EDUCATION IN BUSHBURY
We know that a Dame School existed in the parish at the top of School Lane in the early nineteenth century. An indian ink drawing of the thatched building was in the church vestry until the 1940s. Another such school was at Coven Heath. There is also mention of a school in Thomas Whitgreave's Diary, "October 18 1780, We walked to the little school by the Blacksmith's and back", but this could have been at Shareshill or Saredon.
Bushbury School, 1832
In 1832 the following notice appeared:-
A list of local subscribers, mainly local gentry, guaranteed sixteen and a half guineas annually, and presumably the school was opened, although it perhaps closed after the Church School opened a few years later.
The Bushbury Church School
It was the generosity of Miss Theodosia Hinckes which established the first church school in Bushbury in 1835. The original building included a house for the master (now demolished) and the rooms on the north side of the present building. Miss Hinckes provided the land and paid for the school's construction. She insisted that the pupils should attend the Parish Church.
At Essington a combined school and chapel was opened in 1846.
At the Church School, gardening seems to have been an important part of the curriculum for the boys. In 1852, the Headmaster, W.Carter reported as follows:
In the Report on Schools for the next year, 1858, we learn that there were two hundred and sixty nine pupils in the main school, and a further one hundred and sixty eight in the Infant's section. (Where did they all sit)?
The report continues:-
At the end of 1876, the then master, Mr. Shaw, retired and was replaced by Francis Burton, a Birmingham man, who did much to raise the standard of education of the children.
The school Log Book from November has survived, and tells us much of the everyday life of the school.
Miss Hinckes had conveyed the ownership of the school by Deed Poll on August 19th 1872 to the Vicar and churchwardens, and in 1884 the School house was enlarged by the addition of two rooms. In 1894 a new school cloak room was added followed in 1895 by the Infants Department at the east end.
A new vicar, the Reverend F. Aston took office in May 1883 and, as the matter of his paying the headmaster's fine in 1891 shows, he seems to have thought well of Francis Burton for many years. The vicar seems to have been content to allow the headmaster not only to run the School with little advice, let alone question, but also to take on several other offices in the parish. Burton was an extremely capable schoolmaster, always receiving good reports from Schools' Inspectors, and at the same time was an indefatigable administrator of local affairs. He was Secretary to the Bushbury and Essington Friendly Provident Society, Vicar's Agent, Keeper of the Churchwardens' Accounts, and Clerk to the Church. He also found time to run a small business, "Francis Burton, Fender Manufacturer and Schoolmaster, Forward Foundry, Kate's Hill, Dudley, and Bushbury House, Bushbury."
The vicar also had interests outside the parish, being Secretary to The British Israelite Society. There were differences of opinion and clashes of personality between the vicar and the schoolmaster and by the end of 1897 we find the Reverend Aston complaining that the school was costing too much to run, was overstaffed, and that Burton was overpaid. The vicar was supported by his two churchwardens, and the scene was set for "The Bushbury Bother". Burton was given notice to leave but the parishioners supported him and replaced one of the churchwardens, Mr. J. Varty, with a champion of Burton, Mr. Henry Lovatt of Low Hill. At the end of June 1898 the vicar appeared at the school and told the children that the Summer Holiday would start forthwith. Burton, standing at the vicar's side, told the children that school would continue until the end of July. The vicar gave a month's salary in lieu of notice to all the assistant teachers, and on July 2nd we find Burton advertising in the local press for "Assistant Teachers at once."
The Vicar advertised for, and appointed a new Headmaster at a salary below that being paid to Burton. The new man, however, never took up the appointment. There was immense support for Burton from the parishioners, particularly parents of his pupils, Henry Lovatt, and the Right Hon. Alexander Staveley-Hill Q.C.,M.P. (see Express and Star, 22.3.1899). With assistance from the National Union of Teachers, a committee was set up to run the school and guarantee its finances. Francis Burton remained in his position until his retirement at the end of 1915, after thirty nine years service, not only to education but to the parish in general.
Bushbury Lane Schools
Following the influx of people working on the two railway systems, L.N.W.R. and G.W.R., a considerable number of houses were built in Bushbury Lane in the 1870s. The school next to the church was not only far from this area, but was also too small to accommodate the numerous children from the "Junction", as the new development was known.
To alleviate the problem, Mr. and Mrs. Staveley-Hill offered to build a new school in Bushbury Lane. It was intended that the building should be suitable for use as a chapel to the parish church on Sundays and as a school room during the week. Construction was started in 1878, the walls were of the new material "concrete", rather than brick, and the steep many -gabled roof was of Scandinavian design. It was opened two years later and served as a school until the new schools in Bushbury Lane were opened in 1909. After then it served as a Church Institute, for Sunday Schools, parties and other social occasions, a Men's Club etc. It ended its life from about 1940 as a store for the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Co. and was demolished in the 1960s.
Schools after the Great War
After the end of the Great War the needs of the parish were met by new schools at Old Fallings, Bushbury Hill and Twelfth (Whitgreave) Avenue. The old school was also expanded by the provision of four new but classrooms in 1934, following the control of the school passing from Staffordshire County Council to Wolverhampton Borough Council. At the same time Mr. Pidgeon retired and was replaced by Mr. R. S. Ruston. He retired in 1943, and the old school ceased to operate in 1953, but for a short time it was used as an annexe to the new school across the road.
We know that in the nineteenth century there was at least one private school in the parish. The Misses Adcock, Anne and Elizabeth ran a school at Wobaston in the 1850s. At the time of the 1851 census there were seven boarders.
In 1925 the old home of the Gough family, Old Fallings Hall, was sold by the Pagets to be opened as a Roman Catholic boys school, with the title of Saint Chad's College. New classrooms were built and the school continued in this style until 1977, when its status was changed to that of a Comprehensive school.