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Sbss. 11.—1897. NEW ZEALAND.

EDUCATION: REPORTS OF INSPECTORS OF SCHOOLS. [In continuation of E.-1b, 1896.]

Presented to both Houses of the General Assembly by Command of His Excellency.

AUCKLAND. Sic,— Education Office, Auckland, 4th March, 1897. I have the honour to submit the usual report for the year 1896. At the close of the year there were 348 schools in the Auckland District, being sixteen more than at the end of last year. Of these, 346 were examined. The remaining two were opened too late in the year for their examination to be undertaken in the ordinary course. Three hundred and sixteen schools were inspected in the course of the year, a number that includes forty-two half-time schools, in which only one of the pair of grouped schools was visited for inspection. Besides these, four were visited and found closed, four were opened after the inspection of the neighbouring schools had been completed, two were closed a short time after they had been opened, and three small schools were not inspected. The number of schools has increased by forty-two during the last three years, and their inspection and examination demand, on the part of the Inspectors, increasingly heavy and continuous work.

The following table shows in summary the chief examination results for the year:—

These figures show for the year an increase of 890 in the number of pupils presented, and a decrease of 295 in the number of pupils that passed in one or other of the standards. Last year there was the great advance of 1,464 in the number of pupils who passed in standards, and it is hardly matter for surprise that this large and sudden increase has not been fully maintained. In 1894 about 79 per cent, of the pupils examined in standards passed, in 1895 86 per cent, passed, and this year 82 per cent, have passed. The percentage of passes thus lies midway between the results for the last two years. In Standards I. and 11., head teachers have passed 96 and 90 per cent, respectively of the pupils examined. In Standards 111., IV., V., and VI. the percentages of passes are lower, and in most cases considerably lower, than they were last year. The frequency of failures in Standards IV. to VI. is still due to weakness in dictation, composition, and geography, and has this year been accentuated by a marked increase in the difficulty of the arithmetic tests for

* Mean of average age.

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Classes. Presented. Examined in Standards. Passed. Average Age of those that passed. Yrs. mos. Above Standard VI. Standard VI. V. IV. III. II. I. 221 1,249 2,285 3,536 3,747 3,623 3,230 8,883 1,213 2,184 3,391 3,596 3,502 3,132 934 1,536 2,328 2,921 3,157 3,013 14 3 13 4 12 4 11 3 10 3 9 1 Preparatory Totals 26,774 17,018 13,889 11 9*

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Standards V. and VI. supplied by the Education Department. On the whole, lam of opinion that the teaching of the pass-subjects has in no way fallen below the level of last year's work, the lower percentage of passes being due to a somewhat- stricter examination of composition in Standards IV. to VI., and the unquestionable advance in the difficulty of the arithmetic tests in Standards V. and VI. The results in class-subjects are classed as " good " in 40 schools, " satisfactory " in 155, " fair " in 115, " moderate "in 31, and " inferior "in 4. In the additional subjects, some of which are not taken up in a number of the smallest schools, the results were " good " in 89 schools, " satisfactory " in 189, "fair" in 60, and "moderate" in 7. These numbers afford evidence of a very general improvement in the teaching both of the class and of the additional subjects of the school course. The ages at which the standards have been passed are this year somewhat lower than those for last year in all the classes above Standard 11. The number of pupils over eight years of age who were not presented for Standard I. is 2,136, as against 1,960 for last year. The preparatory classes, it should be remembered, have now a more comprehensive course of instruction in reading and arithmetic, and enter the Standard I. class with better prospects of getting easily through the lower standards. In Standards 1., 11., and 111. fewer pupils have been presented than was the case last year, while a considerably larger number has been presented in each of the higher standards. The improvement noted last year in the management and teaching of the preparatory classes has been fully maintained, and in quite half the schools very satisfactory work is being done in this department. Mr. Dickinson points out that in the infant classes in the schools of the southern district " numeration and notation are not well taught," but this experience seems to be exceptional. Ignorance of the addition professed by these classes is much more common than ignorance of numeration and notation, and is, indeed, much more excusable, as addition is much harder to teach well. The teaching of reading has improved much more generally than that of tables and counting. The words of the sentence, and not merely the sentences learned by rote, are now for the most part readily known, and the reading is distinguished by considerable expression. In numerous cases the classification of infant pupils has been found unsatisfactory, children who have attended school for more than a year being taught in the same class with others who have been in attendance only for a month or two. This abuse should be evident to any teacher who truly desires to do the best he can for the younger pupils. The lower primer classes, moreover, do not appear to receive as much attention as the higher ones. Infant classes are still occasionally too large, but the faulty arrangement and the crowded condition of the lower departments often make it hard to avoid this evil as completely as could be desired. The teaching of addition usually receives due attention, but there is more haste than good speed in the way it is worked up in a large number of schools. A thorough mastery of each step before it is left for a higher one is here indispensable, and rapid progress is less desirable than sure progress. It is in the preparatory classes that the foundation of good order, lively attention, and an earnest working spirit should be laid. The design and treatment of the lessons should aim at developing and confirming these desirable habits, in the fostering of which there is, and will no doubt long be, ample scope for improvement. It is because of their influence in this direction that frequent but short and varied lessons are so important here, that the massing of crowds of pupils into single classes is so full of risk. Standard Glasses. —"Beading," Mr. Dickinson reports, "is decidedly improving, not only as regards the mere mechanical difficulties, but also in the intelligence and expression with which many of the children read." Mr. Goodwin also says, " Beading has improved in fluency and expression." Mr. Crowe offers no general estimate, but remarks that " this subject would be much more successfully taught if teachers did not attempt too much." I suppose teachers try to overtake what is demanded of them, and the mistake made is rather that their pupils have been advanced into higher reading-books prematurely. As the passing of pupils in Standards I. and 11. is in the hands of head teachers, this mistake is not unusual in the smaller schools, and it is not easy for the Inspectors to check it. Many of the examination reports show that it has been pointed out. I think it is a mistake that is becoming more uncommon, though it is likely to be with us for some time to come. While able to bear out the testimony of my colleagues as to the improvement in the teaching of reading, I must add that in a number of the schools I have examined, some of them large and important schools, reading has not been as good as I should expect it to be, and I have had occasion to fail a good many pupils in this subject in the course of the year. Beady, accurate, and distinct reading at each stage of progress should almost be regarded as indispensable for advancement, as it stands in the closest relation to the intelligence that has been developed by the teaching and to its general efficiency. While most rhetorical qualities of reading are of less importance in the elementary school than fluency, accuracy, and clearness of enunciation, a reasonable degree of natural expression is quite as important as any of these cardinal good qualities. There are teachers, not a few, who fail to train their pupils to read with satisfactory expression, owing to weakness of control and failure to get the scholars to put forth their best efforts to satisfy the teacher's aims and his just demands on their attention. In such cases there is no great hope of improvement, as governing power is of the nature of a personal equation, and is but little open to influence by advice or direction from others. There is but one cure for this weakness, and that is the graduai weeding-out of such teachers as show it to a hurtful degree. There are now very few schools in which two books are not read each year in each of the standard classes. In some districts parents have shown the greatest reluctance to provide their children with a second Beader. One cannot but feel surprise at their short-sighted conduct in this matter, for sufficient breadth and variety of reading are as indispensable to any serviceable knowledge of the art as three meals a day are to the health and vigour of ordinary children. In Great Britain the reading of threo books a year is held to be necessary for a satisfactory training in this subject, and it would be an odd effect of our superior climate if the reading of one of these same

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books were found sufficient here. In requiring all the standard classes to read two books yearly, the Board is undoubtedly furthering and not hindering the education of the young of the district, and all parents would do well to heartily co-operate with the Board in securing a worthy training in this branch of instruction. In dealing with new and difficult words 1 have often noticed that pupils have no idea of putting them into syllables, and then trying to sound the syllables in combination. New words of regular sound should be dealt with in this way from the primer classes upwards. To tell the pronunciation as a matter of course, without attempting to lead the pupils to make it out for themselves, is not an educative process ; it is cram in one of its least disguised forms. This fault is far too prevalent. Some progress can be noted in the handling of explanation of the language of the reading-lessons and in the comprehension of their matter. In the majority of the schools better work could and should be done in these directions. In the " Suggestions," circulated among teachers by order of the Board, I have dealt pretty fully with this subject, and I feel convinced that if teachers would weigh these suggestions, and embody their spirit in the daily treatment of the English lessons, the education given in our schools would be signally improved. The development of a spirit of intelligent study —surely one of the chief aims of all education—depends more on the way this subject is treated than on any other section of the school work. I fear that many teachers do not themselves study and prepare the reading-lessons so as to turn them to the best account for the mental discipline and growth of their pupils, and the habits of careful and thoughtful preparatory study are but little fostered among the scholars. On this subject Mr. Dickinson's opinion is quite in accord with mine. " All pupils in the higher classes," he says, " should have a dictionary, and be trained to study the reading-lessons. I have been surprised to find how little of this has been done in the higher classes." Mr. Goodwin speaks somewhat more favourably of this part of the work of the schools. Eecitation is satisfactory in the great majority of the schools, and good in a large number. The tasteful reading of the poems to be learned should in all cases be taught before the pupils are set to commit them to memory, and the meaning should be carefully considered. lam sorry to say that there is still occasion for repeating these cautions. "Spelling," says Mr. Dickinson, "in the dictation test and in the written exercises is improving;" and Mr. Goodwin remarks, "I have not had to record many failures in spelling. The test is too easy. lam afraid spelling is a weak subject." Mr. Crowe considers that " this subject is not taught with the success which its importance deserves," and he thinks "too much dependence is placed on oral spelling." Our pupils, I believe, can spell easy passages very fairly indeed, and mistakes in the spelling of simple words in composition and other written exercises are becoming less frequent; but a previously unseen test of quite ordinary difficulty would show how restricted their knowledge of spelling is. The results of the recent junior scholarship examination in this subject fully bear out this view. It should be more usual for teachers to keep lists of misspelt words, and to use them from time to time for revisal. The " Bold- writing Copy-books" are now used in nearly all the schools. I have seldom had to fail a pupil in any standard for writing, and I consider this subject is satisfactorily taught. Mr. Dickinson remarks about it, " Writing is not receiving the attention it formerly received in this district"; and Mr. Goodwin shares this opinion. It is certainly true, as Mr. Crowe points out, that very little care is taken to train pupils to sit in a good position, and to hold pens and pencils properly. Without doubt this neglect tends to make the teaching inefficient, and it argues a serious want of care and attention on the part of teachers, as well as obvious failure to train their pupils to carry out their directions. Of criticism and demonstration of faults at the blackboard there is no lack; what is more often lacking is the force and earnestness needed to effectually impress the teaching. In the schools of Germany the greatest importance is attached to the way in which the pen is held and moved, and long and elaborate practice in these matters is given before a pupil is allowed to touch paper with an inked pen. The indifference of the great majority of our teachers to these confessedly important aids to good writing is most discreditable. It is a commonplace to say that the writing in exercise-books is seldom as good as that in copy-books, and is sometimes markedly inferior. Written borne exercises are still a fruitful cause of careless writing, especially when they are too long, as they still sometimes are. In large classes their correction is a laborious, and often, I fear, an unfruitful task, and close attention to other details is apt to withdraw attention from the quality of the penmanship. Their correction, moreover, is too often intrusted to pupil-teachers, so that the teacher really responsible for the training of the class has only a superficial knowledge of what is doing in this direction. I should like to see written home exercises made very short indeed in all the classes below Standard V., and if they are not well looked after it would be a gain to discontinue them altogether. To make up for this reduction of written work two or three exercises a week should be neatly written out in school in exercisebooks kept expressly for that purpose. Mr. Dickinson points out that work of this kind is unknown in many of the schools of his district. As it would be done under the teacher's eye, the writing should be as good as the pupils can make it, and great importance should be attached to neatness and care. Freehand and geometrical drawing are generally satisfactory; model drawing is not so good. In the lower classes drawing is taught with most success where blank drawing-books only are used. Some of the series of drawing-books authorised by the Minister provide a very indifferent course for the lower standards. Teachers might well show better judgment in selecting the books to be used in these classes. The use of rulers and measures where their use is forbidden may still be frequently noticed. " Good work has been shown in arithmetic in Standards 1., 11., 111., and 1V.," Mr. Dickinson reports, " but there was a disastrous failure in Standards V. and VI." "It is not easy," he adds, "to account for the weakness in the upper standards. The tests this year were much more difficult than the tests of preceding years, and I am afraid that in too many instances the teachers have merely aimed at reaching the standard of attainments thus set up." The experience of the other

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Inspectors has been much the same as Mr. Dickinson's, and disastrous failure in the arithmetic of Standards V. and VI. has been as pronounced in other districts as in his. The cause of this failure is clearly the increased difficulty of the questions. Teachers seem to me to be fully justified in expecting reasonable uniformity in the standards of attainments required in this subject year by year. If the standard is suddenly raised without warning of any kind we cannot blame them for not at once rising to its demands. In my judgment many of the examination-tests in the arithmetic of Standards V. and VI. were unreasonably difficult, and the failure to answer them satisfactorily does not of itself prove any decline in the efficiency of the teaching. There is, however, one class of sum set for the Standard V. class which I think our scholars should have answered better than they did. I refer to questions relating to bankrupt estates, and requiring for their solution a knowledge only of the compound rules and simple proportion, together with a small dose of mental acuteness. Questions of this kind abound in the school text-books, and all the somewhat technical terms used in this connection should have been understood. Many examples of this type were given during the year :" A bankrupt's estate pays 12s. 6d. in the £1; what does a creditor lose on a debt of £350?" This I consider a perfectly fair, indeed, an easy question for Standard V. pupils; but it proved a mere trap for the great majority of our scholars, who took the 12s. 6d. to be the sum lost on each pound of the whole debt. The common failure to do questions of this kind clearly indicates very mechanical teaching. In many schools, as is seen at inspection visits, there is a notable want of smartness in arithmetical work, four or five easy examples being all that is overtaken in an hour. In good schools twice as much as this is often done in the same time. More practice in doing sums at the blackboard is now given, the pupils stating the working in detail and giving all explanations ; but there are too many cases in which it is still more or less neglected. Readiness in changing small sums of money from one denomination to another is a very common desideratum in Standards 111. and IV. This defect can be supplied only by a sufficient amount of rapid oral questioning. Correction of answers frequently encroaches seriously on the time for teaching, and in the eyes of some it almost 'exhausts the teacher's duty in connection with arithmetic. These faults are most noticeable in the classes below Standard IV., and especially in the larger schools. From Standard IV. upwards blackboard teaching is more practiced, and the instruction is more intelligent. I believe, however, that the teaching is seldom sufficiently impressed by clear and varied questioning on the examples when the working has been completed. In dealing with problems one or two very simple cases involving the same principle are very generally considered first. This is as it should be, if simple illustration is really needed. But care is seldom taken to make sure that the principle as a principle is really understood, and can be clearly and concisely stated by average pupils before consideration of the simple examples is left. Our main object in resorting to easy illustrations is to lay bare a principle in its greatest simplicity ; but the lesson is most incomplete unless the principle is generalised— i.e., can be stated by most of the pupils in terms that admit of its easy application to similar cases. Neglect of this is, I fear, a common and a grave defect in our handling of arithmetic. lam ashamed to report that finger-counting is still far from unknown in the Third and Fourth Standards, and even in the Fifth. Means of curing this evil can be easily found if teachers would only take the trouble to apply them. Mental arithmetic varies greatly from school to school, and is on the whole but moderately done. The upper classes frequently do better than the lower; in the former I have not rarely met with good work. There has been satisfactory improvement in the teaching of grammar, more especially in the lower classes. Mr. Goodwin writes, " The teaching of grammar has certainly improved, but a good deal remains to be done." And Mr. Dickinson says, " Grammar is being better taught, more attention being given to sentence-structure than to minutias of parsing." A sound understanding of this subject is most necessary even for the most elementary teaching of it, and prevalent defects of treatment are in great measure due to the limited acquaintance with its principles that many teachers have gained. In several of the larger schools the subject has been well taught in the higher classes. I hope that most teachers will make acquaintance with Mr. West's " Elements of English. Grammar," the book recommended for study to pupil-teachers. A careful study of this lucid and logical work should do much to improve the teaching of this subject. Little improvement is to be noticed this year in the teaching of composition. In order to secure greater uniformity in estimating the value of exercises in this subject I thought it advisable to issue pretty definite instructions to the Inspectors, and, as a result, the standard applied in one or two of the districts has been slightly raised. The purport of these instructions I hope to be able to communicate to teachers at an early date. It is worth noticing that many of the failures recorded in this subject were due to pupils being unable to divide the matter of their exercises properly into sentences. To teach this it would be helpful to write on the blackboard a paragraph containing several sentences with the stops and capital letters omitted, and to train the pupils to divide it into sentences and insert the capitals. Pupils' exercises showing this fault in a marked degree might with advantage be treated in the same way. Much of the weakness in teaching composition is traceable to bad methods and to want of method—faults that are largely due to the omission of this topic from current text-books on school method. Mr. Gladman, for example, has not a word to say on the subject. Teachers will find many useful suggestions in a little book entitled "English Composition and how to teach it," by E. S. Wood (MacDougal's Education Company, Limited, London), and in Messrs. Nelson's composition books for all the standards, published last year. Except in the Second and Third Standards the knowledge of geography has hardly improved during the year. It is a heavy subject, not easy to invest with interest, and in some respects too vaguely defined. It would be a great gain if the Minister would issue a complete syllabus, as is done in Victoria, and sell it for the cost of printing. The teaching, I think, might easily be made more thorough and intelligent than it is in most schools. In some cases a good deal is taught that clearly lies outside the syllabus. The " Southern Cross" geographies, now favoured by a number

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of teachers, greatly encourage this. The " Zealandia " geography books avoid this fault, and are much more suitable for ordinary use. At Te Aroha and one or two other schools, where a full and intelligent knowledge of the subject was shown, no text-book had been used. Many pupils answer badly from mere want of training to answer in writing. The quality of much of the instruction may be not unfairly judged from the answer to the following question set in the work of Standard IV.: " Tell what you know of the country and the people of Arabia ? " The answer for the most part consisted of these words —"Arabia, capital Mecca near the Eed Sea." I should be glad to think that the inferior answers given to such a question as this were due to the incomprehensibility of the question rather than to the scanty knowledge of the pupils. On the head of history I give Mr. Dickinson's remarks in full. " History is one of the least satisfactory subjects in our school course. The knowledge of the pupils is very meagre. I am afraid this is due to the want (a) of ample and accurate knowledge on the part of our teachers, and (b) of the power of describing and narrating orally." My own views on the teaching of history in elementary schools should be well known, as I have publicly advocated them for years. I think it should not be a subject of examination at all, and that the reading, in each of the classes from Standards 111. to VI., of a suitable historical reader or text-book, as part of the course of instruction in reading and English, would be sufficient to give our pupils an acquaintance in outline with the great features in the story of our fatherland. This arrangement would, I believe, foster an interest in biographical and historical reading, and avoid the danger, by no means imaginary, of creating a dislike of what might in later years be an interesting and instructive study. To have to prepare for an examination in such a subject as history, which the young can only imperfectly understand, and understand all the worse for the necessarily concise treatment it must receive in a school-book, is not the best way of investing it with interest. No change in the school course seems to me so desirable as this, or better calculated to relieve teachers and pupils of some part of the too heavy burden now imposed on them. Of object-lessons Mr. Dickinson writes: "This subject is being treated more intelligently. The topics chosen deal more frequently than formerly with the ordinary phenomena of common life, and with objects familiar to the children. Thus the scholar is now being led to acquire knowledge by observation and experiment." And he adds, " The science-lessons are not quite so satisfactory in too many of the small schools. The teaching is not sufficiently accurate or sufficiently grounded on observation and experiment. Expensive apparatus is not needed." The improved treatment of object-lessons here noted is, I think, fairly general. A wider knowledge of the methods and aims of the lessons in recent books on this subject would help to make the improvement more general. As to science, little time can be spared for lessons in it. No great result either in training or in knowledge can be looked for unless more than one hour a week can be given to the subject. In a few large schools this allowance of time has been somewhat exceeded, but in most schools it is less, and is frequently only half an hour. In a fair number of cases creditable work has notwithstanding been done, and several head teachers could be named who have taken the subject up with enthusiasm and success, and treated it on truly experimental lines. In laws of health, simple physiology, and agricultural science the teaching is of necessity largely " book science," but an appreciable deposit of permanent knowledge is frequently secured even on these terms. Except in agricultural science and simple chemistry we have no easy text-books that fit into the programme of science teaching, and this is one of the chief causes of the somewhat unsatisfactory condition of the instruction. The programme itself is in need of revision, while the agricultural science course is so comprehensive that it has been prescribed verbatim for the teacher's certificate examination. The inaccuracy of the instruction, to which Mr. Dickinson refers, is a very real defect that can be removed only by teachers informing themselves better on the subjects taught. If we could get rid of history as an examination subject science could be much more worthily treated than it now is. Oral answers are being more generally stated in the form of complete sentences, and this should be aimed at everywhere. But they too often want the fullness and definiteness that constitute the chief merit of a good oral answer. Many pupils seem to say not as much as they can, but as little as they can, on the subject of the question. This is largely owing to the undue prevalence of narrow questions that deal with a single isolated point. Object-lessons, science-lessons, history-lessons, and examinations on the matter of English lessons afford scope for a wide and comprehensive style of questioning, and furnish ample material for a good training in oral composition. Indeed, there is hardly a subject in the school course that might not be turned to good account for this purpose. Only in a very few schools is the order of the pupils other than satisfactory, and it is usually good. My colleagues for the most part speak favourably of the attention also, but in a good many of the larger classes that have come under my notice I do not think the attention satisfactory, except in the higher standards. Many of our teachers have a very humble idea of what good attention should mean, and are satisfied if their classes show a quiet and decorous mental torpor. If it is reasonable to expect evidence that an earnest and willing spirit of work pervades a class; that every pupil is carefully and closely noticing all that is being done ; that the eyes of all are following word by word the reading of one ; that the ears of all are open to the teacher's instruction and to their class-fellows' answers—if it is reasonable to expect all this, the number of wellmanaged classes in the larger schools is much lower than I could wish it to be. In the smaller schools the attention is usually much better. Low answering has been about as prevalent as in previous years. This evil involves great loss of efficiency in many schools. Changes of teachers and absence on leave have been perhaps less frequent than heretofore, but they still form one of the greatest obstacles to progress. It is most important that assistants of good physique should be appointed in the larger schools, as the skilled head masters of these establishments have now to act as relieving teachers during a considerable part of the year, and are thus hindered in the systematic supervision of the teaching and management of the pupil-teachers and

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the less experienced assistants that is so necessary for maintaining and raising the efficiency of their schools. Some improvement is evidently needed in dealing with applications for leave of absence. I believe that in no other part of the colony does the absence of teachers cause half the friction and inconvenience that we experience here. It would be worth while to inquire how this question is dealt with elsewhere. In October the Board lost the services of one of the best school inspectors iv the colony through the sudden removal of the late Mr. Airey. He did a great deal to advance the interests of education in this district, and discharged his duties with conspicuous care and conscientiousness. On many matters I have benefited by his counsel, and could always depend on getting from him an independent and valuable opinion. The position rendered vacant by his death has not yet been permanently filled. Mr. James Grierson has carried on the work of the district as Acting-Inspector in a way that has given me every satisfaction. To my colleagues lam much indebted for the diligence and ability with which they have discharged their important duties. The increase in the size as well as in the number of the schools has made the year abundant in labour, and it has only been by using the utmost economy of time that the work has been so completely overtaken. The great majority of the teachers have, I believe, honestly endeavoured to remedy defects and improve the efficiency of their work during the year. Suggestions offered by the Inspectors have been received and considered in a friendly spirit, and have in many instances yielded evident good results. Deliberate neglect of duty, though not absolutely unknown, is of very rare occurrence. Not a few of the reports sent in by teachers on taking charge of a small school suggests that their predecessors have relaxed their efforts for some time before vacating their positions. In the larger schools the head teachers take care that this does not happen. I regret that so few of the representatives of the School Committees have been present at the examinations. A better knowledge of how the work of the Inspectors is done, and of the aims they set before themselves and the teachers, would do much good. I have, &c, D. Peteie, M.A., Chief Inspector. The Secretary, Auckland Board of Education.

TARANAKI. Sib,— Education Office, New Plymouth, 10th March, 1897. I have the honour to lay before you my second annual report on the public schools in the Taranaki District for the year ending 31st December, 1896. The Schools of the District. —At the close of 1895 fifty-four schools were in active operation. During 1896 schools were opened at Mangaere, Denbigh Road, and Purangi, and others at Huiroa, Tongaporutu, and Kaiauai will be opened shortly, so that in a month or two we shall have sixty schools, an increase of twenty since the beginning of 1891. In 1895 only eleven schools showed a surplus of income over expenditure, and by these the smaller schools of the district had to a great extent to be supported. On the evils attendant upon such a state of affairs I wrote at some length last year. The only aided school in the district worked very satisfactorily. During the past year the Board made strenuous efforts to improve the interiors of the schools and to render the surroundings of the pupils pleasing and attractive. Schools formerly dingy and depressing are now bright and cheerful, so far as the Board can render them. It lies with the teachers and the Committees to complete the work thus begun. lam pleased to report that wanton defacing of desks and other apparatus is no longer common, though still to be found in schools where the discipline is weak. Copy-books, exercise-books, and drawing-books are taken better care of, and the more expensive books are covered and kept freer from disfigurement. Most of the damage done to the schools and appointments occurs where the rooms are used for'meetings and dances. In the case of the latter the desks have to be shifted—often they are placed outside—and even with the greatest care, which I am afraid is not always exercised, some depreciation is inevitable. The hall of the Central School at New Plymouth has been furnished with shelves, on which are laid copies of the chief illustrated papers. This is an excellent idea, and at my visits to the school I have seen the keen interest the pupils take in the pictures. Could not the teachers of other schools provide similar privileges for their pupils ? Some illustrated papers have been placed at my disposal and sent to country schools, where the pupils would otherwise never see anything of the kind. As a rule the smaller schools present the most pleasing interiors, Okato, Tikorangi, Tariki, and Frankley Road deserving special commendation. The suggestions of last year re aids to teaching, though adopted in some schools, have not met with general acceptance. Modern apparatus is being gradually supplied, and I hope this year to be able to equip the larger schools with the apparatus much needed for object-lessons. In a few cases the school-grounds are well kept, but in many indifferently. In the bush districts the logs would soon be cleared away if the teachers could enlist the interest and co-opera-tion of the elder boys. "Working-bees"—such as have helped to make the New Plymouth Recreation-grounds so attractive—would soon remove defects, and provide ample space for the pupils. At few schools are flower-pots to be seen. At the larger schools the supervision of the pupils in the playground is satisfactory, but at the smaller schools is often neglected, the teachers being engaged with work in the schoolroom or away at lunch. Pupil-teachers. —With a view to the better training of pupil-teachers, in the new regulations considerable importance has been attached to school management. In addition to the book-work prescribed, progress in the practical work of teaching must be shown. Pull notes of lessons have

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to be drawn up, and for skill in giving a lesson to a class there are assigned marks which count towards a pass. For the methods adopted the head teachers were responsible, and I regret to say that, with a few exceptions, they were not satisfactory, and in many cases the notes would have been valueless if handed in at a certificate examination. Where, however, efficient instruction had been given, the benefits were very apparent, not only in the special lessons, but also in the general work in school. In some educational districts the pupil-teachers have every opportunity for receiving the training necessary to qualify them for taking responsible positions in the profession. After four years' apprenticeship they are admitted free of charge for two years to a training-college, where, relieved from the responsibilities of class-teaching, they can devote their whole attention to the training in methods of teaching and to the acquisition of the general knowledge necessary to secure their certificates. Moreover, university colleges and large well-conducted schools are open to them. In other districts—of which this is one —where there are no such facilities pupil-teachers are labouring under great disadvantages, for, however desirous of fitting themselves for their profession, their experience is limited to the methods practised in their own schools —probably small ones —and in a great measure they are debarred from intercourse with their fellow pupil-teachers, and healthy emulation is entirely lacking. Moreover, they have as a rule to study after having been occupied in school during the day. It seems to me that under such varying conditions uniformity of examinations—of which we have heard much of late—is not desirable, and that each district must frame regulations to suit its own needs. The examinations in practical teaching have been conducted on the lines followed in trainingschools. Wherever it was possible several pupil-teachers were brought together, and while one gave a lesson the others filled in criticism-forms. Then followed a brief discussion on the merits and defects of the lesson. By such means I hope to give our pupil-teachers an approximation to the training they would receive at a training-college, and, though disappointed with many of the first attempts, I foresee that the system will be productive of beneficial results. Attendance. —It must be gratifying to the Board to find that there is a further rise in the percentage of pupils that attend regularly. In 1895 the percentage was 75-8 (the highest then reached), and in 1896 it rose to 77 - 5. I still find that in many of the country districts the compulsory clauses are not enforced, and, I believe, will be enforced only where independent truant officers are appointed. Since the passing of the School Attendance Act teachers have complained that some pupils attend less regularly than formerly, the legal minimum attendance (six per week) being regarded by the parents as the standard of attendance. Ido not think that this evil exists to any great extent. Many children, however, who did not attend well formerly now attend the exact number of times necessary for compliance with the Act. Such cannot be termed good attendance, but where parents are neglectful legislation can only diminish the evil, not remove it. Bad attendance —the excuse of the poor teacher and the bane of the good teacher—is often given as a reason for inferior work. In order to determine how far it may be responsible, I require teachers to show the attendances of all pupils during the three quarters preceding that in which the examination is held; in fact, Ido not see how one can arrive at a just estimate of a teacher's work unless one has such information, and in the examination schedules I should like to see a column set apart for it. Varying attendance alone makes the percentage of passes a most fallacious test of teaching; and, in addition, there are other powerful agencies militating against or favouring a teacher's success. Indeed, so varied are the conditions under which work is carried on that a numerical estimate of skill and success in teaching is altogether impossible. Inspection. —Apart from the examination-days, eighty-three visits were paid to the schools. Eeports on the statutory visits of inspection were laid before the Board, but many other visits were paid on which no reports were written. Great importance is attached to inspection, for then can be seen the actual work of instruction, the quality of the education, and the methods adopted. Want of preparation of the work by the teacher was very noticeable. After pupils entered school time which should have been devoted to instruction would be occupied with work that should have been ready when the admission-bell was rung. For even the easiest lessons preparation is desirable, and for the successful organization of two or more standards it is absolutely essential. With regard to the choice of methods teachers have considerable latitude. There may often be more than one good method of dealing with a subject, and different teachers using different methods may obtain equally good results. Of far greater importance is the skill with which the methods are handled, and here I have found considerable room for improvement. Extra blackboards have been supplied to many schools, and some of the teachers use them skilfully. Coloured chalks—now in almost general use—are found invaluable in teaching from the blackboard. In collective lessons some teachers fail to take full advantage of the blackboard notes in recapitulation. A serious defect in organization is the want of a definite plan for the work of the year. In the larger schools the daily work could be arranged a week or two ahead, and then lessons of revision and recapitulation could be systematically taken. Too often the earlier months of the year are lost in desultory teaching, and as the examination approaches there is a rush of cram, and the pupils, notwithstanding this overstraining, and because of it, are unfit for examination. Examination of Schools. —Of the fifty-seven schools open at the end of the year fifty-three were examined. Tarata was visited for examination, but the pupils were not present. The newlyopened schools —Mangaere, Purangi, and Denbigh Eoad — were not examined. On the days appointed for the examinations 3,778 pupils were on the rolls ; of these, 2,394 were presented in Standards I. to VI., ten were presented in the class above Standard VI., and 1,374 were in the preparatory classes. The number of pupils in the preparatory classes was exactly the same as in the previous year. The number of pupils presented in standards showed an increase of sixty-six. Though the number presented was greater than in the previous year, the number absent from

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examination was less, falling from 130 to 115, and if Tarata (above referred to) be excluded from the calculation the absentees number only 100. The following table shows the summary of results for the district:—

From the above table it will be seen that in Standards 11., IV., V., VI. the average ages have fallen, and that in Standard 111. there is a slight increase, since 1895. Preparatory Glasses. —Of the 3,778 pupils on the rolls at examination, 1,374, or 36 per cent., were in the preparatory classes. Though the number of pupils in the preparatory classes was exactly the same as in the previous year, the number over eight years of age showed a decrease, falling from 475, or 34 per cent., to 391, or 28 per cent. This shows that the tendency to keep back pupils in the infant classes did not exist to the same extent as in the previous year. This was my impression before the compilation of the above return, for in comparatively few cases were the reasons for non-presentation in Standard I. unsatisfactory. The Examination of Standards I. and ll. —During the past year I carried out the course adopted during the previous year, as explained in my last report. On the whole, the system of examination by the teacher has not worked satisfactorily, and. again pupils who were unqualified were promoted. In one case where the teacher adhered to his results he afterwards admitted that he had been too lenient, for the work of the higher standard was found to be too heavy. Last year I cited a case where a teacher (not now in the service) passed every pupil in Standard 11. ; examined in Standard 111. they, failed utterly. For twelve months they had been struggling with work altogether beyond their powers, and after all their disheartening efforts had to remain in the same class, having a good knowledge of the work of neither standard. I should not like to see the system abolished altogether, for I believe that a good teacher's knowledge of the pupils' work during the year should be recognised in the granting of passes, but it would work more satisfactorily and would conduce to a higher standard of efficiency if an Inspector had the power to revise the passes. In arithmetic there frequently was great disparity between the teachers' results and mine, though the tests were of about equal difficulty. Beading. —An improvement was noticeable during the year, though much still remains to be done. To Standards V. and VI. the " New Zealand Eeader" was issued, and, though for examination the easier lessons were chosen, the results were disappointing, and pupils stumbled over words they could quite easily have read in the ordinary books. When throughout the year only one book is used the pupils remember the matter of the lessons and reading becomes to a certain extent prose recitation, and the introduction of the extra reading-book will conduce to better reading. I do not mean that the school reader will be better read, but the pupils will be able to read a book of equal difficulty but not so well known with more intelligence and fluency. lam afraid that some of our children never read any books other than those used in school, and, though they may know these sufficiently well to pass, there is no guarantee that they are good readers. The course of reading during school-hours cannot be widened to any great extent, for the syllabus is already sufficiently heavy, but much could be done by the establishment of libraries containing books of interest to boys and girls of school age. At some of the larger schools such are to be found, but in the country districts, where the need is most felt, so far as I know, there are none. Spelling. —l cannot report favourably on this subject. Apart from the special tests, easy words in the general work were frequently misspelled. The inferiority is due chiefly to the two causes pointed out last year—want of thoroughness in correction and bad methods of instruction, the ear, not the eye, being appealed to. Writing. —The lack of organization shown in using two or more sets of copy-books in the same class at the same time is not so common as formerly, and consequently better class-instruction is possible. I find, however, that in the lower classes of some schools systematic instruction in the principles of good writing is still neglected, and that pupils are allowed to "go on writing" instead of being shown lioiv to write. The writing on the examination-papers was generally satisfactory, and the number of papers I could look upon as good samples of neatness and arrangement was considerably greater than in the previous year. I attach as much—l was going to say more— importance to this, the practical application of writing, as to the work done in the copy-books. The latter shows in some measure how the subject is taught, the former how far the teaching is successful. What I have said has a bearing on a still more practical side—the neatness, legibility, fluency, and symmetry of the writing of the children when they leave school; and I consider the majority of our ex-pupils should show at least very fair proficiency.

Classes. Presented. Examined in Standards. Passed. Average A| that p ge of those iassed. 1896. Yrs. mos. 1895. Yrs. mos. Lbove Standard VI. Standard VI. V. ... „ IV. ... „ III. ... II. ... I. ... 'reparatory 10 85 200 443 565 545 556 1,374 82 188 420 545 518 526 46 91 229 335 393 405 14 2 13 7 12 9 11 11 10 7 9 5 14 4 13 10 12 11 11 10 10 9 9 5 Totals 3,778 2,279 1,499

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Draiving. —ln this subject also I found an improvement in the organization. In Standards 1., 11., and 111. the subject was, as a rule, well taught. In Standard IV. the geometrical drawing was weaker than I expected. Standard V. work was often good, and the pupils showed an intelligent comprehension of the principles of elementary scale-drawing. The work in Standard VI. was below the promise of the lower classes. This was due to some extent to the lack of suitable models for model-drawing, and for illustrating solid geometry. I should like to see some of our pupils sent up for the examinations held under the auspices of the Wellington School of Art. Arithmetic. —ln Standard I. the work was fairly satisfactory ; in Standard 11., unsatisfactory; in Standard 111., fair. In Standards IV., V., and VI. the quality varied very much, in V. and VI. being often very disappointing. The teachers were shown the cards, and were asked to point out anything they considered should be explained to the pupils. I was often told that the tests were fair and on the lines of the instruction, and yet the questions were not well done. Allowing in such cases that the instruction had been satisfactory, it seems to me that the examinations conducted by the master must have been in fault, and this, I am convinced, was sometimes the case. Only one set of cards would be used where at least three or four were required if pupils were to work independently. In the ordinary school-work also pupils sitting side by side were assigned the same work. If for the larger schools cyclostyles were provided different sets of papers could be readily struck off, and the teachers could then gauge with more certainty the efficiency and progress of the pupils. The mechanical questions were fairly correct, but questions dealing with principles taught, but varying slightly in form, were poorly worked. The instruction often degenerates into working on the blackboard long mechanical examples. These take up more time in working than is commensurate with any results that can possibly be obtained. In working them also teachers do the whole of the work, while the pupils may or may not be attending, and are certainly not learning. Another defect is very common. The teacher deals too much with abstract quantities, the concrete illustrations—met with by the pupils in actual life and the basis of the whole rule—being omitted altogether. Let me give an example taken from the work of Standard 111. Question : £19 14s. Bd.-r-8. Teacher's directions : Divide the pounds by 8= 2 and 3 over; multiply the 3by2o = 60, and plus 14 = 74; divide by 8= 9 and 2 over; multiply the 2byl2 = 24, and plus 8=32 ; divide 32 by 8= 4. Answer :£2 9s. 4d. A much better plan would be to treat the question as though an actual sum of money were being divided among eight boys. With the card-board coins now sent out to schools the exact sum could be shown to the pupils, who should be required to perform the operation. Method : The pounds are distributed equally among the eight boys as far as they will go. Each has £2 and T. has £3 14s. Bd. left. How is this to be divided ? The pounds must be exchanged for shillings. Where? At bank, store, &c. For £3 T. gets 605., and these with 14s. = 745. T. can now distribute some shillings. The boys get 9s. each, and each now has £2 95., and T. has 2s. Bd. left, and so on to the end. Step by step as the money is divided the process is shown on the blackboard, and pupils can understand the reason for every step. If, in the upper classes, cheap scribbling-books were used for arithmetic, and possibly other subjects, the time of both teacher and taught would be saved. The pupils could work with leadpencil, copying out would not be necessary, the work could be corrected at a convenient opportunity, more practice could be obtained in a given time, and a permanent record of the work could be kept. Composition. —ln Standard 111. there was a marked improvement in both the punctuation and the language used. This I attribute in a great measure to the teachers requiring the pupils to answer fully in oral work as I recommended last year. As pupils trained in this way reach the standards in which composition is a pass-subject I expect to find a still further improvement. In Standards IV., V., and VI. composition leaves much to be desired. Here special lessons on the structure of sentences are needed, and, with a few exceptions, such as I saw were disappointing. In the past the teachers have looked upon grammar as all-important, and lessons in composition tend to become lessons in grammar, the minutias of subdivision and classification instead of the uses of words, phrases, and clauses in combination being dealt with. In no other subject is faulty correction more noticeable than in composition. Grave errors are passed over and the corrections are often poor. The corrections are generally written in by the teachers, the books handed back to the pupils, closed, and put away, and very seldom is the exercise rewritten correctly. Better training would be given if the pupils themselves were required to make the corrections. The teacher might use simple well-understood signs to indicate different classes of errors, and the pupils could then think out the errors and rewrite the exercise if necessary. Some such signs are shown in Longmans' Composition (p. 302), and others just as suitable could be found. The schools in which the pupils can begin and end letters properly increase in number. At the examinations note-paper and envelopes were given out, and the pupils were required to write letters as if they were going to post them. The letters, on the whole, were fair, but the addressing of the envelopes was weak. Geography. —In Standard 111. more use had been made of the maps, and in consequence the work showed an improvement. As the knowledge required from this class is comparatively light, more advanced works in New Zealand geography might be undertaken, and the heavier work of Standard IV. thereby lightened. In Standards IV., V., and VI. there were many failures. There can be little doubt that the instruction is too mechanical. The pupils are required to commit to memory certain parts of the text-books, and but little effort is made to arouse interest hi the lesson. As oral examination by the Inspector before a map is not so easy as in Standard 111., the maps are often neglected. Until blank maps such as I use in examining come into more general use Ido not expect to find much improvement in the geography of Standard IV. A glance at the exercisebooks sometimes showed that teachers were satisfied with very meagre answers, and in such cases the fault became apparent at examination. Want of accuracy in defining the positions of places

I II '. [ I 1 1 1 I L > M I i I 1 1 1 V - < . I ' I M i I V 2—E. Iβ.

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was very common, and Standard V. pupils considered it sufficient to state that Calcutta is in Asia, and so on. The answering in physical geography still remained unsatisfactory, and the answers often indicated inferior methods of instruction and the consequent confusion of ideas. During the year I frequently required teachers to give lessons on subjects of interest in New Zealand, and even where they had carefully prepared the lessons they were at a great disadvantage, and often conveyed quite erroneous ideas, as they had not visited the places or scenes referred to. As a just conception of our own country is of the greatest importance to those engaged in teaching, could not the department assist teachers who wish to visit the different parts of the colony during their holidays ? The Union Company makes a concession, but insufficient to induce travelling by sea. In many parts of the North Island coach-fares have been cut down by competition, and if the Eailway Department could be prevailed upon to issue tickets at, say, half or quarter rates to teachers travelling over new country many would, I believe, avail themselves of the privilege. The plan suggested is merely an extension of the principle underlying the cheap school excursions, of which the advantages are generally recognised. The educational results are obvious; more accurate knowledge would be imparted to the children, lessons could be made more pictorial and descriptive, and that horror " cram " would be pushed further into the background. Class and Additional Subjects. —My remarks in the last report still apply, except that in history in Standard 111. there was an improvement. A review of the work of the year shows that education in the district has progressed steadily, if slowly. A great obstacle is the frequent changing of teachers. A new teacher comes to a school, and if the examination results are unsatisfactory the past and present teachers repudiate any responsibility, and the apportioning thereof is often very difficult. Better results are hoped for in the future, but in a year or so the new teacher seeks and may obtain removal, and disappointing work is again found. The order and discipline were generally very satisfactory. In only a few schools were the pupils not self-reliant and honest in their work. I have, &c, W. B. Spencee, M.A., B.Sc, The Chairman, Taranaki Education Board. Inspector of Schools.

WANGANUI. Sic, — Education Board Office, Wanganui, 28th February, 1897. We have the honour to submit our report on public education in the Wanganui District for the year ending the 31st December, 1896. Number of Schools. —At the close of the school-year 123 schools were in active operation, as against 116 at the close of 1895. Enrolment. —For the last quarter of the year the average weekly roll-numbers were: Males, 5,190; females, 4,887 : total, 10,077. For the four quarters of the year the mean average weekly rollnumber was 10,121-5. This shows an increase for the year of 374, which appears low, considering that six new schools were established, and that many buildings were enlarged. All the new schools, however, were opened during the last quarter of the year, and the total number enrolled at them is only 117. The increase, therefore, on the rolls of the remaining 117 schools of the district is 257. Taking the larger schools, and comparing the average weekly roll-numbers of the last quarters of the past two years, we find that the four schools in Wanganui Borough show an increase of thirty-nine, Feilding School an increase of thirty-three, and Hawera School an increase of forty-eight; while the three schools in Palmerston Borough show a decrease of sixty, Marton School a decrease of twenty-three, and Foxton School a decrease of eleven. This clearly shows that the district is indebted not so much to the large towns for any increase in the number of pupils enrolled as to the progress of settlement. It must, however, be remembered that many of the children enrolled in the new schools in the back-country previously attended some other schools in the district. How settlement has advanced on this west coast during the past ten years is shown in a remarkable manner by the following figures : From 1886 to 1896 the average weekly rollnumber of all the schools has l'isen from 6,221 to 10,077, or an increase of 62 per cent.; and the number of schools open from 75 to 123, or an increase of 64 per cent. This is the first year the average weekly roll-number has reached 10,000. Average Attendance. —For the last quarter of the year the strict average daily attendances were : Males, 4,083 ; females, 3,859 : total, 7,942. The working average for the same period was 8,051, or 109 higher than the strict average. In calculating the working average the number of half-days on which the attendance is under half the number on the roll, and the attendances on such half-days, are thrown out of the calculation. For the four quarters of the year the strict average daily attendance was 8,050-5, and the working average 8,145-5, or 95 higher than the strict average. For the year the increase in the strict average is 657-3, although the increase in the rollnumber is only 374 ; and the strict average attendance expressed as a percentage of the weekly roll-number is 79-5. These calculations point to increased regularity of attendance, and we are pleased to note that the percentage is 2-5 above the highest yet reached in the district—viz., 77 per cent, in 1894. Still, this 795 is below the percentages of nine of the thirteen districts in 1895, in which year Otago was at the top with 85-9. But, other things being equal, the district with the best attendance should show the best teaching results ; and, if this be granted, how can Wanganui compare favourably with Otago when in the former district one pupil in five is absent daily, as against one pupil in seven in the latter ? There would be little to complain of if pupils attended as well throughout the year as they do on examination-days. On those days 95 per cent, of the pupils presented in standards, and 91 per cent, of all the pupils on the rolls (including those in the preparatory classes), attended.

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In your Inspectors' report for 1890 it was pointed out that it was by no means the small schools and bush schools that showed low average attendances, but that some of the large schools were very bad offenders in this respect. It is pleasing to find from the following table that a marked improvement has taken place during the past six years : — Attendance for Year expressed School. as a Percentage Difference, of the Koll-number. 1890. 1896. Waverley ... ... ... 69-7 88-0 183 increase. Wanganui Boys' ... ... 88-1 85-6 2-5 decrease. Feilding ... ... ... 65-8 85-1 19-3 increase. Wanganui Girls' ... ... 80-0 84-2 4-2 Terrace End, Palmerston ... 69-7 83-1 13-4 Marton ... ... ... 75-0 80-4 5-4 Hawera ... ... ... 794 79-6 0-2 College Street, Palmerston ... ... 795) AT . - -, O nn Campbell Street, Palmerston 79-2 ( Not °P en m 189 °- Foxton ... ... ... 69-6 94-9 5-3 increase. Central School, Palmerston* ... 72-9

From the foregoing it will be seen that, of the eight schools where it is possible to make a comparison between the attendances for the two years, seven show an improvement; and Feilding, Waverley, and Terrace End do so in a most marked degree. Wanganui Boys' School alone shows a marked decrease, but the attendance there during the last quarter of 1890 was abnormally high, reaching 97 per cent, of the roll-number. Notwithstanding the improvements made, however, five out of the ten schools do not reach 81-4 per cent. —the average for the colony last year; and Waverley is the only one of the ten to reach the percentage of Otago, though in a comparison between a single school on the one hand, and a district with 214 schools and nearly twenty thousand pupils on the other, the result should be in favour of the single school. For writing at such length under this heading the importance of the subject must be our excuse. Irregularity of attendance is the greatest bane of the enthusiastic, skilful teacher (often a valuable friend to the incompetent one), and even he will find a difficulty in producing good work when hampered by it. He may obtain a fair number of passes of a certain quality, but he cannot educate his pupils. Fortunately it is generally a teacher of a different stamp that finds a difficulty in securing regular attendance. With the majority of teachers irregularity of attendance must lead to " cram," superficial treatment, and neglect of some subjects—generally class-subjects. That much of the irregularity is often due to sheer carelessness on the part of parents there is no doubt. But in far too many cases it is the teachers themselves who are responsible for this carelessness ; for parents, not to speak of children, are quick to gauge the educational barometer of a school, and the attendance varies according to the height of such barometer. To secure good attendance, therefore, it is of the greatest importance that teachers should carry out their work faithfully and well from day to day ; while (to quote from a previous report) " they should make their schools as attractive as possible, by establishing in their pupils' minds happy associations with the duties and employments of every day (a valuable factor in the training for after life), and by fostering among their pupils a feeling of loyalty and pride in everything connected with the schools which they attend." Roman Catholic Schools. —The Eoman Catholic schools were duly inspected and examined, including the Marist Brothers' Boys' School and the Girls' School in Wanganui, the school in Palmerston North, and the school in Hawera. The following are the examination results: —

The schools at Wanganui and Palmerston showed marked improvement since the previous examination. At Hawera all the pupils in Standards V. and VI. failed badly in arithmetic; and spelling, composition, and geography were very poor subjects in Standards IV. to VI. Inspection. —In all, 114 schools were visited and fully reported upon. It is to be regretted that more time cannot be found for inspection visits, especially in the case of those schools where the teachers are inexperienced, but are anxious to learn. We are glad to be able to say that the help we were privileged to give at these visits often bore good fruit at the subsequent examination visits. One thing we should like to refer to that often struck us during our inspections—the amount of time that is lost during the week through pupils not being brought in punctually. Pupils should be assembled sufficiently early to allow of lessons being started at time-table time. Then all teachers should be in their places from ten minutes to fifteen minutes before the time for commencing work,

* Superseded by Campbell Street.

School. Number on Eoll. Presented in Standards. Present in Standards. Failed in Standards. Passed in Standards. larist Brothers', Wanganui Vanganui Girls' ... 'almerston North 63 92 82 78 63 A5 49 46 (32 45 48 46 16 8 9 25 46 87 39 21 [awera... Totals 315 203 201 58 143

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blackboards should be ready (with work set down where necessary), slates should be clean, pens and pencils should be given out, &c. Examination of Schools. —The following table summarises the examination results for each standard, and for all standards in the district. Another table, which gives every information with regard to individual schools, has not been printed on account of its great size, but it may be seen at the Board's office.

All the schools open for the full twelve months—viz., 114, or eight more than in 1895—were duly examined in standards, with the exception of Parapara, which can be taken only in the beginning of the year, and so will be examined next March. Kapuni was closed for a considerable time on account of an epidemic just as the examination was due ; and Mangahoe also was closed through the road being washed away, and, furthermore, it had been open for only some eight months when the schools in its neighbourhood were being examined. We hope to examine Kapuni in May, and Mangahoe next March. On the days appointed for the examination in standards there were 9,786 pupils (5,050 boys and 4,736 girls) on the school-rolls. Of these, 6,550 were presented in the six standards, 3,156 were in the preparatory classes, and 80 had already passed Standard VI. —that is, were in the class above Standard VI., or what is generally known as Standard VII. In passing, we may say here that teachers are given to stating that their pupils have passed Standard VII., whereas there is not even a syllabus for that class. We find this year increases of 283 on the number on the rolls, and 169 on the number presented in standards. These increases are much below those of late years. The number of pupils presented in standards (omitting those in the class above Standard VI.) expressed as a percentage on the number on the rolls is 669, and this is o'2 lower than in 1895. We confess that we should like to see this percentage increase rather than diminish, for, under existing circumstances, it hardly seems creditable that nearly one-third of the pupils enrolled should not be deemed fit for presentation in a standard. Of the 3,156 children in the preparatory classes, 659 were over eight years of age. Of these 659, 441 had been under two years at school, 54 were Maoris, and " Irregular attendance " and " Dulness " accounted for the balance on the excuse-sheet. We would again point out that parents make a great mistake when they consider that it is of no consequence whether or not they send the " infants " regularly to school. Standard classes cannot well be good unless a sound foundation is laid in the primer classes. In the standard classes Standards VI., V., IV., and 111. show increases in the numbers presented, and Standards 11. and I. decreases of 93 and 27 respectively. Of the 6,550 pupils presented in the six standards, 6,239, or 95-2 per cent., attended and were examined ; 311 were absent; 1,366 failed ; and 4,873 passed the requirements and were promoted. In several school districts on this coast the population is constantly shifting, so that many of the absentees were accounted for by the fact that they had already passed a standard during the year at some other school. Some of the failures are accounted for in the same way. Castlecliff is a good example of this shifting population. percentages of passes are not now calculated for individual schools, it will be interesting to see how in this respect the district as a whole comes out, and how the various standards compare with one another. Of the 6,239 pupils examined in the six standards, 781 per cent, succeeded in passing. The percentages in the various standards are as follows : Standard 1., 91-7; Standard 11., 89-5; Standard 111., 765; Standard IV., 646 ; Standard V., 64-0; Standard VI., 63 - 9. It will be noticed that there is a gradual decrease from Standard I. to Standard VI. Comparing these results with those for 1895, we find that Standards IV. and VI. show decreases of 6-3 per cent, and 4 per cent, respectively, while all the other standards show improvement. Instruction. —Little new can be written under this heading with regard to the treatment of the various subjects. We think that fair average progress is being made at the majority of schools where circumstances are favourable, and we are glad to be able to state that many of the small schools are producing quite as good work as those with several teachers. The young teachers who have recently completed their pupil-teacher course and obtained their Government certificates, and who are now in sole charge of schools, are doing particularly well; and this, besides being especially gratifying from any point of view, speaks well for our pupil-teacher system. There is no doubt that reading has considerably improved during the past few years, and that the percentage of passes on the number examined is fairly high. But, under present circumstances, what does a pass in reading mean? It means merely this : that pupils can read with fair accuracy

dumber of Schools examined in each Glass. Classes. Presented. Examined in Standards. Failed. Passed. Average Ag( of those that passed. Yrs. mos. 40 80 89 108 108 110 112 112 Above Standard VI. Standard VI. V. IV. „ III. II. I. 80 358 699 1,175 1,528 1,402 1,388 3,156 347 671 1,104 1,449 1,339 1,329 125 241 390 360 140 110 222 430 714 1,089 1,199 1,219 14 5 13 7 12 10 11 8 10 6 9 3 Preparatory Totals 9,786 6,239 1,366 4,873 Mean—12 years.

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and expression one book in each standard, varying from about a hundred pages in Standard I. to two hundred pages in Standard VI. Certainly at a few schools two sets of books are used, but we think it very doubtful whether the power acquired in reading at the majority of schools would enable many pupils to read unseen books fairly well, even though such books were only of similar difficulty to those in use. In the lower classes, at all events, so frequently are the same lessons read and re-read, the same words repeated in the same sequence, that on the examination-day the Inspector is listening rather to recitation than to reading. We therefore think that the preparation of two books during the year in each class should be compulsory, and that the Inspector should be at liberty to test reading from both books, but spelling from only one. Then, a wider range of reading should be encouraged by means of school libraries. An excellent step would be for the Board to supply extra sets of Eeaders to the schools. These would be kept in the schools, and with proper care should last for five or six years. With regard to the faults found in reading at the examinations, indistinct enunciation, showing omission of letters and even syllables, and inaccuracy in small words were the commonest. Then, such faults as dropping and tacking on the aspirate, substituting the intransitive verb "lie " for the transitive verb "lay," and vice versd, and reading the past tense for the past participle are gaining a firmer hold year by year. On the other hand, phrasing is gradually improving. In the comprehension of the subject-matter we are glad to note an improvement. More teachers now endeavour, by suitable illustrations when necessary, to get the pupils to grasp the meanings of phrases and sentences, rather than to simply substitute one word for another. No subject appears to vary so widely in quality at different schools as dictation and spelling. Considering that both the words for spelling and the passages for dictation are taken from the reading-books in use throughout the year, we think that better results than at present might well be obtained. In Standards I. and 11. the subject continues to be good. In Standards 111. and IV. carelessness is responsible for a number of errors ; and at many schools these classes seldom escape without several members misusing "to," "too," and "two," "there" and "their," "where" and "were," and such-like. Another common error is omitting a syllable, as " pliceman " for " policeman." The habit of making compound words of simple words, as " themselves," "black-board," "play-ground," is very prevalent, and such errors frequently are not corrected by the teachers. While Standards V. and VI. papers were not always free from the careless errors just mentioned, the passages, on the whole, were fairly well written. The isolated words, however, taken from the Eeaders too often were badly spelled. The errors in these words were not counted.against the pupils, as the regulation provides only for the dictation of a passage, so the words were given merely for our own information. As this regulation has now been rescinded, we purpose in future to take the words as well as the passage into consideration when assigning marks, but, as a set-off against this, more errors will be allowed. To effect an improvement in spelling we would make the following suggestions : There might be less learning of spelling, and more actual teaching by means of systematic exercises in wordbuilding; clear enunciation of syllables always should be insisted upon, and the word enunciated before being spelled (in paper work as well as in oral work) not after; transcription should be recognised as an exercise in spelling as well as in writing; correction of all written work should be thorough ; and when words are misspelled they should at some future lesson be written correctly, embodied in different sentences of the pupils' own making. With regard to correction of written work, we may say that at our inspection visits we frequently found in the exercise-books glaring errors in spelling passed over. Another matter that needs attention is the training of pupils in reading over carefully what they have written, for not infrequently the passages, though they had been repeated by the teacher four times, did not read sense. The wider reading already recommended would, it is needless to say, tend to improve the spelling. Writing and drawing are, on the whole, satisfactory subjects. The former naturally is not as good as it used to be, for most of the extra time now required for drawing is taken from it. Drawing, on the other hand, improves year by year, especially Standard IV. geometry and Standard V. scale. In freehand in Standards 111. and IV. we frequently had to refuse passes because pupils deliberately measured and ruled their copies. In Standard VI. pupils generally found a difficulty in enlarging, or reducing, in proportion the various parts of the freehand figures. It was very noticeable that pupils who failed badly in drawing often passed excellently in writing, and vice versd. In arithmetic, Standards I. and 11. were generally satisfactory classes. Standards 111. and IV. varied very much at different schools, while in Standards V. and VI. there were more failures in this subject than in any other. The examination-cards for Standards 111. to VI. were, as in the previous two years, issued by the Education Department, and we desire to make a few remarks concerning them. The sets received during different months varied very much in difficulty. Standard 111. cards throughout all the sets appeared to us to be on the simple side, more especially as it has been the custom of late years to cover so much ground in the cards for Standard IV. On the other hand, we think that in Standard V. many of the questions in interest and fractions were too difficult; while in Standard VI. those in the commercial rules were, in our opinion, frequently outside "simple cases," as required by the syllabus. The fact of the breakdown in these standards being so universal evidently points to something wrong. Apart, however, from any difficulty in the cards for the higher standards, the questions might well be more in touch with practical life, and, while giving more scope for showing various methods of working, they need not involve so much figuring and large fractional remainders. The methods of teaching arithmetic, as observed by us on inspection visits, are improving. Still, not enough attention is paid to introducing new rules by many simple illustrative oral examples. The examples in the class-books in use are very well in their way; but they are meant only as examples of procedure for the teacher, who consequently should enlarge upon them considerably. Then, again, examples should be as concrete as possible, so that the pupils may gain correct

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impressions of relative values, weights, and magnitudes. Furthermore, the intellectual value of the study of arithmetic should not be lost sight of through attaching too much importance to the subject from a purely utilitarian or practical point of view : the solution of a problem, therefore, should be arrived at by logical steps. And we would make a strong point of this : that as soon as the purely mechanical steps in a rule are known the sums should always be stated in words without any reference to the rules required to work them. "So long as a pupil finds any difficulty whatever in recognising an exercise in a given rule under any guise, however unfamiliar, be sure he does not understand that rule, and ought not to quit it for a higher." It would be found useful to encourage pupils to invent for themselves new questions on each rule before proceeding to the next. Geography showed a slight improvement this year. It has not, however, yet reached anything like a satisfactory state, and more failures still continue to occur in this subject than in any other, except arithmetic. The following are points where weaknesses were more especially shown : Places were very often most inaccurately located on the maps. This points to bad training, bringing to light, as it does, carelessness on the part both of pupil and teacher. In Standard IV. "ocean routes " were poorly known, even such ignorance of the map of the world with regard to the relative positions of oceans and continents as would be discreditable to Standard 11. being often disclosed. Conspicuous geographical features —Pamirs, Gobi, African lakes, Cape Horn, and such-like— were not known. The reason for places being of interest to tourists was almost invariably given as "scenery," no attempt being made to give the particular features of the scenery. Little attention appears to be given to the geographical advantages of ports and capitals. In Standard V. we have again to notice, as last year, a want of intelligent grasp shown in giving mountain-systems and river-systems, very often merely a list of names being written without any arrangement or connection. The pupils in this standard also still show very hazy ideas of the requirements in the mathematical geography of the globe, their answers giving evidence of rote work, and often having no bearing on the particular question. In Standard VI. political and commercial geography were very fair, but mathematical and physical geography showed the same faults as Standard V. It is high time that every school had a globe. We think it a huge error of judgment grouping, as some teachers do, Standard IV. pupils with Standard VI. pupils in the work of the latter standard. No doubt the syllabus allows of it, but how pupils just out of Standard 111. can be expected to understand the syllabus for Standard VI. surpasses our comprehension. Composition was seldom good, and was often very poor. As subjects for letters and essays, we invariably gave some of those treated by the teachers during the year, and frequently the compositions sent in were almost word for word the same. This points to pure cramming, and no doubt is due to too mechanical treatment in teaching the construction of sentences, and to slavish adherence to text-books. But in composition intelligent thought should be the object aimed at; and, while an exercise devoid of grammatical errors may be valueless, one with many word mistakes, but which shows thought and attention to teaching, may be very promising. As Mr. Thring points out, original composition means the rousing observation, the giving the seeing eye, and training the mind to make a harmonious picture of what it sees, so that others may know it. Original composition demands that such striking points shall be seized as mark out the thing written about in a peculiar and special way. The use of books in composition is noxious. Bach teacher ought to cook the exercise according to the disposition of his class, and not serve out regulation rations of salt beef to invalids. With regard to the subjects chosen for treatment by the teachers, different teachers took very different views. Thus, while in the highest standards at some schools the most advanced subject was such a one as a description of the surrounding district, at others the pupils sent in very fair essays on matters of Imperial importance. We should say here that, whatever subject is chosen, first of all care should be taken that the pupils know all about it; and, secondly, the subject should be made as attractive as possible. Abstract questions and subjects on morals, therefore, are unsuitable. Also, we think the reproduction of a story read by the teacher is a valueless kind of exercise. The style of correction of the composition is often, to our minds, very faulty. A teacher never should interlard the lines of an exercise with his own corrections. He should simply underline errors, and place in the margin of the book some understood symbol for the class of correction he desires. Then, exercises should be read by the pupils assembled in class, and criticism should be invited. In letter-writing we have to complain at school after school of complimentary endings being unsuitable, and of beginnings and endings showing abbreviations, being sloped improperly, and being devoid of punctuation. Paraphrasing has somewhat improved, but it is still very weak. The pupils will not endeavour to get a thorough grasp of the meaning of the verses. In a verse on the " Well of St. Keyne," in which the line "He laid on the water a spell" occurs, over half a class of twenty-four pupils took the word " spell" to mean a "rest," and we were confronted with such an explanation as "He laid (sic) on the water for a rest." Grammar showed improvement during the year, but in Standards V. and VI. it was still inferior to what it used to be when a pass-subject. Many teachers now use better methods in teaching Standards 111. and IV., and as a consequence, instead of offhand guessing, it is more usual to find pupils observing the functions and relation of the words before them, and reasoning correctly therefrom. We should like to see grammar a pass-subject and geography a class-subject. History, we think, has deteriorated since freedom in the choice of subjects of study was accorded by the syllabus. The so-called events are often merely incidents ; they are not always well chosen ; and they are not understood because some previous event with which they are connected has not been treated. Thus, the execution of Charles I. is taken instead of the Great Rebellion; the South Sea Bubble is preferred to the Habeas Corpus Act; and the War of American Independence, or the Indian Mutiny, finds a place, but not the colonisation of America

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or the conquest of India. The practice of some teachers treating history in Standard 111. merely by preparing a few disconnected stories is, to our minds, a poor one. With regard to elementary science and object-lessons, our experience is so precisely similar to that of the Otago Inspectors that we have no hesitation in copying verbatim their remarks on these subjects in a back report: " The treatment of elementary science and object-lessons is, in a large number of schools, not in accordance with the methods of science. There is little exercise of eye, and less of hand; there is little learning about things from a study of things themselves ; things are viewed, not from the standpoint of an observer, but from the standpoint of another's knowledge ; object-lesson books take the place of objects, and the children are the passive recipients of the information extracted by their teachers from the books. It is true a good deal of useful information is imparted to the children during the course of every year, but we cannot affirm too emphatically that the value of science teaching lies, not in information, but in the habits of mind that are induced by the discipline of patient and accurate observation." We commend these remarks to our teachers. In object-lessons it is not sufficient that pupils should not be told what they can find out for themselves ; they must be taught how to find out —how to test for certain properties. The object must be seen and handled, and compared with other objects ; hence there always should be a supply of objects in the school. We are glad to note that several of the schools now have sets of scientific apparatus. Upon the methods adopted by the teachers we were, as a rule, able to report in favourable terms at our inspection visits. Also, the majority of the teachers showed during these visits much eagerness in obtaining any hints and information that they thought might be of service to them in their work. Our habit of carrying round examination-papers worked at some of the schools, and showing good methods and fine arrangement, often proved of good service to inexperienced teachers, and was much appreciated by all desirous of picking up a hint. The method of questioning a class has still to be found fault with at some schools. Teachers weak in this respect we cannot do better than refer to the very full remarks on the subject in the Inspectors' annual reports for 1889 and 1890, to Lecture VI. of Dr. J. G. Fitch's "Lectures on Teaching," and to Gladman's " School Work." One thing was often forcibly impressed upon us— that teachers are too ready to accept a correct answer and pass on without insuring that the information desired to be imparted is " driven home," by further questioning and other means, into the minds of all members of the class. No one but an experienced teacher would ever believe how many different questions have often to be put to a class before there can be any certainty that all the members have grasped the truth aimed at. And here we may say that frequent reiteration is seldom the way of reaching the desired point: far better is it to change the form of the question, still keeping the main object in view. Before closing this report we desire to refer to the indifference displayed by some teachers as to the manner in which the pupils go through their daily class motions. With regard to this matter we cannot do better than quote Dr. Fitch, Her Majesty's Inspector of Training-colleges : " There are right and beautiful ways and there are clumsy and confused ways of sitting at a desk, of moving from one place to another, of handling aud opening books, of cleaning slates, of giving out pens and paper, of entering and leaving school. Petty as each of these acts is separately, they are important collectively, and the best teachers habitually reduce all these movements to drill, and require them to be done simultaneously, and with finish and mechanical exactness. Much of this drill is conducted in some good schools by signs only, not merely because it is easy so to economise noise and voice-power, but also because it makes the habit of mechanical obedience easier. And children once accustomed to such a regime always like it —nay, even delight in it. I have seen many schools, both small and large, in which all the little movements from class to class were conducted with military precision —in which even so little a thing as the passing of books from hand to hand, the gathering-up of pens, or the taking of places at the dinnertable, of hats or bonnets from their numbered places in the hall was done with a rythmical beauty, sometimes to musical accompaniment, which not only added to the picturesqueness of the school-life and to the enjoyment of the scholars, but also contributed much to their moral training and to their sense of the beauty of obedience. And I have no doubt that it is a wise thing for a teacher to devise a short code of rules for the exact and simultaneous performance of all the minor acts and movements of school-life, and to drill his scholars into habitual attention to them." In this district Feilding School closely approaches Dr. Fitch's ideas. Another writer says, "It is most disastrous in anything belonging to discipline to overlook beginnings. No leak ever broke up a dyke more certainly than trifles passed over break up the order of a class." We hope we will not be misunderstood in this matter. We have no desire to turn children into machines—in some matters. But to quote Dr. Fitch again ; " There is a sphere of our life in which it is desirable to cultivate independence and freedom, and there is another in which it is essential to part with that independence for the sake of attaining some end which is desirable for others as well as for ourselves. In the development of individual character and intelligence the more room we can leave for spontaneous action the better; but when we are members of a community the healthy corporate life of that community requires of us an abnegation of self. ... A pupil is in an artificial community which has a life and needs of its own, and, in so far as he contributes to make up this school-life, he may be well content to suppress himself, and to become a machine. There are times in life for asserting our individuality, and there are times for effacing it. And a good school should provide means whereby it may be seen when and how we may do both." In close connection with the foregoing is the " attitude "of the pupils. Considering, as we do, that lazy attitudes border on insolence, we confess that we are surprised at the number of schools in which they are prevalent. There cannot be solid work and lazy attitudes at the same time. Mr. Thring says, " Attitude makes false work, as well as betrays false work. A competent judge shall tell in a moment, by simply looking through the window where a class is at work, whether good work can be going on there. The attitude of the boys will show. For, though there can be true

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outward observance in some degree without inward truth, the converse is not possible. There cannot be inward reality without producing an outside corresponding to it. It is a law of nature that the mind acts on the body, and makes it follow any real emotion." Before leaving the subject we may say that some teachers ought to be more particular about their own attitudes. And this puts us in mind that some very earnest, hard-working teachers are not as succcessful as they deserve to be on account of their bearing when teaching a class orally. They stand before the class in a stiff manner, and propound questions in such a way as if it was quite immaterial whether they received answers or not. As a consequence, they fail to imbue their class with the interest which they really feel, but do not show. Another matter we would refer to is that pupils should be trained to feel a proper reverence for the place in which the work is done. Therefore no playing in the buildings should be allowed out of school-hours ; things should be put away when finished with, not left about; and no roughness should be tolerated in the treatment of the rooms and their furniture. " There is no law more absolutely certain than that mean treatment produces mean ideas; and whatever men honour they give honour to outwardly. It is a grievous wrong not to show honour to lessons, and the place where lessons are given." With regard to the general behaviour and manners of the pupils attending the schools we can again speak in high terms. In conclusion, we gladly bear testimony to the zeal and energy of the teachers as a body in the service of the Board. We have, &c, W. H. Vbebkbe-Bindon, M.A., Chief Inspector. James Milne, M.A., Assistant Inspector. The Chairman, Board of Education, Wanganui.

WELLINGTON. Sib,— Wellington, 26th February, 1897. We have the honour to report as follows on the work and condition of the primary State schools of the Wellington Education District for the year 1896. The total number of schools in operation was 106, all previously-existing schools being maintained and six new schools having been opened. There is still an increased demand for schools in the newly-settled country around Pahiatua and on towards the East Coast. The Te Aro, Mount Cook, and Clyde Quay City Schools are fairly full in many classes, and the Newtown and Eintoul Street Schools soon will be; so that some provision will have to be made at an early date for affording increased accommodation in the Te Aro part of the city. It is more than probable that the newly-appointed Truant Officer will bring an influx of backward children into the schools; and, if this is proved to be the case, some of our existing schools cannot find available space for them. We think the plan now in vogue in London, Auckland, and elsewhere of having separate schools for backward children, who, to some extent, need special treatment, has much to commend it. In such a school the work should not go beyond the Fourth Standard, and, with very many children, not beyond the Third, as the other schools would always be open to them. Admissions to such a school, the classification of pupils, and promotions from it should be made by the master twice a year, subject to the approval of an Inspector. Other details of management need not be referred to in this report. Such a school is, of course, a very different thing from a truant school, although many backward children will probably be found in the class of truant children. A school for backward children, as here suggested, would include many of, if not all, the children (of whom there is a clas of twenty or thirty in each of several of our large city schools) who are over nine years of age and not able to pass the First Standard. At present such children remain a year or two, attend very badly, and pass out of the schools without reaching the higher standards. If grouped in large better-graded classes, with special instruction almost confined to reading, writing, and arithmetic, much more could be done with them during the time they are in the special school, and afterwards when they enter the higher standards in an ordinary school. The locality which would command the largest city area for the establishment of a school for backward children is the neighbourhood of the Mount Cook Girls' School, and that building itself is suitable, on account of its many and varied sized class-rooms, for a school needing special and varied classification. Now, it so happens that this school is the oldest in the city, it has been many times added to, and, for its present uses, should now be replaced by one of more modern construction. The erection, therefore, of a new girls' school on another section of land, should the demand for a large space for backward children arise, would meet all requirements as to the extension of city accommodation, as to a more suitable building for the girls' school, and as to the establishment of a suitable school for backward children. In the meantime, some temporary premises would be needed for a trial of the plan.

From the summary of the examination reports of the several schools, which forms the appendix* to this report, it will be seen that there are now 13,088 children whose names are on the books of the schools —an increase of 402 for the year; 8,977 children were actually examined in standards, exclusive of 349 who had previously passed Standard VI.; and of these 7,559, or 84 per cent., actually passed the examination. The average age at which standards were passed, and the

• Not reprinted. The schools are classified as follows : Class A, twelve schools, each presenting over three hundred children ; Class B, fifteen schools, each presenting from a hundred to three hundred children ; Class C, thirty-two schools, each with less than a hundred children, taught by more than one teacher; Class D, thirty-nine schools, each with only one teacher; Class E, five aided schools ; Class P, three infant schools.

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total percentage of passes made, remain about the same as in the previous year, with an increase of 385 presented and 374 passed. The whole numerical result shows that the working condition of the schools remains steady. The following table shows an upward movement (except in Standard VI.) in the classification of the children passed in the several standards :— Standard I. Standard 11. Standard 111. Standard IV. Standard V. Standard VI. 1895 ... 1,463 1,552 1,470 1,220 873 607 1896 ... 1,597 1,581 1,533 1,338 942 568 The large schools in Class A have increased from ten to twelve in number, and now include Rintoul Street, with 378, and Pahiatua, with 300. These twelve contain more than the total attendance of the remaining ninety-four, and the inefficiency of one of them materially affects the results of the whole district. We find that ten of them, with here and there a weak class, are in a very sound condition; in one a change in the headship was made at the end of the year, and another is composed of newly-organized material. In the two latter we are hopeful of improved results next year. In most of the city schools we had occasion to commend exceptionally good classes, in which model systematic work was done, whole classes of fifty children being trained to read, write composition, draw, or work arithmetic of a uniformly excellent quality. It is in such classes that teachers possessing natural aptitude, experience, tact, energy, skill, and patience show possibilities in their art, and set an excellent example for others to emulate. They deserve our warmest praise. Of the fifteen schools in Class B, each with from a hundred to three hundred children, the three largest—Lower Hutt, Greytown, and Mangatainoka—are doing very good work; and so are Vogeltown andEketahuna. Eight of the remaining ten are satisfactory, but in the other two better work will be looked for in the upper classes. In Class C we have thirty-two schools, each with less than a hundred children, taught by more than one teacher. Many of these have given great satisfaction, particularly Fernridge, Clareville, Park Vale, Mauriceville E., Hastwell, Hamua, Makakahi, and Porirua. Twenty of the others have done good work, more or less; but in at least three of them, for reasons not always reflecting on the present teachers, considerable improvement is desirable. There are also thirty-nine small schools, each under one teacher only. These vary considerably in efficiency. The most satisfactory are the Opaki, Waingawa, Rangitumau, Te Horo, Mangaone, and Judgeford Schools. With the exception of four, the others are satisfactory. We were very pleased with the promising management of several which have not been long in operation, such as Ngaturi, Makuri, Makairo, and Nikau; and marked improvement was shown at Cross Creek, Waihakehe, Paikakariki, Mangamahoe, Koro Koro, Stokes Valley, and Horokiwi. The five aided schools are all satisfactory. The pupils get so much individual attention in these schools that, under fairly competent teachers, fast progress is generally made. We are much pleased with the present condition of the infant schools, and especially with the Kindergarten work in them and in the infant departments of all our large schools. By the Mount Cook Infant School and the Thorndon infant department an excellent lead is given to the others, and year by year new occupations, songs, illustrations, reading-matter, drill, and methods of working are introduced, so that we have now fully-equipped classes working on most up-to-date lines. The two infant schools proper at Masterton and Te Aro have this year more nearly approached the work of the others. In the following schools also the Kindergarten work is commended : Pahiatua, Newtown, Opaki, Greytown, Johnsonville, Lower Hutt, Mauriceville W., Clyde Quay, Terrace, Mangatainoka, Park Vale, Petone, and Clareville. Here and there the style and steady fluency of the reading taught seem to approach our ideal of perfect work. In many of the country schools there is much hesitancy or higgling; the voice also is often raised and the expression unnatural. We are more and more persuaded of the necessity of greater variety of class-books. Where only one Reader is in use the matter becomes stale and unprofitable by too frequent repetition, and parts being known by heart are therefore read in a perfunctory manner. We have recommended the use of two sets (of three primers) for classes below Standard 1., and for standard classes of three sets chosen from literary, geographical, historical, science, or domestic economy 'readers; all these are now excellent new books by the best publishers, beautifully illustrated, strongly bound, full of useful matter, and serving as great aids to teachers. Parents who are really wishful of their children's progress should be only too anxious to purchase these books for them. We commend this matter also heartily to the notice of School Committees, and recommend them to purchase an additional set for school use. The expense of doing so would be small, as the purchase of a set for one class every five years would meet the case. We further recommend the Education Board to make a grant of one-half the cost of one set, provided the pupils themselves have purchased at least two sets. After the present year, in cases where only one set of books is in use, we purpose hearing all classes read from unseen passages which we shall carry with us. In the Thorndon infant department a great exception to rule prevails, which we think worthy of imitation. Not one or two only, but half a dozen sets of excellent " Picture-books for Children " have been provided out of funds raised by school concerts; and not only are these books read in class, but others are lent to be read at home. They afford great interest and amusement to the little ones, and are very helpful to the teacher's work. The remarks made on the arithmetic syllabus in our last report still hold good. The processes admit of more simplification. Compound interest is still worked by old methods; and, on one occasion, at an inspection visit, seven aliquot parts were used by a teacher in a practice sum for 16s. BJd. We hope to find the arithmetic tests set by the Education Department more adapted to requirements than they have hitherto been. We are pleased with much improvement in methods in many schools, and with a general improvement in mental arithmetic since a definite syllabus has been worked up to. Mr. Lee's five leaflets on "Arithmetic for Schools simplified," which have been printed by the Board and distributed to the teachers, will, we hope, be helpful to many and useful to all.

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Writing and drawing are, with few exceptions, well taught. The pass results of first-grade examinations in drawing for this year as compared with last are here shown: — Freehand. Geometry. Scale. Model. 1895 ... 777 1,263 689 387 1896 ... ... ... 819 1,063 1,006 418 Eighty-three schools presented candidates. The marked feature of the year is the improvement in the character of the model-drawing. Owing to the progress made in our science instruction, especially in chemistry, and to the publishing of better text-books, the time has arrived when modification in the syllabus will be advantageous; and we purpose in our "Suggestions to Teachers " making some changes which now appear necessary, but still retaining a choice of subjects, including domestic economy with physiology for girls' classes. During the past year the magic-lantern has been adopted in several schools, to which the Board is able to lend a selection from about four hundred slides, illustrating travel, biology, and astronomy. The teaching of singing and drill is satisfactory. The former improves year by year in all our large schools, and in smaller schools where it can be taught. The efficiency of the drill is well maintained by the military instructors, and fairly well by the head teachers for other classes and in small schools. Of the large schools, the best drilled, on the whole, is Te Aro, to which Clyde Quay and Newtown come very closely. In history and geography, including the physical geography programme and the making of prescribed maps, much good work is done, and we are generally satisfied with it. In future years physical geography examination will be taken vivd voce. We have nothing much to add to our remarks last year on the grammar and composition. In schools where this work has been begun in Standard 11. we notice the best results. The general order, discipline, control, and management of our schools have much improved during late years. Most of the head teachers in charge of these schools have held their appointments unchanged for many years, and they have proved themselves men of large practical experience and increased usefulness. Changes in the teaching power are not now made anywhere so often as formerly, and this is all in favour of better work being done. We are pleased to notice that commands in class are often given by a sign from the teacher; the children are being taught to speak more distinctly, so that questions need not be repeated, and to give their answers in a connected form; that the uses of porches for class-rooms is being discontinued ; that children answer more readily when spoken to ; and that in many schools they are more respectful in behaviour. But the old-time drawback of irregular attendance still faces every teacher, although experience shows that the highest average attendances are maintained in the best schools, and in classes taught by the most popular teachers. Still the evils of irregular attendance cannot be apparent to the average parent. On examination we often find that the results come out in order of merit almost in the same order as the attendances made. This speaks well for the teaching, but badly for the neglectful parent. To show how far this irregular attendance is the great hindrance to progress in a system of free education, we will quote a few extracts from this year's special reports which have been sent to the several School Committees : "It was very disappointing to find only eighty children present out of 113 on as fine a day as any one could wish for." " The teachers are hardworking, but are considerably hindered by irregular attendance of many pupils." " Out of 116 candidates there were only six failures, all of whom were either weak or irregular pupils." " The teachers work hard, but they have to contend with such difficulties as a shifting population and great irregularity of attendance." " 8011, 99; the average attendance for first three weeks of the quarter was below 65." "The average attendance is considerably lower than it ought to be." "The irregular attendance of many of the children militates against the work of the head master. The average attendance since the winter holidays has been only 71 per cent. Such a low percentage materially affects the work of the school." " The day of my visit was fine, but the attendance was very poor, being only 59 per cent, of the roll." "On books, 72; present, 49." "On books, 49; present, 29. Weather fine." Touching the question of attendance, we would call the Board's attention to the low physical condition in which many children daily present themselves. They arrive at the school practically with their physical, and we might also say mental, energies exhausted; and the time in school is a time for resting their limbs and recouping their energies. Here is a case in a small country school in the Wairarapa. The boy gets up at daylight, milks four cows, walks three miles to school and home again, and then has to set to work again when he gets home. On making full inquiries into the cases in a large school, in which we had reason in part to excuse the head teacher for some deficiencies in the work of older boys, we obtained a return of thirteen boys in Standard VI. who each milked from two to ten cows (average over four), or did equivalent farm-work, every morning, getting up sometimes before, and generally soon after, daybreak, working from two hours to four hours and a half before leaving for school, and travelling generally from one mile to four miles and a half to school. They afterwards travelled the same distance home in the evening, and worked from an hour and a half to three hours before going to bed. Is it reasonable, we ask, for parents to exact so much manual labour from young lads? Or is it reasonable to look for educational results from boys whose physical energies are so continually exhausted ? "The Manual and Technical Elementary Instruction Act, 1892," has not operated largely in this district. Two small schools at Paraparaumu and Cross Creek are teaching a little manual instruction ; cookery is taught at the Clyde Quay School, Wellington, and classes are about to be opened in Masterton, but not in connection with the public schools there. In England the teaching of manual instruction to boys, which means the handling of tools, the making of simple articles in wood, metal, &c, is making great progress. Instruction in cookery for girls is also becoming very popular in large centres. We are quite in sympathy with efforts made in the right direction to give such instruction. It should not, we think, be a part of the ordinary teacher's work, and it should

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be taught in continuation classes for children who are on the point of leaving school. Such instruction is an essential part of everybody's education, and it will only be well given to large numbers under public systematic management. We have, &c, Eobeet Lee, ) t orior>tAva The Chairman, Wellington Education Board. T. E. Fleming,} 1 spoto

Summary of Results for the Whole District.

HAWKB'S BAY. Sir, — Education Office, Napier, 31st January, 1897. I have the honour to submit my annual general report on the schools subject to inspection in this district for the year ending the 31st December, 1896. Sixty-two schools were in active operation at the close of the year, and all of them, with a single exception, were duly visited and examined. In addition to these, and with the sanction of the Board, which was given on the application of the parties concerned, I examined the Meanee and Gisborne Catholic Schools. These schools are conducted as parish schools in the places named, and they are staffed by nuns who reside in buildings attached to the schools. The number of schools which are under the direct control of the Board has increased by five during the year, a, school at Motu (sixty miles north-west of Gisborne), one at Mangatu (thirty miles in the same direction), one at Puketitiri (forty miles west of Napier), one at Umutaoroa (a few miles north-west of Dannevirke), and one at Portland Island (south of the Mahia Peninsula) having been opened to provide for the growing requirements of the district. I was unable to reach Portland Island from the mainland, although I spent three days in the attempt; and it appears to me that, unless better arrangements can be made for getting there, it will be useless making the attempt again by means of the -frail Maori canoe, which is only used fortnightly by a Native who carries the mail to and from the island. There are boats on the island, and there are three lighthouse-keepers, but some rule of the Marine Department prohibits the use of a boat to the mainland, and so communication is nigh to impossible, unless some concession can be made by the proper authorities. Attendance. —The returns of school attendance give a percentage of 83-3 of regularity, compared with 815 for the previous year. I notice that several of the education districts show a better result than this, but it is difficult to compare one district with another, and even one school with another, in the matter of regularity at school, for the reason that the same general plan is not adopted in the case of absentees. Sometimes children are away from school for weeks suffering from sickness, or they are temporarily employed at work of some kind, and their names are continued on the roll, with the result that a low average regularity may exist for the school, although the children who are actually going to school may have attended well. Thus two schools, each with a roll of a hundred pupils, may have a widely different average, although the regularity of those actually attending school for the same weekly period may show similar attendances. Percentages are only valuable when the same basis for an estimate is possible, and for this reason I should very much like to see a change made in keeping the school-roll, so that no doubt could exist as to the regularity of children in every district irrespective of weekly absentees. During the year I have kept a separate record showing the percentage of regularity for every school in the district. The facts were taken from the summary register in each school, and the wide differences shown in the separate districts convince me that much depends on the interpretation which teachers put upon the word " left." Inspection. —The leave of absence which the Board so kindly granted me to visit Australia caused me to be somewhat late in beginning my work of inspection in the first half of the schoolyear, but the unusually fine weather assisted me to overtake the work in time for the preparation of papers for the pupil-teachers' examination in July. The visits of inspection I always look upon as of great value. A quiet visit to observe methods of instruction, and to note the working machinery of the school in its every-day dress, provides one with all that is needful to estimate what

* Mean of average age.

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Presented. Examined in Standards. Average Age o: those that passed. Standard Classes. Passed. Above Standard VI. ... Standard VI. V. IV. „ III. II. I. Yrs. mos. 349 819 1,294 1,730 1,918 1,748 1,694 4,086 807 1,266 1,675 1,856 1,717 1,656 568 942 1,338 1,533 1,581 1,597 13 10 12 11 12 0 11 0 9 11 8 9 Preparatory ... Totals ... 13,638 8,977 7,559 11 4*

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is likely to be the outcome of the teaching. One cannot be certain as to the actual products which are likely to be sent from a school as in the case of a manufactory of ordinary products, but no school is so organized that it is not possible to estimate the likely effects of tone, discipline, honour, and manliness such as they are embodied in the master or principal teacher and reflected in the work of his school. Every subject of instruction taught in the schools has its full effect upon character and mind, and I am satisfied that the schools, if they are to become more than mere grinderies of knowledge, must have high moral ideals in the preparation of every subject that must be taught under the departmental regulations. Take, for example, that peculiar habit of inattention and indifference which one sees so much in evidence among New-Zealand-born children. Inattention is the outcome of bad disciplinary training and teaching, and I fear that this is the great defect in most of our schools. Without intending to do so, teachers fall into many curious habits in the performance of their duties, and one of them is the bad habit of repeating again and again an order or a command. In a dictation exercise, even a phrase of not more than half a dozen words is sometimes repeated four, five, and even six times in a way which betrays at once the character of the teacher. To an observer the effects of such training upon a class of children cannot be doubted. Few will be found to gainsay the statement that the training of the children at school has much to do with the habits of thought and attention to duty such as one finds among people in their ordinary daily transactions; and a lesson in dictation or other subject carried on in the way described can only end in destroying character and defeating the very purpose for which schools are established. I fully recognise that many of the defects one finds in the schools may be set down to the "standard system," which is general in its operation, but the defects in this direction are certainly not so great as many teachers imagine, and are such as must always exist in some degree under any Government scheme. Under present regulations a wide freedom is allowed to the principal teachers in the control of the work of their schools, and one must look to them to strengthen and inculcate those methods of instruction which, whilst they insure mental growth, also train children to a right sense of attention to duty both in school and in the workshop. Condition of Buildings, &c. —ln most of the districts the school buildings, grounds, and fences are in good repair, and the school provision which has been made in some of the larger centres has facilitated the work of the teachers, especially in the junior departments of schools like Gisborne, Port Ahuriri, Hastings, and Dannevirke, where overcrowding had existed for some time. I have little to say with respect to the apparatus and appliances in the schools further than to remark that it would be a great convenience both to myself and the teachers were an official list issued giving the maps, diagrams, and other things which the Board furnish to the various schools. At the present time a wide difference prevails among them. Some of the schools possess diagrams in natural history, physiology, and physical science, whilst others have none whatever beyond eight or nine sheets of Oliver and Boyd's object-lesson cards. Good diagrams are always of high value to teachers, and, although science can be taught and object-lessons given on subjects of local and general interest without the aid of diagrams or other apparatus, it is still necessary to be supplied with such if children are to become acquainted with the world outside their own immediate environment. The general result of my inspection visits to the schools was encouraging. As a rule the rooms were clean and tidy, and the teachers were working with diligence and energy, but not always with method. It is to me pleasing to watch the work of the younger men and women who are appointed to the charge of a school for the first time. There is a strong tendency among them to work too hard themselves, and I have found it necessary to spend a good deal of time in showing them how to simplify their work by the amalgamation of classes for certain subjects, as wisely recommended in the standard regulations. School Attendance. —l do not think that the Act providing for the employment of truant officers by Committees is likely to improve matters in this direction. Members of Committees are so bound up with their several districts that they do not like the unpleasant task of enforcing the attendance of children at school, and many good men refrain from offering themselves as candidates for election on account of their dislike to enter on the work of compulsion. A public officer is able to undertake a duty of this sort without incurring odium or ill-feeling in a district, and, if the School Attendance Act is to be of any real use, I fear the policeman will have to carry it out as a part of his ordinary duties. But I have much more faith myself in the growing efficiency of the schools for the improvement of attendance than in any expedient which the law may devise. Let children once appreciate the pleasure of school-life and irregularity will disappear, except in the case of the few parents who will always be found to care more for themselves than the future of their offspring. Examinations. —Examination for passes is carried on throughout the year in the same way as inspection. In the northern portion of the district the smaller schools are examined in the first half of the school-year, whilst all the schools in the southern or bush district are examined at this time. The pupil-teachers' examination in July forms the break between the two periods, whilst the December month is taken up with the examination for scholarships and the work of the Gisborne District High School. The large number of children over eight years of age in the preparatory classes does not show any tendency to decrease, but rather the reverse. In 1894 there were 550 children returned as belonging to the preparatory classes who were over eight years old. In 1895 the number was 520; whilst this year the number reached 683—namely, 375 males and 308 females. It is difficult to account for the large proportion of children of an advanced age in the lower classes of some schools when neighbouring schools have very few of such children. In Napier 120 of the children were returned as belonging to the preparatory classes though they were over eight years of age. This is equal to more than 10 per cent, of the whole number at the school. Gisborne a.nd Hastings have less than 8 per cent, of such children in the preparatory classes, and Port Ahuriri has 6-5 per cent, only. In Dannevirke the percentage reaches 13, and in Woodville it exceeds 17. For the whole

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1897-II.2.2.3.3

Bibliographic details

E-01b EDUCATION: REPORTS OF INSPECTORS OF SCHOOLS. [In continuation of E.-1b, 1896.], Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1 January 1897

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E-01b EDUCATION: REPORTS OF INSPECTORS OF SCHOOLS. [In continuation of E.-1b, 1896.] Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1 January 1897

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