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General Report, for the Year 1854, by Her Majesty's In
spector of Schools, the Rev. M. MITCHELL, M.Å., on the Schools inspected in the Counties of Essex, Suffolk, Cambridge, Norfolk, and Huntingdon.
I HAVE the honor to present to your Lordships a report on the schools inspected between the 1st of September 1853 and the 31st of August 1854.
The number of places visited has been 126, of which four were visited twice, making a total of 130 visits, in which were inspected :Boys' schools
inent of Assistant
The total number of children in these schools when inspected was 18,361.
The number of miles travelled has amounted to 3,969. Appoint- I have to thank your Lordships for the appointment of the
Rev. W. C. Campbell as Assistant Inspector of the district. Inspector. The number of places wbich he has visited is 45, and the number of schools as follows: Boys' schools
The total number of scholars in the schools inspected by Mr. Campbell was 3,309, which, added to the number inspected by myself, makes 21,670.
There have been 25 days occupied in the central examinations of pupil-teachers and in revising the papers ; and the remainder of the time has been employed in the examination of papers (758) worked by candidates for certificates ; on religious knowledge, 21 days ; report, 20 days; examinations at Norwich, 12 days; lost days and journeys, 6 ; conference, 3;
Good Friday, fast day, Whitsunday, and vacation, 28. Attendance There are few circumstances connected with the district diminished.
that call for observation. The attendance at the schools generally was diminished, in consequence of the high price of provisions; but the progress of the scholars, favourably reported of last year, is still maintained.
The managers of schools are becoming reconciled to the wood floors change of the floor from brick or stone to wood, and when once it is effected they acknowledge the advantage. The schools at Trumpington and Billericay have ceased to require pupilteachers.
New buildings have been raised at Lowestoft (girls), Bury New schools. St. Edmunds, Lakenham (infants), Swanton Morley, Lynn, St. John's; Lynn, South (infants), Witchford, Littlebury, Warboys, Overton Longville.
New fittings have been put into the schools at Lakenham New (boys and girls), Fakenham (boys and girls), Burgh Castle,
fittings. Great Baddow, Lynn, St. Margaret's (boys and girls), Castle Rising, Thorney Abbey, Steeple Bumpstead, Waltham Abbey, Cambridge (St. Giles”), Cambridge (St. Peter's), Brampton (boys and girls), Halstead (St. Andrew's), and Kesgrave ; and I have reason to know that the increase of prices has prevented other schools from being similarly refitted.
The managers of schools in Colchester have applied for the New appliassistance of pupil-teachers, and the other advantages to be crtions. derived from Government inspection. They propose to build new schools, and to refit the present school-rooms, and I have no doubt that their plans will restore to the town the educational reputation which it once held in the foremost rank of the old National system of instruction.
The whole of South Suffolk is on the advance. The schools South, at Hadleigh, Bentley, Bures, Sudbury,and Geldestone may compare with any of their class. The young men of the Suffolk villages also have begun to be alive to their uneducated condition, and that the night-schools are well attended by, not merely loungers, but, pupils eagerly anxious to learn and to improve their status.
I have visited night-schools in various towns, but am of Night opinion that, though useful in their way, they are generally conducted with so little system and order as to be very much less useful than they might be ; and frequently the damage they do to the appearance of the rooms in which they are held, the dirt they make, the ink they spill,* and the breakage they occasion, are hardly compensated by the good they are supposed to effect. A school without discipline, whatever may be the age of the pupils, can never be successful. The introduction of assistant teachers has been beneficial to this class of instruction.
* I insert the following for such masters as wish to keep up the appearance of their desks :
Method of Extracting Ink.—Mix in a bottle with one quart of hot water, $ oz. of citric acid, 4 oz. of tartaric acid, oz. of oxalic acid. This will not only extract ink from wood, but will also cleanse the tops of the inkstands, if made of brass or copper. The cost of a quart of this mixture is 5d.
Desire for I may remark that a sort of enthusiasm now prevails new fittings.
through the district about having schools fitted, not merely well, but, excellently; and the desks of Mr. Atkins, of Norwich, and Mr. Leverett, of Ipswich, are much sought for. The appearance of the schools so furnished, the ease of the working, and the success that accompanies it, as shown at West Ham, Cambridge, Ipswich, and Norwich, St. Ives, and elsewhere, cause managers and schoolmasters first to be dissatisfied with their old furniture, and next to desire to have the new of the best kind. The makers whose names I have mentioned tell me that they obtain extensive orders from other districts; and there was no set of desks at the Educational Exhibition, at St.
Martin's Mall, to be compared with theirs. * Girls' Model The model school for girls at Norwich is now entirely and School, Norwich.
well fitted. The desks are not of the same construction as those of the boys; they are adapted for either sex, and for mixed schools, but are more expensive. Visitors are surprised at the improvement that is visible in the dress, cleanliness, and appearance of the children, in schools thus arranged, with attention not merely to comfort, but even elegance. The work of education in such schools, with lively and intelligent teachers, with good supply of books, apparatus, and pictures, becomes, not a task, but, a pleasure, and is looked on as, not merely
a duty, but, a delight. Nothing can be prettier than the school Pakenham. at Fakenham.
Excellent birch desks, nice green moreen curtains separating the classes, easels of bireh, black-boards, birch cupboards, with glass doors to display a museum of specimens and objects of interest, and the elegances of china flower-pots, disposed with enviable taste, must elevate, one might almost hope ennoble, the feelings of those educated therein. No doubt the scholars will be happier than those that have gone before them; and I think there can be no doubt that they will better. Defects alleged against the construction of these parallel desks may vften be referred to the want of practical knowledge of the teacher ; most suggestions that have been made overlook some reason for which the desks have been arranged on their present plan; and it must also be remembered that no system can be applied till it has been learned, and that every system, when learned, supposes energy, zeal, and faith, in the
person that uses it. Advantage Various minor improvements may be made in the system.
now pursued at Norwich, in both the model schools for boys
of new system.
* I reckon now more than 100 schools thus fitted or re-fitted in the district. Mr. Tollemache, M.P. for Cheshire, had his schools at Helmingham furnished by Mr. Leverett, and he was so much pleased that he sent sets of the desks and curtains to his school in Cheshire, and told me that the effeet was considerable; they had never seen anything like them in those parts. Mr. Atkins also has supplied schools in the Midland Counties and Wales.
and girls, according to the wants of the time, or perhaps the taste of the person who adopts it; but I believe that, in the main features, it will be found to be the best and completest yet devised.
I speak this from experience ; for I have made a point of visiting the chief schools in this kingdom, and in France, and also some in Germany. The system is, in fact, eclectic; it takes the German parallel desks, the Glasgow gallery; and it reduces both the classes and gallery to convenient teaching size; the desks containing as many children as the pupil-teacher can instruct at once; and the gallery as many as can be commanded without wearing out the master. It combines the desks of the British and Foreign system for writing; the standing of the National Society's plan, only in parallel ranks; the black-boards and easels of the Scotch schools; and the curtains for separation of classes of the plan originated at Battersea. It is also well adapted to Professor Moseley's tripartite system, and is as well adapted for the most numerous school as for the mere country village. It unites the excellences of the class-room with that of the large open school, and enables the teacher to group all his pupils together, or to teach a single class It is for these reasons, my Lords, that I have felt justified in recommending the adoption of this plan of arrangement in all the schools of my district. I have to thank most of the managers for the considerate way in which they have received my suggestions, and for the expense and trouble which they have incurred in carrying them out; and it is no small gratification to meet everywhere thanks and approbation, even from those who once opposed this plan as heartily as they now concur in it and recommend it to others.
The echo in many rooms is such as to materially interfere Echoes. with the education conducted in them. There appears to be no remedy at present discovered for this defect ; but I have observed in old buildings that echo seldom occurs, and that the walls are seldom built parallel or in straight lines. The walls are either perpendicular or horizontal, but generally in a wavy curve, and mostly this slight curve is carried forward into the roof.
Some architects have been under an impression that these curves are defects in the building, either in the original plan, or occasioned by subsequent dilapidations. The universality of the curves, however, in all old buildings, the beauty of their effect, and the fact of the absence of echo, might inake us pause in giving such an opinion, even were we not persuaded that the men who reared them were giants in their work, and that their knowledge was much too potent and too subtle to permit them to overlook defects of ignorance or carelessness. How many of the nicest beauties of refined art may the want of faith of an ignorant and presumptuous age have turned to blemishes!
Blinds, There are so many schools deficient in blinds that I call your
Lordships' especial notice to the fact. It must be very injurious to the health and habits of the children to sit exposed under glass to the full blaze of a summer sun. It is of such consequence to remedy this neglect that I should almost feel inclined to recommend that blinds be required as a condition of your Lordships' grants. The expense is so trifling, and the inconvenience so great, it is matter of wonder that there should be cause for these observations.
My opinions of lattice windows have received a remarkable confirmation from a distinguished medical gentleman connected with a county lunatic asylum, who is of opinion that this mode of lighting has a decidedly injurious effect on the brain ; an effect which, I understand, has been so much perceived in Bavaria that there is a law against such windows in
that country. Attainments The attainments of the several schools afford no new topic of schools.
of report. Drawing is beginning to be cultivated at Yarmouth, and has made some way at Norwich, where the school of design gives it much assistance. I fear that music is on the decline ; and I must add that the great number of subjects now taught
in our large schools is likely to be productive of an evil which Inaccuracy. I should be glad that teachers would guard against, namely,
a general inaccuracy in all subjects, and a careless, slovenly, method of working, injurious, not only to the intellectual, but,
to the moral, character of the scholar. Reading. In Norfolk, I have to report unfavourably of the reading,
to which more attention should be paid; and I find the cause to be that, in some of the chief schools, the time is so occupied in other subjects that only half an hour a day is set apart for this purpose.
Firmness of management, and steadiness and smartness of discipline, ought to be much cultivated, and also system and method, especially by untrained teachers.
None of the schools that have attempted industrial ememploy
ployment have made any way; indeed they have all gone backward, or abandoned their plans. Saffron Walden and Redenhall have given up gardening, and at Winterton the success this year has been very undecided. The parents say that they can teach digging and gardening better than the masters of schools, and that they do not pay the school fee for that sort of education. What they desire is book learning, and on the whole I agree in their opinion. The industrial school at Cambridge, being established almost solely with industrial intentions, is an exception to this case, and is intended as a
reformatory institution for youths. Schools pay. ing different
There are two schools (one reported on last year) in the school fees. district which are founded on the principle of increased pay