In 1860, a National School (now a part of the present Memorial Hall) was constructed and operated as a school until 1896 when construction began on the present school buildings. The current school opened in 1897.
Opening as a non-denominational ‘Board School’, Marden Public Elementary School cost £500 to construct. The original buildings were designed to accommodate 180 boys, 134 girls and 102 infants in three separate departments, with separate head teachers and entrances.
In its early days, the school was affected by epidemic illnesses, not helped by a lack of proper sanitation in the village and an open sewer running along the back of the school field. Cases of diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough and measles were not uncommon in the Edwardian era. One commentator noted:
“…this school, in which the attendance is never very regular, has been conducted this year under exceptional difficulties having been closed…owing to the prevalence of epidemic illnesses”
The school continued to operate as three separate departments until long after the Second World War. During the war, school numbers expanded with the influx of evacuees from South East London. The old school room in the Memorial Hall was therefore put back into service to cope with the overflow.
In 1959, following the retirement of Mr W Bedford, headmaster of the boy’s department, the school was merged into one County Primary School under the experienced headship of Miss O Brann, head of the girl’s department since 1939. Miss Brann introduced a uniform in brown and amber colours, with a tie. The school buildings underwent modifications to merge the classes, including the removal of a high wall segregating the boy’s and girl’s departments. Miss Brann was succeeded by Mr I Roberts in 1961, who subsequently retired in 1982. Miss C Sargent was then headmistress until 2002. Mr Goddard took over from Mrs R Linn, who retired in 2012. Mrs May and Ms Beckett have led the school from September 2017.
In 1992 the school buildings were substantially extended to add modern teaching spaces and new administration accommodation. In July 1997, the school celebrated its centenary year with a week of events to commemorate the occasion. A time capsule was buried in the school grounds.
Much has changed over the years. The practice of corporal punishment, not popular with Miss Brann, appears to have ceased entirely during Mr Roberts tenure. The school log records the last instance of corporal punishment in 1972 as “three strokes with a slipper” for two boys caught climbing over a wall. Mr Roberts noted in the school log, in 1982, that for the period 1972-1982:
“No corporal punishment thought necessary, mainly, I think, because of a gradual improvement in general atmosphere and parental co-operation…”
(With grateful thanks to Catherine Alderson and The Marden History Group for their assistance in researching this material www.mardenhistory.org.uk)