The use of sand-trays came to an end in 1887. Pupils were each supplied with a board and pencil made of slate. Great care had to be taken with these, as they were easily broken if dropped. Some slate boards were fixed into wooden frames to try to protect them. Although exercise books were used by older more experienced students, these slates were a cheaper alternative for the younger pupils, as they could be wiped clean and reused. Children had to work hard to progress from slates to writing books.
Teaching during this time was of a set level., The problem with the system was that no allowance was made for individual abilities. More intelligent children were being held back, while less academic ones were left struggling. An example found in a log book for the school, shows even in art, a picture was drawn by the master to be copied by the children. They were not allowed to use their own imagination in any way.