Her Majesty’s Inspectors in Admiralty Schools, 1839-1864
In 1839 the educational activities of the Admiralty were principally directed to the training of officers. A school had been established in Greenwich in 1694 for children of naval pensioners and those who had died at sea but by 1840 the institution was failing its students and their Lordships requested a competent person to examine the institution. Hugh Seymour Tremenheere, HMI, reported in 1840 and his recommendations were subsequently implemented. Satisfied with the outcome, the Admiralty sought assistance with establishing minimum standards for the new Schools for Apprentices in the Royal Dockyards. The Rev. Henry Mosely, HMI, made his report in 1847 stating that weaknesses were mainly due to the pupil-teacher ratio and the quality of staff (use of unqualified teachers). By 1852, Mosely was reporting ‘a love of learning and a spirit of self-instruction’ amongst the Apprentices. Dr Joseph Wooley, HMI, inspected Admiralty schools afloat and observed that arrangements were solely at the discretion of the Commanding Officer and relied on the quality of the schoolmaster. By 1862, this had resulted in dedicated training ships, a new naval schoolmaster branch of the service and entrance exams. By 1864, it was acknowledged that the inspectors’ diligent and careful attentions had led to significant progress and reform in Admiralty sponsored education.