History of the School

Sources

We have compiled this history of the school with the kind assistance of Barbara and Robin Judd, lifelong Marden residents with a longstanding association with the school.  Robin’s father was one of the first pupils to enter the school when it was opened in 1897; Robin attended the school and his aunt taught there in the 1920’s.  Robin is a former Chair of Governors.  

Barbara’s parents attended the school in the 1930’s and Barbara was a pupil in the 1950s.  Barbara then taught at Marden for 35 years to 2001.  Robin and Barbara’s children attended Marden in the 1970s. 

We are also grateful to Catherine Alderson and to The Marden History Group for their assistance in researching material on the school’s history.  www.mardenhistory.org.uk

Background

In 1860, a National School (now a part of the present Marden Memorial Hall) was constructed and operated as a school until 1896 when construction began on the present school buildings and the adjoining headmaster’s house (now the children’s centre). 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 two separate departments.  The boys’ department was separate from the girls and infants’ department.  The original entrances to the school were on its front elevation. 

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”

During the Second World War, school numbers expanded with the influx of evacuees from South East London. The old school room in the Memorial Hall was put back into service to cope with the overflow.  Lessons were held in the school’s air raid shelters, of which there were originally two, although only one remains on the site to the south of the playground.  

In 1959, following the retirement of Mr W Bedford, headmaster of the boy’s department, the two original ‘departments’ were merged to form the Marden County Primary School under the experienced headship of Miss O Brann, who had been head of the girls’ department since 1939. 

Miss Brann introduced a school uniform in brown and amber colours, with a tie in 1959.  This was changed sometime after 2001 to the existing red design. 

In the early 1960’s the school buildings underwent internal and external modifications including the removal of a high wall in the existing playground which originally segregated the two original ‘departments’.  The remains of this wall are still evident on site today. 

Miss Brann was succeeded by Mr I Roberts in 1961, who retired in 1982. Miss C Sargent was headmistress until 2001 when Mrs R Linn was appointed.  Mr M Goddard took over from Mrs R Linn in 2012 and Mrs T Thomas was headteacher from 2018 until 2020.  

The School Site 

The school has always been fortunate to enjoy substantial grounds.  Over the years various trees have been planted on the school field.  In 1982 to commemorate the retirement of Mr Roberts a tulip tree was planted on the school field and can be seen adjacent the existing mobile classroom.  

In 1987, following the great storm, the range of trees on the southern boundary of the school field was largely destroyed and many of the trees present today were re-planted afterwards.  

In 1991 the school buildings were substantially altered and 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.  The outdoor wooden activity frame was officially opened and a time capsule was buried within its base.  An oak tree was planted by County Councillor Brenda Trench to the east of the activity frame.  

In 2019 the school funded the provision of an all weather mini pitch facility on the school site with contributions from parents, a generous local benefactor and Sport England. 

Much has changed over the years as approaches to education have evolved. 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…”

In August 2020 Marden Primary School ceased to fall under the control of the Kent County Council when the governors took the decision to join the Leigh Academies Trust.  The school has undergone many iterations over the years from Board School to County Primary School to Primary School and, now to Primary Academy.   One thing is constant, that it will continue to do its utmost to support and educate the children of Marden. 

Mrs Judd's Class 1918
Marden Girls 1930
Swimming Pool in use in 1990
An extension on the school being built 1990
A time capsule being buried in 1997
A time capsule being buried in 1997