TREASURE OF THE WEEK No.6 –   EXAMS ARE TOO HARD ( IN 1880)!

In the basement of Bradford’s Local Studies Library are collections of nineteenth century pamphlets (and some of earlier date). Ranging from sermons and programmes of royal visits, to reports, articles, obituaries and regulations, they are a treasure-trove of local history. What follows is an account of one of these treasures. To consult any of these items please ask the staff. Card catalogues of these collections are located in the Local Studies Library.

JND 193/18 (Please quote this number if requesting this item)

Memorial to the Members of School Boards and Managers of Voluntary Schools in the District Inspected by J.B.Haslam, Esq., Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools. 1880.  Published by the Bradford and District Teachers’ Association. Printed by Henry Gaskarth of Bradford. 11 pages.

This slim pamphlet is a complaint by local teachers about “the unusual severity of the annual examination, and the exceptionally high standard of Her Majesty’s Inspector for this district.” It outlines the reasons why local teachers feel the examinations are unfair on the students – because they are too hard – and compare unfavourably to other districts. The Bradford Inspector, Mr Haslam, is severely criticised.

The ‘memorial’ gives many examples of the actual examination, some of which are reprinted below. Apart from the severity of the questions, we can see how fortunate we are today to be using decimals for money than the old £ s. d. And calculators!

Standard II (ages 8 to 9)

  • How much is six hundred and eighty-nine times eighty thousand seven hundred and sixty-five?

Standard III (ages 9 to 10)

  • (For girls only) Divide four hundred and eighteen thousand seven hundred and three by five hundred and nine.

Standards IV to VI (ages 10 to 13)

  • What is an adverbial sentence and what is an adverbial clause?
  • Draw two diagrams, showing the position of the earth as it would appear from the sun on June 21st and September 21st.
  • What is the size of the earth, and how has this been ascertained?
  • What is a participle, and how is it used in the formation of tenses?

Standard V (ages 11 to 12)

  • How many tons, &c., should be carried 187 miles for the same sum for which 29 tons 14 hundredweight are carried 119 miles?
  • A fishmonger brought 26,700 herrings at 2s. 11d. a hundred; he sold them at five for 2d. What did he gain on every guinea he laid out?

Standard VI (ages 12-13)

  • Reduce £3 5s. 8d. to the fraction of £4 10s. 6d.

standard-6
A list of members of the Committee of the Association is given. The Officers were:

William Wright of the Wesleyan School, Keighley (President)
Richard Lishman of Belle Vue Board School, Bradford (Vice-President)
Thomas Potter of Borough West School, Bradford (Treasurer)
William Thompson of Bowling Back Lane Board School, Bradford (Secretary)

An Appendix gives percentage passes for Board Schools in the district:

Halifax              93.7
Sheffield           86.4
Leeds                 85.2
Huddersfield   84.4
Dewsbury         81.0
Bingley             79.3
Keighley           77.3
Bradford           73.0

The National average was 81.8%. The passes for Denominational Schools were lower than for Board Schools: 79.4% for the whole country and 69% for Bradford.

An interesting observation made in this Memorial was that “While many other Inspectors allow this exercise [writing] to be done on slates in Standard II, Mr Haslam insists on the use of paper.” Has the day arrived when students today can quit paper for (computer) tablets?

Stackmole

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