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Aggregate Annual Income, as stated by Managers, of 109 of the Schools
enumerated in Summary A.
General Report, for the Year 1854, by Her Majesty's
Inspector of Schools, J. BOWSTEAD, Esq., M.A., on the British
January 1855. SINCE the date of my former Report, the district over Present exwhich my labours extend has been considerably reduced in trict. size, in consequence of the appointment of a fourth Inspector of Protestant Schools not exclusively connected with the Established Church ; but it still compreliends 11 English and 6 Welsh counties, and covers an area of 17,992 square miles. It contains 159 distinct schools claiming annual grants, and a large number of others open to inspection, either by the invitation of the managers, or from having been erected in part at the expense of the Government. The number of pupil-teachers is 414, of whom 250 are boys, Number of
teachers. and 16+ girls. There are also 4 male and 3 female assistants, engaged under the Minute of 23 July 1852. Of the 159 principal teachers, who have charge of the like number of schools receiving annual aid, 86 hold certificates of merit ; and of these, 53 are masters, and 33 mistresses. At present, the district does not contain any teacher who has been registered under the supplementary Minute of 20 August 1853. There are consequently 73 teachers, now engaged in schools receiving annual aid, who are neither certificated nor registered, and whose schools will be disabled, under your Lordships' recent regulations, from claiming either a new staff of apprentices or the capitation grant allotted to schools in agricultural districts and certain unincorporated towns, until they pass the examination for registration, or obtain certificates of merit.
Several of these teachers have attended the examinations for Teachers certificates just concluded at the various training-schools in catod nor reEngland and Wales ; and I trust that not a few will present
gistered. themselves to be registered at Easter next; but, as none can be registered whilst less than thirty-five years old, and as the examinations for certificates of merit are inevitably adapted rather for students in norinal colleges than for teachers already engaged in school work, and thereby removed from opportunities of instruction, as well as deprived of the leisure necessary for acquiring a thorough mastery of the more technical subjects, it is to be feared that many will still remain without that qualification which has been announced as an indispensable preliminary to further aid from the public fund, in the forms already mentioned, after the commencement of this year. If
this should be the case to any considerable extent, I cannot but anticipate a serious check to the march of education ; and it will become a question of great moment, whether the prospective advantages, supposed to be derivable from a strict adherence to the rule laid down, are at all sufficient to compensate for any material impediment to the present progress
of a most useful and necessary work. Reasons for It happens that in my district the uncertificated teachers not raging un. only number about six thirteenths of those who are engaged in teachers. schools receiving annual aid from the Parliamentary grant,
but also, in many instances, occupy positions which are of the utmost importance in an educational point of view. With the exception of the Model Schools of the British and Foreign School Society, in Southwark, I have been called upon to inspect only two others in which the ordinary attendance exceeds 400 children. Both of these are boys' schools, and both are under the care of masters who have raised them to their present position by unceasing labour during the last ten or twelve years. The one has nine apprentices at present, the other thirteen. Of former apprentices, several in each case have obtained Queen's Scholarships and certificates of merit. If I were called upon, out of all the elementary teachers who have come under my notice officially, to select a few of the most eminent for practical ability, for success either in schoolkeeping or in the training of pupil-teachers, for local influence and reputation, or for services rendered to the cause of popular education, I should have to name among the very first the teachers of these two schools. Yet they hold no certificates of merit. Their time and strength have always been too fully engaged by the important institutions over which they preside to admit of adequate preparation for a week's examination in a great variety of subjects; and they fear, perhaps unwisely and needlessly, that their future usefulness would be jeopardized if they failed at such examination to attain the highest position within their reach. I feel persuaded, however, that these difficulties will ultimately be overcome in the particular cases alluded to; but these cases are only a type of many others, and it is to be feared lest too stringent an enforcement of well - meant regulations should either drive out of our elementary schools some valuable teachers who cannot conveniently be spared, or cause the managers of some important institutions to sever that connexion with the Committee of Council on Education from which so much public benefit is everywhere resulting.
In regard to the practical working of the schools visited during the past year, it will be seen from my tabulated reports that I have, in a great majority of cases, felt justified in
Schools generally working well.
making a favourable report. There are few schools in which my second visit did not bring to light some marked improvement in one or more branches of instruction, and there is no subject ordinarily taught in elementary schools, which is not on the way to be better taught than heretofore.
Perhaps in no department is the improvement more general Reading. or more striking than in the art of reading, and certainly in none is it more important. In hoys' schools it is quite practicable to make such arrangements that every child shall have two reading lessons a day; and many teachers provide that one of these lessons shall have for its principal object to promote good reading, whilst the other is given rather with a view to inculcate the substance of what is read. In girls' schools, where an hour and a half is daily devoted to needlework, it is impossible to have more than seven or eight reading lessons in a week; but girls learn to read with taste and expression more readily than boys, and are not generally behind in this branch of instruction, notwithstanding the less time devoted to it. In all reading lessons it is essential to ascertain that the children understand the meaning of the words used, and for this purpose it is necessary to repress the too common ambition to make them read books which are too difficult for them. Nothing, I am persuaded, can be a greater impediment to progress, or more calculated to destroy habits of attention, than the practice which I have found prevailing in some schools, of allowing a class to read sentence upon sentence without understanding the meaning of any part of the lesson. Another evil of frequent occurrence arises from having too many children in one class, whereby not only does each child's turn to read come round too seldom, but those who are at one end of the class cannot hear what is going on at the other, and thus have an undeniable excuse for ceasing to attend to it. The remedy for this is to be found in training, wherever it is possible, a sufficient number of competent monitors, and where these cannot be found, it is a good plan to let a competent teacher begin with a large class, go through the lesson with the necessary explanations once or twice, and then hand over the lower portion of the class to one of the best readers in it, in order that they may go over it again and again, until it is perfectly known, whilst he himself diligently pursues the same course with the upper portion.
In arithmetic, also, a decided improvement is evidently going Arithmetic. on. Numeration has received more attention, the various rules have been more thoroughly explained, and the children in all the best schools are taught not only to perform certain opera
“ Common things."
tions with figures, but also to apply those operations to the solution of practical questions.
Penmanship is receiving its due share of attention, and it is gratifying to find that the weak and ungraceful style of writing commonly called “ pointed hand,” and heretofore so common in girls' schools, is rapidly disappearing. Grammar, geography, and history are taught in all the boys' schools, and nearly all the girls' schools, in which pupil-teachers have been apprenticed, and in a great many cases the teaching of geography is accompanied by more or less of map-drawing.
Ordinary drawing is practised in most of the boys' schools, but as yet there are only a few localities in which the children can have the benefit of lessons from teachers sent out by, or acting in connexion with, the Department of Science and Art. The pupil-teachers of several schools in the district have executed drawings in my presence, with a view to obtain prizes under the Minute of 26 January 1854 ; but I have not received any information as to the results of their attempts. Singing is everywhere sufficiently popular, and in not a few schools there are classes for learning music from notes.
“Common things have attracted increased attention of late, but this is not a new branch of instruction in the class of schools which fall under ny inspection. British Schools especially have long given marked prominence to subjects of this kind, and the books sanctioned by the British and Foreign School Society are full of lessons on “common things.” What is chiefly to be desired is, that this department of schoolwork should be handled more systematically, that the details of ordinary processes should always be accompanied by clear and simple explanations of the principles which govern them, and that teachers should aim not so inuch to store the mind with facts as to communicate to their pupils a power of reasoning upon and analyzing the phenomena around them. The term “common things” may be made to comprehend so wide a field of knowledge, that some teachers seem to be lost in the vastness of the subject, and wander from one part of it to another without resting sufficiently on any, and consequently without conferring any
real benefit upon their scholars. To such I would repeat the excellent advice of the Rev. Canon Moseley, that masters should undertake to teach in their schools only that which they themselves kuow well. Guided by this rule and by the special occupations of the locality in which he is placed, let each one select some particular branch of study, and steadily proceed to build up a graduated series of well-considered lessons upon it. In this manner “common things may be taught as a science with a really educative effect, and