St Martin’s School

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The headmaster's wife, Mrs de st Paer, with a class of girls in about 1910
Standard 1 in 1913

When the States passed legislation in 1894 requiring each of the parishes to provide education for their children, St Martin’s Parish School was housed in a boarded-off section of the chancel of St Martin’s Parish Church. Three years later the first Parish Assembly was called to discuss the issue and it was agreed that a school must be built.

Committee appointed

A committee was set up to find a site, negotiate a price, prepare plans and estimates of total cost.

They reported back within three months and the parish decided to go ahead, voting £500 to cover the acquisition of three vergées of land at £153 and build a boundary wall. One pound notes guaranteed by the parish were issued to help raise the money. Architect Aldophus Curry drew up plans, which were modified by the Education Department in Whitehall.

It was not until 1899 that a tender by Springate and Baker, Gorey-based builders, was accepted in the sum of £2,836 10s and a further £3,000 was voted by the Parish Assembly. It was agreed to ask the States to pay £1,534, representing half the total cost.

A commemorative stone, which is set above the main door of the school, was laid by Constable Richardson Le Brun on 19 October 1899, and he was presented with a silver trowel to commemorate the event.

Numbers treble

The school opened on 1 October the following year, with 59 pupils, which was to treble within two years.

The first headmaster Mr Charles de St Paer reported his concern that many of his pupils could not speak English and school inspectors described the school as 'difficult' in its early years.

Quéruée School

The school merged at some point with a private establishment, Quéruée School, but it is not known where this was located

Absenteeism

Serving an almost entirely rural parish, the school suffered badly from absenteeism in the potato planting season in February and March, and the digging period of June, and on occasions the school would close altogether. This continued in several country parishes until the Occupation.

Extensions

Improvements to the building commenced in July 1980 and again in 1991. In 1980 most teaching areas were modified, indoor toilets installed, a staircase erected to give access to a new classroom in the loft, and a new hall built. The Commemorative stone was resited to allow a new entrance to be made. When removed, a small box was discovered containing artefacts from 1899. A similar box was made and filled with a collection of artefacts from 1980 and the two boxes now lie side by side behind the resited stone.

In 1991 two infant classrooms and an area to be used as a library were completed. This enabled the Infant department to be housed together in the eastern part of the school. Building work on a new detached nursery classroom with facilities was started on 3 September 1991, and completed at the end of February 1992. Two temporary classrooms were added in the summer of 1996, allowing for the relocation of the staffroom and the creation of a school library.

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