Victorian Powys for primary  schools
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Brecon and district
Victorian school days
 
  Wanted in the harvest fields  
Boys at haymaking

Apart from illness, the main cause of absence from school was the work that had to be done at different seasons on the farms and smallholdings.
Parents needed help from their older children with the harvest, sheep-shearing, potato planting and other jobs, and many could not afford to employ other workers.
The summer break was known as the 'harvest holidays' for many years, and the timing of it depended on the weather. This is from the Llanfrynach School Log Book in 1866...

"The parents of many of the children are of the opinion that one quarter a year is quite sufficient, hence at the end of the first quarter many of the children were taken away some to labour on the farms etc, and probably they will return next winter".
Trecastell School
13th April 1863
16th July
1866
School diary entry "Weather very warm - capital weather for haymaking, and consequently producing a small attendance".
  This next diary entry from Castell Madog School in 1894 accounts for the absence of the older boys and the younger girls...  
31st August
1894
School diary entry "Re-opened school on Monday with a very poor attendance, and it has continued so through the week. The reason is, the elder children are wanted in the harvest fields, especially the boys, and the little girls help their mothers in the house".
  And another entry from Llanfrynach School in 1892 shows that the harvest still took priority over school lessons...  
14th October
1892
School diary entry "Absentees are coming back by twos and threes as harvest operations are finished on the different farms".
 

On 8th September 1893 the diary of Senni School noted "This being the first week after the holidays the attendance has been wretched in the extreme. Of course under such circumstances the progress is practically nil".

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