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cipal collective lessons which they have given in the course of the year. But it must still be remarked that, though a very promising beginning has been made, it is but a beginning. The notes of lessons, and the essays on the most important subjects connected with education which were sent in at the last examination, were for the most part very far from satisfactory, and sufficiently proved how lately and how imperfectly the minds of experienced schoolmasters had been awakened to what ought to have formed part of their elementary training.
It remains for me to notice certain objections that have been advanced against this part of the system. It may not lie within the province of an Inspector to discuss such objections on general principles, but it certainly is our duty to consider them with reference to facts daily coming under our observation,
It is feared that many teachers may be overworked, or, as it has been said, worried by their anxiety to reach a standard of education which every practical person knows it is utterly impossible for them to reach.
As a large number of schoolmasters have reached that standard, whether it refers to the Certificates of merit, or to the qualification for taking pupil-teachers, this objection can only apply to teachers who, it may be presumed, were never contemplated by your Lordships' Minutes. If a teacher cannot examine a class before a stranger, and is unable to acquire such an elementary knowledge of subjects, of great practical importance, as is required of a certificated master, it would be clearly injudicious on the part of the managers to worry him by urging him to present himself for examination. If they are satisfied with the instruction which he gives to the children, they are surely not injured; nor have they a reasonable ground for complaint, because the Government gives encouragement to others who possess greater energy and higher qualifications. It should be borne in mind that every opportunity is afforded for preparation, and that it would be unjust to deprive those, who are able and willing to work, of the rewards of industry and good conduct, simply because no system can be devised which would bring them within the reach of all.
At the same time, I am willing to admit that some masters have suffered in mind and health, by over-excitement and too great a pressure of work, since the Minutes were published. And I venture also to express an opinion that the number of subjects proposed for examination may be reduced, without lowering the standard too much. Many failures, at the last examination, were undoubtedly owing to the variety and extent of studies which had been attempted by the candidates. It is true that this depended very much upon the discretion of the teachers and their advisers; but it is not sufficiently understood that a careful study of elementary subjects, and proficiency in some one important branch, are more highly esteemed and rewarded than a wider extent of comparatively superficial attainments.
It has also been said that old teachers, who are not likely to succeed in obtaining Certificates, will be turned out, that clever lads and sharp young women from our training schools may take their places. Without entering on the general question, I may state as a fact that, in every part of my district, there is the greatest disinclination on the part of school-managers to turn off old masters, even when they are well known to be incompetent; and that in the few instances where masters have been displaced, to make room for younger men who could teach and manage children, it has been a benefit to them, since in each case a situation has been provided far better adapted to their declining strength than that which they not unreluctantly gave up.
With reference to some other objections, I am happy to state that no schoolmaster in my district has made “shipwreck of faith,” after obtaining a Government Certificate. In no one instance have the certificates of the school-managers, and the reports of the parochial clergy, been unsatisfactory on this most important point. Nor can I perceive how an examination which gives such prominence to the dogmatic and authoritative teaching of the Church, to the study of the Prayer Book, and, above all, of the Holy Scriptures, can conduce to so untoward a result. I venture to affirm that the religious teaching, in schools under our certificated masters, is quite as reverential in tone, and practical in application, as in any conducted on the old system. Indeed, the Church Inspectors, whether connected with the National Society or with the Diocesan Boards of Education, or employed under your Lordships, have been unanimous in regarding the dry, incorrect, and unpractical style of religious teaching, in the lower classes of national schools, as the very worst feature of the monitorial system, and have always stated that improved and more energetic methods were called for, principally with a view to remedying this admitted evil.
A few masters, as I believe, only two in my district, have been removed to more lucrative situations in consequence of obtaining a Certificate. This is an incidental result which might have been anticipated, and from which no unfavourable inferences can be fairly drawn. I must state, however, that some of the young men are apparently engaged in pursuing those studies which will qualify them for ordination, and that in such instances the effects are felt in the diminished efficiency of their schools.
Upon the whole, I can feel no hesitation in reporting that
of examination for certificates has produced the most striking effects upon the improvement of schools in the metropolitan district.
The last points to which I shall refer in this Report are of no less importance than the preceding. It is our duty to state what causes, falling under our observation, mainly obstruct the progress of education; what endeavours have been made to remove those causes ; and with what apparent success those endeavours have been, or are likely to be, attended. This part my Report however, must, be brief, and I fear will not be very satisfactory.
The causes are partly internal, partly external, with reference to the schools.
The internal causes have hitherto been, Ist., want of trained teachers and efficient assistants. This want will be rapidly supplied, as I have sufficiently shown.
2nd. There was a scarcity of school accommodation in most districts. The number of good school-buildings is steadily increasing ; but there are many parishes, especially in the country districts, in which little or nothing has yet been done.
Many schools were badly arranged, both for class teaching and for collective lessons. It is to be feared that this is still the case with most of those in which there are no pupilteachers. In all those schools where I have recommended apprentices, the managers have made such alterations as appeared necessary, either at their own expense, or, in the great majority of cases, with the assistance of a grant from your Lordships. Class-rooms and groups of parallel desks have been erected, and easels, black-boards, maps, and other apparatus have been supplied in abundance.
The greatest boon, however, which has yet been bestowed on the schools, is the copious supply of good reading-books. Most schools which I have inspected this year have received grants from your Lordships. I venture, however, to express an opinion that it would be advantageous to allow managers of schools to purchase, at the reduced prices, any quantity of books which they may require, without applying for a grant from your Lordships. I observe that Mr. Dawes has already expressed what I have reason to believe is the general feeling of persons who are really anxious to promote the education of
The last internal cause to which I can now refer is the defective organization of our schools. I have already stated my conviction that the methods and general system of teaching are rapidly improving, but there are other points which require consideration. Owing to external circumstances, children of all ages and variety of attainments are constantly pouring into the schools of the metropolis. The classification of these children is very generally imperfect, There is too great a disparity in attainments, and still more in point of mental culture and development, between children in the same class. And again, there is seldom such a gradual, progressive improvement as is necessary to secure a complete course of instruction, for those pupils who go through the school from class to class. It appears to me that a great improvement may be gradually introduced by the adoption of the following system, with such modifications as may be required by local circumstances, or suggested by the experience of schoolteachers. The whole school may be arranged in two divisions; and one of these may be sorted into classes, to which children may be admitted once in six months, after a regular examination. The course of instruction in each class should commence at once, and be constructed with reference to the previous attainments of the children, and to the subjects which they will have to study when transposed to a higher class. In this portion of the school, it will be easy to ascertain the rate of progress, the skill and diligence of the teachers, and the advantages or defects of the methods of teaching.
The second division will consist of those boys and girls who have not yet passed an examination and entered a class, and of those who have been dismissed from their several classes, for inability to keep pace with their class-fellows, or who are irregular in their attendance.
When there is an assistant master (and I am convinced that in every school exceeding 150 children, with or without apprentices, a second school-room and an efficient well-trained assistant is, and will ere long be, admitted to be indispensable) there will be no difficulty in carrying on such a system. In other schools I fear that few masters will venture to make the trial. It is obvious that it is a far less troublesome plan to disperse the irregular and ignorant children through the school, than to keep them apart, and subject them to a separate process of discipline and instruction. At the same time, if it can be shown that nothing short of such a twofold division can enable teachers to do justice to the industrious and regular pupils, and to carry on a systematic and progressive course of instruction, and, on the other hand, to awaken the slumbering faculties of the ignorant by an energetic application of those methods which have been found successful in some popular establishments, it may be hoped that some of the most able and practical teachers will make the attempt. Some have engaged to take the subject into careful consideration, and next year I may have occasion to report the result to your Lordships.
The external hindrances of popular education have been repeatedly stated by the Inspectors. In my district they remain in the same state as formerly, or, it may be, are even more formidable. The poor in agricultural districts cannot send their children to be educated. They cannot keep them at school regularly, even until nine years of age, and they are compelled to take them away altogether at 10, or at the most at 11 years. The farmers employ them in all kinds of field labour, and are certainly, as a body, opposed to their receiving any education. It ought not to be necessary to prove
child has a right to such education as will teach him his duty to God and man, and make him an intelligent member of the Church and of the State, but it is my duty to repeat that this evil is not diminishing, and has apparently a tendency to increase. I have been frequently informed that the Guardians of Unions refuse to give any assistance to parents who have children at school, and that, while elderly people and grown-up youths are unemployed, young children are set to work in gangs under a contractor, or kept at stone-picking, muck-gathering, crowkeeping, and other solitary labours.
It appears certain that nothing short of a legislative enactment will secure any education to the poor children, whose parents may be unable to appreciate all its blessings, but who have certainly now a vague feeling that very important advantages are connected with it, and consequently would send their children to school if they were permitted by their employers.
It remains for me to give a brief account of two experiments, from which very important results are anticipated by persons of experience and judgment.
The pamphlets of the Rev. R. Dawes, and the reports upon the success of his school, especially that laid before your Lordships last year by the Rev. H. Moseley, have produced a very deep effect upon the minds both of the teachers and managers of schools. Many striking improvements in the methods and character of instruction may be either traced directly to, or have been materially forwarded by, these statements. In my district, among many unquestionable benefits, they have led to the introduction of an experiment which may permanently affect the entire system of popular education. In some of the largest schools, the children of tradesmen, and of other persons in comparatively easy circumstances, are admitted for a weekly payment, varying from 3d. to 8d. or ls. The advantages of such a system are obvious. The expenses of the school are defrayed, and its maintenance is no longer dependent upon the charity or caprice of subscribers. The industrial classes of a superior order have a fair share in the benefits of a system of instruction incomparably better than has hitherto been within their reach. The general order, discipline, and character of instruction in