The history of the schools which became Bitterne Junior School starts with the Infant School opened in 1856. This was on the corner of Commercial Road, Bitterne, and Inkerman Road (Marne Road). It was funded by the Vicar, the Rev. Henry Usborne. Additional Girls' and Boys' Schools for older children were soon started.

The log books of the schools survive from 1862 and Rosaleen Wilkinson has based her book, Bitterne School: A Diary, 1862-1997, on these and other research, including accounts from people who attended the schools. The information in this account is taken from the book.

The inspection reports include the following:

1874, Girls' School: Arithmetic is decidedly weak and throughout the school greater attention should be given to the letter "H" both in spelling and writing.
1875, Boys' School: Order and tone are very satisfactory but the results of the examination are not what I expected, especially in Arithmetic and Spelling. The writing is often small and needlessly rough.
1881, Infant School: The children are quiet and orderly in behaviour, but on the score of attainments much remains to be desired in respect of Arithmetic. Several of those in Standard I have failed also in spelling. In reading and in sewing they seem to be well advanced.
The windows having been mended with innumerable patches have a very unsightly appearance.
1884, Infant School: Tone and discipline are kindly and cheerful. … Instruction has been severely impeded by the fact that the school is too full.
1891, Infant School: … elementary instruction is bad and the children are far below the average of those in other Infant Schools.
1892, Infant School: Tone and discipline are kindly and the teacher does her best, but the elementary instruction is again utterly inefficient and the children must be in a very backward state when they leave the Infant School.
1893, Boys' School: Elementary attainments are scarcely fair, the IVth and Vth Standards being weak in consequence of the teaching staff being insufficient. … History and Geography are taught with decided success and intelligence.
1895, Girls' School: The school is seriously overcrowded. One class in turn appears to be always kept standing as there is no room for all the classes to sit at one time. The atmosphere of the room is pestilential and the lavatories bad and insanitary.
1903, Boys' School: The school is seriously overcrowded … Cottage gardening is conducted on the most approved scientific principles …
1911, Girls' School: … the school merits unstinted praise. … In English the girls show unusual interest in Literature which perhaps arises from the amount of good poetry which is read and learned and finds some outlet in contributions to the school magazine.
1924, Boys' School: The overcrowding in the Boys' department is most serious. … there are 76 children in a room designed for 54.

Premises and the quality of infant teaching are constant themes.

In 1920 the school moved from the control of Hampshire to Southampton Education Committee, and was renamed Bitterne Church of England School.

In September 1939 the school was evacuated to Bournemouth. Children attended Pokesdown Council School and Boscombe Senior School. Because children returned to Southampton, however, from December 1940 some children were educated by Bitterne School staff on a home education basis, attending school for an hour a day and being set work for the rest of the day. In April 1940 the Girls' School reopened in Southampton on a half-time education basis, children attending on a rota system. In June 1940 some children were re-evacuated to Wimborne. The Bitterne school buildings were damaged in air raids in 1940 and 1941.

In 1945 the school became mixed. In 1970 it became Bitterne Church of England Middle School, with 340 pupils aged 8 to 12+. The school moved to new buildings on the Brownlow estate. In 1994 its name and age range again changed, to Bitterne Junior School, with pupils aged 5-11.

Further reading:

Bitterne School: A Diary, 1862-1997, Rosaleen Wilkinson (1998)


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