HISTORY OF HILLSBOROUGH SCHOOL - continued
The School Log Book is full of the Head's comments about the progress in the 3 R's: Writing of Standard 1 improves rapidly" “Writing is bold and becoming well-shaped"
“Standard 3 are considerably below what it should be at this time of the year." “Mr. W — has Standard 3 in good order and they are progressing satisfactorily."
“Arithmetic is exceedingly well done. Spelling is good and also Writing. Reading is poor though a number of girls read well."
In addition to the testing of the 3 R's, the school also submitted itself for inspection in other subjects. These were Literature, Geography for boys and Sewing for girls. Drawing was considered if the H.M.I. was of the opinion that the other work in school was sufficiently sound.
Reading took many forms. General Reading included Nelson's Royal and Masterman reading. Geographical Reading included "Glimpses of the Globe" and the "World at Home". Historical Reading included Blackwood's Short Stories.
At the first annual inspection (1885) the H.M.1. reported, "A thoroughly good start has been made in this newly opened school................... In the lower standards the elementary work is remarkably well done and in the upper classes except for Spelling. In the recitations there is room for more polish. The Grammar of the Upper Standard is not yet what it will be. What has been achieved, however, under all the circumstances deserves the highest grant for English. Geography too has been intelligently taught and Needlework has received careful attention."
At the end of 1885 Mr. Fewkcs resigned to become Master of a Boys' school in Nottingham. Mr. W. Chattell of Coningsby and Boston became the new Head.
Hillsborough had another school called the National (or Church of England) School. It was opened in 1842 on the site now occupied by Woolworths on Middlewood Road. On 3rd November 1885 it re-opened as a mixed school. A number of scholars left the Board School to take a place at the National School because of the lower fees and also because of the shorter distance from Malin Bridge.
Merit prizes of Bibles and illustrated books were presented in December 1885. The money to buy them was provided by Mr. Kaye, a member of the Board, who had obtained subscriptions.
Mr. Chattell was particularly concerned about the poor attendance. He distributed attendance certificates to each class in the hope that attendance might improve. He was also concerned about school fees. He writes, "Sent home - for his money. His mother called with him afterwards and passionately denounced my conduct. The regulations of the Board which make Headteachers responsible for any arrears are the cause of much unpleasantness and ill feeling between some of the poorer parents and myself.
A Department of Education directive in 1886 stated that Drawing could not be taken while the girls sew. Thus the Head had to direct both girls and boys should draw at the same time and that Geography should be taken by the boys, while the girls took needlework.
By October 1886 the numbers in school had risen to 431 with an average attendance of 383. However, the Head was concerned about Standard 5 where only 10 out of 28 girls were attending regularly. He writes, "It is impossible to teach the girls of this standard satisfactorily while their average attendance is so wretched. They are exempt from the operation of the bye laws and attend school just as they please. It would greatly improve matters if the worst were expelled altogether. Last week they only made 54% of attendances. Standards 1 to 4 who come under the operation of the bye laws made 81%."
The annual report by the H.M.I. in August 1887 found that "the children are in good order and on the whole well taught in all their subjects. The weak points are the laboured reading of the first standard and their use of fingers in counting. The older children appear to read often without thinking of the sense." An outbreak of smallpox in Dykes Hall Road in 1887 meant many children were kept at home. It was ordered that all the schoolrooms were disinfected with Condy's Fluid and closets and lavatories with Carbolic Acid. As more cases were reported in the district attendance at school suffered until well into 1888.
Mr. Chattell had occasion to punish a boy for twice being late. He writes, "He went home at playtime without permission. His mother brought him in the afternoon and very insolently informed me that boys were not late until 10 o'clock and I had no right to punish her boy for lateness. She expressed a determination to take him home and keep him there until visited by the Attendance Officer when she would see 'what someone else had to say about it.' I told her I should punish the boy for going home without permission at playtime when she said she had told him to run home if I caned him. This appears to be encouraging disobedience."
An example of some of the work covered by the children can be gathered from the annual tests. For example, Standard 3 were expected to do Arithmetic tests in addition, subtraction and long division by numbers 20 to 99. They had to pick out. nouns, verbs, pronouns and adjectives from a passage, and to have read 50 pages of the Royal Reader.
Standard 4 had to answer such Arithmetic questions as "How many 5 oz. packets in 4 cwts. 3 stones?" and "How many steps each 2 ft. 3 ins. in 4 miles, 3 furlongs?" They had to have covered a Longman's Reader and understand the possessive case in Grammar.
However, there were children who found the work difficult. Many of them were entered into the exemption (from testing) schedule because of "obvious dullness" or "defective intellect". One boy who was almost nine years old had remained for several years in the "class above the babies". Many of the exempted children couldn't spell "put, tin, hat, or pet" and had no idea of the sound of letters.
The annual H.M.I. Report generally found "the work reflected credit on the teachers,
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