In the 1870s the range of subjects taught was very limited. Religious instruction was compulsory as decreed by The Church, as was needlework for the girls. In fact the Manager, Reverend Butt, was a regular visitor to assess the children's learning.
Also every year the Oxford Diocesan Inspection took place. The children sang hymns, recited the Catechism, Collects and The Apostles Creed. The Inspector asked questions and gave a written test. The Bishops Prize was awarded to the pupil gaining the highest marks.
Reading, writing and arithmetic were the only subjects insisted upon by the Government and in fact if a Headmaster ventured outside the prescribed subjects it brought forth criticism.
Grammar and Geography are first mentioned in the log book in 1875. At this time, practical subjects such as painting, drawing, modelling, music, drama. PE and games just did not exist.
Following the arrival of Mr Lemuel Jones, in 1894, the pupils day changed as subjects such as singing, military drill (for boys) musical drill (for girls) clay modelling (for the younger children) drawing, painting, science and cookery were added to the Educational Code.
Both the School and the Master depended upon good results being attained in the yearly examinations because it was upon the results that the school grant was determined. A reduction in the grant could mean a reduction in the teacher's salary and the money available for books etc. To this end parrot fashion learning was used in many subjects and was still the preferred method in the 1920s and 30s.
The Scholarship Exam
In the early days candidates for the scholarship exam were few but by the 1930s the numbers had increased significantly. In 1933, twenty two children sat the exam in Wingrave School, although few passed. For those who fell just short of the pass mark there was the option to go as fee paying pupils, though few could afford it. That is what happened to Grace King.
Free places were awarded but not always accepted - uniform, sports kit, books and travel all still had to be paid for and if a child was at school they would not be earning to help with the family budget. Sometimes a child would merely prefer to stay with friends rather than go alone to another school.