Braithwell, Micklebring and Clifton History and Heritage

Braithwell First and Middle School 1978-1994


A final report by Miss F A Merriman, Headteacher

Entry in the Doncasterday?  Book 1985 on inside front cover.

Braithwell F/M School                                                 Page 11

Braithwell County Primary School opened on 1st February, 1928. The school became a 4-12 First/Middle School in 1978. A hall, classroom, library and cloakroom were added to the original building in 1974 and 1979/80. At 12+ the children generally transfer to Edlington Comprehensive  School. French is taught to the 10-12 year old children. Opportunities to play recorders and the violin are available. The recorder group won their Class at the Barnsley Music Festival. There are facilities for Cookery, Crafts and Science. We have a Gymnastics Club. Friendly football, netball and rounders matches are played. School meals are served each day. At present there are 112 children on roll, the Headmistress, 3 full time and 4 part time teachers, part time NTA and Clerical Assistant.



January 1978 was memorable to me for a variety of reasons:

1) I took up my appointment as Headteacher,

2) for the very heavy snowfalls (a trip to Conisbrough Castle had to be postponed)

3) On 30th January I attended a meeting about re-organisation.

Little did I know that in July 1994 another re-organisation was to take place with a result which would devastate Braithwell – more of that later. In January 1978 we were all very busy planning to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the School on February 1st. We had a lovely day and the 4 trees on the front garden, planted by the Mayor of Doncaster, are there to remind us of that day. We had a concert, a Celebration Evening, and a Jubilee Cake.

The re-organisation in 1978 made the School into a First/Middle, so staff had to attend courses and plan to teach subjects to a higher level, and include French for the 10-12 year olds. Plans were laid to extend/alter/update the premises to accommodate the extra pupils and extra subjects. The story of all the problems with building work is an issue all on its own!

We all set about the task in hand and with what soon became familiar enthusiasm, and the willingness to do our best for the education of the children. I well remember the Science ‘evenings’ at Edlington Comprehensive School!

It was decided to re-introduce an old custom in Braithwell and I wonder if Carol Morris remembers being the first May Queen!

The next important task was to provide the children with first hand experiences, by organising day visits to a variety of places which would form the basis for Topic Work. People were invited in to talk to the children. I remember ‘Antarctica’ being the subject of one visit and the R.N.I.B. Area Organiser – a donation of £18.56 was made by the children to help that cause.

Gymnastics was a topical sport then, and those children who were interested visited other schools to work with other children and learned with them. This has continued until now, and children are still enjoying this activity and still taking part in competitions.

We set about updating the Curriculum areas and extending the resources, which has remained a feature of just about every year since then!

When School opened on 19th September 1978, at Braithwell First/Middle School we had 133 children on roll. Needless to say the new building was not ready. Liaison between schools in the Edlington pyramid became important as the subjects now taught in Middle schools came on stream. The Autumn Fair that year raised £320. Parents were encouraged to come and help in school. This has continued to be a most valuable way of Home and School working together for their mutual benefit.

February 15th 1979 will stick in my mind as there were blizzards and Braithwell was cut off!! The school meals van could not get through the snow drifts from Edlington. Mrs Mullins and staff who lived in the village struggled home for soup, bread, butter, etc., to make some lunch for everyone! Even the bus from Micklebring became stuck in a snow drift. I stayed the night with Mr & Mrs Swift, as Doncaster Road remained blocked by drifting snow. I seem to remember Industrial Action by Council Workers not helping the situation.

In the midst of all this ‘weather’, Mrs P Cree was appointed for after Easter, with responsibility for teaching French. Mrs Cutts retired after 25 years as a Dinner Lady. How many plates? How many meals?

There was great excitement on March 12th when the first School Journey party from Braithwell left to go to Askrigg in Wensleydale for five days. This was the village used in the TV series ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. It was an exciting visit, but the snow followed us. 16 children went, accompanied by Mr Kilvington and Mr Marsden, who became a frequent assistant on our School Journeys, and myself. I remember a magical morning in Askrigg – we walked through crisp, white, deep snow to Mill Gill Waterfall, where the frost had turned the spray into long, long icicles all around the falling water. The sun was shining and the children, warmly wrapped up in colourful clothes, ran and jumped into the deep snowdrifts on the way back. The children had a memorable trip, and I wonder I Nicola Barker and the rest of the group remember walking in the frosty evening to hear the Hornblower in Bainbridge*.   I can remember Paula Spurr performing gymnastic routines in the snow drifts! I hope all the party still remember Semerwater, Bolton Castle, Hardrow Force, and so on …

Sport was encouraged and the football team played matches with nearby schools, enjoying the games and the opportunities to visit other schools. On April 4th the first win was recorded! 3 – 1 against Redwood. Lloyd Bunting scored 2. Ronald Clinton 1. This was followed, of course, by many more.

Musical Groups have always been welcomed into School and concerts by the teachers of musical instruments are a wonderful opportunity to hear live musicians play. This month we had a Brass Quintet – over the years just about all types of instrumentalists have performed for the School.

In Autumn 1979 more building work began. I shudder when I think of all the mess! Thankfully, there were distractions! For example a visit to ‘Coppelia’ in the Big Top in Norfolk Park, Sheffield.

We have always held a Harvest Festival and tried to find a speaker who can give us some insight into a different way of life or local knowledge. Mrs Watkins from Stainton told us of life on a farm when she was young. Since then, we have welcomed a representative from Yorkshire Main (Coal – the Harvest from underground), several Church representatives, Save the Children, the Church Army, Kenya, and last Autumn, ‘Springboard’ who have led several assemblies for us. The Harvest gifts so generously sent by parents have been sold and the proceeds donated to an appropriate Charity.

In March 1980 the first of what has become an annual visit to Scargill House, Kettlewell, took place. I had been there many times from another school, where the head, Mr David Fletcher, had pioneered school journeys for school children. I was delighted to take children from Braithwell and introduce them to the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales, help them to learn about the countryside, and enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting the Scargill Community and spending time in the evocative atmosphere of Scargill House** This year was the 14th visit, enjoyed just as much each year. For Base 4 and Mr Kilvington the work for the term is built around the visit. A lot of money has been raised over the years to keep the costs down so that all the children may have the same opportunity to join the visit. Many children could boast  that they had climbed Gordale Scar, reached the top of Great Whernside, or Buckden Pike, been to Bolton Priory and Skipton Castle  -  happy memories last a long time! Of course, we have had a lot of help and encouragement from many sources, but I’m sure that the benefits have been worth it!

Mrs Peniston retired as Deputy Head in 1980 after 20 years at the school. Mr Kilvington subsequently was appointed to that position.

In June Mrs Milnes came to help the children build the rockery (we had some help from ‘farmers’ as well – to place the huge stones!).

A day to York, a veritable treasure-house for school visits, has been enjoyed by many children. We went this time by ‘125’ train. We are lucky to have so many interesting, exciting places to visit in our area. I think we must have taken children to most of them – the Peak District, the East Coast, a canal boat ride, Cusworth Hall, Sprotborough Flash, the Crucible Theatre, Eureka, National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, banks,markets, acolliery – to name but a few!

Being a ‘country’ school, children have had the experience of seeing plenty of baby animals at the farms – pigs, lambs, ducks, etc.; plenty of opportunity for pond life – frogs; crops in the field, and a knowledge of farm machinery. The Braithwell farmers have been very kind and helpful in letting us know about imminent births! Mrs Fletcher and I will never forget our trip to ‘Bethlehem’ to visit the stable – set up by the Dunstans at the Farm Shop – I’m sure the children who were in Base 1 at the time won’t ever forget ‘following the star’!

In 1982 Braithwell children became Europeans, when they joined children from Tickhill Estfeld School on a trip to Lion-sur-Mer, Normandy. This has been another valuable learning experience, and a good reason to work at learning French. A similar trip has been enjoyed every year, and this year was no exception. What a memorable experience to visit Normandy just after the 50th Anniversary of D – Day!

Safety is always a key factor with children. We have welcomed the Police and Road Safety Officer, Railway Police, and many children have been trained for cycle proficiency. Swimming lessons have continued and children have passed a variety of tests and gained certificates.

A major step forward into higher echelons of the future took place in 1982 when we got our first computer! What excitement! Now it is outdated as technology progresses at an alarming rate, and the Archimedes*** reigns supreme!

From 1st January 1983, Corporal Punishment of any kind was abolished. Has time proved this to be a good decision?In February we took delivery of a Video Cassette Recorder which cost £407. It gave valuable and reliable service, and made the use of Schools TV Programmes so much easier. We were very sorry when it was stolen in 1993 when the School was burgled.

A lot of money has been raised over the last 16 years, and we all have been most grateful for all the help we have had in that particular direction  - so many ideas, and sometimes ingenious ones, to raise money to buy expensive equipment and subsidise outings have been employed. Our School has been very well equipped, and the children have wanted for nothing! I do not think all schools can say that. Many thanks to all concerned.

When children have been taken out on visits, we have had complimentary remarks made about their good behaviour. A high priority has always been placed on teaching children to be polite and consider other people. The slogan ‘Be nice to one another’ has been used. In today’s society well behaved children stand out. Braithwell First/Middle School has been welcomed everywhere.

In January 1984 there were more heavy snowfalls (about 12” during the week). We were lucky to have Michael Pawson and a ‘big machine’ to clear the car park , so this time the school meals van arrived!

From time to time the whole school worked on a particular Topic or Theme, which was aimed to show the progress through the different age groups. ‘Money’ and ‘Shops’ were mathematically based. The Science based topics were ‘Air’, ‘Water’ and ‘Flight’.

After a successful ‘bid’ we received money for ‘extra teacher hours’ to concentrate on all aspects of English. Exhibitions of the end results were mounted and parents and visitors were invited to see these.

Braithwell First/Middle School has ‘joined-in many LEA Exhibitions held at the Racecourse – ‘INTECH’ Craft, Design & Technology initiatives (I remember the Fairground we did), and ‘IMPEL’ Gymnastic Displays (getting all the equipment down there needed Pawsons again!).

We have always enjoyed tremendous support from parents and people in Braithwell and school events have always been well supported.

Throughout the School Log Book evidence is there of the extra hours that the staff have worked, attending courses, updating the Curriculum, learning new skills, planning extra activities, and so on…

Mrs D Swift left in July 1984 after 24 and  a half years as Clerical Assistant. What a lot of letters, dinner money and salary returns!

In our efforts to bring people into School to bring another dimension, I note we had a Russian Teacher, and a Professor from Dandong, China.

We have put on many Concerts, giving children the chance to ‘perform’ in many different Musical Events. Mrs Foster, Mrs Lindley and Mrs Parry-Hardie were the mainstays of shows like ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘Joseph’, ‘Oliver’, ‘ Good Old Days’, ‘Midnight Thief’, ‘Captain Noah’, and many other songs, recorder groups and Christmas Concerts. The younger children have enjoyed performing plays for parents, and these have included ‘The Gingerbread Man’, ‘The Smallest Angel’, and ‘The Enormous Turnip. Mrs Povey and Mrs Fletcher give all Base 1 & 2 the chance to be ‘stars’ for the afternoon!

Many trees and Shrubs have been planted around the edge of the field, and in 1984 we planted three to mark the 40th Anniversary of V.E. Day.

In 1986 we took everyone to Conisbrough to see the Queen drive by. The children all made a Union Jack to wave.

In January 1987 would you believe, once again very heavy snowfalls. Only 33 children arrived on 15th January.

People with special skills have been invited into School on many occasions. Some were Advisory Teachers in Mathematics, IT, Drama, Art, P.E., and Computers. We have had Chefs, Actors, Musicians, all of whom could enrich the children’s experience.

The School has supported events held in Braithwell: the Wheelbarrow Races, the Flower Festival and various Fairs. It is good to start young enjoying the community spirit by joining in! This July, the 100th Anniversary of the first Parish Council Meeting was celebrated in true Braithwell style!

In July each year we have welcomed the September Reception children into School to join in activities and familiarise themselves with the routines.

In 1989, all the School (not all at the same time) went to Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet. This formed the basis of a wide variety of model making  e.g. a tilt-hammer and a water wheel, art, writing and history. What an interesting time that proved to be.

Thinking of others in the Autumn helped the children to improve their reading as well. A Readathon raised £415 for the Sir Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children.

For many years we have welcomed several young people  on various training schemes, e.g. Community Service, Y.T.S., Trident. It is very useful to have another pair of hands, particularly willing, helpful ones! It is good to help young people towards the world of work.

In the recent years the National Curriculum together with Assessment, Standard Attainment Tasks, records of Achievement, together with all the documentation, has had an enormous impact on all schools. Keeping up-to-date is am extremely complex activity. The staff at Braithwell First/Middle School have spared no effort to familiarise themselves to ensure that the children receive their full entitlement of education. This we are confident has been achieved. School Budgets have taken up an enormous amount of time with Local Management of Schools.

A lot of newspaper has been collected  over the years, until it became difficult to sell. It has hard work, but raised a lot of money for School Funds.

We have used the LEA Services fully. These have included School Psychologists, Speech Therapy, the Behavioural Unit, School Nurse, Dentists and Doctors, in an effort to ensure that any child who had a problem could receive help and support.

Our school has been kept in good repair and decoration, due to the good management and careful use. Mrs Evans, assisted by Mrs Green, are to be complimented on their work. Unfortunately subsidence we had no control over, and repairs and re-decoration had to be carried out.

We had an interesting link with Kenya when Mrs Povey visited her son who was working there. We sent gifts of school materials, very scarce in Kenya, which were delivered to the country schools. Money to buy Tilly Lamps followed from the proceeds following the Harvest Festival.

We have celebrated two Royal Weddings, those of Prince Charles and Prince Andrew, and we had ‘wedding cakes’ – any excuse for a party!

Nine hundred years after the original, a new Domesday Book was compiled. Braithwell First/Middle School undertook to research the 4 x 3 kilometre square of the Braithwell area. This was then part of the National Survey. This was then part of the National Survey. The computer proved its worth in this operation.

I have been an Executive Member of the National Association of Head Teachers for some time. I have attended all the National Primary Conferences and two International  Conferences organised  by NAHT. I have taken examples of work and photographs to be displayed as far away as Brussels!

We have often had members of the Press to events at School. The children enjoy being able to see themselves in print.

Whenever a large item of equipment or other project has been suggested, people in Braithwell have always been there both financially and physically! In February 1990 the HALL CURTAINS were begun. Mrs Povey and Mrs Overett (Chairman of Governors) cut them out, and then along came an army of ‘mothers’ carrying sewing machines! The hall was to be re-decorated, so a transformation took place. What a difference! Some organisations in Braithwell donated money to help pay for this.

A series of General Evaluation or Specific Evaluation days began, and our own Advisor/Inspector, Alan McGregor, came to the LEA. We were pleased to see our first GEV Report and welcomed his support and expertise. Training days for staff have been very useful and valuable, giving days for staff to work in school with the ‘pyramid’ or join staff from another school.

In Spring 1992 the first SATs were carried out with the Year 2 children.

An interesting visit to see a copy of ‘The Golden Hinde’ gave children a very good insight into the life of Sir Francis Drake and his crew.

Schools in the Pyramid became part of an Edlington Pyramid Management Group and Staff formed Planning Groups for all Curriculum subjects. Policy Statements were compiled. This was a good way for staff to liaise with staff in other schools,

In June 1992 shock waves reverberated around Braithwell when the Doncaster LEA published its Re-organisation plans, with closure for Braithwell First/Middle School. Working groups were immediately set up by Parents to fight this proposal. One group raised money to fight the LEA, the other set about the task of preparing an application for Grant Maintained Status. The energy and enthusiasm of parents and friends was tremendous. Public meetings, press coverage, representations – all were carried out. All this carried on until the news came that all our efforts had failed.

School carried on as normal. A day out to Whitby for Bases 2 and 3 proved to be most successful as so many aspects of National Curriculum subjects could be included. The teachers were exhausted but the follow up work was worth it. The answer to any question posed to Base 2 for the following week was ‘Whitby’ or ‘Captain Cook’!

Other visits included White Post Farm, Laxton, Cadbury World, Meadowhall, and the Royal Mail.

Visiting speakers talked about a trip to Poland and Richard 1.

The last day of term in 1993 there was heavy snow.

Our last two terms of 1994 have been extremely busy. Parents have had to decide which school they want their children to attend. Some children left early to take up places in schools nearly full. The children are to go by bus to Wadworth and Tickhill St. Marys Primary Schools. Some will attend Tickhill Estfeld and other schools in the Rotherham area.

The School staff will be spread far and wide:

Mr Kilvington will be Deputy Head at Finningley C of E Primary School.

Mrs Fletcher is going to Warmsworth Primary School.

Miss Best is going to St. John’s C of E Primary School at Mexborough.

Mrs Mason will be employed at Wadworth and Tickhill St. Mary’s Primary Schools.

Mrs Roberts has not found employment yet.

Miss Merrimen, Mrs Povey and Mrs Haynes are to take early Retirement.

Mrs Evans is to retire.

Mrs Mullins and Mrs Wadsley may be employed in other school kitchens.

Mrs Brooks and Mrs Hegarty will retire.

Mrs Green  ?

For some staff it is a new start and we wish them every success in their new positions.

For the Children – new schools, new friends, new teachers and new experiences. We wish them all the best in their lives.

I would like to place on record my appreciation of the way the teachers at Braithwell  First/Middle School have met the challenges put before them over the years. We all feel that the children have been given a good education, a broad and balanced curriculum, which was incorporated easily into the National Curriculum. No effort has been spared to ensure that the children were fully prepared for Secondary Education when they moved on.

We have been fortunate to have such a good Ancilliary team to provide non-teaching and secretarial support.

Our work has been enhanced considerably by the people of Braithwell. No request from School has been refused! We are most grateful for the generosity, enthusiasm, and expertise of so many people in the village. Mrs Hoyes and the Post Office, the Village Shop, the Farm shop, the Butcher’s Arms, the Red Lion, the Plough, the Village Club, the Parish Councillors, the Governors, the Home/School Association, the Good Companions, and many more…have helped in more ways than I can list – sometimes anonymously – and all for the benefit of children of Braithwell, Stainton, Micklebring and Clifton.

Our sincere thanks to you all.


Miss F A Merriman


*The Bainbridge horn is blown every evening in this North Yorkshire town, at 9 p.m., between 28 September and Shrove Tuesday. Unlike the horn-blowing custom at nearby Ripon, the origin of this custom is obscure. Some have tried to link it with Roman times, but it is more likely to date from when Bainbridge was the administrative centre of the Forest of Wensleydale, and the sound of the horn was designed to guide benighted travellers to safety. This would date it to medieval times, but the first known mention is in 1823.

** Scargill House is a Christian retreat in wonderful gardens and surrounded by the Dales scenery.

***The Acorn Archimedes is a family of personal computers designed by Acorn Computers Ltd in Cambridge (England) and sold in the late-1980s to mid-1990s, Acorn's first general-purpose home computer based on its own ARM architecture. The first Archimedes was launched in 1987.