Images de page

least in the upper classes, is to read the Lessons and Psalms, and to repeat the Collect, for the day; any remaining time being given to repeating the Church Catechism.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The next queries to which I was instructed to return answers, are, Do the attainments of the children appear to be showy or substantial?" and, Is the instruction, generally, given and received intelligently or mechanically and by rote ?" After carefully reviewing all my notes on the separate schools inspected, which amount to 130, exclusive of infant and dame schools, I find that in 23 cases the attainments of the scholars, according to their age and standing in the school, are respectable in amount; the instruction is given and received with intelligence; the teachers are well informed and skilful in imparting knowledge; and the scholars appear to understand and to reflect upon what they read and commit to memory: that 13 schools are in an equally satisfactory condition, as regards the scholars composing the first classes that in 38 cases, the scholars are moderately informed, and the instruction is in some degree intelligent: and that in 56 cases, the attainments of the scholars are scanty, and the instruction appears to be given and received mechanically and by rote. Out of the first 36 schools, the following appear to be among the best in the above particulars, according to their nature and position: the boys' schools at Speen; Churchill; Great Tew; Banbury; Watlington; New Windsor; and Eton: the girls' schools of St. Giles's, Reading; Kidlington; St. Peter's in the East, Oxford; Banbury; Adderbury; and Nuneham : and the mixed schools at Binfield and Wroxton.

I have very great pleasure in reporting to your Lordship the general condition of the schools throughout the diocese, with regard to the deportment of the children, and the apparent moral influence of the instruction and discipline of the school upon them. There are of course a few exceptions, but in the great majority of cases I found the children neat and clean in dress and person, quiet and orderly, obedient and respectful, modest and decorous. In this respect, it is impossible to rate the social value of our parochial schools too highly.

REWARDS appear to be given, and PUNISHMENTS appear to be administered, in a somewhat desultory way. In about 60 cases

there are no rewards.

[ocr errors]

The " system," or method of organization and instruction, chiefly adopted, is the "mutual;" commonly known as the monitorial," or the "Madras system." The monitors, generally speaking, not only receive no special * instruction and training, but in consequence of being employed as "teachers," receive less instruction than the rest of the scholars. They are almost invariably employed, not as subordinate and preparatory teachers, but as substitutes for the Master or Mistress; who too generally do little more than exercise what they call " general superintendence."

The next queries relate to the apparent qualifications of the Master or Mistress. Out of the whole number of Masters and Mistresses, amounting to 146, it would appear that 43 manage the general routine of the school with skill; that 58 admit of improvement, but may be regarded as moderately competent; and that 45 are comparatively inefficient in this respect.

The results are more satisfactory with regard to the apparent ability of the Masters and Mistresses to exercise an efficient moral influence and control over their scholars; 78 being quite able to do so; 42 middling; eight doubtful; and 18 not equal, apparently, to this essential part of their duty. But the results are less satisfactory with regard to the ability of the Masters and Mistresses to instruct the several classes; 42 only being well instructed and generally skilful in communicating knowledge; while 12 are doubtful; 51 insufficiently informed and slightly skilful; and 41 apparently uninformed and incapable of communicating knowledge. In estimating the competency of teachers, I always take into account the nature of the school; and whenever there is any doubt on my mind as to which of two classes a teacher ought to be referred to, I invariably refer them to the higher class.

Very few schools possess adult assistant teachers. The Mistresses in training attend the girls' school of St. Mary's and St. Lawrence's, Reading; in the mixed school, Binfield, the Master's wife instructs the girls in needlework; in the mixed school, Theale, the master's niece; and similarly in the other mixed schools which are under a Master, with one exception, where

*This Mr. Hopwood points out in another part of his Report as one of the important general defects in the manner of conducting schools.

the girls are not instructed in needlework. There are adult assistant teachers in the boys' and girls' schools, New Windsor. The Masters in training at Summertown attend one or two of the parochial schools in Oxford. The mixed school at Binfield, and the girls' school of St. Peter's in the East, Oxford, appear to derive much benefit from the regular daily visits of ladies who devote themselves to the systematic instruction of certain classes.

Most of the schools are sufficiently supplied with books and school materials; but there is a general deficiency in the supply of apparatus; such as black boards, easels, exhibitors, ball frames, &c., as enumerated in the stationary catalogue of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Between 50 and 60 parishes are furnished with libraries; some expressly for the use of the children attending the daily schools; others for the children attending the Sunday schools; the greater number for the parish generally. Imaginative books, like "Agathos" and "The Rocky Island;" simple tales, like those published by Burns, and accounts of voyages and travels, like those on the Supplementary Catalogue S. P. C. K., are the works which appear to be in the greatest request.

In most cases, the religious instruction of the children iş carried on, for a short time after they have left the daily school, by means of the Sunday school. This is more frequently the case for girls than for boys, who too generally appear to regard emancipation from school restraint as one of the privileges of their supposed incipient manhood. And even with girls, it rarely happens that their religious education is carried on without interruption to the period of confirmation. There are Sunday Bible classes for young women and the elder girls at Hurst, and in St. Giles's parish, Reading. A connection is maintained with the girls who have left the parochial school, Bradfield, for service, &c., by means of correspondence. At Churchill several boys return to the school during the winter months; and at Peasemore there is an evening school in winter, which is tolerably well attended.

In almost all cases the school-houses are substantially built, clean, and in good repair. In two parishes, dissenting meetinghouses have been converted into school-rooms, and in one town

the theatre. In the majority of cases the buildings have been constructed for school purposes. There are superior school buildings at Chipping-Norton; Horley; Churchill; Launton; Nuneham; St. Mary Magdalen and St. Giles's, Oxford; Thame; Upton; St. Giles's, Reading; Theale; Speen; Hermitage; Chieveley; Steventon; Harwell; Faringdon; Littlemore; and St. Peter's, Oxford. A commodious girls' school room is also in process of erection in St. Thomas' parish, Oxford.

The internal arrangements are, in general, those of the "Madras system." The rooms are generally sufficiently and conveniently lighted and warmed, but the ventilation is, in most cases, imperfect.

Fifty-nine schools are furnished with play-grounds, yards, or gardens. The infant school play-ground, Kidlington, is furnished with a swing. A large field is about to be given by the proprietor, to the boys' school, Churchill. The girls in the first class of St. Mary Magdalen's school, Oxford, are allowed to hold small gardens, which they cultivate during the hours of recreation. The schools at Thame stand in the middle of a considerable piece of garden ground, the gift of Lord Abingdon.

II. Having thus laid before your Lordship a general statement of the condition, at the time of my visit, of the parochial schools which I have inspected in the diocese of Oxford, I proceed to enumerate, agreeably to the plan which I have prescribed to myself, the principal suggestions for the improvement of the schools, which I ventured to submit to the consideration of the school managers, whenever they requested me to afford them assistance in this respect. And here I wish to bear witness to the earnest desire of the Clergy to improve and extend parochial education; and to thank them for the uniform kindness and attention with which they have received all my notes and suggestions.

1. The forms for the separate monitors' classes to be arranged thus-supposing six classes, and M denoting master's desk *.

* Since the above was in type Mr. Hopwood has written to say that he has prepared plans of internal arrangement more accurate (being drawn to scale) and slightly modified, which will shortly appear.


2. Wall-desks are simple and inexpensive; but do not economize room to the extent usually supposed; and most imperfectly serve the very purposes for which they are constructed. Plans of parallel desks facing into the room are given in the minutes of the Committee of Council on Education: but this arrangement is strongly objected to by school-managers; partly on the ground of expense, but chiefly because such desks require elongated rooms, and interfere with the arrangements necessary for the Sunday school. In order to avoid these inconveniencies, without sacrificing the great advantage of fronting desks, the following arrangement of desks and forms (for six classes) has been suggested.

« PrécédentContinuer »