Haslingfield School and Gardening

In a 1907 inspection report, Haslingfield School was described as having an “ample garden area”. Only boys did Gardening, and there was a strong emphasis on neatness and accuracy – “measuring the distance between rows of vegetables” and “trimming the edges of plots”. Apparently there was much student interest, and early attempts at an integrated curriculum, with gardening “widely made the basis of various exercises in Arithmetic and Composition”.

A further report, emanating from Whitehall, was issued in 1909. Cambridgeshire Schools were divided into three groups “according to the apparent efficiency of the instruction given”. Poor old Haslingfield was in Division Three, with neighbours Shelford in the Premiership and Barrington sharing League III status. Each boy appears to have had their own plot, and each school had an ‘experimental’ area to try out different lime and manure. Schools were urged to treat poor local conditions, like “poor soil, abundant weeds and insect plagues” as educational opportunities rather than barriers to productivity. Whitehall worried about the farming future of the county – some students had difficulty in explaining processes and “in fact to think for themselves”.

The head teachers appear to have taken two hours of gardening a week, but there were complaints about lack of staff time in the event of illness and other catastrophes, si in March 1925 a Mr. Buck was appointed to teach the subject. he doesn’t appear to have been the best attender, and there was no gardening reported in 1937. In March 1938 the local Adviser visited the village to view a proposed site for a new garden, but there is no further mention. Presumably more adult inhabitants were used to dig for victory in the next few years.

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