Letters extra: A short history of hygiene

16th April 2004 at 01:00

Reading the recent short article on St. Benedict's School's novel use ofnbsp;industry links to improve the quality of pupils' toilets ( TES March 26), Inbsp;was reminded that some aspects of education never change.

In 1627, Johnnbsp;Brinsley, the master of Ashby-de-la-Zouch Grammar School, published thenbsp; Ludus Literarius as an account of his teaching principles and practice "for the helping of the younger sort of Teachers", in which he notednbsp;that pupils leaving the classroom to visit the toilet was a common
causenbsp;of trouble to teachers teaching by themselves.

Charles Hoole later took upnbsp;this same issue in his A New Discovery of the Art of Teaching School , based upon his own experience as a master of the Rotherham Free Grammar School in the 1630s.

Hoole recommended that teachers restrict the number of boys allowed out to the toilet at any one time and even that they should appoint a monitor to verify the correct use of the facility bynbsp;those so excused.

The situation at Hull Grammar School in 1632 was worse than St Benedict's as, with the number on roll approaching 100, itnbsp;was decided that some toilets should now be provided, there having been none available previously.

The matter was, however, one of discipline rather than health and welfare, hygiene or sanitation, as the Governors noted when making the decision.nbsp;"Whereas there have been manie abuses found by the schollers going to the walls to ease them who (upon such pretences) have taken more liberty than was fitting and have gone innbsp;greater companies than was seemly it is thought good and soe ordered (by consent of the Maister) that a piece of ground shall be taken out of the schoolehouse garden in the most convenient place thereof for a house of office to made for the Schollers and for a passage to the same; to end the schollers may be kept in better order."
Clive R. Moss
Stradbroke, Sheffield

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