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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Education

By 2000, educational provision in the parish had disappeared. Tyninghame school already took infants only in 1946; later it became a school for children with learning difficulties who were bussed in from all over the county until it was closed in the 1960s and converted to a private house.

Tyninghame schoolhouse and village green, 1940s.

Tyninghame schoolhouse and village green, 1940s.

The primary school at Whitekirk (where there were 50 pupils during the war) was full of life for some decades but lost pupils as the population declined. The writing was already on the wall in 1960 when a school inspector's report deemed the building and site unsuitable for modern requirements and envisaged its closure for 1965. It lasted eventually until 1989; in March that year, there were just seven pupils, and the school closed on 30 June 1989. The regional authority then decreed that the building should only be sold as a house if the small school dining room should be used as an employment-creating business venture of some kind. It remained empty for some years until the inevitable happened and the school also became a private house.

Whitekirk Primary School

Whitekirk Primary School

There were two teachers, the headmaster for the higher, another teacher for the lower classes. In the first years after the war those who did not pass the entrance exam into North Berwick High School had to stay on at Whitekirk until they reached 14. So there was a huge age range.

There were no school uniforms; the children often had to wear wellingtons to school, especially those who walked from the neighbouring farms. This daily walk could be several miles to and several miles back from school, a long and tiring day for a just-starting five year old! Some of the older ones were the proud possessors of a bike, often recycled from some non-functioning ones. The school lunches were well spoken of.

There were physical exercises on the asphalt in the school playground, but taking into account the distances walked or cycled they were not considered essential by the parents. Marbles was a game for the boys, while the girls played hopscotch or with their skipping ropes.

Bullying was hardly heard of. As one informant said: 'If my Dad had heard I had bullied a little one ... and in such a small community he would always have heard!' And of course there were very likely older brothers or sisters and neighbouring children around.

It was different for the teachers: the tawse was much in evidence. The very few old pupils left in the village were of the opinion that the education they received was adequate.

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