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It is thought that an old "Dame School" existed in Long Eaton prior to 1826, in which year the old village school was built in the Market Place at a cost of £250. This building was adequate until the National School was built on the corner of Claye Street. This opened in 1862. The original village school was a small, two roomed building built of brick with a tiled roof and was a Church of England School, supported by voluntary contributions. The new National School was built on land given by Mr S. J. Claye of the Wagon Works. It was not many years afterwards that the Long Eaton School Board was set up under the Education Act of 1870. The board was confronted with the task of making immediate provision for a great number of children who were not attending any school whatsoever.
No time was wasted in getting down to work, and in 1876 the High Street School was built with three separate departments. One for boys, another for girls and one for infants. It was built to cater for 600 children, but owing to the rapidly rising population it was soon too small and others followed quickly. The High Street School was the first council school in the town. The first headmaster and headmistress of this school were Mr and Mrs J. W. Chambers, and when the Tamworth Road Schools were built they were appointed as the new headteachers there. Before long, the High Street School became overcrowded, and it was only six years after its opening that additional accommodation had to be found for children at the Bourne Church Sunday School. This temporary accommodation was provided until the year 1886, when the Derby Road School was built. This also catered for boys, girls and infants in separate departments. In 1901, the boy's department were brought from a block of classrooms facing Stanhope Street, and the building which had until then contained three departments was converted for the use of girls and infants. The boys were housed in a new building with swimming baths and rooms above in 1920 and the cookery centre which had existed there was dispensed with.
The Sawley (Tamworth) Road School (later Brooklands School) opened in August 1893, and consisted of a mixed department (boys and girls) and also an infants department. At one time, this school was termed as a "higher grade school" as the older scholars were drawn from other schools in the town to attend the Sawley Road School for the purpose of receiving advance instruction. Again it was soon found that the town was growing so rapidly at the Wellington Street end that provision had to be made for the children who lived in that district, especially the infants, and it was on March 18th 1907 that a temporary school for 160 junior boys and girls was opened in the Wesleyan Sunday School.
This arrangement continued until September, 1908, when the Wellington Street Schools - for which land had already been purchased with a view of future developments in that neighbourhood - were built. In April 1911, the infants department opened, followed in September of that year by the building of the girls department. Originally, both senior girls and juniors were accommodated in the same building. The boys were transferred to the Derby Road School in 1920 as mentioned above. This school was later known as Highfields Primary School.
The New Sawley Infants School on Mikado Road (later known as Lakeside School) was opened in December 1907. Before that date a temporary school existed from 1902-07 in the Wesleyan School, New Sawley, which was known by the name of New Sawley British Infant School. The Lakeside School was due to close in July 2007 due to falling pupil numbers.
The Long Eaton Grammar School (later known as Long Eaton Upper School) was opened in October 1910, and was later enlarged in 1930 to provide for the increasing demand for secondary education. Until 1944 pupils were admitted either as fee payers or as holders of "special places", but in the same year the payment of fees was abolished by an Act of Parliament. The first headmaster was Mr S. Clegg, who was succeeded in 1930 by Mr F. E. Roberts M.A. Mr Samuel Clegg was born in Sawley and was the son of Alexander Clegg, headmaster of the Baptist Day School. Samuel Clegg became a member of the local Liberal Association and was also the secretary of a committee which raised money to buy Gorse Holmes, on which both the public library and the Grammar School were built. Samuel Clegg died on March 12th 1930, and his home was at Rye Hill Close in New Sawley, and he is buried in the Baptist Church yard. He spent much of his time fighting for equality, not only in education but in democracy. His grandsons are Lord Richard Attenborough and Sir David Attenborough.
Technical education was first provided in the form of evening classes at the Tamworth Road School and later the Derby Road Boy's School. When the Grammar School opened, the senior evening classes were transferred there from the Tamworth Road School. The growing need for school accommodation was highlighted when prior to the Second World War there was a scheme for the complete reorganisation of the schools in the town on the lines of the Hadow Report, which provided for the building of senior schools and which would no doubt have been fully implemented but for the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. In 1938/9 work began on the first part of the reorganisation scheme and Grange School was opened in 1940. This catered for a senior mixed department and a junior mixed and an infant department. The senior pupils being drawn from the old High Street School along with the juniors and infants. This gave the opportunity to close the High Street School, the premises and the site being disposed of to the Long Eaton Co-operative Society.
There was of course a period during the Second World War when no school building was done, but during that time Parliament had not been asleep concerning the needs of the country in the educational sphere, and the Education Act of 1944 was passed. This gave real impetus to the education system of the country. Three of the main provisions of this Act were: the raising of the school leaving age to 15 (eventually 16), the division of the educational system so far as the individual child was concerned i.e. "primary" and "secondary" education, under which it was proposed that each pupil should proceed from the primary to the secondary school, which could be one of three types, namely Grammar, Secondary Modern or Secondary Technical. The duty laid upon each Local Education Authority to submit to the Minister of Education a "development plan" for its area. This involved the complete reorganisation of the whole educaton system to bring it in line with the 1944 Act.
So far as Long Eaton is concerned the first school to be built under the development plan was the Longmoor Junior Boy's School which was opened by the Minister of Education on October 16th 1948. It was built as a matter of urgency to relieve the heavy pressure on the accommodation at the Derby Road Boy's School. Immediately after the passing of the 1944 Act it became necessary to create temporary accommodation in the form of huts at many of the schools to accommodate the additional number of pupils by reason of the raising of the school leaving age to 15 years. The development plan forms the "blueprint" for future building of schools but it is always liable to change in detail to meet the changes in population and housing development. Part of the plan outlines the future need for more primary schools in Long Eaton to meet the needs of the new housing developments. There were also plans for the development of more nursery education as the opportunity arose either by nursery classes attached to existing infant schools, or by a separate nursery school.
The building of new schools was not of course the whole story of education, although it formed a convenient skeleton and the increasing emphasis placed on the physical well being of the child. Facilities for playing games, swimming, and the provision of school dinners were also main features of the plan, as was the development of the school medical service.
Distinction was lent to the educational standing of Long Eaton by Trent College, which was founded as early as 1868. In 1892 the college was remodelled along the same lines as Marlborough and Rossall, with the object of providing "a Public School Education of the highest grade at a moderate cost for the sons of clergy and laity". The school stands in its own grounds of 40 acres on the west side of town.
Later schools to be built in Long Eaton were: Harrington Junior School, St Laurence C. E. Primary School, Sawley Junior School, Sawley Infant and Nursery School, Wilsthorpe Secondary School (later Wilsthorpe Business and Enterprise College), Roper Secondary Modern School (later Long Eaton Lower School), Parklands Infant and Nursery School, Dovedale Primary School, English Martyrs R. C. Primary School. Two schools for children with special needs were also built, these were: Westbrook Special School (later Stanton Vale Special School) and Brackenfield School. In 2006 a new school was officially opened by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Gordon Brown, to accommodate all the pupils from the Long Eaton Upper and Lower Schools in the same building. This state of the art school has a science and technology status and on its opening could cater for around 1100 pupils. The new school was built adjacent to the old Lower School which has now been demolished and the area has been landscaped to include new tennis courts etc. The old Upper School (previously the Grammar School) which has a Grade II listed status, has been sold for development.
At the beginning of 2007, the schools that currently exist in Long Eaton and Sawley were: