In 1902 School Boards ceased to exist, as Balfour’s Education Act now gave local authorities the responsibility for running the education service in their own areas. In 1904 the newly created Norfolk Education Committee started to appoint its own school managers, who took over the running of the school, and in so doing, they abolished the old style grants, which had been, in effect, a system of ‘payment by results’. The school curriculum noticeably broadened still further, and School Attendance Officers were appointed to check on absent pupils. Miss Hall would not accept any but genuine reasons for staying away, and the Attendance Man was promptly alerted about missing pupils. The children referred to him as ‘The Kid-hunter’, but no doubt the threat of his appearance was enough to scare the life out of them! Proposed teaching schemes had to be submitted in great detail for approval by the school inspectors. ‘Object lessons’ continued and again show great diversity! Between 1904 and 1907 they included, ‘Public Baths and Washhouses’, ‘Flannelette’, ‘Tapioca’, ‘The Rainbow’, ‘Lighthouses and Lightships’ and ‘How to set a Tea-Table’. The Geography timetable included ‘Latitude and Longitude’, ‘Cardinal Points’, “Volcanoes’, ‘Arctic animals’ and on 8th May 1906, ‘The Earthquake of San Francisco.’ The natural environment was seldom used, but in June 1904 Miss Carpenter is reported as having taken the Lower Division into a hayfield to give them a lesson on ‘Hay’. It did seem to the children, though, that every odd unfilled moment had a scripture lesson inserted, Miss Hall being ‘very religious’ and every school session, morning and afternoon, started and ended with prayers. A (noncorporal) punishment of this time was to be kept in at playtime, morning and afternoon, to write in their best longhand writing, ‘Satan finds more mischief still for idle hands to do’. However things seemed to relax a little on Friday afternoons, and as a welcome relief from the ‘Three Rs’ and scripture, the boys had drawing and modeling in Plasticine, and the girls had sewing or embroidery. Older girls were taken to Hethersett for cookery lessons, going by horse and cart and walking home afterwards, and by 1907 arrangements had been made for the older boys to be instructed in handicrafts at Bawburgh.
In spite of the increasing range of subjects being taught, the Inspectors’ Report of 1910 was critical of the teaching methods used for the older children, which left them seeming dull, compared to the bright infants who enjoyed ‘learning by doing’, and judged that the excessive use of ‘learning by rote’ did not provide enough stimulus with which to fire their imaginations. Many pupils must have longed for the day when they could leave and start work, but the fixing of the school-leaving age at 14 in 1918 ensured that they could not leave before then. In 1921 Miss Hall’s long reign as head teacher came to an end, and Mrs Gertrude Elizabeth Kinch was appointed head and several of the more senior residents of Little Melton still recall her 21 years there. Mrs Kinch’s husband was the village milkman, and her daughter Marie was one of her pupils. She remembered her mother as being very strict, with absolutely no relaxation of the rules towards her own daughter, (quite the reverse in fact!). No doubt the young lad who took mice into school and put them in Mrs Kinch’s desk to get his own back was punished accordingly, but the cane was now only used when children were exceptionally naughty. By the 1920s there were two other teachers at the school beside Mrs Kinch. Miss Cobbett taught the infants and cycled out from Norwich in all weathers. Miss Wilson, who taught the next age group, lived at White Rails Farm at Great Melton. She also cycled, and one (now elderly) gentleman recalls how he used to run behind her bicycle when he went to see his grandparents on Great Melton Road. Mrs Kinch taught the senior children and also conducted the daily PT session in the gravel playground. An earlier generation had been instructed in ‘drilling’ on Army lines, as specified by the Board of Education, by a Sgt. Collins of Ketteringham, who had been paid 2s. 6d. per lesson by the School Board.
All the teaching of the older children was done in one big room, while the infants had their own room. After assembly, with its prayers and calling of the register, a big curtain was drawn across the room and lessons commenced. As in the days of Philip Low, great emphasis was placed on reading, writing and arithmetic, but history and geography had now become equally important. Mrs Kinch took the English classes herself, and was very keen on getting her pupils to speak good English. There was very little emphasis on Science but Marie recalled the Education Committee running a ‘Tree and Bird’ competition, perhaps to foster more interest in natural history. In cold weather a big coal fire with a huge black fireguard was lit by the school caretaker. There was no piped water, so water was drawn from the well, and the lavatories were outside and non-flush, of course. No doubt the children were glad to get back into the warm(er) classroom and did not dawdle too long outside in the winter months. The children sat in groups of three, on forms with desks attached, and with inkwells sunk in the top right hand corners of each section. At lunchtime, most of them went home for their meal, while the rest, who lived too far away, (at the far end of Little Melton or in Colney), had their sandwiches in the school. The children’s health was monitored regularly by the school medical service, and the school dentist came for two days at a time in a mule-drawn caravan with Billy Briggs driving. Teeth were inspected on the first of the two days, and treatment, if required, was carried out on the second day with a parent present. The ‘nit nurse’ also made regular inspections!