Over the years there have been many reasons for children not attending school, some are financial, some recreational and some illicit!
In the early days there was no requirement to send children to school, indeed it was a luxury many people could not afford. Not only was a child at school not contributing to the family "coffers", but schooling also had to be paid for.
There are many references in the school log to boys being "engaged in the hayfields", or potato fields, or of leaving school early to carry lunches to the fields. Girls were absent on washing days. Even cows affected attendance!
In 1875 attendance was dramatically increased due to Miss Hannah de Rothschild's gifts of cloaks and caps for those children regularly attending school.
|In 1899 an update of the 1880 Act of Parliament stated that education was compulsory for all children under the age of twelve, letters were sent reminding parents of this. Letters were also sent to local farmers admonishing them for employing children who should be at school.
The weather was an important factor in attendance. Wet or snowy weather meant children walking from Rowsham, or even within the village, would have to spend the day in wet shoes and socks, no-one having the luxury of a second pair to change into. Many parents felt it better to keep their children home and dry.
Illness too had a major impact, diseases now considered minor, were life threatening and often resulted in the closure of the school to prevent the spread of epidemics.
There are numerous references over the years to children playing truant to follow the hunt. Some such jaunts were the cause of amusement, whilst others resulted in severe punishment.
Even the Vicar was not immune from interfering with the attendance of the children. He was keen on sending them home in order to use the school for his own meetings, there being no other suitable venue in the village.
During the First World War, the National Economy Campaign saw the whole school out collecting much needed food. There are a number of occasions noted, but perhaps the most significant being in October 1917, when blackberries weighing 1744 lbs and chestnuts weighing 8 1/4 cwts were gathered.