Education in Watton can be traced back to 1812 when there was a schoolmaster living in the tow named Thomas Starke, but there does not appear to be any mention which school was under his headship. Certainly it was not the National School, as the first one was built in 1819 by William Robinson and consisted of one large room that was later divided into two by folding partitions, but 1842 it was in need of repairs and the opportunity was then taken to increase its capacity to accom modate 244 pupils by adding an Infants Room.
There was little space surrounding the school where the children could play, but in 1834 Mrs. C. Harvey generously gave a piece of nearby meadow land of some 2 to 3 acres to be used by "All children of Watton up to the age of 15 years" and three trustees were appointed to administer ill Forever after known as the "playpiece" it was used by countless Watton scholars for football cricket, netball and as a training ground for the schools athletics into the 1950's. The generosity of Mrs Harvey was extended to the school children over a number of years each Christmas, when she visited| the school to present each child with a present, but it appears that there was no variation in the gifts, the boys always receiving a nightcap and the girls a red flannel petticoat.
The National School, built in 1819.
In addition to the National School — which incidentally is now Graham Woodyatt's Fabrics Shop — there were a number of private schools in the mid 1800's. There were at least two periods when Willow House was used as a private school and during the school recess of 1847, Miss Blake, the mistress, had a number of alterations and improvements carried out so that she was in a position to announce on 3rd July that year that when the school reopened on 20th July she would be happy to receive her pupils and their increased accommodation would be complete.
By 1851 a school teacher named Mary Kett, whose husband was a grocer and draper, living in the High Street, organised another private school at Willow House and engaged Emily Harmer to be the music teacher. In 1854 Miss Ursular Wightwick resided here and ran it as a boarding school.
When the 1851 census was taken Elizabeth Target and her sixteen year old daughter were both teachers, living in the Front Street, which was the middle part of the present High Street, on the South Side only. Also living in the Front Street in 1851 were Priscilla Alpe and her daughter Emma, again both school teachers. At this time Hannah Green was living in the School House and as no mention was made of her husband in the census, she was probably the Head Mistress and with Elizabeth Thompson, a schoolmistress living in Saham Road and a nineteen year old teacher named Charles Amos of Middle Row, may have completed the National School staff at this time.