Mrs Harvey's Memories

Headmistress of Hapton School 1971 – 1990

Interview held by Sue Wardale and Graham Bleach May 2019

Previously having taught at Forncett School Mrs Harvey took her first and only Headship at Hapton School, Easter 1971

First impressions of Hapton school?

Very small 29 children when Mrs H started; homely feel was looking for something family orientated, been in Norfolk since 66 (previously from Hertfordshire) where my husband had a job. I was teaching head and there was one other teacher and a secretary (Monday morning) no teaching assistants, there were two children, twins with muscular dystrophy very small at the time with no additions support except one or two visits, they had to leave in the end.

Presumably there were no portacabins at that time?

There were no portacabins then – I remember when I went for the interview there were 5/6 people there, an open fire (not alight) and a cat in a basket in the hearth, it was just so homely, I couldn’t believe it and the caretaker Mrs reeves used to look after the cat during the holidays. The cat used to come into its basket during the day, very nice for the children.

Was the fire alight?

Yes, in the winter with just a guard round it not very safe really but things weren’t in those days. The infants were all in there and the juniors about 13 of them in the other room which was plenty big enough I taught the juniors I had been an infant school teacher before that so it was a change and I loved it there was a scholarship (eleven Plus) in those days, they sat a paper and if passed went to Diss Grammar school or if not to Long Stratton High school

Were there school lunches?

They didn’t come from Stratton then but from one of the surrounding villages but there were definitely school dinners and they had milk too.

What were the children like; what was their behaviour like?

They were lovely, excellent and if I see them now, they give me a big hug. Very friendly. The older children had a maturity about them they were very helpful and in those days they were allowed to make our drinks, that was eventually stopped but they were sensible enough the door was left open and they just went into the cloak room, they just went in and put the kettle on Graham Bleach recalled that even in his time at the village shop during the late 80s the children used to come down for stamps and milk for the teachers tea. It has changed so much I was glad that in those days it was like it was because I loved it, I was doing what I loved

In the 70’s were a lot of children from faming backgrounds?

Yes, some were but I was surprised because Hapton wasn’t as rural as Forncett, Hapton had some parents that were professionals but it didn’t make any difference we all got on together the parents were very supportive

It was the support of those parents that helped raise the money for the toilets?

Yes, and though I was there when we raised the money, I never had the benefit of those toilets I remember they (the old outside toilets) did freeze up, the care takers Mr and Mrs reeves who were lovely used to put oil heaters in there, again wouldn’t be allowed today! But it helped. Janet (Neagle) and I used to skate about during playtimes and breaks pouring boiling hot water down them otherwise it would be useless

Did you use the hall?

Yes, we used it for lunches, concerts and meetings our concerts were lovely the children used to love them.

What was the Children’s welfare like?

We had the nurse (nit nurse) she used to come there were several different ones during my time

Did they look at anything else?

No mainly the head, they did look at the hands too. The dentist used to come too. They used to see the children in the village hall. Treatment wasn’t carried out there, appointments would made for the children to visit the dentist, they used to come about once a year.

What did you do with the naughty ones?

To be honest they weren’t really that naughty. Discipline became more difficult towards the end of my time but at the beginning if I just raised my voice it was enough – I found children need boundaries if they knew their bounties there was no excuse. I might keep them in at playtime if they had been cheeky but I can’t really remember it being a problem

When did you retire?


Things had changed by then hadn’t they? Children were told that they didn’t have to listen to adults, weren’t they?

Yes, but I think it helped having the ages together because they wanted to listen

Was it on the back of your rising numbers that the mobile came?

Yes, can’t remember when it came, it would be in the log book (unfortunately we don’t have access to the log book at the moment) but we had a caravan first as an office because there was no where to put anything and the secretary had to be in the class room all the time. It was still there when I left. “Graham Bleach said he had the job of moving it from the back of the school to Greenmantle Ann Yates who lived there at that time had it as a tack room. Graham can remember towing it up the Loke”. Of course, there was no fencing around the school meadow in those days, the children used to play on there out of hours and why not as long as they were sensible, couldn’t see why not.

What about the curriculum, was it very ridged?

No, no, it wasn’t
SW: I know Janet Neagle believed in showing and teaching the children about wildlife, my daughter benefited from that.
Yes, it was absolutely marvellous when I had her, she took on that side which help me tremendously. I did take on a music teacher and that was a great help too, I believe in children singing and not being afraid to sing out, apparently, they lose that when you’re not about. The boys usually hate singing but ours didn’t, let them be children

So, you would have taught English and maths every day?

Oh yes, the 3 R.s was very important and of course the eleven plus looming as well it depended what you wanted to do like nature geography etc. There were school visits. We used to go to Howe hill regularly and Holt Hall we used to camp. When Brian (Mr Harvey) was teaching at Wymondham he took his pupils and I took my older ones, we had a lovely time it was probably in half term or something, we had camp fires and everything it was wonderful

Did you have a Piano?

Yes, and a record player Ann Martin was a wonderful accompanist then there was Sally Fisher who used to come once a week and then the children could go privately to her for piano lessons. Music is very important and the concerts. The Children could stand up and sing their hearts out. When we went up to 52 children, we had 3 class rooms the infants in the portacabin and the others in the school. We had more teachers one was a man which I and the children were pleased about John Bradford he was young just out of collage and when Brian retired, he used to come to teach the children football because john wasn’t vert sporty. He was very versatile a lovely man who used to make the children laugh. When I first went to the school there was an elderly lady Mrs Rush but she retired. Then the first teacher I had was Joan Sargent she was my infant teacher for years. After I retired, I did a bit of supply teaching at Hapton but I found it difficult, very emotional also some supply work at Aslacton but then decided enough is enough

Are there any events in Hapton you remember?

Other event in Hapton was the jubilee in the 1977 we had a big meeting in the village hall with food and things I remember that, the retired headmistress of Forncett, Miss Armstrong, the one that was later murdered, was there too she was telling me how pleased she was to be having the boys from the home round her house I remember saying to her to be very careful. She moved out of the school house to her newly built bungalow so we could move in while our house was being built

Weather and school closures

We used to get snowed in so Hapton school had to close because we couldn’t get in but we weren’t unduly bothered by the storm in 1987 I can’t remember if the school was closed or not but I think it probably was because there were a lot of trees down

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