§ MR. LOWE
, having brought up certain papers on the Education Minute, on moving that they do lie on the table, said,* These papers contained the projected amendments on the Revised Minute of the Regulations of the Committee of the Privy Council on Education. They form the result, as far 192 as we are concerned, of six months' controversy. We have paid the greatest and most respectful attention to the opinions which have been ventilated by a number of very able gentlemen in pamphlets and in other ways; and being sincerely anxious to profit by the labours of those whose experience and ability enable them to judge the subject, we have endeavoured to make the Minute conform, as far as our sense of public duty will permit, to their views. I cannot presume that all hon. Members have spent the last six months, as I have, in the perusal of pamphlets and speeches upon this Minute, and, therefore, in order that the House may thoroughly understand what I say, it is necessary to fix the exact limits of the controversy which has been going on. The object of the Committee of Privy Council cannot be better or more briefly explained than in the words of its own minutes. The object of the Privy Council is to promote education among the children of the labouring poor; the means that it adopts for carrying out that object are to give assistance to voluntary effort, and the species of voluntary effort to which it gives assistance is defined by the minutes of Council to be schools in connection with some recognised religious denomination, or a school in which, besides secular instruction, the Scriptures are read daily from the authorized version. No grants are made to schools which are not open to inspection, but the Inspectors, acting as Inspectors—the distinction will be found to be material—do not interfere with the religious instruction, discipline, or management of the schools, but are employed to verify the fulfilment of the conditions on which the grants are made. No annual grant is paid except on a report from the Inspector after a periodical visit showing that the conditions upon which the grant is made have been fulfilled. Thus, it appears that the religious element underlies the whole system of Privy Council Education, and that it is only in connection with religious denominations, or with societies like the National and British and Foreign School Societies, which are religious in their tendencies and objects, although not strictly constituting religious denominations, that the public grant is administered. The condition on which the grant is given is that the Inspectors shall be satisfied with the state of the school generally; but, except in the case of Church of England schools, the inspector does not inquire into the religious instruction. That is trusted to the 193 religious denomination to which the school belongs.
In the case of the Church of England, however, there is an exception. By an Order in Council bearing date 10th August, 1840, it was provided that the Inspectors of Church of England Schools should be persons approved by the Archbishops of Canterbury or York respectively in their different provinces; that they should be removable at the pleasure of the Archbishops, and that duplicates of their reports should be sent to the Archbishops, and to the bishop of the diocese in which the schools reported upon are situated. That order is in full force, and cannot be repealed except by an Act of Parliament, or by another Order in Council. The Committee of the Privy Council have no power and no wish by their minutes to alter it in the slightest degree. Thus, it follows, that the Inspectors of the Church of England schools, which are four-fifths of the whole number of schools under the administration of the Privy Council, do inspect the state of religious instruction in those schools; but that they do so, not in their character of Inspectors of the Privy Council, but in the other character with which they are clothed by the Order of 1840—that is, as servants in some degree of the Archbishop, as the case may be, of Canterbury or York. Their report as to religious instruction is sent in to the Privy Council with the rest of the reports; and unless that report is satisfactory, no grant is made to the schools.
Passing from that part of the subject, 1 will next state to the House the mode in which assistance is given to schools. The assistance for the maintenance of Schools is given in the form of what are called, in the language of the Education Department, annual grants. These grants are of three kinds. The first is the capitation grant, which is given for each child who has attended school for 176 days and upwards in the year. This grant varies from 3s. to 5s. for girls, and from 4s. to 6s. for boys, and may be fairly averaged at 5s. a child. The condition upon which the grant is made is that 14s. per child has been expended in the school. That grant amounted in the Estimates of last year to £77,000. The next grant is the grant for what are called certificated teachers, and consists of certain allowances to certificated teachers. The first and most prominent of these is what is known as the augmentation giant. That is a grant which is made to the 194 teacher upon his certificate. The Committee of Privy Council holds examinations every year, the successful candidates at which receive certificates. These certificates have a certain money value, which varies according to the class which the candidate obtains, and which may be increased every five years. This money value is called the augmentation, and the condition on which it is given is that the managers of schools shall contribute twice as much as the augmentation grant; that is to say, an augmentation of £15, for instance, will not be payable to the teacher unless the managers contribute at least £30. These augmentation grants are expressed in the broadsheet of the Privy Council to be given in aid of the salary of the teacher, and they are also, in the Minutes of the Committee of Council, said to be given as a means of distributing the grant to schools; but in no case are they given unless the report of the Inspector upon the school is satisfactory. I may note in passing (I shall have to recur to the subject, and will not dwell upon it) that these grants are liable to be withheld, even though the teacher be guilty of no misconduct, although the misconduct should be wholly on the part of the managers, and the teachers should have no part in it whatever. This grant also includes allowances for teaching pupil teachers to draw, and for teaching the Gaelic and Welsh languages; and it was estimated last year at £122,000. The next giant is made to pupil-teachers, who are taken into the service of a school at thirteen, and continue in it for five years. The payment for the first year is £10, and it rises by sums of £2 10s. annually up to £20. The whole of the sum so expended is granted by the Government, and the managers contribute nothing towards it. The amount of the grant for pupil-teachers, according to the estimate of last year, was £300,000. These three grants together, speaking roughly and omitting some petty sums, such as allowances to assistant teachers and other smaller matters, make up a sum of about £500,000.
The question of Education was in the year 1858 referred by Her Majesty to a Royal Commission. That Commission has, after three years' investigation, made a Report, and the effect of that Report is that it recommends the continuance of the system of giving assistance to schools by the Privy Council upon the principles which I have enumerated; it gives the 195 weight—and it is very great weight—of its approbation to the system of basing the assistance given by Government upon voluntary religious effort; it recommends the continuance of that part of the system which I described before, speaking of the annual grants, but it advises the total abolition of those grants, and the substitution for them of capitation grants, one to be paid by the Central Government for every scholar who has attended school; another to be paid upon the average number of pupils in attendance who can be shown to have been under the instruction of pupilteachers; and another to be paid out of the county rates upon the examination of the pupils. This Report was presented in March last, and the question was necessarily forced upon the department as to how far we were prepared to go with the Report of the Commissioners, and whether we could endorse it wholly or in part. There were reasons, which will appear as I proceed, which induced us to think that the matter admitted of no delay. We took it into our most serious consideration, we investigated it with all the means at our command—and, thanks to the assistance which we are fortunate enough to have at the Education Office, it is very considerable—and we came to the conclusions which have been embodied in the Revised Code, and are now before the House. This House is now in a position to form an opinion as to that Revised Code. The question is regularly before it, and I hope that hon. Members will not think that I am trespassing unduly on their time and patience if I proceed as briefly as I can to lay before them the reasons which weighed with the Committee of Council in coming to the decision at which we have arrived. We felt it our duty to take the calmest and most dispassionate review of the existing system of education, and to form a decision by which we were prepared to stand. We have done that, and I will now, if hon. Members will allow me, take them entirely into my confidence, and put them, as far as I can, in possession of the motives which have weighed in my mind, and I believe in that of the head of the department, in arriving at the conclusion at which we have arrived.
This system, it is perfectly well known to all who have taken much interest in it, was, and is, I may say, up to the present moment, a tentative, provisional, and, if I may so apply the word, a preliminary one. These annual grants were established by 196 persons and at a time when it was believed that the Education question would end in a system of rating throughout the country. They were established with views preliminary, provisional, and tentative; and, if there were any doubt of that, I think the fact is sufficiently proved both by the frequent Motions which have been entertained in this House for a definitive settlement of the question, by the appointment of the Royal Commission itself, whose Report has given rise to the present crisis in educational matters, and above all, by the authority of Earl Russell, who was the leading Minister in the House of Commons at the time when the Privy Council Committee was established, and who, in a speech in this House in the year 1856, made use of the following expressions:—I do not think it was intended by those who in 1839 commenced this system that its plan should he such as to pervade the whole country; on the contrary, the object was rather to create models of teaching, and to exhibit such improvement in the mode of education that the obstacles which stood in the way of a national system might in the process of time he removed, and a scheme propounded for which experience might be said to presage success.We have thus meeting us in limine this difficulty:—We are to consider a system in its nature tentative, provisional, and preliminary, and see how it can be made into one which shall be definite and final—a system on which the education of this country can ultimately repose and find peace after so many stormy epochs. I make that remark because I hope to free myself from any imputation of presumption if I take the liberty of criticising rather freely the rules of the department it is my duty to administer. There were a great many things in this system excusable—I will say more, defensible, even right, if regarded from the point of view of Earl Russell's statement, considering the object of the Privy Council regulations to have been the establishment of a provisional system, clearing the way for something more definite, precise, and final, which things cannot be regarded as right and proper when the system is to assume its final form. And, therefore, when I offer such criticisms as I mean to do on the present system of granting money from the Privy Council, I beg the House to understand that I am criticising it from the point of view of a final system, and that I am not presuming to detract from the acknowledged merits of the scheme as one of preliminary education. It may be that a pre- 197 liminary system may also be fit to be a final one, that a thing designed for one end may perfectly answer another for which it was not designed, but this is a rare and strange felicity which seldom happens at all, and has not happened to the educational department.
One other remark I wish to make. It is generally the practice for those who have a question to introduce to elevate its importance, and to speak of themselves as being overwhelmed by its weight. I, on the contrary, beg the House not to overestimate the importance of this question. That it is one which excites a great deal of feeling, and which binds up a great many interests, nobody can deny. No regulations which distribute £700,000 a year among 40,000 persons can do otherwise. But in itself it is not a question of first-rate magnitude—it is not, as I have told the House, of the same importance as the educational controversies we have had before, and it really will be found to turn on the point simply of annual grants. I will say at once that we were satisfied by the reasoning of the Commissioners, and also by the feeling of the country, of which we had pretty good means of judging, that it would not be wise or right in us to attempt to innovate on the foundations of this system. After, I hope, proper consideration, we have loyally subscribed to the necessity for the existence of the present educational system. It has struck its roots in the country, and we do not think it wise or right, to whatever theoretical objections it may be justly exposed, to disturb it. It is one of those things, instituted originally with a provisional and preliminary view, which have gained such a hold on the country as to be now impossible to remove. I have heard of a man who went to call on a friend, and who stayed with him thirty years. Very often we find that a thing introduced by way of experiment takes root, and when the time comes for removing it, it is found that the experimental stage has passed, and that it can no longer be treated as an experiment. Without, therefore, saying that were I at liberty to choose abstractly what I thought best for the education of the country, I should prefer the present system, I am quite prepared to say on behalf of the department I represent that we adopt it as the basis of our proceedings, that we have no wish to disturb any of its fundamental principles, and that after full investigation we are endeavouring loyally and honourably to carry 198 out its spirit in the manner which we believe will best insure its permanence and efficiency, and which, as far as its fundamental conditions allow, will obtain for it the affection and confidence of the country.
The first fault I find in the system—one which the Commissioners have also reported upon—is what I shall call its partiality. That may not be a fault in a tentative system, but when we come to deal with what we hope to consider a national system, it is a great defect if it does not pervade and permeate the whole of the country. That, unfortunately, is not done by existing arrangements. The Government abandons the initiative; and it leaves it to the managers to say where the schools shall be established, and, so to speak, follows their lead. The consequence is, that the foundation of schools is regulated rather by the wealth and public spirit of the inhabitants than by the absolute wants of the locality. We have no power of altering this state of things, and, under the present system, I do not see that we have any chance of being able to do so. We must accept the situation and make the best of it. I proceed to show the House how entirely this statement is borne out by facts, in order to lead them to appreciate the remedy we hope to apply to the evil. The number of schools assisted by the Privy Council, at least at the time when the Commission reported, was 6,897. The number of schools of the same class, unassisted by the Privy Council, was much more than double—namely, 15,952. It is fair to say that the unassisted schools are very much smaller than the assisted schools, and, though their number is greater, the pupils they contain are much fewer. In the assisted schools there were 917,255 pupils; in the unassisted 675,155. Still, that is a very large proportion. If we go further, and extend our view from the schools to the class for whose education the Privy Council wish to provide, the children of the labouring poor, we find the proportion of children assisted to children unassisted, is as four to five. If, in addition, we take into consideration the fact reported by the Commissioners, that of the children in the schools of the Privy Council only one-fourth are taught thoroughly well to read, write, and cipher, the result comes out in this rather mortify-form, that of the children that are in the schools which the grants of the Privy Council are intended to assist, only one-ninth get the benefit of a really good education. Further than that, on taking 199 parishes in different dioceses whose population is under 600, these results are obtained;—In Oxford out of 339 parishes, only 24 schools are in connection with the Privy Council; in Hereford, out of 130 parishes, only 5 are in connection with the Privy Council; in Devon, out of 245 parishes, only 2 are connected with the Privy Council; in Dorset, out of 179 parishes, only 10 are in connection with it; in Corn-wall, out of 71 parishes, only one is connected with the Privy Council. Now that is no discredit to a tentative and preliminary system, but it would be a discredit to that system which we wish to render permanent in this country, if we could not meet this great and pressing want. These districts contribute to the revenue equally with others, and it is exceedingly desirable, both on the ground of justice and of policy, that they should receive back some share of the money. The way in which it has always been suggested that this should be done is by making a lower kind of teacher. But, then, there is this great difficulty:—The present system sets everything on the teaching. If the teacher be a good one, the end for which the grants are given is attained. If the teacher be a bad one, it fails. We have no real check on the teaching to any great extent. It seems to me that the only possible condition under which, without a reckless expenditure of public money, we can possibly recommend that teachers of an inferior class should be employed in these schools would be on the understanding that there shall be some collateral and independent proof that such teachers do their duty. And that I think it will appear is only to be found in a system of individual examination.
The next fault in the present system mentioned by the Commissioners is its complexity, which arises from our appropriating every grant, and paying away the money ourselves. The number of persons with whom we have to deal at this moment is almost incredible. For the year which has just terminated the number of schools under inspection was 9,957; the number of certified teachers receiving grants, £8,698; of probationary teachers, 491; of assistant teachers, 381; pupil teachers, 16,277; and the number of Queen's scholars, 2,527; making altogether, if we count one manager for every school, the very respectable army of 38,331 persons, all engaging the attention of the Privy Council, and most of them receiving money directly from it. We pay money directly by Post office orders 200 to the whole 16,277 pupil teachers, whose salaries, moreover, are variable, beginning at £10, and rising gradually to £20. We pay money directly to the whole 8,698 principal teachers, and the amounts vary, owing to all sorts of circumstances. We are, besides, in correspondence with 9,957 sets of managers, so that the correspondence and payments of the Department are exceedingly large and complicated. Nor is this all. The House will see that we are not working with officials subject to Government discipline, who will be content with short answers, but co-operating with persons who have every right to demand attention and respect, because they come forward voluntarily to assist with time and money the advancement of the cause of education. Charitable persons are not necessarily business men; and their correspondence is sometimes very long. If a manager make a request which cannot be complied with, we have to explain matters, and in many instances he returns to the charge again and again. He must be met, not by a summary refusal, but by one accompanied with explanation. I will give the House an instance. A most excellent gentleman wanted to have a pupil teacher apprenticed to the wife of the schoolmaster in a case where it was not right that that should be done. The sum at stake was about £15; yet the correspondence took about six letters on each side before he got a refusal. He wrote up to say that he would wish to see me. Of course I had nothing to do but to accede with pleasure. The interview occupied about an hour, during which what had been stated in the correspondence was all repeated over again, and in the end I was obliged to Bay that we could not accede. He went home, but on his return wrote a letter re-opening the whole question. When gentlemen say that there is nothing so ridiculous as for the Committee of Council to complain of complexity, and when they refer to the Army and the Post Office, they forget this difference—that in these two departments the correspondence is with official persons, while that carried on by the Committee of Council is with private individuals. Again, our correspondence is with persons who, though highly respectable and animated by a desire to do what is right, have a direct interest in putting the facts in one point of view. We, therefore, have to be very careful in order to obtain the facts correctly, and this very often involves long and laborious interrogations. I admit that 201 in a tentative and preliminary stage this may hare been quite right. Probably all this amount of care on the part of the Committee of Council was the only way by which national education could have been got through the preliminary stages; but it never can be permanently maintained.
I have further to observe that this system is evidently destructive of the proper control of this House. We have by this complexity the power of saddling the public with very heavy expense without the House knowing anything about it. One word in a letter may make a difference of some thousands; and though the accounts are submitted to Members, they may never discover the increase made in that way. I believe it to be very important that Parliament should have all control over this system; but under the present arrangements we can never have that control without great complexity of machinery, and without expecting that each hon. Gentleman shall master the entire of the details. On the other hand, no doubt this system of complexity was intended, in the first instance, to secure a proper control by that department, which should hold the funds with an iron hand, and allow of no expenditure that was not proper. I repeat that in a tentative plan that may have been very wise; and I think it would be very wrong to do away with the present safeguards, however inconvenient, without providing some sort of equivalent. It is important that the Privy Council should know that the money voted by this House has been well spent, and spent for the purpose intended. Can they be assured of this if we cancel the present complex regulations and pay over the money direct to the managers? Managers are a fluctuating body. This year you may he in correspondence with a very attentive and careful manager, who is the life and soul of the school. Next year he may be dead, and you may have one who is not so exact or so thoroughly acquainted with his duties. One of the greatest inconveniences that we have to deal with is, that the managers are a fluctuating body. That we should have a power over the managers merely to the extent of seeing that schools were in existence and appropriated to the purposes of education, without some guarantee that the education given in them was of a satisfactory character, and that the public money was properly applied, would not, I think, he deemed satisfactory; yet 202 if we take the guarantees that I have already alluded to we shall never got out of the complexity in which we are now involved. I cannot suggest any way in which we shall secure the desired control but the one which we propose. Once we pay over the money, we cannot follow it to the uses to which it is applied; but we can be satisfied that it is well applied on the t whole, and make our grants dependent on that. I believe that the only substitute; for this circumlocution and red tape—the only check on managers—is not to be had by the payment of teachers, but by the examination of the pupils.
The next point which I shall call the attention of the House is one thus referred to in the Report of the Commissioners. I wish to use their own words, and they are these: —It appears that even in the best schools only one-fourth of the boys attain the highest class, and are considered by the inspectors to be successfully educated.They further report—That they (the schools under the Privy Council) have not yet succeeded in educating to any considerable extent the bulk of the children who have passed through them, is true.These are very strong and startling opinions, and we should have been very glad if we had any way of refuting them. But the Commissioners considered these subjects with the greatest attention; and with the report of the various Inspectors before them they made those statements. I recollect that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire last year called attention to the fact that the statements of the Commissioners seemed to be at variance with the reports of the Inspectors; and I must say that at first sight that does appear to be the case. The Inspectors report that in 90 per cent of the schools the reading was taught "excellently or well; "that in 89 per cent writing was taught" excellently or well;" and that in 83 per cent arithmetic was taught" excellently or well." Certainly that seems hardly reconcilable with the report of the Commissioners; but we must not forget that the Commissioners were perfectly cognizant of those assertions, and that still they came to the conclusion which I have just stated to the House. I think the two statements may be reconciled without any imputation on either party. Earl Russell explained this system as a type or model of education, and I think the objects principally regarded in 203 the inspection of schools have been the quality of the education and the qualification of the teachers. The Inspectors looked mainly to the qualification of the teachers, and when they said that those three subjects were taught "excellently or well," in so large a percentage of the schools, they meant that in all those schools there were persons who taught those subjects "excellently or well;" but I do not think that they meant to imply that they were equally well learnt. They speak of the quality, but they do not say so much about the quantity. I do not deny that quality is a very important thing, but when I come to a final system I cannot but think that quantity is, perhaps, more important. In making this remark I hope I shall not be understood as imputing any blame to the gentlemen who act as Inspectors; but having looked into the matter as well as I could, I have come to the conclusion that inspection as opposed to examination is not, and never can be, a test of the efficiency of a system of national education. Inspection is invaluable in many ways, but I say that it is not calculated to test in a crucial manner the merits of a school. In a minute of 1853 there was this direction—That three-fourths of the scholars above 7 and under 9 years of age, three-fourths of those above 9 and under 11, and three-fourths of those above 11 and under 13 respectively, pass such an examination before her Majesty's Inspector, or Assistant Inspector, as shall be set forth in a separate minute of details.That clearly shows that in contemplation of the Privy Council at that time examination was to be a part of inspection; but that never has been so. Such an examination has been, I believe, made by some Inspectors; but in a great number of cases, avowedly, that part of the Minute has never been put in force. I am not blaming the Inspectors for that. Their attention was not called to it by the department, and the central office is to blame if there be any blame in the matter. I would remind the House that an examination of classes is a very different thing from an examination of individuals. Although an Inspector might not be satisfied with a class he might not wish to deprive the school of the grant on that ground, and we cannot blame him. The fact is, there is a distinct conflict between the Commissioners and the Inspectors, which it is difficult to reconcile, unless in the manner I have mentioned. Another objection to the reports of the Inspectors as a test of the 204 actual efficiency of a school is their use of abstract phrases in describing the efficiency of the school. It is like the error in Platonic philosophy; they deal with the abstract and not with the concrete. They give a general notion of the schools, but they treat the school as something distinct from the scholars. They have examined a few children, and make a report, and, doubtless, a very true report, as to the quality of the education given to them. Their reports are full of such phrases as "the average proficiency of the children," but they speak of no particular child. They speak of the "general efficiency," the "general impression on the whole," "the general review," &c. They deal in impalpable essences, such as the moral atmosphere," the "tone," the "mental condition," not of the children, but as an abstract idea, of the school. Such information was valuable, but it did not afford such a test of the efficiency of the teaching as would justify us in setting up the reports of the Inspectors against the deliberate inquiry made by persons of so much authority as the Commissioners. The real truth is, that what we had in the reports of the Inspectors is the quality of education, which depends on the mind and qualifications of the masters. What we do not learn from their reports was the result of the labours of the teacher, and the amount of trouble and toil they bestowed on the children. Our inspection failed, as it always will fail, to ascertain that point. I am now investigating, as well as 1 can, which is right.
Supposing that there exists an antagonism between the reports of the Inspectors and the Commissioners, I am confirmed in my belief that the Commissioners are right by the tone of the controversy. If the Inspectors are right, and ninety per cent of the schools are really taught, the language that might be expected to be held by those interested in schools is—"Your examination is superfluous; but if you think it right to put the country to the trouble and expense of an examination, we shall get more than we do at present. Our schools will bear any test. "Instead, however, of saying that the examination is needless, the language held is, that the examination would be ruinous, and that the schools will not stand it. Nay, a physical theory of stupidity has been invented to show why it will be impossible for the children to pass the examinations. One gentleman of great authority says that "the first gene- 205 ration of pupils inherit a physical incapacity to read, write, and cipher;" that, in fact, unless their fathers have been taught to read, write, and cipher, it is impossible, or at least exceedingly hard, for them to learn these useful acquirements. He also argues that "these mechanical results must follow and not precede the moral and religious training of the children," so that no one can be taught to read, write, or cipher unless first taught morals and religion. If that dictum had been known to Diogenes he might have saved himself the trouble of lighting his lantern to find an honest man. He would only have had to catch the first man who could read, write, and cipher, and he would have got him. Here is a town in England, the name of which I will not mention, in which there are two schools. It does happen that both j of them received the same sum—about£240 a year—from the Privy Council. One of these schools is strongly in favour of the Revised Code, being satisfied that, after all deductions, they would get £350. The other is as strongly against the Revised Code, because they are satisfied that, when the deductions were made, they would get only £115. This shows how little our grants are founded on any precise notion of the efficiency of the teaching in the school. The fact is, that if we mean to make our system permanent, we must make up our minds on what principle we are to proceed. What is the object of inspection? I Is it simply to make things pleasant, to give the schools as much as can be got out of the public purse, independent of their efficiency; or do you mean that our grants should not only be aids, subsidies, and gifts, but fruitful of good? That is the question, and it meets us at every turn. Are you for efficiency or for a subsidy? Is a school to be relieved because it is bad, and therefore poor, or because it is a good school, and therefore efficient and in good circumstances? For my own part, I think there is nothing fairer than this. Here we have two champions in the lists. I will say nothing of my own department, except, perhaps, to remark that the Report of the Commissioners made our situation absolutely untenable. Lord Granville and myself felt that we could not sit still in the face of that Report without showing the House and the country that we had done all in our power to remedy this state of things. You have got the Commissioners asserting one thing and the Inspectors asserting another. The Commissioners said 206 that only one-fourth of the children were properly instructed, while the Inspectors contended that ninty per cent of the schools were either excellently or fairly taught. And the Department of Education had to judge between the two. What were we to do! What honest men ought to do—not to leave this matter under a cloud of uncertainty. We said, we will appeal to facts, and not go on reasoning a priori. We said, we will go to the schools, examine the children child by child, and have a complete report, and then we shall know whether the Inspectors or the Commissioners are right. If the Inspectors are right, we shall have carried a great point, vindicated our department, and done no harm. If they are wrong, we shall remedy a great evil. I have no doubt the Commissioners are right, judging from their authority, and the enormous amount of confirmation they have received from the admission of all the controversialists, who declare that they cannot satisfy any such crucial tests as the examination proposed. They have said, "Issue a circular to the Inspectors." But it would be trifling with the House to suppose that a circular would have the desired effect. I believe we must appeal to the passions of the human mind—that we must enlist hope and fear to work for us—that we must hold out a prospect of sufficient remuneration if the children are properly taught, and of loss if they are not, or we shall do nothing. The Commissioners truly say:—The present defects of teaching and inspection aggravate one another, and till something like a real examination is introduced into our day-schools good elementary teaching will never be given to half the children who attend them.
I now proceed to another head—the question of expense. I hold that whatever you decide on the question of Education will also decide the question of expense. It is no duty of ours to starve any system which the House of Commons supports, nor to make a parsimonious proposal for the expenditure of the public money; but it is our duty, and one we ought zealously to discharge, in administering whatever system of Education may be decided on, to take care there is no extravagance, that the public get an equivalent for the expenditure, and that there is no gross and flagrant inequality in the grants made to schools. I have looked into this question in order to see what grants some of the schools receive. I took at random a book 207 containing the grants to 250 schools. The children of these schools might fairly receive 10s. a head, that being considered by the Commissioners a fair amount for each child to earn. I examined the 12 schools where the grant is highest. Well, the first school receives from the public, instead of 10s., no less than £4. 3s. 4d. each child; the second £1. 7s. 6d.; the next, £1, 5s.; the next, £1. 4s. 1d.; the next, £1. 3s. 9d.; the next, £1. 3s.; the next, £1. 3s.; the next, £1. 2s. 8d.; the next, £1. 0s. 9d.; the next, £1. 0s. 6d.; and the next, 19s. 4d. The lowest is 19s., or nearly double the sum that the Commissioners think ought to be paid for each scholar. 1 then took another book. In the first case, 1 found the grant per child, on average attendance, was £1. 8s. 11d.; the next, £1. 7s. 5d., and so on down to the lowest, which is 18s. 9d. It seems to me that this is very important, because when we are told that any change in the grant must diminish the assistance given to the schools, we are never told what the actual amount of that assistance is. That makes all the difference. The fact is that a great many of these schools are receiving under the present system a great deal more than they are entitled to, and no system can be entitled to support that does not make provision for diminishing that inequality. There are three sources that go to make up the income of a school—first, the subscriptions of the charitable persons who founded the school; the second is the school pence; and the third the grant from the Privy Council. The school pence may be left out of the question, for they are given for value and much more than value received. It is supposed that we only give a third, but the fact is that the subscription given by the managers of the school and the grant of the Privy Council are exactly equal, and amount to 11s. 6d. each. But if we add the expenses of the Central Office, of inspection and the training colleges which exist only for the purposes of the schools, the ratio of the grant becomes 15s. 6d. to 11s. 6d. subscription, or in the ratio of nearly four to three. Then I find that the present capitation grant is often absolutely wasted. People do not know what to do with it when they get it; it is absolute surplus, and in some cases part of it has been given to the children who have earned it for the schools by their attendance. Then it appears to me to be improper that the Privy Council should pay the whole cost of the 208 pupil teachers, as it does now. We profess to aid voluntary effort, and yet £300,000 is given to persons to whom the schools give nothing. We give inducements£very particular inducements, to employ pupil teachers, rather than assistant teachers. We ought to stand neutral between the two classes. We ought not to throw our sword into either scale; but we pay the whole salary of the pupil teachers, and only a part of the salary of other teachers. Then, with regard to the masters, there is another instance of extravagance. We pay an augmentation to masters with a view to fixing a minimum to the masters' salary, which should never fall below £45. But a case of so low a salary has never arisen; the market has always kept above that limit, and yet we have always paid the augmentation, although the circumstances which that grant was calculated to meet never came into effect. But what is the maximum? The schoolmaster may receive, I do not suppose any one man ever did, £30 augmentation, £15 for instructing pupil-teachers, £5 for teaching drawing to the school, £3 for teaching drawing to the pupil-teachers, and £5 for teaching Welsh or Gaelic—in all £58. It seems to me that the rate of assistance in that respect is altogether extravagant. Then there is no rule requiring that the best-qualified teachers who are entitled to the highest grants shall not be wasted on small schools or migratory populations. Whether it is possible to teach or not, the same expensive machinery is supplied.
It appears to me that all those circumstances are well worthy of reconsideration. I come now to another criticism that I have to offer, and that is, that the system being devised prior to experience of the subject, it does not meet the requirements of the existing state of things. The Commissioners report—That the whole scheme of Education in the schools was settled, the school books were prepared, and, above all, the teachers were trained, upon suppositions as to the age of the pupils and the opportunities which would be afforded for instructing them which the facts have not sustained.The meaning of that is, that we have assumed in framing this system a state of attendance which does not really exist. The facts connected with this subject are very remarkable, and I will just state them briefly to the House. On the average of schools, 70 per cent of the children in attendance are under ten years 209 of age, 80 per cent under eleven years, and 89 per cent under twelve years of age. The result of that is, that a great part of the children leave school before the age of eleven. Now, when we are estimating what we will do, what money is to be spent, what establishments we should support, and so on, we ought always to bear in mind that we are malting arrangements for the education of the very poorest children, the children of parents who labour with their hands, and that of those children 70 per cent are under ten years of age, and 80 per cent under eleven. That is a fact that has been overlooked for the greater part in this controversy. Now, this state of things has been getting worse rather than better. The attendance is composed of younger children than it was ten years ago. In proof of that I would direct attention to the opinions expressed in Mr. Watkin's report for 1854. Mr. Watkins says:—The main and most striking facts are these:—There is an increase of above eleven per cent. in the very young children, i.e. those under ten years of age. There is a decrease of nine per cent in those of and above the age of twelve years. Little more than one-tenth of all the school children under my inspection in Yorkshire are twelve years of age, and not half of them have been for one year in the same school. I fear that we are getting so accustomed to this standard of school age, as almost to regard it as the normal state, and to be passive under it, if not almost satisfied with it. Yet, what is it in reality? Is it not a pretty fair assurance that all the long and imposing array of certified masters and mistresses, assistant teachers under your Lordships' minutes, pupil-teachers of both sexes and different grades numbering now above 6,000—all the instructive books, all the excellant maps, all the ingenious apparatus, if not absolutely wasted, are, indeed, far too costly and too cumbrous for the service in which they are engaged, and about as proportionate to its requirements as a park of artillery for the dispersion of a flock of sparrows?I do not mean to say that I go all the length of that gentleman about the artillery and the sparrows; but I do think the fact itself is one upon which the merits of this question mainly hinge. The feeling with which this fact has always been received, until the Commissioners reported, was that of horror and detestation, and with a disposition to struggle against it; but I think that is not the true or statesmanlike view of the subject. The childrew that remain at school above twelve years of age will be found, I believe, to be the children of persons not very poor; and for the rest what then as men of humanity and common sense ought we to do? We 210 have had prize schemes and compulsory education; but compulsory education is out of the question in this country. And prize schemes have ended in giving rewards to that class of persons whom we did not wish to attract at all. But is it not better to acquiesce "passively," as Mr. Watkins says, in what we cannot amend? It is not in the power of the State to remedy this. If we were to give those children gratuitous education, what is that compared with asking parents to give up 5s. or 6s. a week, which their children might earn? Hear what the Commissioners say on the subject:—Independence is of more importance than education, and if the wages of the child's labour are necessary either to keep the parents from the poor-rates or to relieve the pressure of severe and bitter poverty, it is far better than it should go to work at the earliest age at which it can bear the physical exertion than that it should remain at school,Without intending at this moment to make any very specific application of this fact to the system of the Privy Council, I will venture to say that the duty which it imposes on us is not to struggle against early labour—not to interfere between a father who is oppressed by poverty and the labour of his children, but to make the education of the child during the time that he remains at school as perfect as we can, to do everything in our power to induce the children to come early to school, to promote their regular attendance, to spread education as wide as possible through the school, and to give as much of it as possible to the child. I think we ought to frame all our regulations with that object, and what we cannot effect in that way we ought to supplement by a really effective system of evening schools for children, who, whether from the fault or poverty of their parents, their migratory habits, or other causes, may not be able to attend the day schools, and thus to give them an opportunity of recovering the ground which they have lost. I hope the House will understand that my view is to entirely acquiesce in a state of things which we cannot avoid; neither giving grants so as to induce children to stay at school, nor yet to accelerate their leaving, but to give what has never yet been given—a real, efficient system of evening schools.
I have shown the House that we are in communication with some 38,331 of Her Majesty's subjects, all of whom in some way or other receive public money, which 211 becomes a sort of golden bond between them and against the Government. They think that they have acquired a continuity of interest to receive what they have already received, and any attempt to modify these public grants gives rise to heats and animosities, which are very deplorable. We have, for instance, to deal with the managers. The managers have subscribed their money, and given time and incurred trouble in the foundation of schools, in reliance mainly on a certain amount of Government support. They, therefore—and One cannot wonder at it—consider that it would be something like an injury if that support were made precarious or uncertain-They feel the pinch in seeing the possibility of these grants being withdrawn from them. The same thing may be said of the teachers, the pupil-teachers, and the persons connected with the training colleges. As to the latter, their claim extends to every part of the system, which they think should, in all its integrity, be kept up for ever, in order that they may exist; because every part of the system makes up some portion of the inducement for people to go to the training colleges. All these expectations are very unreasonable, but, at the same time, very natural: others have created them, I must bear the brunt of them; but I would beg to point out that such a state of things is exceedingly dangerous and almost intolerable.
The great danger is that the grant for education may become, instead of a grant for education, a grant to maintain the so called vested interests of those engaged in education. In such a case, if the system were allowed to go on, those persons claiming vested interests would obtain so great a hold in the country that any Government, seeing that the system admitted of improvement, and being willing to make it, would be met with such a phalanx of opposition that they would be scarcely mad enough to make the attempt. We therefore felt it extremely necessary, to deal with the matter as soon as possible after receiving the Report of the Royal Commissioners, and to endeavour to deliver the country from the fearful increase of these pretensions. If Parliament does not set a limit to the evil, such a state of things will arise that the control of the educational system will pass out of the hands of the Privy Council and of the House of Commons into the hands of the persons working that educational system, and then no demand they choose to make on the 212 public purse would any Ministry dare to refuse. "Imperat aut servit." When this army of stipendiaries is created, if on the one hand the Minister has a power over them, he gains an unconstitutional power; and if, on the other hand, these persons have more influence over him than he has over them, then there exists a dangerous organization for attacks on the Treasury. To show that I am not speaking from vain imaginations I will take the liberty of quoting from a statement made in the interest of the teachers. This is what it says—This Revised Code is a most convincing evidence to teachers how much lower and weaker their position in the country is than it ought to be; for in no other profession, we believe, would an attempt have been made to interfere so violently without the concert and advice of the members of the profession itself. It is clear that a vast amount of prudent, persevering, and united action on our part is required before this can be remedied.'One would think I was reading a manifesto of the Anti-Corn-Law League.If teachers remain quiescent now, they deserve all, and more than all, the indignities heaped upon them. If they do not now rise, they deserve to be for ever fallen. We earnestly trust that they will take the earliest opportunity of enlightening their Members of Parliament on the bearings of this question. Teachers in general, we believe, stand pretty much aloof from politics. Whether this be a correct course in the main, it will stand them in good stead at present, for they can the more easily approach men of all shades of political opinion. Their numbers, position, and influence, are such as to lend to their remonstrances a large amount of weight. A goodly proportion of the 9,000 certificated teachers are possessed of the elective franchise. It is not likely that the friends of the 3,000 students and 15,000 pupil teachers will stand tamely by and see the prospects for life of those in whom they are interested so materially damaged; and the justice of our cause will insure us the support of large numbers in all ranks of the community. In these circumstances and in the present state of political parties, our case would almost certainly be gained if we could make it unmistakably understood that our votes and influence are for the men who aid us in this conjuncture, and that those who cannot see that we are threatened with foul wrong and injustice by this Revised Code never can be representatives of ours.I think, therefore, it is time to look into this matter, more especially when the language held is compared with the sort of claims set up. I find persons of high authority putting forward an argument to the effect that it was quite understood these teachers had a right to "repose and freedom from anxiety," and that they were not "to be worked like a horse on a gin- 213 wheel," or to be worn out in irksome and ill-paid drudgery. Then we find it observed that it is our duty to maintain them in the "social status" they now enjoy. I beg trot to be misunderstood. I do not think it unnatural for masters to take this view, since they believe that they are going to be deprived of what they believe to be their rights; that their social status is to be lowered, and that they are to be injured; I repeat, I cannot blame them, under the circumstances, for using any influence, political or otherwise, to protect themselves. But such a system, which induces persons to entertain these expectations, is one which we should do well, with all fairness and justice, to get rid of. This result was not foreseen by the authors of the plan, and is not touched on by the Education Commissioners; but it has impressed itself on me within the last two or three months, and I should not be doing my duty if I did not enforce it on the House. I am not speaking with any disrespect of those persons. I do not blame them; for the people who put them in their present position are to be blamed, if there is any blame in the matter; but until this system of enormous vested interest is put an end to, I maintain that the vote will never be under the control of Parliament.
One object of this grant, no doubt, was to call forth voluntary subscriptions, and that has succeeded. A great deal of money has been raised; but I do not know whether that is a great subject for congratulation, for the money has been raised in a great measure from people, many of whom can ill afford to give it, the calls for subscriptions having fallen heavily on the clergy. I am very sorry for them, but this has been the necessary effect of the system, and I may say, as Cæsar exclaimed when he saw the faces of his fallen foes on the field of Pharsalia, "Hoc voluerunt." But the evil is that, though large sums may be collected, yet in proportion the voluntary subscriptions increase, we find voluntary energy and zeal diminished. We have pressed hard on men's means, and almost made them in spite of themselves mercenary, inducing them to look not to what is best for education, but to the quantity of money to be got from the public grant. I have returns lor the last year showing that for the training college at Cheltenham the Government paid 99 per cent, and on the average the amount paid by the Government for training colleges was nine-tenths, 214 90 per cent; and it is impossible to raise by voluntary efforts anything more considerable than the remainder for their support. There used to be a jealousy of the Privy Council grants as displacing the voluntary system, but that has write vanished. It is also remarkable that those who have founded schools, and have made great personal sacrifices for the promotion of education, are very much opposed to anything like a test of results. One would have expected that they, at all events, would have been glad of some means by which the system could be verified—that if they had gone right they might be confirmed in that right, and if they had gone wrong they might be shown their error. But I am sorry to say that there is a general dislike of any test. And why? Simply because they are overburdened by what they pay, the voluntary spirit is waxing low, and they fear that examination would end in a withdrawal of aid which they can ill spare. I do not think that there are any means of resuscitating this spirit. If any new cause should raise it up, the Government will be the better pleased; but it is our duty to consider whether we cannot replace what we cannot resuscitate. There has been an extraordinary desire to get our grants, and we have to see whether we cannot turn that desire to the benefit of education by making the grant depend on conditions which insure good education.
In going over the present scheme of the Privy Council we have satisfied our minds that, while agreeing as we do with the Commissioners, it would not be right in any way to interfere with the basis of the denominational system. Admitting the right of every sect to a control over religious teaching, with all the fundamental conditions on which it rests and which spring from it, we think that this system of annual grants should be abolished and replaced by a uniform capitation grant. That is the turning point of the question, and we see no other means of getting rid of the evils which I have described. After a review of the evils of an inadequate quantum of teaching, a loose test of efficiency, far too expensive machinery, and a decline of the voluntary spirit, we came to the conclusion that the Commissioners were right in recommending that a system of annual grants with these defects should be swept away, and a simpler one substituted in its place. The next question was, how far we could go with the Commissioners in what 215 they proposed. The Commissioners propose a grant from the county rates upon examination, and a grant from the Central Government upon attendance. We were not able to see our way to propose a grant from the county rates. There are, as I explained last year, an evil and a good in local rates. The evil is throwing what is a national burden upon a very narrow area. The good is securing local management and an interest in keeping down expenditure. The proposition, of the Commissioners keeps the evil and loses the good, because they propose that the grant should be paid from the county rates, but give the county gentlemen no authority over the expenditure. All they could do was to appoint a Committee of Education. The Committee was to appoint examiners. The examiners were to examine, and upon the result of the examination they were bound to pay. They had no discretion, and we believed that the county gentlemen were not likely to accept a purely ministerial office, throwing upon them the duty of imposing rates, and not giving them any control over the expenditure. We were, therefore, clearly of opinion that we could not adopt that view of the Commissioners. If, then, the capitation grant was to be wholly paid from a central office, then came the question as to the terms upon which it was to be paid. At first sight, the most natural thing would seem to be to give, in accordance with the opinion of the Commissioners, part of the capitation grant upon the Inspectors' Report and the attendance of children, and the other part upon examination. I admit that is an exceedingly obvious expedient, but I will tell the House why we do not do that. The object which we have in view is an Increase, not of the quality, but of the quantum of education. We want, not better schools, but to make them work harder, and we seek, by an incentive and a stimulus, to get the greatest possible number out of every 100 children properly educated. Supposing that we gave half the grant upon the Report of the Inspector (which would be the same as giving it absolutely, because they would be sure to get, that) and the other half upon examination, the inevitable result would be that the schools would not be stimulated in any way by examination. They would have half without any exertion. They would be able to get by examination a certain proportion of the other half, also without exertion. The head class would earn the 216 capitation on examination, and it would be cheaper for schools to be contented to do that, and not to make the exertions which we want to stimulate them to make. We want to make them educate, not children in the first class, for that is done already, but those who now leave schools without proper education. We might have conciliated support, but we should have entirely defeated our object if we had adopted a system of granting capitation, half upon the Inspector's Report, and half upon examination. I shall endeavour to show the House that this is not a mere fancy, by reading an extract from the letter of a gentleman who writes to a newspaper in a transport of indignation at the conduct of the Privy Council, he says—It never could be intended that the results should be the withdrawal of all assistance. Why should not the grant be made to depend upon five or six conditions instead of three—upon the state of the school premises and apparatus, discipline, and order, general knowledge, including moral and religious improvement, as well as on proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic?Here we haw the proposition of half-grants; but the gentleman is wrong if he thinks we ever made grants specifically for moral and religious instruction. The Privy Council have always held this language,—"Our business is to promote instruction. However desirable moral religious improvement may he, that is not the specific thing for which the grant is given." Had it been reported to us by the Inspectors, as it has been by the Commissioners, that in many schools three-fourths of the children were not instructed, we should have withdrawn the grant from those schools altogether. I will now read the former part of the letter, which will show why the writer thought that the grant ought not to be put wholly on examination.At one of the annual inspections we asked the Inspector to examine the children as they would be examined according to the Revised Code, and the result was—Group 1 (infants), 20 presented themselves, and none could read, write, or cipher; group 2 (7 to 9 years of age), six could read, none write, and none cipher; group 3 (9 to 14 years of age), three could read, none write, and none cipher; group 4 (highest class), none could read, none could write, and three could cipher. (Laughter.) The manager calculated that he would receive £5. You would naturally suppose that the report of the Inspector was unfavourable; but it was not so. He considered the school in a very fair state of efficiency, and that the master had done his duty during the past year.That illustrates what I have said. We saw clearly what would be the effect of this half-and half grant—that the school would 217 teach nothing more than now, and yet get on very comfortably. The principle of examination is a jealous and engrossing principle. It supersedes all others, because it includes all conditions necessary to success, and those conditions imply all which constitute excellence in a school. We decided that there should be only one grant, and that we should rest that on examination, being satisfied that there is really no other way by which to make examination efficient. Examination is an expensive and troublesome process, and we thought that if we saddled the public with that burden, the public were entitled to the full benefit which could be got out of it; that if the public paid for the process, the public had a right to get the utmost efficiency which that process could secure. Therefore, we determined to propose a grant entirely dependent on reading, writing, and ciphering. We propose that—The managers of schools may claim per scholar Id. for every attendance after the first 100 at the morning or afternoon meetings, and after the first 12 at the evening meetings of their school. One third part of the sum thus claimable is forfeited if the scholar fails to satisfy the Inspector in reading, one-third if in writing, one-third if in arithmetic, respectively.That is the basis of our proposition. We do not make the grant upon reading, writing, and ciphering, without attendance, because we thought it quite possible that, if we did, children might be entered the day before the examination, in order to pass for the grant. The attendance is designed as a security that we are not entirely, though we often may partially, pay one school for the labours of another. Then we make rules for withholding the grant in certain cases—if the building is not properly lighted, drained, and ventilated; if the teacher is not duly certificated; if the registers are not kept with sufficient accuracy; if the girls are not taught plain needlework; or if there are any gross faults in the management of the school. The grant, we propose, shall be reduced not less than a tenth, or more than half, for faults of instruction or discipline on the part of the teacher, or failure of managers to remedy serious defects in the premises, or to provide proper books and apparatus. A reduction of £10 is to be made for every thirty scholars after the first fifty in average attendance who are without a proper teacher, meaning by a proper teacher a pupil teacher for every thirty, or an assistant teacher for every sixty children. The grant is also to be reduced by the 218 amount of its excess above the amount of the school fees and subscriptions, or the rate of 15s. per scholar in average attendance. Then we add, an inferior or 4th class certificated master, in order to extend the benefits of the system to country schools. We also recommended what will be found to be of great importance—that power should be given to managers of rural schools containing not more than one hundred children to employ a pupil teacher, recommended by the Inspectors, and approved by the department after a careful consideration of his examination papers. The pupil teacher will have received only £20 up to the time of entering on the engagement, but of course the salary he will require will depend on the state of the market. He will, however, be as cheap as any competent instructor, perfectly able to teach, at least the rudiments of education, and his presence will communicate to the school all the benefits of the Government grant. Moreover, he will have the strongest motive to conduct himself well, because his position will be only provisional, and he will look forward to becoming a certificated teacher in seven years. In our opinion that is a better measure than the one recommended by the Commissioners, which was to give relief to private adventure schools. It would have been harsh and abrupt to at once give up all kind of preference for the machinery we had ourselves created, with so much expense to the public. In schools thus admitted for the first time to the benefit of the grant, it will be possible for benevolent men and women, possessing leisure, but in narrow circumstances, by assisting the teacher to confer great pecuniary benefits on schools by preparing children to pass the examination. They have little money and much time, and the gift of time may be better even than money. That is the substance of our propositions.
I now come to that portion of the subject which I have no doubt will be more interesting to the House—I mean the modifications in our plan which it is our intention to propose. In the first place, let me remark that the investigations of the Commissioners did not extend to Scotland. Scotland has never known capitation grants. As you are aware, a Bill was passed last Session for abolishing the test taken by the Scotch schoolmasters, and many entreaties have been addressed to us not to insist upon extending this change into Scotland. It has generally been said by those who ap- 219 proached as that there is no objection to revise the code per se, but that Scotland is on the eve of being able to organize a system that will be more acceptable to the people. We have also been informed that the Lord Advocate is contemplating a measure on the subject. Scotland was engaged long before us in the battle of education, and had honourably distinguished herself in the cause long before it was brought home to the public mind of England. Scotland possesses a tried and well-established educational system, and has the use and wont of two hundred years to guide her on this question. There are many distinctions between the two countries in this matter, and we have thought it wise not to extend the code at present to Scotland. The next subject relates to infants. It has been represented to us, and I am not prepared to deny the justice of the representation, that we carried our principle too far when we proposed to examine infants under six years of age. I frankly admit that on that point we were in the wrong. Seeing the early age at which children leave school, it is highly desirable that every encouragement consistent with due economy should be given to attract infants to school. We should not have offered that encouragement if we had required from them an examination which probably few of them would be able to pass. I do not present our proposal on this point as a concession; it is, undoubtedly, the correction of an error. We propose that infants under six years of age shall be entitled to the capitation grant without examination, and to restrict Group 1 of the Code to children between six and seven years of age, who may fairly be called upon to answer on examination. We do not think that for infants there ought to be altogether so high a rate of payment as for the children who pass the examination. We propose that the school managers should receive one penny per head for the attendance of every infant under six years after the first two hundred, instead of one hundred days. I hope that arrangement will remove the objections which have been urged against that point of the scheme. Another subject which requires consideration is the training colleges. It was impossible to have a clearer case than we had against the training colleges. They were established as voluntary institutions; but it has come to pass that we now pay 90 per cent on the whole of them, and on one of them 99 per cent. We had, there- 220 fore, good reason to ask from these colleges an increased subscription; and our proposal was that there should be a reduction in the lectures on history, geography, applied mathematics, and other subjects remote from the necessary business of the school, and that one-fifth of the Queen's scholars should be cut off. The ground on which we took up that position was, it seems to me, perfectly impregnable; but it has been said, doubtless with much truth, that these colleges are in a state of very great difficulty, and that the other changes we have made inflict indirectly serious damage upon them. The very existence of the panic and anger which prevails on this subject is in itself very hurtful to those establishments whose business it is to educate teachers. Then the managers of the colleges, to each of which a practising school is attached, will have, like all other managers, to meet the withdrawal of the annual grants, and the examination test; and they will also be injured by the abolition of the money value of the certificates, inasmuch as these diplomas have hitherto been held out—not very accurately, I think—as a sort of fellowship to those who passed through the training colleges, and have operated as an inducement to teachers to remain a second year at college. For those reasons, we believe that the whole subject of the training colleges requires re-consideration, as they seem to have got rid of the voluntary character almost entirely, and to be transformed into Government establishments. The position they occupy appears to us one which cannot remain as it is, and will require to be dealt with before long; but, in the mean time, we think it better that they should stand as they are, with a few exceptions—small matters of detail, necessary to carry out the other parts of the system. We are willing, therefore, to recall the propositions of doing away with a number of Queen's scholars and lecturers, not because we do not think that these and even much greater measures of retrenchment are required, if we regard the colleges as voluntary institutions merely assisted by Government, but because it cannot be denied that they have almost passed out of that category, and careful consideration is required to determine what shall be their ultimate position. The question stands over till a more convenient opportunity. It is our intention further to abolish the condition that children must attend sixteen days in the last month be- 221 fore the examination of the school. That rule excited a good deal of disapprobation and is not of the essence of the plan. Another amendment relates to the augmentation of teachers' salaries, which I will come to afterwards. Then there is the forfeiture incurred in regard to pupil-teachers. At present for every thirty children without a pupil-teacher, or every sixty without an assistant teacher, £10 is forfeited. We have, perhaps, strained that rule too hardly. If we were logical and consistent—which I admit, we are not—we should lay down no rules as to the sort of teachers that should be employed in schools. We should leave it to the managers to select such machinery as they thought proper; and if the children passed the examination, that would be enough for us. That remark does not, in my view, extend to certificated teachers, because we have the same right to require that there should be a certificated teacher, and to limit our patronage to him, as the public has to require that a man shall be regularly educated before he is allowed to practise as a lawyer or a physician; but, as to the subordinate machinery, for which the managers engage to pay, we may, I think, be accused of inconsistency if we require it to be of any particular kind. I am confirmed in that opinion by reflecting that there is a class of migratory schools in which the rule would operate with great hardship, since we then require payment for a machinery which will earn no grants, and thus run the risk of making the presence of those children a source of actual loss. We have, therefore, thought fit to amend this rule, and we propose to substitute forty for thirty, and eighty for sixty, which will give considerable relief. We cancel the requisition that pupil-teachers should be paid weekly. It is very desirable, but we are content to leave it to the considerate kindness of the managers.
We propose to give an honorary certificate to every teacher who shall remain in a training college for two years. It will not have any pecuniary value, but it will be a distinction, and may, we hope, operate in some degree to induce students to remain in the colleges for the longer period. The argument against us upon this point was very unreasonable, We are willing to pay at the public expense for the maintenance of a Queen's scholar at a training college for two years; but, because we offer him no further pecuniary advantage, it is said that we de- 222 prive the teacher of any inducement to remain at the college for more than a year. Surely, if we pay for the maintenance of the student for two years, and give him the means of education for that period, we have done our share, and have a right to expect that the managers of schools will, if they think such a prolonged training desirable, offer any further inducement which may be necessary, by giving the preference to persons who have undergone it, or paying them higher salaries. The last alteration is one which has created a good deal of discussion. It relates to the age at which children should leave the elementary, and enter the evening schools. At present a child, after eleven years of age, can only earn one grant in the day school, and cannot earn a grant in the evening school until it is thirteen, so that if it leaves the day school at twelve, there is one year during which it can earn no grant. We think, upon consideration, that that ought to be amended. We are not willing to extend the grant further in day schools, because children who remain there after twelve years of age are mostly children for whom the schools were not intended; but we think that we may fairly reduce the age at which children may enter the evening schools, from thirteen to twelve years. A child who attends an evening school may be earning wages for its parents, and may therefore belong to the class whom we desire to benefit; but a child who remains at a day school after twelve years of age, is usually the child of persons who can afford to dispense with aid. These are the amendments which we propose. They will considerably increase the receipts of schools under the grant. As far as infants go those receipts will have the advantage of being certain; they will depend upon no examination, and infants will in future be to the managers as well as to their parents, "little treasures."
I now come to a few of the objections which have been made to this scheme. The first is what is called the religious objection. It is objected to us, and that from a misunderstanding for which we may be in some degree responsible, that we have altered the religious basis of the schools. I do not think that that is much insisted upon, and, therefore, I will not labour the point. The misunderstanding, I take it, arose very much from this article in the Revised Code—The Inspectors do not interfere with the religious instruction, discipline, or management of 223 schools, but are employed to verify the fulfilment of the conditions on which grants are made, to collect information, and to report the results to the Committee of Council.That is a very old article of the Privy Council regulations, and its meaning is this:—In the case of schools connected with all denominations, except the Church of England, the Inspectors do not in any way interfere with religious instruction; but in case of Church of England schools, the Inspectors are, in virtue of the Order in Council of 1840, a sort of joint servants of the Privy Council and the Archbishops, and in their capacity of servants of the Archbishops, they do examine and report upon the religious instruction given in those schools. We do not interfere with that Report, and if the school managers were aggrieved by it, their appeal would be, not to us, but to the Archbishop. For if the Report on religious matters is adverse, we have no alternative but to withdraw the grant altogether. That was the same in the old as it is in the new Code; no change whatever has been made in regard to it.
Another objection which is made to our treatment of this matter is, that we are for the first time drawing a sharp line between secular and religious instruction. That, I think, is a mistake. The Privy Council assists all religious denominations, from the Roman Catholics, who may be considered one pole of the religious world, to the Jews who, perhaps, may be considered the other, and they are of course bound to the strictest impartiality among all sects. They represent the secular element in education, and they cannot—of course, it would not be creditable to any Government to at the same time inspect the teaching of a great number of different religious creeds and enter into the questions connected with them. They stand impartially among the sects, inspecting the secular education, and leaving to each denomination the care of its religious instruction; in the case of the Church of England giving to the Archbishops the benefit of their machinery in carrying out their inspection. The sharp line is drawn already, because, although in the case of Church of England schools the same persons inspect the religious and secular instruction, they do it, as I have already explained, in different capacities, acting in one instance as the servants of the Privy Council, and in the other as the servants of the Archbishops. Then, the National Society say 224 in their memorial—and like everything which comes from that society the objection is entitled to the utmost attention—that the new system—Will lead managers to think that the financial condition of schools will be improved if less time be given to religious instruction and more to the three selected secular subjects—reading, writing, and arithmetic.Now, I cannot myself concur, nor do I think that the House will concur, in that objection. If managers do neglect religious teaching in order to make money, they will find themselves mistaken, because they must still satisfy the Inspector as to their religious instruction, and if they do not do that, they will lose their grants altogether. In the next place, I think that we ought not to have this sharp opposition between reading, writing, and ciphering, and religions. They do not exhaust the whole range of education. There is a number of subjects between them—geography, history, and other matters from which the extra time needed for reading, writing, and arithmetic, if any is required, may be cut off, without trespassing upon religion. More than this I will say, that I think there is a good deal of what is called religious instruction which might well give way to reading, writing, and arithmetic; that is the mere burdening of the memory with the names of kings, dates, and the geographical peculiarities of remote countries which, although necessary to the full and critical understanding of the Sacred writings, cannot be required for the religion of the poor. And further I would observe, with all respect, that it is a narrow view of the subject to assume any opposition between religion and the cultivation of the faculties by reading, writing, and arithmetic. I can readily imagine that time taken, even from the inculcation of religion, to be spent upon reading, writing, and ciphering, that is upon giving the child the means of reading his Bible in after years, and of communicating with people who may do him good and give him good advice, and strengthening his mind with arithmetic, the logic of the poor, might be profitably spent even for the purpose of religious training itself. A man who is to be really religious, although he may be poor, must have his mind in some degree cultivated and enlarged, and if we grudge that cultivation and enlargement, and spend the time required for it in inculcating religion, it is to be feared that we may miss the very object which we wish to obtain. 225 We ought to cast our bread upon the waters in the hope that we shall receive it back after many days. I will conclude this part of the subject by reading the opinion which has been expressed by the Diocesan Committee of Exeter, which, apart from its authority, sums up the whole case very well. That Committee says—But the greatest objection which has been raised still remains to be considered. It is strongly urged that the limitation of aid solely to the result of an examination in these three subjects must tend inevitably to secularize education and displace religious teaching from the position which it holds and ought to hold in our schools. The Committee say at once that if they thought such to be the object or effect of the Revised Code it should have their strongest opposition and condemnation; but they find that every guarantee which the Church possessed in this respect under the old code exists under the new. The compact entered into in 1840 is still in force; the provisions of the trust deeds are the same; the aided school must be either a school in connection with some religious denomination, or a school in which, besides secular instruction, the Scriptures are read daily from the authorized version; the Inspectors are to be appointed and removed under the same conditions; they are still, as before, in Church schools, directed to 'inquire with special care how far the doctrines and principles of the Church are instilled into the minds of the children;' and also 'to report upon the daily practice of the school with reference to divine worship;' 'whether daily instruction is given in the Bible, whether the Catechism and Liturgy are explained, &c.;' and it cannot be too often repeated that the amount of aid does not depend solely, as seems to be imagined, on the children's proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic, but is liable to special reduction, on the Inspector's report, for faults of 'instruction,' a term officially declared to include 'deficiency of religious knowledge.' They will add, further, that the religious teaching is still under the entire control of the clergy, an appeal to the Bishop in case of dispute being final; and, lastly, they must say that, even assuming that an additional responsibility is incurred, the Church should not shrink from accepting it, because in their judgment no graver imputation could be laid on her by her bitterest opponents than that she is reluctant or incompetent to undertake, without the interposition of the State, the charge especially committed to her care,—namely, the training of her little ones in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.After that passage, I feel it unnecessary to say any more on the subject of religion, except that the alteration in our Minute really does not make any change in its sense, but is intended to remove any doubt that might be felt by well-meaning persons on the subject. We require that no school shall be examined till it has been reported on by an Inspector, who is not to make his examination till he is satisfied that there is nothing in its condition which requires the grant to be withheld; and we also annex a 226 paragraph in which we say that "the power of an Inspector to reduce grants for faults of instruction extends to faults of religious as well as of secular instruction in Church of England Schools."
Thus we maintain the old penalty of withholding the grant altogether if the religious instruction is bad, and add to it a new one lighter, and therefore more likely to be effective of a reduction of not less than one-tenth nor more than one-half for cases of minor delinquency.
It is said, and I think a good deal of the opposition we have to encounter may be attributed to the statement, that there is a loss impending over schools. This is the way the argument is put:—Gentlemen take a number of schools, and put down what they think they will earn under the; Revised Code, computing their earnings rather in a spirit of fear and apprehension, and, comparing these with their present revenues, they assume that the difference will be the measure of deficiency. I have shown that allowances to a great many schools ought to be reduced, because they are receiving too much. It has also been urged that, as the Commissioners think three-fifths of the children ought to earn the grant, they admit by implication that two-fifths would not earn it; and a calculation is made of what the grant would be prior to the reduction, and from this two-fifths are then deducted. But that way of reasoning is erroneous, because the children who the Commissioners think would I not earn two-fifths are either children who attend less than fifty days, and therefore earn nothing, or who attend between fifty and a hundred days, and earn comparatively little, sums varying from 1d. to 8s. 4d. at a penny for each attendance, so that, instead of deducting two-fifths from the total sum, the reduction upon a large amount would be so small as to be hardly appreciable. Of course, it is impossible for me to calculate what schools would earn. I can only state certain data, from which persons interested in the subject can make calculations for themselves. My belief is, that when this Minute comes into operation, which will not be till after the 31st of March, 1863, as the first examinations cannot take place till then, there will be an average attendance of 1,000,000 children, in the schools. The maximum that could be earned would be 15s. a-head, or £750,000. What we wish the children should earn is 10s. a-head, and this the 227 Commissioners say ought to be the amount. We have adopted their opinion, which would make the total earnings we wish them to make —500,000. The question which every gentleman will have to answer for himself is, how much of that will be actually earned? A great ground of apprehension is that, children will not earn the grants, because they will not attend. But 42 per cent of the children earn our capitation grants by attending on 176 out of 220 days. The difference between that proportion and the 25 per cent whom the Commissioners declare to be already well instructed ought surely to be earned with moderate diligence. But the thing does not stop there. The children who attend upwards of a hundred days are three-fifths of the school, or 63 per cent, and of them the Commissioners report—Even under the present conditions of school age and attendance, it would be possible for at least three-fifths on the books of the schools, the 63–7 per cent who attend 100 days and upwards, to learn to read and write without conscious difficulty, and to perform such arithmetical operations as occur in the ordinary business of life. This knowledge they might receive while under the influence of wholesome moral and religious discipline, and they might add to it an acquaintance with the leading principles of religion, and the rules of conduct which flow from them.If that view be correct, there must be a larger margin—namely, the difference between 25 per cent and 63 per cent. The utmost children could even if they attended twice a day for 220 days, or 440 times, would be £1 8s. 4d. a head; the utmost children could earn who attended 176 days would he, as I compute, £1 1s.; the utmost an infant could earn after attending the first 200 times, would be £1; and, of course, the amount per child will vary from Id. to £1 8s. 4d. It will be observed that the loss will fall on those who pay the least to the school, as it is reasonable to suppose that the children rejected will be those who have attended the shortest time. Thus, in an extreme case, on a child who has attended 101 times the loss would be Id.; while, if he had attended the whole course, the loss would be £1 8s. 4d. 62 per cent of the children attend the same school more than one year. It must be remembered that all these calculations are based on the present state of attendance in schools, to which, by this system, a great stimulus will be given. Under the present rules, unless a child is likely to attend, or after he has attended 176 days, by which he earns 5s., there is no pecuniary stimulus 228 on the manager to secure his attendance. But by the new system, a uniform pressure will be exerted on the manager, whose interest it will be to co-operate with the public in inducing the children to attend, and thus to extend the benefits of the school. That such a stimulus will not be without effect, is shown by the evidence of Mr. Scott, one of the most intelligent witnesses examined before the Commissioners, who stated that after the present capitation grant was introduced, the managers made it their business to go round to parents, canvassing them to get the children to attend. This is what must happen now, and what we wish should happen under the new system. We also hope for somewhat cheaper management, from the greater freedom of contract we now establish, by leaving managers to make their own bargains with their own servants. Cases are urged upon us which, no doubt, we should very much wish to meet. One point which is dwelt on very strongly is, that although a school does little in the way of teaching, it may confer great moral and religious benefit. It is quite true that schools of that class are very fitting objects of missionary exertion; I do not consider them fit recipients of grants from the Privy Council. We do not act on that principle. Sunday schools confer large benefits on the people; but we have never relieved Sunday schools. On the contrary, last year, mainly on this very ground, a Committee of this House decided that no further relief should be given to ragged schools. It has been said that this Minute will come into operation very abruptly. But from the date of the first notice given in reference to it, the school first examined will have been allowed a year and eight months, and the school which comes last under its provisions will have had two years and eight months. On the whole, ample time will have been afforded, and in the interval which has yet to elapse, the attendances will, doubtless, be greatly increased.
Then it is said that it will be very difficult for schools, to earn the grant where children are migratory, and will not stay to be taught. I admit that that will be so; but the question is broadly raised whether that is a case in which our grants ought to apply. My opinion is that Government is not bound to pay for machinery to instruct children whose parents are not willing to remain and profit by the instruction. I think the working classes, for whose benefit these schools are intended, ought to meet 229 us half-way. For every child sent to school a charge of about 30s. is incurred, which is met in this way:—The father pays 7s.; charitable people who have set the school on foot pay 11s. 6d.; and the Government pays 11s. 6d. Every parent who sends a child to school is a recipient of 23s., made up of private charity and public relief. There are cases of individual hardship inseparable from the operation of every general rule. We should be glad, if possible, to aid schools because they are efficient, and if we could do so without impairing the efficiency of public education, we should also be glad to relieve schools which are indigent; but we cannot do both. Will you have two rules and measures—two standards of education? If you do, the whole time of the department will be frittered away in determining under which standard the school is to be tried. Will you have only one standard; and if so, on what principle is it to be erected? Will you have it so loose and vague as to embrace those schools where the population is migratory, where little attendance is given, and where little is learnt? If you do that, you will infallibly make the standard so loose that you will deprive yourselves of the power of stimulating education in schools which are well attended and well cared for. You will sacrifice the great mass of educational effort in order to embrace a few exceptional cases. All you can do is to limit your requirements to what you think necessary, and not on any account to lower your standard to schools which cannot rise up to it. The true principle is not to lower your standard to meet cases which are at present below it, but to do what you can to induce them to amend themselves, and if they will not amend themselves, to leave them to the unaided support of voluntary efforts, but not to degrade the whole system for their sake. I think there is no reason, therefore, for this apprehension with regard to loss. We know that there will be a loss where the teaching is inefficient. That is our principle, that where the teaching is inefficient the schools should lose. I cannot promise the House that this system will be an economical one, and I cannot promise that it will be an efficient one, but I can promise that it shall be either one or the other. If it is not cheap it shall be efficient; if it is not efficient it shall be cheap. The present, is neither one nor the other. If the schools do not give instruction the public money will not be demanded, but if instruction is 230 given the public money will be demanded—I cannot say to what amount, but the public will get value for its money. It is not in my power to say how far the people will avail themselves of the system. If it were a Government system I could force it on them, but as it is a voluntary system I cannot, and whether they will accept it or not rests in their own breasts; but the Government has placed itself in a proper position when it is able to say, "We deal with schools on this principle: if they are effective in their teaching, they shall receive public aid to the amount which the Commissioners have declared to be sufficient; but if they are not effective, they shall not receive it." In this way we make a double use of our money; it not only enables the schools to afford instruction, but it encourages them to augment the quantity of that education—it is a spur to improvement— it is not a mere subsidy, but a motive of action—and I have the greatest hopes of the improved prospects of education if this principle is sanctioned.
I come now to the vested interests; and here I must remark that there is hardly a Gentleman who has made any proposition on this subject who has not proposed some infraction, in one way or the other, on the present system. It has always been assumed that the system was an experiment, and it is not too much to say that the present managers of schools should be taken to know this. Provided we deal with them on the footing of equity and justice, and with the single desire to advance the cause of education they can have no reason to complain. The question is mainly argued with regard to the augmentation provided for certificated teachers, and not only so, but it is almost entirely restricted to those augmentations. The probable cause is because the stake is large, and because the number of persons interested in it is large—or else why it should be more insisted on than the grant for teaching drawing, Welsh, or Gaelic I cannot say. I may say in passing that I heard of a rather tragical case the other day with regard to a school in Wales. A teacher was complaining very bitterly that his school would get no grant. He was the master of a school in Wales, and his case was like Mortimer's—This is the deadly spite that angers me,My wife can speak no English, I no Welsh.He could speak no word of Welsh, and his scholars not a word of English, and he thought it extraordinarily hard that he 231 should get no share of the grant in aid. But before I go into the subject I should like to point out to the House the position which the certificated teachers now occupy. I will not say anything of myself, but I will read a description of them given in the Commissioners' report—Boys who would otherwise go to work at mechanical trades at 12 or 13 years of age, are carefully educated at the public expense from 13 to 20 or 21, and they are then placed in a position where they are sure of immediately earning on an average about £100 a year by five days' work in the week, the days lasting only seven and a half hours, and they usually have six or seven weeks' vacation in the course of the year.The extent to which the education of the country has been increased of late years, and the large amount of capital which has been brought into the work has had the effect of greatly increasing the demand for teachers, and as they cannot be manufactured at once, like a pair of shoes or any other article, those who were in the business, or who went into it early, had the full advantage of the rise in the market. Consequently, for some time past they have been in the receipt of large incomes, and, considering what they are, and the circumstances of their education, they have enjoyed a great amount of prosperity. Some people might be disposed to think that the schoolmasters ought, therefore, to have been very contented; but I will take the liberty of reading a few lines from the summary of evidence appended to the report of Mr. Wilkinson, one of the Assistant Commissioners, which gives a very different account of them. He reports on the metropolitan districts, where the average of salaries of schoolmasters is £122 per annum—Masters of National Schools are generally dissatisfied; their salary is far beneath that which an equal amount of skill and labour would command in any other profession; their position in society is lower than it ought to be, which is the fault of the clergy, who either spoil the work by foolish interfering, or, if it succeeds, take all the credit; therefore, the cleverest men leave their schools as soon as they find more profitable employment. British schoolmasters share the grievance of insufficient salary, but are free from 'priestly tyranny.' They are dissatisfied with their position, principally because they fail in the good manners which would facilitate their rising to a better. Their dissatisfaction arises from what they deem insufficient remuneration. They are dissatisfied because their salary is quite inadequate to the position they are expected and qualified to maintain. … The certificate money being paid through the treasurer or secretary of the school comes to be considered as part of the master's salary. … The best teachers 232 leave their schools as fast as they can for some more remunerative profession. As to being dissatisfied, they consider their position anomalous. The Committee of Council refuses all correspondence with them. … They are treated, in all matters of professional business, as persons who are not to be consulted or treated with at all. Even the certificate and teaching money is paid to them indirectly. Again there is no outlet in the profession to rise. The missionary spirit and Christian devotion manifested by many teachers who entered upon the office before the present system of pupil-teachers commenced, is fast passing away. The office is becoming one of mere business consideration. This being true, pecuniary advantage and prospective promotion are sought for. … especially by the most energetic and intelligent, who, finding no upward position in the profession, leave it. Again, the large influx of teachers trained at the public expense gives the constant prospect of a glut in the supply, reducing the certain tenure of his position in a school, tending to lower the present rate of salaries, and making him subject, through these means, to submit to humiliation at the caprice of local committees. … What follows? The retirement from the profession altogether of the most talented, while those who may be wanting in energy and force of character alone will be content to hold the position. They have nothing to look forward to but the unbroken level of a life of unremunerating, unacknowledged, and unappreciated labour—the office spoken of as one of the highest in the land in importance, mentally, morally, and religiously, and yet the officer ignored, slighted, and every prospect of his being put aside or lost to the office for which so much has been expended in time, devotion, and money. This tendency seems at present to be on the increase.The House is aware that these schoolmasters are very dissatisfied with the Revised Code, and especially "with myself, and I have therefore read the description to show that they are persons who are not easily pleased, and that if they were not satisfied with the state of things which existed before, it is not very strange that they should be discontented with the Revised Code. As to the original position of these masters—still refraining from any language of my own—I will read another passage from the report. Mr. Robinson, the principal of the Training College at York, says—They naturally think more of what education has made them than of what it first found them. They easily lose sight of the fact that they have risen from a very humble social position, and they crave for that status which education seems generally to secure. I think, too, that in some cases they are too apt to forget that they owe the culture they have to the public provision made for them.I hope, therefore, that the House will not allow its feelings to be too much worked upon by the complaints which have been made by the masters. Justice, of 233 course, ought to be done to them and to their claims; but so long as they are treated with justice and the improvement of education is kept solely in view, they have no cause to complain. In our Minute it is laid down that "teachers are examined for certificates as a means of distributing the Parliamentary grant to schools," and "that the minimum salary, exclusive of a house, must be in ratio to the grant of one to two;" and in our broadsheet it is said that we make grants in aid of the salary of teachers. That is the document upon which their title mainly rests, and the claim they base upon it is that, so long as they perform the conditions, they are entitled to the payment from Government just in the same way as an officer of the army or navy is entitled to his pay. This claim is subject to this remark,—that the teachers are not quite right in saying that this grant depends on their fulfilment of its conditions. Our Minutes show that, notwithstanding the fulfilment of all these conditions on the part of the teacher, the grant may be lost by some fault on the part of the managers, and without any default of the teacher. If the managers neglect to give a particular notice to the Privy Council of the teacher's appointment, or to make the necessary repairs to the building, or refuse to receive the visit of the Inspectors, or do anything that brings down a censure, the grant for the teacher is withheld, though the teacher has had nothing to do with the cause; so that the grant depends on the fulfilment of the managers' conditions as well as on the fulfilment of those of the teacher. This shows that the claim of property put forward by the teachers cannot be substantiated, because that is not my property which can be taken from me by the default or wilful act of another. I am not now arguing as to the nature of the conditions on which the grants are made for teachers, but only as to the extravagant nature of their claim. I am of opinion that this claim—as they put it—for a certain sum of money is one which cannot be supported. I will not stop to argue that: this being a tentative and preliminary system, and always treated as an experiment, and liable to be altered from time to time, the teachers can have no vested interest arising from their relation to it. I shall not put it on that ground, though in that respect they stand on the same footing as the many other persons who hold situations under similar circumstances. But let us consider 234 it in this way:—Suppose we sat here to consider what compensation we ought to award to the teachers; I contend there is no vested interest on which they could found a claim. A vested interest must be something clearly defined and susceptible of calculation and compensation. That their position is one which entitles them to be fairly considered in any arrangements which we may make, is what I freely admit; but they have put it that their present rate of payment has arisen from the augmentation grants allowed by the Government. That I deny, because I think there is nothing more certain than that wages do not depend on Government bounties, but on the great law of demand and supply. Their high rate of pay is caused by the demand which has existed for their services. Young men, immediately after passing the training colleges, instead of spending several years as assistants, have been placed over large schools, because no more qualified persons could be got to take their place. The demand has been much greater than the supply, and they have had the benefit of it. It is not unnatural that, the high rate of remuneration received by them being contemporaneous with the payment of augmentation grants, they should have mistakenly supposed the latter to be the cause of the former; but it is against first principles to suppose that such could be the case. The average payment to certificated masters is £94; to uncertificated —62; and to those who are only inspected £45. And in the case of schoolmistresses, the three corresponding scales are £62, £34, and —23. Now, £94 exceeds £62 by more than the largest augmentation that can be granted, showing that the excess does not arise from the augmentation. Government pays to the managers, to be paid to the teacher, a certain portion of his salary, requiring that he shall have certain qualifications. Schoolmasters having the required qualifications can obtain that portion of salary; but, if the supply increases in greater proportion than the demand, the whole amount of remuneration will fall. In these matters we must look, not to the intention of the Government, for that cannot control economical laws, but to all the incidents and concomitants of the contract. That is what all persons who make a contract do. The remuneration to the masters has increased, because the supply has not kept pace with the demand; but let the reverse become the case, and you will find that there will be a reduction in their sala- 235 ries. It seems to me that the mere effect of the grant, looked at as a whole, is that the Government aids the managers to pay the master, and that the withdrawal of the grant would be a loss to the managers, and not to the master. The Commissioners say—As to the specific complaint that the augmentation grant is paid to them indirectly, and is thus liable to be confounded with salary, our answer is, that it is paid in that manner because it is salary, and in order that it may not be supposed to be anything else.If it is salary, it must vary according to the laws that regulate salary. I will put a case. Suppose I had a friend who wanted a governess for his daughters, but who of himself could only afford to pay an inferior one. Suppose I gave him £30 a year to enable him to pay one of higher qualifications, but that after some years I ceased to allow him that sum. I contend that it is my friend who loses this money, and not the governess, for she transfers her services elsewhere. Looking at the matter in general, that is the case with respect to the teacher. The loss of the withdrawal falls not on him, but on the managers. One manager may make a liberal bargain, and another may drive a hard one; but the case ought not to be looked at on isolated facts. It ought to be viewed according to the general laws of political economy. But, though the teachers have no vested interest in this augmentation, they will receive from this Code a very considerable indemnification. It is always argued by the opponents of the Revised Code as if this money is withdrawn never to return; but it is only withdrawn in one shape, in the hope that it will be carried over to the credit of the managers in another shape, to increase the funds at their disposal. I think that making all grants dependent on the quantity of education imparted will raise the value of the schoolmaster. He will be the machinery by which the school is to earn the assistance of the Government, and we shall be keeping the market open for him, by continuing his monopoly. It is quite excusable that a person who feels immediately affected by a change of plan should put the worst construction on it. We can argue this question at our ease, and without those considerations which must influence a man who has a large family dependent upon his income; but still I must say that, giving the matter the best consideration of which I am capable, I do not see any vested interest in these 236 teachers, and we must consider the question on general grounds. The master makes his bargain with the manager of a school to receive a certain sum of money, part of which is supplied by the Government. If the Government withdraw its contribution, that, in the abstract, is no loss to the schoolmaster; the loss is one to the manager, and if compensation is claimed it should be by the manager, not the teacher. It may be said, "Why raise this question? Why embarrass yourself with this difficulty? Pay grants on the present system to those who now receive them until the masters now in office are worked out." I need not say how tempting such a proposition must be to me. I wish that, consistently with my public duty, I could adopt it; but I cannot, because my view being that this loss is one falling on the manager, and not on the teacher, 1 must give compensation to the former and withhold it from the latter, unless I mean to give a double compensation for a single loss. A proposition for compensation to both would hardly be entertained by this House. I am assuming now that I have carried the House so far with me as that they think there should be an examination. I must assume that I have done that; for, if not, it is in vain for me to talk of this scheme. If this grant to the teacher could be secured without examination it would put the school to sleep; just as I showed that the plan of half capitation on attendance and half on examination would do. Next, if we were to preserve the grant to existing teachers and withhold it from new ones, look at the injustice we should do to the latter. A man on whose employment there was no bounty would have to compete with a man who carried with him to his employers one of, say, £20 a year. You would be closing the schools against young masters, and thrusting them from the profession; you would be sacrificing the profession itself to the advantages of its existing members. I have, I assure the House, taken much pains with the subject, but I cannot bring my mind to consent to this sacrifice. But all we can do we will; and what we intend to do is this. The claim of the schoolmaster is of two kinds; he claims a right to a certain sum, according to his certificate, and also to the condition annexed that the managers of the school shall give him twice the amount of that sum. In exchange for that sum we give him a lien or first charge on the money earned by 237 the examination. The condition that the teacher shall receive twice the augmentation grant from the manager we will enforce in the only way possible by withdrawing our grants if he is not satisfied. For the interest of the teacher himself we allow him to make what bargain he pleases with the managers. The words of the proposed Amendment are—The grant is withheld if the principal teacher be not duly certificated and duly paid. Teachers certificated before the 31st March, 1864, and who have not otherwise agreed with their managers, are duly paid if they receive not less than three times the grant allowable upon their certificates in Art. 64–5 of the Code of 1860, and they have a first charge to the extent of this grant, being one third of such due payment upon the money received by the managers under Art, 42 of the Revised Code.That is what we can do without sacrificing the scheme to the teachers. I hope, at any rate, I have shown that we have not been unwilling to consider their case; and I hope the effect will be something like what we see of the mode in which custom can regulate wages. I hope the regulations of the Privy Council may have the effect of fixing a minimum, below which the managers will not wish to go. This, we thought, might be done to meet the claims of the schoolmasters. Thus far I think we can go without injuring the scheme. If it is a bad one, it is not worth carrying out at all; if it is a good one, it ought not to be shipwrecked on such an obstacle as this. An efficient system of examination and a continuance of the present system of augmentation cannot exist.
Now, it is said, that by this plan we are degrading education. On this point I will touch briefly. The truth is, what we fix is a minimum of education, not a maximum. We propose to give no grant for the attendance of children at school unless they can read, write, and cipher; but we do not say they shall learn no more. We do not object to any amount of learning; the only question is, how much of that knowledge we ought to pay for. Consider that the age at which the poor man's child leaves school is generally about eleven; if we ask that during his time of schooling he shall be taught to read, write, and cipher, is not that enough? In so doing we think that, so far from degrading education, we, by requiring more labour and industry in the teachers of the schools, are really raising it. It must never be for gotten that those for whom this system is 238 designed are the children of persons who are not able to pay for the teaching. We do not profess to give these children an education that will raise them above their station and business in life; that is not our object, but to give them an education that may fit them for that business. We are bound to take a clear and definite view of the position of the class that is to receive instruction; and, having obtained that view, we are bound to make up our minds as to how much instruction that class requires, and is capable of receiving, and we are then bound to have evidence that it has received such instruction.
With regard to pupil-teachers and their attendance in the evening schools, it has been said we are sacrificing the interest of those teachers to the maintenance of the schools. The pupil-teacher has to pass an examination; and if he does not, the blame will fall on the teacher, who must therefore find means of giving instruction to his pupil even though it is in the time of the evening school. To these schools themselves we give one penny for every attendance after the first twelve children. Thus for the teacher here is a new field of activity, and one in which he can earn a better remuneration than from the exclusive training of pupil-teachers. The masters have often complained that they are not allowed to employ their evenings profitably by acting as secretaries of various societies, and in other ways. Now we propose to allow them to teach the evening school as an integral part of the day school, and in this they will find an indemnity. The pupil-teacher system is good; but it is too much to ask us to sacrifice to a small punctilio concerning it so vast a national benefit as the establishment as an integral part of our system and the diffusion over the country of evening schools, of which there are now only 317 to nearly 7000 day schools under the Committee of Education.
There is another disputed point, the grouping of children by age for examination. The real objection is pecuniary; that is, that a child having passed in some group, the lowest for instance, should not be paid for because it is too old. But the objection does not take that naked form. It is said that such a way of teaching or organizing a school is unknown and absurd. The answer is, that we do not propose to teach or organize by age, but only to examine, and that the examination is not of classes, but of individuals called up one by one. It has already been frequently done. 239 Then what is the alternative? Shall we take the ordinary arrangement of the school? If we do, we shall clearly disorganize it, for as soon as it is discovered that the higher a child is placed, the less sure is its capitation, the children will subside into the lower classes, and the school will become like a pyramid, very broad at the bottom and very narrow at the top. The reason why we have taken this principle of grouping by age and wish to adhere to it, may be illustrated by supposing capitation to be claimed on a boy of eleven who has passed in the infant class. That boy is about to leave school; he can read words of one syllable, can make letters on a board, and count twenty. Is that result worth paying for? It will not abide with him six months. The age at which the poorer class of children leave school makes it necessary to stimulate their attendance at an earlier period, that they may actually receive the education intended for them. The child of a poor man can rarely retrieve the time lost if his education during the few years he has attended school is neglected. It, therefore, becomes of paramount importance that we should do everything we can to make it the interest of those who have the power to bring the children into school as early as possible. What we mean is that the children should be taught, not a smattering only, but that they should leave school so grounded in elementary knowledge that it may be of use to them during the whole of their life.
Well, then, there is the question of uncertainty in the attendances. No doubt this uncertainty must exist from sickness, weather, bad roads, or other causes. But we cannot avoid this objection, nor can we free these examinations from it any more than we can free our own proceedings from it. Look at an important division in this House, upon which, perhaps, may depend the fate of a Ministry, the question of peace or war, or the policy of the country for years to come. Yet see what trivial causes may affect the result of this division. A slow train, the breaking down of a cab, a gale of wind in the Irish Channel, an attack of influenza, may prevent the attendance of Members. But meanwhile the debate goes on inexorably to its conclusion, and the mischief is done. "Hœc est conditio viventi;" and while we act upon general rules we cannot avoid such contingencies. We are told that payment on examination does not pay for work done, that a stupid boy who is plucked may have cost more pains 240 than a clever one that passes. But who in this world is paid or has a right to claim to be paid on his failures? It is said, dull children will be neglected. I believe, on the contrary, that attention will be drawn to the capacity of every child in the school, and that many now neglected, because nothing can be made of them, will be brought forward with care, especially if good attendance give hope of fair reward. I never pretended that this scheme was not open to objection. On the contrary, I could state some myself. It is, in fact, a choice of objections; but there is no greater fallacy than to suppose that because certain objections may be urged to a plan, and because in some points that plan may be inexpedient and unsatisfactory, it may not be, after all, the wisest thing which can be done.
And now, having gone through these objections, the House will perhaps allow me to point out the advantages of the scheme which we propose. In the first place, unlike the reports of inspectors, it does not deal with classes, but with individuals; it does not deal out sweeping and ruinous penalties, but enforces small ones only. A particular child will be examined, and the grant, in his case, will depend upon this one issue. The officer, therefore, will not be deterred from doing what is right by a dread of the consequences, because he will not see the consequences until he comes to add up the results of his examination. I look upon this as a great advantage in the new system. We find by experience that impunity is often secured to crime by making the punishment too severe; and the same impunity may be secured to ignorance and inefficient teaching unless we take care to make the loss as small as we can by dealing not with classes, but with individual cases. Another advantage of the new system is, that it gives the managers almost unfettered freedom in regulating their schools as they please, except with regard to the employment of certificated and pupil teachers. Some of these gentlemen do not seem grateful for the privilege, but I believe that when once they have had experience of this freedom they will not regret it.
The principle which we now seek to enforce is a searching one. It exposes the faults of the system. The threat of enforcing it has elicited from school-managers confessions which I should have thought nothing but the rack would have extorted—confessions of bad attendance on the part of the children, of inefficient teaching, 241 and of all the evils which have been paraded for the last six months before the eyes of the public as reasons why we should shrink from applying the only effectual remedy—individual examination. The new Code will make the interest of the school in matters of attendance and instruction identical with the interest of the public, which is that the children shall attend as regularly as possible, and that they shall learn as much as possible. The interest of the school will be that the teaching shall be sufficiently good to satisfy the inspector, and that as many children shall be got together as shall satisfy the terms of the capitation grant, and that interest which is the public interest will pervade the schools, Then, look at the manner in which the work done will be tested, and look also at the opportunity which the parties concerned will have of appreciating each other's merits. The master, by means of the new system, will be able to appreciate his own labour. He will have the opportunity of judging how far his methods of teaching are successful, and whether the time he devotes to the work is sufficient for the purpose. To him it will be an ever recurring lesson and the best possible test. Then, the children will be kept in a state of emulation in learning, which is far from being the case at this moment. The managers, on the other hand, will have an opportunity of judging of the capacity of the master; he will be subjected to a crucial test; if he does well or ill, the results will show themselves accordingly; and he will be likely, therefore, always to do his utmost to keep up his credit. The Government, again, will have much the same hold over the managers, and the public money will be given, not to the persons they employ in the schools, or according merely to the number of children who attend, but it will be given according to the results which the teachers and the attendance of the pupils have combined to produce. Moreover, the new system will give very important assistance in the education of the children. Our public schools now spend some money every year in examinations, and so, in the present instance, these examinations will not merely operate as a test in making grants of public money, but will really increase the general efficiency of the school, and thus render important assistance to it on the part of the Government. Lastly, the new Code will for the first time place the education grant really and effectively under the Control of Parliament, and will 242 for the first time place it in a perfectly intelligible position. Henceforth it will not depend on complex regulations; it will be guided by principles which anybody may understand, and Parliament will be able to regulate at its pleasure—which has never been the case hitherto—the amount of money to be granted. Sir, I think I have shown that there are grave defects in the existing system of education, that it is of an experimental character, and is, in fact, unfitted to be the permanent educational system of annual grants. So, taking denominational education based on religion as the basis of our plan, we are about to substitute for the vague and indefinite test which now exists, a definite, clear, and precise test, so that the public may know exactly what consideration they get for their money. I have tried to show that it would be impossible for us to remain quiet under the imputations cast upon the system now administered—namely, that the bulk of the children who pass through the schools are inefficiently instructed. We have not started this difficulty; it has been forced upon us. We have endeavoured to discharge the duty which devolved upon us to the best of our ability, and I now humbly submit the whole subject to the consideration and to the judgment of the House.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, after the ample exposition of the right hon. Gentleman I wish to recall the House to the proper relation in which the House stands to that statement, and to the course which I think we ought to pursue respecting it. This statement ought to have preceded the introduction of the Revised Code, and had it, according to the custom of Parliament, so preceded the introduction of the Code, I apprehend that the House would have pursued the course which it always and wisely takes when a Minister of the Crown makes an important statement upon the affairs of his Department;—it would have felt it inconvenient on that occasion immediately to discuss the merits of the proposition or to enter into judgment upon its scope and effect. It is obvious that, under any circumstances, a subject of this kind, involving principles so important and details so multifarious, requires, and it is only respectful to the Government that it should receive, ample consideration. I am therefore somewhat surprised that, remembering the peculiar circumstances under which the operation of the Revised Code was arrested in its pro- 243 gress, and the period being now so near at hand when it would otherwise have been in action, the right hon. Gentleman did not tell us when he intends to call upon the House for its opinion upon this project. The right hon. Gentleman will, of course, give us a sufficient period to consider the scheme; and I am quite sure that when the time for discussion arrives, the plan will receive the calm and dispassionate attention which such a subject eminently deserves. But the right hon. Gentleman may say that although, in general, when a statement of this kind is made by a Minister, an interval elapses before the opinion of the House is taken, yet the present case differs from the usual practice, because the House and the country have really been in possession of the project for a considerable period. Now, is there justness in the objection? In the first place, I think the House has always a right to expect from a Minister a personal explanation of any scheme which is laid before them. Whether it be in the form of a Bill or of a Minute, I think the House will agree that there are a variety of details which a Minister only can explain, and that there are arrangements which nothing but a personal exposition can make clear. But although I think that a sufficient reason why an interval should elapse before the House gives any opinion upon the scheme, and though I deprecate discussion at this moment, because I know that hasty observations and conclusions are always drawn out in these desultory debates, which the House afterwards regrets; still, in this instance, there is another consideration, which we cannot overlook, and which appears to me to settle the propriety of the course we ought to take. We have now before us not only the Revised Code, but a Revision of the Revised Code. We have, indeed, a new measure, abounding with details of a kind which requires the most careful scrutiny before we can arrive at any satisfactory conclusion upon them. I hope, therefore, that I am not misinterpreting the feeling of Gentlemen on both sides, when I conclude that there is a general wish that there should be no discussion—no formal discussion—to-night upon the exposition of the right hon. Gentleman, but that he or some Member of the Government will inform us on what night the opinion of the House will be taken upon the whole scheme. Of course, I assume that the right hon. Gentleman will 244 give us due time for consideration. I will not, therefore, trouble the House at length, and I shall be most careful not to give an opinion either on the Revised Code or on the present system of education. But there is one observation made by the right hon. Gentleman which I cannot allow to pass unnoticed, and that is, his assertion that the subject is not, after all, one of any magnitude, but is, in fact, what the right hon. Gentleman called a small subject. I think this observation from a person occupying the right hon. Gentleman's position, and connected as he is with this topic, ought not to pass unnoticed, and that hon. Members should not be misled by an assertion that the present subject is one of that character. It appears to me that this is not a small subject, but a great—a very great subject; and if I wanted any evidence to prove this I would refer to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself; because, while he began by telling us that this was no great matter, although it had agitated the country in no ordinary degree, he went on to describe a series of changes the effect of which would be to abrogate the present system of education. And, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman did not attempt to conceal his purpose, for, at the conclusion of his speech, he said that no alternative had been left to the Government but to sweep away the system altogether. Therefore, what we have to consider is, whether the system of education which has been established for so many years shall be superseded, and a new system established in its place. I do not want now to enter into a discussion as to the merits of either system; but we ought clearly to understand what we have to consider when the Government fix the day for the discussion, and call for the opinion of the House. I say it is a great subject, and one of the greatest importance. The right hon. Gentleman has become acquainted with it—so far as the House of Commons is concerned—only during the palmy days of national education, and when it was in full operation under the power and authority of the Privy Council Office. But there are Gentlemen in this House, even at this moment, who remember when this question was in a very different state. I, being one of them, cannot look upon the results of the labours of the Privy Council on Education without remembering the great results that have been obtained—tentatively, as he says, but, as 245 I think, by a gradual system of experiment and natural development—and without feeling that in our future history the establishment of the present system of education will much redound to the honour of those who took part in it. There is one other topic on which I would make a remark. The right hon. Gentleman seems to wish that Parliament should have more control over the conduct of the Committee of Privy Council, and the transactions with which they deal, than we now unfortunately possess. It has always been a subject of regret to the right hon. Gentleman, he says, that there has not been that clear and constitutional control over the course and conduct of the Committee of Education which attends and accompanies the other branches of the Administration. But Parliament must feel that this is not owing to any desire on the part of the Privy Council to escape from the control of this House, but that it arose from the difficult and anomalous circumstances which Parliament had to deal with at first, and that no fault would be found with any I Minister who might take a step which the I law permitted, but which the spirit of the Constitution scarcely justified. But, while the right hon. Gentleman regrets that there is not that control on the part of Parliament that might be desired over the Privy Council, he forgets that some years ago an office of great honour and authority was established, the object of which was that a clear and constitutional connection should be established between the doings of the Privy Council and this House, and that this office is now occupied by the right hon. Gentleman himself; and although no person who is familiar with the administration of public affairs can for a moment pretend that the right hon. Gentleman has done anything that by law he was not justified in doing, still every one felt, from the time of establishing the office of which I speak, that the Vice-President of the Committee of Council for Education would see that no extreme step was taken without consulting the House of Commons. Seeing that this office is filled by a Gentleman who regrets the want of control by the House of Commons, I cannot help expressing my extreme surprise at the manner in which the Revised Code has been introduced to the public notice. I care not to say that the compliment might have been paid to us of introducing this Revised Code in the House of Commons, but what is 246 remarkable is, that the moment Parliament is prorogued the Revised Code is published. I give no opinion to-night upon the Revised Code; but that it will cause an immense revolution in our educational system the right hon. Gentleman asserts. He has swept away the existing system in fact, or is prepared to do so, and to substitute new rules in the place of the old ones. Well, I ask Members on both sides whether the House had not a right to expect that so great a change would be introduced to the consideration of the House before the prorogation. Both sides of the House will agree with me that we had a right to expect that. If, indeed, the changes had been the result of the elaborate studies of the recess, we might then have been told that there was a case for publishing the new Code without coming to the House. The exigency and importance of the subject might have justified the right. hon. Gentleman in thus giving us the result of the labours and councils of the recess; but, as these papers were laid on the table the very day when the prorogation was announced, it is clear that the Revised Code must have been for some time in the despatch-box of the right hon. Gentleman. I ask the House, is that the constitutional course which might have been expected to be taken by a Minister who expresses his regret that Parliament does not exercise all the control over his Department that he could desire? But I will ask this further question—had the House any reason to expect that the Government were meditating this Code? I remember, in July, when the Report of the Commissioners was laid on the table, the right hon. Gentleman felt it to be his duty to make some observations on that Report. He described the character of the Report of the Royal Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Commissioners approved the existing system of education. He added that be ought to speak boldly on this subject, and that be had no hesitation in saying that the Government adhered to that system. Well, Parliament was prorogued with a general conviction that the Report of the Commission was looked upon by the Government, as everybody looked upon it, as a report favourable to the existing system, and that the Government, out of respect to the Report of the Commissioners, and to a system which had formed for a quarter of a century, under circumstances of extreme difficulty, our system 247 of education, would be prepared to adhere to and support that system. I ask both sides of the House whether that was not the impression? But how have we been treated? I make no observation on the policy of the Revised Code—I say nothing in vindication of the existing system. These are matters of controversy, which it would be inexpedient now to touch upon. I am now strictly confining myself to the manner in which the House has been treated. There was the Reform Bill—that was at the time violently opposed. The opposition to it arose from political considerations—the apprehension of democratic danger. Then there was the Poor Law; there was great opposition to that; also from a political cause—the fear of centralized authority. There was great Opposition to the Reform of our tariff, and that arose from a political feeling—from a fear that it might endanger our domestic industry. But when the question of education was raised, and those attempts first made Which have culminated in the establishment of this National system, they had to encounter not only political or civil objections, but religious objections also, and therefore they had a double difficulty—civil and religious jealousy; and yet they overcame, by great talent on the part of the administrators and great enthusiasm on the part of the general population, this double difficulty, which all our other preceding great changes had not to encounter, and ultimately, in the year 1860, we saw the complete Code of that system laid upon the table of the House. Now, Sir, I wish not to-night to maintain that there was no necessity for change; but what I want to impress upon the House is, that this system of popular education, which in the course of so many years, with so much moderation, but at the same time with so much earnestness, supported with great ability on the part of those who were Ministers of the country, but supported still more by the enthusiastic feeling of the great body of the people—I say that when this great system of education was established it was established under greater difficulties than the reconstruction of our representative system, the formation of our pauper code, or the reconstruction of our commercial tariff had encountered, and had produced not a less powerful effect on the public mind. Well, then, what should we have thought if the state of the law in this country were such that after the prorogation of Parlia 248 ment a Minister of the Crown, not approving of the Reform Act of 1832, as some seem not to approve, had abrogated it, and attempted to substitute a new Reform Act; or if the Chief Commissioner of the Poor Law had erased the whole body of minutes of all the Commissioners from the commencement, and had substituted for it the results of some novel speculations of new economists; or if the President of the Board of Trade, for instance, had rescinded the remodelled tariff of this country and substituted a new commercial system founded on the principle of reciprocity? Why, Sir, we cannot conceive such things—it is like a wild and incoherent dream to suppose their possibility; and yet this is exactly what has been done with an institution, I may say, not less precious than our Parliamentary representation, or our pauper legislation, or even than our commercial code—the popular education of the country. Well, I do not mean to say that the right hon. Gentleman, or the President of the Committee of Council (Earl Granville) committed themselves to any step which was not perfectly legal on their part; but I say that it is greatly to be regretted that a Minister, whose office was created in order that there should be a more complete communication between the Department of Education and Parliament than heretofore, should have felt it his duty to take such an unusual step; and I think that no one will doubt that whatever may be the opinion formed on the Revised Code or the existing system, there is one point upon which both sides of the House and all parties are agreed—that whether the existing system ought to be maintained or the Revised Code adopted, some means should be taken by which a complete control should be enjoyed by Parliament over the doings of the Committee of Council on Education. For in all my experience of public life—although I admit that the act on the part of the Government, so far as form was concerned, was justifiable—I cannot conceive an act more unwise than that the moment Parliament was prorogued, a Minister should have taken the course which he did of abrogating not only all the existing Minutes—the result of the experience of a quarter of a century—but of substituting a new system which, as far as I can collect, was to have come into operation without the House of Commons ever having the cognizance of it, or ever having an opportunity of exercising any control 249 over it. I say, Sir, that is a monstrous state of affairs, and one which, if suggested as an hypothesis a year ago, would have been thought utterly incredible. Well, whether all the complaints urged against the Revised Code—whether the lamentations of the schoolmasters and those various classes of people with whose feelings the right hon. Gentleman so deeply sym pathized and referred to in such a consolatory tone—whether they are right or wrong, they have a right to receive the expression of public gratitude for having arrested at least the course of those violent proceedings, for having taught us the ignominious position which we were occupying as regards our control over one of the most important departments of the State, and over affairs which so deeply interest the people of this country. I am therefore far from regretting the excitement which the publication of the Code has caused. I think its warmest admirers—if it have warm admirers—should feel some consolation that the House of Commons, through the feeling thus excited, should have an opportunity of in some degree exercising that control which belongs to them over this important department of the State. I hope the House will agree not to enter to-night into any discussion of the question. It is too vast I and elaborate for any hasty criticism; and I hope, when it is considered, it will be considered in a spirit worthy of, I will say, so solemn a theme. I hope the Government will find it convenient to inform us on what day they intend to ask the opinion of the House, and that they will fix upon an interval which, without being unnecessarily long, will enable the House and the country to pronounce maturely upon the subject.
said, before the right hon. Gentleman answered the questions which had been put to him, he wished to refer to one point upon which he hoped that he should receive an answer. The right hon. Gentleman stated that Roman Catholic and Jewish denominations did not permit any examination into the religious matters taught in their schools; he then went on to state, as he (Mr. Newdegate) understood the right hon. Gentleman, that under the scheme which he proposed the schools of the Protestant denominations would not be examined in religion; but he further added that the Church of England schools would be examined on religious matters under the supervision of the two Archbishops of our Church. His (Mr. New 250 degate's) question was this:—In the event of any failure on the part of any school, of either the Protestant denominations or the Church of England, in proving the sufficiency of the religious instruction given therein, would the penalties, which under the new Code were to be attached to such failure in respect of religious teaching, be under the new Code the same as those for the failure on the part of those schools in the teaching of reading, writing, and arithmetic?
§ MR. KINNAIRD
expressed his entire concurrence in the observations which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli). Within his recollection—and he had had the honour of occupying a seat in the House when the original measure was proposed in 1837—no more important matter had been brought before the House. It was one which, in his opinion, was worthy of the gravest consideration of Parliament. The new system seemed to him to be robbing Peter to pay Paul.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, he understood the right hon. Gentleman to say, that there would be no loss on the part of the schools under the proposed system, and yet the estimate would amount to not more than £500,000.
§ MR. LOWE
*I did not say that there would be no loss to the schools generally. I said I thought there need be no loss if proper measures were taken to comply with the conditions of the Code. The noble Lord also misunderstood me—I did not include in the £500,000 the capitation grant and other items. With regard to the question of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Caird) it was intended that Scotland should remain under the present system until further steps should be taken. I have now to answer the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks, who raised a suggestion and asked a question. The right hon. Gentleman asked, supposing that the Ministry after the Reform Bill had been passed had presumed to abrogate it, what should we think? Why, Sir, I should think they were mad. Then the right hon. Gentleman said, "You waited until Parliament had separated; you left us in the dark, and then you presented a Code working a great revolution, abrogating all 251 that has been done before." Now, how is it in fact? The new Code could not come into immediate effect. The first examinations under the new Code could not take place until after July 29, 1862, and therefore, long after Parliament would have had an ample opportunity of judging of it. Next, as to a point upon which the right hon. Gentleman dwelt with a minuteness which astonished me. I expected a different complaint—I expected that I should be told, having troubled the House at such length, that I had made my speech of last year over again. It is a total misapprehension to say that the House knew nothing of the intention to propose a Revised Code. It happens that last year, when the Estimates were before the House, I not only discussed the recommendations of the Commissioners, but I explained the details of this very Code, and I will now take the liberty of quoting a few words from the speech I made on that occasion. I said—It seems to me that it is quite possible to suggest a system which may do something to remedy these defects [those pointed out by the Commissioners]. What we propose to do will be embodied in a Minute, which will be laid on the table as soon as possible.I went on to explain what the Minute would be—We propose, therefore, to give the capitation grant on the number of attendances of a child above a certain number, provided always that the school is certified by the Inspector to be in a fit state, and provided also there is a certified Master.I went on to say that—Having thus secured attendance, we propose to go a step further. We propose that an Inspector shall examine the children in reading, writing, and arithmetic. If a child pass on the whole, the full capitation grant will be given but if he fail in writing, for instance, one-third of the grant will be withdrawn; if he fail in both reading and writing, two-thirds will be withheld; while if he fail in reading, writing, and arithmetic, no portion of the grant will be paid.And then, so anxious was I that the House should understand the purport of the Minute, that I ventured upon a bold experiment. I said—I can hardly hope that I have made myself intelligible. The matter is one of considerable complexity, and I may be allowed to recapitulate the main features of our plan. We propose to give capitation grants on each attendance above a certain number—say above 100. We also require that there shall he a certified master; and, lastly, the grants will be subject to reduction upon failure in reading, writing, and arithmetic."—[3 Hansard, clxiv. 734.]252 Thus, I not only stated the substance of the Code, but I also made a complete statement twice in the same speech of what we intended to do. The Code was laid on the table on the 29th of July, seventeen days after I made the speech, although at the time I had hoped to be able to lay it on the table at an earlier date, but the matter being one of complexity, so many persons had to be communicated with that there was a longer delay than I desired. When the right hon. Gentleman says we intended to withdraw the subject from the consideration of Parliament and the country I assure him that he is mistaken. The very object of framing the Code in this way and laying it upon the table was that that might happen which has happened—that during the vacation public attention might be drawn to the subject, and that we should have a discussion upon it with the advantage of all the light which could be thrown upon it by those who took an interest in education. Owing to that deliberate act, we have had full discussion, which will have a great effect, whatever may become of this measure, upon the future destinies of education in this country. Had I wanted to play fast and loose, I could have kept the Code to myself, and laid it upon the table on the first day of the Session, and have trusted to its passing through in the pressure of business; but, instead of that, I took a course which was certain to lead to a full discussion; therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is rather ill informed upon the facts when he charges me with attempting to evade discussion. I have now laid upon the table some very important modifications, which will materially affect, I am sure, the views of many Gentlemen. We hope the effect of these Amendments, when hon. Gentlemen have had time to consider and weigh them, will be to remove many objections to the passing of this Code; but if, unfortunately, we should be mistaken and all concessions should be unavailing the matter will remain with the House, and it will be for those who are dissatisfied to take whatever steps they may think advisable. It is not for the Government to fix any particular day, but hon. Gentlemen will have an opportunity of reading the Amendments, and when they have they can take whatever steps they think fit. With respect to the question of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) I did not say there would be any change in the manner 253 of religious inspection; I only stated what is now the practice—that the Inspectors do inspect upon religious subjects in all Church schools, but not in the schools of Dissenters.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, what he wanted to know was whether, where the inspection was extended to religious subjects, the failure on the part of any school in proficiency upon those subjects would be followed by the same penalties under the new Code as were attached to failures in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
§ MR. LOWE
said, the penalties will be these. If the Inspector reports that the religious instruction in a school is not satisfactory the grant is now withheld altogether; but if he reports that it is defective, Clause 47 of the new Code makes it lawful for the Committee of the Privy Council to withhold a portion of the grant, not less than one-tenth or more than one-half; and that power of a partial withholding is given now for the first time.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, I have heard with satisfaction what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman upon the subject of the complaint made by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli), and, as I think, not without reason. The right hon. Gentleman has now assured the House that he had no intention, by the mode of proceeding he has adopted, to take Parliament by surprise or to deprive it of the security which long practice had conferred upon it. I am convinced that a great part of that feeling in the country on this subject to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred has arisen from an impression, in which I confess I participated, that the course he pursued of laying the new Code upon the table upon almost the last night of the Session was not in consonance with that frankness and fair dealing towards the representatives of the people, which I am sure the noble Lord at the head of the Government always wishes to be practised. In 1852, when Lord Derby was in power, some changes of far less importance were proposed with regard to the existing Code, and the principle was then laid down and concurred in equally by Lord Derby and by Lord John Russell, that it was the duty of the Privy Council Department to take care that all Minutes should be communicated to Parliament to enable them fully to understand what was going on, not only before they were called upon to decide whether the contents of the Minute re- 254 quired Parliamentary interference, but even before they were called upon to vote the money by which the new Minute would be, carried out. I was glad to hear the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) that he had no intention of depriving the House of that security which practice has given it. As to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, I listened to it with the attention and interest to which upon every ground it was entitled, and I agree with my right hon. Friend that it is undesirable, after hearing the important modifications now proposed, to enter at present upon any discussion upon them, or to commit ourselves to any opinion without due consideration. Whether the right hon. Gentleman is correct or not in the I opinion he has just expressed with regard to the proper mode of proceeding—and I am disposed to believe that he is correct—there can be no doubt among those who I have heard his speech, that his proposals, regarded either in their original form or in the altered shape in which they have been submitted to us to-night, must become the subject of careful consideration in this House; and therefore I think it is most I desirable that we should reserve our opinions until we have that opportunity which must arise of discussing the extensive changes which even now the right hon. Gentleman proposes. I confess I am surprised at the apparent inconsistency between the right hon. Gentleman's language to night and that which he held during the last Session. I find that last Session, referring to the new Code which he was about to introduce, he said, "It leaves the whole system of the Privy Council intact." That language was not forgotten, and it was, I think, very much on account of it that the public mind was aroused, and rendered somewhat indignant at finding laid on the table of the House at the extreme end of the Session a Code which was generally regarded as entirely upsetting the system of the Privy Council. To-night the right hon. Gentleman has stated—I took down his words, though he may possibly have intended them to have a more limited application than I am now giving them—"that our only plan is to sweep away the existing system;" and almost his last words in alluding to that system were that "it is unworthy to be a permanent and definite system." I mention this discrepancy to show that we have reason to complain of the course which has been taken; because, view the change with 255 favour or disfavour, nobody can deny that it is most extensive. I do not wish to use any harsh terms towards the right hon. Gentleman, but I think the feeling of the country has been that it was not ingenuous, not frank, not consistent with that fair dealing with which we are accustomed to be treated by the Government, that a scheme such as this should be laid on the table at the very close of the Session after the previous declaration that it would leave the whole system of the Privy Council intact. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the speeches made on this subject during the recess. I wish, therefore, now to state that I have during the recess carefully abstained from using any expression which could commit me to any definite opinion that should fetter my action in this House. And although I have avowed impressions unfavourable to the scheme, I have always accompanied them with the declaration that I should await the explanation, which, doubtless, the Minister for Education would make when Parliament re-assembled. I entertain the same feeling still; and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that nothing that I have said out of this House, no impression that I have formed from the right hon. Gentleman's speech to-night, shall prevent my approaching the consideration of this question, whenever the proper time for it arrives, in the most impartial and dispassionate spirit. I quite agree with my right hon. Friend that the right hon. Gentleman could not have committed a greater error than by treating this, as he did at the commencement of his statement, as an unimportant matter. It is a matter of grave importance. At the same time, I own that I am one of those few Members—certainly a minority in this House—who have never been advocates of the existing system. For many years past I have held one uniform language on this subject. I have always said that if you attempted to educate England and penetrate every corner of the country, as you ought to do under the existing system, it would be found too costly and too highly centralized to admit of its satisfactory working. This has been my opinion for years. Again and again I have expressed it in this House and out of this House. I have not changed my opinion; and if I wanted confirmation that this opinion is not without some foundation, I might appeal to the Report of the impartially-constituted Commission, and I might appeal to the able speech of the right hon. Gen- 256 tleman to-night; for the House will bear in mind that that speech consisted not so much of a vindication of the Revised Code as a powerful attack on the existing system and its imperfections. I refer to those opinions of mine to convince the right hon. Gentleman and the House that whatever my opinions may have been of former plans, I am willing to approach the subject, when it comes on for discussion, in a spirit of fairness and impartiality.
§ MR. WALPOLE
Sir, I wish to make one observation rather in support of the opinion expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), and also with the view of eliciting a more definite answer from the Government as to the mode in which this Minute is to be discussed. I agree with my right hon. Friend in thinking it would have been convenient if the Government had felt it expedient to name a specific time at which this great alteration should be deliberately considered and debated by this House. And not only should the time be fixed, but we may fairly ask that the change proposed should come before us embodied in such a shape that we may know what we are discussing. At present we only know two things—first, that grants are made in this House when we go into the Education Estimates upon a system known to and thoroughly understood by the country; secondly, that there is what is called a Revised Code laid on our table, which it requires some little care to compare with the existing system in order to discover the alterations it introduces and the points to which they extend. Then, there is this additional difficulty—occasioned by the statement, and the very proper statement, of the right hon. Gentleman to-night, putting the House in possession of the present views of the Government—namely, that the Revised Code is itself revised. I should be very glad if the Government can inform us in what shape the revision of the Revised Code is to be laid before us. [Mr. LOWE: It is on the table.] Then, I should also put it to the Government that it would be convenient if along with the Revised Code they would give us in parallel columns the system as they had it before, and the altered system as they will have it according to the proposition of the Government. That is not an unreasonable request to make. When the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office (Earl Russell)—no longer, unfortunately, a Member of this 257 House—recommended to us a variety of alterations in our system of education, he laid on our table a series of Resolutions, which enabled us to go into Committee and consider them seriatim and in detail. A similar course ought, I think, to be pursued in this instance. When we are to have a new system established, overriding the one upon which we have acted for so many years, it would surely be more convenient and proper that we should have the proposals placed on our table in such a form that we might adopt, modify, or reject them seriatim and in detail. If, therefore, the Secretary of State will assure us that something of that kind will be done in this case, I believe it will I very much expedite the discussion, and enable us to bring it to a right determination.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
observed, that when a Minute of the Education Committee was altered, the regular course was to lay the altered Minute on the table of the House, and then it would be open to any Member to object to that Minute or to any portion of it, and by a Motion for an Address to the Crown, or by some other mode, to take the sense of the House on the subject. This, indeed, was the proceeding contemplated to be adopted in another place by a noble Lord (Lord Lyt-telton) who has given notice of a string of Resolutions with respect to the Minute which had just been the subject of explanation. The Government would also be bound to come to the House for a Vote of money for the purpose of carrying on the new system; and this would afford another opportunity to any hon. Member to object to the proposed modifications.
§ MR. LOWE
said, in explanation, that in his speech last year, referred to by the right hon. Baronet opposite, he alluded to the fundamental principles of the Privy Council system as that which was to be maintained intact, because the same speech contained the explanation of a proposition for sweeping away certain annual grants; and the passage in his speech of to-night, which had been referred to, also alluded to those annual grants and not to the fundamental provisions of the system.
§ Copy of Minute to lie on the table.
§ House adjourned at a quarter after Nine o'clock,