Schoolchildren from Belton and Somerleyton went on strike in November 1959. Sixty – two 11 plus children boycotted the new modern school at Lound on Monday 24th November on the instructions of their parents, who are protesting to the Education Authorities about transport arrangements to the School. The New School opened on Monday for the first time with only 48 (Forty-eight) pupils and on Tuesday the parents’ “stand” had strengthened – only 40(Forty) children from the two villages reported to Lound.
The Education Authorities’ ruling is that;
1) – Children living over Five miles from the School are provided with motor transport.
2) – Those living between Three and Five miles away are supplied with bicycles and protective clothing. In stead of these their parents can accept a sum of 16s 8d per term towards the cost of transport.
3) – Children living less than Three miles from the School have to make their own way there.
Belton and most parts of Somerleyton fall in the Three to Five mile “fringe area” and their parents object to their children cycling along winding roads, which they say are treacherous in Winter.
Simmering since July
A row over this ruling has been simmering since July, when it was announced that children over 11 in the villagers would have to go to the Lound Temporary Modern School. The row flared up in Belton last week, when parents held a protest meeting, as their position was unaltered, despite their earlier protests to the East Suffolk County Education Committee. At the meeting on Friday Belton parents unanimously decided not to send their children to School unless motor transport was provided, and over the week – end most Somerleyton parents decided to follow their lead. The parents told their children to attend their old Schools instead and at Belton Primary School on Monday morning more than 40 (forty) children over 11 waited outside the School gates. A whistle went at 9.00am and the junior pupils all filed into the classrooms. The gates were then shut to the older children. The Headmaster (Mr. T. F. Stone) explained to them that the School was now a Junior one and that he could not accept them. “Your School is at Lound”he said, “and you must either go there or go home.” He urged them to behave themselves. he same thing happened at Somerleyton where the Junior School head (Mr. R. G. brundell) took the names of 19 children over 11 who reported at the School and, after consulting the Education Committee told them to go home.
Opened for the first time.
Eight children from Somerleyton and two from Belton did attend the Lound Temporary Modern School which opened for the first time on Monday November 23rd 1959. The head Master (Mr S Osborne) told a reporter. “We were expecting 110 children, but only 48 arrived”. Apart from the few from the boycott villages these all arrived by bus from Burgh Castle which falls outside the five mile limit and classes were held in four well furnished rooms in the temporary block. Mr Osborn said that this block would be used until the new modern school, costing about £100,000 is finished at the end of 1961. Mr R Lock secretary of the Somerleyton Youth Club and one of the parents involved in the boycott said their main objection was to the type of roads that their children would have to cycle along. One section was overhung by trees and was sheet ice all day in the winter months, he said. A child was killed on another section last year. The parents also objected to girls cycling home in the dark and to the fact that the children would have to pass quite close to the proposed new Blundeston Prison.
Committee will meet
The East Suffolk Education Committee will meet on Tuesday 1st. December to consider the matter of transport and until then the children of both Belton and Somerleyton will probably continue to report to their old school and then go home each day. Although 46 children from Belton are involved. Six have been allocated seats on the bus from Burgh Castle, two of them for medical reasons.
VILLAGE MEETING – DECIDES ON PROTEST
At the Belton protest meeting the chairman of the Parish Council (Mr J. T. Berry) and several parents stressed that all the parents must keep together and make a stand. Mr Berry pointed out East Suffolk Education Committee was holding a meeting on Tuesday December 1st. to decide whether there was any chance of providing a bus, but he said parents had to decide what to do in the following week.
Mr G. Skipper said — If we send our children there this week the committee will say it can be done and we’ll never have a bus.
Mr A. Calver said — I suggest that we send our children top Belton School on Monday morning. Naturally the head will refuse them as it is his duty to do so. I’ve heard of cases in East Suffolk where children are taken to school two miles by bus and let alone four and a half miles.
Expected to cycle
Mr Calver added that the children were expected to cycle the three to five miles to the school, then at dinner time they would be taken the One and a Half mile to Blundeston by bus, and taken back to the school after dinner and then would have to ride al the way home again after school.
Mr Berry said that the six seats on the Burgh Castle bus had been allocated to children in the village. They were given first on medical grounds and then to children in the five mile limit furthest from the school.
Mr H Kemp — ” After Christmas there will be more children from Burgh Castle over 11 and these six will have to stand down.
A resolution proposed by Mr Calver and carried unanimously read: “The parents of children allocated to Lound School do not let their children attend that school, but send them to Belton School unless motor transport is provided”. When Mr Berry pointed out that by law parents could be summoned for refusing to send their children to school, one of the parents said “by sending them to Belton School we are not refusing”. Petitions to the Education Committee and to the Ministry of Education were signed by the parents.
Protests in July
Major A.C. Gowan said that it should be emphasised in the petitions that this was repetition of protest made in July and it was also stated that they should stress that the parents did not object to sending their children to School, but objected to the cycle ride. The school would be one of the best in the Country when it was finished. Mr Berry told the meeting “It is unfortunate that the new Headmaster should have this trouble and we have no ill-feeling against him. We welcome the new school,” he said. The first children at the new school will be from Belton, Burgh Castle and Somerleyton. When it is finished they will be joined by pupils from Hopton, Lound, Corton and Blundeston. Parents told a reporter after this meeting that the road the children were expected to cycle along was winding and hilly. “It is treacherous in winter” said one parent. “There are woods either side for a lot of the way and snow lies on the road all day” said another.
The following are correspondence from the Eastern Daily Press dated November 1959
Boycott of New School : ~Parents call for Transport dated 23/11/59
Parents of 62 children in the Suffolk villages of Belton and Somerleyton boycotted the new area Secondary modern school which opened at Lound yesterday only 48 off the 110 children from the villages whop should have arrived at the Lound school where four temporary classrooms have been built on a site where a new £100,000 school should be completed by September 1961. The other 62 children went to their old schools at Belton and Somerleyton where the Headmasters said they could not be accepted because these were now junior schools.
The parents are protesting against motor transport not being provided to take all children to the new school. The East Suffolk Education Committee is providing a coach for children who live more than five miles from the school or are eligible on medical grounds. a spokesman for Somerleyton parents, Mr Ronald Lock of Station cottages said yesterday that parents do not like the idea of girls riding home alone in the dark and were also disturbed because they would have to ride quite close to the proposed site of the new prison at Blundeston. Mr Lock said: We have been feeling strongly about our children having to ride to Lound for a long time. I got as far as writing to my M.P. Seeing what Belton had decided we in Somerleyton decided to make a stand.
All of Somerleyton , said Mr Lock was within five miles of the Lound school and so we were not eligible for motor transport for its children, but most of it was more than three miles away, “that makes most of our children entitled to free cycles and capes and leggings, but it isn’t safe for them to cycle” he added, we want a bus for them. we are not objecting so much to the distance the children would have to ride, but to the sort of roads they would have to ride on. One stretch – Green Farm Lane – is overhung by trees and in the winter is a sheet of ice all day long. There is a bad blind road junction on the way as well.”
Belton’s protest got underway when 43 children turned up at their old school at Belton and were turned away by the headmaster ( Mr T.F. Stone) Parents of the Belton children decided at a Parish meeting on Friday that the children should continue to go to Belton school. The parents said they objected to children cycling in winter on roads which they felt could be dangerous; and they decided to send a petition to the Minister of Education and the East Suffolk Education Committee. Hearing on Saturday of the Belton parents decision, the parents of 19 Somerleyton children who should also have started at the Lound school decided to act with them.
At the Belton school Mr Stone stood one side of the railings and told the children on the other side yesterday “You cannot come into this school any more. You are all over age and if you don’t go to school you must go home. This is a junior school now. I am sorry to have to do this, but my hands are tied.” At Somerleyton the Headmaster(Mr R. G. Brundell) took the names of children who should have been at Lound and then after a telephone call to the education authority in Ipswich told them they would have to leave. At Lound the Headmaster Mr S. Osborne said most of the children came from Burgh Castle which is more than five miles away and has a school bus for all the children. A few came from Belton and Somerleyton though. As the children were turned away from the schools at Belton and Somerleyton their parents said the same thing would happen today – and would go on until transport was provided.
Lowestoft MP. Intervenes in school boycott
Mr Jim Prior Conservative MP for the Lowestoft division intervened yesterday in the boycott of the new secondary modern school at Lound by parents of Belton and Somerleyton. Mr J. T. Berry chairman of the Belton Parish Council said: I’ve been in touch with Mr Prior and he has been on the telephone to the East Suffolk Education Department.
Mr Prior knows the route the children would have to cycle. He tells me he thinks we have a case and has written accordingly to the education committee which meets tomorrow. Yesterday morning parents again sent their children to the village schools at Belton and Somerleyton where the Headmasters repeated that they could not accept them. The parents said that cycling to the new school would be dangerous in winter and they asked for motor transport for their children.
Lound School Boycott – still on
Belton and Somerleyton parents were waiting yesterday morning to hear from the East Suffolk Education Committee before deciding whether to call off the boycott of the new school at Lound. Yesterday was the ninth day that the 11 – plus children had reported to their village schools and been sent home.
The parents are protesting that no transport is provided to take their children to Lound. The Education Committee decided on Tuesday that buses should be provided for pupils up to 13 years old who have to cycle a mile on either of the trunk roads in the county during their 3 mile journey to school. Spokesman of both Belton and Somerleyton said yesterday that they found this confusing and were waiting for confirmation.
The committee’s decision was based on a recommendation by the General Purpose sub – committee, which considered a series of suggestions about the transport problem. One idea it investigated was that buses should be provided for children living more than 3 miles from the school. a rough estimate of the annual cost of this was reported to be £26,790. The cost of providing buses for all children living more than 3 miles away who would otherwise have to cycle on a trunk road was put at £8379 a year.
It was agreed that arrangements should be explored for collecting these children from picking – up points on trunk roads over a mile away from the schools. The School Welfare Sub – Committee was asked to survey and report upon probable results of this idea.
Miss G. E. Sellers gave notice of a motion asking the Education Committee to review their policy on school transport. This was unanimously agreed. She stressed the changed conditions on the roads since the school transport scheme was last under consideration seven years ago.
The Hon. C. B. A. Bernard said if the money were available every member would like every child going over three miles to have transport. Because he considered the dangers greater now than in the summer, he urged that the question be dealt with quickly. Mr James Prior, M. P. for the Lowestoft Division was in touch with the East Suffolk Education Committee department at Ipswich by telephone on Monday and notified Mr J. T. Berry chairman of Belton Parish Council that he had written to the Education Committee about this matter.
Letters – School strike
Sir – can you blame our parents for not allowing us to cycle the 4 and three quarter miles to Lound school through woods and hills and over dangerous cross roads. Please note the headlines in Tuesdays papers, “Road slaughter increases”. Could any parent feel comfortable with the thought of 46 children cycling in this speed – crazy world.
Robin Carter (aged 12)
Sir – May I appeal to the parents of Somerleyton and adjoining villages whose children have stayed away from the new Secondary Modern School at Lound, to end this rather pointless strike. There seems to be little doubt that the Education Committee will not provide transport for these children, and the continuation of this form of passive resistance merely creates difficulties for the new head master and his staff at a time when help from parents and all concerned is most needed.
For so long those of us who live in rural areas have complained of the lack of educational facilities for our children. The opportunity, long overdue has come and I think it is up to us to give our children the chance which didn’t come our way; what was good enough for us must not be good enough for them.
Much has been said of the difficulties and dangers in cycling from our villages to Lound. The amount of traffic on the way to Lound at any time is negligible and no road of major importance is involved. Most children will do the journey in less than half an hour and feel the benefit of the ride. I consider the so – called dangers are either imaginary or exaggerated and that many have underestimated the capabilities of their own children. – yours Faithfully L. J. BURNETT Somerleyton.
School bus plan for East Suffolk
Move to cut cycling on trunk roads
East Suffolk Education Committee decided at Ipswich yesterday that buses should be provided for pupils up to Thirteen years old who have to cycle a mile on either of the county’s trunk roads during a three – mile journey to school. This was recommended by the committee’s general purpose sub – committee which considered a series of suggestions about the transport problem. One idea they investigated was that buses should be provided for children living more than three miles from school.
A rough estimate of the annual cost of this would bi in the region of £26,790 per year. The cost of providing buses for all children living more than three miles away who would otherwise have to cycle along a trunk road was put at £8,379 per year. It was agreed that arrangements should be explored for collecting the children from pick – up points on trunk roads over a mile from the school.
The school welfare sub – committee was asked to survey and report upon the probable results upon this idea. Before the education committee were resolutions on school transport from parents of children attending Yoxford County Primary School and Saxmundham modern school asking for buses or cars for all pupils who had to travel along a main road during the there mile cycle ride. The chairman (Lord Cranbrook) reported a letter from Mr Jim Prior M.P. for Lowestoft on the same subject.
Miss G.E. Sellers gave notice of a motion asking the Education Committee to review their policy on school transport. This was unanimously agreed. She stressed the changed conditions on roads since the school transport scheme was last under consideration seven years ago. The Hon C. B. A. Bernard said if money was available every member would like every child going over three miles to have transport. Because he considered the dangers greater now than in the summer, he urged that the question should be dealt with quickly.
Belton parents hopeful about school boycott
The boycott by Belton and Somerleyton parents of the temporary secondary modern school at Lound seems likely to last into a third week on Monday – but the parents are optimistic that they will soon receive some encouraging news. They asked for transport to the new school to be provided for all the children and not just for those living more than five miles away. yesterday Mr J.T. Berry chairman of the Belton Parish Council received a letter from Mr Leslie Missen the Chief Education Officer for East Suffolk. telling him of the decisions of the Education Committee meeting last week.
Mr Missen explained that children under 13 would not in future be asked to travel more than one mile along a trunk road without being provided with motor transport. This meant, he wrote, that children up to the end of the term in which their thirteenth birthday fell would not be asked to cycle along any part of the trunk roads in that area on there way to and from school. If they lived off the trunk road they would be asked to cycle of walk to a pick – up point
Mr Missen added that the Committee also agreed exceptions to this general principle should be coincided by the Welfare Sub – Committee as before. It would meet shortly, an attempt was being made to arrange a special meeting for next week, to deal with cases not covered by the concession not covered by the Committee. He said he would write again to Mr Berry after the sub – committee’s special meeting.
School Strike is over.
School children arrive by bus.
Belton 11 – plus children who for a month did not attend the temporary secondary modern school which opened at Lound on November 23rd 1959 were there when the new term began yesterday. Of the 104 children on the school’s list, 98 reported and it was thought the missing six were probably sick. The top attendance for the previous term was 52. The Belton children’s parents refused to let them go to the school last term because they claimed it would be dangerous for them to cycle. East Suffolk Education committee was unable to provide a coach for children living within five miles of the school.
Under a compromise arrangement however, cycle allowance made by the committee together with a small weekly contribution by parents have solved the problem. The money is being used to provide a bigger coach, which picked up the Belton children for the first time yesterday. Somerleyton children who live nearer to the school than the Belton children, were reported to have cycled to it. Their parents’ “Strike” showed signs of collapsing towards the end of last term and some of the Somerleyton children were reporting in the final; days of last term.
Thank you to Mr Calver of Belton for telling the story of the Belton School strike.