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INSTRUCTIONAL LETTER to the Hon. and Rev. Baptist

W. NOEL.

Committee of Council on Education, Rey. Sir,

Council Office, Whitehall, July 4, 1840. The Committee of Council on Education having understood that you are desirous to employ some weeks during the present summer in communicating with the promoters of schools for the working classes in large towns, in order to ascertain, for the information of the Committee of Council, the extent and quality of the existing means of instruction, and the best means of promoting their improvement and extension ; I am to inform you that they are disposed to accept the offer of your services.

My Lords request you to visit Birmingham, and to communicate with the Rev. M. A. Collison, the incumbent of Bishop Ryder's church, who has represented to the committee the ignorance and destitution of the district surrounding his church, and solicited extraordinary assistance for the erection of a school-house there. My Lords have directed that your visit should be announced to Mr. Collison, and to the Rev. J. Garbett, the rural dean, who has written to support Mr. Collison's application for aid. The committee request you to ascertain what are the nature and extent of the means of instruction in this district, what resources are available for the erection and support of schools, and whether it may be reasonably expected that the school which Mr. Collison is anxious to found will be permanently supported and efficiently conducted.

While prosecuting these inquiries in Birmingham, my Lords request you to avail yourself of any opportunities which may be offered you for ascertaining the state of the elementary instruction of the poorer classes in that town, by examining schools and collecting information respecting their management and discipline, according to the forms contained in the instructions addressed to Her Majesty's inspector of schools, and by collecting additional statistical information, or examining the correctness of that which may exist.

The great towns of the manufacturing district of Lancashire will probably next attract your attention, and my Lords recommend you to prosecute similar inquiries there. Their Lordships request you to remember that their acceptance of your services for these purposes does not invest you with any authority to enter into and examine schools without the consent of the managers. They trust the importance of your visit will be so recognised as to induce the promoters and managers of schools to invite your visits of inspection, and to offer you their co-operation in ascertaining the state of elementary education in their neighbourhood.

The committee hope you may find opportunities to animate the zeal of the promoters of the education of the poorer classes, to afford them useful information, and to assist them in taking the first steps towards the organization of new schools.

The committee have directed me to furnish you with the enclosed copies of their minutes for 1839-40, and request you to direct the attention of the promoters of schools to the most important parts of those minutes, as containing the regulations by which the distribution of the parliamentary grant is determined, and the principles by which the proceedings of the committee are guided

My Lords, on your return, will be glad to receive a report of your proceedings, and of the condition and prospects of elementary education in the districts you may have visited.

I have, &c.

(Signed) J. P. Kay. The llon. Rev. Baptist W. Noel.

REPORT on the State of ELEMENTARY Education in Bir

MINGHAM, MANCHESTER, LIVERPOOL, and several other Towns

in LANCASHIRE. MY LORDS,

Walthamstow, October 21, 1840. Having been instructed by your Lordships to obtain what information I might be able, on the state of elementary education in Birmingham, and in some of the great towns of Lancashire, I visited Birmingham on Wednesday, July 8, and from that day, till September 8, I continued to prosecute my educational inquiries in that town, and in the principal towns of the cotton district. In those two months I visited 195 schools ; of which 42 were in Birmingham, 26 in Manchester and Salford, 52 in Liverpool, and the rest in Stockport, Warrington, Hyde, Ashton, Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Bolton, Wigan, and Preston; 146 of these schools were day-schools of various kinds; and 49 were Sunday-schools.* Having no authority from your Lordships to inspect any school officially, I owed my introduction to these schools to the kindness of the patrons and of the members of school committees, from whom in general I received the greatest civility, and who were in almost every instance ready to facilitate my inquiries. In Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Salford, and Bury, my investigations were much assisted by the extensive and minute information which has been furnished in the printed reports of the Manchester and Birmingham statistical societies. Their laborious and systematic examinations had collected an amount of facts which it would have been impossible for me to obtain in the short space of

* Appendix I.

In two

time which I could devote to this object : and, both from the statements of various gentlemen with whom I conversed and from the comparison of numbers reported in their pages to be attending at various schools, with the numbers which I myself counted at those schools on the occasion of my visit to each, I was enabled to judge that their reports were favourable to the existing schools. national schools, reported to contain 220 boys and 104 girls, I found 170 boys and 76 girls : in another, where the reported number of children was 190, I found 67: another, said to have 94 girls, mustered on the day of my visit 50; and in several other schools I found the actual numbers inferior to the reported numbers. *

The report for Manchester was made in the year 1834; those for Salford and Bury followed in 1835; that for Liverpool was published in 1836; and that for Birmingham was written in 1838. Since the publication of the reports, there has been some increase of schools in each of the towns; but as the population of each town has also grown, the proportion of scholars to the whole population in each of these places cannot materially differ from the proportion which was found to subsist at the time of the reports. They enable us therefore to ascertain, with considerable precision, the proportion of the educated to the uneducated in each of those towns at the present time: and as the towns of the cotton district generally are by no means more advanced in education than the towns reported on, they enable us further to judge of the amount of education in the cotton district generally.

The combined population of these 5 towns is above 685,000 : assuming, therefore, that in a healthy state of society the children between the ages of 5 and 15 ought generally to be at school, about 171,250, or one-fourth, ought to be under instruction. But the actual number between those two ages under instruction is only 96,974, so that 74,267 children, between those two ages, are left totally without instruction in those 5 towns alone. +

But as it may be doubted by some persons, whether the whole juvenile population from 5 years of age to 15 can in any state of society enjoy the advantages of education, it may be more useful to compare the numbers educated in these towns with the numbers receiving education in several other countries. The proportion of scholars to the whole population in 6 states of the American Union is said to be as follows:-Maine (1833) 1 to 3; New Hampshire 1 to 3; New York (1834) 1 to 3.6; Massachusetts (1833) 1 to 4; Vermont (1831) 1 to 4; Ohio (1833) 1 to 4. The proportion in 8 countries or provinces of Europe, though not so great, is still said to be as follows,—Thurgovia (1832) 1 to 4.8; Zurich (1832) 1 to 5; Argovid (1832) 1 to 5.3; Bohemia (1833) 1 to 5.7; Prussia (1838) 1 to 6; Baden (1830) 1 to 6; Drenthe (1835) 1 to 6, and Saxony 1 to 6. Thus in 6 states of

*

Appendix II.

+ Appendix III.

the American Union, one-fourth of the whole population is under instruction; and in 8 countries or provinces of Europe one-sixth; and if the children of England are not to be educated less than those of the continental nations, one-sixth of the whole population should be also found in schools here. Upon the first inspection of the statistical reports this indeed appears to have been the case; for instead of one-sixth of the population of the 5 towns, or 114,166, being reported to be in their various schools, there are 122,758 gathered into them. But while the one-sixth reported to be under instruction in these various continental states are all in day-schools, these 122,758 are distributed in different schools in the following proportion,-36,033 attend dame or common schools only; 48,966 attend Sunday-schools only; 10,236 are in superior schools; and 27,523 are in public elementary schools for the working classes.*

In all the large towns of the cotton district which I visited, the Sunday-schools are well attended, and the dame and common schools are numerous: but all of them, with the exception of Preston, are exceedingly deficient in public day-schools.

Ashton-under-Lyne, which had, in 1831, 11,720 inhabitants, and has since rapidly increased, has not one public infant-school or day-school; and the chapelry of Oldham, which, in 1831, contained 50,573 inhabitants, has three infant-schools, and one endowed school for 100 boys, who are nominated from the parish of Prestwick, and various neighbouring parishes, but has not one elementary day-school for the children of the chapelry.

The amount then of instruction in the great cotton towns generally is probably not greater than that in the five towns examined by the statistical societies. One-nineteenth part of the population may be found in dame and common schools only; onefourteenth in Sunday-Schools only; and about one-twenty-fifth in public elementary day-schools of all kinds.

Having made this rapid sketch of the amount of instruction in the cotton district, and especially in five great manufacturing towns, I beg now to direct the attention of your Lordships to the quality of the instruction thus given.

Of 122,758 scholars in the five towns, 49,413 are instructed dame and common schools, 22,290 being in dame-schools, 17,123 in common schools ; of these numbers 16,245 attend dame-schools only, and 19,748 attend common schools only; and on the whole 13,380 attend Sunday-schools as well as dame and common schools, while 36,033 attend dame and common schools only.

The instruction received in dame-schools is represented by the statistical reports to be of the most unsatisfactory kind in each of the five towns, as may be seen by the following extracts :

“ Taking into consideration," says the Birmingham Report, “the extreme youth of the children attending these schools, together with the meagre amount of instruction, the total absence of pro

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perly qualified teachers, and the general impression which prevails among them, that the children are only sent to be kept out of the way, there will be some danger of over-estimating their value, if they are set down, as a whole, as representing much more than nurseries, where children of the working classes are taken care of."*

In Liverpool, "with few exceptions, the dame-schools are dark and confined; many are damp and dirty; more than one-half of them are used as dwelling, dormitory, and school-room, accommodating, in many cases, families of seven or eight persons : above 40 of them are cellars." +

In Manchester “the greater part of them are kept by females, but some by old men, whose only qualification for this employment seems their unfitness for any other. Many of these teachers are engaged at the same time in some other employment, such as shopkeeping, sewing, washing, &c., which renders any regular instructions among their scholars absolutely impossible. Indeed, neither parents nor teachers seem to consider this as the principal object in sending the children to these schools, but generally say that they go there in order to be taken care of, and to be out of the way at home."

“In Salford, as was found to be the case in Manchester and Bury, very little instruction is conveyed; in fact, the younger children appear only to be sent thither in order to relieve the parents from their charge."

· Very few of these schools were found to possess more than fragments of books, and in many cases no books were to be seen, the mistress not having the means, had she the inclination, to procure them."

Order and cleanliness are little regarded, and the children are, for the most part, congregated in close and dirty rooms, in which the whole business of the school is carried on, and where the family sleep. The generality of the teachers are wholly incompetent to the task of instruction, and their ignorance on the most common topics is lamentable."

The common schools, which are attended by children between the ages of 5 and 14, are represented in the reports to be very little superior to the dame-schools with respect to instruction; and, with respect to ventilation, to be often worse. The Birmingham Report thus speaks of those which are in that town:-“ Ventilation is very little attended to in these schools, and, in some, cleanliness is equally neglected. There is generally a much greater number of children crowded together than in dame-schools, and the effluvia, arising from the mass of the scholars mingled

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Report of the Birmingham Statistical Society in the “Statistical Quarterly Journal,” April, 1840, p. 32. Report on the Borough of Liverpool, p. 10.

Report for the Borough of Manchester, p. 5. Ş Report of the Borough of Salford, p. 6.

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