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General Report, for the Year 1854, by Her Majesty's Inspector

of Schools, the Rev. F. C. Cook, M. A., &c., on the Schools inspected in the Counties of Middlesex, Hertford, Bedford, and Buckingham.

MY LORDS,

January 1855. During the last year so large a portion of my time has been occupied by work connected with the inspection of training institutions that I have not been able to examine many schools in my district, nor to collect a sufficient amount of statistical and general information to make a complete report. Moreover, at that part of the year which has hitherto been devoted to the preparation of a report, I have had daily engagements, which could not be postponed without causing serious inconvenience to school managers. Under these circumstances, I might have requested permission to present the tabulated reports upon the schools which have been inspected, without any further comment, were there not some points which I feel anxious to submit to your Lordships' consideration.

The following tables give a general view of the work Summaries. done in this district, by myself and my colleague, the Rev. J. G. C. Fussell, between the 1st of September 1853 and the 31st of August 1854.

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The amount of accommodation in square feet, divided by 8, will give the number of children who can be properly accommodated. Calculations of area in school-rooms, as compared with the average attendance of scholars, should be made upon this basis.

† At the date of closing this return.

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SUMMARY B.
Aggregate Annual Income, as stated by Managers, of 123 of the Schools

enumerated in Summary A.

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Books and
Apparatus.

Miscellaneous.

Salaries.

TOTAL.

$. d. 18,301 1903

£ 8. d. 2,713 18 4

s, d. 14,613 3 4]

8. d. 35,629 0 81

* These per-centages are confined to boys and girls' schools, and do not include infants,

The number of schools well built, and supplied with all School acrequisite appurtenances in this district, has been steadily tion. increasing during the last ten or fifteen years. In the agricultural parishes the improvement is especially remarkable, and, notwithstanding many serious exceptions, makes it reasonable to hope that, with the liberal assistance now offered by your Lordships, the deficiencies still existing will be generally supplied. In the Metropolis, however, the case is somewhat different. The number of children applying for admission increases yearly ; funds for building and maintaining schools, though not raised without great exertions and heavy sacrifices, are yet forthcoming in many parishes ; but the difficulty of procuring a site is so great, owing to the tenure of property, and the general unwillingness of proprietors to alienate land adapted for building purposes, that it amounts to an impossibility in several of the most important districts of London. The difficulty exists to some extent, as I am informed, in most large cities, but in London it operates so prejudicially upon the cause of education that I venture once more to bring the subject before you. In last year's report, I pointed out two alternatives which, if sanctioned by your Lordships, might obviate the evil to some extent; but if it be considered necessary to have a complete school building, with some space for exercise and recreation adjoining, it is obvious that other measures are needed to effect such results.

From the tabular returns it appears that the school-rooms are generally well filled, but not crowded to excess. There of children. are, however, some exceptions; and both I and my colleague have sometimes had occasion to remonstrate very strongly in cases where managers have greatly exceeded the maximum which ought to be allowed. Children suffer much in body and in mind from the effects of an overcrowded school-room. It is impossible to preserve perfect discipline, to prevent copying, or to keep the faculties in a state of activity, when the numbers exceed one for six square feet. It is difficult to resist the plea of managers, when they declare that they have no alternative between leaving the children to wander about the streets, or admitting thein at the risk of lowering the general tone of the school

. The only remedy, of course, is to build new schools within a reasonable distance. This may be difficult or impossible; but, at any rate, the existing schools must be maintained in an efficient state, both as regards the physical and mental condition of the children.

It is satisfactory to remark that the number present at Number inspection exceeds the number represented by the managers pissection to be the average attendance, viz., 29,787 to 28,896.

I observed last year the same fact, which is important as proving

Attendance

Certificated teachers.

there were

that dependance can be placed upon the registers, and that
the Inspector's visit is welcomed by the children and their
parents.
The number of certificated teachers is increasing steadily.
In 1850

61
In 1851

72
In 1852

J11
In 1853

125
In 1854

173 I believe that this increase somewhat exceeds the general rate throughout the country, and if so, it may be attributed to the high rate of payment in my district. The managers of the London schools under inspection are fully aware that the success of the school, in a finaucial point of view, depends mainly upon the efficiency of the instruction, and that it is the most economical as well as the most satisfactory proceeding to engage the services of a well-trained and able teacher. There are many schools in this district where the school-master receives from 801. to 100l. from the managers, with good apartments, while the payment for certificate and pupil-teachers averages 301., and may reach 45l. ; 301. for certificate, and 151. for four pupil-teachers. It is with much gratification that I record a scale of remuneration which not inadequately rewards the exertions of a highly meritorious, and in former years an illpaid, class of men. I will also take this opportunity of stating once more my opinion that most of the schools conducted by masters and mistresses who have obtained certificates after passing many years in school-keeping are remarkable for effective discipline and general efficiency.

The number of pupil-teachers has increased very considerably, after a temporary check. In 1851 there were

416 In 1852

409 In 1853

370 In 1854

475 This I attribute chiefly to the increase of certificated teachers. I have heard many complaints from school managers as to the difficulty of procuring fit candidates in boys' schools, owing to the high rate of remuneration for juvenile labour, and several promising youths have been withdrawn before the expiration of their apprenticeship, having obtained situations with salaries varying from 401. to 601. per annum.

But on the whole, it appears to me that the supply is not likely to be materially diminished, provided that the education of the elder children in attendance is effectively conducted, and the inducements to become school teachers are properly represented to the youths, and to the parents. I am also clearly of opinion

Pupilteachers,

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