A collection of historical and genalogical records
East Barns School began as a private venture by the Duke of Roxburghe, William Mitchell Innes of East Barns farm and William Sandilands of Barneyhill farm. The core of the school complex dated to 1849 and comprised schoolroom, master's house and garden and the children's playground - although Alexander Sutter's schoolroom was only 30 x 18 feet. After the Education Act (1872) the school was incorporated into the local school board and was eventually administered by East Lothian County Council Education Department, who extended it several times (adding the playground, dining room and a hall for PT). Pre- war, the school was under a Mr McCulloch, who used the resources found outside for elementary surveying with pole, chain and tape. He was later replaced by John R. Douglas, whose wife taught the infants. By then there were two classrooms, the hall and dining room and washrooms, etc for the pupils. In Douglas's day, slates were still used, the children sitting at rows of wooden benches. Milk was distributed at morning break (as it was in all schools from before and throughout the 1960s). Sports were played in the adjacent field (usually used for grazing cows and hence with concomitant 'natural' hazards).
Mr Douglas was reckoned 'handy... and overeager... with the strap', and both girls and boys were punished for what seem today, very minor incidents. Children who were perhaps noisy, doing nothing nasty, were hit. Mr Douglas had a special way of making the punishment worse; he would lay a pencil across the boy's hand, before bringing down the strap on the hand. William Doig was headmaster in 1960-1. The school was then capable of holding up to 76 pupils and had had 74 as recently as 1939 although in 1955 there were only 40; an assistant helped the headmaster, a typical arrangement in East Lothian's smaller rural schools. The intake was drawn from East Barns itself, the Pinkertons, Skateraw and Bilsdean; in 1962, there were 31 pupils and 2 teachers.
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