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GENTLEMEN,

I beg to submit my General Report on the Ballinasloe circuit for the year 1905.

Since I submitted my last report two years ago there has been little change in the circuit. It is divided into three parts-sections A, B, and C.

There are 135 schools in section A, of which nine lie west Section A. of the Shannon. The remaining 126 are in King's County and County Tipperary, and one school in Queen's County.

This section has been in my charge.

In section B there are 134 schools. These schools are Section B almost entirely in East Galway, the remainder being in that part of West Roscommon which adjoins County Galway.

This section has been in charge of Mr. Worsley.

There are 129 schools in section C, which is the northern Section C. portion of the circuit. It stretches from within a few miles of Ballinasloe to Elphin, and its schools are almost entirely in County Roscommon. There are a few schools in County Westmeath, near Athlone.

Mr. William Bartley has been in charge of this section.
School-houses are on the whole well distributed throughout Distribution of

Schools. the circuit, and, except in a few cases, chiefly in the Connaught part of the circuit, the space accommodation is satisfactory.

In section A two new schools have been opened since my New Schools. last report, St. Mary's Boys' N.S., Nenagh, under R.C., Section A. and Borrisokane Parochial N.S., under E.C. management. The latter school was reopened after being closed for about seven years, previous to which time it was in connexion with the Board. The former is the first National school under R.C. management opened in Nenagh for boys. It has a large attendance, and gives promise of future success. It is held in temporary premises, pending the erection of a new school-house.

In section B, Friaryland and Clonkeenkerrill (vested in Section B. trustees) have superseded old and unsuitable school-houses. Toberroe mixed was struck off the roll, and replaced by two new school-houses, Toberroe B. and G. (vested in trustees).

A large vested school for boys is being built in Loughrea. This promises to be a superior school-house, the grants including provision for a science room, hot water heating apparatus, and drainage. This school is an interesting departure from the mistaken policy of the past, as it is replacing

Mr.
M'ELWAINE.

Section C. Schools struck off.

two or three schools (under same management) in or about Loughrea by one large central school. I hope it is the precursor of many similar changes.

In section C no new school-houses have been opened.

Three schools have been closed, two because they were no longer required, and one on account of the bad state of the building. Two schools (B. and G.) have been amalgamated. These changes will reduce the total number of schools in the circuit by three

A fine new school-house, with teacher's residence attached, has been erected to replace Nenagh N.S. (under E.C. management). It is to be opened early in 1906.

A number of school-houses have been repaired, and three of the schools in section C, formerly classified as "bad," are now described as "tolerable."

There is still a considerable number of bad school-houses in the circuit. I estimate the total number of unsatisfactory buildings as about one-eighth of the whole, but in almost half of these cases applications have been made for grants-in-aid to build new vested schools.' Practically all building is at a standstill awaiting the sanction of the new plans by the Treasury. I anticipate considerable activity when this is obtained.

Repairs.

Bad school houses.

Furniture and equipment.

Desks,

Furniture and equipment leave much to be desired.

In many schools desks are poorly fitted for the work for which they are intended. There seems to be no suitable models, even the desks supplied by the Board of Works being faulty. When new desks are provided, they are as a rule made by country carpenters, who copy the desks they find in schools with all their defects. Generally all desks are made of the same size, no distinction being made between those intended for senior and junior pupils.

Mr. Bartley says :

* There will always be a difficulty in having really suitable desks in schools, where there is only accommodation for half the pupils at once. The same set of desks cannot possibly suit both divisions of the school unless they can be so constructed as to enable the tops to be raised or lowered a few inches according as senior or junior pupils occupy them."

Maps

with maps.

The principal improvement observable in school equipment is that a greater effort has been made to supply the school

This I attribute to the last revision of the school programme, which is now securing much greater attention to geography. For some years previously the supply of maps was steadily diminishing, not being replaced when worn out.

The supply of maps is still poor.

There is still a large number of schools without a school clock, and few have a good globe,

Clocks.
Globes.

I seldom find a dotted blackboard for teaching drawing.

Mr.

M'ELWAINE. There is an utter absence of local interest in schools. This

Blackboards. accounts for the defective equipment so frequently found. If

Local interest. manager or teacher do not provide this equipment from his own purse, there is no fund which can be drawn on. The burden of providing it too frequently falls on the teacher. As there seems no prospect of local interest being aroused, I see no way in which schools will be properly equipped unless either a local rate is levied or the cost is borne by the State. As education costs a locality practically nothing, there is no reason why it should not contribute towards improving the efficiency, healthfulness, and comfort of its schools.

School-houses and school premises are better kept than they Condition of were a few years ago. We have still, however, to complain school of cases in which the practical rule on cleanliness is not ob- premises, served. Too frequently the sweeping and dusting required by the rule to be done each evening are left over till the following morning. When fault is found with the state of cleanliness in a school, it is nearly always because the work is done only partially, and not because it is wholly neglected.

There is a distinct improvement in the cleanliness of pupils. We rarely find reason to complain of this.

Every new school-house should be provided with a lavatory. It is to be hoped that this will not be neglected in the new plans for vested schools.

Ventilation is better attended to than it was, teachers Ventilation, realizing its importance more fully than they did, but there is still considerable room for improvement.

We have had little success in getting the school-rooms brightened by illustrations, or anything that would make the room more cheery. I have frequently suggested how this might be done at a very trifling expense, but with little success.

Out-offices are not always kept as they should be, but they Out-offices. are better kept than they were. As this is a matter which concerns the health of the community, the inspection of outoffices and of the general sanitary condition of school-houses should be assigned to the local sanitary officer, who is always, I believe, the local medical officer. Mr. Bartley says :“ It is frequently a difficult matter to get the out-offices kept clean.”

Except in town schools, the only fuel used in this circuit is Fuel, turf. When the season for "saving" turf has been good, there is, as a rule, a sufficient supply in the schools. In some cases, however, at least a portion of the burden of supplying fuel is thrown on the teacher. Turf has been cheaper and more plentiful than usual this last year. The supply in schools was sufficient.

Mr.

As Mr. Bartley says :MEL WAINE.

“A proper arrangement for storing fuel is very much needed in the case of a large number of schools." A small shed for fuel could be erected at a trifling cost.

Mr. Worsley, speaking of section B, says :“ The teachers not unfrequently exhibit a lack of taste in the matter of neatness and cleanliness, though I have detected indications of im. provement in this respect. The defects observed—such as unscrubbed Hoors, windows not cleaned, neglect of dusting, litter allowed to lie about the room, paths and flower-beds over-run with grass and weeds are evidence in too many cases of negligence, imperfect taste, and want

of proper professional pride." Libraries, There are a few schools with school libraries. It is unfor.

tunate that more has not been done in this direction, for I know of nothing more calculated to discover and cultivate ability than a small but well-selected library. A boy or girl who reads books at home can always be known by superior

intelligence. Unnecessary

It will be an undoubted benefit to education in Ireland that multiplication in future the number of schools will be diminished rather than of small school. increased. Education has been brought within the reach of

.
all, and I do not know of any locality in which children cannot
attend a school. I believe that the prejudice against amalga-
mating small schools will lessen as the advantages accruing
from it are better apprehended. Few opportunities of amal-

gamating have as yet arisen in this circuit. Amalgamation

The excessive number of small schools is a long-felt evil, of small which has been often commented on. There is no doubt that schools.

amalgamation of small schools would be of service to both teachers and pupils, but it is not found easy to carry this out. The number of schools might in some localities be diminished by erecting new schools more judiciously distributed than at present, but when one thinks of the haphazard way in which National schools were erected, and the many fortuitous reasons (including the securing of a site) which determined the place in which the new school was opened, the wonder is that the distribution of school-houses over Ireland is so good as it is. If a redistribution were attempted, the difficulties arising from the securing of new sites and the erection of new school premises would, I think, be found insuperable. Possibly there may be an odd locality in which such a solution may be found possible, but speaking from my own experience, I count nothing on it, except in large towns, where large central schools might be built, each replacing a number of smaller ones.

The only other ways in which amalgamation is possible are where there are small schools in the same locality attended by pupils of different religious denominations, and where there are boys and girls' schools in juxta-position. The former class of schools are protected by rule 179 (b), and, therefore,

do not come under consideration. The latter class comprises Mr.

I ELWAINE. the schools embraced by the much attacked rule 186.

Amalgama. I cannot but think that much of the opposition to this rule tion of small shown by teachers, especially men teachers, was based on a schools misconception of its working. They fail to see that the continued. woman principal of a school with an average attendance of less than thirty is ineligible for promotion from third grade, and she is thus no better off as principal than she would be as assistant in the combined school, while the principal of the combined school will in all probability have an average attendance sufficient to allow him to rise to the first grade. A teacher who is at present principal of a mixed school would oppose (and with good reason) its being divided into two separate schools, on the ground of the loss he would thereby sustain. It is equally clear that the teacher who becomes principal of boys' and girls' schools combined into a mixed school derives corresponding benefit.

The only argument I see against the principal of a girls' school becoming assistant in a mixed one is the sentimental one of loss of dignity, but this is much more than compensated for by the educational benefit the pupils enjoy, and by the easier and less harassing work of being responsible for the half instead of the whole of a school.

As to the objection on moral grounds taken to the amalgamation of boys and girls' schools, I do not think it deserving of serious consideration. I have had a long experience of mixed schools in different parts of Ireland, and I have never known of any instance in which the moral sense or refinement of a pupil was dulled by the presence of pupils of the other sex. On the contrary, I think the argument is the other way, as I believe that boys are apt to be rougher when associating with boys only, and that the presence of girls would tend to soften asperities and make boys more courteous and chivalrous. I have a high opinion of the boys and girls of Ireland, and do not think that purer minded or better conducted pupils could be found in any country in the world.

In towns and villages where there are two or three schools attended by pupils of different Protestant denominations, they might be combined on the principle of having these denominations represented on the teaching staff and placing the school under a board of managers.

Amalgamation of small schools has long been recommended on educational grounds, and it is certain that it would increase the efficiency and usefulness of these schools. Unfortunately an impression has got abroad that this step has been taken in the interests of the Treasury-a reason never popular in Ireland—whereas the reverse is the case. It will be found, if the matter is carefully examined, that amalgamation with its higher salaries will cost the Treasury more than the small separate schools with their third grade salaries.

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