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

of Schools, the Rev. THOMAS WILKINSON, M.A., &c., on the Episcopal Church Schools inspected by him in Scotland.


I HAVE the honor of presenting to your Lordships my second General Report for 1854, upon those schools connected with the Episcopal Church of Scotland which are (1) in the receipt of annual grants from the Parliamentary Fund, under the Minutes of the Committee of Council on Education, whether for augmentation of salaries of teachers holding certificates of merit, or for the stipends of pupil-teacher apprentices ; (2) schools in which, from the more limited amount of instruction, or from various other causes, there are at this time no apprentices; and (3) the remaining schools, the managers of which have invited simple inspection.

Whilst presenting this report to your Lordships, it is a source of great pleasure to me to bear evidence that the moral and intellectual condition of the schools which I have visited exhibits a steady, and in some instances, a rapid improvement. The numbers of pupils and of schools are on the increase ; the numbers of good teachers are also increasing; ideas upon education are becoming more expanded, more true, more liberal; the advantages of organized efforts at a common end are becoming daily more evident, and the country is awaking to a perception of the fact, that education is one of the moral necessities of man. And though I still find the gentry contributing to schools in a manner less generous and effective than what their means would lead to expect, and the clergy exerting themselves and paying more than what the country has a right to demand, yet I rejoice to add, that subscriptions and donations appear to be rather on the increase than otherwise ; for though there have been diminutions in some cases, there have been marked augmentations in others; and this circumstance should be accepted as a convincing proof of the favourable feeling towards schools among the greater portion of the upper classes, and which feeling, we trust, will soon become universal. Higher salaries are now given to teachers ; school-buildings are being enlarged and improved ; books are supplied in larger quantities—all of them symptoms and results of the increased liberality with which schools are now maintained.

The aid of the Committee of Council given towards the supporting and rewarding of teachers and apprentices has acted as a powerful stimulus and example in this matter, for it

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has at once raised the character of the schools, and through this has acted indirectly upon the subscribers, by showing them that their money is likely to produce a decidedly good effect upon their respective districts, and by encouraging them to give, with hope and confidence, what was formerly contributed under the doubt attached to any project more or less experimental.

It has gratified me much to find that the managers and teachers of schools are now paying more attention to the comfort, cleanliness, and wholesomeness of the rooms in which the education is carried on, excepting in the matter of ventilation, which unquestionably is the most faulty point in a majority of schools under my inspection. There seems in many teachers an innate dread of fresh air, and I have found windows and doors sealed up almost hermetically on the least pretence of cold or of damp weather. In many of the new school-rooms the ventilation continues defective.

In my last report I had occasion to remark, in many instances, what seemed to be the faulty management of schools (1) as to the number of classes, (2) their size, and (3) their arrangement. I am glad to observe a great change for the better in all these respects ; the classes have been increased in number, the size of them has been reduced, and a judicious disposition of desks and benches has in most instances superseded the former arrangement of them.

As to methods on which I hesitated, after my brief experience, to offer any decided opinion in my last report, I desire on this occasion to add, that in all schools, especially in schools for the poor, where the children leave soon, there appear to me to be two grand requisites; the one is, to secure rapidity in the communication of knowledge; the other is, to take care at the same time that the faculties of the scholar be duly exercised and developed. These excellencies are best attained by the two methods, oral and catechetical. The latter of these I have seen generally adopted; where the two have been united—and in a few instances I have found thisthe effect has been excellent. I trust every year to see the combined system increasingly adopted ; time is saved by it, and the mental energies of the children are kept alive.

Discipline, by which I understand simply the power of ensuring attention and obedience, is, for the most part, I am happy to say, well secured and without undue harshness. Corporal punishment seems on the whole little inflicted or needed; the right, however, to employ it within certain limits, is wisely confided to the head teachers by schoolmanagers, though it should never be entrusted to the pupilteachers. Personal castigation is the shortest, and in particular cases the most efficient punishment; nor is it unsuited to the condition of a child. In some of the best schools rewards are distributed, and, I understand, with good results.

The subjects of instruction require a few brief remarks.

Religious knowledge continues to receive from the clergy and school-managers the paramount attention it deserves. In most cases the Bible now holds its place in the schools, as it ought universally to do, not as affording exercises in reading and spelling, as confessedly a mere mechanical reading task, but it is read by the children for the purpose of informing their minds and affecting their hearts, and implanting therein the seeds of virtue and piety; and I record with much satisfaction that much is done by the teachers as well as by the clergy in turning Scriptural reading to this best of all accounts. The Church catechism is better understood ; the Liturgy of the Church is more fully explained, though on this latter subject, as also on the history of the Church, more may reasonably be expected in future years.

In reading and spelling the improvement is very partial. Sufficient attention is not paid to the teaching of distinct articulation, the explanation of the meaning of particular words, and the general meaning of each passage. I am fully aware of the difficulties we have to deal with on this point in our elementary schools; but still I look forward to the time when the establishment in every school of a good staff of pupil-teachers will justify us in expecting greater expedition in teaching every child to read with tolerable fluency and ease. The old plan of spelling is, we think, very correctly being superseded by dictation, i.e. by spelling on the slate instead of by word of mouth. Moreover, dictation includes punctuation, which is almost universally neglected.

The oral method of instruction in grammar, which was recommended in my last report, is practised in many schools in a spirited and systematic manner, and with the best effecta. There is in very few schools any regular instruction in etymology ; words are explained by paraphrase rather than by definition ; in the use of the latter, I have often observed a want of precision.

Writing generally is better than in the preceding year, though in too many schools there is an absence of care, order, and cleanliness; the writing is slovenly, and the books dirty or defaced, with frequent blunders and blots; this indicates a want of efficient superintendence. I still adhere to the opinion that a fair, round, symmetrical hand is the best adapted for the schools of the poor; and pains in teaching that well would be better bestowed than in forming the fashionable angular writing now taught to girls at some of the schools.

Success in teaching arithmetic depends, as in other matters, upon the degree in which the reasoning powers are exerted and brought into action, and also upon the extent to which the principles are mastered and made familiar, and expertness with accuracy acquired by practice. In my last report I adverted to the striking deficiency too frequently met with in this respect. I should have been glad to be warranted in making a more favourable statement at present; though there are many instances of efficiency, still the cases of inefficiency are very numerous. The teaching of arithmetic in girls' schools is on the whole improved. In a few schools mental arithmetic is cultivated. There is scarcely any school in which geography is not taught, and in the majority of them very intelligently. In some schools maps are drawn by the pupils

a valuable exercise and useful in various ways. In some instances the study of it is hindered or limited by the want of maps. A set of these is a very suitable benefaction to be presented by those interested in the school. Physical geography has received little or no attention. History, Latin, Greek, and French, have received on the whole fair attention. In respect of music, I should be really glad to witness greater advance. With some marked exceptions, the musical education is below par, the musical repertory of many of the schools being of a very meagre and inharmonious description.

In the female schools, the specimens of needlework, plain and ornamental, and of knitting, have been represented to me by competent judges as being very good. In many schools the quantity exhibited was considerable ; the quality of the work was very varied, and, I doubt not, highly creditable to teachers and scholars, as well as to the lady committees of superintendence. General Examination of Masters and Mistresses for Cer

tificates of Merit. In June last your Lordships directed an examination of candidates for certificates of merit to be held in Edinburgh. With the result of that examination your Lordships have been already made acquainted. I would merely beg to refer to one or two circumstances connected with that examination. The number of candidates attending wasMales


11 And of these, 14 males and 5 females obtained certificates of merit. The total number of certificates of merit granted to teachers alone for the Established and Free Churches of Scotland at these examinations was about 95, so that the proportion of teachers of Episcopal schools obtaining cer

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tificates of merit to those of the two other before named is as 19 to 95, or as 1 to 5; whereas the proportion of the population of the Scottish Episcopal Church to that of the others united is as 1 to 500.

Here then (2) there is cause for much hopeful anticipation of the future success of the Episcopal schools, and a fair index of the general standard of professional attainment, in the fact that, a large majority of these teachers came to the examination not only without the prestige of immediate previous preparation in a training school, but uninformed as to the nature and character of the ordeal through which they had to pass. Under such disadvantages the attainment of the distinction they received is alike honourable to themselves, and must be a subject of congratulation to the managers and supporters of their respective schools. And (3) in announcing to your Lordships the close of the examination, I felt that it was only an act of justice to the candidates to mention the strictly honourable conduct displayed by all during the examination, upon the favourable result of which so much probably of their own personal comfort depended. I now gladly avail myself of the opportunity of again recording in a more public manner the high sense I entertain of their honest and straightforward conduct on that occasion.

Pupil-teachers. I cannot terminate this part of my Report in a way more agreeable to my own feelings than by stating the great pleasure which has been afforded to me from the examination of pupil-teachers and candidates throughout my various tours of inspection. It constitutes one of the most pleasing portions of an Inspector's duties, and, at the same time, one of the most responsible, thus to be brought into contact with the most promising of the youth of the lower orders of the country of both sexes. I cannot but consider many of the young people with whom I have thus become acquainted as intended, under God's good providence, to become both a blessing and an honour to their native land ; and the fact of so many young men and women now training upon a sound system of religious and secular education for the office of teachers, warrants the hope that schools will, within a few years, be established on proper principles, and be suitably maintained, in connexion witli every charge in the Scottish Episcopal Church.

The acquirements of the pupil-teachers and of the candidates for that office were, generally speaking, of a superior order; very few of the latter were rejected on the ground of incompetency, but of their age falling short of my Lords' requirements or of the conditions being unfulfilled by the

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