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Plumbland School

Report by Mr C. I. Elton, H.M.I.

 

The school is again under the master who had left it for a time when Mr. Turner took the appointment. His opinions differ in many respects from those expressed in Mr Turner’s answers. For instance, he does not find the governors are “ignorant, meddlesome and prejudiced”, nor does he think that the children are more than usually “passive” or devoid of talent. He receives less than was paid to Mr Turner by 41 per annum, on account of not teaching “psalmody”. 76 are accumulated by the trustees and applied to the repairs of the schoolrooms, playground, and the like. The rooms are very large and airy. At the time of my visit to Plumbland School the “Latin School” was being repaired, but the other room held all the scholars with great comfort. The trustees feel a great interest in their school and wish that it should continue to afford good instruction to children of all ranks. It was at one time a “gentleman’s school,” but since collieries have been worked it has been a superior kind of village school. It is to be regretted that the colliers remove their children as soon as they can earn a penny out of doors. The master is an efficient teacher, and his second class construed Caesar and Delectus2 with great grammatical accuracy. The older boys were absent for the summer quarter. The same class did some simple equations and also some arithmetical sums out of a handbook published by the master. He deserves great credit for the way in which this work was done by his scholars. Several boys were well acquainted with mensuration. About 20 children pay quarter-pence, the rest being free. The parents could in most cases afford to pay something, and, for their own sake, should be compelled to do so. The children would then come to school on a wet day. At present, a shower in the morning deters very many of the free scholars from attendance for the day. The school would also be much fuller in summer than is now the case. The master has two or three boarders, who have no privileges above the rest. They are all taught alike in school hours, and use the same playground afterwards. I should mention that both the trustees and the master of this school have a very strong objection to any interference on the part of the Government in any way, and will oppose any plan for inspecting the school annually. They are especially anxious not to come under some Committee of the Council for Education, fearing that the school would lose its position as an “old-fashioned grammar school”.


Foundation and Endowment.- By will of John Sibson, dated 29th June 1759, who left residue of his personal estate for school, reserving a life interest to his wife. She died in 1798. Parishioners contributed work and materials to the schoolhouse. Ancient school stock 100 10s., also absorbed.

School Propert. – Sibson’s bequest invested in 2,910 consols, annual dividends 87 6s. One pound to poor widows; one pound to governess; one guinea to incumbent for a sermon; 30s to cleaner; 76 to master; surplus for repairs. Very good building. No master’s residence.

Objects of Trust. – Education of all children of parishioners or name of Sibson. No parishioner’s family to be free unless contribution formerly given to building school. (All the parish now free.) Master of Psalmody to be appointed. Surplus over outgoings and master’s salary to be used in apprentice fees (under 5l.) for poor children, (not now so applied).

Subjects of Instruction prescribed. - One master to teach Latin and English, another writing and accounts, and a person to teach psalmody.

Government and Masters. - President, incumbent ex officio, treasurer, and four local trustees, elected by parishioners. Two retire by rotation annually. Governors appoint and dismiss master, and make regulations. Master must be a member of Church of England, able to teach Latin. Not to be the minister of the parish. Has control over internal management.
 

State of School in Second Half-year of 1867.

General Character. - Semi-classical. In age of scholars, third grade.

Masters. – Head master receives from endowment 76, from school fees 30 to 40 a year. He pays usher 25 per annum.

Day Scholars. - Average attendance (79 in all in 1864) 80 boys and 55 girls, children of mining, farming, and trading parents, all from immediate neighbourhood. Instruction for parishioners free. A load of coals yearly from such as keep horse and cart. Other scholars 2 2s. a year. All who write pay 6d., others 3d., at Christmas, for cleaning.

Boarders. – Five.

Instruction, Discipline, Etc. - Required to know the alphabet on admission. School divided into Latin and English schools. Classified according to subject. School course systematically modified to suit future calling of boys. Scripture history and Catechism taught. All attend church on Sunday with prayers. Collects from the Prayer Book.

Promotions by general proficiency.

Examinations, only occasional, by president and head master, who sometimes gives prizes.

Punishments: corporal (by head master), fines for injuring school property, impositions.

Playground, 60 yards by 23 yards, adjoining school.

A little drilling taught. Children confined to playground in playtime.

School time, 44 weeks per annum, 35 hours per week. Play time between lessons, 5 hours.3

In last five years no boy has gone to any university.


 

TABLE A. – Profession, etc of Parents

N.B.- The ten highest and ten lowest boys in the School order are taken as samples of the whole.

Day Scholars

Profession or Occupation of Parent

Day Scholars

Profession or Occupation of Parent

Boys highest in School    1

Husbandman

Boys lowest in School    1

Miner

2

Coach Builder

2

At the Female Industry4

3

Gentleman

3

Farmer

4

Miner

4

Miner

5

Footman at Rectory

5

Miner

6

Miner

6

Farmer & Miller

7

Farmer

7

Miner

8

Mother; School-mistress

8

Joiner

9

Miner

9

Miner

10

Farmer

10

Labourer

 All residing within two miles of the School

 

TABLE C. – Distinctions (1864)

List of DISTINCTIONS gained within the last TEN years by boys of the School (a) at the Universities; (b) at the competitive examinations for the Civil, Military and East India Services; (c) or elsewhere.

(c) Eighteen boys have each gained one or more prizes at Mr. George Moore’s competitive examinations at Wigton.

 
 

List of GOVERNORS, etc (1867)

Governors

            The Rev. W. S. Watson, Curate, Plumbland Rectory (ex officio)
            George Ismay, Farmer, Ewe Close.        
            John Lyttleton, Farmer, Arkleby
            John Arnot, Farmer, Plumbland.
            John Hodson, Yeoman, Holly Lodge.

 
Clerk to Trustees and Treasurer

                Mrs. Elizabeth Thirlwall, Plumbland

 
Head Master:

            Andrew Bell.

Usher

            John Young

 

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Notes

Paul Haslam transcribed the original document, which he dates to circa 1867; converted to HTML by Steve Bulman.
Paul has an interest in education in the county, and further historical documents may follow in due course.

The statistics from the report are available here - Pauls Excel file.

1. In the original text money was shown as e.g. 4l, i.e. 4 librum, or 4. To avoid confusion, I've regularised all of these as .
2. I'd never heard of this, but Google Books has scans from a copy of Delectus Epigrammatum Graecorum, by Friedrich Jacobs (1826).
3. This is as the original, but I don't understand it!
4. Can you suggest what this means?


19 June 2015

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Steve Bulman