27 JANUARY 1900, Page 31


[TO THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—It is, I think, absolutely certain that the present war will entail far-reaching changes in many directions. Let us hope that improvements in our system of elementary educe- tion'may be amongst them. Probably only a limited circle are aware of the great progress made daring the last few years in the training given at the schools which are under Home Office control; but those who, like myself, are managers of these schools, realise how much of this progress is due to Mr. J. G. Legge, her Majesty's Inspector of Reformatory and Industrial Schools, and the writer of • letter that appeared in the Spectator of January 20th. A visit to a good Home Office school during its inspection by Mr. Legge would, I believe, be a revelation to many of the inspectors of her Majesty's Education Department. In our own school, besides a first-class gymnastic training, the boys are taught rifle and bayonet drill. " Unservice- able" arms were supplied to us three years ago by the War Office, on payment of 3s. 3d. per rifle and bayonet, and on the managers signing an undertaking not to dispose of the arms without obtaining War Office sanction. I am proud to say that our school was the first Home Office school to apply for and to obtain this privilege. The officer commanding the regimental district annually in- spects the school in drill and gymnastics, and I believe that no Home Office school supplies a larger proportion of its boys as recruits for her Majesty's service. Nearly 50 per cent. of the boys who have left us in the past three years are now serving in the Navy or Army. This year a class has been formed for instruction in Army signalling. We also look forward to forming eventually a cadet company affiliated to the local Volunteer corps, thus obtaining serviceable rifles, when we can put up a Morris-tube range for ourselves. The chief obstacle which has hitherto stood in the way of our doing this has been the difficulty of finding sufficient time for instruction without undue interference with the time allotted per diem to industrial and physical training (six hours), school-work (three and a half hours), or the some- what limited play-hours (two hours) of the boys. (This time does not take into account the weekly half-holiday, nor special-leave holidays regularly given to the boys.) Owing to the large number of boys in Standards VI. and VII., it is now suggested to allot part of the school-time of the boys in these standards to such special subjects as signalling and firing. This proposal meets with Mr. Legge's approval, and during the present year I hope to see the introduction of the practice. Needless to say, it will be highly popular amongst the boys, and an incentive to industry in school-work.—I am,