• The Heidelberg Common School, No 294 (1862)


    In 1862, Parliament had decided to replace the two boards – the National and Denominational – with one combined board, the Common Schools Board, which was to supervise all schools receiving government grants. So when the new headmaster, Charles Mattingley, took charge at the beginning of 1863, the school’s name had been changed to the Heidelberg Common School. Mr. Mattingley’s assistant was his wife, Jane Mattingley, and for over fourteen years these two teachers carried on the school. Mattingley belonged to a well known teaching family; his nephew in 1938 – when reminiscences of early pupils were gathered – described him as a “tall, strong gentleman with a flowing beard, and a typical pioneer type”. They were both musical; Mrs. Mattingley took private pupils and Mr. Mattingley was choirmaster of the Church of England.

    Pupils of Mrs. Mattingley in their reminiscences spoke of the fine standard of needlework and artistic handwork they had done under her instruction. She was also known as an enthusiastic gardener, and local people were proud of the school gardens, which were later all destroyed when the “new” school – the nucleus of the present building – was built. It was early in the Common School period that the school became known as No. 294. The Common Schools Board arranged in rough alphabetical order the seven hundred schools it took over from the previous two boards, and then allotted them numbers in accordance with that order. Attendances in 1863 had grown to 104, with an average of 77. A third member of staff during the Common School period was Miss Skeat, probably a pupil teacher. During the National and Common School periods, pupils paid fees, one shilling a week, which went towards teachers’ salaries.