Daubeney School, Hackney, London

In 1884, at the time of Daubeney’s construction, some education experts preferred schools to be of a village-school scale, trying to resist the pressure of expensive land driving such buildings as tall as Rhyl, Carlton or New End. As a result, the buildings here are lower and more spread out, but no less important than these others. The facades of Daubeney School were listed some time ago as they are a prime example of this smaller-scale type (Saint, 1991, see Bibliography).

Over the years the curtilage of the school has been extended to include elements located within a distinct rectangular urban plot, shared with houses, offices and warehouses and surrounded on all four sides by roads. The original single-storey infants block and the two-storey (plus two roof space classrooms) junior school are located on adjacent sides of the playground. Elsewhere are a new nursery, a vacant corner plot and a ‘hop garden’ which leads off the playground and has been partially landscaped with a pond and wildlife garden.

The current pupil role is 480 and is falling slightly as local tower blocks have been demolished. Maintaining the external fabric of the buildings is expensive due to the relatively large surface to volume ratio and has largely been neglected. Temporary ‘prefab’ buildings erected within the playground 25 years ago, and used for both storage and dining, consume most of the annual maintenance budget. The listing of the premises had inhibited minor improvements, such as building covered walkways, incorporating external toilets within the building and providing direct access for the pupils to the playground.