HMI Report 1954

Report by H.M. Inspectors on this school, inspected on March 23rd, 24th, and 25th 1954:–

“Owing to the development of a housing estate the numbers on the roll of this department for pupils aged 7+ to 15+ have increased from 226 in March 1950 to 367 at present. There are ten classes, four of which contain the senior classes. The first year pupils are arranged according to ability in two classes, namely Junior 1a and 1b. The special class contains 26 less able and backward pupils aged eight to eleven.

The main building consists of a small hall, six classroom, a small Housecraft room, a scullery for the meals served, a staff room and the Head Master’s room. Nearby is a hut which provides accommodation for Handicraft and it is also used as a classroom and two other classrooms are available in a second hutted building. Another class is housed in a Miners’ Welfare Building some distance away.

After Easter it is expected that one classroom will need to be released to accommodate Infants and this will necessitate the use of the Hall as a classroom. Unfortunately the scullery can only be released through one of the classrooms. The washbasins are provided with cold water only. Only one W.C., awkwardly placed in that it can only be reached except [sic] by passing through the small staffroom, is available for the use of the seven men, and six women members of staff, the school secretary and the meals helpers. The seven W.C.s for the girls and four for the boys are in the playground. Although they had had attention from the plumber immediately before, the flushing arrangements were not working satisfactorily at the time of the Inspection. They are without fixtures for the toilet paper. There are playgrounds of a useful size with good hard surfaces and the adjoining field is being made into a playing field. Part of this land is to be used as a garden and it is then hoped that gardening will play a full part in the education of the pupils. Until this season only small areas around the air-raid shelters have been available for cultivation. The school has been fortunate in having the use of a Welfare Playing field. A three form entry Secondary School is included in the ’53 - ’54 Building Programme.

The problem of suitable books for reading and for reference, maps and Art Equipment is an urgent need, and consideration might be given to the best use of the requisiting allowance for this purpose. Much useful material, prepared by the teacher [sic], is displayed in the classrooms, and that provided by the teacher of the Special class is outstanding

The Head Master, who had previously been an assistant in the school for almost twenty years, was appointed to the Headship in December, 1948. He knows his school, has a kindly regard for his pupils, and had taken pains to become acquainted with their parents. The school is most fortunate in having amongst its assistant staff of six men and six women a group of experienced teachers who are able and enthusiastic. Among the younger teachers are some who show great promise, but others who need much help.

Religious instruction is given sincerely and with commendable thoroughness; a considerable amount of written work is being done and there is some dramatisation. The memorization of suitable passages of Scriptures might well have consideration. Speech varies greatly from class to class. In some of the Junior Classes, notably Class 4 and the Special class, lively discussions were heard, but the pupils in the Senior Classes show undue reticence and lack power of conversation. The school has tackled well the problem of teaching the less able pupils to read, but especially in the Senior Classes, there is need for a greater enrichment of the reading background of the pupils, few of whom appear to show much discrimination in their choice of home reading, although in some cases the literature studied in school is being handled with sensitivity. Emphasis is placed on written composition which reaches a high level, the majority of pupils achieving considerable fluency in descriptive writing,

In the Junior Classes History, Geography and Nature Study are providing interesting subject matter on which to write. In History and Geography in the Senior Classes the pupils spend much of their time compiling written accounts of good quality, basing their answers on the single text book available to them and on information supplied by their teachers. It may well be, however, that, in all, too much time is being devoted to written work, since the pupils lack a comparable facility in speech. There is need for more opportunity for discussion. Great limitations are at present placed on the work in History and Geography through lack of simple reference books, pictures and maps. Science in the Senior Classes consists of classroom lessons in Biology taught by a Master still in his probationary period*. The recent attempts to provide material for first-hand study by the pupils should bring about greater interest in this subject. Sound work is done in Arithmetic and the exercise worked by the pupils are neatly and carefully set out. The scope of the work in the Senior Classes is extended to include some geometry and algebra, but no graphs have been done recently. The Seniors are not very ready to discuss their work and seem reluctant to face an unfamiliar question.

The problems of revising the art schemes and catering for a wider variety of creative work are already being considered by the Head Teacher. Much remains to be done before a Progressive course is fully working. In Senior 2 the pupils have begun pottery with clay dug by themselves and they hope to build a kiln. A full-time woodwork Master, who in addition to teaching the subject has introduced other craft activities, has recently joined the staff. Although the Housecraft and Needlework room is not large enough to be fully equipped according to the size of the classes the lessons are full and the girls are kept purposefully busy.

A real effort is being made to achieve good craftsmanship supported by knowledge. The needlework of Junior 2 and Junior 3 is particularly good. In Music it is good to see the enthusiasm with which choral work is approached, particularly by the elder boys. It is necessary, however, to aim at a quieter style of singing and a more artistic interpretation of the poetic and musical content of the songs. The singing of the Junior classes is musical and enjoyable. A properly graded course of ¿XXX? reading to cover both Junior and Senior Classes is desirable. After a rather tentative start, the Physical Education of the Junior Classes develops into a lively work involving a wide variety of skills and, in the later years, achieves a good standard.

In the Senior Classes, the girls, who wear their own light clothing, are particularly keen and work well, the boys do not change and, although a good beginning has been made with activities using medicine balls and there is some enthusiastic teaching, much could be done to widen the scope of the work in the playground. The introduction of mixed dancing has met with success and the use of a nearby Welfare field with facilities for hockey, football, cricket and tennis, and the provision of opportunities for swimming are to be commended.

As the Hall is too small to allow of the whole School meeting, an assembly is held on two mornings each week for the Juniors and on two for the Seniors. The services held during the Inspection were reverently conducted. Along some lines, for example, in the high standard of the written exercises, the school achieved considerable success. To facilitate further development, a re-casting of the schemes of week is desirable. The Head Master has already given consideration to this and further suggestions were offered to him during the Inspection. When the next schemes are available it would help to secured continuity and progression if each member of the staff were given a complete copy (July 13, 1954).”