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ASHBURTON SCHOOL COMMITTEE.

Lively Meeting. The usual monthly meeting of the School Committee was held in the schoolroom last night—Dr Stewart presiding. The other memberspresent were—Messrs. Hodder, Andrews, Orr, Felton, Robinson, and St. Hill. CORRESPONDENCE. Correspondence from the Board was read enclosing amounts of salaries for the teachers ; confirmation of Miss Dynes’ appointment as third teacher ; quarterly returns ; and the lists of gentlemen nominated by the Committees for the ordinary and extraordinary vacancies on the Board. For the ordinary vacancies, the following were the nominees :—Rev. Mr. Fraser, Messrs. Inglis, Booth, Higgins, Peryman, and Saunders; andthefollowing for the extraordinary vacancy—Messrs. Cochrane, Fraser, Higgins, Inglis, Lee, Peryman, Saunders, and Watson. voting for board members.

Several members spoke highly of Mr. Saunders as a gentleman keenly interested in education, and it was pointed out in reply to an objection raised to his being a member of Parliament, that Mr. Saunders himself felt that was an advantage instead of a drawback, inasmuch as more good could be done for the cause in the House of Representatives by being a member of that body. For the ordinary vacancies, the vote of the Committee was given, without a division, to Messrs. Saunders, Fraser and Inglis ; but a division took place for the extraordinary vacancy as bet ween Messrs. Saunders and Peryman, the latter obtaining the Committee’s vote. master’s report. The master’s report for the month was then read. It stated that the school had opened on the Ist February, with 83 boys and 84 girls on the roll —total, 167. At the end of last week the number bad increased to 109 boys and 112 girls—total, 221. The attendance that day had been (February 8) 123 boys and 143 girls—total, 266. The new teacher Miss Dynes had commenced her duties, but until the new school had been handed over, she could not take charge of the whole of her class—the second standard —and about 40 of her children would require to remain under Miss Stewart’s cave. It would be necessary to remove the gallery in the present infant room, and supply needful desks. The report also suggested shingling the path from the new school to the closets, and mentioned some repairs that were wan ted to certain door handles. Referring to the pumps, it went on to say that they were in good order, but many of the children were unable to draw the water, and had to go to the neighbors fora supply, or to the boys’ lavatory, and drink from the taps there. The water from the tank was not for drinking, and wore a trough provided at the pump, a supply of water would always be at hand to prime the pump, and for the use of the younger children. Mr. Robinson thought a trough was an excellent thing to have, so that the younger children could get a drink. There had been one at the school he had attended in the old country ; and it was always full, as the boys would pump. Mr. St. Hill thought it would be a, very good thing—for getting rid of the young children, as the bigger lads would drown the youngsters in the trough. Mr. Robinson did not think so.

The Chairman reminded Mr. Robinson that colonial youths were a different class of children from those Mr. Robinson had been brought up amongst. Mr. St. Hill advocated getting a man to clean out the tank. It had become very foul, and it was dangerous to allow it to be longer used. A large number of pigeons now harbored about the , school, and they helped to foul the tank, from which the lavatory was supplied. Dr. Stewart did not object to the pigeons. It was a fact that in Venice the people used tanks extensively for water storage, and pigeons were kept in large numbers for the beneficial effect their excrement had upon the tank water. Mr. St Hill had a great respect for science. This about the pigeons was no doubt science, but it was a' kind of it he would prefer was not applied to the water of any tank of his. Mr. Hodder suggested that cans of three gallon capacity or so should be supplied to each room, so that the younger children might be supplied with water without any trouble. A pupil teacher could be charged with the duty of seeing that no scholar went without water. The Chairman mentioned that a petty burglary had taken place at the school some time ago. He would be loth to see the windows all shut up and secured, because of the value of open windows over night for ventilation, but it would be perhaps necessary to supply them with fastenings, and also to procure a rubber stamp, the impression of which could bo put on all moveable school property, in these words, “ Ashburton School Committee.” The delay in the opening of the school lay with the architect. The building had been finished for some time, but the architect had not come up to pass it. The matters referred to in the master’s report, with the various suggestions thrown out, were referred to the Visiting Committee to attend to and rectify. THE HEAD MASTER. Mr. Felton asked what the Committee meant to do in the matter of the Inspector’s report on the state of the school. The Chairman said that nothing could be done in the matter, as the Board had taken it out of the hands of tho Committee.

Mr. Felton said that he had been ill for some time, and had not been able to take the steps he wished to. Before he could ask the Committee to do anything in the matter it was necessary to give notice of motion. He had not been able to do so, having been laid up, and therefore what he wished to raise could not be discussed at that meeting, but he scarcely thought it was out of the Committee’s power to do anything. There was the Inspector’s report staring them in the face. He had read it over, and given it some thought, and it was a strong censure indeed upon the state of the school. The Board had given the teacher three months to prepare for an extra examination of his school, and this, to Mr. Felton’s mind, was equivalent to a notice to prepare for removal. The backwardness of the school was no new thing, and he was surprised that long ago the Committee had not taken action in the matter. He thought they were greatly to blame. Last year, when he returned from the North, he had heard many complaints made, and at that time he had been asked if he were favorable to the establishment of a High School, as it was evident the children were doing no good at the Borough School, and there was no chance, from the apathy of the Committee, of getting rid of the present teacher. The teacher had been more than two years in the present position, and instead of improving, the school had fallen off. He did not find any fault with the educational status of the teacher ; he believed him to be a- very highly educated man ; but it was evident lie Was not fitted to take charge of a school of the size of the Ashburton. The school was one that ought to command a high-class teacher, and he was afraid that Mr. Stott was very far from being so. It was patent that Mr. Stott did not give general satisfaction— The Chairman—Where will you find a teacher who does ? Mr. Felton went on to say that so many private schools existing in the township was a proof that the school was not a popular one, and they Would be more largely patronised if people could afford it. He was assured that some 70 or 80 additional pupils would be procured if a really

good man were in the position. If all these scholars could be brought back they would materially increase the standing of the school, and entitle a good teacher to a high salary. He would move—“ That, a meeting be called for next Monday to consider the advisableness of changing the master.” Mr. Robinson attributed the backward state of the scholars to the crowded state of the school. The want of room forced the children to work crowded together in a small space, so that it was impossible one could work without being influenced by the other. They could not help seeing each other's slates, and that was the reason why so ranch copying went on. No idle boy would work out his lessons himself if he could see his neighbor doing them beside him.

Mr. St. Hill hoped the motion would not be successful. The matter had been altogether removed out of the hands of the Committee by the Board. The Board’s letter on the subject had been very imperative, when it spoke of the extra examination, and it distinctly stated it would deal with the school itself. He strongly deprecated doing anything in the matter till the three months had expired. It was only common fairness to Mr. Stott that this should be so. The man had labored under very serious disadvantages by the withdrawal of teachers from the school just when they came to be of use. First one went and then another, and after a pupil teacher was beginning to know his work, his parents had left the district, and he had to follow. In one month, two of the oldest teachers bad gone away—the Misses Henderson—and other good ones had also gone ; so that Mr. Stott had been left burdened with all the disadvantages that followed a state of shorthandedness, having to work with only young apprentices, besides the want of room already mentioned. In the hot summer clays, when the school was so crowded there were many of the children who had to be carried out of the building in a fainting state. To attempt to interfere with the Board’s course was neither more nor less than unjust to the master. If they were to have any undue pressure brought into play, and Mr. Stott compelled to leave before he obtained the trial the Board allowed him, it would ruin his prospects as a teacher for ever. Mr. Orr reminded Mr. St. Hill that when the Board’s letter had been read, Mr. St. Hill had said, the best thing Mr. Stott could do was to resign at once. Mr. St. Hill said Mr. Orr was in error. He certainly made a remark Wee that Mr. Orr attributed to him, but when he made it he only expressed what he himself would have done in the same circumstances. He (Mr. St. Hill) would most assuredly have chucked the who’e thing at them ; but Mr. Stott was not him, and chose to remain on and trust himself in the hands of the Board.

Mr. Hodder had sympathy with much that had been said by Mr. Felton. He appreciated Mr. Stott very much as a man, and believed him to be a very hardworking and painstaking teacher. But ho was quite satisfied that Mr. Stott was not qualified for the position he held as master of that large school. He had children attending the school, and knew from the little progress they were making that things were not as they should be ; and when the Inspector’s report came out he judged from it that the school was in even a worse state than even he had thought it was. From that report anyone could see the Inspector thought the school was as bad as it well could be. He accepted the report as that of a gentleman qualified to give an opinion, and had no reason to suppose a teacher would get a report he did not deserve. The Chairman said that was not always the case, as he knew of a case where a teacher, who was known to be a very inferior man, got a very high report given by an Inspector, who was not always a criterion of the teacher’s worth.

Mr. Hodder went on—Nothing had been done by the Committee since the report came out, and in the interests of the school, and to show the public that the Committee were fully alive to the state of the school and the situation of affairs, the Committee ought to take action in the matter. It was the opinion of the public that something ought to be done. The Chairman interjected a remark that Mr. Hodder did not represent all the public, and Mr. Robinson thought Mr. Hodder should only speak for himself. Mr. Hodder continued his speech, and concluded by seconding Mr. Felton’s motion.

Hr. Stewart would oppose any attempt to interfere with the three months’ trial Mr. Stott had been allowed by the Board. He knew perfectly well that anything that was done by the Committee would have no effect upon the Board until the time it had allowed Mr. Stott to prepare for another inspection had elapsed. He did not wish to back up Mr. Stott through thick and thin, but the Board had taken the matter out of the hands of the Committee, and had given the school a time of trial in which to recover itself. It was only fair that that time should run out. If at the end of the time there was no improvement, then Mr. Stott would be removed without the Committee moving in the matter at all, but it was only fair that the chance given should be allowed. He thought the motion of Mr. Felton was in the worst taste, as that gentleman’s son had been dux of the school for two years —proof that that lad’s education had not been neglected at any rate. [Mr. Felton —Just the reason why I first thought there was something rotten. I know how he stands.] He would give his very strongest opposition to the motion. Mr. Orr took a totally different view of the matter from Dr. Stewart. His own opinion was that the three months’ grace given to Mr. Stott was only a polite form of notice to quit, and from the tone of the annual meeting it was evident the public had an impression that the school was not properly conducted.

Dr. Stewart mentioned his own return at the top of the poll as a proof that that was not the general impression. Everybody knew at that meeting that his feelings were not in any way antagonistic to Mr. Stott. Mr. St. Hill said four of the old Committee had been returned, so the public could scarcely be accused of blaming the old Committee. Mr. Andrews hoped the Dr. would allow others to have some sort of opinion of their own. He (Mr. Andrews) had heard a very great many parents make remarks that were not at all complimentary to the state of the school, and he could assure the meeting that a very widespread feeling existed that something should be done at once to bring about an improvement. Mr. Robinson would move that the subject be held over to next monthly meeting. Mr. St. Hill seconded, and in doing so expressed a belief that he would not be able to attend the special meeting. The Chairman questioned whether it was competent for him to put such a motion as that of Mr. Felton, seeing that the matter had been taken out of the Committee’s hands by the Board, and to hold a meeting of this kind was an interference with the Board’s action. Sergeant Felton, in his experience of court practice, knew that it was not usual for a lower Court to try a case that was sub juclice in a higher one. Mr. Felton pressed his motion. The special meeting could not be an interference with the Board, as the present Com mittee was a new one, and it was not known whether there was any new matter to be brought forward beyond the report. Under any circumstances the teacher could not be dismissed without the Committee’s sanction. Mr. St. Hill said it would appear as if

the. Committee had gone in with the intention siriiply of hanging the teacher ; and if so soon after its election a meeting of this kind were held, the object of thos e who called it would be frustrated, for tbo Board would say the Committee were excited and would put aside any recommendations they might send. It was no use raising an outcry like this about the school. There was a man sitting amongst them at that moment (pointing to Mr. Ward) who had been the best abused man in Ashburton in his time. An outcry had been raised about him, and ho wasn’t six months away from the school before the crowd who objected to him were wishing to have him back again. (Laughter), The Chairman said it would 'be far better to let Mr. Stott alone fit the rmo he had been allowed by the Board. Xf he were turned out without a fair trial his prospects would be damned over the whole colony. i . Mr. Felton wished to press his rootidh, and hoped the Chairman would waste no more time, but putit. 1 I''' r ! - ‘ 4 Mr. St. Hill said Mr. Felton had jgdjhe into the Committee on an election 'Ary which he took care to let everyone know. He announced at the- public meeting tbit it was his intention to do all he could to turn out Mr. "StottJ The 'focal papers went down to the Board, who woulclread that statement of Mr. Felton’s, and they would just wait till the Committee’s feelings cooled down, and put any recommendation they sent aside. :u: J Mr. Orr said he felt that the Beard expected some such steps as Mr.' Felton proposed should be taken by the’ Committee. 1; : ; . .

Mr. Felton pressed his motion, hut the Chairman still said he did not feel justified in putting it. • : ■ j Mr. Felton could not, see why the Committee should be closed lip like thfj. J ,3By no possibility could the mah ; be di tmiteed without the Committee’s sanction-smb it was palpable : that the BoatU' wisfe very much dissatisfied with the teacher. Were the Committee to stand by like so many nincompoops and «6t sa£ "thither or not they were satisfied with him- Thtee months’ notice would have to-be giv'ek ! liim at any rate, and if the inspectionriot a satisfactory one, these three months ofTS bad teacher would have to be put|Tfl r with after the inspection, which mebii six months in all. , .., ; Mr. Andrews thought tK<sylhadt£o;f-con-sider the welfare of all the children qs.WdU as of one man. ! !/: .) > A Mr. Felton would press his motion. The Chairman refused to putrin J . l aa it was a direct interference with the Board. Mr. Felton wished to know,if,the Board was so all powerful that the Committee dare not consider a question like this, simply because the Board■ ■hffd-'chbsej to say that an inspection would take {Race three months hence I If : that- were sO'thA Committee was a very small afisir. The Chairman said they , could not defy the Board, and he would not put.the motion. . _ ; r,, t . Mr. Orr could not agree with tire actiopi of the Chairman. He did not fall in. with, all that had been said by Mr. Felton ; but. it seemed to him an unusual proceeding on the part of the Ghairmanjt? flefyyjjk| Committee and refuse to* |>ut a pdifebtly' legitimate motion. There jvas np-use holding a meeting at all if the Chairman were to put only such motions as he" chose. , Mr. Felton said if the motion were not put he would never attend another meeting, and he would write to the Board. Messrs. Felton and Orr here both roseand put on their hats to go, and the meet-" ing began to break up. Suddenly the Chairman started up and put Mr. - Robinson’s amendment, which was lostthen he put Mr. Felton’s motion, which was carried. The meeting then adjourned.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18810209.2.10

Bibliographic details

ASHBURTON SCHOOL COMMITTEE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 264, 9 February 1881

Word Count
3,358

ASHBURTON SCHOOL COMMITTEE. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 264, 9 February 1881

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