Report by H.M. Inspectors on Wolverton County Junior School.
This junior mixed School began in February 1946 when the old boys and girls departments disappeared and Junior mixed and Secondary modern Schools were formed in their place under separate Head Teachers. The two Schools shared a building, the Senior use the ground floor, and the Junior are on the first floor. This is the first report since the reorganisation and it deals only with the Junior School. There are eight classrooms opened into an assembly hall, two cloakrooms, and a small Head teachers room. Electric light which has already been introduced into four of the rooms, is soon to be brought into the rest and eventually into the Hall. Twelve washbasins have recently been installed. The building which has been pleasantly decorated is well cleaned, and apart from one or two small instances of unsightly storage, presents a neat and orderly appearance.
The lavatory accommodation is outside the main building and shared by the Secondary Modern School. There are nine lavatories for girls and eight lavatories plus two urinals for boys and there 561 children in the two Schools. Provision is therefore below present day standards. The boys lavatory block is about a hundred yards from the School door and the girls about half that distance.
There are at present 331children attending the School and the number includes 29 who have been admitted since the beginning of the School year from a partially completed housing estate nearby, It is anticipated that 93 eleven years olds will leave in July but there are 123 children to be transferred from the Infants School next September and a few more new admissions are likely to come from houses still to be erected on the new estate, It is obvious, therefore, that the number on the roll will be considerably higher next year and that it will be necessary to form another class, Where this class can be housed is a problem that must be faced.
The Head Mistress was appointed to the girls department in 1941 and has been in charge of this School since its formation in 1946, She sets herself very high standards of achievement, carries her Staff along with her and certainly leaves her impression on the whole School. The time is ripe for her to encourage the young and enterprising teachers on the staff to experiment with more practical approaches to the work particularly with the less able children. There are three Masters and four Mistresses who are full-time members of Staff and all except one of them are qualified staff. The sister of the Head Mistress, who is a qualified teacher , comes to the School for the equivalent of four days a week and shares a class with the Head Mistress, There is also an extra teacher on three afternoons a week to help with backward readers, Taken as a whole Staff forms a good hardworking team,
The School is furnished throughout with heavy dual desks and if these couldbe exchanged for light tables and chairs in at least one or two of the rooms it would encourage greater flexibility in class management particularly in such subjects as Art and Handwork. Some form of agility apparatus, even if only of an improvised nature, is desirable in the playground for Physical Education. Apart from this the school is well equipped.
A midday meal is cooked in a kitchen on the school site and served in a dining room erected in the playground for the children of this school and the Infants and Secondary Modern School. Only an eighth of the children took advantage of this service on the day of the inspection.
The four A and four B classes in the school are graded according to ability and all but two of them contain more than 40 children. The number in one is as high as 48. Ten children who find reading especially difficult go for extra instruction to a special class in the Secondary Modern School but as this arrangement is only for one period a week it is unlikely that it serves any useful purpose.
In the A streams a very good standard is reached in the basic subjects. There is an atmosphere of purpose in the classrooms and a willingness, and even anxiety, to work. Aims are very clearly defined and the children practise assisuously until they are accurate in their use of words and numbers. There is some danger that a few of the brighter children are being over-taught instead of being trained to learn under the guidance of the teacher with opportunity and encouragement to make decisions for themselves and to work at their own rate; it is almost certain that some of the children could go far beyond what is at present expected of them. On the other hand there are children at the other end of the scale in the B classes who are struggling to keep up with their contemporaries and attempting work which is beyond their capacity. It is suggested that the schemes of work should be revised bearing in mind the great variation in ability between the quickest and the slowest children. A less academic approach and rather more practical and individual methods would perhaps be better suited to the type of child found in the B classes.
Exercise books generally are neat and carefully marked and there are heartening signs that the connection between English and other subjects is being fostered. Note books for Histroy, Geography, Religious Instruction and Nature Study are often promising and quite artistic, giving evidence of much thought and careful planning on the part of the Staff.
The children are great readers and make good use of the school and County libraries and there is a collection of children's reference books which can be used at all times.
All classes are familiar with a fair selection of songs and it is good to hear much of the singing unaccompanied. The lessons are a little over serious and earnest perhaps and they need be none the less valuable if they become more joyous.
The school is fortunate in having rwo members of staff who are especially interested in and capable of teaching Art and much of the work produced is interesting and original. Although in the Handwork and Needlework periods there is still a good deal of the traditional occupational craftwork which so often leads to monotonous repetitive labour there are signs of more enterprising original work, giving opportunities for self-expression.
It is obvious that the children come from homes where that are treated with care and consideration and both their manners and their manner of living reflect the good training they are receiving at home and in school. They are a credit to all concerned.