Daviot School History
Picture of Daviot School boys taken in early 1897. Mr Campbell, the new headmaster stands proudly on the left and his assistant teacher, Miss Elsie Malcolm on the right
Rev. Thomas Burnett wrote in 1840 “ The parochial school is the only one in the parish. In it we are taught English, reading, English grammer, writing, arithmetic, geography, book-keeping, mathematics, Latin, Greek. The assembly’s Shorter Catechism is also carefully taught, a portion of the Bible read and God’s blessing on the business of the seminary daily implored.
The Schoolmaster has a salary of £30 and the average amount of his fees about £20 also participates in the Dick Bequest. The heritors of the Parish, putting a just value on the services of an acceptable and successful teacher, have, greatly to their credit, given him, in a large and comfortable schoolhouse, much more than the legal accommodation. The annual expense of education varies, according to the branches taught from 8 shillings to £1”.
We also learn that Daviot Public School was a “but and ben” and had pink walls. It was located on the same site as Daviot School is today. The old schoolhouse was demolished in 1911 and replaced with another building
George Sinclair wrote "Miss Elsie Malcolm was one of the early infant teachers. She was of the old school and discipline was very tight with her, but fair. All her pupils were very much aware of a small 18 inch pointer which she carried with her and woe betide and pupil that made a wrong tail or turning to a letter, as they received the weight of the pointer on their knuckles, or for a mis spelt word. She was a first class method of teaching one to count by using a clock face, and one has to start at a given figure, and go round the clock, and this in time was speeded up, this method seemed to stick, and became very useful in later life"
Children from Daviot school in the early 1900's pictured standing on the footpath outside the 'thatched cottages' in front of the school. The headmasters schoolhouse can be seen in the background
Pupils attendance during these early years was often disrupted by severe winter storms which blocked the roads in and out of the village, for days if not weeks. Boys were often required to work on the land in the summer hoeing the neeps, and gathering in the hearst. During market days in Inverurie, it was often recorded that the older boys would be missing from school. Childhood diseases such as scarlet fever, mumps and measles often took their toll on the pupils. The school had to close for several weeks to avoid spreading the infections.
School dinners were served from the old kitchen at the back of the school until 1921. Then for a seven year period the school stopped doing dinners and pupils had to take their ‘ain piece’ During the winter it was always possible to get milk, tea etc warmed by the fire.
The school suffered from under investment for many years and it was recorded that pupils didn’t get proper desks until 1911 when the school went through a period of refurbishment. At this time Daviot school was a ‘finishing’ school but some pupils went on to do optional further education in Inverurie Academy.
In the late 1920’s two open fronted shelters were erected in the playgrounds, one each for the girls and boys. They were draughty but served their purpose. Toilets in the early 1900’s were very unsanitary by today’s standards. They were dry and smelly, three for the girls and three for the boys and backed onto a field of Grassieslacks Farm.
The teachers maintained very strict discipline, mostly by a pull of the hair or an ear, or and rap on the knuckles with the teachers pointer. A whisper or noise brought a sharp rebuke from the teacher. The strap (tawse) was used often, according to former pupils from this period.. Stone throwing or swearing were taboo and brought on the wrath of the teacher.
Early 1900's photograph of Daviot schoolchildren
School Calendar from 1935
By the 1930’s Miss Steven taught French and singing in addition to the usual classes. Mr Campbell continued to teach Latin right up to the second world war. From 1953 the school became a primary school and the senior pupils from the village went to Inverurie Academy for their higher education.
Class of 1964 in Daviot School
Where 3 thatched cottages once stood, there is now a concrete path leading from the main road to the school for the pupils. Along this path the staff and pupils planted roses, shrubs and bedding flowers along the roadside. The school under the headmastership of Mr A. Malley, won several awards for best kept school in the Gordon District and in 1979 won the Caledonian Horticultural Cup for being the best kept school in the whole of Scotland. The school won many accolades in the Britain in Bloom contest through the nineteen seventies.
extracts from “The History of the Parish of daviot” by George H. Sinclair
Photographs from Jim Gray, Maureen Ingram and Jack Philip