Victorian Powys for primary  schools
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Brecon and district
Victorian school days
 
  The girls who couldn't do sums  
  Teaching in most Victorian schools was centred on the "Elementary subjects" of reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Geography, history, grammar, and some others were classed as "Extra subjects", and needlework and knitting was usually taught to the girls and drawing to the boys.
The verdict of the School Inspector on the teaching of various subjects was copied into the Log Book each year. This is part of the 1884 report on Brecon National Girl's School...
"Thomas & Ellen Jones in the Infant Class seem to learn nothing at all. I cannot get them to speak a word beyond "Yes" and "No".
Battle School
24th October, 1890
31st May
1884
School diary entry "The Arithmetic in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth standards was with five exceptions a total failure, the 19 other girls had not a single sum worked out correctly. The Handwriting was also poor. The Elementary Subjects require the most careful attention this year".
Baffled child The official reports of the School Inspector were often critical of the work of the teachers.
But in turn the teachers would sometimes write about the problems they had in trying to get some of the less bright children to learn their lessons.
The example below is from Senni School in 1894...
"Janet Powell seems extremely stupid, she has no idea of putting down or working a sum, and she cannot spell a simple word of three letters".
Brecon National (Girls) School
11th July, 1890
3rd March
1893
School diary entry
 

"Week ending March 3rd : The boy William Price, admitted last week, is in a deplorable state. He has not the slightest idea how to spell the simplest word. He says he has never done any drawing and it appears to me he has done very little of anything"...
There are lots of examples in school Log Books of children starting school at age 10 or more who "do not know their letters".

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