In brief

16th May 2003 at 01:00
Chobham Goes to School. The Story of St Lawrence School, Chobham, Surrey 1813-1910. By Richard Wilson. Surrey Heath Museum, Knoll Road, Camberley,Surrey GU15 3HD. Tel: 01276 707284.pound;5.95. Cheques to Surrey Heath borough council

School log books, legislated into being in 1863, are enormously valuable historical documents. Written up regularly in the headteacher's own hand, they provide an often unique account of the day-to-day lives and work of children and their teachers.

Too many of them, though, languish in county archives (or, quite inappropriately, in school stock cupboards) awaiting the attention of enthusiasts who have the time and ability to bring their contents to a wider audience.

Wilson's book, leaning heavily on St Lawrence log books, provides a readable account that should appeal well beyond its local audience. We're reminded, for example, of the cavalier way some headteachers ("masters") were treated by the managers (as governors were then called).

So we read of Alfred Wise, an able and creative master summarily sacked in 1873 for no apparent reason - except that one of the managers told him:

"You will now learn whether you are or are not a servant of the committee."

Mr Wilson's book is a service to education historians, and a model of what can and should be done to bring valuable documents into the daylight.

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