The earliest known school in the village is believed to have been the Chapel Sunday School, which was apparently in existence prior to 1823. In that year the new vestry was added to the church to serve also as a school room, probably for church people only. In 1843 this vestry was taken down and replaced by a dame school at the west end of the present churchyard. This dame school was presumably taken down soon after the major renovation of the church in 1851.
In 1849 the site of the present school, then described as a parcel of land at the north end of Bayley’s yard, was presented by the Trustees of the Estate of the late Rev. R.N. Pemberton of Millichope Hall to the Rector and Churchwardens of Rodington for the purpose of erecting thereon a school for the “Education of children and adults or children only of the labouring, manufacturing or other poorer classes of the said Parish of Rodington”. The children were to be educated in the Principles of the Established Church and both Managers and Teachers were to be members of the Church of England.
The school and house erected thereon was as it now exists except the end which projects east of the south wing. When originally erected the windows were also smaller of a type similar to those existing in the schoolhouse. There were two classrooms, one small and one large, across the western end of which a series of steps rose, and a stove was placed in the centre of the room. These steps were moved into the new classroom about 1900 and finally removed in 1906.
The school was opened on December 3rd 1849, the first Managers being the Rev. H.T. Wheatley, Rector, Samuel Nevett, Gentleman, Hugh Shingler, Farmer and John Birch, Farmer.
In 1894 plans were made for the erection of a new classroom by extending the then school to the East, the old windows having been replaced by the present ones in 1893. The new classrooms, the cost of which was £160, were paid for by money raised through public subscription (of which a list of subscribers is still in existence). The classrooms were probably opened soon after 1900; the girls’ porches, which also did duty as cloakrooms, were added about 1904. In 1907 an entry in the log book states that “the loose stones on the playground make it quite unsuitable for marching” and it remained so until asphalted in about 1938. A dormer window was inserted in 1912.
When first opened the school was lit by oil lamps and the only water supply was by a hand pump from an underground rainwater tank by the boys’ entrance porch. The balance in hand from the village fund to celebrate the coronation of George V was used to bore a well at the East end of the playground. An indoor pump was installed in 1942, when the original small classroom was converted into a kitchen for the preparation of school meals.
In 1950 the County Council deepened the well and an electric pump was installed. The mains electricity supply had been connected in 1949 with money raised through the efforts of the headmistress from parents and friends, electricity being also used for lighting.
From 1849 when the school was opened until 1902 the Managers of the School were responsible for all the expenses including stationery, books, salaries and repairs. Under the 1902 Education Act the County Council took over responsibility for running the school. The Managers had to keep the building in repair and while, before 1902, they could charge fees
for children attending the school, they could hardly do so after that date as parents were already paying for their children’s education through the rates. It was therefore only a matter of time before the improvements required and the rising cost of repairs forced the Managers, without any sources of income, to hand over the school to the County Council.
Time will doubtless show that this occurrence, which the Managers requested in 1951, was right, so that with the Christian Church separated within the village into Church and Chapel, the latter should have opportunity for some say in the management of the school.
Until the construction of the “Institute”, an ex-army corrugated iron hut on part of enclosure 280, shortly after the 1914-1918 war, the school had been the only available hall for public meetings etc.
In 1949, having for the past 100 years served the complete educational needs of the Parish, the children over 11 years of age were sent to High Ercall Modern School; Rodington School being retained as a Primary School only.
The earliest log book from the school still in existence is from December 1889, and the earliest existing admission register is from 1902. The latter also has at the front a complete list of Head Teachers. In this register “Wrangle Town” is still given as an address (being those derelict cottages at the end of the lane leading to the Villa Farm).
We learn from the log books that in April 1891 thefirst drawing lesson was given to boys only; about the same period only one piece of poetry was taught to each standard and then only after approval of the Government Inspector. In 1894 a magic lantern entertainment was given was given by a friend of the Rector.
The following entry was listed on June 20th 1913; “whilst the children were drilling in the yard an aeroplane passed overhead causing much excitement among the children, many of whom had never seen one before”.
In 1918 the boys were taken into the garden to “stake the raspberry canes”, the first gardening lesson.
A branch of the Penny Bank was opened in the school in 1920, combining 11 years later with the National Savings movement. A branch of the County Library was opened in 1926 and continued until early in 1951 when, except for the children’s section, it was replaced by the second County Travelling Library.
In the picture to the left Mrs Davies, a member of staff at the school, is shown. At some time she fell ill and the pupils sent her a card, the frontispiece to the card is shown at the top of this page and the text inscribed within it is shown below.
The number of children attending school is always liable to minor fluctuations from year to year, but the following may be of interest: 1870 – 81, rising to its highest level of 134 in 1874, after which until 1907 it remained between 80 and 100. From that date up to 1919 the numbers fell to 70 and continued to fall to 60 in 1929.
From 1935 to 1947 it remained at about 75 and then until 1949 dropped to 65, due to the older children over 14 being sent to High Ercall. After the school re-opened as a primary school only, the numbers were 55.