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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Education

Children benefited from a pre-school playgroup from 1972 until the advent of more and more free nursery places in Dunbar and East Linton.

Throughout the period, the village has managed to keep its primary school; pupil numbers have varied, and this was reflected in the number of teachers.

Headteachers and Staff, 1945-2000

Mr Ramsay, Mr Mitchell, Mr McRae, Mrs C. Taylor, Mrs O'Mahony, Miss Halliday, Mrs Nicolson, Mrs Cockburn, Miss Davie, Mrs C. Taylor, Miss Hughes, Miss Foster, Miss Buchanan, Mrs M. Taylor, Mrs Dillin

At the end of the war Stenton was a two-teacher primary school. The head teacher, Mr Ramsay, taught the upper school and carried out administration tasks after school hours. For a short period to 1976, Mrs Taylor ran the school as the sole teacher. In the mid 1980s, the popularity of Stenton school was such that for a short time a third teacher was appointed, to help to cope with the 50+ pupils. One reason that the roll increased was that East Linton school was overcrowded and parents chose to send their children to Stenton for a time. Once the roll had settled at around 45, the school once again reverted to having two teachers. By 2000 it remained a two-teacher school, but the head teacher taught only part-time and had two days for office and administration purposes and an ancillary staff including a secretary and an auxiliary.

For 25 years from 1945 the school roll was consistently around 40 to 50, with pupils being drawn from the village and the surrounding farms. A proposal to modernise and enlarge the school planned for 1964 failed to materialise, so children from Whittingehame school (which was closed) who were to transfer to Stenton, went to East Linton Primary School instead. In the first half of the 1970s Stenton Primary School itself was in danger of closing as numbers had dropped (to 23 in 1975). A group of determined parents (with the help of MP John P. Mackintosh) saved the school, and in 1976 the roll increased to over 30. In 1978, the school centenary was celebrated in an exhibition of work, photographs, certificates and other artefacts, and at the triennial village fair the children paraded along the village street in Victorian costume.

Until the early 1980s the pupil intake was from the village and surrounding farms. Then the Parents' Charter was introduced, and this enabled parents to choose their child's school. So from the mid 1980s, the profile of Stenton's pupils changed and for a time, the school was chronically overcrowded. Whittingehame (where the school closed in 1973) parents chose to transfer their children to Stenton, and, as professional parents viewed small primary schools as an ideal learning environment, their children were sent to Stenton rather than to a private or prep school. Thus the social background of the pupils changed dramatically and remains so to the present day. Pupil numbers in 1980 were 36; in 1985 50; in 1990, 45; in 2000, 31.

In the 1990s the council tackled the problem of outside lavatories and overcrowding. Using Charles Park's plans (originally prepared during the crowded 1980s) a much-appreciated extension and refurbishment was completed, beautifully in keeping with the original building. The main area is now an open plan classroom and activity area for all the staff and children. A computer room and indoor toilets completed the dream. There was a Grand Opening on 21 April 1998. Miss Catherine Watt, a former pupil, blew out the candles on the cake.

The curriculum has changed since 1945 in line with education policy in Scotland. Inside the building the school has become much more attractive and colourful. A prominent feature of school life in the 1980s and 1990s was the development of residential trips. The pupils camped at Whitekirk and stayed at the Education Centre at Innerwick and the island of Iona.

As the inspection of Stenton school in 1993 stated, most areas of the 5-14 curriculum were in the process of being implemented; all areas were fully in place by 1994. The school has always benefited from the strongly felt sense of family and community in the parish. From Stenton Primary School, pupils either go to Dunbar Grammar School or to private schools.

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