Thursday, 16 August 2012

An Inspector Calls...

I have now catalogued over 560 items in Godolphin archive. At some point I will dedicate one of my posts to displaying how one might search for something using the record in excel and then find it in its correct location. But first I’d like to show you what I found today...

This is a School Certificate (the equivalent of the GCSE or O-Level certificate) awarded to Margery Thomas in 1934

It shows some of the typical subjects studied by the students at the time: English, Modern European History, Latin, French and Biology. Other subjects also available to study at Godolphin at the time included: religious knowledge, arithmetic, mathematics, chemistry, physics, botany, art, music, handicraft and needlework.
I spent a lot of today cataloguing the school inspection and examination reports. Some of these in the collection date right back to the 1890s.
This is an in-depth report from the Board of Examinations about the results of some examinations taken in 1890 by students at Godolphin. It is so in-depth that it even mentions particular students with comments such as ‘Hannah Morrice deserves praise’ and ‘the papers of Ethel Bowle... were excellent’. 
This examination report mentions ex Godolphin student Dorothy L. Sayers’ achievements in the French exam: ‘D.L. Sayers has sent up the best translation from French into English that I have ever had from any school.’
As well as examination reports there are a  number of inspection reports in the collection.
'I arrived at the school in the evening of Saturday July 25th & I stayed till the morning of Friday July 31st.'
This inspector in 1904 stayed almost an entire week to assess the school! Ofsted inspections are a daunting time for most staff today, but be thankful, teachers among you, that Ofsted inspectors don’t insist on staying so long nowdays!
As the inspector mentions, it gave her enough time to really get to feel the atmosphere of the school and her account makes for interesting reading. She comments a lot on the contented manner of the girls and their close relationship to the mistresses.

English with 6th form - ‘...I set a short essay to its members so as to test their power of expression and the result was very satisfactory.’
Assessing a school didn’t just mean observing the staff and students... This inspector set her own tasks for the students to see just how well they were taught.

Not all the reports were hand-written. However the change to printed reports is not a chronological one, as there are reports from 1898 that are printed whilst some from the 1920s are still hand-written.
In the above report Miss Gruner uses the word vigour to describe the students 3 times! She wasn’t the only one, lots of the inspectors seem to pick up on this and use the word extensively in their reports.
Inspections were sometimes carried out by 1 person and at other times by up to 7 people. As we progress further into the 20th century, the inspections go from being once a year to every ten years. Below are some of the conclusions different inspectors come to about the Godolphin School...
As an outsider observer myself, making my own impression of Godolphin School, I think many of these comments still ring true today.
‘To an unusual extent the girls give an impression of happiness and abundant vitality, and their tone and discipline are all that can be desired.’

‘In the first place, broad sympathy is shown with the needs and tastes of different minds.’ ‘Every girl is encouraged to develop her own nature and powers with the aim of future usefulness and happiness.’
This extract of an inspection report comes from Miss Ash’s (headmistress at the time) copy of the report. She had annotated right through her copy. Her lines next to this extract might suggest she was particularly pleased with this comment!
This inspection report above contained an account of every part of the school, including the museum!

Another thing I found today, which isn’t part of the school inspection reports, I thought I would share as it brought me great amusement! This is a 5 year old boy’s school report from kindergarten (which took boys and girls) dating from 1913.
'Walter is a good little boy and will do better in everything when he is less distracted by the novelty of being in school.'