years old boy who is struggling with a speech impediment who came up to the tall
stranger in the camp and politely bore his plate to the serving hatch.
In the small school building there are three wash basins at varying heights for the children of different sizes very
much like the Big Bears, the Medium Bears and the Baby bears which the kiddies used without direction after playtime.
Most convincing testimony to modern methods was a well-written letter in blue and red ink pinned to the wall from a
nine-years-old girl. She wrote from a sick bed to say she was getting well and hoped to be back soon and thanked the
headmaster for sending her some homework.