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Report on the Schoolmasters' Training Institution at York, in connexion with the York and Ripon Diocesan Boards of Education;-by Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools, the Rev. FREDERICK WATKINS, B.D.
IN compliance with the instructions contained in your secretary's letter, dated December 1848, I repaired to York on the 15th of January, for the examination of the York and Ripon Diocesan Training Institution for Schoolmasters. I found 39 young men prepared for the trial. Of these, 28 were candidates for certificates of merit; 8, as masters already in charge of schools; the other 20, as having resided a year and upwards in the Institution. The remainder of the students not yet having been 12 months in the Institution, could not, under your Lordships' Minutes of 1846, receive certificates of merit, but were desirous of preparing themselves by this trial for future examinations. I may remark here, that, both to the Principal of the Institution and to myself, the number of those candidates who were already in charge of schools appeared very small, and not at all in proportion to the number who have been trained there, and gone out to their work as schoolmasters. From a return made to me by the officers of the Institution, I find that the whole number who have been trained in it, and entered upon their duties as schoolmasters, is 147. Of these, 6 are dead, and 29 others withdrawn from the profession. Two others have not yet been appointed to schools. Of the remainder now in charge of schools, 24 had obtained certificates of merit previously to the examination in January. There were, therefore, at that time, 86 schoolmasters, who had been trained in the Institution, who did not appear as candidates for certificates of merit in the examination of this year.*
Various reasons were alleged for their non-attendance on so important an occasion. In some cases the managers of schools objected to the absence of their schoolmaster at so critical a season, i. e., just at the commencement of the school-term after
or 16 per cent. had obtained certificates of merit; 20 per cent. had gone away; and 4 per cent. (nearly) deceased.
the Christmas vacation. In others, the masters preferred a trial of the general district examination, which they fancied to be easier in its requirements. In many others there is reason to believe that teachers, fully occupied with the cares and demands of large schools, had not sufficient leisure to prepare themselves for a struggle of such consequence to them; honourable indeed if they succeeded in it, but very prejudicial to their interests if they failed.
The examination commenced on Monday, and was continued for eight hours on each day throughout the week. The subjects, and the papers in each subject, were the same as those given at the same time at all the other Training Institutions for schoolmasters, with the addition of a paper on Logic, which was added at the request of the Principal and by the permission of your Lordships. I make particular mention of this additional paper, because the subject of it is one to which careful attention has been paid at the Institution, and it is, therefore, satisfactory to observe that the answers made to the questions proposed in it seem, by their general correctness, to warrant the inference that the students are intelligently taught.
Before recording the opinions of Her Majesty's Inspectors (by whom the different examination-papers were revised) on the manner in which each subject was answered by the candidates, I must express my conviction that sufficient time was not allotted to each paper. It is, I am aware, very difficult so to arrange an examination, comprising many and important subjects, and to the whole of which one week only can be devoted, that each part of it may have its proper time and place; but it is surely too much to expect, as was the case in January, that men wearied with their week's work should, on the last day of it, answer satisfactorily questions in eight papers, viz., Trigonometry, Physics, Higher Branches of Mathematics, English Language and Literature, General History, Latin, Greek, and Logic.
In all the papers which came under my revision, it appeared to me that insufficient time had been allowed for thoughtfully answering the questions which they contained. I will now mention the different subjects of examination, in the order in which they were given, and attach to each the opinion of the Inspector who revised the answers given to the papers.
1. Scriptural Knowledge.-Of 28 papers sent in, 5 are good; 3, fair; 12, moderate; and 8, imperfect.
2. Church History. The papers are generally very unsatisfactory. I cannot suppose that the students have received any regular instruction in this subject. There are only 2 papers which rank above fair, viz., 1 excellent and 1 good: 1 is marked fair, 5 are moderate, 15 are imperfect, and 15, failure.
3. Arithmetic.-Of 28 papers, 6 are good; 6, fair; 10, moderate; 5, imperfect; and 1, failure.
4. Mensuration.-Of 28 candidates, the papers are marked thus: 2, fair; 7, moderate; 12, imperfect; 5, failure; 2, not attempted.
5. Catechism and Liturgy.-My general impression of these papers is satisfactory. The subject has been evidently much studied, and with a certain amount of success.
6. English History.-The candidates do not appear to have had sufficient time for this paper. There are many inaccuracies, and evident marks of hasty writing. Some of the settled masters, and of the students lately entered, show great ignorance of the subject. In some cases the spelling is very faulty. In a good many instances insufficient attention has been given to the words and drift of the question.
7. English Grammar.-The York (Male Training School) papers upon English Grammar can claim but chary commendation. Of 26 candidates, 3 only obtain complimentary marks. Nor is the general deficiency of the remainder in technical acquaintance with the subject entirely accounted for by its inherent difficulty, or fairly compensated by neatness of writing and correctness of expression.
8. Geography. Unsatisfactory.
9.-Algebra. Very unsatisfactory. The simplest problems only have been attempted, except by two of the students. Due time does not, however, appear to have been allowed for this paper.
10. Geometry. From 28 candidates, the papers are: 2, good; 4, fair; 7, moderate; 4, imperfect; 4, failure; and 7, unattempted.
11. Method. These papers are not much better than those from Durham (which are exceedingly unsatisfactory). The notes are generally unmethodical and incomplete, nor is the standard of attainments at all satisfactory.
12. Popular Astronomy.—The papers are marked thus: 1, fair; 11, moderate; 7, imperfect; 3, failure; and 6, unattempted.
13. Music.-Out of 34 papers from York and Ripon (males) 1 is marked excellent; 5, good; 6, fair; 8, moderate; 4, imperfect; and 10, failure.
14. Industrial Mechanics.-Unsatisfactory. Two or three only of the students appear to have any real knowledge of the subject.
15. Trigonometry.-Unsatisfactory, as to the method of demonstration adopted and the results. Four students have attempted the paper. One has solved three of the problems in a clumsy way; the others have not succeeded so well.
16. Physics. None of the students appear to have any knowledge of this subject.
17. Higher branches of Mathematics.-This paper has been attempted by one only of the students, who has failed.
18. English Language and Literature. The penmanship and spelling of half these papers is defective, and the deplorable inferiority of all the answers is accountable only on the supposition that the subject has never entered into the professed routine of study.
19. General History.-On the whole, little done, and that, in general, vaguely and incorrectly. Few of the students seem to have read much on the subject, and none of them appear to have had sufficient time for the paper.
20. Greek.-There were only two students who made any attempt to answer the Greek paper, and one of those two manifested an elementary acquaintance with the Greek of the New Testament.
21. Latin.-Several students essayed to answer the Latin paper, and though two of the young men were superior to the rest, yet none were so distinguished as to merit being mentioned by their names.
22. Logic. Of the papers on Logic worked by 12 candidates at the York Institution, 1 is marked excellent; 1, good; 2, very fair; 4, fair; and 4, moderate. None of the papers betray any considerable want of comprehension on the points contained in them; the majority of them indicate a very fair acquaintance with the subject, such as might be expected from attentive students after a course of clear and simple lectures; and one or two appear to contain the marks of decided superiority. On the whole, I should regard the paper as very creditable to the candidates who wrote them.
From these statements, as well as from the table of "General Result" of examination shown by the number of marks, which I have placed in the Appendix, it must, I think, be admitted that the answers given by the candidates in many of the subjects, and in some of the most important of them, are not on the whole satisfactory. This is, no doubt, in part owing to a cause which I have already mentioned; insufficiency of time for the various papers. But it may fairly be questioned whether this cause is sufficient to account for the whole deficiency. A fairer criterion might be obtained by comparing the results of the examination of this institution with those of other similar institutions, excepting perhaps those of St. Mark's (Chelsea), and Battersea. I cannot, however, though I have made several attempts, obtain the necessary material for this comparison. Another important element in the examination must be noticed here, that is, the ability of the candidates to teach a class in the presence of the Inspector. Amongst those who were already settled as schoolmasters, there appeared, with two exceptions, to be little knowledge of the art of teaching. Their lessons were vague, their manner undecided, and their language, at times, ungrammatical. It is but fair to remark that only one of these teachers had been in the institution for the full time, and that their average stay in it reached only 14 months. Of those candidates who were then students in the institution, a somewhat more favourable report may be given as to their skill in teaching. Two of them showed considerable power, tact, and readiness in it. Others, though somewhat formal and inanimate, gave me the impression that they had been rightly instructed in this important branch of their duties.
This seems the proper place for observing that, amongst several disadvantages under which the Training School at York is at present placed, it has this especially, that there is no fit school in which the students may rightly learn and practice under proper observation the art of teaching. Their only exercise-ground in this respect is a mixed, or so-called middle school, in which the pupils of the Yeoman School are instructed with children of a class, and under circumstances different from those of an ordinary National school. It is hardly necessary to remark that such an arrangement not only does not prepare the students for this part of their work in life, but that, as far as it goes, it forms them on another model, and fashions them into other men than national schoolmasters.
To return to the examination, its results with regard to its chief object, as a trial for certificates of merit, were as follows.
1st Division.-Jonathan Williams (School), Dringhouses
i.e. 25 per cent. of masters, and 20 per cent. of students obtained certificates. This per centage is lower than usual, lower than in either of the general district examinations which I have conducted in the county of York. At the first of these, held at Wakefield, in Easter week, 1848, the number of candidates was 86, of whom 39 (or above 45 per cent.) obtained certificates of merit. Whilst at the district examination held at York in 1849, out of 60 candidates, 17 (or above 28 per cent.) were in like manner successful. Judging therefore by the examination of this year, it seems that the Training College at York has hardly done itself justice. It has hardly vindicated its position as the centre of elementary education to the great, populous, and influential county of York. If this be the case, it is owing I believe to many causes, some of which I will briefly mention.
It can hardly be necessary for me, indeed it is hardly my place, to state my conviction that no part of the unsuccessful issue of the late examination, or of any other apparent weakness in the Institution, can be attributed to any deficiency of ability, or lack of judgment, or want of energy, in the present highly qualified Principal, or his Assistant masters. I can bear good testimony to the many attainments, and great devotion to his work, and excellent economy of the present Principal. Though I have not had the same opportunity of forming an opinion of the other officers of the Institution, I have every reason to believe them well qualified for their duties, and earnest in the discharge of them. I think that they are insufficient in number. I believe that there should be at least two more Assistant masters for the work which they have to do. This I believe to be one cause of hindrance to the more rapid progress of the Institution.
Next, I am inclined to believe that there is a deficiency in the material which is to be wrought upon in it, a deficiency not so much in quantity as in quality. The young men who enter the Institution are not, in general, such as are either naturally or, from the condition and habits of their previous lives, well qualified for the office of a Schoolmaster. I am well aware that there are striking exceptions to this rule; but the majority is on the other side. Some, and they not the least promising, are inexperienced boys, who, without any peculiar fitness for the duties of a schoolmaster, or much desire for his office, have passed creditably through their respective schools, and obtained