« ForrigeFortsett »
be ceiled, and one of the divisions fitted up with parallel desks and a gallery.
I find, moreover, that the fence which separates the premises from the adjacent garden and orchard has been in a great measure destroyed, and the timber carried away, or burned in the school stove. This fence cannot be replaced except at a considerable expense.
The buildings of the girls' school are, as I am informed, very old, and much dilapidated, requiring thorough and substantial repairs.
Under all these circumstances, it is not too much to expect that the school buildings will cost as much in repairs and alterations during the next 20 years as they have during the last; and that by the expiration of that time it will have become necessary to erect new ones.
Such, however, is the progress of opinions in educational matters, that I think it may be reasonably expected the people of Wwill not wait until the school-houses are thus in ruins before they build others better suited to the purpose, and more in accordance with the importance of the object and the character of the place.
I find that a sum of 121. is paid annually for rent of the infant school at the
so that for rent and repairs of the two schools in Love Lane and at the Point, there will have been expended 11001., if the schools shall have been carried on as at present for that time.
Now, I have before me returns of the items of expenditure in 72 national schools, and I find that in 50 of them (having new schoolhouses) no expense whatever has been incurred during the last year (1846) in repairs; and that in the remaining 22, the average cost under this head has been 51. 188. 4fd. I feel myself therefore justified in saying that the expense thus occurred at W- is excessive.
In respect to the girls' school, it is no doubt due to the great age of the building. In respect to the boys', in some degree to the great size of the roof, and probably to bad workmanship.
The character of the instruction in the schools has thus been described by the Rev. J. Allen, one of the Government Inspectors of Schools:
“ Instruction of lower classes very imperfect. Writing and arithmetic of the boys good. Discipline not over good. A good deal of needlework required in the girls' school, which is said to interfere with the instruction."
From a comparison of these observations with those which Mr. Allen has made upon other schools, and from my knowledge of his character, I have no hesitation in saying that they convey an unfavourable opinion of the state of the W- schools.
In this opinion I am the more disposed to coincide, as I find that the children only remain at school an average period of two years.
Now I have always found, that where there is a good school, the poor appreciate it, and show their estimate of it by keeping their children longer there than they would at a bad school. The Committee may perhaps be sceptical on this point. There is, however, an example near at hand. The children in the adjoining parish of B(and, I imagine, their parents) are placed under nearly the same circumstances as at W— ; but at B- there is a good national school, and there the children remain an average period of four years ; whilst at W
they only remain, on the average, two years. I
have ascertained these facts with considerable care : 20 scholars left the В. school last year, whose average time in the school had been a little more than four years. Of the 63 boys who last lest the W
school, the average time in school had been 1 year 11 months 2 weeks 4 days. In providing education for the poor, we are apt, I fear, to take a one-sided view of the question ; we forget that there are two parties to it. Whilst we offer, it is for them to accept, or not, as they think fit.
What we consider good enough for them may be that on which they are not disposed to set much value. We cannot dictate to them in the matter. They have an option, and they avail themselves of it. Either they do not send their children to any school, or if they can find a better school than ours, they send them there. This is the experience of the W
schools. In W exclusive of the S- - district, there are 7000 people, and about onefourth, or 1750 of these, are of an age to go to school, from 3 to 13, or from 5 to 15; of these 1750 children, one-half might be expected, according to the calculation of the National Society, to be in the W
national schools, whereas there are not one-fifth of them. In many districts the proportion of the children in the national schools is, however, (and ought in all to be), much higher than the one-eighth of the population, calculated upon by the National Society.
The s district is an example of this; it has a population of 586, and therefore about 150 children of an age to go to school. Accordingly Mr.
has 106 children in his national school, and 56 in his infant-school.
Although some of these children come, it cannot be doubted, from without the boundaries of his district, * yet the calculation shows how nearly the whole number of children in a district may be assembled in the church schools. Mr.
has at least 5 times as many children in his schools, in proportion to the population of his district, as you have; he has one in every four-you one in twenty.
Now I have no difficulty in accounting for this fact; I find it at once explained in Mr. Allen's Report upon his school. That Report is as follows:
“ Children taught the Scriptures remarkably well. Intelligence well exercised. Teachers efficiently directing their endeavours to the right aim. Discipline satisfactory.
Without dwelling upon the particulars here referred to, and comparing them with those in the other Report, I think there can be no doubt that there was upon the mind of the inspector the impression that the S school was a good one, and that at W. ferior one.
With reference to the contributions of the people of W- for the maintenance of their schools, I have been desirous to make a comparison with other parishes, and I have looked over a list of 155 diffe. rent parishes or ecclesiastical districts, the schools of which I inspected in the year 1845, and of which the items of income and expenditure are
* ! have ascertained that 24 children come from beyond the boundaries of the district,
printed in a table annexed to my Report to the Committee of Council on Education for that year. Many of these are large and wealthy parishes, and some of the schools rank amongst the most efficient elementary schools in the country.
Now in not one of these parishes or districts are the contributions of the inhabitants for the maintenance of the schools by subscriptions and collections so great as in the parish of W
The largest sum recorded under the first head in the list is at Birkenhead, where the amount of annual subscriptions is 1121. 3s. Od.; and of collections 271. 2s, Od. At W
- in 1845, the subscriptions were 1581. 85. 6d.; collections, 1391. lls. 5d. The schools have, besides, an endowment in lands, of which the annual rent is 521.
Whilst there are no schools in my list for the maintenance of which the contributions of the upper classes are so large, there are, more. over, none in which the contributions of the lower classes (i. e, the children's pence) are, in proportion to the number of children, so small, The income arising from this source at the Love Lane school amounted, in 1845, to 131. 17s. 3d.
During that year the following were the amounts of pence contributed by the children of five national schools, in some of the poorest districts of Birmingham, towards their maintenance :
Amount of school fees in 1845, at the national school
Bishop Rider's Church, Birmingham
£. S. d. 110 0 0 78 15 0 60 1 0 88 1 0 79 10 0
Whilst a comparison of these sums with that sum which the poor of
are contented to pay towards the maintenance of their schools, sufficiently indicates to my mind that they attach to them a much less value, I find that the British and Foreign, or Dissenters' School, which is, I believe, largely supported by the children's payments, is in such repute with the poor of W
that but few of them send their children to the National schools who can afford to send them to that school.
It is thus spoken of in a letter now before me, written by a gentleman of the parish, well acquainted with its management, and a subscriber also to the National schools :
“Since its establishment, 23 years ago, we have sent out above 600 boys and girls thoroughly educated in all that is necessary for them to know, &c. In deference to the prejudices of Dissenters, they are not taught any set catechism, but they are instructed diligently in all that it contains ; I think the number of scholars is 250, two-thirds of whom are the children of churchmen, who are induced to send their children there on account of the rapid progress they make under the able tuition of their excellent mast and mistress.'
The Roman Catholics have, moreover, as I have been informed on good authority, purchased a large piece of ground near the church, on which they propose to erect a chapel and schools. Their schools will, I presume, be conducted by members of the religious fraternity called the “ Brethren of the Christian schools," men specially trained and brought up for the office of the schoolmaster, who aim at a very high standard of elementary instruction, and are very capable of realizing it.
From what I know of the indifference shown by the poor as to the hands at which their children receive good secular instruction, I have little doubt that these schools will enter into a formidable competition with yours.
Under all these circumstances, it is impossible not to feel it to be expedient now, at length, to make some great and decided effort to put the schools on a proper footing.
Temporizing expedients, having no other object than to get over present difficulties, have been adopted for the last 10 or 12 years, and the schools have been dragging on a difficult and discreditable existence, depending for their maintenance on the accumulations of former and more prosperous years, and on legacies which they have been fortunate enough to receive, and which it was probably the intention of the donors to have added to the perpetual endowment.
I am perfectly aware of the discouraging circumstances under which the schools were undertaken by yourself and Mr.
and that a great debt of gratitude is due to you, not less for your kind intervention at that time than for the great ability and self-sacrifice with which you are labouring to overcome the pecuniary embarrassments which now press upon the schools.
But these embarrassments return year after year; and it is consistent with the experience of the parish that they will continue to return, notwithstanding all your efforts.
It is within my recollection, that efforts not less zealous and persevering have been made in previous years, and on more than one occasion—and always with some measure of success. Nevertheless, the funded property has from year to year been sold out, to cover a defalcation ihai has returned steadily every year.
The fact is that the evil does not lie in the state of the finances, but in the state of the schools where nobody thinks of applying the remedy. With this impression on my mind, I am desirous most respectfully, but very earnestly, to recommend to the committee now at length to take that part of the matter in hand, assuring them, from an experience which I am entitled to speak of as extensive, that whenever they can succeed in establishing really good schools, they will have but little difficulty in maintaining them.
As the first step towards establishing such schools, I propose that new school-rooms be built for 320 boys, girls, and infants, together with residences for two teachers.
The present site would serve this purpose ; but it would be desirable to secure, if possible, some of the adjacent garden-ground, to give room for adding to it a playground.
I enclose to you a plan of the site.
Such school-buildings as I have described may, I am informed, be erected for 12001.
I will, however, fix the cost, all expenses being included, at 15001. To raise this sum, you have the following resources :
The materials of the old school are, I am informed, worth
applicable to general purposes of
given to other schools) will be obtained for
been to others, will give you
There will thus remain a sum of 4401., or say 5001., to be raised in the parish.
I feel sure that if the Committee will undertake the trouble of bringing the question properly before the parish, they will experience • less difficulty in raising this sum to place the school-buildings on a
footing which may make them a credit instead of a disgrace to it, than in collecting 1001. to make up a defalcation in the accounts, the return of which we have learned to expect periodically. A sum of 5001., be it observed, which is to bring at least an equal sum into the parish from other sources, for the benefit of the poor.
The erection of suitable school-rooms renders it comparatively easy to establish efficient schools, and efficient schools may be easily maintained.
In the first place, having new school-buildings, but a very trifling expense will, for some years, be incurred in repairing the fabric, and from this cause alone there will be effected an average annual saving of at least 401.
Moreover, the infant-school now taught at the Point being removed to the new school-house, a saving of 12l. annually will be made in rent.
The average annual saving of 521. from these two sources is more than the average annual defalcation of the income of the schools.
This consideration might set your mind at rest as to the income, if it were proposed to carry on the school in the new school-rooms on its present fuoting of expenditure, but more efficient schools are needed. To the efficiency thus sought, new school-rooms will no doubt contribute, but they will not constitute that efficiency.
For that object an increased expenditure must be made.
Now, the Government, with the co-operation of the heads of the Church, offers, hy the recent minutes of the Committee of Council, assistance to bear that increased expenditure.
1st. If you have an efficient school, it will give aid in the purchase of apparatus to the extent of two-thirds the cost.
2nd. If you have a master from one of the accredited training institutions, then (according to the tenor of the minutes, of which I enclose a copy) you can obtain an annual grant of from 151. to 301. towards his salary.
3rd. Your school being placed in charge of such a master, you can obtain grants varying from 101. 201. a-year for each of six or seven apprenticed pupil teachers (see the Minutes), to assist the master and mistress in their labours, and enable them to dispense with the employment of the children in teaching one another.
Ath. Being thus enabled to conduct the school without putting one