Manawatu Herald, Volume III, 5 March 1891, Page 2
'♦ ANNUAL EEPOET OF THE INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS. We acknowledge the receipt from the Education Board of the annual report of the Inspector of Schools for the year ending 81st December, 1890 and from it we take certain statistics which are veiy interesting. Thp Inspector deplores the fact that the average attendance for the year, as a percentage of the mean of the roll numbers for the four quarters, showed a decrease of 1.8 and asserts that " such a decrease is very displeasing feature for it makes one incline to the opinion that the colonists are now so keenly alive to the advantages of a sound primary education for their children as they were 10 years ago ; yet the education now given is infinitely superior to that of 1880, and the teaching has improved yearly." We understand the average attendance to mean, that the children do not attend so often, and that, though the decrease is as stated, it does not follow that as many children have not been to school. In fact further on in the report we find a partial explanation for this decrease, which appears in the irregular attendance in the higher standards. The Inspector says that "In Table B one very glaring feature is pointed out — the large decrease in the numbers in Standards above S. 111. Thus, the number in S. IV. is 71 per cent, of the number in S. 111., the number in S. V. is only 49 per cent, of the number in S. IV., and the number in S. VI is only 48 per cent of the number in S. V. The 404 pupils in S. V. were distributed over no fewer than 70 schools, and the 174 pupils in S. VI, over 45 schools." We are of the opinion that the two quotations answer themselves, for if the education now given is " infinitely superior to that of 1880 " the necessity of keeping a child at school as long now as then, is unnecessary. If we go on at this rate, in another ten years time the two first standards will be all that is necessary to pass in, to represent the three E's. And why should parents be forced to give their children more? This assertion of Mr Bindon's lets new light upon tha education question, and its yearly growing cost. The Act was passed to give certain education then fixed, yet year by year it is added to till we are informed by one who ought to know, that now it is "unfinitely" different ! As with Inspectors, so with masters, the Inspector thinks that the instructions in various Standards should be gained by pupils at certain ages, but some masters think, before their pupils go up to pass, they should have acquired more advanced knowledge than the passing test, others do not. Hence we get the following statement in the report : — " With regard to the average ages of pupils in Standards, I may state that I cannot place much reliance on them, for whenever I had time to compare the ages of the same pupils on the schedules of 1889, 1 frequently found differences of either considerably more or considerably less than twelve months. The average age in Standard I. is far too high, and more children might well have been ready for presentation in this class. Standard 111. shows the highest number of presentations — 98 more than Standard I. and 87 more than Standard II. — so the number presented in all Standards expressed as a percentage of the number on the rolls is rather low — 61.9. Again, with regard to these average ages it is worthy of remark that they are frequently lower in the very small schools in towns, as witness those cf Standard I. in the following : — Sanson (166), 10 years 2 months ; Foxton (242), 10 years 1 month ; Feilding (888), 9 years 10 months ; Terrace End (269), 9 years 7 months ; Palmerston (642), 9 years 5 months ; Halcombe (148), 9 years 5 months ; Bulls (176), 9 years 5 months; Fitzherbert (22), 7 years 10 months ; Hunterville (61), 8 years 5 months ; Paraekaretu (89), 8 years 6 months; South Makirikiri (81), 8 years 6 months ; Goat Valley (27), 8 years 7 months ; Birmingham (48) 8 years 8 months. The numbers in brackets represent the numbers on the school rolls on the days of examination. The last six schools had each only one teacher." The Inspector then says : — "Such statistics as these give rise to tho I following questions : Are as many i children in the large schools selected | from the preparatory daises for presentation in Stanford I. n* might
reasonably be expected after taking into Consideration the minute Classification of such children,, the number of yfears already spent by them in school, and the number of teachers employed in instructing then. ? Are the results of the teaching of the children in these preparatory classes and Standard I. found in the subsequent Standards as sound and lasting as they should be ? Are the large classes in a town school, taught by subordinate teachers, any better off than the small classes in a country school where each pupil gets a share, however small, of the time and attention of one veiy capable master or mistress ?" The Masters in the large schools, that is where they have to take classes, cannot supervise the work of assistants sufficiently, to make good teachers out of impossible materials, nor can they honestly report their assistants for inefficiency. Their incompetehcy cannot be proved until the examination is over. The safety, for the scholars, lays in more frequent visiting, . supervising, and advising by the Inspector ; an impossibility whilst they are overtasked. : We shall furnish further extracts from this report.