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

of Schools, the Rev. W. J. KENNEDY, M.A., &c., on the Schools inspected in the County of Lancaster, and in the Isle of Man.

MY LORDS,

Preston, 10 January 1855. I HAVE the honor to present my annual general report respecting the schools visited by myself and my colleague, the Rev. W. Birley, in Lancashire and the Isle of Man, during the year commencing on the 1st of September 1853, and ending on the 31st of August 1854.

Remarks relative to the principal circumstances connected with each school, and iables of the main statistical facts respecting each school, are here with subjoined as an Appendix. The few preliminary observations which I propose now to offer, will relate almost entirely to the general impressions left on my mind by a review of all I have witnessed and heard during the course of the whole year. Indeed it has always appeared to me that in the present state of national education, one of the most useful parts of the Inspector's labours might be, to record freely and candidly the general impressions left on his mind; speaking rather as a commissioner giving the results of his experience about some of the problems which vex the education question, than as a mere investigator and reporter of the details of each individual school.

I cannot but think that the impression left on the mind of every thinking person who has been engaged long and constantly in any business, even if he could not analyse those impressions, are more to be relied on than the results deduced from what are called “statistics,” and which are almost always collected in a bare official way by persons not thoroughly familiar and conversant with the business about which they are collecting "statistics." With reference to educational statistics in particular, and the results commonly deduced from

them, I never saw any yet which had not fatal flaws in them. Great im- Before uttering any complaints of the evils and shortcomprovement in National ings of our National schools, I am glad to be able to state schools of late years.

what I have probably said before, and can confirm from the experience of the past year, viz., that the progress which is being made in the character and quality of National schools is very great. I have been familiar with these schools from childhood, and for the last fifteen years have been conversant

about little else ; and the advance made is undoubtedly large Especially and gratifying. It is mere justice also to add that this imestablish provement has been going on in a greatly accelerated ratio

ciencies still

attendance.

and permanent income

since the establishment of the Committee of Council on Edu- ment of the cation, and more particularly since the Minutes of Council of of Council 1846.

on Educa

tion. Still in many particulars there are great evils and defects, Many defiespecially in the internal condition of our schools, and in some exist. matters improvement is at a stand-still, not to say at a deadlock.

At the root of all the shortcomings of our schools lies the Our ultidifficulty of getting the children to attend school at all, or if eulty will be they come, to attend with regularity. Non-attendance and dance and irregular attendance may be called the ultimate difficulties, irregular which will have to be grappled with.

The next most serious difficulty, and one which will have Our imme. to be dealt with before any further great progress is made, dificulty is is the want of adequate and permanent funds for the annual adequate support of schools. This must ever form the burden of my cry till the want is supplied, because it is the one great and for schools. pressing want which meets me at every turn.

This is true of the schools I have to inspect, which are the most flourishing and the best in the district. If the teacher is indifferent, or the supply of books and apparatus insufficient, or if the school-room is ill furnished or dirty, the excuse in most such cases is the scantiness of funds. This is an unquestionable fact, and the one which must ever take precedence of all others in my consideration till it is amended. There are some schools which have ample supplies of everything, but they are quite the exceptions. And in a large proportion even of these cases the supplies are precarious ; they result from the liberality of the patron for the time being, or from the great efficiency and popularity of the teacher for the time being. This fact will be recognized at once by many persons in my district, if the assertion should ineet their eye. I am happy to say that the grants made by the Committee of Capitation Council, in the way of capitation fees, under the Minute of in rural dis2 April 1953, are doing very great good. No kind of grant is more popular, or perhaps more useful ; but it is limited to able and

popular. rural districts, or to towns where the population is under 5,000; and the schools of my district are mainly schools in large towns, which cannot avail themselves of this valuable aid. I look forward therefore with great anxiety to some Similar and measure which shall afford to districts like mine the same for large valuable kind of aid, viz., an increase of annual funds avail-towns. able for the general expenses and purposes of the school. Until such aid comes the schools in Lancashire will continue to be, generally speaking, in a comparatively languishing condition. The devices resorted to for obtaining funds, such as resort to raising the ordinary fees, or taking in children of a higher grade schools for

tricts are

very valu

We must not

the poor.

in life at higher fees, continue to fail egregiously ; or if they are successful as regards the school income, they are at the same time successful in driving away the poorer class of children from the school, and confining its benefits to those of a higher grade. The question of raising considerably the school fees, even for the poorer classes, has been very much mooted lately, especially during the past year, in other districts as well as in mine. I read a report of a meeting in Kent, in which that plan was recommended by his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, and I see that a Committee of Inquiry have recommended it in the diocese of St. Asaph. I can only say that, as far as my experience goes, there is no one thing which I consider more pernicious, if the interests of the children of the labouring classes is under consideration.* If the parents find their children's copy-books, an uniform 2d. a week from each child is, for the most part, the best fee which can be exacted in Lancashire; and in agricultural districts Id. a week is, most frequently, all that ought to be required, especially where the labourer has more than one child to keep at school, as is generally the case. But if the opposite system, viz., one of high fees, ranging from 4d. to 6d. a week, be generally adopted, and if the labouring classes should be found able and willing to pay such fees, there is a result to be looked for which has not been calculated upon, I think, by the persons who so strenuously advocate the plan of rendering schools self-supporting by means of high fees : I mean that the parents of the scholars will claim to have an influential voice in the management of schools which they entirely support; and I do not see how their claim could be refused. I venture to think, however, that no plan will ever succeed in getting our schools auly and permanently provided with sufficient incomes, save one involving some organic change, such as an educational rate. I fear that no mere development of the present system in any direction can ever meet the wants I refer to.

But if want of adequate funds be a general characteristic, even of those schools which have been able to avail themselves

of the Minutes of Council, and to obtain annual grants, what vents them is the case of those schools which have not been able to avail certificated themselves of any of the annual grants, and which in the rural masters, &c. districts are still a majority of our schools for the poor? I

see, officially, comparatively few of such schools, but I receive numerous communications respecting them; and they may be described in a word, simply as defective in every particular.

There are still many schools whose poverty pre

It is well remarked by the Rev. C. Richson, in his evidence before the com. mittee on education in Manchester and Salford, that nothing “will remove the hard fact that in a very large number of instances a parent has more than enough to do to provide sufficient food and clothing for his children.”

to avail themselves

Council,

schools.

While even the majority of our best schools are not institutions to be proud of, and such as would lead us to display them to foreigners as doing honour or credit to the country, the schools I now refer to, viz., those which cannot avail themselves of the annual grants, are almost wholly ineffective, and a positive disgrace. And yet how painful it is to reflect that a majority of our National schools are inefficient and discreditable, yet such I believe to be the simple unvarnished truth.

I am happy to observe that a society has been established The new in the last two or three years (chiefly through the exertions Education of the Rev. Edward Gridlestone, Vicar of Deane, in this helps schools county), called the Church of England Education Society, the main object of which seems to be the helping and enabling of the Tants the poorer class of schools to avail themselves of the annual mittee of grants made by the Committee of Council. I cannot conceive a more useful object than this; it is an actual and pressing want. Aid from a society towards building school-rooms is now, in the present stage of the educational question, comparatively worthless.

Very many of these inferior schools, not availing themselves Case of of the annual grants, are schools with small endowments ; dowed which endowments, while insufficient for the efficiency of the schools, prevent their obtaining aid from the Committee of Council. I am most strongly of opinion, that it would be well to repeal the decision which excludes such schools from the benefit of certificated masters, and consequently from the benefit (henceforth) of pupil-teachers. I am aware of, and feel grateful for, the relaxation made during the past year, which allows the masters of endowed National schools to try for places in the classes of certificates of merit; but I fear this will be comparatively of little use, unless the masters are also allowed to receive the augmentation of stipend conditionally due on a certificate. Certificated masters will naturally be anxious to obtain that augmentation; and endowed schools will not, as a general rule, be able to obtain the services of certificated masters, unless the masters can receive the augmentation. The case stands thus :-Here is a village school, with an endowment (say) of 301. a year; this endowment, with the help of the children's payments, and of a few subscriptions such as can be scraped together, enables the village to maintain a school. Without the endowment there could be no school at all. Yet, because this school is supported mainly by a small permanent endowment, instead of by the same amount of precarious annual subscription, a certificated master is still precluded from receiving any payment on his certificate. Hence it follows that certificated masters will not take charge of such schools, and hence the schools will, for the most part, be con

demned to have inferior masters, to have no pupil-teachers, and similar advantages; and will, in short, be deprived of all hope of efficiency. I cannot but entertain strong hope that your Lordships will take the case of such schools—they are numerous in my district-into consideration, and will admit them to the full benefit of all the Minutes of Council, upon the same terms as all other schools are admitted, save that the endowment will be accepted in lieu of an equivalent amount of annual subscriptions. Considering all the checks there now are on small endowed schools, especially those arising from the new Charity Commissioners; also, considering that the grants of the Committee of Council to certificated masters and their pupil-teachers would only be made if they were found duly efficient, I am clearly of opinion that a small endowmen is a far better thing than the same amount of precarious subscriptions, and deserves every encouragement, instead of the present great discouragement.

The reason assigned for ignoring such endowments is, that the Parliamentary grant is “in aid of voluntary contributions.” I believe that this general rule is not adhered to in some matters; and I venture to think that the case of these small endowments also might now be advantageously made one of the exceptions to the rule. Moreover, it is capable of being shown that the non-recognition of such small endowments checks "voluntary contributions.” I

I presume that the investment of 1,0001. in the funds, for the benefit of a school, would be as much “ a voluntary contribution” as the donation of a guinea a year. But, as the matter at present stands, a person

will

say- -“ I must not endow this school with 301. a year, as I should otherwise be inclined to do; for, if I do so, I shall preclude it from the benefit of a certificated and good master, and from pupil-teachers, and other similar advantages. In brief, if this rule should be rescinded, I think that a great many of the inferior schools in my district would be great gainers by it, and that no counterbalancing injury of any kind would result from its abolition.

Having thus recorded the impression left on my mind by the experience of the past year, on the points which I deem most worthy of notice, I proceed to offer a few remarks on what may be called the specialities of the past year in my district.

The first point under this head which deserves notice is the

lock-out,” or “strike,” which prevailed more or less in Lancashire during more than six months of the year now under review. Though Mr. Birley and myself have not referred to the “lock-out” in the details of the schools given in our tabulated reports, I desire here to state generally that part at

Reflections upon recent “Lock-out" in Lancashire.

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