A School Inspection

There have been a lot of changes in British education in recent years, all of course in the name of so-called improvement, but often more to do with saving money or removing their control from local councils. This is what it used to be like to have an annual inspection, from the early to mid 1860s. This is more from Joseph Ashby of Tysoe 1859-1919,

Two inspectors came once a year and carried out a dramatic examination. The schoolmaster came into school in his best suit; all the pupils and teachers would be listening till at 10 o’clock a dog-cart would be heard on the road, even though it was 80 yards away. In would come 2 gentlemen with a deportment of high authority, with rich voices. Each would sit at a desk and children would be called in turn to one or other. The master hovered around, calling children out as they were needed. The children could see him start with vexation as a good pupil stuck at a word in the reading-book he had been using all the year, or sat motionless with his sum in front of him. The master’s anxiety was deep, for his earnings depended on the children’s work. One year the atmosphere of anxiety so affected the lower standards that, one after another as they were brought to the Inspector, the boys howled and the girls whimpered. It took hours to get through them. But the older children looked beyond the examination; the moment the Inspectors had finished the school would be closed. Well, not quite at that moment; time would be taken to open a hamper of great, golden, rare fruit, of which each child would presently have a specimen cu[ed in his own two hands – oranges! A traditional kindness, this, paid for by ‘the Marquis’. 

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