Concordia Winter 2023

The Art of Reporting

Jonny Taylor delves into the Archive to reveal how report writing has evolved since the founding of the school.


exams were notable for the battles that followed their conclusion, with different year groups battling to reach the exit first, according to Draper: "It was followed by another conflict on the school stairs, the Fifth and Sixth occupying the landing and the lower forms attempting to storm them. Here coats and jackets were torn, ties disordered, and sometimes kicks and blows exchanged. Monitors and prompters however took no part in these undignified performances.” "(E.L. Hazlett (1898-1900), a day boy, quoted in F.W. Draper’s Four Centuries of Merchant Taylors’ School )"

Statute XXXV of Merchant Taylors’ School: The maister, wardens & assistants of this company…shall yerely for ever make their assembly…in the councell howse…which said shall examine & try whether the (masters) have taught and done their duties…& also examyne how the children have profited under them. This founding statute of the school could be seen as the beginning of reporting and, for the Masters as well, something akin to modern inspection on an annual basis. Every generation of boys since 1561 has attended what became known as “Doctors' Day” and in doing so, been part of a reporting tradition. The second statute specified that alongside good literature, boys were to be taught good manners, and that on the basis of their interviews, the Head Master would be invited either to continue in his job or “content you to departe”. This sounds like pressure – which those of us who have been through countless inspections would recognise! But perhaps the statute also laid the foundations for what makes Taylors’ so distinctive (to me, at least), which is the alliance of academic ambition to a strong sense of community and what the current Head Master Simon Everson summed up as ‘sprezzatura’. Reporting in the early days of Taylors’ was clearly, to use modern parlance, summative rather than diagnostic. Alongside the vivas of Doctors’ Days were Probation Days. By the nineteenth century and the last days of Suffolk Lane, the former had become largely ceremonial, with Monitors delivering speeches much in the manner of today’s end of term assembly. Probations (or examinations) were held in March and October and involved the whole school. The

Dugard's Orders of Probation (1652)

Made with FlippingBook Online newsletter creator