Old Monovians Association; History of the School

Financial crisis and the County takeover; 1889 - 1927 - 1913 Inspection

In 1913 a General Inspection of the school took place, which was to have far-reaching consequences. The report of the Inspectors was very poor indeed. Teaching was regarded as inefficient in every subject other than Chemistry. Spivey's direction and leadership of the school was characterized as deficient. Some quotations will supply the tenor of the report . . . "there is little to say in praise of the staff" . . . "the literature teaching was dull and slow" . . . "the teaching was most faulty, and made worse by a flood of irrelevant talk". The Inspectors sum up, "The atmosphere of the school is one of plodding industry. Its modest work is done without flagging, and without distinction".

The private notes attached to the Board of Education records of the 1913 Inspection are very interesting. One particular master was heavily criticised and, on the day after the inspection, Spivey dismissed him. The master concerned appealed to the Board of Education. The Inspectors thought Spivey had too high an opinion of the individual and collective worth of his staff and framed some of their report with the intention of getting this across to him. They were particularly worried that "neither the headmaster nor any member of staff seems capable of stimulating interest . . . in clubs and societies . . . the whole institution lacks life and initiative". H. M. I. Barnett went further, and actually said in a memorandum that which can be read between the lines in the report, "I am inclined to despair of any improvement whilst he [Spivey] is head, poor man".

Spivey himself reacted decisively to the Inspectors' report, and there exists a long and bitter comment by him, which the Governors accepted and supported without question, and which they sent to the Board of Education as a memorandum of dissent. The dissent was not ignored by the Board, but they took the view that both Spivey and the Governors were setting their standards far too low; and furthermore, that no amelioration could be expected with the administration as it was. Accordingly, on 29 June 1914, the Board formally indicated to the Governors their intention to cease to recognise the school as efficient. Since half of its income would be lost, the foundation had no alternative but to seek a take-over from the County. On 28 September 1914, the foundation approached the Essex County Council, and on 5 November the plans were approved by its Higher Education sub-committee. Whether the stress affected Mr. Spivey is not known, but just before this, he suddenly died.

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