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‘Give Them Wings So They Can Fly!’

'School Story' Book - History of Gisburn School

Did you go to Gisburn School?  Do you have happy memories, you’re willing to share?


I started writing the school’s history to commemorate its centenary celebrations (Gisburn School: an Autobiography).  For lots of reasons, progress has been much slower than I anticipated but the book is progressing and I’m aiming to finish it before the two hundred year anniversary if not sooner ;-) (I’m already in the 1930s!)

The end goal is to publish the book with a view to selling it for profit to local, and if there’s an appetite for it, hopefully also wider markets.  All profits would go to the school (which would like to build an outdoor classroom and is currently raising funds for this).  This end is far from sight, but if anyone knows any editors, publishers, marketers, who’d be willing to support this project for the good of our school....And of course, if you’d like to buy a copy once it’s finished, please watch this space!

In the meantime, I’m looking for stories.  I’m using the log books which are a fantastic resource and I already have some great stories from locals to supplement these.  If anyone else out there has a school memory that they’d be happy to jot down and share, I’d love to hear it.  Please email it to me directly:, or drop it off at the school FAO Debbie Nuttall, School History Project.


Below is an extract from the current draft to whet your appetite and give you a flavour of what I’m trying to achieve.  


“My life began before I was born.  That’s not so unusual when you think about it.  Most living things start with a pre-life of sorts.  Butterflies and hens start as eggs, babies start in their mummy’s wombs, oak trees start as acorns, and I started more than a hundred years ago.  


In 1875 ‘Gisburne National School’ contained the seeds of my being.

It had two rooms.  A class room for the 37 infants (14 feet by 18 feet which is about 4 metres by 5.5 metres in the new currency), and a school room for the 81 older children (36 feet by 18 feet; about 11 metres by 5.5 metres).  If you think that sounds quite roomy, measure your own school-hall by way of comparison (Go on, get your tape measure out!); and then imagine 81 children in there, all the time, for every single lesson.


In those days the “Education Code” required each Principal Teacher (what we’d call the Head Teacher today) to keep a “stoutly bound” book which contained “not less than 300 ruled pages” and to:


“...enter into it from time to time such events as the introduction of new books, apparatus, or courses of instruction, any plan of lessons approved by the inspector, the visits of managers, absence, illness, failure of duty on the part of any of the school staff, or any special circumstances affecting the school, that may, for the sake of future reference or for any other reason deserve to be recorded.”

That book (which they called ‘the log book’) is the diary of my early life.  

I know what you’re thinking.  Yawn.  It’s not Anne Frank, and it’s not Adrian Mole, and it’s definitely not Wimpy Kid!  And, just in case the Principal had a literary bent and wanted to spice it all up a bit, the same Code also decreed that:

“No reflections or opinions of a general character are to be entered into the log book.”


In other words: no gossip allowed! 


Yet despite that dull list of what the Head could write in them, my log books are j!  They were kept according to those boring rules.  BUT with a generous pinch of imagination and a dose of empathy (and I know that you have oodles of both) you can read between the words written on those sensible ruled lines and get a sense of my young ‘acorn’ self.  Damp, cold, smelly in parts, struggling against the odds and against the Inspectors (not to mention the weather!) but setting down some firm roots nonetheless.


I’ve just reread my logs; they’ve an aide mémoire, helping me to remember things.  You don’t need to read them yourself though because I’m going to tell you their best bits (plus some of the bits that the Principals didn’t dare record!)

Now, where was I?


Ah, yes, me in 1875.  Seeds of my being.  Rooms.  Log Book.  Hmmm.

Gisburne National School had one or two other things back then that a School Spirit needs to grow.  The two essential ingredients of each and every School Spirit!  I’ll give you three guesses as to what they might be?”


I’ll leave you with that cliff-hanger ;-)

Thanks in advance for your support, Debbie Nuttall, Friend of Gisburn School.