Most people can remember at least one occasion where either they were hurt at school, or someone else was. Chipped teeth, bloody noses, flying board rubbers: this violence in the form of injuries was and is an inevitable part of the school experience. The Logbooks of Floodgate Street and Tinkers Farm School witness these same experiences in the late 19th and early 20thCentury.
Most of these incidents were evidently accidents. What is worrying is the time it occasionally took for an adult to realise a child was hurt, such as at Tinkers Farm School:
“A child fell on ice before morning school + broke his collar bone. This was not discovered for 3 days when the family doctor sent the boy to Selly Oak Hospital.” [S199/1/1 25.9.1957]
A similar case occurred when a child fell from a ‘chute’ in the playground, with the headmaster recording:
“It appears that what apparently was a simple bump is a fractured skull + the child is detained in the children’s hospital.” [S199/1/1 22.7.1948]
However, some of these injuries were probably the result of fights, such as the boy whose glasses were smashed cutting his eyelid, or whose eyeball was pierced by another scholar’s pen. [S200/1 1.3.1933 & S68/3/1 15.10.30] Injuries weren’t exclusive to the boys either, with the broken noses of girls being recorded. That the entry records the nose as “broken in the playground” suggests the involvement of others. [S68/3/1 5.10.32]
Hopefully these events also acted as cautionary tales for those who witnessed and experienced them. It is unlikely that the girl who swallowed a pin would ever do it again after having to spend five days in hospital. [S199/1/1 6/12/45] However, the Logbooks do occasionally record genuinely violent events, as will be seen next.
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