[From Education Week,1926]
IN a country where the opportunities for boys are few, and ambitious youth has often to seek an outlet for its activities in other lands, it becomes increasingly important to provide adequate facilities for the further education of its best minds. The Isle of Man Education Authority has responded very sympathetically to this demand, and its provision for secondary education sets a standard not yet attained in any other part of the British Isles
The difficulties in providing secondary education in an agricultural area like the Isle of Man, with its very limited facilities for travel, are obviously much greater than in a closely populated industrial district. Small Grammar Schools, under private endowments, were early established in Castletown, Douglas, Peel and Ramsey, but the first publicly provided Secondary School, beginning as a Higher Grade School, was started at Douglas in the year 1894. There are now two Secondary Schools financed by the Education Authority.
As stated above, this school began in 1894, as a development of Park Road Elementary School, under the name of the Higher Grade School. In the many changes of official terminology it became an Organised Science School, and ultimately, after the English Education Act of 1902, a Secondary School. A Pupil Teachers' Centre was built in 1898, but this was absorbed into the Secondary School at a later date, thus reversing the bad policy hitherto obtaining, of segregating intending teachers from pupils entering other trades and professions.
The School is terribly overcrowded at present and other buildings have had to be leased for temporary accommodation. There is hope, however, that the New Secondary School for Boys will be ready for occupation in a year's time. The school will then be divided and the Girls will occupy the present buildings in Park Road after suitable alterations have been made.
The difficulty, long experienced in the North of the Island, of travelling to and from Douglas, rendered it imperative that as soon as possible a Secondary School should be established at Ramsey. This was done in 1922, when Ramsey Grammar School was taken over by the Education Authority and the Wesleyan School was leased to provide additional accommodation. That the demand for secondary education in the north was a real one is shown by the fact that there are now 200 pupils in attendance and the present accommodation is quite inadequate. The provision of new Secondary School buildings is an urgent necessity.
School Fees are low, amounting to £5 5s. a year, usually paid in three instalments of £1 15s. a term. If more than one member of a family are in attendance at the same time, the fee for each child after the first is £4 4s. This fee covers the cost of instruction, exercise books, loan of text-books and, if the pupil comes from a distance greater than three miles, a free railway or electric car contract. In districts not served by railways, conveyance to and from School is provided by motor charabancs.
The purpose of the Secondary School is to give a good general education to boys and girls from the age of 11 to 16 years. In addition to the Senior School, however, there is a junior Department Attached to each School, to which children may be admitted when nine years old, if of suitable attainments.
Opinion is generally agreed that 11 is the most suitable age for children to be transferred from the primary or the junior school. There is little doubt that the vast majority of children would benefit by a suitable course of higher education, but in practice an Entrance Examination has to be set, to ensure that only children of a good intellectual standard are admitted. It is necessary for parents to sign an Agreement to keep their children at the Secondary School until they attain the age of 16 years. This does not imply that pupils should necessarily be withdrawn when they are 16 years old, but with the majority, this is a suitable age for entering trades or professions.
At the end of this four or five years' course comes the First School Examination. The syllabus for this examination is set by the Universities, according to a standard approved by the Board of Education, and the teachers' organisations have power to make suggestions. The successful candidate receives the School Certificate, and if he attains a sufficiently high standard his Certificate counts as Matriculation to the Universities. During this part of the pupil's career there is no specialisation ; every pupil, whatever his future occupation, receives a similar broad, well-balanced education. This is secured by the syllabus of the School Certificate Examination, which demands a pass in each of three groups of Subjects GROUP I.-English, History, Geography; GROUP II.-Languages, Classical or Modern; GROUP III.-Mathematics and Science. There is a fourth group of optional subjects, which encourages the development of education along the broadest possible lines. This group includes Art, Music, Handicraft. Book-keeping, Cookery, Laundry-work, Needlework, Housewifery, Domestic Science, and Geometrical Drawing.
No pupil ought to leave a Secondary School, except under very special circumstances, until he has taken the School Certificate Examination.
For those who intend to stay at school longer, there are post-matriculation courses extending over two years, and leading to the Higher School Certificate Examination This course is particularly suitable for pupils of special ability who wish to proceed to the University, or to the higher professions. Here specialisation begins. Some pupils may take the Modern Studies Course, comprising English, History, and French, with subsidiary Latin; others may follow an advanced course in Mathematics and Science, with subsidiary English and French; others again, a Classical Course. The standard of the Higher School Certificate is particularly high, and success in the examination excuses the candidate from certain work in the Universities, and is often necessary before he will be allowed to take an Honours Degree Course in one of his principal subjects.
The purpose of a Secondary School is not to divert labour from one channel to another. The first, and greatest aim of secondary, as of all education, is a moral one, and this includes a full appreciation of the dignity of all labour, whether manual or mental. Along with this moral ideal are to be set the two ideals of Truth and Beauty, and it is the purpose of secondary education to get a fuller understanding of, and a greater taste for learning and culture than can be obtained in the shorter course of the Primary School. In brief, it is an endeavour to open up a way to a fuller life to give enthusiasms, and to cultivate tastes. This is the inspiration behind secondary teaching, and if its eyes are fixed on more or less unattainable ideals, it has the firm conviction that " all these things shall be added," i.e., that the inspiration and the knowledge gained are good for the individual and good for his country.
Secondary education seeks to develop the whole man, and thus it is that the curriculum provides for something more than can be obtained from books, in its insistence on the importance of the gymnasium, the playing fields, the school societies; the delegation of responsibilities from teachers to pupils; the loyalty to House and School; and that greater, though less tangible reality, the atmosphere and tone of the School.
In doing this the Secondary Schools are producing good and intelligent citizens, ready to meet emergencies and able to bear responsibility; willing to give of their best, not only in their immediate occupations, but also in service to the community in which they live.