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MR. JOHNSTON'S REPORT.

Brisbane, February, 1916.

SIR, I have the honour to submit my General Report for the year 1915.

DISTRICT.

For 1915 I was assigned the same district as for 1914. It is known as the "Townsville" district. It includes (a) schools in and around Proserpine, Bowen, Ayr, Charters Towers, Ravenswood, and Townsville; (b) schools along or adjacent to the Great Northern Railway and its branches to Rollingstone, Ravenswood, Winton, Duchess, Selwyn, and Koolamarra; and (c) the outlying schools at Camooweal, Boulia, Kynuna, and Mackinlay.

Contained in this district at the beginning of the year were 71 State schools, 6 Provisional schools, and 10 Denominational schools. New schools have been opened during the year at Osborne (Provisional), near Home Hill Railway Station; at Jarvisfield (State), in the Ayr district; at Mookarra (Provisional) Railway Station, on the Bowen to Proserpine tramline; at Euri Creek (State), near' Euri Creek Railway Station; at Cape River (State), à siding on the Great Northern Railway; at Inkermann (State), on the Ayr to Bowen Railway; at Koolamarra (Provisional), the present terminus of the Cloncurry and Mount Cuthbert Railway line; and at Hightville (Provisional), in the Cloncurry district.

At the present time, buildings for new schools are either at the point of completion or in process of erection at Palm Groves in the Proserpine district, and at Armidale on the Townsville to Ingham Railway.

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The school at Rochford was closed during the year on account of the small and decreasing attendance. The schools at Haughton River (Hodel Railway Station), and at Broughton (Charters Towers district), were closed for some time during the early part of the year for want of a teacher.

Saturday schools are being conducted at Thalanga Siding, Jesmond Station, and Kurukan, by the head teachers at Homestead, Southern Cross, and Bohlevale respectively.

Inquiries were made in connection with several petitions for the establishment of new State schools, and the Minister has approved of the establishment of a Provisional school at Crystal Brook in the Proserpine district, and of new State schools at Townsville South, at Armidale and at Palm Groves.

APPORTIONMENT OF TIME.

From the beginning of the year until 10th March I was engaged in work in connection with the valuation of examination papers, in writing up notes on the examination papers for the "Education Office Gazette," in preparation of my General Report for 1914, and in attendance at a Conference of Inspectors. During this period I was granted and took the usual annual leave, four days of which were occupied in travelling to Townsville. From the 21st to 26th June I conducted at Charters Towers a class of instruction for teachers of small schools.

Owing to my being called up for military duty by the Defence Department, I left Townsville on 4th October and did not return to my work as District Inspector until 11th December. During the whole of the remainder of the year my time was occupied in inspecting, reporting, supervising at State Scholarship Examination, valuing papers, travelling, and holding inquiries in connection with complaints made against head teachers, or in connection with applications for new schools. At the time of my leaving the district on 4th October, sixty-six schools had been inspected once in detail, and in addition one school had been inspected twice owing to a change in head teachers. Incidental visits were paid for various reasons whenever opportunity offered. The work of the itinerant teachers was

inquired into, and as much as possible of what they had set and of what the children had done was inspected and tested. Visits to two schools were made for the purpose of holding inquiries into charges made against the head teachers, and a full report of the proceedings and findings in each case has already been forwarded to the Department. The work of the State School Technical College Scholarship classes at Bowen was inspected.

MATERIAL ORGANIZATION.

The school buildings are well cared for by the teachers, and they are, on the whole, in good condition. At the time of my visit of inspection I found the schools at Jarvisfield, Proserpine, and Friezland overcrowded. A new school has been built at the firstnamed place, while preliminary steps have been taken to provide additional accommodation and so relieve the congestion at the other two schools. A new building has been erected at Julia Creek to take the place of the shed in which the school had formerly been held. The accommodation at Duchess has been increased and has been rendered more suitable to the needs and conditions of the place. Substantial improvements have been made since the date of my previous visit at many of the schools, and in no instance did I find cause to report on any neglect in systematically and efficiently carrying on the work of keeping the buildings in a satisfactory state of repair. Schools generally are well equipped, but in some cases there were too few blackboards in good order. Enthusiastic teachers provide quantities of teaching aids, illustrative specimens, and apparatus suited for the practice of educational methods; but in the larger schools, as a general rule, it is found that many of the subordinate teachers are ignorant of the contents of the school museums, and habitually fail to make use of the very suitable articles collected by preceding teachers and former pupils of the school.

LIBRARIES are now found in all the schools except twelve. These have yet taken no steps to avail themselves of the generous assistance afforded by the Department in the purchase of books. In eight schools no one knew how many volumes there were in the library, and in many schools there was no catalogue of the books to be found when inquiries were made for it. The number of books ranged from over 1,200 volumes in Townsville West to 12 in a school which had

recently received its first instalment for the new library. There is no constant ratio between the size of the school and that of its library. I found one school, with an average daily attendance of nearly 200, with a library of only 130 books, and of which but little use was being made; while in the same district, a few miles out of the town, a small school with less than 20 children on the roll possessed a well used library of 162 judiciously selected volumes. In about 80 per cent. of the schools I found that more or less satisfactory use was being made of the books. During visits of inspection, at times I had cause to direct the attention of teachers to an evident need for some improvement in their manner of conducting the business of this part of their school work. I am certain, however, that where lack of interest is shown it is due nearly always to failure on the part of the teacher to realise his responsibility in this direction. As teachers more generally appreciate the value of a library, and recognise it as an important factor in educational progress, I confidently anticipate that an increasing number of them will take a closer personal interest in what their pupils read. A considerable amount of real work is always necessary in connection with the management and proper use of the library if teachers desire effectively to stimulate, interest, and sustain the enthusiasm of their scholars.

The annual prizes for school gardens were awarded in this district in the following order: -Mundingburra, Richmond. Richmond Hill, Charters Towers Central (Boys'). The drought which prevailed during the year over the whole of this district has prevented much being done in the way of gardening. A few fresh gardens were established, but the continued dry weather has discouraged many teachers who otherwise probably would have done good work. Considering

the seasonal disadvantages, other schools deserv ing of honourable mention for good results in this direction are Mount Marlow, Strathdickie, Airdmillan, Stewart's Creek, Townsville Central, Townsville West, and Brookville. The enumeration of these does not by any means exhaust the list of schools where the care bestowed on the grounds and the results of school gardening are worthy of commendation. The grounds of 14 schools are not fenced, and are consequently without trees; but there are 14 other schools of which the grounds are enclosed and around which no trees are yet to be found. From the particulars furnished by the teachers I learn that 112 trees were planted last year in the grounds of 21 schools, and of these at the time of my visit 73 were apparently in a healthy and flourishing condition.

INTERNAL ORGANIZATION.

STAFFS. The call which the nation has made upon the manhood of Australia has seriously affected the staffing of many of our schools. Itinerant teachers, senior pupil-teachers, assistants, and head teachers are all represented in the ranks of the units that have left our shores to fight the battles of the Empire. It is pleasant to find so many not only willing but able to serve their country, and it is not altogether a cause for lamentation to find that our teachers have a recognised value outside as well as inside the Department. The spirit in which those who are left behind have shouldered the increased burdens says much for that loyalty which can be shown in mufti by those who are not privileged to don khaki.

In that portion of the district which I was able to complete, the teachers were classified as follows:

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The number and standing of the pupil-teachers may be seen from the following table:

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CLASSIFICATION.-At the time of my inspection the pupils were classified as follows:

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SCHOOL OF INSTRUCTION FOR TEACHERS OF SMALL SCHOOLS. This was held at Charters Towers during the week immediately preceding the midwinter vacation. Teachers attended from Balfe's Creek, Powlathanga, Mount Leyshon, King's Gully, Kirke River, Manton, and Toonpan schools. The course consisted of instruction in methods of teaching the various syllabus subjects, and of advice and practice in those matters which pertain to the work of successfully conducting a small school. Miss Garner, of the Central Girls' State School, gave willing as well as valuable assistance in the physical training part of the work. It is pleasing to note from year to year the zeal and the earnestness of the teachers who attend schools of this kind, and to see the steady improvement in their schools as a well marked result of their application of the knowledge gained by attendance at these classes.

INSTRUCTION.

The Work Book is, in almost every case, kept in a satisfactory manner, though there are still instances to be found where the teacher undervalues the importance of carefully planning out the work beforehand and of strictly adhering to the scope of the lessons set for the month.

ENGLISH.-Reading is more fluent than formerly, but is often wanting in the finer attributes of the subject.

Comprehension of the language and subject-matter is often weak, though the meanings of the individual words are generally known.

Recitation is expressionless, and in many schools not sufficient revision work is done, with the result that the words of the poems learnt during the preceding half-year are often quite forgotten.

Composition is improved, especially in those schools which make intelligent use of the school library. Business letters are now fairly well written by the children of the Fifth Class.

Writing is slowly getting better in the copybooks, but not sufficient care is taken in other than copy-writing. The examination tests were exceptionally neat and well written at the Proserpine school.

Formal Grammar gave slightly better results this year.

Derivation has progressed very favourably, and is now well done in many of the schools.

Spelling and Dictation generally gave satisfactory results, but in a few cases these subjects were found to be very weak in some parts of the school.

MATHEMATICS.-Weakness

is generally shown in some branch or other. Tables are fairly well known so far as the mechanical memory work is concerned. Notation is very satisfactory as a rule. Mental Arithmetic is a little better than last year, but a very fair standard of proficiency is reached in only few schools. Written Arithmetic is also somewhat improved, but is still unsatisfactory except perhaps in mechanical exercises. Mensuration is up to the standard in very few schools. Geometry and Algebra are not often attempted, but in the hands of capable teachers the benefits derived from a study of these two branches are readily seen in the better results obtained in Arithmetic and Mensuration.

NATURE KNOWLEDGE.-Geography is being taught on correct lines, and, generally speaking, this and Mapping are usually satisfactory. Object Lessons are often given on subjects forming no part of any connected scheme. Physiology and First Aid are well taught by some of the teachers who have had the opportunity of attending the classes of instruction in physical training. In a few of the schools successful work is being done in some branch of Elementary Science.

CIVICS AND MORALS.-History is fairly well taught. Civics as a subject is very weak, and the Bible Lessons are, more often than not, conducted in a perfunctory manner.

DRAWING is receiving due attention, and work in all branches ranges from very fair to good.

NEEDLEWORK is generally a strong subject. A deal of Red Cross work has been done by the girls in the upper classes of many of our schools. In one school of less than 50 girls the needlework classes met during the midwinter vacation, and as a result of their holiday work sent a parcel of six dozen pyjamas to the local branch of the Red Cross Society.

DRILL is not as good as might be expected. There is reason to be disappointed with the work of some of the teachers who possess certificates as qualified instructors of Junior Cadets. Many do not realise that, even though a certificate has been gained, constant study is still necessary. Three classes of instruction were held during

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the year. Classes for males were held at Townsville and at Charters Towers, and a class for females was conducted also at Townsville. The teachers in charge of small schools require instruction in this subject.

MUSIC is attempted up to the standard of the schedule requirements in but few schools. Songs are usually very well sung.

KINDERGARTEN METHODS are practised with success in the lower classes of our big schools.

HOME EXERCISES are generally satisfactory. The work required was not found to be excessive in any case.

RECORDS.-The Records are rarely found quite complete in the small one-teacher schools, but the errors and omissions are mostly of an unimportant nature.

SCHOOL COMMITTEES.-There are cases where teachers state that the school committees are of no use to them, and the instances of irregularity in the due observance of the Regulations are often traced to the pressure brought to bear on the teacher by members of the committee. The majority of the teachers, however, report that they are assisted by the members of the school committee in anything brought forward for the welfare of the children or of the school.

SCHOLARSHIPS.

State Scholarships.-The following table shows the distribution of the passes obtained at the recent examination :

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State High Schools.-In June 32 children qualified for admission to the State High School at Charters Towers, and in December 54 passed a similar qualifying examination. The following table indicates the number of successes gained severally by the schools that sent up candidates:—

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State School Scholarships to Technical Colleges.-The results of the Technical College examinations at the end of the year show passes obtained by pupils from the State schools in this district as follows:

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