evils attendant on the the system of payment by the results of
individual examination were still in existence, but had become
accentuated by the introduction a few years before of what was known as
the 'Merit Grant' under which schools were graded as 'Excellent', 'Good'
or 'Fair and extra payments of 3s., 2s. or 1s. per head on the average
attendance made accordingly....
Middle Street School had always, from the time when it first came under
Government inspection, in 1869, until now, received flattering reports,
and under the Merit Grant been rated as excellent...
with the advent of the new Inspector, came a change. "The school is
re-examined after an interval of only eight months. The general progress
in the three departments is sufficient to justify a report in very
similar terms to that of last year, but in the boys' department some
attention appears to be necessary to the neatness of the work and to the
shaping of the writing and figures."
1891 - "There is not the precision of discipline here that is seen in
some schools, but there is a good tone among the boys and the work is
generally good, without reaching the highest level. There is some
weakness, however, in the grammar, the algebra and the singing-by-note."
The Merit Grant awarded was 'Good'...
objectionable word and a resignation
1892, the report began: "This year the balance of work, on the whole,
shows improvement." Then it proceeded to criticise in detail - giving
qualified praise in most cases - the elementary, class and specific
subjects, and finally closed with a remark about an objectionable word
having been found written in the offices - this latter, repulsive enough
certainly, as much to the Master as to the Inspector, but surely
unnecessarily inserted in an official report.
Again the merit grant was assessed as 'Good'.
receipt of this report, Mr. Baseden took the ill-advised step of sending
in his resignation, which at a meeting of the Board held on the 26th of
April, 1892, was accepted.
arose an exhibition of popular indignation such as is seldom witnessed
in Brighton. The newspapers were filled with scathing denunciations of
the Board and the Inspector, from the pens of angry correspondents. Mr.
Baseden wrote on May 24th asking that his resignation might be
withdrawn. Crowded public meetings were held, at which resolutions were
passed calling on the Board to permit this to be done. Strong comments
were made by indignant speakers on the treatment meted out to an old an
faithful servant. Enemies of the Board and of popular education fanned
the flames with their angry denunciations. Many of the Managers of the
School who were in sympathy with Mr. Baseden threatened to resign.
People were very angry indeed, but the Board members stiffened their
backs and refused to be coerced. At their meeting on June 21st, by 13
votes to 1, they passed the resolution, "That Mr. Baseden's letter of
the 24th ult. asking the Board to re-consider the matter of his
resignation, be acknowledged, and that he be informed that the Board see
no grounds for reversing their previous decision on his case."
Baseden ceased his headmastership at the end of September, 1892...
Chairman of the Board
Case', however, hastened the end (of the Merit Grant system). A few
years saw the supercession of 'payment by results' by the more rational
system which now obtains in our primary schools, under which one can
hardly imagine the possibility of the recurrence of such a 'case'.
Baseden, as may be supposed, did not quit his old School without
receiving a very tangible token of the estimation in which he was held
by past and present scholars and their parents.
The Middle Street
School, Brighton, 1805-1905 by Geo. Haffenden p. 115-119
When a new Board was
elected Mr Baseden became Chairman. He resigned from this position due
to ill-health during his second term, but continued to visit the school,
particularly liking to be present at the Christmas prize-givings.