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The Education (Scotland) Act of 1872 required that every school board provide adequate elementary schooling for all children aged 5 to 13 years, and more importantly - to compel their attendance.
Old Kilpatrick School Board first met in 1873, and throughout its history was dominated by a combination of the landowning, industrial and religious leaders of the community. In the early years the board members ran the education affairs very much as they liked. Forward planning was not one of their strong points - school holidays were only set two weeks beforehand!
Under the Old Kilpatrick Board, teachers collected pupils' fees, the Government education grant came to them directly. The aims were quite modest - to get pupils into school, and to teach them the three R's (and a fourth - Religion).
We don't need no education!
Compulsory education was particularly unwelcome in some parts of Clydebank (virtually the same today!) Parents too poor to pay the fees had to apply to the Board for assistance - something that 'respectable' parents and guardians who had fought hard to raise children without recourse to 'handouts', found demeaning.
The Board however became more lenient with payment of fees as time went on. In some cases though, parents were summoned to meetings to explain why their children were 'defaulting'. At the Court in Dumbarton, they could expect to be fined five or ten shillings, or even spend up to seven days in jail.
Overcrowding within the schools became more of a problem as time went on. Unable to keep up with the explosion in industrial growth and subsequent house building, the Education Board had to setup temporary schools all over the parish. New elementary schools were opened in Dalmuir, Radnor Park and at Boquhanran, however there were no facilities for "secondary" schooling until around 1911.
Clydebank rightly had gained a reputation for low educational standards and poor facilities. Use of the cane was frequent, replaced by a belt following many complaints from concerned parents. Always at the end of School Inspector's critical reports, the education Board was however unwilling to spend real money to bring the standards up to the rest of the country until after 1914. Only then were opportunities available for local people to advance their education, and gain scholarships at Glasgow University.
Following the First World War, schooling changed dramatically contry-wide as society adapted to the post-war era, War related work had brought thousands of new tenants to th burgh, and in turn many hundreds of children who required to be given a basic education.
As time went on, the shipyards needed more and more skilled workers, and the education Board was asked to try and increase apprenticeship training in the area. The shipyards paid bonuses to their apprentices if they attended evening classes to further their skills and learning - a very popular move by the shipyards!
During the 1920's and 1930's Catholic schools were included in the state system for the first time (the only schools the education board looked after were Protestant schools up until this time), and the local school boards were disbanded, with elected Education Authorities setup to manage educational welfare.
Rise and all
As the population continued to expand, and showed little sign of stopping, Clydebank School was split into primary and secondary schools. The resulting Clydebank High School had a roll of over 1,000 pupils, and was the only exclusively secondary school in Scotland at the time - another first for Clydebank!!!
The building of the new Clydebank High School (at the present site on Janetta Street and Shelley Drive) started in the 1930's, however with the onset of the Second World War the building was not initally occupied.
Growth and pressure on educational facilities started to ease in the 1930's, with the High School roll falling to under 1,000. By 1937 there were almost 1400 fewer pupils than ten years earlier, however with the shift in population away from the river northwards, the schools in Dalmuir and Radnor Park had a fairly stable roll while the clydebank primary and secondary schools saw a sharp drop in intake.
Standards were finally rising, with better classrooms, abolition of fees and free books by the 1930's. At last Clydebank could say it was able to compete with the best establishments in Scotland. Then the Blitz came....
Right, Back to School!
Once the Second World War was over, people started to flood back into the town. This presented many problems, of which educating the many children was but one! A temporary solution was to erect huts in the grounds of local shools - the huts were still there many years later.
How many remember the huts in Whitecrook, St. Stephens and other schools?
New Schools, New Education?
The new Clydebank High School in Janetta Street was completed by 1947, along with Kilbowie Primary in 1950. Yet, with all the new schools, and repairs of blitz-ravaged schools still underway, many children were taught in poor, badly maintained and crowded school premises - hardly a good way to learn!
Changing the System
The years after the War saw change after change in the Education system. Who can remember the "qualy" or "Eleven Plus" exams that were all the rage back then? These exams determined (at a very early age) whether a child would have an academic education or not. This displeased many parents of the time, who wanted their children to do better than they ever did.
As the years progressed, parents were very critical of the way local education was run, and demand grew for the establishment of a comprehensive school to enable a much broader educational programme to be available in the town.
Rationalise and move on
Through a fairly natural process of modernisation and progression in educational standards and techniques, there were many changes in the number and type of schools in the town. By the early 1980's only Four Secondary schools were in the town (Clydebank High, St. Andrew's, Braidfield and St. Columba's).
The building of Clydebank College in 1965 brought further education to the many hundreds of eager young "Bankies". The college has continued to adapt and evolve as local industries change, and is still a formidable educational establishment in the West of Scotland area.