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Report, for the Year 1852, on the Schools for Apprentices in

Her Majesty's Dockyards ; by Her Majesty's Inspector of
Schools, the Rev. HENRY MOSELEY, M.A., F.R.S., Corre-

sponding Member of the Institute of France. My LORDS,

The following table contains a statement of the number of apprentices whom I have found attending the dockyard schools at the five successive annual visits which I have paid to them.

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I regret to have to call your attention to the diminution which has steadily taken place in these numbers.

Diminution The attendance of the apprentices is not voluntary, but is strictly in ippremberok

apprentices accordance with the regulations of the Admiralty.

attending The first dockyard school was opened at Chatham in 1842, when Admiral schools. Shireff was superintendent of that dockyard, and Mr. Fincham master shipwright; and that at Portsmouth in the following year. All the apprentices were then required to attend the schools ; but the mingling of youths of 19 or 20 years of age with younger boys was found to be subversive of order, as the elder were then as ignorant as the younger. By circulars under the date of June 1846 and November 1847, the attendance was therefore limited to apprentices

in the four first years of their servitude. By a circular of the 19th of December 1850, it was further limited to those in the three first years.

It is not, however, so much by these limitations, as by the admission every year of fewer apprentices into the yards, that the schools have been Annual thinned.

diminution

in number of Last year but very few new apprentices were admitted, and this year none apprentices. whatever.

The same Admiralty circular of 1851 which stopped the admissions of
1852 ordered also those of 1853 to be stopped. Should this order be carried
inio effect, some of the dockyard schools will be left next year almost without
scholars.
Besides those apprentices who may attend them voluntarily, there will

3 in the Deptford School,
5 Sheerness
13 Chatham
15 Plymouth

17 Portsmouth
It could not but afford matter of regret to the friends of education if any
exigency of the public service should lead to the destruction of these schools,

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then be only

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efficient state of

in these

which promise to make of the shipwrights in Her Majesty's dockyards the

most intelligent body of workmen in the kingdom. Present At no previous period have I been able to report so favourably of the

state of instruction in the schools. The standard of knowledge has advanced instruction in them. Many prejudices unfavourable to them have died away, and there

has been created among the apprentices a love of learning and a spirit of schools;

self-instruction which were heretofore unknown. Apprentices Of this fact the number of apprentices who, having completed the term who attend

during which they are required to attend the schools, attend them tarily. voluntarily, affords evidence. The number is stated in respect to each

school in the last column of the following table. It constitutes 40 per cent. of the whole number attending the schools.

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Among the apprentices who thus voluntarily attend the schools are included some of the most active, intelligent, and promising young men of their respective dockyards, – those, in fact, into whose hands lesser offices of trust and responsibility in the service of the dockyards must hereafter fall.

The influence of the education they have received in qualifying them, professionally, for such offices, is sufficiently evident in itself, and it is attested by that eminent naval architect, Mr. Fincham, master shipwright in Her Majesty's dockyard, Portsmouth, in a letter which I have commun

unicated to the Admiralty.

The strictly professional bearings of this question are not, however, the only ones in which it involves the interests of the public service. Education must in the case of these youths fail of one of its usual and its legitimate results it, when they shall fill offices of trust and responsibility, it is not associated with higher principles of action, and a more faithful and self-sacrificing discharge of public duties, than is to be expected from men

raised without education to such offices. Examina- By the Admiralty circulars of June 1846 and November 1847, it is provided tion of con- that the schoolmaster shall examine all the candidates* for apprenticeship, and

for ad mission. prepare a list, graduated according to the results of this examination, to be

submitted to the Lords of the Admiralty.

Their Lordships state it not to be their intention by this “ altogether to “ supersede the claims of long servitude in the father or nearest relative, but

they wish it distinctly to be understood that servitude will be of no avail “ unless accompanied by education, and that, with the exception of some

special cases, the best educated boy will be preferred.

The spirit and intention of the Admiralty is shown plainly in this passage, and the entries of apprentices to the different yards were, I believe, for a year or two, made strictly in accordance with it. In an Admiralty order

* These candidates are limited to the children of persons employed in the dockyards, or in ller Majesty's naval service connected therewith.

66

having reference to the Devonport School, under the date of 29 January 1848, their Lordships express their “regret to find the standard of education

so low," but state that “they have done all in their power to raise it at the “ next annual entry, by taking the candidates precisely as they stand upon " the schoolmaster's list, without regard to recommendations of any

kind," and they "desire the officers' particular attention to be called to " this fact."*

The apprentices entered at that time according to an educationa standard constitute the present upper classes of these schools. The advantages of the regulation are not less apparent in its influence on the dockyard schools than in the impulse it has given to education outside the walls of the dockyards.

A knowledge that appointments so much desired by the dockyard workmen for their sons were not to be given, as heretofore they were supposed to be, by political influence or by private favour, but by merit, and according to education, caused them to seek out the best schools for their children, and to support the labours of the schoolmaster by their own admonitions at home.

From the dockyard workmen an opinion favourable to education appeared, moreover, to extend to their neighbours; for the schools in dockyard towns became singularly prosperous †; and there can be little doubt that, if the regulations had continued to be fully carried out, the standard of education and intelligence in the populations which surround the dockyards would have been largely raised thereby. I

The practice, however, in different yards, as it respects the examination Educational of candidates for apprenticeship, has been very different. In all, the regula

admission of tions appear at first to have been adhered to in the spirit as well as in the apprentices letter ; but the letter only came afterwards to be followed in some of them. It has not been was the obvious intention of the Admiralty, in their regulations of November adhered to. 1847, to provide that the Superintendent's list of candidates should be open to the use of all persons in the service of the dockyards, and that, “except in some special cases,” the best of these should have the preference. Accordingly I find that at Plymouth there were

In 1848, 78 candidates, of whom 43 were entered.
„ 1849, 77

10

14 „ 1851, 77

10 In all these entries, except the last, the spirit of the regulations was adhered to, the boys apprenticed being those who stood highest on the examination lists, except in the special cases which the regulations contemplated.

standard for

» 1850, 65

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* The entries in that year were 43 in number.

t I can bear testimony to this fact at Portsmouth, having been at that time Inspector for Hampshire; and I have heard the same on good authority of Pembroke and other dockyard towns.

Of this kind of influence the history of Devonport affords an example. I am informed that 10 years ago the Mechanics’ Institute of that place met over a stable, and that 30 people could scarcely then be got together to hear a lecture. There have since been three large buildings erected in Devonport for Mechanics’ Institutes, besides one (called St. George's Hall) in Stonehouse, one in Plymouth, and one at Tor Point. With this evidence of the progress of the working classes in knowledge is associated the following, of a corresponding social and moral improvement. There is a savings bank in the dockyard (instituted in 1817), in which the workmen have invested 24,537l., many having from 1501. to 200!. deposited there. There are, moreover, 3 building societies among them, of which 2 Hourish well. There has been, I am assured, a marked progress in the order and subordination of the men, and in their morals. They are said to be sober men. Drinking is discountenanced, and held to be disreputable among them; and pilfering, which some years ago was carried on to a great extent, is now of rare occurrence.

Discourage ments of schools.

In 1851 the rule was departed from, very little attention being then, for the first time, paid to the results of the examination in the selection of the boys to be apprenticed. But in January 1852 there was a yet more remarkable departure from the meaning and intention of the regulations. Instead of the Superintendent's list including, as heretofore, 70 or 80 candidates, it was reduced to six, there being four vacancies. Even in respect to these six candidates the examination list was not followed ; and I can myself speak to the gross ignorance of one at least of the four apprentices admitted.

At Chatham the Superintendent's list in like manner consisted, in the years 1818 and 1849, of 70 or 80 candidates, and the examination list was in those years adhered to in the selections made. At the last entry the number of candidates was reduced to 8, from among whom 2 were to be selected. I have heard it alleged as an objection to the education test, that it takes no account of the fitness of a boy to become a workman in respect to strength and stature. As the apprentices entered at the Chatham yard stood before me, I could not, however, but reflect that, as education had had but little influence in their selection, so neither had bodily strength or stature.

At the other dockyards the regulations appear to have been always adhered to. At the last entry, which was in 1851, there were--

At Portsmouth, 50 candidates and 9 entries.
Pembroke 40

4
Sheerness 50

5 the examination list being in all these cases, I believe, followed, with such exceptions only as are contemplated by the circular.

The apprentices' schools are intimately connected with a new system of promotion in the dockyards, introduced at the time when Lord Auckland was First Lord of the Admiralty, and may be said, indeed,' to lie at the foundation of that system. From the first admission of an apprentice to the yard, through all the grades of subordinate officers up to that of assistant to the master shipwright, the relative qualifications of the candidates as practical men, attested by examination, were, according to that system, to be inade the ground of promotion.

From the First Lord of the Admiralty down to the lowest officer there was scarcely any one in authority in the dockyards who was not stripped of patronage by it. It was not likely under these circumstances to be a popular system. The very dockyard workmen were disposed to prefer a chance of promotion by interest or by good fortune to one founded on a simple consideration of their qualifications to be advanced.

To the unpopularity which falls to the share of the schools, as part of this new system of promotion, is to be added that which grows out of their interruption of the hours of labour of the apprentices, and a jealousy of the superior education of the apprentices on the part of the shipwrights under whom they work.

Nor have the schools experienced, I fear, much support or encouragement at the hands of those gentlemen who now fill the principal offices of trust in Her Majesty's dockyards, and who received a scientific education in the Naval Architectural School which formerly existed at Portsmouth. They were formed under a different system, and they generally, I believe, desire a return to that system. They were selected by an examination which was not limited to the sons of persons employed in the dockyards, but was open to all; and the successful candidates at that examination had generally received a liberal education, were the sons of gentleinen.

As a permanent arrangement this was objected to, because it blocked up the road of advancement in the dockyards, and displaced the practical knowledge and experience of the workman, when associated with superior intelligence and character, from a useful and honourable position in the public service,

It was to open again this road of promotion to the dockyard workman, and at the same time to provide that offices of high trust and responsibility should not be filled by uneducated men, and that the naval architecture of the country should not be without the guidance of that scientific knowledge which experience has shown to be so necessary to the skilful construction of ships, that the dockyard schools and the Central School of Mathematics and Naval Architecture at Portsmouth were established.

The alteration in the period of the attendance of the apprentice at the Selection of school from the first four to the first three years of servitude has operated certain apunfavourably in this respect, that, by fixing the examination of the candidates prentices for for admission to the Central School at the end of the third instead of the made too fourth year, it has rendered the selection of the best qualified candidates early in life. more difficult. The minds of youths do not grow alike; some get an early development, other minds do not show themselves until late ; and in many cases I have no doubt that a different and more satisfactory selection of the candidates would have been made if the examination could have been postponed another year; and the results would probably have differed yet more widely, and been far more certain, if it could have been postponed three or four years.

The moral and intellectual qualities which develop themselves about this later period are those which characterize the man; and everybody experienced in such matters will, I think, agree with me in considering promotion given on the ground of merit thus early in the career of life scarcely fair to the competitors.

Another source of difficulty in making a selection of so much importance to the public service, at the end of the third year of the apprenticeship of these boys, lies in the imperfect attainments of all of them at that time. They do not know enough to compete with one another. They are not educated enough to be submitted satisfactorily to an educational test. In order that their powers of reasoning and understanding may be fairly tried against one another, there must be subjects in which they have been accustomed to reason and understand, independently. For this purpose a certain stage of educational progress, more or less advanced, must have been reached by them in common. This necessity has been felt in the dockyard schools, and, to satisfy it, the education has been forced in a mathematical direction, which is the direction that the examinations cannot but take. Whilst the attempt thus to force it has not been satisfactory for the object contemplated, it has been prejudicial to the schools in this respect, that, it has given to the instruction a direction too exclusively mathematical.

A third inconvenience arising from the early period of their apprenticeship at which the candidates for the Central School are selected lies in the interruption of their career as workmen. Taken away from it at the time when they are beginning to acquire manual skill, and made to devote their time chiefly to study, it is possible that they may be found when they come to be officers without that knowledge of the use of tools which is useful, perhaps indispensable, to men who have to direct others how to work. These diffi- Expediency culties in the present working of the schools might all be overcome if the of fixing ex. examination for the Central School were postponed until after the fifth year for Central

aminations of apprenticeship. Attendance on the school might remain, as at present, School at a voluntary after the third year. Those apprentices who were desirous to be later period candidates for the Central School should, however, have a course of reading ticeship. prescribed for them, and this would best be done by the head master of the Central School, the Rev. Dr. Woolley, who might exercise a general direction and control over their studies, which would be much in advance of those of the other apprentices.

They should, moreover, be specially examined from time to time, and be reported upon by the master shipwrights of their several yards, as to their practical knowledge and manual skill in shipbuilding ; and no apprentice should be admitted to the final examination for the Central School who was not in these respects, for his standing, a good workman.

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