In 1716 the rector of Great
Birch was paying towards a small school where
several poor children were taught to read. (fn. 36) His
successor reported in 1723 that there was no
public school but that poor children were taught
reading, writing, and 'other necessary knowledge'. (fn. 37) In 1790 there were two or three day
schools, and by 1810 one parish school, two or
three small schools teaching needlework to poor
girls, and a Sunday school for boys. (fn. 38) By 1819
there were two day schools in the parish with
c. 70 pupils. They seem to have continued in
1833 when there were five with a total of 88
children. There were still three or four private
schools in 1839, but only two small dame schools
by 1846. A nonconformist Sunday school with
50 pupils reported in 1818 may have been the
free Sunday school for 85 children run by Layer
Breton chapel in 1833 in a schoolroom within
Birch parish; it was probably the school which
stood just inside the parish boundary in 1841.
A church Sunday school for 50 children, opened
by 1818, had 30 pupils in 1833. (fn. 39) By 1841 there
was a church school opposite Great Birch
church supported by voluntary subscription. (fn. 40)
C. G. Round's wife, Emma, built a National
school for c. 130 children on the same site in
1847. (fn. 41) The school, which followed the Pestalozzi teaching method, was paid for by Emma
Round assisted by the children's pence and from
1862, by regular government grants. (fn. 42) A new
classroom added in 1871 increased the accommodation to 238. (fn. 43) The building was enlarged
and altered in 1911 by J. Round, (fn. 44) and in 1931
by C. J. Round with the assistance of the diocese. In 1939 C. J. Round conveyed the school
to the Chelmsford Diocesan Board of Finance. (fn. 45)
Evening classes were held at the school from
1897. Ploughing classes were held in 1906 and
Essex County Council built a Handicraft and
Cookery Centre in 1911. (fn. 46)
The school took children from Layer Breton,
Layer Marney, Wigborough, and Salcott Virley
when the schools in those parishes closed
between 1877 and 1937, and in 1931 a senior
department was formed. In 1953 there were 232
children from 10 parishes at the school. In 1957
senior pupils were transferred to new secondary
schools at Stanway and Tiptree, and Birch
school was reorganized as a primary school. (fn. 47) In
1985 the number on the roll was 73. (fn. 48)
The school building of 1847, (fn. 49) of gault brick
with lowpitched slate roofs, is singlestoreyed with projecting end bays and large windows with
Tudor hoodmoulds. The house for the master
and mistress is similar in style but with Gothick
windows and doorway. The school was extended
in 1985. (fn. 50)
||S.P.C.K. Letter Bk., Abstracts, vol. 7, 4932; ibid.
Annual Rep. 1724.
||Guildhall MS. 25750/1.
||Lamb. Pal. Libr., Porteus Papers 24; Randolph Papers 9.
Digest Returns Educ. Poor, H.C. 224, p. 247 (1819), ix
(1); Educ. Enq. Abstract, p. 266; E.R.O., D/P 30/28/18; ibid.
D/CT 34; Nat. Soc. Inquiry, 1846-7.
||E.R.O., D/ACM 12; ibid. D/CT 34.
White's Dir. Essex (1848), 116; below, plate 47.
Rep. Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1861-2 , p. 510,
H.C. (1862), xlii; E.R.O., D/DR O19.
||E.R.O., D/DLu 81; Return of Public Elementary Schs.
1875-6, p. 66 (1877).
||E.R.O., E/MM 93, p. 99; Kelly's Dir. Essex, (1912).
||E.R.O., C/ME 27, p. 406; Nat. Soc. file; H. J. Figg
Edginton, Birch School, 20-1.
Schs. in Receipt of Parl. Grants, 1897-1901, p. 356;
M. E. Sadler, Rep. on Secondary and Higher Educ. in Essex,
1906, 285; E.R.O., E/MM 93.
||E.R.O., E/Z 36/2; ibid. Acc. C930, Birch School,
records and pictures, 1870-1997.
||E.R.O., Acc. C492 (uncat.).
White's Dir. Essex (1848), 116.
||E.R.O., E/Z 73.