A schoolmaster was licensed to
teach grammar to boys in 1579, and in the late
16th and early 17th century some of the curates
also served as schoolmasters. (fn. 15) A charity school
founded under the will of Elizabeth March (d.
1722) was endowed with a fifth of the income
from her estate at Oakington. The school was
associated with the S.P.C.K., (fn. 16) and every poor
family in the parish had the right to send a child
to learn to read. (fn. 17) The school was held in an aisle
of the parish church in 1745. (fn. 18) In 1786 the
endowment income was nearly £11 a year. (fn. 19) In
1806 the rector left £200 for writing materials
and books. The master appointed in 1816
received £20 a year to teach reading, writing,
and arithmetic. By 1837 the parish had built a
schoolroom and master's house, but attendance,
especially of boys, who also worked in the fields,
was irregular and the master was neglectful.
Most parishioners preferred to pay to send their
children elsewhere, and in 1847 the school was
amalgamated with the National school. (fn. 20)
Established in 1844 in a building on the High
Street paid for by subscription, the National
School replaced a school said to have been held
in the rectory barn. (fn. 21) By 1850, when it was
experiencing difficulties in funding, it had c. 100
pupils, rising to 112 by 1932. (fn. 22) The school was
transferred to the county council in 1927, and
in 1936 rehoused in a new building on
Horningsea Road, comprising two classrooms. (fn. 23)
Pupils of secondary-school age went to
Bottisham village college from 1937. (fn. 24)
The primary school, which continued in the
parish, received a new building in 1969. (fn. 25)
Thereafter the number of its pupils gradually
increased from c. 40 to 103 in 1983. Numbers
then declined, but by 1999, when two new classrooms were built, they had risen to 133 infants
and juniors, with a staff of five-and-a-half fulltime equivalent teachers, and a non-teaching
headmaster. In the mid 1990s the school had
links with a number of schools abroad, including
the Buddha Academy Boarding School in
Katmandu (Nepal). (fn. 26)
In the area of the parish transferred to
Cambridge in 1934 two new schools were
founded during and after the Second World
War. (fn. 27) Ditton Fields County Nursery school,
opened on Wadloes Road in 1942 and taken over
by the Local Education Authority in 1946, could
take 60 children. The Priory County Infants and
Junior School, located on Galfrid Road, was
opened in 1953, with a capacity for 220 infants
and 300 juniors.
Proc. C.A.S. lxx. 154.
V.C.H. Cambs. ii. 334, 343 n.; cf. ibid. iv. 148; vi. 149;
||B.L. Add. MS. 9412, f. 195v.
Proc. C.A.S. lxx. 154.
||Rest of para. based on Char. Don. i. 90-1; Blomefield,
Collect. Cantab. 42; Lewis, Topog. Dict. Eng. (1848), 61;
Char. Digest Cambs. 1863-4, 20-1; Char. Com. files.
||Nat. Soc. Inquiry 1846-7 (1849) Cambs. 4-5.
Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1847 and later edns.).
Minutes of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1850-1 (1858); Rep.
of Educ. Cttee. of Cl. 1865-6, p. 681; Schs. in Receipt of Parl.
Grants, 1895-6, p. 22; Bd. of Educ. List 21, 1910, p. 24; 1919,
p. 15; 1932, p. 16.
||Black, Cambs. Educ. Rec. 55; Survey of Fen Ditton, 12.
||Black, Cambs. Educ. Rec. 55.
||Inf. from the staff of Fen Ditton primary school.
Camb. Evening News, 8 Dec. 1994; 3 Jan. 1995; 19
||Para. based on inf. from Mr. W.E. Gage, Cambs.
County Council Educ. Dept.