The New Schoolmaster And Schoolmistress.
"Our schoolmaster, Mr Chester, left us this morning. After morning prayers the boys and masters assembled in the dining room to bid him good-bye and to present him with a little keepsake in the shape of a pair of fish carvers in a case."
The record continues:
"Jeckell thatching the barley stack, boys serving him. Mrs Woods, a grandchild of Elizabeth Fry, visited us."
31st August: "This morning's post brought a letter from Mr Sewell saying that a Mr Cox, one of the applicants for the post of schoolmaster would probably visit us today...Mr Cox was rather taken with the work. I went to Norwich with him on the 3.10 train in order to finish our talk."
The outcome of this visit was the appointment of Mr Cox as schoolmaster and Deputy Governor, and his wife Maud as schoolmistress. Their joint salary was to be £70 a year with rations and a rent free house. William and Maude Cox moved in during September and stayed for 27 years. Mr Cox was delighted with the new schoolroom commissioned only a year before; later this room became the north-west dormitory. He was also pleased with Sewell's philosophy of finding out the real needs of each boy then trying to meet them. Both he and his wife were wonderfully patient listeners; old boys used to refer to this. One wrote: "He used to listen to me. We could always go to Mr Cox and he found time to listen."
An old Red House boy who is now a senior octogenarian, has explained that Mr and Mrs Cox expected and achieved a high standard of behaviour; they developed an incentive scheme which was later written up by the Inspectors for other schools to copy. The scheme allowed officers to deduct conduct marks when a boy misbehaved. Scores were reviewed at a monthly meeting with all boys present; healthy competition developed. Awards were made on the following scale:-
Mr Cox also made a gift of a silver medal to any boy who went for twelve months without losing a mark. Marks lost could be regained by exemplary work approved by the Governor.
Another Cox innovation was the allotment scheme which was also recommended for other industrial schools to copy. Home Office notes tell of this development.
1902 "A new venture has been the allotting of fair-sized plots to a few boys for the growing of vegetables on business lines. A good experiment this which deserves to be successful."
1903 "The allotment experiment is proving a most valuable practical benefit. The boys keep profit and loss accounts and are allowed to enjoy what profit they make."
Another report says:-
The Red House has an allotment scheme which is worth travelling many miles to see and study. Each plot is worked by two boys, one as owner and one as employee. Accounts are kept showing the cost of seed, plants and wages against the value of the crop when sold".
Some of the new boys were upset when the Norfolk dialect which they spoke was not understood. Mrs Cox had great sympathy for them. She would explain that there had to be a standard written language but the spoken language of their homes and their friends was good; it was the living language of the people and deserved respect. There is a record of an interview with the mother of a boy who seemed to be "gatless". Her comment was; "He am as he am and he's never been ammer."