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Brailsford, Osmaston, Sudbury, Shirley, and Shardlow, particularly the latter school, deserve to be favourably mentioned.
The number of pupil-teachers apprenticed in this county is 33 boys and 18 girls; 11 masters and 4 mistresses have obtained their certificates of merit.
In Leicestershire there are 44 schools liable to inspection; 20 double, 13 mixed, 4 infant, 7 single.
These schools are scattered throughout the county, and are small ones, with the exception of those in the town of Leicester; the attendance is irregular and fluctuating, the children being taken away at a very early age as soon as they can do any kind of work. In many of these schools, the principal employment of the girls is that of seaming stockings for at least half the day. It is with the greatest difficulty that the parents can be persuaded to allow their children to be taught to sew and knit, and when their consent is obtained, it appears to be yielded more as a favour than from any conviction of the advantages likely to result therefrom to their children. The consequence is, that a large proportion of the girls in these schools receive very inadequate instruction in an important branch of female education, the want of skill in which must hereafter prove a serious disadvantage to them.
I cannot record any favourable impression of the schools which I have inspected in Leicestershire; an exception, however, must be made in favour of those at Sheepshed, Kibworth-Harcourt, and Oadby.
The number of pupil-teachers who have been apprenticed is six boys; one master and one mistress have obtained their certificates of merit.
In this county there are 31 schools liable to inspection: of these, I have only been able to visit 16; 10 of them are double, the rest are mixed and include three infant schools. The standard of instruction in the country schools is very low, little else being taught but reading, writing, and arithmetic, and these very imperfectly. In Northampton the girls' school of All Saints and St. Catherine's (infant) deserve to be favourably noticed; the Blue Coat endowed school is also improving in efficiency, under a master who obtained a high certificate of merit at Battersea. The schools in St. Sepulchre's parish are improving under the active superintendence which is now exercised over them. The school at Rockingham is likely to do well under a master who has received instruction from the Rev. L. Fry, of Leicester. The number of pupil teachers, who have been
apprenticed in this county, is 11 boys and 13 girls; three masters and one mistress have obtained certificates of merit.
In this part of the East Midland District, there are 50 schools liable to inspection; 18 double schools, 21 mixed, 4 infants, 7 single the greater part are situated on the eastern and western sides of the county; in the centre there are but few.
They are, for the most part, small village schools, established amongst a rural population. Those at Grantham (the boys), Colsterworth, and Saxilby (the boys), deserve to be mentioned as having made decided progress within the two last years.
The wages in Lincolnshire are high, and the labourers can better afford to keep their children at school than those in other parts of my district, where their weekly earnings are much less, which is the case in the manufacturing villages in Leicestershire; but the children, in both cases, are taken away from school as soon as they can earn anything, and although the boys in the rural districts return to the schools at certain times in the year, when there is no work to be done in the fields, yet they seem to receive little or no benefit from the extra time they are under instruction, in consequence of their general irregular attendance in the course of the year.
The standard of instruction in most of these schools is very low; the internal organization and arrangements are bad; the desks are generally fixed to the wall; and their supply of books, both as to character and number, very inadequate for the purposes of instruction: 18 pupil-teachers (boys) and one girl have been apprenticed in this county: four masters have obtained their certificates.
Here there are 30 schools under inspection: they are situated, with the exception of those at Nottingham and its immediate vicinity, in the midst of an agricultural population. The boys' school of Trinity, Nottingham, is doing well; of the rest in the neighbourhood of that town, I cannot record any favourable impression, with the exception of the one at Lenton. At Collingham, Worksop, and Ollerton, there are fair schools, in a good working state; the latter was established for the use and benefit of several parishes, which until its erection were nearly destitute of any means of education, and it is satisfactory to be able to report of the deservedly high estimation in which it is held by the parents of the children who are educated in it, and how thankful they are for the beneficial effects which have already resulted from its establishment. Sixteen boys and five girls have been apprenticed as pupil-teachers: eight masters and one mistress have obtained their certificates in this county.
There are five schools under inspection in this county: of four which have been inspected, I can only record their inefficiency for any practical purposes of education.
In this county there are 28 schools under inspection of these I have only been able to visit six ; two of them, Farcet and Stilton, were closed in consequence of a deficiency of funds towards the maintenance of teachers: this county has recently been severed from the East Midland district. No application, as far as I am aware, has been made for pupil-teachers, nor are there any teachers in it who have obtained their certificates; such at least was the case at the end of the year 1848.
The schools which I visited in Lancashire did not seem to be in a very satisfactory state: they were inadequately supplied with books, the desks were in most cases attached to the side of the wall, and the lower classes generally left to the care of monitors. Nor can I report more favourably of those in Norfolk and Suffolk, as far as I had opportunity of judging. An exception, however, must be made in favour of the model-schools at Norwich; they owe much of their present efficiency to the able superintendence of the Rev. Bath Power, who is making every exertion to render them thoroughly efficient as practising-schools for teachers who are in training.
*P. T. Pupil Teacher; S. M. Stipendiary Monitors.
The following table exhibits the results of the inspection of 160 schools in the East Midland District.
The foregoing results have been calculated for 160 schools.
The difficulty which the clergy experience in raising funds for the support of these schools can scarcely be exaggerated. The following statement tells its own tale, and although it refers to one locality, yet in substance it applies to many others.
"The resident coal proprietors are General Baptists, and have a day and Sunday school open free for the children of the men in their own employ; the boys are taught by the Baptist preacher, and the girls by his wife. None of the proprietors of the other coal-works reside in the district, but they find a room for a Ranter's chapel which is used as a day and Sunday school: the children are taught by a woman on week days, and by persons attending the chapel on Sundays. The inhabitants (with the exception of a few shopkeepers) are all colliers, the greater part of them are Ranters; there are some Romanists, Mormonites, and Wesleyans, but few Church families, and not one subscriber to the National schools living in the place. The population is continually changing; in consequence of which, within the last year, 80 children have left the schools, and 100 have been admitted."
Of the 278 schools under inspection in this district, those in Derbyshire are in a more efficient state than the schools in the other counties; but, in combining the result of two years' experience in the inspection of schools in the East Midland district, it is obvious that they minister very imperfectly to the educational wants of the population amidst which they have been established, and that, upon the whole, the character of the instruction given in these schools is such as to offer little inducement to parents to make sacrifices to keep their children for a longer period in them. Constant complaints are made by, teachers and schoolcommittees of the indifference of parents to the education of their children, as exhibited in the irregularity of their attendance at school, and the short time for which they are sent there. Now nobody, who knows anything about the matter, would be at all disposed to underrate the disadvantages with which all teachers in elementary schools have, from one cause or other, to contend; but there is one side of the question in regard to the indifference of the parents to the education of their children, that it would be as well for both masters and mistresses of schools to consider, but which they are naturally too apt to put aside altogether, namely, whether the defective character of the instruction given in their schools, and the absence of anything like a vigorous, clearly-defined attempt on their part to make the course of instruction pursued bear in its practical application upon the children's position and probable mode of life hereafter, may not form a very important element in the indifference of parents to the education of their children, and be closely connected with that indifference. People are indeed indifferent to a bad article, nor do they care to make many sacrifices, or to labour much for its possession; whereas they will do both if the article be good, and its possession likely to turn to account. The following is a case of no uncommon occurrence: a school is at last established in some long-neglected place, everything is ready for the reception of the children, and a master is appointed who is possessed of few qualifications for his important office, save that of respectability; at first everything goes on smoothly, the attendance is good, and the people for whose benefit the school has been established express themselves pleased with it; after a time the excitement wears off, and they begin to find that their children learn little or nothing; the numbers diminish, the attendance is irregular, or the children are sent to some dame's school; the managers immediately exclaim against the indifference of the parents towards the education of their children, and the master, whose want of skill is seldom taken into consideration, will not be backward in coinciding with this view of the subject. Poor people, however ignorant they may be themselves, are not slow in finding out whether their children are learning anything or not at school,