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General Report, for the Year 1852, by Her Majesty's

Inspector of Schools, the Rev. H. W. BELLAIRS, M.A., &c., on the Schools inspected in the Counties of Gloucester, Warwick, Worcester, Hereford, and Oxford.

MY LORDS,

I HAVE the honor to inform your Lordships, that, during the past year, I have inspected 210 schools. The number of schools inspected by the Assistant-Inspector, the Rev.J. W. D. Hernamann, is 44.

In these schools 35 certificated teachers and 248 apprentices are employed. The apprentices are distributed as follows :

In Gloucestershire, 114.
Warwickshire, 85.
Worcestershire, 32.
Herefordshire, 12.

Oxfordshire, 5. The schools in which certificated teachers and apprentices are employed are, for the most part, in a very satisfactory condition, presenting a marked contrast to those which have not availed themselves of the aid afforded by the Minutes of 1846.

The large towns, where public opinion and religious rivalship extensively prevail, are receiving large annual grants under the regulations of these Minutes.

This is not so commonly the case where property is less equally distributed, where the population is small or scattered, where public opinion is ill informed or weak, and where poverty prevails. School endowments have also a tendency to check the operations of these Minutes, not so much from the provision of enlightened education by means of these funds, as by the encouragement of a “laissez faire” spirit, and by the difficulty they create of removing inefficient teachers. The supply of efficient teachers, which is now for the first time approximating to the demand, will test the disposition of those managers who have not yet received aid, as to their desire to improve the condition of their schools.

Hitherto, from the great difficulty of securing well-qualified teachers at moderate salaries, their willingness to co-operate in the general progress of improvement has scarcely been fairly tested.

The “self-supporting” principle is gradually extending in this district. Of its feasibility, generally, in all localities where

the population within two miles of a school might be calculated at 800 or more, I have no doubt. The great difficulty is to find the managers disposed and able to undertake the venture; for a venture to some extent it necessarily is. Efficient teachers are to be secured, good buildings to be found, furniture, apparatus, books, salaries, &c. to be provided, all entailing upon the promoters of the school a certain risk, until the plan is in full operation and the school in prosperity.

The most successful plan in this matter appears to be that in which a graduated scale of payment, and the enforcement of purchasing books and school apparatus on the children, are adopted.

By the former, not only are the funds considerably improved, but different grades of society are induced to send their children to the same school.

The value of a school is generally estimated by the school payments. Farmers and tradesmen will not send their children to schools where the payments are confined to the small sum adapted to the circumstances of the labouring poor.

By the latter, not only are the funds relieved from the cost of books, a very considerable item in all school accounts, but the children learn some important principles of political economy, escape those acts of thriftlessness and waste which result from the irresponsible use of another person's property, obtain that self-respect which attaches to possession lawfully obtained, and acquire that habit of economic carefulness which is exercised by those who have to suffer for carelessness, mischief, or extravagance.

Increasing experience convinces me that the old-fashioned low payments do not answer ; they have the tendency of pauperising the poor, and of encouraging an imperfect mode

, of thought and action among the rich, an arbitrary decision, viz., as to the precise amount of instruction which the poor shall receive at their hands.

Far more healthy, as it appears to me, is the plan which, while affording to the poor man the requisite aid, enables him to assist in the education of his children, and knows no limits by which to bound the instruction given but those which the circumstances of his condition necessarily impose.

Nothing can be much more damaging or lower moral responsibilities; and am causes which have made the ind:

poor

bation there has, probably, been none mor

in that which has reduced to its lowest minir

of payments of their children.

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17. Aston Clint

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The subject of out-door manual industry is occupying more attention in this district than it did, and in some places the managers are incorporating it in their daily routine of school-work.

My own impressions are that it should form an important element in our system of national education. Our object is to train

up

children for their future career in life. The children of the labouring poor will be employed hereafter in manual work, either in doors or out of doors. Out of doors occupation in the garden or the field will not be useless to the former class, and will be absolutely necessary for the latter.

There is, I suspect, a large class of theorists, who, from ignorance of the real question before us, suppose that great gain would accrue to the country by the introduction of a national system of education, which should remove children altogether from manual labour in their early years, and confine them to intellectual pursuits. Such a course might answer with a nation whose population was exclusively engaged at the desk; it would not answer with us. The demand for juvenile labour is no doubt, in some respects, a legitimate cause of complaint among the friends of education, inasmuch as it interferes considerably with that course of instruction which would ensure intellectual success. But it has its fair as well as its dark side ; it may deprive, as it undoubtedly does, a great number of children of that amount of knowledge and intellectual exercise which would increase their information, their perception, and general intelligence; but it trains them up in manual dexterity and mechanical skill in the works of their calling, and in these respects fits them for their future work in life. The evil is, not that there is a demand for juvenile labour, but that there is so great a demand. The demand, in fact, is so great that it presses unfairly upon the child, not only giving him that physical exercise in his future calling which is necessary, but absolutely precluding him from that intellectual exercise which is equally necessary.

Out-door industrial employments, forming part of the day's school-work, have the effect of preserving this balance in the training of the labourer's child, and are therefore so far valuable. Besides this, when well conducted, they accustom

Hitut. kilful mode of horticulture or agriculture, as the teachers at ... they have a tendency to promote health, to in the general rical structure, and may be made a source of Weally tested.

:, thereby encouraging a longer residence at schoof self-supportin,

The impit: Of its feas.qnual work, especially in out-door employments, u. soil, as an instrument of moral,

mental, and intellectual training, has yet I think to be seen ; the question is almost in its infancy.

Your Lordships' aid in behalf of out-door employments is at present—half of the rent, one third of the tools, and a gratuity to the master. The gratuity is, I think, too small to induce masters to embark in the work, unless they have a taste that way. It might, I think, be increased with advantage. A gratuity of 102. on every 100 children in schools where horticulture was skilfully taught, in addition to the aid now afforded, would have the effect of introducing more of this kind of work in our schools.

At Eaton Bishop, in Herefordshire, the managers have made a considerable alteration in the school hours, which they inforın me works well.

The children go to school in the morning at ten, and remain until three; half an hour being allowed for dinner. By this plan they are available for manual industrial purposes both before and after the school hours.

The plan, I suspect, would work better if an earlier hour of assembling was tried,--. g., half-past seven, or eight. On this plan the schooling would be over at half past eleven or twelve, and the children be available for industrial purposes in the afternoon.

An interval of half an hour would be necessary for recreation, and tasks should be set by the teachers to be learned at night. This last requirement would have a beneficial tendency in itself.

Unhappily it is now very generally neglected ; and the consequence is that the children come to school day after day with their lessons unprepared, and entail upon their teachers a heavy amount of labour which they might and should be spared.

The stu.ly of drawing is, I am glad to say, extending in this district. The advantages of it are, however, but imperfectly understood. The general impression is that it is useless to a child unless his future career is to be that of a draughtsman, either in designing or some other branch of the art. As an instrument of general education, for increasing the powers of observation and perception, and improving manipulating dexterity, it is but little appreciated.

Hence, while schools of design are in existence at those places where trades are carried on in which designing forms an important element, such, for example, as Birmingham, Coventry, Worcester, &c., schools of art in other places are unknown.

A commencement has been made in this direction at Cheltenham, where a school of art is now in progress under favourable auspices. It will, I trust, prove the forerunner of many others in the district.

The advantages offered by the Board of Trade for the establishment of elementary drawing classes will assist materially in this object.

Of the study of music the same may be said as of drawing. We have but few schools of music in this district, nor is the science as much cultivated in our elementary schools as it ought to be.

A plan for the encouragement of music, somewhat analagous to that adopted by the Board of Trade in behalf of drawing, would probably answer in effecting the desired end.

The establishment of night schools is extending. Your Lordships' Minute of 23 July 1852, recognizing the empioyment of pupil-teachers, who have completed their apprenticeship, as assistants in schools liable to inspection, will aid in this direction.

Schools of this kind for males are established in the principal towns of the district, but, not having visited them, am unable to speak upon their condition.

At Droitwich there is a night school for females. This I visited on the 22nd of December 1852, and found thirty-three girls present; the ordinary attendance is forty-seven. The school has been established five years. It is open five nights in the week, from seven o'clock to nine. The girls in attendance are employed in the salt works. Two of the eldest of those present informed me that they commence work at three o'clock A.M., and remain at their employment until the evening, when they go to “school.” Their appearance is that of persons in all respects overwrought; their physical development is imperfect, and there is an air of lassitude, anxiety, and depression'ill suited to the years of youth. The ages range from seven years to sixteen and seventeen.

The course of instruction is limited. It is conducted by voluntary teachers and one paid assistant. I examined those present in religious knowledge and general information. Their attainments and · intelligence in these subjects are imperfect. Their progress in reading and writing is low. Arithmetic and geography are untaught. The room is imperfectly arranged, with bad ventilation. The books too difficult. The locality is not satisfactory; the school adjoining a slaughter-house. The circumstances of the place are exceptional, and it is not fair to test such a case as this on general principles. If one did, no doubt there would be a very fair question as to the desirableness of keeping at school girls who,-at work during the above-named hours, should be in bed instead of learning lessons ; or of bringing from their homes at such late hours children of seven years old. The report, however, of those interested in the work, and who, at a considerable

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