Wartime Log Book of Woodhouse Road Infants' School
Transcribed by Bill Yates (QLHS Research Group)
The Log Book of Woodhouse Road Infants School provides a fascinating glimpse into the past, in particular 1938 when Germany was flexing its muscles. Seen through the eyes of the Head Teacher we see how the school prepared itself for the eventuality of war.
The Education Committee have decided that in the event of the international situation developing to such an extent that a 'state of emergency' may be said to exist, the schools should be closed. The Committee asked for members of the staff to volunteer as Air Raid Wardens at the schools at which they were employed. The Head Teacher volunteered to serve for the school.
A circular letter received from the Town Clerk asking for offers of help from the teaching staff in the distribution of gas masks throughout the City, during the evenings and at weekends. All of the staff volunteered and began their training that night in the fitting of respirators at the A.R.P. depot in Broad Street.
The International situation developed rapidly and caused great anxiety. Notice received that classrooms would be required for the storage and distribution of gas masks. Two rooms in the Junior Department for this work and the displaced classes were taught in the hall. The Infant timetable was modified accordingly.
An urgent appeal was received from the Lord Mayor asking of teachers to volunteer, when free, for the rapid distribution of masks during the next three days.
29th September - 1st October
The staff again offered their services as a body. Miss Williams motored to the Town Hall and got detailed instructions. The teachers were allocated to the depot at this school. At 11:30am the attendance officer delivered a very urgent emergency scheme for the possible evacuation of children of school age whose parents' consent to their evacuation as school units.
A parents' meeting was called for 3pm. About 500 parents of the Juniors and Infants assembled in the playground to hear the Committee scheme explained by Mr Rand.
The parents were naturally very upset at the prospect of parting with their children, but the urgency of the situation was by this time, felt by all. Forms of agreement were printed by the staff and given to every child before leaving school. A staff meeting was held and the scheme explained in detail. Every member volunteered for service with the school party. Miss Payton who is a member of the Immobile V.A.D.54 would be required by the St. John's Ambulance Brigade, should war be declared.
The agreement forms were collected. 60 per cent of the parents consented to the evacuation of their children if necessary. The staff proceeded to make preparations. It was decided to consider the two departments as one school party and the names of the children were collected from different classes and from family groups. Labels were printed and armbands for the staff and helpers were made. By the afternoon the school was ready to move into the country if the order came. Councillor Goode, Chairman of Managers, visited the school during the day, as did Mr F A Halle, District Inspector. They both expressed satisfaction at the way in which the emergency measures were being carried out.
Gas masks were delivered to the public by A.R.P. workers using two classrooms. Parents were allowed to take their children out of school for a short time to be fitted.
The 'Four Powers' Agreement signed at Munich and the return of Mr Chamberlain to England. There was intense feeling of relief that war had been averted. During the unsettled weeks since the mid-summer holiday the attendance has remained steady at 82.4%, 85%, 83.1%, 83%, 85.1%, and 83.2%.
For the moment the crisis was over and the Log Book switches back to normal school business. But for the week 21 September till 28th September 1938, it must have been a hive of activity with the teachers determined to do as much as they could to help the children under their charge, and their country.
Orders were received to complete any necessary arrangements for evacuation and to keep all details until notice is given that they are no longer of value.
© QLHS 2005