History of Education in Barrhead

Earliest education in the 6th century centred on the church and St.Conval’s settlement at Chappell.

By the end of the 13th century, Parish units had been established and some education provided.

Grammar Schools were set up in burghs such as Paisley and Paisley Abbey had a “sang schule”. Paisley Grammar School was in existence by 1500.

Between 1567 and 1696, a series of Education Acts were issued by the Scottish Parliament.

1616 directed that, “in every Parish in this kingdom, where convenient means may be had for entertaining a school, a school shall be established”

A school existed in Neilston Parish by 1600 under the supervision of the Kirk Session for children of landowners and better off farmers. The ordinary peasants remained illiterate.

By 1750 the parochial system was in full operation with Parochial Boards, consisting of clergy, landowners and factory proprietors) running the parish school which was only open to those who could pay and so children of farm or mill workers got no schooling.

Also in 1750 a branch of Neilston Parish School was opened in Barrhead.

1770 – start of calico printing. Beyond Dovecothall at Printers Row was a radical weaving community who ran their own school in the early 19th century. According to James Shaw’s book, “A Country Schoolmaster”, “Printworks were situated 4 miles distant from any parish school and generally some old weaver taught the elements in a worn-out weaving shop near at hand”

After 1805 each mill or factory was required to operate a school for its child workers. Classes were held in the last two hours of the working day.

In the 19th century there was a school associated with the Levern Institute of Good Templars.

There was a Levern Mills School for children.

1825 Levern Mechanics Institution founded providing education in Barrhead in form of lectures and concerts. Institute also provided a library which continued until 1902 when it was taken over by Barrhead Co-op’s Educational Dept.

By 1831 Barrhead had a no. of mostly private schools i.e. Grahamston had 2 schools;

There was a school at Dovecothall and Barrhead Academy. The Academy provided Secondary Education in Latin, French, Maths. and some Science. The first manager of Barrhead Gas Company was also Headmaster of Barrhead Academy which became Barrhead High School. The other schools were mainly single teacher schools.

The Associate Secession Church (Arthurlie Church) had a school.

1833 Bill was first of a series regulating working hours of women and children. Mill owners had to provide educational facilities for working children in the 9 to 12 age group. At Crofthead the management provided “half-timers” with a purpose built school where children had lessons in the afternoon after working all morning. There were “half-timers” at Crofthead in the 12 to 14 age group until the beginning of the First World War.

1834 – Fowler’s Directory mentions the Barrhead Sabbath School Assoc., 1821(The Assoc. inspected 6 schools with 300 scholars) and Barrhead Female School, 1823.

1842 Small private school for Roman Catholics opened Water Road

1843 Free Church opened a school in Foundry Brae which closed 1872 when Rodger’s School (Barrhead Public School) opened. Barrhead Academy in Water Road became Barrhead Public School.

1843 Statistical Account “The no. of schools in this Parish is 13. There is only one parochial school. All the others are private or unendowed. In the parochial school are taught English, writing, arithmetic, mathematics, geography, Latin, Greek and French. There are 3 others where Latin is taught with the common branches of education.

Besides that there are 5 of the public works where the children are taught reading, writing and arithmetic and there are 4 female schools where the common branches of education, with needlework are taught. The no. of scholars amounts to about 1,000.

What is wanting in such a wealthy parish as this is an academy placed in a central locality between Neilston and Barrhead, Grahamston and Newton Ralston where the higher branches of education would be taught.”

1845 Statistical Account of Renfrew “Parents are induced to send their children to this employment about 7 or 8 years of age, this arresting their progress in education. They endeavour afterwards to pick up a little at evening classes, but their hours of labour are too extended to admit of this without oppression; their having been employed in this line since childhood virtually shuts up the boys to the single occupation of weaving in after life”

1868 the Barrhead Co-op decided to devote a proportion of its profits to education. First they opened a Reading Room. First lectures were given from 1872.

1872 Education became compulsory