No infant mistress was appointed in 1850 so the older girls would have provided assistance with the very youngest children but by 1861 Joseph Bibbings (aged 47) was in charge of the school. It is fair to assume that his wife Elizabeth played her part in the running of the school by teaching the girls to sew. The number of children claiming to attend had increased but actual attendance figures would have been comparatively low.
The original schoolroom measuring 30' by 16' was still in use in 1870 when William Clotworthy, Joseph Bibbing's replacement, reported a regular attendance of 20 girls and 20 boys. By this time, people were becoming more interested in the standard of teaching and William Clotworthy did not last long in Zeal Monachorum. In 1872, he moved on to East Budleigh to a post from which he was eventually sacked.
His successor at Zeal begged unsuccessfully for a playground (not provided until 1894). He saw this as an absolute necessity to counteract complaints from nearby properties about damage and rowdyism. Locals complained bitterly about the boys' habit of filling the village letter box with stones so there was no room for letters. Both he and his successor stayed only for a short while as there was no response from the school's managers to any of the points they raised.
In 1875 the school became a Board School. The premises were leased from the Rector and in 1876 the buildings was enlarged by the construction of another classroom. John Clemmow, who came to the school in 1875, represented a new breed of teacher. He came from St. Luke's College in Exeter to gain his Certificate by training on the job. After his second inspection in 1876, he was judged to be a competent teacher and moved on.