DAVID OGILVY, Teacher, Mid Yell (25)—examined.
19653. Professor Mackinnon.
—What part of the country do you belong to?
19654. You went through the Normal School, did you not?
19655. You were a pupil teacher?
19656. How long have you been here?
19657. Where were you teaching before?
—In the High School, Wigan, Lancashire.
19658. You went there from Fifeshire?
—Yes; I went from being second master in Ladybank School to Wigan High School, where I was English master.
19659. How many pupils have you got here?
—There are 71 on the admission register—that is, on the roll.
19660. What is the average attendance?
—Last year 32.3; the year before, 29.
19661. I suppose that is a lower attendance than in Fifeshire?
—I rather think so; one-half of the children were at something else. Besides the 71 on the register there is a lot over five years of age who are not on the roll. .
19662. Do you know the population of your school district?
—I have never had the list handed to me yet.
19663. Have you any idea ?
—About 300, I think.
19664. What is the excuse given for the children not attending school. with greater regularity?
—Any frivolous excuse is considered good enough, such as keeping the house or minding the child, or going 'gipping' herring. There are about thirty away just now rolling barrels; and this is the only time these children can come to school; they belong to the north side of the voe. Now, when they can work and make money at the herrings, they give no excuse for being absent. Only the other clay I had an application by a parent to have his girl's name taken off the roll. She is about twelve years of age, and has passed in the second standard only. She is 'gipping' herring.
19665. During the winter they have a variety of excuses'?
—A good many of them have.
19666. And in the summer they remain away earning money?
—Yes, they won't come; one time they can't come, and the other time they won't come.
19667. Why don't the smaller ones over six years of age come?
—The children don't come until they are seven years of age. Until the children are seven years of age, their parents would think it was too far to send them if it were only 300 yards.
19668. Are things improving?
—Yes; ever since I came they have improved. When I came I could get women to work at Is. a day, and now I cannot get them for 2s. 6d.
19669. I mean is the school improving?
—Not a bit; it is getting worse; they are getting so much work at the herrings that every day more are going away.
19670. Has the matter been under the consideration of the School Board?
—When I came first I used to write about once a week, for a time, stating the thing; but there was no action taken by the board, and I got tired writing. I sent a list of the children who were away, and the reasons given by the parents for their absence,—that they were "gipping" and working among the herrings, rolling barrels, and so forth, and up till now no notice has been taken of the matter. The compulsory officer comes round about once in a month, or when he is sent for.
19671. Where does he stay?
—Three and a half miles from here.
19672. Is this the place where the only school of the parish was before 1872?
—I could not say. I think it was at East Yell.
19673. There was no school here until the new arrangements?
19674. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—The School Board draw money for the average attendance?
19675. Therefore it is very much to their advantage to increase the average attendance?
19676. Yet they don't make any effort to do so?
—They do not. There are some bad cases. There is one family of four men and two women; the women are engaged in "gipping" herring and the men at the fishing. They have two girls both under school age in the family, and, not content with six of the grown-up members being employed and earning wages, an application came the other week to get the elder girl's name taken off the roll, although she is only about twelve years of ago.
19677. Professor Mackinnon.
—Are the school apparatus and dwelling house in good order?
—Not very good order.
19678. They are new?
—Yes, but the ceiling is tumbling down on the pupils' heads, to the danger of their lives, sometimes in winter.
19679. Is that due to bad workmanship or bad weather ?
—Bad workmanship. I have seen ceilings in the south standing nearly fifty years and yet quite good, and trains passing every day.
19680. Could you not keep good fires on?
—It is not damp; there are good fires kept on; but the hair is not mixed properly with the plaster.
19681. Do you find many of the children pretty well advanced in their education?
19682. What is the longest time they remain at school?
—Till they are thirteen years of age.
19683. Do not the children who live about here, where there is no excuse of roads and rivers, attend school in winter?
—The children on this side are the only children we can depend upon attending at all, and even in their case we cannot depend on their coming to school. The cluster of houses on the hill up there is the only place I can surely depend on; but I think there are about twenty roundabout this side of the voe not at school; you cannot depend upon them. On the north side and over the hill some of the children have to come a long way, and they cannot be depended upon,
19684. How many children will you have in winter over thirteen years of age?
—More than likely not one; I think I had only one last year over thirteen.
19685. There are some boys and girls within easy reach who might attend when they are not doing anything else?
—Their parents always find something for them to do; they think education is of no value in this part of the world; they think they will save the school fee by keeping the children at home.
19686. What is the fee?
—9d. a quarter for infants, Is. 6d. for the more advanced, and 2s. 6d. for the most advanced in the school.
19687. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—When was your inspection?
19688. How many did you present?
19689. How many of these were in the third standard?
—About a dozen, I think.
19690. In the standards above the third how many were there?
—Four—three in the fourth and one in the fifth.
19691. The Chairman.
—All these irregularities and discouragements, of course, were made known to the inspector?
—The inspector takes no notice of that at all; it is not his business.
19692. Can he not make any general report?
—I asked him, and he said he once did so, and the Department returned it to have it modified before it was sent to the School Board.
19693. Would it be possible to accommodate the holidays in some way to the gutting of the fish and the curing season, so as to throw the work of the children into the holidays?
—They want them so often during the season—or think they want them—that supposing you were giving them holidays now, they would want them again when the harvest comes on; and then they would want them in spring, about a mouth or so before the examination, to dig the fields and carry manure.
19691. But would it not be a good thing to throw at least one of the seasons of labour into the holidays? when are the holidays?
—In the harvest time, and in the spring labouring seasons.
19695. Do you give spring holidays here?
19696. Do the parents assist you at all by instruction at home?
—In very rare cases.
19697. Are the parents of advanced age generally illiterate, or have they almost all received some education?
—They have all received some slight degree of education; there are no cases—or at least any rare cases —where they cannot write a letter in a legible hand, and read the newspapers.
19698. Is that the case both with men and women?
—Those who have sailed south are better informed and better educated as a whole than those who have remained at home.
19699. Do you find the children lively and intelligent naturally?
—I don't find them take enough interest either in their lessons or games. I think the children are rather weak physically; I never saw a south country game played here, such as cricket or football; they are unknown. The children sit and mope about, seemingly without spirit or heart for anything.
19700. Are there any people in the parish who do anything to encourage the children by offering prizes at a voluntary inspection, or anything of that sort?
—I have brought up that subject two or three times, but the board would never give even a small grant for prizes; and no party in the place takes enough interest in the school to do it I have been here about two years, and I have never seen a member of the School Board inside my school except on the examination day—even a member of the board.
19701. Beyond the performance of their official duties, the members of the School Board don't show any intelligence or benevolent interest in promoting education?
—They have not even performed their official duties.
19702. In what degree or manner do they fail to perform their duties?
—They should visit the schools, or depute some one to do it for them, four times a year, and sign the registers; I think the chairman of the School Board visited the school once during last year, and I think that was the first visit I have had from a member of the board since I came, unless on an examination day; so that instead of the books being signed by two members four times last year, they were only signed once in four quarters by one member.
19703. Are the statutory meetings of the members well attended?
—I don't know that.
19704. Do you think that if there was an intelligent interest shown in higher quarters in the education of the children some good might be done?
—Most decidedly. The children are beginning to improve, and they like to be encouraged; and I have no doubt if a few of those who lead public opinion in this place would take an interest in the school, the children would do very well, and become smart men and women. But as it is they think it better to do a little work, and get pennies for it.