WEST HADDON SCHOOL
|In the late 19th Century the school in West Haddon served a community whose economic survival depended primarily on agriculture. An important part of the familys income was derived from the money the children earned by working in agriculture. It often seemed to be the case that whether a child attended school depended on the season and maturity of the locally produced crops.
The Act to Regulate the Employment of Children in Agriculture set out to limit the number of days a child could be absent from school for the purpose of agricultural labour.
Certificates of attainment or of minimum attendance were required before a child could legally be employed during school time.
The school logbook for 1874 details absences due to agricultural work.
Some children absent for bird frightening.
22nd June 1874
Several absences on account of hay-making.
29th June 1874
Absences due to pea-gathering.
29th July 1874
Some girls granted a half holiday to gather wild flowers for tomorrows Flower Show.
6th August 1874
Broke up for the Harvest Holiday.
Several absentees this week for potato picking.
Enforcement of the Act was extremely difficult. The school kept meticulous attendance records and the School Attendance Officer (SAO) checked them for accuracy and followed up any unauthorised absentees.