OTAGO SCHOOL INSPECTORS
AND THE EDUCATION BOARD. OFFICIAL CONNECTION BROKEN. '. MR MITC'HELITspeAKS OUT. For .36 years—in fact, since there existed such a body at the Ota go Education Board —the school inspectors of the province have been under its direct control. But tho new Education Act has brought about (in an official sense at least) the severance of this long tie, and during the meeting of the board this morning, with the full staff of inspectors present, I hero was put on record tho regret members feel that the time has come for parting with the control of tho inspectorate, and their dceji sense of the obligation under which the board refit to the inspectors. Mr G. C. Israel (chairman) said that they wero at tho parting of the ways officially, but he hoped the future would so arrange itself that the board would not lose the friendly assistance and advice of the inspectors, although the latter became the servants of the Public Service Commissioners. It was not necessary for him to say more than this : that every member regretted deeply that they were to lose so much of the inspectors' influence, and that they were all deeply grateful for tlw invaluable, assistanco the in-spr-c.tors had given them, and still hoped that their association with the board would go so far that they would guide the board in the future as they had in the past. (Hear, hear.) Mr I). Borrie said that he had been longer connected with the board than any other member, and luid had the pleasure of being intimately acquainted with all of their inspectors. They had always beoii men in whom tho board placed the greatest confidence, and of whom they were proud —men, moreover, above the average of the inspectors of New Zealand, high as that average was. The Otago inspectors, he had no hesitation in saying, had always been in tho lead. They wens all sorry tho inspectors were going out of their service, but he. was sure that the board would have their advice, provided only they were left in this province. There was not likely to be any change, at any rate for 12 months, until the districts wero defined. Mr ,T. Mitchell said that he could not let tho occasion pass without stating that I he thought a great mistake had been made by Parliament and the department in centralising the inspectors. (Hear, hear.} The main ground urged in favor of it—that they would get more unbiased reports—cast a most unjustifiable reflection on tho inspectors of New Zealand. In of which they could speak with authority, the board had never on any occasion given the slightest hint to any of its inspectors to report in ar.y particular direction, and ho was quite satisfied that the class of men who had been in their service would have ix'sented any interference of the. kind on the part of the board. This cast a stigma on the men who had made the <rducntion system of Otago. He only hoped that tho further wrong would not be done of depriving Otago .of the men she had here as inspectors. Mr W. Scott said that from a Dominion standpoint the action taken might be right and proper, but Otago would be a great loser. They had been particularly fortunate in their inspectors, who had all been something more than inspectors—namely, friends and advisers of the board, of the' teachers, and of all connected with the schools. He hoped it would be long before they lost their inspectors. Chief-inspector Richardson, in reply, assured the board, on behalf of himself and his colleagues, that this occasion was" fraught with sad feelings. He had to thank them for the kind words they had spoken, and for the warm terms of appreciation in which their work had been described. Ho could endorse what Mr Mitchell had said. The inspectors had been allowed an absolutely free hand in forming their conclusions, and on no occasion had a member of the board, either directly or indirectly, approached an inspector to influence or'bias him. The inspectors had striven to make the lot of the teacher as comfortable and happy as possible. If had never been'their intention to put down anything in malice. They had adopted the. principle of advising, pointing out what was wrong, and urging improvement. If, on the second visit, thev had found no improvement, they had written. But they seldom had to do that. He believed that this policy, if carried out di--creetly in the future as in the past, would liK'kefor the best relations between the board and the teachers and the schools. During his long experience there had never been a case of conflict that had led to a court of appeal. Tho inspectors were under a deep debt of gratitude to the board. The members of the Otago Board had always been men possessed of a high sense of their responsibilities, and had_ approached from the point of view, and in no parochial spirit. Personally, the inspectors had received invariable kindness and consideration from the board, and wished to express their thanks. Their lot had been a happv one, and whatever j time might hold for them they could never be in happier circumstances than they had been. He must also express thoirderp sense of gratitude to the teachers, for in their wanderings through the country thr-y had received nothing but kindness. Two years ago, when he had been suffering from serious trouble, teachers had come and volunteered to do his work both in and out of the school. Such kindnesses had not been confined to men; the women and the young people coming on had shown the same feeling, indicating that they looked upon the inspectors as friends. All he could say was that, so far as he was personally concerned, and whether or not lie remained in Otago (as ho hoped to dol, his interest in the cause of education in Otago would bo abiding. Many factors had made for the high standard here—the board, the teachers, the school committees, the public in their response to appeals for assistance —and there was one other that had not been referred to. Tho highly intelligent criticism brought to bear on education by the Press of town and country throughout the province had been a most powerful factor. He had been in personal contact with Pressmen on many occasions, on some of which he had been unable (o give information except by way of hint for future guidance, and never once had a Pressman betrayed the confidence lodged in him. Tho influence of the Press on education had been wholly good. In con elusion, Mr Richardson expressed the inspectors' sense of gratitude to the office staff.
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OTAGO SCHOOL INSPECTORS, Evening Star, Issue 15671, 9 December 1914