§ MR. WALPOLE
, who had given Notice of Motion as follows:—That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee to consider the best mode of distributing the Parliamentary Grants for Education now administered by the Privy Council; and, in Committee, to move the following Resolutions:—22 rose and said: Sir, as many hon. Gentlemen have asked me what is the exact course which I propose to take with reference to the Resolutions which stand in my name, or rather with reference to the Motion which stands in my name, and then with respect to the Resolutions consequent upon that Motion, perhaps it may be convenient to the House that I should state in the first instance what my course will be, so far as I have the power of directing or suggesting it. Sir, had the Government proposed, as I always thought that they ought to have done, when they made a great alteration in that system of education which is well known to and fully appreciated by the people—I say, if the Government had proposed upon such an alteration themselves to bring the matter distinctly before the House, I should have been spared, and the House would have been spared, at least as far as I am concerned, much trouble. I also think that the course of proceeding would have been more easily adjusted than it can now be. But as the Government have thought it right to consider that the vast alteration made in the Code of National Education is rather the subject for an annual Estimate than for a distinct proposition to be submitted by them to the consideration of Parliament, I do not believe this House can possibly entertain the question with any prospect of arriving at a sound conclusion upon it, unless they endeavour to assimilate the proceedings with respect to the Revised Code as nearly as possible to the proceedings which would have taken place on a Government Bill. What I mean by that is this:—I look upon the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council on the 13th of February as equivalent to the introduction of a Bill; I look upon the Motion which I am now making as a Motion made upon the second reading of that Bill; and when you, Sir, leave the chair, I shall look on the next proceeding as a proceeding in Committee on a Government measure, in which any hon. Gentleman, as well as myself, may submit any proposition which he thinks should be offered for consideration before we determine on making so vast a change as that contemplated by the Revised Code. That being so, I say I now stand in the position of a Member criticising and canvassing a Government measure on what I will consider the second reading of their Bill.
- "1. That where it is proposed to give Government aid to Elementary Schools, it is inexpedient that the whole amount of such aid should depend on the individual examination of each child in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
- "2. That the system of grouping by age for the purpose of examination would be unequal in its operation, and an inadequate test of the work done in the School, and specially disadvantageous for those children whose early education has been neglected.
- "3. That the provisions of the Revised Code, in the points referred to in the foregoing Resolutions, would, if unamended, increase the difficulty of extending the benefits of the Government Grants to poor and neglected districts.
- "4. That the refusal of any portion of the Parliamentary Grants, on account of any children who have once passed in the highest class of examination, is likely to have an injurious effect, as tending to aggravate the acknowledged evil of the withdrawal of children from Elementary Schools at an early age.
- "5. That it is inexpedient that the Capitation Grants, on account of children under seven years of age, should be made to depend on the individual examination of those children.
- "6. That the provisions of the Revised Code with regard to Evening Schools are unsatisfactory, inasmuch as the Master, in many cases, would be unable, after the labour undergone in the day, adequately to attend to the management and teaching of the evening scholars.
- "7. That the regulations contained in the Revised Code, with regard to Pupil Teachers, are unjust and impolitic.
- "8. That it would be unjust entirely to withhold the other benefits of the Parliamentary Grant from such managers of schools as decline to undertake to provide and pay the stipend and gratuities, now severally payable on account of Pupil Teachers, during the continuance of their current apprenticeship.
- "9. That it would be impolitic to run the risk of a return to the monitorial system by discouraging the employment of Pupil Teachers, and that such employment would be better promoted by pecuniary premiums than by pecuniary penalties.
- "10. That in January of each year, if the Code be revised, or any material alteration in it be necessary, it shall be printed in such a form as to show separately all articles cancelled or modified, and all new articles.
- "11. That, in the event of such revision or material alteration as mentioned in the last foregoing Resolution, it shall not be lawful to take any action thereon until the same shall have been submitted to Parliament, and laid on the Table of both Houses for at least one calendar month."
Now, Sir, if I were going to oppose the 23 principle of the Bill at this stage I should have had to conform to our usual practice, and to move an Amendment which would have had that effect. But I understand the objects of the Revised Code—speaking of those objects as distinct from the mode in which they are to be accomplished—I understand the main objects of the Revised Code to be two: first of all, that before we make large grants of public money for the purposes of education, we ought to test in some way or other the results of that education; and secondly, that we ought to simplify the machinery now in trusted to the Committee of Council for the administration of the grants which are made by this House for promoting the education of the people. Now, to both those main objects, without considering the qualifications, conditions, or details mixed up with the proposed Code as it at present stands, I am prepared unquestionably to assent; but with respect to the mode in which those objects are sought to be accomplished—embracing as it does regulations and details of the minutest character, regulations and details affecting the very stability and Value of the system we have so long enjoyed—with respect to that mode, I say, I entirely and completely dissent. Since, then, agreeing in the objects, I am not prepared to move the rejection of the Bill, as it were, on the second reading. I do not intend to ask that there should be put from the Chair any Resolution which would have the effect of upsetting the Revised Code. But I am prepared to say that the Revised Code will require from the Government very considerable modifications and amendments before it can be palatable to the Parliament or the country. When my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council announced, on the 13th of February, the alterations and improvements he was prepared to make in the Revised Code as it stood before that time, he offered a remark at which I was somewhat astonished, but it explains many things which down to that time were to my mind rather inexplicable. My right hon. Friend said he did not consider the question before him—the same question, Sir, as that which is now before us—a question of first-rate importance; nay, more, I think he added, consistently with the course the Government had taken, that it would be found to turn simply on the expediency of annual grants. Now, 24 Sir, when I heard those observations which fell from the lips of the Vice President of the Committee of Council, I began to see that there was an under-estimate of the magnitude and importance of the subject, and an over-estimate of the powers which the Committee of Council had claimed for itself. I saw that the right hon. Gentleman had failed to appreciate the length and breadth and strength and depth of the feeling which agitated the people of this country from one end to the other. And when he speaks of annual grants, I think we shall do well to recollect that annual grants are not merely important with reference to the amount of money the expenditure of which this House is prepared to sanction—that, indeed, is a matter which we must always look at with the utmost jealousy—but when there is a principle underlying annual grants—when there is an object to which they are to be given that extends to every part of the kingdom and affects every class of the community—annual grants, instead of being a matter of secondary importance, will be found in point of fact to involve largely the policy of the nation; nay, more, they will be found to affect the moral condition and well-being of a people who are about to be affected by them. If that be so, I think it is our duty, in order that we may understand the full operation of this Revised Code, not only to examine what that Revised Code is, but also to see what the system is which the Revised Code seeks to alter. Without doing that, we cannot determine what parts of the system are worthy of preservation, what parts may be open to objection, and what parts contain defects which ought to be remedied. These are points to which we must give great attention, or we shall not know one inch of the ground now lying before us and upon which we are about to tread.
Now, Sir, the system which we have got with reference to the education of the people is a system which, as we all know, was established about twenty-eight years ago. There were two principles involved in that system from the very commencement. I beg hon. Members to bear in mind the two points to which I am about to refer, for I believe—at least I fear—that the change we are asked to make will virtually affect those two principles, for which this House has always stood up—principles which have always been ap- 25 proved by the country, and principles which, in my opinion, we ought never to abandon without a struggle. The first of those principles was, that you should stimulate the private exertions of benevolent individuals through means of public grants, in order to extend as far as you can an acceptable system of sound education throughout every part of the country. The second of those principles was, that you should never forget that unless education is based on a religious basis, it will not succeed in meeting at all events the full purposes for which it is intended. By adhering to these two principles from the commencement you have had a system which has progressed and thriven. By stimulating the private and benevolent exertions of individuals you have raised, through the agency of voluntary con butions towards this purpose, to meet the £4,400,000 contributed by the State in twenty-eight years, about twice that amount, or a sum of nearly £9,000,000 of money. And, Sir, by working through the medium of religious societies, in the distribution of these grants, you have completely overcome the religious difficulty which lay in the way of promoting and ex tending a sound education with the hearty concurrence of all denominations. You have thus got the system now in operation. By fixing, as it were, the somewhat capricious, or at least the uncertain, aid which private benevolence might have been induced to extend for these purposes—by the solid and stable and uniform regularity of the public grants, and by working through the religious bodies, so as to ensure a religious education, the State and the nation have co-operated together for furthering and establishing this great work; and they have formed, as it were, a happy alliance, by means of which that work has been consummated.Alterius sicAltera poscit opem res, et conjurat amiceThese being the principles on which you have acted, what has been the working of that system which has been founded on them from the year 1833 to 1861? Sir, we will divide that period into two equal portions of fourteen years. In the first part of that period—namely, from 1833 to 1847—the grants were gradual but progressive. They began at £20,000 and reached £30,000, and subsequently they amounted to £40,000, and in 1846 they were £100,000. But although they were thus gradually progres- 26 sive, the progress of education was more than gradual. I find that at the commencement of the year 1833. about 1 in 12 of the population were in schools; at the end of 1846, I think it was 1 in a little more than 9: therefore as far as relates to the quantity of education afforded to the people concerned, the system was eminently successful. As regards the quality of the education, some doubts were entertained; and two of the most distinguished promoters of education, Lord John Russell and Lord Lansdowne, who were in office in 1846, carefully considered how they could improve the quality while they increased the quantity of the education given. With that object, they introduced that portion of the system which this Revised Code will entirely uproot. They introduced the system of certificated masters, training colleges, and pupil-teachers. The only other great alteration which was made in reference to the grant was in 1853. Then was introduced the capitation grant for each 176 attendances in every school. Now, by these two great alterations in the scheme of education, there is no question whatever you increased the expenditure by an enormous amount; but then I believe there was as little doubt that the quality of the education was as much improved as the quantity had previously increased. From the year 1846, when the number of scholars was little more than 1 in 9, you increased it in 1861 to such an extent that the number was 1 in 7; and the quality of the education given has been attested by all the witnesses who were examined before the late Commission, and also by the Commissioners themselves. The increase in the amount of the expenditure was no doubt enormous. In the first five years, that is to say from 1846 to 1851, in round numbers the expenditure was £150,000 a year; whereas in the second five years, from 1851 to 1856, it reached £450,000; and from 1856 to 1861, it amounted to no less than £800,000 per annum. No doubt that is an enormous figure; but whether it is or is not too high a figure depends on the question whether, large as it is, it is too much to pay for the education of the poorer classes of the community, supposing always that they could not obtain that education without. Viewing it on that ground, nobody, I think, will say that it is too high. But, Sir, it may be considered to be too high on another ground. It may be considered too high on the ground that the 27 money is not properly laid out; it may be regarded as too high on the ground that you are cultivating your teachers more highly than you ought, and that you are thereby incurring a wasteful expenditure. But is this so? Does economy require that we should make this great change? Now, before we can determine whether we are to cut down this grant merely with a view to economy, we must look, not only to economical considerations, but we must take into account whether efficient consequences follow from the grant. My right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council the other day made a singular remark with reference to this question—the question, I mean, of the comparative merit of efficiency and economy. For my part, I had thought that efficiency and economy, ought always to go together; economy without efficiency is a niggardly folly; while efficiency without economy is extravagant waste. But the Vice President of the Committee of Council has: put it antithetically in a new light. In order to induce the House to accept this Revised Code, he says—and I beg the House will bear the words in mind, for they are important—Now I cannot promise you that this new Code will be either economical or efficient, but I can promise you that it shall be either one or the other: if it is not efficient, it shall be cheap; and if it is not cheap, it shall be efficient.["Hear!"] Well, Sir, that antithesis leads me to a conclusion different from that which that quiet cheer would seem to intimate, for instead of having any force on which we could rely, it rather seems to me to carry with it its own condemnation. For, in the first place, it intimates a suspicion that the Government, in proposing a great measure like this, cannot actually tell us the exact consequences that will result from it. They cannot say whether it will prove efficient or the contrary. And in the second place, it intimates the existence of a doubt, even in the mind of the Minister who makes the proposition, as to whether he can secure those two objects. I contend that both those objects, and not merely one of them, ought to be secured, and that no measure failing to secure them ought to be regarded as a good one. The observation, therefore, of the right hon. Gentleman, to which I have drawn your attention, convinces me that the scheme before us has been too hastily adopted and too abruptly introduced.
Sir, I think it will now be as well to 28 inquire into the efficiency of the system which this Code attempts to disturb. We have all read the valuable Report of the Royal Commission appointed to investigate this important subject. The Commissioners were well chosen. The inquiry which they had to make was a most important one. They conducted that inquiry with the greatest possible ability and diligence. There were included in their body men of all kinds and shades of opinion—I mean, of course, with reference to the question of popular education. That very difference of opinion would no doubt induce them to look critically and minutely at every fact and particular which might seem to promote their own views. As far, therefore, as the information in that Report is concerned, I am inclined, with one or two exceptions, to be noticed presently, to place almost implicit reliance upon it. But when I come to the opinions founded on that information, since they are the opinions of parties disagreeing each from the other, I see throughout both conflict and contradiction. I set great value, therefore, on that Report, as regards the facts which the Commissioners have gathered together, and as regards the information which they have furnished to the House. I do not set the same value upon all their opinions, though upon those opinions in which they are agreed, differing as they do in their general sentiments and principles, I am inclined to set the greater store. That being the state of the Commission, the Report having been furnished to Parliament, the most complete information having been given, and concurrent opinions on several facts having been furnished, let me ask the House to consider for a few minutes what, according to this Report, are the specific advantages of the system with which we are dealing, and what are the specific and particular defects contained in that system? According to the Commissioners' Report, the advantages are four in number. The first of these is that to which I have already adverted—namely, that the existing system is the only system, in their opinion, by means of which a religious education can be carried on. The second advantage of that system is—indeed, they call it the leading principle—that the voluntary exertions of individuals in promoting education have been completely enlisted in that cause, and they would be loath to do anything to disturb them. The third great advantage which they point out, and it 29 is one in which they are all agreed—and not merely are they all agreed upon it, but they also insist upon it in language so strong, and reasoning so clear, and arguments so conclusive, that I think this will be found to have a most important bearing on the subject before us—that advantage is the general efficiency of the discipline, habits, and order of the schools. The fourth great advantage which they say results from this system—an advantage upon which none of them seems to entertain a doubt—is the introduction of the pupil-teacher system, which, I think, they say in one part of their Report is the most successful portion of the whole system; and in another part of the Report they prove the success of it by the small percentage of pupil-teachers who have failed to carry on the business of teaching with credit to themselves and benefit to others. Now, when you have these four advantages so clearly pointed out, what can be thought of any Government professing to act on that Report if they did not endeavour to retain those advantages as far as they could? I will not say that these advantages will not be retained to some extent under the Revised Code; but I do say they would every one of them be imperilled. With respect to the first, I may refer to the well-drawn memorial of a most able gentleman, not a Member of the Church of England. I allude to a Wesleyan Minister, the Rev. Mr. Scott. The opinion of that gentleman, expressed in language of great temperance, but of great firmness and strong conviction of truth, puts the religious question before the country in this way. He says in effect—"I do not tell you that the religious education of the people will not go on as long as it is confined to the different religious bodies; but I do say, that if you confine your attention to education in elementary subjects merely, and do not make provision for religious instruction also, there is a danger that in the minds of those who are to be educated, as well as in the minds of those who have been educated, religion will become a matter of secondary importance." Such is the way Mr. Scott puts that question, and I cannot find an answer to it. With respect to the second point—the discouragement which may be given to voluntary benevolence—I shall have to refer to it hereafter; but, meanwhile, I cannot help saying that when benevolent individuals, with entire disinterestedness, 30 have done so much for the country, it is not right that they should be spoken of as if they were greedy of gain. And I say, moreover, that when you attempt to throw upon these benevolent individuals every burden which you have hitherto borne yourselves, and thus impose upon them a fresh liability, you cannot convince me, and I am sure you will not convince the country, that you are not discouraging that private benevolence. With respect to the third great advantage of the system—I allude to the question of discipline—it seems to me perfectly unaccountable, when you have a set of schools with a discipline provided in them which has trained up hundreds and thousands of children in habits of order, industry, cleanliness, and virtue, that in the eyes of a Government which seeks to aid education, by distributing among the schools pecuniary grants, all that is to go for nothing. And, lastly, with respect to the pupil-teacher system, to which I have called the attention of the House in the Resolutions placed upon the paper, and which Resolutions I shall submit in Committee, my firm belief is, that if you go back, through any discouragement you may throw upon pupil-teachers, to the old monitorial system, which has failed, you will find the change, instead of being economical, will be an expensive one, and you will in the end have to return to the pupil-teacher system, or something similar. This is a subject on which the Commissioners show no difference of opinion; and here are advantages which all acknowledge, and which, to say the least, may be seriously imperilled by the scheme you propose.
Now, one or two words as regards the defects of the existing system. In the first place, all the Commissioners seem to be agreed—and I do not think they could be disagreed upon it—that education has not sufficiently reached some of the poorer and more neglected districts. In the second place, they are all agreed—though upon this they do not, for particular reasons, dwell so strongly as upon other points—that the early removal of children from school, before their education in elementary subjects is complete, has been very disadvantageous. In the third place, they are all agreed that there is great disadvantage in the irregularity of attendance. And now comes the great point upon which the Code rests. The Commissioners report that the junior classes in the 31 schools are not sufficiently attended to; that in the masters there is not a want of power, but there is a want of motive to instruct them properly in the elementary subjects; that consequently education in these elementary subjects—namely, reading, writing, and arithmetic—is comparatively neglected: and they conclude with the observations so often quoted, and so much relied upon by the President and Vice President of the Committee of Council, that one-fourth only of the children educated arrive at a tolerably perfect knowledge in these three subjects. There is one other point also on which the Commissioners are agreed, and that is, that the whole machinery is so complex, so costly, and so cumbersome, that some alteration or retrenchment ought to be made in it. I believe, Sir, I have now stated fairly the defects of the system, as pointed out by the Commissioners, and how do the Government propose to deal with these defects? With respect to providing education for poor and neglected districts, the only provision they make for it is a lower style of master. That may possibly increase the quantity of education given, but I doubt whether it will increase its quality. But is there nothing omitted here? The Commissioners agree that you ought to encourage education in poor and neglected districts. They thought that education was not defective merely, but that it had not reached such districts; and they recommend a plan to induce people to take more pains to provide education in schools for such districts. That is not alluded to in the Government scheme. But what is alluded to there is this, that upon all the managers the liabilities and burdens which they have to bear shall be increased. But here let me ask, if you so increase those burdens and liabilities, will they be so willing to undertake the education of those districts where the Commissioners report that education is neglected, and where that neglect cannot be met without considerable expense? Nor is this all; for by your scheme, as you have propounded it, you have made it so difficult for neglected children, when grouped according to age, to earn even a penny, that the whole of your Revised Code fails, with the one exception to which I have adverted, in providing that which I believe to be one of the most necessary things with which we, as a Legislature, have to deal. With regard to the removal of children at an early age 32 from school, that is a defect which everybody admits; but, I ask, will that be remedied by withdrawing the reward payable for children when they have reached the age of eleven? As to the regularity of attendance, I think it may be shown that by limiting the amount of grant to 15s. it will be rather discouraged than encouraged by the proposed scheme. Then I bring you to this, and here are two plain points upon which my right hon. Friend and myself are at issue. My right hon. Friend says—There is this defect in teaching, and I can only remedy it by testing results in the particular way I have mentioned in my Revised Code." That is his first point. His second is—"That there is such costliness and cumbrousness in this machinery, that I must sweep it away and turn everything into one capitation grant; otherwise we have no means of practising a sound and healthful economy." I see my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lowe) agrees to that. These are really the two points to be considered, and to them I will now address myself. But before I get to the end of the observations for which I must beg the indulgence of the House, I shall be much mistaken if I do not show my right hon. Friend that, in these points, this Revised Code will not effect fairly and fully the objects which the country intends to have accomplished in providing education for the poor; but that, on the contrary, they will form, if adopted, a great impediment to the attainment of those objects.
Sir, it seems to me that when the Committee of Council received the Report of the Commissioners, they felt themselves so much embarrassed by the mass of material gathering around them—and I am sure I do not wonder at it—and so oppressed with the burden of expenditure weighing upon them, that they did not know how to get rid of their difficulties except by saying, "We will cut the knot, for we cannot untie it." They seem to have said to themselves, "All the grants must be done away with except one. We do not care what these grants may have effected; all must go: not only the grants for books and for school apparatus, and for industrial schools, but all those grants which Lord Russell (one of the most distinguished Members of the Government, one of the greatest promoters of education) recommended, which the Committee of Council adopted, and which Parliament has sanctioned—grants for the augmentation of teachers' 33 salaries, grants for stipends to pupil-teachers, grants for capitation—all those grants which, as I say. Lord Russell and Lord Lansdowne first recommended and which Government after Government has adopted—all shall go, and be turned into one capitation grant, not dependent simply on the attendance of children at schools, but dependent upon conditions so precarious and so contingent that nobody can know whether they can be earned or not; to be measured in such a manner and liable to such deductions that the managers of schools may find that the grants are cut away from them after incurring an expenditure in reliance on them. Upon what principle, then, is this to be done? Why, we were told, in a plausible generality, that this is testing results and simplifying the system. But before we assent to that plausible generality, we are bound to ask ourselves, what are the results which we mean to test? And I think, also, we are further bound to ask ourselves, when we change the machinery which hitherto, to a great extent, has done its work well, whether we may not destroy the motive power by means of which that machinery is worked. Testing results! What are the results you mean to test? What are the results which Parliament and the country mean to pay for? Of course, you will answer, the results of a good education. But what is a good education? A good education is the training of children so as to enable them, by means of that education, to fulfil the after-duties of life in a moral and industrious community. Hitherto you have endeavoured to obtain for them that education, and to test the results of it, first, by making your grants pass through the zealous enthusiasm of religious bodies, who would take care that the grants were well applied, not merely for secular, but for higher purposes; and, secondly, you have obtained the results by requiring, upon inspection, that the discipline of the school be such that not merely secular but moral and religious results are likely to flow from it. There is a passage in the Commissioners' Report, which, upon this part of the subject, I must refer to. It is so pregnant with wisdom, that I hope the House will pardon me if I quote it, instead of using my own language. It occurs in page 266—indeed, I may say that from that page to page 273 the whole of this question is most admirably discussed— 34One of the tests of the moral influence of the school is its discipline. The best teaching will produce little good effect if this be defective." (Report, p. 266.)Then, as to this discipline, the Commissioners go on to say—There is no subject on which the Reports' of the Inspectors deserve more confidence." (p. 266.) "They report the discipline to be excellent, good, or fair, on 94.3 per cent of the schools receiving annual grants, and 75.7 per cent on the others. An illustration of the moral effect produced by the discipline maintained in the schools is furnished by the marked success in the subsequent life of the children coming from district and separate schools, particularly of the orphans, the class which is secluded from almost every other influence, and is often thrown on the world utterly friendless and deserted." (p. 267.)And then they conclude—The religious and moral influence of the public schools appears to be very great, to be greater than even their intellectual influence. A set of good schools civilizes a whole neighbourhood. The most important function of the schools is that which they best perform." (p. 273.)Now, observe these words, "The most important function of the schools is that which they best perform." If this discipline is really worth having—if it be really the most important function which these elementary schools have to discharge, and if they do discharge that function better than any other—how, in the name of common sense, can the Governments set up a scheme which takes away all provision for the due encouragement of that object, and distributes the education grants for totally different purposes? So much, then, for the question of discipline: and so much, also, for the question of testing results. Remember, I am not against testing results; nor do I believe that there are ten Members in this House against it. But you say you will test results: I answer, test the results by all means; but do not test the least important, unless you test the most important also. Hitherto you have tested the most important results; but now you say you will test them no longer. My right hon. Friend wants to test results in the three elementary matters of education—namely, reading, writing, and arithmetic; and his argument will no doubt be: "I will test the results in those three elementary branches of education only, and depend upon it I shall at the same time be securing good discipline in the school likewise." But I say this scheme will not test results even in these three elementary matters by which the right hon. Gentleman proposes 35 to test them. How do you set about the work? Why, you set about it in the strangest way. You say, "I will see what is the number of the children on a given day, who can answer to a certain number of given questions, and according to their answers I will apportion the grant." Now, observe, by taking that mode of testing results, all the work done in the school which does not admit of exact measurement goes for nothing; all the pains bestowed on dull and backward scholars go for nothing; all the discipline and good management of the school go for nothing; all the children who have left school before the day of examination comes round, although they may have acquired knowledge in the three elementary branches, will go for nothing. And when the day of examination comes round, all the accidents which may prevent a child answering questions on these three matters, such as illness, bad weather, the discontent of the master—the various standards applied by inspectors to different schools—all these things are to count for everything against the school; and all the good done on the other 364 days of the year are to go for nothing in its favour. Was there ever such a plan propounded by any Government to Parliament? It is depressing, discouraging, disheartening, to be forced to argue against such a proposition. I have in my hands a letter, a sample of many, from which I have gathered information as to what testing results may mean according to badness of weather alone. This is a specimen. An Inspector went down to a certain parish in this month of March to inspect a school—it was a rainy day, and one-fourth of the children was not in attendance even of the average number that usually appeared. If he had gone two days before, when the snow was on the ground, he would have found not one-fourth, but three-fourths of the children absent. How will you test results in that case? Oh ! forsooth, the Government will say, We test the results by the examination of that small number. But how will you pay for the larger number, who were there throughout the year? The thing is impossible. Sir James Kay Shuttleworth in his letter to Earl Granville, written, remember, not after the date of this new Code, but after the Report of the Education Commissioners, puts this matter so well that I will take the liberty of quoting his words. And, Sir, I cannot allude to the name of Sir James Kay Shuttle- 36 worth without bearing my testimony—and I am sure it is the testimony of every Member of this House—to the great and valuable services which he has conferred upon this country by promoting education among the poorer classes. Though I do not agree with that gentleman on many points, I do agree with him most fully as to testing results by a single examination on a certain day. In his letter, dated April 24, 1861, he says—Any capitation grant, the distribution of which is determined by the results of instruction in schools, is liable to the fundamental objection that the average period of the attendance of the majority of scholars is so short that as far as that majority is concerned few schools would be paid for the results of their own work. In the specimen districts 42 per cent of the scholars had been in the same public week-day school less than one year, and 22 per cent had been one year, but less than two years. With such migratory scholars it is impossible justly to pay for work done in schools on any plan constructed to embrace those three-fifths of the scholars who attend schools less than two years. The remaining 35 per cent who attend more than two years are alone subjects for an examination of the results secured by the work of any school.Even in the three matters, therefore, to which you confine yourselves, you will not test the actual results of the school. You will test them only as regards a certain limited number of scholars who appear on a certain day—a number subject to all kinds of accidents and contingencies which may alter the ratio in which you ought to pay for the education imparted. Can you for a moment defend such a system? I hear that it is said by those for whom I have the highest and sincerest respect—by a right rev. Prelate and by an acute and most able Peer—that the country has changed its notions respecting this scheme, and is rapidly coming round in its favour. As to the right rev. Prelate to whom I refer, I believe his calm and sober judgment is such that upon reflection, especially if he applies for information from those who live within his diocese, he will arrive at a very different conclusion. Of this at least I am sure, that upon this one subject there is the greatest doubt and uncertainty among all the religious bodies. From what my right hon. Friend calls that one pole of the religious world, the Roman Catholics, to that other pole, the Jews, he will find—and the right rev. Prelate will find—that there is literally not a difference of opinion on this one point. An inundation of letters has been poured upon me since I gave notice of my 37 present Motion—more than I could read through, and many more than I was able satisfactorily to answer; and I trust that my numerous correspondents—some of whom I know, and some of whom I do not know—will accept my apologies for not replying to their communications. But of all the letters sent to me by clergymen and laymen of all parties and all shades of opinion I can say that I have literally received but one which is against the Resolutions that I am about to submit to the House. I have received some letters telling me that I am not going far enough, but not any, except the solitary one to which I have referred, adverse to the course I am now taking. This is, to my mind, an exceedingly important part of the subject; and I think I cannot do better than establish my case by citing as witnesses the representatives of some of these religious bodies. What, for example, does the British and Foreign School Society say on this point? They say—While recognising the soundness of the principle of a test of the state of elementary instruction in the school as one basis of the pecuniary aid rendered by the Committee of Council, this Committee regard the proposal to make this the only basis of such aid as most unsatisfactory to school managers. They especially consider the classification by age to be unsound in principle, while the restriction of a pecuniary claim to one examination of the same children above eleven years old discountenances what has justly been deemed most important—namely, the lengthened retention of children at school.I have spoken of a gentleman of the Wesleyan persuasion in terms of high commendation, but not higher than are deserved. In the memorial and other papers which he has sent in to the Committee of Council he puts this matter in as happy a manner as it could be described. He says—We have steadily kept in view, as the grand object of national education, the elevation of the poor and labouring classes in general education and morals, and have sought by suitable instruction and training to render the children attending school, well informed, religious and well conducted in all the relations of life. The new Code, limiting the attainments by which money to the support of the schools will be obtained from the Government, must concentrate the attention and efforts both of teachers and managers mainly on what the standard requires, the attainments which are allowed a money value, and must prove a great temptation to regard as secondary or to put out of sight altogether the prime object of education—the intellectual and religious training of the rising generation.That is the testimony of the Rev. Mr. Scott on the part of the Wesleyans. But 38 I am apprehensive lest it may be said that these passages are culled from memorials presented before the time when the Revised Code was again revised. Well, I have here a Resolution not from one body but from several, including the National Society, the Church of England Educational Society, the British and Foreign School Society, the Home and Colonial School Society, and the Wesleyan Educational Committee. I think I might add another body, because only two days ago a petition in the same sense was presented to this House from the thirteen Roman Catholic dioceses of England. This Resolution was come to on the 21st of February, after the right hon. Gentleman had made his speech. They state—That, in the opinion of the Committee, it is inexpedient to make the whole of the annual grants to elementary schools dependent on the number of scholars, who in reading, writing, and arithmetic shall obtain a prescribed standard of proficiency—the same in all places, and under all circumstances of previous condition, preparatory training-school attendance or natural capacity, the varieties in these several particulars presenting the greatest contrasts in one district as compared with another. That this objection would be greatly aggravated by the proposed plan of grouping children according to age.Such are the opinions of the different religious bodies. And I may tell my right hon. Friend that these communications were written since the Revised Code was again revised, and the parties from whom they emanate all agree with reference to the point which the Committee of Council wish to force upon them, that testing the results by a single examination is most inexpedient if not impracticable. I think I have now established these three great points—first of all, that in your attempt to test results in the manner prescribed by the Revised Code, you are testing only one set of results, and that not the most important; and, secondly, that even in testing the results of these less important matters, you are not testing them fairly or fully; and thirdly, that with regard to the great majority of children in the schools these results are not tested at all.
Having established these points, I might be tempted to sit down; but knowing as I do the extraordinary ability of my right hon. Friend, and for fear he should consider it unfair on my part not to refer to the main arguments he used in support of the scheme, I will take the liberty of adverting to those arguments in his own words. In the very able and famous speech of my right hon. Friend, made on 39 the 13th February, he rested his case mainly upon two passages in the Commissioners' Report. The Commissioners said—The junior classes in schools, including the great majority of the children, do not learn, or learn imperfectly, the most necessary part of what they came to learn—reading, writing, and arithmetic.And again—It appears even in the best schools, that only one-fourth of the boys attain the highest class, and are considered by the Inspectors to be successfully educated.Two more important passages were never put into a Commissioners' Report. They seem to have taken away the breath of the Privy Council, and consequently the Committee set to work—and most properly—to see how they could best meet these great defects. They arrived at the conclusion that there was only one way of doing it—namely, by establishing this new system of testing results, as they call it, and that too by a single examination. My right hon. Friend said—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 that state of things. You have got the Commissioners asserting one thing and the Inspectors another. The Commissioners said that only one-fourth of the children were properly instructed, while the Inspectors contended that ninety 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 à 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 Commissioners or Inspectors 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.It is impossible that any Minister could have devised a wiser course to pursue than that which my right hon. Friend said he would take. The Commissioners and the Inspectors differed. My right hon. Friend said he would ascertain which was right by examining the schools child by child. Why did he not do so? When he said he would appeal to facts, why did he not ascertain the facts before coming forward with a scheme based upon à priori reasoning? My right hon. Friend would have done his duty nobly and well if he had followed out that plan which it is evident in his own mind he had intended to adopt, that is to say, if he had ascertained facts 40 before he came to Parliament and the country with this novel and ill-advised scheme. But what happened? What are the facts? It may be, and no doubt it is, difficult to reconcile the reports of the Commissioners and Inspectors; but my right hon. Friend attempted to do so, and with an ingenuity which seems to surpass even his own. My right hon. Friend said that the Inspectors meant to report that the children are well taught, but that they have not well learned. That is the explanation given by a Minister of the Crown, and who is at the head of this department, when he had in his hands, not merely the reports of the Inspectors, to which the Commissioners referred, but also the reports of his own Inspectors for the last year. Do the Inspectors say in their reports that the teaching is good, but the learning is bad? I will read an extract from each of the Inspectors' Reports upon this subject. Mr. Watkins (p. 40) says—There is, as was the case last year, good reason to be satisfied with the progress of school children in the subjects of their instruction, and especially in the elementary and more important subjects.Mr. Kennedy (p. 96) says—I think I see a decided tendency ever going on to stick to what may perhaps be called necessary subjects. By necessary subjects I mean reading, writing, spelling, religious knowledge, and arithmetic, and, in girls' schools, needlework.Mr. Stewart says—The Parliamentary grant has placed within reach of the working population a sound although plain education for their children. I do not refer to the extent and variety of their studies, but to their knowledge of a few elementary subjects.And Mr. Bonstead (p. 163) says—The three indispensable elements of education, reading, writing, and arithmetic, evidently receive, as they ought to do, the largest share of attention, and are most successfully inculcated.I think these statements, dealing with the results of an actual inspection, will be a pretty fair test of the education given to the children in these schools. The Commissioners founded their Report in reference to this particular point upon the evidence of Mr. Norris, who had said that only one-fourth of the children left school educated perfectly in the elementary branches. A very able gentleman, whose reasoning I do not pretend entirely to follow, though in many points it is clear and precise enough for any one to understand, has commented upon this; and one 41 of his letters was, I think, laid upon the table a few days ago, and was placed in the hands of hon. Members this morning. It is called "Our Education," and was moved for by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford. That letter, written by Mr. Birks, is accompanied by a diagram, which Lord Granville says he could not describe by any other name than by calling it "a parabolic curve." How that may be I must leave those to settle who are more conversant in the matter than I am. I refer to this paper not merely on account of Mr. Birks' opinion, but because it contains a letter from Mr. Norris. Mr. Norris now recalls his statement that only 25 per cent of the children were perfectly educated in the elementary subjects, and says, for reasons which he has given in the letter, that he was misled in that statement. He now says that there are nearly 50 per cent of the children—I think he puts the number down at 45—who are perfectly educated in these elementary subjects. If that be so, the great grievance under which Earl Granville and my right hon. Friend could not sit still is no longer of such mighty moment that the whole system must be upset in order to remedy it. The case made by the Privy Council is cut away from under them. It turns out now that between 40 and 50 per cent of the children are so well educated in the elementary subjects in which you wanted more efficient instruction that you do not require this testing by results, dependent, as it will be, upon a single examination. If that be so—and I think it appears to be so—is it necessary to introduce this great change in a system which (I say it advisedly) has succeeded so admirably in training and disciplining the children of this country—a system which, though it may not have reached some districts, has succeeded greatly not merely in diffusing a good secular instruction, but in accomplishing a work of still higher moment, that is to say, in fitting those children hereafter to be good men and good citizens in a religious country? Before such a change is introduced I do entreat the Government to reconsider the matter, so far at least as not to make the whole grant dependent upon the single examination of each separate child in reading, writing, and arithmetic only, without taking into account those other circumstances which ought to be considered of much higher importance.
So much for the first great branch of 42 the subject. I must really apologize to the House for having so long occupied their time, but the matter with which I had to deal has been so vast and so various, that it was difficult to condense my observations more than I have done.
The other portion of the subject is to my mind not less important—I mean the simplification of machinery by which this system of education is to be carried on. Now, I agree with the Government in a great many of the observations which have fallen from them upon this subject. I think it high time that this House should look into the question of the cost of education—and that too with a view to economy combined with efficiency. Now, how does the matter stand when the economy of the question is concerned? It seems we have nearly 8,000 certificated masters, nearly 1,000 assistant teachers, more than 16,000 pupil-teachers, and little less than 2,500 Queen's scholars—and all these are under the Privy Council, are paid by the Privy Council, they are sent out under the directions of the Privy Council into all parts of the kingdom. With such a system ramifying into every part of the country, I am prepared, so far to agree with the Government, as to say that you cannot work such a system under merely a central authority—nay, more, that you cannot work it except through local agencies. I give you the benefit of this admission frankly and freely. But with so vast a machinery, aggravated as it is by correspondence with managers in all parts of the kingdom, the question is, whether you have no means of remedying the evil except by destroying the whole fabric which you have been so careful in building up. That is the great and difficult problem which we have to solve. There are two points specially connected with that problem to which I think we should more particularly apply our minds. First, take care that by the alteration you are making you do not unduly increase the liabilities of the managers. Secondly, in your endeavour to economize do not strike at that part of the system which; has been admitted to be successful for fear you should run the risk of subverting it altogether. Sir, if my right hon. Friend had done what I think he ought to have done—if he had prudently endeavoured to get rid of a great evil by gradually accommodating the contemplated change to the circumstances which had grown up around us, I, for one, should 43 have applauded and encouraged him in so useful a work. But he has not chosen to do this, and therefore we must look to the relative position of the managers and the Government, and the mode in which that relative position is sought to be altered. Down to this time the managers and the Government have been in what I may call a sort of joint partnership; they have been sharing proportionate obligations and responsibilities. But now one of the partners, against the will of the other, dissolves the partnership, and upon terms so oppressive that all the liabilities of the retiring partner are thrown on the shoulders of the continuing partner. Is that just? Down to this period the managers (and under the name of managers I here include that noble class of individuals who have exerted themselves benevolently in this great work) have always felt that they have this grant to rely upon. They knew that as the year went round they were certain of grants from the Privy Council—a portion for their certificated teachers, a portion for their pupil-teachers, and a portion for other purposes. They could, therefore, lay out the whole scheme of their expenditure on the faith of those grants. But suddenly one of the partners says—" No, I will give you a single capitation grant instead of all the grants I made before; and out of that, whether it is sufficient or whether it is insufficient, you shall undertake all the liabilities!" Is that the position in which the Government ought to place benevolent men who have so nobly exerted themselves in the cause? Nothing can justify it for a single moment. I do not think there is a single argument which can support it. True, if my right hon. Friend could come down to the House and say—" I have so arranged the matter that the one capitation grant I am going to give you will be sufficient to meet those liabilities which you have incurred before, as well as those liabilities I am putting on you now;" if the right hon. gentleman were able to do that, the present character of the partnership would be changed, but the assets would be the same, and no harm would be done. Will my right hon. Friend, from his place in this House, state that that will be the consequence of this measure? He knows he cannot. But then, if the capitation grant does not cover these double liabilities, I ask you how in the name of justice—I was going 44 to say how in the name of common fairness and common sense—are you to gay, "True, the grants will not cover the expenditure as they have done before; true, my liabilities are diminished; true, I have practised a noble economy; but you ought not to complain when you see what the Government will save, even if I throw upon you all those liabilities which we together contracted to bear." Even that is not all. I wish the House to see what these liabilities are which the Government have contracted. The managers lay out their scheme of education; they incur an expenditure proportionate to it; and before this change they felt confident that they were going to receive a certain sum of money upon which they might found their calculations accurately. All was ascertained or capable of being ascertained. But what do you see now? All is conditional, contingent, and uncertain. Nay, more, not only is it conditional, contingent, and uncertain, but it is made to be so, and in such a manner that the inevitable consequence of the change is, that the contingency and uncertainty must press on the managers, while the Government is saved altogether harmless. And what do the promoters of this change say. They say, in effect, this:—"That if the managers do not keep a certificated master, they shall have no grant at all; that if they have more than eighty scholars in the school, and do not keep a pupil-teacher, they shall forfeit in the first year £5, and in the second year—there was a little misapprehension on this part of the subject—not £5, but £10." All these are liabilities which will not merely prevent them from receiving such a portion of the grant as they heretofore received to meet their expenditure, but they are liabilities without which hardly a portion of the grant can be received at all. And then you add, that if the children who attend the school should fail in reading, writing, and arithmetic, one-third should be taken away for reading, one-third for writing, and one-third for arithmetic, so that the whole grant may fail altogether. And all this is to happen even although the children might succeed so well as to warrant the opinion which has been expressed by Mr. Norris, that nearly 50 per cent of the children were perfectly educated in those elementary branches. Is that a state of things which Parliament ought to sanction? I do not think it is, and I know that an appeal to justice in 45 this House will not be made in vain. Nor is this all. For when you base your change upon what you call a little free trade, and when you say at the same time, "I will give you nothing unless you can bring the children up to a certain standard, but I will give you at the rate of 15s. per scholar if you do." Why do you insist on any other conditions if the requisite standard is reached? How can you justify for one single moment the obligation you impose on school managers to keep those certificated masters and pupil-teachers on, if you take away that portion of the grant which was intended for the purpose? It cannot be reasonable, when the child is to be brought up to the only standard you think fit to prescribe, that you should not enable me or any one, as the manager of a school, to bring up the child to that standard without incurring those liabilities which you yourself and not the managers have I thought fit to impose. Yet this is what you are going to force upon them ! Sir, I will not pursue this matter further. For as to this part of the scheme, I think I may say I feel confident that this House will not sanction it.
Then, Sir, I turn to the other part of: the scheme of which I complain—namely, to the question of pupil-teachers. As to the certificated masters I urge nothing at present, because though I agree that they have an equitable claim to have their salaries secured to them, yet the moment you transferred those salaries to the capitation grant, out of which they were to be defrayed, you transferred the liability and with it the means—you did not do injustice to the certificated masters, but you did an injustice to the managers if those means were not certain to cover the old as well as the new liabilities. The distinction lies there. With regard to the pupil-teachers it is different. The pupil-teachers were apprenticed to the masters, and apprenticed by the Government. But we are told that the agreement was not stamped. There is an honourable understanding—to say the least of it—there was a Parliamentary understanding, which has always been recognised in this House—that when the Government undertakes any payment for a period of years, upon the faith of which any person has entered into their service, that that agreement shall be kept with them. Sir, if that is really the state of things, and I believe it to be so, I am sure my right hon. Friend will tell me he 46 does not mean to break the agreement. But then I must say that he has no right to shift the agreement from the Government to others. The clear obligation rests with the Government, and you ought to provide by your scheme, whatever that scheme is, that the apprentice deed of the pupil-teachers and all the conditions of the deed shall be fulfilled as long as the pupil-teachers are to be maintained and kept in their present condition. But how has the Government dealt with this part of the case? The Government has said that the pupil-teachers will be paid down to the 31st March, 1864, as heretofore. With regard to those pupil-teachers who may not have served the whole of their apprenticeships after that period (1 put the question myself to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, which elicited this reply) the arrangement will be this—that if the managers choose to elect that the Government shall still pay the pupil-teachers, the Government will do so; but then in that case the managers are to receive nothing else whatever. If, on the other hand, the managers choose to take upon themselves the payment of the pupil-teachers, then they must incur all the risks, both as to the extent and as to the mode in which they shall earn the money for that payment. One of my Resolutions points to that. I say that the arrangement is not just. I say so in my Resolution, I maintain it now, and I will maintain it when that Resolution is put to the House. But that is not the only thing. You entirely alter the nature of the contract in future between the pupil-teachers, and those with whom they enter into their engagements. The pupil-teacher system now rests on a deed of apprenticeship which lasts for five years. The pupil teacher system, as you intend to make it in future, will rest on an agreement determinable by six months' notice. Is it not obvious, that if that be so, you are altering the whole character of the pupil-teacher system? For is it; not obvious that all the training which they would have to go through, would be entirely different if they may be turned adrift at the end of six months, from that which they would have to go through if they were to be steadily watched and cared for during five years? Assuming, therefore, that you persevere in this part of the plan, the consequence must be this:—Managers will say, "We will avoid these teachers; you only force pupil-teachers 47 upon us if there are 40 above the first 50 children. In that case we are obliged to have one pupil-teacher, and for every additional 40 children we must have an extra pupil-teacher." Will not that be an inducement to the managers to keep the number of the children in their schools down, in the first instance, to 89; or if they go beyond it, to take care that they only exceed it by 39; so as to escape, as much as possible, the necessity of maintaining a large staff of pupil-teachers? I believe the whole of this part of the scheme is an entire discouragement of what is called the pupil-teacher system, and I am therefore thoroughly convinced in my own mind that you will have to go back in no long time to the monitorial system. Well, what is the consequence of that change? The Report is not silent upon it. The Report says that the monitorial system failed, and that that was the unanimous opinion of all those who had inquired into the subject; that the monitors, by reason of their youth, and for want of the special instruction which was necessary to make them good masters, were totally unfit for their work, and that as a consequence the education throughout England was in the year 1846, as regarded its quality, in a most deplorable state. Now, Sir, am I right or am I wrong in saying that the consequences of this alteration will be gradually to undermine the pupil-teacher system, and draw it back to the monitorial system? If I be wrong, let it be shown: but if I be right, then I say there is no step so retrogressive as the step you are about to take. With reference to this subject there are one or two other passages to which I should like to call the attention of the House. The evidence of the assistant Commissioners is unanimous as to the superiority of the schools in which the pupil-teachers are employed. Mr. Cook speaks of them "as often conducting lessons in reading, arithmetic, and writing copies of dictation, the three things upon which everything is hereafter to depend, better than many adult teachers of ordinary ability." Mr. Arnold describes them as the sinews of English primary instruction. The Commissioners say that—Their acquirements and general fitness for the posts for which they have been selected are best attested by the fact that only 12.68 per cent of the total number admitted are removed during their apprenticeship, either by death, failure of health, failure in attainments, misconduct, or other causes, including the adoption of other pursuits in life." (p. 106.)48 Now, I should be glad to know whether any change has come over the mind of the Government in this respect when they have these statements fresh in their recollection. But should they have forgotten them, I have an authority here which I think will weigh very much, not only with the Government, but especially with the Committee of Council, and which, I think, puts the matter in a very strong light. No longer ago than the year 1859, when some observations were made as to the hugeness of the Educational Grant, a right hon. Gentleman, a distinguished Member of the House, said—The items for pupil-teachers are pointed out as the most outrageous of the whole estimate, chiefly perhaps because it was the largest item. It was, however, the opinion of those best qualified to judge that, whatever became of the pupil-teachers after their apprenticeship, for every penny laid out upon them the public derived the fall benefit."…The same distinguished Statesman went on to say—If the pupil-teacher system were to be abolished, it was the opinion of competent judges that it would have to be replaced by a system fully as expensive, if not more expensive. In that event a very considerable loss would be entailed—the loss of the education which had been given to large numbers of young persons, who if they did not all, as most of them did, remain in the department, formed a valuable reinforcement to the lower classes in point of intelligence and education. He was satisfied that the soundest part, the healthy core of the whole system, that which entitled it most to the support of the House and the country, consisted of the grants to pupil-teachers.These are the words of the Vice President of the Committee of Council. And yet in two short years the whole of that very system which the Vice President so much extols, and which everybody commends, is to be put into a most precarious position by the unhappy way in which you are dealing with the whole of this subject; the consequence of which I fear will be that you will have ere long to retrace your steps, and so you will be called upon to incur expense for restoring a system too hastily subverted, even if it be not altogether destroyed.
Such, Sir, being my opinion on the important points to which I have called attention, I will now proceed in a few brief words to show how I propose to meet them. The House will observe that I have proposed five Resolutions referring to the first of these great points—namely, that of testing results by the examination of each separate scholar in three 49 elementary subjects alone. I wish the House to negative, in the first place, the notion that the whole amount of the aid given by the Government should depend entirely on the individual examination of each child in reading, writing, and arithmetic. I wish the House, in the second place, to negative the notion that the system of grouping by age for the purpose of examination should be introduced, and presently I will give my reasons for it I wish the House to negative the notion, that when the children have once passed in the highest class of examination, they are not to be entitled to any further; part of the Parliamentary grant. I wish the House to negative the notion; that the capitation grant without examination should be limited to children under six years of age, with the view of extending the non-examination age, if I may so express myself, from six to seven. These four points relate principally to the first great head of the subject to which I have referred. I am told that these are negative Resolutions; but I say that every one of them involves of necessity a positive inference. They are negatives from which positives may easily be taken. From the first Resolution, which negatives the notion that the whole amount of Government aid should depend on exanimation, may easily be drawn the positive inference that a portion only should be given for examination and a portion on inspection. In the same way, from the other Resolutions may be drawn the inferences, that though grouping by age for examination is objectionable, some other modes of grouping may be adopted; that if six years is too low a limit for the non-examination age, it ought to be put higher; and that if the grant should not be discontinued at eleven years, it ought to be extended beyond that period. So also with every other Resolution which I have proposed. But, then, it may be asked, why do you not propose affirmative Resolutions? The answer is obvious. Affirmative Resolutions on such a measure as this must rest with the Executive and not with the House of Commons. All I can do is to take the objectionable parts of the Revised Code, and point out the mode in which I think they can be remedied. But the exact details of this remedy—the extent to which you will go—and the way in which you will make each portion of the scheme fit into the other—all these are points which have been intrusted to the Committee of 50 Council, and ought to be left with the Executive Government.
And now, for a few moments, let me call the attention of the House to what I conceive will be the main points you will have to consider in connection with this Revised Code, and any Amendments to be made in it. According to the provisions of the Revised Code, you intend to deny to all children, except on examination in a particular form, any portion of the grant to be given to the schools. According to the Revised Code as it ought to have been amended, I contend that you ought to have given some portion of the grant in another direction. You say you will give nothing unless you examine children when grouped by age. I say, if you had amended the Code as you ought to do, the only grouping which is sensible is the grouping by classes, such as is adopted in all other schools in the kingdom. And to meet the objection that it would discourage the education of the junior classes, I say that it would be very easy for you so to arrange the matter that the grant to be given to the lowest should be less than that given to the middle, and that given to the middle less than that given to the higher, so as to induce the managers to bring the children on as far as possible. According to the Revised Code you say—contrary to the opinion of everybody else—that children of eleven had better be withdrawn from the schools. I say, if you amend the Revised Code as you ought to have amended it, there is no more fatal mistake than to say that children above eleven ought not to receive the benefit of the best education you could give them. I think the Government entirely wrong when they speak of the low average of children above that age. I find that the total number of children in this month of March, 1862, in 317 boys', girls', and mixed schools, in all parts of the country, was 44,727. Of these I find the number under seven years of age, 6,921; of children between seven and nine, 13,125; between nine and eleven, 13,413; between eleven and twelve, 4,846; of twelve and upwards, 6,402. In other words, that out of 44,727 children in 317 schools, 11,268 were upwards of eleven years of age, or above the age at which the grant was to stop.
§ MR. WALPOLE
Yes, it does in many instances: for these children, at the last 51 examination, might have been exactly eleven, or only a month over. But why should education be stopped at that age? Your great object is to raise the quality of your education, and to secure that when the children go out into the world they should know reading, writing, and arithmetic. If they have not acquired this modicum of education by eleven or twelve years of age, why should you discourage the further attendance at school of children at that age in order, if possible, to give them that modicum? In addition to all these objections, there is this one above all, that the present scheme will tend to destroy the existing system in its leading principle; for I firmly believe that the Revised Code will have the effect of disturbing that flow of voluntary benevolence which has hitherto set in so largely in the cause of a moral and religious education. It is a backward step instead of a forward one, and for that reason I think it should be materially altered and amended in Committee.
Sir, I have now dealt with that class of the Resolutions which relate to the two great branches of the subject to which I have referred. But there are two other Resolutions standing in my name, not, I believe, less important. The House will observe that by the two last articles of the Revised Code provisions were inserted in the original Code as prepared at the instance of the right hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) by which, if the Code is revised again in January of each year, it is to be printed. By the second article, if the Revised Code is likely to lead to increased expenditure, the Code is to be laid before Parliament. Now, here I wish to raise a question as important as those other questions I have before raised. I wish to raise the question, whether, when any alteration is made in a system of education which the country has adopted, accepted, and acted on, it is to be in the power of any Government, at any future period, by its own mere motion, and without the concurrence and sanction of Parliament to alter that system fundamentally and entirely in the manner they are now attempting to do. In 1839 this question was much agitated and discussed in this House. There was then an attempt to introduce normal and industrial schools. That attempt was defeated; and one of the great objections urged against it was the manner in which the attempt was made. The House was told, and truly told, that 52 the power which the Committee of Council asserted to itself was a power essentially beyond that which the constitution gave to any department in the State. It was the assertion by a body necessarily political in its character—necessarily fluctuating in its nature—which would be irresponsible, and therefore despotic—of an authority and power which does not belong to any Minister, and which ought only to be intrusted to both Houses of Parliament. This is what I am anxious to guard against, and I therefore care for these two last of my Resolutions quite as much as for any of the others. By my two last Resolutions I wish it to be understood, that if in future great changes are made in our national system of education, they shall not be concerted, as it were, in private, and published1 silently when Parliament is not sitting. I wish it to be understood that the Committee of Council is a department of the Government intrusted with important administrative functions, but that legislative authority is not conferred on it. Legislative authority has been assumed here, and such an assumption of legislative authority will never be allowed, I hope and trust, to be assumed again. Had this not been done, I believe the agitation respecting this Code would not have been half so great as it is at present. The country feels that the Government ought to come down to the House and state their intentions when they propose to adopt measures of such great importance. I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman for having revised the Minutes of Council. With the Report of the Commissioners before him, he was not only entitled, but it was his duty to have framed some plan for bettering the system when it was found to be defective. I do not blame him, either, for announcing that plan, as he did, in the autumn. On the contrary, I know great good has resulted from that circumstance, since the scheme has been discussed and canvassed in every part of the country. But what I do blame is, not him, but the manner in which this question has been attempted to be forced upon us. I do find fault with any system which enables Ministers, without the authority of either House of Parliament, to frame measures which have, in fact, a vast legislative importance, without submitting those measures to Parliament, and without ascertaining how far Parliament is willing to adopt them. By taking such a course you have placed this House, 53 and not this House only, but Parliament, in a difficulty from which it is hardly possible even now to extricate ourselves. There is no other mode of so doing that I know of, except that which I have ventured to suggest—namely, that you should discuss this matter as if it were a Government Bill—that we should go into a Committee of the Whole House with a view of seeing in what respect we can induce the Government to entertain the objections which have been so forcibly—I might say so conclusively—urged against the Code as it is now drawn up. Unfortunately the Government has deprived us of the power of going into Committee with a view of framing a measure for them, which they ought to have framed for us, because we have no measure with which we can deal. But we can at all events deal with the subject of Educational Grants; and so, Sir, I shall move that we go into Committee. I do not do so for the purpose of subverting the right hon. Gentleman's Code: I have said already that with respect to its main objects I believe them to be right; but as to the modes in which those objects are to be accomplished I believe them to be wrong. Nor do I ask you to go into Committee to consider any Resolutions or plan of my own. That would, indeed, be taking on myself, or inducing the House to take upon itself, the initiative, in a matter which rests properly with the executive Government, and for which they, and they alone, ought to be responsible. Nor do I ask the House to go into Committee with a view of casting any censure on the Government. That would be indeed to make this question a party question. But the question of education is not, and never was, and never ought to be, made a party question; and if I know myself and my own motives, party will have nothing to do with this Motion. I ask the House to go into Committee, in order that the Government may tell us how far, and to what extent, they are intending to alter the system of education which has hitherto done so much good to the country. I ask this House to go into Committee in order that every hon. Gentleman may press on the Government those suggestions which may enable them to put this Code in a better shape than it stands at present; and if the result should be that the Government were to take back that Code and re-amend it, I do not think the country would suffer much from the consequences 54 of the change. It is for this purpose and for no other that I now beg leave to move that you, Sir, do now leave the chair; and when you resume that chair again, I trust that you may be enabled to put from it such Resolutions as may satisfy the expectations and calm the fears and cheer the hopes of an anxious country. Then, Sir, I believe that your voice will go forth not with a message increasing the dissatisfaction and discontent which unfortunately prevail so much and so extensively now, but with a message which I believe I may call without impropriety a message of peace, justice, charity, and wisdom. Of peace, because it will allay an irritation greater than any I ever recollect on this subject before; of justice, because it will satisfy those who think they are wronged, that this House will never turn a deaf ear to reasonable claims; of charity, because, notwithstanding all that has taken place, it will still encourage the noble exertions of voluntary benevolence, and stimulate individuals still to continue the great and good work of promoting to the utmost the education of the people; and, finally, a message of wisdom, because in politics I believe there is no wisdom higher than this—that Parliament and the Government should strain every nerve and apply every effort, and bring to bear all the experience and knowledge they can command, to provide a sound and useful education for those poorer classes of our follow subjects who, although they lie below the level of the direct constituencies which return us here, actually are, and always must be, the main foundations of the State—which foundations never can be safe and sure unless they are laid deep and strong in a moral, religious, industrious, and well-instructed community.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee to consider the best mode of distributing the Parliamentary Grants for Education now administered by the Privy Council.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Sir, it is hardly necessary after the announcement made a short time ago by my noble Friend at the head of the Government, for me now to say that the Government are perfectly ready to accede to the Motion for going into a Committee of the whole House in order to consider the Resolutions of which notice has been given by the right hon. Gentleman, The right hon. Gentleman 55 said he might have framed Resolutions condemning altogether the principles and details of the Revised Code. If the right hon. Gentleman had taken that course, then it would have been the duty of the Government to have resisted the Motion in order to take the opinion of the House as to whether or not the views of the right hon. Gentleman would receive the sanction of the House. The right hon. Gentleman, however, has to-night declared his assent to the principle of the Revised Code in express terms, and has told us that his objection to it refers simply to some of its details and to the mode in which it has been proposed. That being so, it would be obviously inconvenient that we should enter into a minute discussion of the Resolutions before us with you, Sir, in the chair; and I think therefore it is better we should reserve such discussions until the House has gone into Committee. The right hon. Gentleman has, indeed, told us that he regards the present stage of the Government proposal as equivalent to that of the second reading of a Bill, and asks us to go into Committee to perform functions similar to those which are discharged by a Committee of the Whole House when that stage of a Bill has been disposed of. Now, if that be his object, he will find the Government prepared to meet him in the spirit in which I should hope he would be prepared to go into Committee; but I must, at the same time, express my regret that, supposing we are to exercise the same privileges of criticism and amendment in that Committee as are usually exercised when a Bill is under discussion, he has not placed upon the notice-paper the Amendments which he would advise the House to adopt, but has contented himself with simply placing before us a series of Resolutions negativing the propositions which we have made. I may add that it would, in my opinion, be exceedingly inconvenient to follow at the present moment the right hon. Gentleman through all the details of the Revised Code. They will be more properly discussed at that stage of the proceedings on which he invites us to enter, when we shall, I trust, have some more definite scheme submitted to us as to the extent to which it is desired that modifications in this Code should be effected. Although, however, I am anxious now to abstain from entering into details, I should wish to make a few general observations on this subject. 56 And I would in the first place ask the House to bear in mind the position which the Government occupied with respect to it last year. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that he does not think the alterations introduced by means of the Revised Code ought to be concerted in secret. I should, however, like to ask how they could be framed otherwise than in secret, in the way in which all Government measures are prepared? In the autumn of last year the Government was placed in the position of finding itself charged with the administration of a grant which had risen progressively from a sum of £20,000, voted in 1833, to about £800,000, which was the amount voted last year. We, moreover, found ourselves called upon to administer a system which had been altered from time to time; which had been modified according to circumstances; which was described by the Commission that had been appointed to inquire into the subject as "complex, costly, and cumbrous;" and which from its very nature will necessarily lead to that progressive increase in the Estimates for education from year to year which my right hon. Friend himself has characterized as being extremely formidable. In addition to all this, we could not shut our eyes to the fact that it was impossible as things stood to assign any limit to this growing expenditure; and we therefore came to the conclusion that the time had arrived when it must be subjected to a somewhat more effective control than had hitherto existed. In making these observations, I must not be understood as expressing an opinion that the question of expense is one which ought altogether to sway the decision of the House in this matter. On the contrary, taking into account the important object which we have in view, the education of the great body of the working classes, I am disposed to look upon the question of expense as of secondary importance; but then the question of the due appropriation of the money voted by Parliament, so that its expenditure might realize those results which Parliament sought to attain, appears to me to be one entitled to the gravest consideration, and it was one which naturally forced itself upon the attention of the Department intrusted with the administration of those funds in the summer of last year. The Government, moreover, found that they were involved in a multitudinous correspondence with a vast number of offi- 57 cials scattered all over the country, who were immediately dependent upon them for the salaries which were paid out of the education grant, and they felt it their duty to consider whether they could not diminish that gigantic system of centralization; and afford greater play for local action and local control. That being so, what course did my noble Friend the Lord President and my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council take in the discharge of the responsible duty which: devolved upon them? They had for some time been cognizant of defects in the existing system; but they, nevertheless, waited until the Report of the Education Commissioners was produced, in order that they might become more thoroughly acquainted with the facts of the case as well as the views and opinions of the Commissioners; so that they might be in a better position to apply the best remedy in their power to the cure of admitted evils, to secure greater efficiency in the management of schools, and a greater certainty that the result which Parliament had in view—the education of the great body of the working classes—should be attained. The Report of the Commissioners, I may add, only served to confirm the impressions which they entertained with reference to the complexity and costly character of the existing system, while it clearly showed that the expenditure under the head of education by no means produced results proportionate to its amount or commensurate with the expectations of those who had been most active in establishing the system. They therefore set themselves to work to revise the Code as it stood. They are charged with having done this secretly, and I repeat it could be done only in secret. The result, however, of their consideration of the question was laid before Parliament, some time before the prorogation, while it was certain it must come under the notice of the House of Commons before the Estimates in which the Vote for education is comprised could again come; on for discussion. I may further observe that the course taken by the Government; in the matter rendered it impossible that the attention of the country should not be fully drawn to the new Code, and that it should not be exposed to those criticisms which it was their object to elicit during the recess. The various objections which might be raised they were prepared to weigh with candour and impartiality, not 58 having the presumption to look upon themselves as infallible: My right hon. Friend near me, in short, as well as the noble Lord the President of the Council, invited a full and free discussion of their scheme; they received deputation after deputation; they read, I believe, all the pamphlets which have been published on the subject, and brought to bear upon it nil the thought and energy which they could command, and they subsequently submitted the new Code to Parliament in a revised shape. Now, as to the principle of the Revised Code. The essential principle of that Code—a principle which the House is, I think, prepared to maintain—is that the success of the machinery by which these grants are administered shall be tested by results. That is the first principle contained in this Revised Code. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) says he assents to that principle, but if he had not made that declaration at the outset of his speech, and repeated it afterwards, I should have been at a loss to gather from his remarks an opinion in favour of the Revised Code, I should have thought that his whole speech was an endeavour to show how impossible it was to test these results by individual examination. Some opposition had been offered to the Revised Code on the ground that it would interfere with that religious teaching which had hitherto been given in schools. I think that that objection has since been found untenable. The right hon. Gentleman showed that the system of religious instruction, the encouragement of voluntary effort, the employment of pupil-teachers, and the improved discipline of schools were the four great advantages of the scheme of education administered by the Committee of Education; but the right hon. Gentleman failed to show that the Revised Code in any essential degree affected these advantages. He dealt with the religious question, and adverted to a letter written by a gentleman of great respectability and worth, connected with the Wesleyan body; but I am confirmed in my belief that this objection has now ceased to be seriously urged by looking through the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman, in which I do not find one word on this subject, although it is one on which I know he feels very deeply. I am, therefore, entitled to conclude that there is nothing in the Revised Code affecting, in his opinion, the religious basis of 59 education. The right hon. Gentleman has said that he has no sympathy with persons who taunt those religious bodies who have done so, much for the promotion of education with a love of lucre or a desire for gain. In this opinion I agree with him; but is not the assertion; that religion will be neglected in education which is tested by an individual examination of the children in elementary knowledge, a reproach to these religious bodies, founded on the assumption that, they will neglect that to which they attach greater importance than, to any other part of education, and which they consider the basis of all knowledge? With regard to Church of England schools, not the least difference is to be made in the religious instruction required to be taught in them. In the schools of other religious bodies, including the Wesleyans, so much jealousy was felt many years ago respecting Government interference that they guarded themselves against the possibility of such interference by protesting against any Government inspection of the religious instruction given in these schools. The Government were, therefore content to take the connection between the school and the religious body as a sufficient guarantee, and to assume that the latter would not fail in their duty of imparting religious instruction. But a very different system prevailed in Church of England schools. An agreement was come to with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other prelates of the Established Church, under which a system of examination was established, and it was made a preliminary condition to the receipt of the Government grant by any Church of England school that the Inspector should certify that religious instruction was given in a satisfactory manner. No difference has been made in this respect; and although an attempt had been made to create alarm on the ground of the interference of the Revised Code with religious instruction, that alarm has now subsided, and an assurance is given in the Code that the preliminary condition will continue to be enforced before any Government grant is made. The right hon. Gentleman has expressed his apprehension that we shall discourage voluntary effort by applying the test of results. But how is this to be done? I believe, on the other hand, that the certainty with which these grants were obtained has had a tendency to discourage voluntary effort. I admit that I attach great importance to voluntary 60 effort in the education of the people. The services of those who have laboured in this cause are beyond all praise; and those who like my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) have disclaimed all Government interference in education are, I think, entitled to the thanks of the country for the great exertions they have made unaided by any Parliamentary grant. But one of the advantages of the system administered by the Privy Council has been that a large amount of voluntary contributions has been raised in aid of the Parliamentary grant. I will not go so far as the right hon. Gentleman in saying that the whole of the money expended on schools, aided by Parliamentary grants, has been elicited by this system. I believe that many of these schools have been supported by men of great benevolences and that a large proportion of the money raised for the promotion of education would have been applied to this purpose even if the Parliamentary grant had not been voted. I confess I do not see how these voluntary contributions will be checked by the adoption of the Revised Code and by making the grants depend upon the efficiency of the schools. Where a school is known to be good, children will be attracted to it, and it may very well happen that such a school will receive a larger share of the Government grant than it has hitherto done, because it has become more efficient. It is not intended that schools in which reading, writing, and the elements of arithmetic are satisfactorily taught shall receive the full amount of the Government grant, if they are found to be deficient in order, cleanliness, and discipline. These also are necessary in a school, and a schoolmaster who is unable to maintain them would show that he was not entitled to preside over a school that receives any portion of the Parliamentary grant. The right hon. Gentleman says that he would not limit the examination to proficiency in the elementary branches of learning, but says that the true test of the result of education is how the pupils turn out in after-life. No doubt that is the great object of education. The House is asked to agree to make the grant dependent on results; but how will the right hon. Gentleman apply that test to those who are going out into the world? Would he wait to see how these persons turned out before the Parliamentary grants were made? This would be to apply a test wholly nugatory. But there is a mode by 61 which the instruction given can be tested. Having ascertained that certain essential conditions are complied with, such as order, cleanliness, and discipline, we are able to test the progress made by the scholars in those elementary branches of learning which may be the foundation of their acquirements in after-life. I, for one, am not disposed to undervalue what has been done under the present system of administering the Parliamentary grant. I have been long enough in this House to take part in the debates when the present system was established. The feeling then manifested was in striking contrast to that shown in the present day. I had the honour to be associated with those distinguished noblemen the Marquess of Lansdowne and Earl Russell, in the attempts they made to improve the elementary education given in the country. I remember the difficulties then encountered in overcoming the suspicions of Government interference, the dread of any Government action at all, in the matter of popular education, and the great difficulty of preserving the new system from the annihilation with which it was threatened by almost a majority of this House. But the times are very much changed since then; the desire is general that education shall be improved by Government interference, and the apprehension now runs into the other extreme, that the Government will withdraw from that minute superintendence which has grown up under the administration of the Parliamentary grant, and which in my opinion it is no longer desirable to maintain. The main objection to the system is that it has failed, as the Commissioners have shown in their Report, in producing adequate results. The right hon. Gentleman has adverted to the mistake made in one case in the statement of the proportion of children who are said to be not well educated. He was entitled to make what use he pleased of that mistake and of the disavowal of Mr. Norris, but several of the other Inspectors—Mr. Brookfield, Mr. Cook, and others—place the number of children well taught at only one-third of the whole. This fact, too, stands broadly out on the face of the Report of the Commissioners—that, notwithstanding the large expenditure of money and the number of schools now brought into connection with the Privy Council, a very large proportion—I do not care whether it is one-fourth, one-half, or one-third—still a large number of children 62 are imperfectly taught in these schools. I believe the real fact to be that the system has had the effect of creating a machinery too perfect and fine for its work. It has done an immense deal of good, no doubt, not only improving the material of the schools, but raising the attainments of the schoolmaster. On the other hand, the test hitherto applied has had too exclusive a reference to the qualifications of the schoolmaster, without sufficiently taking into account the educational results actually attained. The important question, however, is, whether the results that have been produced are such as we were led to expect they would have been? The right hon. Gentleman has said that one objection taken to the present system by the Commissioners is that it does not reach the poorer districts of the country. That objection has been repeatedly urged in this House and elsewhere, but it is an objection almost inherent in that part of the system to which so much importance is attached by the right hon. Gentleman himself and his friends—namely, making the Parliamentary grants depend upon voluntary contributions. What, I wish to point out, however, is that the change made by the: Revised Code is calculated to abate that evil; for, by allowing the employment of schoolmasters of lower qualifications than those of the present certificated teachers, and by the introduction of other alterations, schools will now be aided in districts which have hitherto received no assistance from the Parliamentary grants. There is every reason to believe that the proposed change will be conducive to this end. Another objection which the right hon. Gentleman said exists in the original Code, as pointed out by the Commissioners, and which he thinks the Revised Code does not meet, is that the junior classes are not sufficiently attended to. I believe, that if anything can induce a master to give greater attention to the junior classes, instead of confining himself mainly, if not entirely, to children of more advanced age, it will be the system of grouping by age, and testing each child by individual examination, making the sum receivable by the schoolmaster depend, not upon the attention he has shown to a few favourite scholars, but upon the amount of useful instruction which he has given to the youngest children in his school. It is my opinion, in short, that the effect of the Revised Code will be to mitigate 63 the evils which are proved to exist in the present system by the Report of the Commissioners. I shall not, at the present moment, follow the right hon. Gentleman into the details which he has brought before the House with respect to pupil-teachers. The proper time for discussing those matters will be when we have got into Committee upon his Resolutions. Meanwhile, however, I may be permitted to say that it is an assumption unsupported by any sound argument, not resting upon any established fact, to allege that the Revised Code will tend to destroy the system of pupil-teachers. Upon this point there are two questions to be considered. First of all, there is the plan which the right hon. Gentleman has condemned, by which several thousand certificated masters and pupil-teachers are brought into immediate connection with the central Government and made to depend upon it; and, in the second place, there are the claims which the existing certificated masters and the existing pupil-teachers may have, owing to the expectations which have led them to enter the profession of teachers. I trust that when we come to consider the Resolutions in Committee those two subjects will be kept separate and distinct. My belief is that it will then be shown clearly that faith has been kept by the Government with existing certificated masters and pupil-teachers. If the right hon. Gentleman can show that they have any further well-founded claims, both the Government and the House will, I am sure, lend a willing ear to any statement which he may make upon that subject, with the view of doing full justice to a deserving class of persons; but that matter should not be confounded with another and very different question, whether we are bound to perpetuate, by a continuance of the present arrangements, what we believe to be a bad system? Here I may say, with respect to pupil-teachers, that an allusion made by the Vice President in his speech a few weeks ago has been entirely misunderstood. What my right hon. Friend said was, in answer to the objections that certain advantages would be taken from the pupil-teachers by the Revised Code, that under the existing system the pupil-teachers have no valid legal security; that they are liable to dismissal, and practically are dismissed, by managers and masters of schools, without notice; and that they cannot reckon upon maintaining their Posi- 64 tions during the whole of their apprenticeship. He stated, on the other hand, that under the Revised Code they would have a legal agreement, which could be enforced, and could not be removed from their situations without a notice of six months; and therefore, as he contended, the new regulation would benefit instead of injuring the pupil-teachers in that respect. However, as I said before, I shall not enter into the details of the Resolutions now. We shall be prepared to consider them in Committee with fairness and impartiality. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman opposite has turned a deaf ear to the suggestion of some of his friends, for I perfectly agree with him that the question of the education of the people is one above all party considerations. It is, I am sure, the honest desire of the House, as well as of the Government, to do that which is most calculated to promote the sound education of the children of the working classes. I hope we shall discuss the Resolutions in Committee with a view to give effect to that intention, and to confer a great benefit upon the country. Economy, no doubt, is an object to be kept in view; but the main object is to secure a really efficient and useful expenditure of the grants for education. The change proposed by the Government, subject to the approval of Parliament, has not only been recommended with that object, but is, I believe, calculated to effect it, and therefore deserves the approbation of this House and the country. No one has objected to the principle of the Revised Code; and I trust that in Committee we shall have some more practical suggestions than those embodied in the Resolutions before us, which may tend to promote the object we all have in view. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the manner in which the Revised Code was introduced. His objections upon that point are entirely groundless. The Government are charged with the administration of the funds voted for educational purposes, and it was their duty—a duty from which they could not shrink—to suggest to Parliament the mode in which the money should be applied. How could that be done except by following the course which has been pursued on previous occasions—agreeing among themselves as to the modifications that ought to be made, laying those modifications before Parliament, inviting discussion upon them, and, if no objections were 65 made, asking Parliament to intrust them with the funds requisite for carrying the alterations into effect? Such was the course taken last year, and the result has been, so far from any secrecy being secured, as full and as free a discussion as I ever remember to have taken place upon any subject whatever. But I am not prepared to dissent from the principle involved in the last two Resolutions; and to any plan which may be proposed for securing that no material change shall be carried into effect in the system of education until it has been submitted to Parliament, the Government will offer no opposition. I may be permitted to add, in conclusion, that, without wishing to abridge discussion, I hope we shall not be led too much into detail, but shall keep principles steadily and constantly in view. If that course is followed, I believe the general opinion will be that the principle upon which the Revised Code is founded is entitled to approval, and ought to meet with the support of this House.
§ MR. WALPOLE
I rise merely to say that the right hon. Baronet laboured under a misapprehension when he stated that I had been advised to make this a party question.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that some of his friends wished to make it a party question. ["No, no."]
said, that having been thrown much into the company of those to whom the subject was familiar, and being himself deeply interested in it, he would make that an excuse for trespassing on the House. At the same time he would confine his observations to that portion of the Government scheme which made payment entirely to depend on the examination of each individual child. Now, he thought they were bound, in order to calculate what were the results to be expected from the new system for the future, to consider what had been the results of the old system in time past; and he thought he could show that so far from its having been as alleged non-effective, it had produced the greatest advantages. It had been said that three bad results had followed the system; but if they looked to the causes which had produced those three bad results, it would be found that they were causes which were put to the control of the managers, and were equally likely to produce bad results undo the new system. 66 As far as he understood, there were three bad results of the old system—first, that the system was too complicated and overwhelmed the central office. He had no objection to such a change in that part of the system which should place the payment in the hands of the managers; and which, in his opinion, would be attended with great benefit, and in no way involve the question of individual examination. The second bad result was that the Government assistance did not reach the poorer parishes; and that also in no way involved the question of individual examination. The third bad result, and to which he would principally direct his attention, was that the elementary education was not sufficiently good. Now, he thought, if they compared the results attained in schools receiving Government aid with those attained in schools which did not, they might arrive at a just idea of the advantage which had really resulted from the Government grant. The Commissioners had themselves given some information on this point, and had told them that 2,200,000 children attended all schools, of whom 500,000 attended private schools, which, generally speaking, were ill calculated to give them an education of a serviceable character; 1,800,000 attended public schools, 19 per cent of whom only obtained an efficient education, but the inspected schools were far better than the uninspected. The schools inspected consisted of two kinds—those which were assisted and those which were unassisted, and with respect to the comparative advantages of Government aid, nothing was more forcible then the evidence of Mr. Fraser, one of the ablest Assistant Commissioners. That gentleman had told them, in reference to schools inspected in the West of England, that out of 282 schools inspected, he had found only 23 "good," 76 "useful," and 182 "bad." When he first read that statement, he came to the conclusion that the Government system was a failure; but on looking closer, he found that out of the 282 schools 76 only were under certificated teachers, and hardly one of them fell below the denomination of "useful," and that 16 of them were good. He found also that out of 200 schools unassisted by Government only four were "good," and nearly all the rest were "bad;" which was a strong reason, in his opinion, for inferring that, in that part of the country at least, 67 the Government assistance had been attended with the greatest benefit. What was the measure of efficiency which Mr. Fraser indicated by the term "good"? Those schools, he said, were efficient in which a child ten years of age could read with sufficient ease and emphasis to convey information to himself and pleasure to the listener; who could write correctly a letter from dictation, and make rapid and accurate calculations. Let hon. Gentlemen examine their own children at the same early age, and he thought that if they attained to Mr. Fraser's standard of efficiency, they would be very well pleased. Let them even examine them at eleven, and see if they could make rapid and accurate calculations. And with respect to reading with such emphasis as to convey pleasure to the listener, he had often heard clergymen fail to attain that efficiency; and, certainly, on many occasions he had heard hon. Members in that House read, if with sufficient emphasis and expression to convey a meaning to themselves, certainly not to give pleasure to the listeners. Then with respect to the North of England, the evidence was, that out of 600 schools inspected, 24 per cent of those assisted were "good," 29 per cent "inferior," and the rest "bad;" while of the unassisted schools, 5 per cent only were "good," 28 per cent "inferior," and 67 per cent "bad." That also showed that in the North of England the Government assistance was most valuable. The House was aware that great differences of opinion existed between the Commissioners and Inspectors with respect to the results which had attended it, and there were various discrepancies which could not be accounted for. Was it, then, really a fact that the system had produced the bad results alleged? He did not think so. He said that on the whole the results had been such as to justify the expenditure of the money. More than one explanation of the apparent—discrepancy between the Report of the Commissioners and those of the Inspectors had been given to the world. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had stated that in reporting that in so many schools certain branches were taught "excellently" or "well," the Inspectors might have meant that there were persons in those schools capable of teaching those branches "excellently" or "well," but 68 that they did not mean that things were "excellently well taught" or "excellently well learnt." He could not think that a satisfactory explanation. The right hon. Gentleman must take one of two courses;—he must either trust or not trust the Inspectors. If he trusted them, he must attach some importance to their Report; if he did not trust them, then he could not expect managers of schools to risk the whole of their income upon the Report of those he did not trust himself. The Commissioners had given their explanation, and had stated that probably the Inspectors had looked to the upper part of the school, and that what they had made might have been more an inspection than an examination; but both from Mr. Cook and Mr. Watkins were clear statements to the effect that they had always heard a majority of the children read, and seen all their sums and copy books. He regretted very much that the right hon. Gentleman had not been able or willing to give them more information on that point. He should have thought, that as there was some doubt as to what the Inspectors meant, the simplest course would have been for the authorities of the Committee of Council to ask them. Last week he inquired of the Vice President whether he had endeavoured to ascertain from the Inspectors if they applied their test to the merits of the teachers or to those of the scholars. The answer of the right hon. Gentleman was, that the number of Inspectors was about thirty-five, that it was not their duty to examine every child, and that it would be almost impossible to do so.
He should like to know the test of efficiency which had been applied in making the examinations. He had observed throughout the whole report of the Commissioners a tendency to expect too much from village schools. The Commissioners-reported that only 25 per cent of the children remained in school up to the age of twelve years and passed into the upper classes; and they assumed that only that percentage was successfully educated. It might follow from the first fact that only 25 per cent of the children could be successfully educated; but it did not follow that the other 75 per cent got no education at all. If they ap- 69 plied the percentage test to the children in the upper classes, and took the large number of boys who were taken from school at 14 or 15, and put into the navy, would they say that, because those boys could not have been successfully educated, therefore they had not been educated at all? He thought that in considering this question sufficient attention had not been paid by the Committee of Council to the average attendance of the children throughout the year. In page 294 of their Report the Commissioners stated—Of the 1,549,312 children whose names are on the books of public elementary day schools belonging to the religious denominations, only 19.3 per cent were in their twelfth year or upwards, and only that proportion, therefore, can be regarded as educated up to the standard suited to their stations. As many as 786,202 attend for less than 100 days in the year, and can therefore hardly receive a serviceable amount of education, while our evidence goes to prove that a large proportion even of those whose attendance is more regular, fail in obtaining it on account of inefficient teaching.They had about 50 per cent of the children who did not attend long enough to learn properly, and therefore only 25 per cent who could be, but were not, taught successfully. In many districts of the country the children were either taken away from school or attended very irregularly from March to December. Was it, then, the fault entirely of the system that the children of the poorer classes did not learn well reading, writing, and arithmetic? Taking the same schools, they had 40 per cent of the children attending less than one year and 64 per cent attending less than two years. What education would they have at Eton or Harrow if the attendance was like that, even supposing that the boys only left one school to go to another? Mr. Fraser, in speaking on this point, said—There are such demands for juvenile, almost infantile labour, that anything like regularity of attendance or continuance of instruction is impossible. If we take in Herefordshire seven annual harvests, in which children are largely occupied, some estimate may be formed of the difficulties through which the education of the children of the rural poor has to force its way.Then Mr. Hedley bore this testimony—In the East of England the general complaint is, that from the constant absence of the children, there is hardly such a thing as progress in the education of children above eight years old. Teachers can usually do no more than bring the elder children up again to the point they reached before. Children begin to have a money value the moment they can crow.70 Those observations showed how important an element was the attendance of the children at the schools. He might be told that this very irregularity of attendance was one of the faults of the present system, and that improved attendance would result from improved schools. But Mr. Hedley, in his Report, stated that among the causes operating against the progress of improvement in schools the irregular attendance of children could not be altogether put aside; that the demand for children at harvest-time was excessive; that the prospect of gain outstripped in parents' minds the advantages of education; and; that in this there seemed to be no difference between a good and a bad school. It was in accordance with the dictates of common sense and everyday experience that a parent earning 13s. 6d. a week, and having three young children, each capable of earning their 3s., would add 9s. a week to the family stock, and would put aside considerations of schoolmasters and education, by which, probably, he himself had benefited little. But the question was not one in which merely parents interfered; the interests of employers were also directly concerned. The question was one of good farming, and the better the farming was, the more difficult it would be to keep up the regularity of school attendance. Mr. Hedley said—I have spoken to farmers, and they informed me that at certain times they want the children, and they must have them.The school could wait, but they could not afford to let the season pass. Another thing to be taken into consideration was the wonderful ignorance of many village children when they first came to school; the fault lay not with the school, but with the extraordinary ignorance and carelessness of the parents. The Commissioners reported that at St. George's School Sheffield, of 369 children admitted or readmitted, there were 226 who had never been at an infant school, 139 who could not tell their letters, 272 who could not write their names, and 291 who had never learnt any arithmetic. What was a teacher to do with children like these? A fact cognate to the irregularity of attendance was the dulness which came over children after a long absence from school. During that interval they never saw a book, and did not, as in the higher classes, mix with people of intellect or receive amusement blended with instruction. So far from learning anything, their capacity deterio- 71 rated, and they were no longer as capable of receiving instruction as when they left. Irregularity of attendance, ignorance of the children themselves, frequent change from one school to another, and the bad effects of mixing with the illiterate people among whom they lived—all these elements of the present system would continue to exist, and would prevent the new plan from being as efficient as the right hon. Gentleman could wish. He admitted that the existing system was imperfect, and that great improvements might be made in the art of teaching and learning. It would be very extraordinary if a system which had only been established twenty years, and in some schools but a few months, was not in some respects capable of improvement. He was prepared to go the full length with the Commissioners in their recommendation "that every child in all schools should he examined." Every manager of a good school would eagerly welcome a proper system of examination. The school with which he was more intimately acquainted had recently been visited by the Government Inspector, who was kind enough not only to inspect the school, but to leave behind him the results of his investigation, so that the managers knew in what particular every child had failed. The wonderful fabric of argument which he had seen in different papers, to the effect that managers of schools, because they objected to allow everything to depend on the result of a single examination, were therefore opposed to examination itself, was at once upset. It could not be too clearly understood that in supporting the first Resolution of the series introduced by the right hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Walpole), Members were merely refusing to consent to make everything depend on the results of a single examination. The second recommendation of the Commissioners was that a pecuniary inducement be offered to the schoolmaster, "to give a sound foundation of learning to the younger children, as well as to finish the education of the elder children." That was an excellent proposal, and it was quite possible that, by paying increased attention to children at the early age when they attended school more regularly, gratifying results might be obtained. But he looked in vain through the Commissioners' Report for any passage bearing out the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) that the whole of the payments should be based on a knowledge of reading, writing, 72 and arithmetic. The Commissioners not only did not recommend, in accordance with the principle of the Revised Code, that Government aid should depend entirely on examination, but they objected strongly to this course. They said, "To raise the general character of the children, both morally and intellectually, is, we believe, and must always be, the highest aim of education, and we are far from desiring to supersede this by any plan of a mere examination, into the mere mechanical work, of elementary education." What did the Revised Code propose? Why, to make the whole, of the payments practically depend on the mere examination into the mere mechanical work of elementary education, which the Commissioners so strongly deprecated., In estimating the fruits of a system, the good results must be taken into account as well as the bad; and if during the twenty years of its existence the present system of Government aid had produced, a large force of trained masters and an excellent staff of pupil-teachers, he did not think its demerits were such as to call for the adoption of a mode of apportioning the grant diametrically opposed to that hitherto pursued. He had himself had an opportunity within the last few days of seeing how the Revised Code and the mode of grouping by age would work, the Inspector having by way of experiment examined his school on that principle. Of course, the trial was made under circumstances unfavourable to the school, owing to its novelty and the want of preparation for it on the part of the scholars; and the figures exhibiting its result were therefore only approximate. The school contained about 105 scholars, one-third of whom belonged to the lower middle-class—blacksmiths, gardeners, small shopkeepers—and the rest were labourers' children. Its present grant was £45 a year. Under the Revised Code it would have received exactly £25, or, excluding all the children above twelve years of age, only £17. That was the case of a school which, he believed had been pretty efficient and successful in its working. The Revised Code might answer very fairly, or at least might not do much harm in regard to schools supported by a resident proprietor, and where there was a considerable number of children of the lower middle class, who being sharper and more regular in their attendance than children of the class below them, would be better able to earn the grant, and in that case there would be no excuse 73 for the schoolmaster being unable to teach them. But schools of that description were precisely those which stood least in need of State assistance. To illustrate the difficulty of bringing labourers' children to school, whatever might be the management, he would give the statistics of the attendance in 186 L at the school to which he referred. Two-thirds of the scholars, as he had mentioned, were labourers' children; 15 per cent of the children above the class of labourers attended under 100 times, 46 per cent under 200, and 27 per cent over 200. That was a satisfactory result. As regarded the labouring class, when under the same management, the same clergyman and same schoolmaster, there was a totally different result. The attendance of this class was 54 per cent under 100 times, 35 per cent under 200 times, and 11 per cent over 200 times. That was a matter that could not possibly have anything to do with the managers, or the schoolmaster, or the clergyman. It depended solely on the condition of the parents. How would the Revised Code answer where, of the labourers' children, 50 per cent attended less than 100 times? The Commissioners stated that scholars attending less than 100 days were incapable of receiving a good education. How, then, would the new Code operate on schools containing a large proportion of labourers' children, who attended so irregularly? Such schools would be well off if they obtained one-third of their present grant. But what would be the case when the Inspector came round to a parish where the landlord was an absentee? A school-manager in a parish having an absentee proprietor and a poor population would find at the year's end that there was a considerable balance on the wrong side of his account. He would say, "Next year I must either increase my receipts or diminish my payments; no other alternative is open to me." His grant being cut down to one-third of its previous amount, owing to the alleged inefficiency of the teaching, he would write to his absentee proprietor for a subscription to make up the deficiency. The absentee proprietor, acting on the commercial principle now in favour with the Government, would probably reply, "As the State does not think your school good enough to be entitled to its assistance, neither do I think it entitled to receive more of mine and I cannot send you more money." Take the case of a school containing 90 74 children, under a certificated master and a pupil-teacher. The manager, if he tried to reduce his expenditure by getting rid of the pupil-teacher, would be fined £10 by the Government, He had perhaps 15 scholars over twelve years of age, who could not receive any of the grant for the future, and he said, "I am not rich and cannot afford to teach you, therefore you must go away." Then, turning to the scholars who failed by their attendance, or otherwise, to earn the capitation grant, he told them, "I am very sorry that I cannot keep you at my school, but you do not pay." And when he found children of eight or nine who did not know their alphabet coming to his school, he would also decline to take them, because by no possibility were they likely to pay. A school manager would, perhaps, get rid of his pupil-teacher without incurring a penalty, take £10 or £20 off the master's salary, and reduce the number of his scholars—say, from 100 to 60, securing more of the grant by the smaller number than by the larger. By that means the 60 children might receive a good education; but what would become of the 40 others who were thrown uninstructed upon the wide world? That he was not describing an imaginary evil was shown by the fact, that within the last few days he had seen a memorial from the managers of a large Wesleyan School in which they stated, that if the Revised Code passed, they must, in self-defence, refuse to admit all children who were not likely to pass the examination, and dismiss not only all children who from stupidity or irregular attendance were likely to fail, but also all children above twelve years of age who could not again obtain any portion of the grant. It was impossible to teach 600,000 children up to one pattern, or treat a contract for education like one for so many boots and shoes. In the one case, the contractor would have complete control of the materials, and be unrestricted as to place or persons employed; but it was otherwise in the case of education, where it was necessary to employ a certificated master to obtain Government aid, and where a fine of £10 was inflicted if a pupil-teacher was not engaged. He did not think the Revised Code dealt fairly with school managers. There was a mutual obligation between managers and the Government; for if the managers were indebted to Government for assistance, how would the Government be able to carry on an effective 75 system of national education without the assistance of local managers? It was not right to make the assistance granted to managers dependent entirely upon the results of examination. He had seen an able article in The Times in which it was argued that because young men were subjected to examinations upon entering college, the army, the Civil Service, and other departments of public life, therefore examination was necessary in the case of education. But there was this difference—that in the cases quoted the person who passed the examination was the person who gained or lost by the result. But in the case of schools it was the child who failed to pass, and it was the managers and the schoolmaster who were punished. This reminded him of a remark of the Duke, who was asked, when the news of the battle of Navarino arrived, if it was not a great victory? The Duke replied, "Yes, it is a great victory, but you knocked down the wrong man." So in the present instance the right hon. Gentleman had knocked down the wrong person. A child failed to pass an examination from non-attendance—of that nonattendance the parent, anxious to gain by the child's labour, was the cause, but the schoolmaster was to be the sufferer, and not the child or his parents. In the article in The Times to which he had referred he found another fallacy. A noble Lord "in another place" spoke in favour of an examination in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and said that, under the existing system, a large proportion of the children who left school ignorant of those arts could not be expected to become useful or moral citizens. A more extraordinary statement was never made. There were hundreds of labourers in his neighbourhood who had forgotten the reading and writing they had been taught, but they were not therefore less useful or bad citizens. A child might forget how to read or write, but he seldom forgot the moral habits he acquired at school. The Revised Code did not deal fairly with teachers in making their remuneration dependent upon the results of examination. He contended that in dealing with all servants of the State, whether Insolvent Court officers or school teachers, great care should be taken to avoid even a suspicion of unfairness on the part of the State. Upon this point he need only quote the opinions of Dr. Vaughan and Mr. Fraser, able advocates of the new 76 Code. Dr. Vaughan said that it would be unfair to hold that a teacher bad been careless or indolent, simply because some of his scholars were ignorant; but he thought that a knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic, could be obtained by the commonest mind. Mr. Fraser, however, considered that reading, writing, and arithmetic, demanded a certain amount of mental culture. Therefore, it appeared that it would be unjust to hold the teacher responsible for the failure of his scholars. An able man, a friend of his, said that he was in favour of the Revised Code, but that it had two faults. This reminded him of the story of a gentleman who had sold a horse, and when he was asked by the purchaser what were its faults replied that it had but two—one, that when turned out it was very bad to catch; and the other, that when it was caught it was not worth catching. Of course his friend did not speak of the Revised Code in so flippant a manner as this. What he said was, that he was in favour of examination being the test of a school, but, with grouping by age, as a fair test it was impracticable; that he was in favour of payment for results, but that if the Revised Code was carried out without the adoption of a measure to compel parents to send their children to school, beneficial results were impossible. In conclusion, he must express his opinion that before deciding how the Government grant was to be given they must determine what was the end and object of the attendance of children at school. If it was merely that they might get a certain amount of religious instruction, and a certain knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic, then, with some fairer test than grouping by age, examination and payment founded upon it might work well. But if the object was that the children should receive more extended learning than this—that they should learn in addition truth, honesty, civility, and attention to the feelings of those around them—if wished to enable the most unlearned and ignorant to attain a respectable position in this life, and to fit them for the life to come—if they wished to bring children to the schools and not to drive them away—if they wished to bring them within those benign influences which. brought good results—results in the man self-evident to the clergyman, the magistrate, and the employer of labour; results in the child barely perceptible to the Inspector, impalpable to their boasted me- 77 chanism of examination—if they wished not that mere rota and mechanical instruction, but all beneficial issues should result from attendance at school—then let them be careful, lest in grasping at a shadow they should throw away the substance; let them pause before they entirely destroyed the present system of education, which, with many faults and manifold imperfections, had done much good even to the cause of education, and had earned from the Commissioners the praise that under it the encouragement of religion and humanity, the highest duties which schools had to perform, had been those which they had been best able to discharge.
§ MR. BUXTON
said, he was one of those managers of whom the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanhope) had spoken with so much compassion. Having for many years superintended a school of 1,200 children, under Government pay, he had been obliged to give close study to the subject, and for a time he felt, to use the phrase of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, under a cloud of uncertainty. He thought, however, that the real way of grappling with the subject, was to investigate these three questions—first, would the new system tend to damp religious teaching; and, second, would it stimulate secular teaching? He would not go into the religious questions. He had imagined that spectre was laid, and that there was a general acknowledgment that the new Code would leave things in that respect where they were. Could anybody acquainted with the working of a school suppose that the schoolmaster would encroach on the time allotted to religious teaching, because the school would gain a larger grant for instruction in the three R's? The best way, after all, to teach reading was to make the children understand the sense of the words they read. It would, therefore, be the interest of the master to see that his pupils comprehended the full force of what they read in the religious text-books. It was monstrous to charge those who approved the new Code with a design to neglect religious teaching for the sake of the infinitesimal extra payment which they might procure by devoting all the time and energies of the school to secular education. The managers of the schools were incapable of such conduct; his firm conviction was that they would not relax their zeal for the religious teaching of the children of the poor whether they were 78 paid for it or not. But, after all, the question which lay at the heart of the matter was, did the present system do the work it was meant for? If the system was doing its work—if the children, so far as could reasonably be expected, were leaving the schools with well-taught minds, the other difficulties must be got over as best they might. They were, after all, incidents not vital. If the present system was doing for the children of the working class in England as much, or nearly as much, as could be done, it would be folly to dash it to pieces for the chance of the substituted system proving less costly and less complex. On the other hand, if the system were not doing the work it was meant for; if, with all their outlay of money, labour, and thought, the children of the working class were not receiving an education proportionate thereto; if only a minority were being well taught, while the majority were leaving school having received only a few innutritious husks of so called instruction—then that consideration must be paramount, and they were bound to support the Government in giving up a system by which the working class was cheated of the good it might get, so as to replace it by an arrangement more likely to give them that priceless boon of a sound education, and at the same time to render to the nation a quid pro quo for its outlay. He would now examine whether the system was teaching the elements of education to the great mass of the children below 12. He said "below 12" because everybody knew that the children who remained at school after 12 did not as a rule belong to the working class, but were the children of petty tradesmen. One proof of the efficiency of the present system consisted of the now celebrated statement, that of the inspected schools receiving grants 88 per cent were "good" or "fair" in reading, 89 in writing, 81 in arithmetic. Then there were the reports of the Inspectors. Mr. Watkins said that there was good reason to be satisfied with the progress of school children in the elementary subjects. Messrs. Fussell, Mitchell, Kennedy, Stewart, Moncreiff, Morell, and Bowstead also described the elementary instruction as sound and practical. Of the Assistant Commissioners, Messrs. Cumin, Wilkinson, Hodgson, Hedley, and Fraser believed that the instruction was not defective in its primary stages. Such evidence was, no doubt, weighty: but now for the other side. The tabular 79 statement he had quoted was alleged to be in reality of small value, for the word "fair" applied to a school by an Inspector was but a vague approval of the general teaching, often of the upper classes only, at most of the average number of children, and did not prove that a large proportion of them were being well grounded. Again, Mr. Norris declared that three out of four—he had since corrected it to 55 per cent—of the children left school with only such a smattering of education as they might have picked up in the lower classes. Mr. Fussell said that reading, writing, and arithmetic were the most rarely well taught. Mr. Winder said it was impossible to overstate the imbecility with which reading was taught by the ordinary pupil-teachers. Messrs. Fraser, Mitchell, Alderson, Stewart, Brookfield, Hedley, Cumin, Hodgson, and Foster concurred in condemning the reading and spelling. Mr. Robinson and Dr. Vaughan took much the same view. Amid this perplexing collision of evidence some light might be got from the course taken by the opponents of the Code. At first, till the imprudence of that line of argument had been pointed out to them, to use Spenser's words, "They reared a most outrageous, dreadful, yelling cry," against the Revised Code; especially on the ground that it would strip their schools of a large amount of Government aid, because their children could not stand an examination in those elementary subjects. And even now, of the pamphlets which every day came, not "single files, but in battalions," scarcely one but helped to demolish the tabular statement and the other favourable evidence by calling Heaven and earth to witness that to teach the three "R's" to the mass of the children was a thing impossible. But finally there lay before them the conclusions come to by the Commission, conclusions most emphatically stated. The Commissioners say decidedly, "The children are not receiving the kind of education they require." Again they said, "The evidence before us from Her Majesty's Inspectors"—Inspectors, be it noted, not their own Assistant Commissioners—"is overwhelming in its proof that not more than one quarter of the children receive a good education." They said they gave the closest investigation to this point, and were obliged to come to the conclusion that the instruction given was commonly "both too ambitious and too superficial;" that, except in the very best schools, it had been 80 too exclusively adapted to the elder scholars to the neglect of the younger, and often omitted to give the scholar a thorough grounding in the simpler but most essential parts of instruction. Elsewhere they said, and most justly, that the very staple of life in the education of a poor scholar was his reading, but that on this point the complaints of Inspectors were perhaps more nearly unanimous than on any other. Surely it would be very presumptuous lightly to set aside those definite conclusions of the Commissioners. They could have no possible motive for decrying the system. They bad devoted between two and three years to its investigation. They heard the evidence of a host of persons best able to judge. They were men themselves of remarkable ability and of the highest integrity. In striving to make up his mind on this question he felt that the decision of the Commissioners, backed up by such weighty evidence from the Inspectors and from the Assistant Commissioners, ought to overbear any but the strongest evidence on the other side. Doubtless, in this, as in every other practical question, the mind might be for a while perplexed by the force of the facts found lying first on one side and then on the other. Upon the whole, however, it seemed to him that the conclusion must be admitted that the mass of the children below twelve were not being taught nearly so well as they might be the elements of education. No doubt it was a serious, perhaps even an alarming thing, to break to pieces that which had been built with such care, and which had become so deeply embodied in the affections of a great multitude of people. Feeling how much he himself should have shrunk from such an enterprise, he was the more struck by what seemed to him the courage and patriotism which led Lord Granville and the Vice President of Education to inaugurate this great revolution. So far from deserving the abuse that had been cast upon them, it seemed to him that they deserved the highest praise for the resolution with which they had acted on the Report of the Commissioners, and had set about to rectify what was found to be amiss. It seemed to him that Government were bound in duty and could only be restrained by a prudence bordering on timidity from acting on the conclusion come to by the Commissioners. But then, if a radical change was to be made, was it not unavoidable in the new system to apply the most powerful, the most drastic stimulus 81 possible, to the training of the lowest classes in the first elements of education? It was there that the system so far had failed. It was there that the great difficulty must always arise. Reason and experience equally demonstrated that it would always require the most forcible spur that could be given to keep the teachers constantly and strenuously at work on the tedious drudgery of breaking in young children to the elements of instruction. He rejoiced that the Government had resolved to say to the promoters of education, "We are ready to aid your efforts with no niggard hand; but in justice to the taxpayers, who supply the funds, and in justice to the parents of the children, we shall stipulate henceforth that the children for whom we pay shall at least be taught to read, to write, and to cipher." The test that under the new Code would be applied to schools would search out those essentials. It was the only test in the application of which there could be anything like precision. It was the only test that could grate on no religious feelings. By causing the children to be more thoroughly taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, it would render the schools more popular with the parents. He was persuaded that the general result would be that, under the animating stimulus of "piece" instead of "day" work, the teachers would work with a zest hitherto unknown, and before which the difficulties which were now apprehended would melt into thin air. He should give his hearty vote in favour of the proposed system, because he thought, after no brief or superficial inquiry, that it would give a; powerful and invigorating stimulus to the education of the poor.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken seemed to think that because there were evils in the existing system, he was bound himself, and even entitled to call upon the House, to vote for whatever remedy the Government pleased to provide. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman in thinking that the present system was defective—though not to the extent described—and he would join in supporting any hon. Member in any well-considered measure to remove those defects; but he objected to the Government scheme, because it did not remedy existing evils, and rather added to their number and intensity. The complaints against the existing system might 82 be summed up thus—that it did not reach poor districts, poor schools, and dull pupils. But in all these three particulars, the Revised Code would be much worse than its predecessor. First as to poor districts: It was said that the Government aid did not stimulate education in large rural and widely-scattered districts, where the population was small and money scarce. Well, and what was the proposed remedy? The principle of the Revised Code was that it made the grant depend upon two conditions—that the children should be present on a certain day, and that, being there, they should pass a certain examination. Now, were these two conditions likely to be fulfilled in the poor, or in the rich districts? Take attendance first. In summer, the children in a rural district would be prevented from attending on the day fixed because they were hay-making, harvesting, hop-picking, and so forth; and in winter, they would be hindered by snowstorms, by bad weather, and by bad roads, and by the inability of the parents to pay the school pence. In town districts the snow storms and the bad roads would not operate; there was no field work for the children to do; and whether in summer or in winter they might generally be present on the appointed day. Thus, the children in the rich town districts would be able to attend, while those in the poor country places would be very often kept away; and the same causes would affect the results of the examination, since those who attended regularly would, of course, be most likely to satisfy the Inspector; those who were oftenest absent would be least fitted to do so. The town children would fail in the examination far less frequently than the children in the rural districts. Therefore for the purpose of succouring poor and sparely-populated districts the Revised Code was the most inadequate machinery which could possibly be devised; and the effects would even be the reverse of what its author claimed for it. Again, in new schools the children were necessarily for their age uneducated, and in the groups into which they would be divided under the Revised Code they would be unable to answer the questions of the Inspector, so that the grant would not be paid in respect of them. The new schools, therefore, would be in a more destitute condition than the old schools. For the purpose, therefore, of extending education into districts which did not at present enjoy it, 83 the Revised Code would afford the most inadequate machinery which could be devised. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Committee on Education said, they might do one of two things—aid efficiency, or aid indigence. The present Code aided efficiency. The complaint was that it aided efficiency too well. But the Revised Code, which the Government sought to substitute, professed on its front only to aid efficiency, and disregarded the claims of indigence altogether. The Revised Code, therefore, did not remedy any of the faults charged against the existing system, but it went further in an opposite direction. It gave more aid to the schools which did not want it, because they were efficient, and less aid to the schools, which realty did want. Another claim in favour of the Revised Code was that it would be less expensive, and he believed that argument would draw into the lobby the greater number of those who would vote for it. No doubt the Vote had grown, enormously, and had largely increased beyond the amount which was first contemplated; and the extravagant prophecies as to the ultimate accumulation were enough to frighten the House of Commons out of its financial propriety. But was the Revised Code likely to be an improvement in that respect? The right hon. Gentleman gave no details as to the number of Inspectors which it would require to administer the new Code, and he was compelled to rely upon an estimate without any experimental test. He did not attach the same weight as the hon. Gentlemen who had just spoken (Mr. Buxton) to the authority of the Royal Commissioners; but as the whole Code was founded upon their recommendations, Ministers were likely to rest upon their advice. The Commissioners were very severe upon the existing Inspectors for the poverty of their examinations. Mr. Cook said, he thought he could examine 150 boys in an hour and a half. Mr. Cook was a very distinguished Inspector, and they pitted him against a non-official man. Mr. M'Leod, the head master of the model school in the Military Asylum at Chelsea, was asked by the Commissioners how long it would take him to examine a division of the school? and Mr. M'Leod said he could examine 70 boys in the upper division upon the subjects specified in a day. The contrast between a whole day required by Mr. M'Leod to examine 70 boys, and an hour and a half required by Mr. Cook to 84 examine 150, was truly said by the Commissioners to be striking A whole day was rather a vague term; for inspecting purposes it would probably mean eight hours; but taking it at seven hours, Mr. M'Leod would take ten times as long to examine the same number of boys as Mr. Cook. Calculated upon Mr. M'Leod's estimate, the new system would take ten times as long for inspection as the old. In other words, there must be ten times as many Inspectors. There were now sixty-two Inspectors, averaging about £500 a year for salary and expenses. Under the new system there must, taking Mr. M'Leod's statement as the basis of calculation, be 620 Inspectors, costing£310,000 a year. The House knew the Chancellor of the Exchequer too well to suppose that he would admit that item into his Budget. He did not himself believe that 620 inspectors would be appointed, or that£310,000 a year would be spent in inspection. But the Government was left in this dilemma—either according to the Royal Commissioners they would conduct the new system upon an inefficient scale, or they would spend upon it a gigantic sum of money. They were told by Dr. Temple, who had written a letter to The Times that morning, that inspection might be done just as cheaply under the new system as under the old. Dr. Temple was a great authority, and had doubtless made his calculations with care; but some words in his letter filled him with alarm, and those were the words which suggested that an Inspector should examine the upper classes and look at the log-book, and take half a dozen clerks with him to examine the lower classes. Something of the same kind was shadowed forth by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) in answer to a question which was put to him. The right hon. Gentleman did not call them clerks, but he said Inspectors would be appointed lower in social rank, lower in attainments, and lower in salary. He entreated the House to remember that the power of the Inspectors would be very different from what it was now. Under the present system their duty was limited to making reports, and they never refused the whole grant; but under the new system the power of the Inspectors would be unlimited; they would be able to give or withhold the grant at their pleasure. The "drastic stimulus" of which the hon. Gentleman had spoken, as if the managers were fat cattle who could not be moved 85 without a goad, would be applied, and upon the inspectors would depend whether it would be applied severely or not. These low-paid Inspectors, or clerks, told off from the desks in Downing Street, would go down into the country, summon the managers before them, and decide whether the managers were to be reimbursed or whether they were to be fined for their indolence by moans of the "drastic stimulus" of the Privy Council. He could not conceive duties more delicate than those which the Inspectors would have to perform. Under the new system, the temptation to falsify the log-book would be enormous, because upon the entries in it would depend the whole Government income of the school. Where temptation was great, suspicion would be rife. The inspectors would feel justified in entertaining suspicions, and, of course, feel justified in making inquiries of the managers and teachers. But the House must know how sensitive of external interference and how proud were the managers of schools. Persons below themselves in the social scale would be putting invidious questions, and inflicting penalties upon the managers to stimulate them to their duties. Would they bear this patiently? He was quite sure the reverse would be the case, and that when the managers found themselves at the mercy of these educational excisemen, they would throw up their offices in disgust, and leave the Government to educate the children as best they could. He had spoken of the benefits of the new Code—he would now speak of some of its evils. It was all very well to speak of "improving the present mode of education," of applying "drastic stimulants," of "goading and spurring managers to their duty." His (Lord Robert Cecil's) answer was, they were treating the managers as slaves, and not as partners, and the result of the energetic treatment would be that they would kill the patient outright. They were treating as dust beneath their feet, and not as equals, men whose feelings they ought to respect, and whose co-operation they ought by conciliation to seek to secure. It might be true that the managers would not lose very heavily, although he believed they would. They were embarking upon an unknown sea, with nothing to guide them. There had been no experiments, and they were led to trust entirely to the scheme which the right hon. Gentleman had evolved out of his own internal consciousness. It was important under 86 these circumstances to consider, not what were the theories of Downing Street, but what the practical men working throughout the country thought would be the result. The managers of the schools at Stepney said they would lose a third of their income under the new code; and that was the lowest estimate in all the returns. The National Society, Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, Borne managers at York, and others, put their loss at two-fifths; thirty-three schools at Manchester, at one-half; the managers of the Wesley an model school and schools at Sheffield, at three-fifths; while some managers at Manchester set the loss at two-thirds. Thus there was a great variation in the figures; but all agreed that there would be a loss, and their estimates of that loss varied from one-third to two-thirds of their present income. But the positive loss was the smallest part of the evil which the Government proposed to inflict; the contingent loss would drive the managers from office, and render the support of the schools impossible. The peculiarity of the system was, that the grant was not to depend on industry, but on a hundred other things—such as the impediments which might prevent the children attending school, the nervousness of the children, the temper of the examiner—with which the managers or teachers could have nothing to do, and for which, therefore, they could not be held responsible in the slightest degree. It was all very well for the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Buxton) to look upon this matter philosophically; but it should be recollected that the managers were poor men, clergymen in the receipt of small incomes, who would be utterly unable to bear the crushing weight the right hon. Gentleman proposed to place upon them. These managers, who were practically clergymen with £200 or£250 a year, were asked to risk a sum equal to a sixth part or nearly a fourth of their income upon a scheme which made the risk depend upon such probable contingencies as the weather; or the attendance of either the child or the inspector, or the humour of the latter while performing his duties of examiner. It was impossible to make such a demand; and if it were persisted in, it would be found that the managers would not comply with it. He did not pronounce this opinion on a mere hypothesis, for the papers to which he had already referred showed that the managers of schools 87 at Whitechapel, Bristol, Preston, Chelsea, Wisbeach, Gloucester, Wakefield, Worcester, Carmarthen, and many other places, had declared that they could not continue the system if this Revised Code was passed. He might parenthetically remark that one of the first effects of the Revised Code was that the pupil-teachers were already leaving in several places. It was evident that the managers regarded the Revised Code as a fatal dose; that they felt the "drastic stimulant" was too much for them; and that the, cold-water cure the right hon. Gentleman, was applying would not only fail to cure, but would kill the patient. One of the most remarkable features of the Revised Code was the extremely extravagant rashness which had characterized the conduct of its promoters. They might be right; but he did not believe it—still, with the difficulties that lay before them, the actual want of evidence on which they could ground their conduct rendered their rashness, which perilled so much to gain so little, extraordinary beyond measure. It was only on the 11th of July last year,: that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) told the House that nothing was further from his intention than to alter in any way the condition of the pupil-teachers. [Mr. LOWE was understood to express dissent.] He had got into trouble the other night by quoting the right hon. Gentleman; but, however, these were, his words, "We intend to preserve the interests of the pupil-teachers, to take care that they shall serve, as now, for a period of five years." Those were the very words used by the right hon. Gentleman. Yet within a fortnight after that announcement the right hon. Gentleman issued a Minute which provided not only that the pupil-teachers should not serve for five years, but should be liable to a determination of their engagement after six months' notice. This was a fundamental alteration, utterly depriving them of their character of pupil-teachers, and reducing them to the position of monitors, and, as his right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University had already pointed out, he had done this apparently without taking counsel from Parliament, or advising with his colleagues. It could only be regarded as a most rash and most extraordinary change. But the House was bound to take into consideration the magnitude of the enterprise in which it was asked to embark when it was invited to adopt this Revised Code. They should 88 remember the difficulty with which the present system had been built up, the prejudices with which it had had to contend, the labour, the expense, the self-devotion, and conciliation which had been expended in inducing the country to accede to the system under which so much had been done, and education had been spread so far and wide. They were asked to risk all this. They had heard the opinions of the managers as to the continuation of their schools. The right hon. Gentleman contradicted all that, and said that the managers would lose little, and appeared to believe they would not give up their schools. He (Lord Robert Cecil) would, however, ask the House to believe for once that the practical men were right, and that the theorists were wrong; for such things had happened in the world before. If such turned out really to be the case, what would be the result? This fabric, the present system, which had been built up with so much care, was to be placed at the mercy of the right hon. Gentleman, and the House was asked to put a weapon into his hands by which he could pulverise it with a single blow. The right hon. Gentleman said he was merely striking off excrescences. Those who had brought the system to its present condition were of a different opinion. But if the right hon. Gentleman was wrong, and the practical men were right, which was much more probable, it might be taken for granted that the evil could not be remedied. The present system had been established with a confidence in the management of the Government. With that feeling the managers had sacrificed their time and their money; and if they once learned that they might at any time be cast aside—that a philosopher in Downing Street to-day made an alteration which another philosopher in Downing Street might to-morrow again alter, they would learn to distrust all Govermental schemes. It would then be found too late how impossible it was to restore with any expenditure of time and money principles which were so valued—a system which had done SO much, and which they were now asked rashly to overthrow.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, it was with great reluctance that he found he could not concur in the plan of the Government—not so much because he was an habitual supporter of theirs; for it was agreed on all hands that this was not a party question—but because it was impossible to deny that the administration 89 of the educational grant did require some reform. It was so unusual to find an Administration coming forward with administrative reform that no one would refuse it except on very strong reasons; but, having had some considerable experience in educational matters, he was convinced that the change contemplated by; the Revised Code Would be a destruction of the present system, and would rather; aggravate the evils complained of than remedy them. The chief evil complained of was, that successful as the system had been, speaking generally—and its general success was universally allowed—yet that it was not a complete success. The Royal Commissioners admitted that the system had worked successfully; that the schools under it had increased in quantity and improved in quality; that it had stimulated private benevolence; that the schools had absorbed vast numbers of the population, and that the inspected schools were better than the uninspected schools. But it was admitted that the inspected schools were capable of improvement in an important degree—namely, with respect to the elementary education imparted. He admitted, that unless success could be obtained on this particular point, they had no right to apply the taxes of the country to educational purposes, and there seemed to be a general concurrence of opinion that, from some cause or other, the elementary teaching of the junior classes was not as successful as it should be. They had certainly arrived at one important fact in the course of this discussion—namely, that the calculations on which the Royal Commissioners had based their report, and on which this Code had mainly proceeded, were erroneous. Still, it was acknowledged that from some cause elementary education had been in a measure neglected. He thought the right hon. Gentleman was right in probing for the cause of the disease, also in thinking that examination was a good remedy; but he was wrong when, in applying that remedy, he forsook the recommendations of the Commissioners, and neglected their views. The right hon. Gentleman proposed that results only should be paid for, so that if the child was not educated, the State would, at least, be able to retain its money—they would get value received for their money. This was a very tempting offer to the representatives of a people who very often did not get value received for their money. But in making so sure that the State should 90 not get what it did not want, let them take care lest it failed in getting what it did want. With regard to results, from whom did the right hon. Gentleman expect them? The right hon. Gentleman said to the managers of the schools, "The Government will help you, provided you produce a certain amount of positive acquirements under certain conditions—namely, good building, good apparatus, and trained masters." Those were conditions arrived at only at great cost; but for none of these costs did the right hon. Gentleman propose to pay, although he compelled them to be incurred, unless the results were arrived at. Of whom did the right hon. Gentleman ask this? He (Mr. Forster) was aware that the managers upon whom the right hon. Gentleman made this demand were not a very popular body just now. The House had heard how they had pestered the right hon. Gentleman. They were Gentlemen who felt they were performing a duty not necessarily incumbent on them, though they felt it a duty in their conscience. They felt that this Code was injuring them in the performance of that duty, and they not unnaturally represented their disapproval in rather strong language. Many of these managers were members of Dissenting congregations; and by means of subscriptions, often obtained with great trouble, they gave an education, not only to the children of those who were members of their own congregation, but to the children of those who were not members of their denomination at all. In his own neighbourhood, the Wesleyans in their schools taught a great number of poor children who did not belong to their body. A great proportion of the managers throughout the country were hard-worked and ill-paid curates, and these men, not seldom, had to deny an education to their own children, while they discharged their duty in educating the children of the poor. When any one of these managers had fulfilled all the costly conditions required by the State as to the means of teaching, he, of course, expected the State to pay the share it had engaged to pay. But what did the right hon. Gentleman say to him? He says, "Here is a child of a poor man. You think it is your duty to educate him. I also think it is my duty, and therefore I will help you in this way. If at the end of the year you bring that child and prove to me he has been taught in a certain 91 costly building, with certain costly apparatus, and by certain machinery also costly, by masters who I determine shall be costly, what do you expect?" The manager, of course, says, "That you will pay me." "No," says the right hon. Gentleman, "I shall not pay you unless the child can do a certain amount of reading, writing, and arithmetic; and not only that, but I will have your nine-years-old child up to the nine-years-old requirements, and your eleven-years old up to the eleven years requirements." But the manager, in reply, says, "I cannot do that, as a child of nine years old may come to me utterly untaught." The right hon. Gentleman replies, "I cannot help that; you ought to have got him before." But the manager may add, "I will keep him till twelve or thirteen, if you will allow me." The right hon. Gentleman says, "No, I will not pay you a farthing for him if you keep him after eleven, unless indeed he chooses to go to a night-school;" to which he (Mr. Forster) was sure he was not at all likely to go. It was generally supposed that the evil most to be complained of was that children did not remain sufficiently long at school; but the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the children of the poor ought not to remain at school after eleven years of age. Might they not expect, that if the unfortunate manager found such conditions attached to his philanthropic doty—that it was so fettered and hampered—that he would turn round and say, "I find you have relieved me of my responsibility, you had better teach the child yourself"? He thought that this ought to make them consider whether the relationship between the managers and the Government was not after all what had been once or twice alluded to, that the State and the managers did not stand to one another in the relationship of buyer and seller; but were rather co-partners in this work of education; and, indeed, it was forgetfulness of this fact that had led the Government to throw on the managers a responsibility and risk which, if they declined to incur, as they very fairly might, must be most injurious to the cause of education throughout the country. There were three courses which the State might have taken in this matter of education. The State might have left it alone altogether, in the manner referred to by the Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines); but that course the State had not taken. The nation might 92 have taken the education of the children entirely into its own hands, as in Prussia and America; but that plan had not been adopted. What, then, had the Government done? Finding many persons, who, from philanthropic and religious motives, took an interest in the education of the poor, it had proposed to assist them, and to become partners with them in the work. These persons were voluntary partners with the State, and might withdraw from the enterprise at any moment; but at present they were partners, and admitted to be managing partners, in this joint enterprise of education. He (Mr. Forster) admitted that the time had come when they might hope to substitute the system of payment for results for payment for machinery. But by payment for results he did not mean special results, but all results; and what were results? Attendance at a well-built and ventilated school was of itself a result; good discipline under a well-trained teacher was a result; the security that the education should be religious as well as secular was a result. The State must wish for these results, as it compelled the adoption of the means of arriving at them; but if the State wished for them, it was bound to pay for them. If, therefore, the managers found that the State turned round, and said that it would not pay a single penny, though arrived at with success and at great cost, unless some other results were also arrived at, they would consider that they were unfairly treated, and that feeling would be of on enormous injury to the cause of education. He therefore found on these grounds he was bound to vote for the first Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, which Resolution was in accordance with the recommendation of the Royal Commission. It appeared to the Royal Commissioners that the best remedy for the deficiencies in elementary teaching complained of in the junior classes, was to be found in the two following modes of payment:—First, payment not on the daily individual attendance, but on the average attendance of the school, providing the schoolmaster fulfilled certain conditions; secondly, the other half of the moiety to be paid for individual examinations. The second Resolution moved by the right hon. Member for Cambridge University related to the manner in which the test by examinations of elementary teaching should be applied 93 to ascertain if these children could read, write, and count as they should do. He conceived that the scheme of testing now proposed was as unfair as possible. Of course it should be their object to pay the schoolmasters according to the actual work they performed: but according to the plan of the right hon. Gentleman they would do nothing of the kind; because he paid, not for progress, but made rules by which payment would be made for a child who came to the school well trained before entering it, and who gave no trouble, and no payment would be made for a child who came to the school quite untrained, and gave a great deal of trouble. For this reason the grouping by age was most unfair. So much for the theory; and with the leave of the House he would now say a few words on the practical effect of the Code. He had taken pains in his neighbourhood to ascertain what would be the effect of the scheme, and he had collected the statistics himself, and would produce them if the results were questioned in Committee. He found the general result at Leeds would be, that one or two schools might get more than they did at present, these schools being confessedly those least needing it—namely, the schools of the well-to-do operatives or of rich mill-owners: as they got down to the poverty-stricken districts, so they would find that the schools would get less, and one or two of the poorest would be stopped altogether. Just as the schools found it difficult to do their work would obstacles be thrown in their way, and they would be helped in inverse proportion to their means and the work to be done. That was the effect on the schools, and the same would be the effect on the scholars. He, like many hon. Members of that House, was manager of a school; and if a child who had: had no training before came to the school, he would say to the master,—" Don't neglect that child, don't care for the clever or well-trained boy rather than; for him. Work hard at this neglected child." Well, the State ought to act in the same way; but the right hon. Gentleman said, "If you get a stupid or untrained child, do not try to teach him; for if you do, you shall get nothing by it." It had rather surprised the manufacturing interest to find that their half-time children, of whom there were more than 60,000, appeared to have been entirely forgotten. He did not doubt, however, that the right hon. Gentleman would set that right, He 94 did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman that there was no hope of so arranging matters that the children of the poor might be got to remain longer at school, and therefore he looked with the greatest possible regret upon the regulation that there would be no grant for children after eleven years of age. [MR. LOWE: After twelve.] He confessed it seemed to him that the Code meant to provide that the child should leave the day school after its eleventh year. But then payment was to be made for its at tendance at the night school after twelve. But the House should not be led away by the idea that those night schools, however good or useful they might be, could replace the day schools. Now, what was the position of the House with regard to the question? He supposed there would be a division, if not upon going into Committee, at all events upon the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole). Under any circumstances, it must; be a very close division; but would it not be most inconvenient that so great a revolution should be effected under such circumstances? He would, therefore, earnestly ask the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) to consider whether he could not content himself with some such change as that proposed by the Royal Commissioners. In the first place, such change would entirely alter the relation between the State and the officers of education, making the State deal directly with the managers, instead of the schoolmasters and pupil-teachers. There would be also this enormous change—that he would substitute a payment for results for the provisional machinery for education which now existed. Would not the right hon. Gentleman be content with those two great changes? Would he force the House to a division because he went so far beyond the Royal Commissioners? He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether, even from his own point of view, he would not gain by those two changes as much as was usually gained in this country when any reform was proposed. Hon. Gentlemen around him aspired to extend political rights to their poorer countrymen, and they must look very much to education to enable them to carry those aspirations into effect. The humbler classes valued education for their children, and wished for it earnestly. They contributed their share of the heavy taxation of the country, but he had never heard a word of 95 complaint from them of the amount of the educational grant. But if the right hon. Gentleman succeeded, in obtaining those two changes, he would have done much towards taking the education of the country effective. On the other hand, if he pushed the Code upon the House and the country, if he clung too pertinaciously to the pedantic requirements of a bureaucratic scheme he would do what was not only impolitic, but unjust; because he would alter the relations between the State and those whom it had called into partnership, and, instead of reforming education, he would injure and destroy it.
§ MR. PULLER
said, he did not blame the Vice President of, the Committee, of Council for having waited till the last day of the late session before he laid the Revised Code before Parliament; but the charge he should rather make was that the right hon. Gentleman ought to have waited longer, in order to allow the country to digest the report of the Commissioners, and to give the Inspectors the opportunity of answering the charges brought against them. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to have the notion that the education grant was a sort of public boon or gift, and that all persons in any way connected with the education of the poor, those who paid and those who received—managers, inspectors, teachers, pupil-teachers, and Queen's scholars—constituted an army of 38,000 or 40,000 persons whose business it was to obtain as much money as possible out of the public revenue. In that House his right hon. Friend kept within certain bounds of propriety, but out of that House the advocates of this Revised Code allowed themselves to speak of the managers and supporters of schools under the existing system as importunate petitioners for public alms, yearning after undeserved aid, and lost to all sense of self-reliance and independence, honesty and justice. That was strange language to be applied to such people as the excellent Bishop of Bath and Wells, Mr. Cotton, the Director of the Bank of England, Archdeacons Allen and Sinclair, Mr. Scott, the Principal of the Wesleyan Training College, and others who had for years devoted both time and money to promote the moral and intellectual improvement of their poorer neighbours. Many of the managers had been induced to undertake the work of education by the terms offered by the Government, and now, after the lapse of fifteen years, when these parties had sunk their capital 96 in bricks and mortar, had embarked in a task necessitating considerable thought and anxiety, and had entered into contracts which could not be abandoned without mortification to themselves and disappointment and injury to others, they were told that the Government had changed their minds, and that, unless they could contrive under all circumstances, however different the circumstances might be, to come up to the requirements of the new Code they must go to the wall and if they could not carry on their schools under the new scheme, they: must shut them up. After adverting to the language which had been employed in respect to the Inspectors by the Vice President of the Committee of Council, and which, he thought, was hardly what it ought to have been, considering the quarter it proceeded from, he observed that the duty of the Inspectors had been distinctly limited by the Minutes of the Privy Council in the report for the year 1855–6, in which, after prescribing a form of schedule for recording the total number of children whom the Inspector found in the school, and his opinion generally as to the quality of the instruction throughout the school in each of the subjects taught, they were expressly told that any other entries would be regarded only as memoranda made for their own convenience. It was then most unjust to make it a charge against them that they did not furnish more special information. It was well-known that on one point the practice of the Inspectors was not uniform. Some of them were accustomed to examine every child in every school which they inspected; others thought it sufficient to examine a fair proportion of children taken indiscriminately in each of the classes. He confessed that he should have thought that quite sufficient. If a man bought a quarter of barley, he did not think it necessary to examine every grain. If the sample were good, that was enough to determine his judgment. And so if an Inspector found one-third of the children in each class answer well, he might be reasonably assured that the teacher of that school had not neglected his work. When, then, the Vice President complained that the Inspectors made a good report of the schools but not of the scholars, he wished to know whether any material difference was found in the reports of those Inspectors, who, like Mr. Watkins, examined every child, and those who did not profess to do so. He had never heard it suggested that there 97 was any such difference. The Inspectors honestly reported to the Committee of Council the faults which they discovered in the schools; but they all concurred in saying that these schools were doing a great work, and that not only in the quantity but the quality of that work a vast improvement had gradually taken place. He should next advert to the case of the certificated teachers, and he must say nothing had surprised him so much in connection with the whole subject under discussion as the manner in which they had been dealt with by the Committee of Council. Some people were inclined to deny that the teachers had a legal right or a vested interest, but he had not heard of any one who disputed that it was a very hard case. The Committee of Council itself. which had very strictly—as it was quite right in doing—insisted upon the fulfillment of their obligations on the part of those teachers, should observe an equal degree of good faith in its dealings with them. When the certificated teachers sought to compete for the Civil Service, the Committee of Council put itself in communication with the Treasury, and requested that they should not be allowed so to compete without its express consent, on the ground that £70 or £80 of the public money having been spent on the education of these young men, they were not entitled to say that they objected to devote their services to the education of the poor, and would prefer some other employment. In one case they had refused permission to compete for an appointment unless the teacher applying for it repaid the whole of the public money expended on his education, deducting only one-thirtieth part for each year that he had acted as teacher in a school; and in another case they had actually compelled a young man so to refund a sum of£92 before they gave him the required permission. Well, he did not blame them for that. But then if there was an obligation under these circumstances binding on the teachers, he thought they might fairly turn round upon the Government and say, "That obligation is reciprocal. You hold us bound to serve you for a period of thirty years, and surely you are called upon when we give up the chance of more ambitious and lucrative employment than that in which we are now engaged, in order to carry out our agreement with you, to adhere to the terms of the bargain subsisting between us." Was not that, he would ask, a fair way of putting the case? Was 98 the Government to be at liberty to turn round upon one of those men who had been working in his vocation for a period of, let him suppose, ten years, and who during that time had done good service to the country, and tell him he was no longer entitled to the augmentation which he had learnt to count upon with as much certainty as any fundholder looked forward to the receipt of his dividends, and that he must be contented to get what he could by the higgling of the market for the future? For his own part, he thought there could be no doubt as to the answer which ought to be returned to the question, more especially after the admirable pamphlet in which the subject had been discussed by Professor Grote, of Cambridge. He would now pass to the proposals of the Revised Code. And first as to the scheme of giving all the aid to a school in the shape of a capitation grant. It was well known that even the small capitation grant which existed at present was considered by many thoughtful persons to be the least defensible part of the existing system. He spoke advisedly when he said that under the existing system frauds were not entirely unknown, and what was now proposed to be done? To make the payment in every school of a sum of money varying from£30 to£60 or£70 contingent on the fidelity and honesty with which the teacher of the school, who was interested in the amount, put down day by day a number of dots expressing the boys who were present, and a number of A's signifying those who were absent. There was no possibility of ascertaining whether the teacher had performed this duty honestly or not. The school-managers might, indeed, look into the matter; but if it should turn out that the books were not properly kept, their grant would be forfeited. He did not mean to insinuate that the great mass of teachers were capable of this dishonesty; neither would any one charge the British merchants, as a class, with want of integrity; and yet they had all heard of smuggling and of Custom-house frauds, and he might appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he got as large a share of income-tax from a given amount of property under schedule D, when the taxpayer returned his own income, as under schedule A, where the income was assessed by other persons. He contended that it was not right, that it was an immoral thing, for the State without any necessity thus to place a large class of persons under a constant temptation to commit small acts of dis- 99 honesty. It was just as if any Member of that House were to leave a large sum of money lying about in his house under circumstances which made it impossible to know whether any of it were taken or not. He came now to that portion of the Code which had been more studied than any other, as showing its financial aspect. In a note to page 8 of the Revised Code, the Committee of Council entered into a sort of calculation to enable school-managers to estimate what they were likely to get under the new Code. The amount of grant for one hundred children, at 1d per attendance after the first 100 attendances, was there put down at £64 3s. 4d., subject to reduction on examination. This was a very tempting bait to dangle before the eyes of the managers. But let the House see how it would work in practice. A table had been compiled from returns of 317 schools with, 44,727 pupils. From this number must be cut off those above 12—namely, 6,422; secondly, those below 6–3,313; thirdly, those between 11 and 12, who had not reached the first class—2,937; fourthly, those between 9 and 11, who had not reached the second class—7,088; making altogether a total of 19,760 as the number of those whom it would be either impossible or hopeless to present for examination. Subtracting the above number from those at school, there remained 24,967, one-fifth of whom must be deducted as absent on the day of examination. This reduced the 44,727 at the schools before examination to 19,974, being only 44 per cent of the whole number. Applying these facts to the note in page 8, it was found that this tempting bait of £64 3s. 4d. had dwindled down to£28 10s., even before the process of examination and reduction for failure in either subject had commenced. It must be remembered also that the reduced number thus presented for examination would include a fair proportion of those who had not been six months in the school, or who from illness or other accidental circumstances laboured under special disadvantages. So that if every child presented to the Inspector passed in every subject, the grant would not exceed 5s. 9d. a head, instead of 10s. which the Committee of Council held out as the probable amount. The Government were in fact introducing a Code which had filled every school-manager with consternation. The right hon. Gentleman had himself stated last July that the managers were co-operators with the Government, and that with- 100 out them the Government could do nothing. Well, how many school-managers had declared in favour of the new Code? Up to last week there had been 1,000 petitions against the new Code. He cared nothing for the number of signatures; it would be easy for the managers to obtain 100 signatures to each petition; the number of petitions was the important point. On the other hand, for the Revised Code, up to the same date, there had been presented one petition with one signature. How were the Government to work these schools without the managers? They were full of alarm, nor had he heard anything that night calculated to allay their apprehensions. There was another point worthy of consideration. How would the new Code act in schools, on teachers, on children, and on their parents? What had been the aim set before an honest and industrious teacher up to this time? What had been his measure of success? Simply the moral and intellectual improvement of the children attending his school. What would be his measure of success in future? The amount of pence which he could obtain from the Government purse. The children in the school would be divided into two classes; those who by special exertions could be pushed through, and those of whom it was notorious that any such effort would be hopeless. Well, did they think that the children or the parents of the children would not find out that? Was it to be supposed that the parents of those children who did not pass the examination would not have that jealous feeling which was so common among the poor that their boys and girls were neglected in the school? There was another danger; the parents of those children who did pass would not fail to take advantage of that circumstance. Knowing that their children by staying away could ruin the school by depriving it of Government aid, they would be inclined to make a bargain with the managers. One teacher wrote to him that even with the present capitation grant he was obliged to exercise a great deal of management, and that parents had frequently returned the small rewards which he had given to their children, with the intimation, that if he did not provide something more substantial, the children should not attend his school. Then as to the discouragement given by the Revised Code to the elder children. He would not at that late hour go at length into that subject; 101 but he must demur to the statement made by the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. Buxton) that those children were all or most of them the children of farmers and tradesmen who could pay for their own schooling. He held in his hand letters from certificated teachers in Lincolnshire and Dorsetshire which showed that in their neighbourhood great exertions were made by labouring men to keep their children at School to a later period than was commonly supposed. If that was the case with boys, still more was it so with girls. But the Revised Code hardly made any difference in respect of girls. It expected from them, although a large portion of their time was given, and properly given, to needlework, the same proficiency in arithmetic as from boys of the same age. What were the facts of the case? From the returns recently obtained it appeared, that comparing 50 boys' schools with 50 girls' schools taken indiscriminately, the boys were, as might be expected, much more forward in arithmetic than the girls. He would now ask for what good purpose all this vast disturbance was to be made. Suppose the Revised Code to be sanctioned by Parliament, and to be as successful as its authors could hope, what wag the measure of improvement which they hoped to secure? As regards the elder children, it was admitted by the Commissioners that the first class received an excellent education at present. Then what about the second class? They had the assertion of the teachers in the 317 schools which had made returns, that 77 per cent of the second class could read the Bible easily and correctly, and that 70 per cent could do sums easily and correctly, and that was confirmed by the testimony of the Diocesan Inspectors that a large proportion of the second class could read the Bible with ease. Well, what did the Revised Code aim at securing for the group which answered in age to the second class? That they should satisfy the Inspector in reading, not the Bible, but a reading book used in the school. There did not appear to be any prospect of securing higher attainments than were actually obtained at present. It had been said that the existing Code was a tentative and a provisional system, and that the time had come when some permanent plan ought to be adopted. The new Code would not be a bit more final than the old one. It did not contain within itself the elements of finality. The continuation of a modified system of protec- 102 tion to certificated teachers was inconsistent with payment for results. He believed the practical effect of the Revised Code would be that certificated masters would in many, perhaps most cases, lose their augmentation. They would not be exposed to open competition, but they would have to struggle against a new monopoly which the Government proposed to create—the monopoly of provisionally certificated ex-pupil teachers—those young people of eighteen years old, to whose inexperience it was proposed to hand over (as a great boon to managers) the children of our small country parishes. It was impossible that the new Code could establish a permanent state of things. Sooner or later it would lead to the introduction of a real system of paying for results—the total abolition of certificated teachers and the payment of so much money for reading, writing, and arithmetic.
§ MR. LEATHAM
Sir, I think that no one can compare the tone of this debate with that which was assumed by those who have assailed the Revised Code out of doors, without arriving at the conclusion that one of two things must have happened, either that the assailants of the Code have attacked it with a vehemence and passion wholly unjustifiable, wholly unreasonable, and the recollection of which, therefore, must involve them in a corresponding amount of ridicule, or that hon. Members who have spoken upon that side of the question are strangely blind to the gravity of the crisis, and strangely indifferent to the demands of their religion and their country. But, since the whole controversy has descended from the region of metaphor and hyperbole, I think it has become one from which no one need run away; and this must be my apology for venturing to offer to the House a few observations upon some of the more prominent objections which have been urged against the Revised Code in the course of this debate. Now the strong point of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Puller) appeared to be the argument: that we are about to violate a vested interest—but, who, except the hon. Gentleman ever heard of a vested interest which was still in its teens. Although, then, I cannot admit that the certificated schoolmasters constitute a vested interest; although I cannot admit that the men to whom you have given an almost gratuitous education—to whom, with the name of free-trade upon your lips, you are confirming 103 the close monopoly of public instruction—who ought to have been warned, if anything could have warned them, by the perpetual changes which have been introduced into this system, that the whole was provisional, the whole was tentative, and the whole was terminable at any time at the will of the State; although I cannot admit that these men have any legal claim upon the Exchequer; yet, inasmuch as schoolmasters are not politicians, and cannot therefore be supposed to have been initiated into the mysteries, of the Consolidated Fund; and inasmuch as they must be excused if, a little too blindly, they flung themselves into a career which they found so petted and coddled by the State, so fenced about on every side with bounty and privilege, it. probably will accord with the general policy of this House—a policy which considers every one and indulges every one, except the unfortunate interests which by, a pleasing fiction, we are supposed to come here to protect—to grant them some compensation. But it must be compensation for an actual loss sustained, or which has become inevitable. It is not enough to cry ruin and confiscation until experience proves that ruin and confiscation are at hand. It must first be shown that the efforts of school managers and masters in the way of cutting off superfluities, raising the school fees, stimulating attendance, making something like an adequate appeal to the consciences of landed proprietors, have altogether failed to meet the deficiency caused by that modicum of retrenchment which the most sanguine economizers in this House hope will accrue from the enactment of this measure. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman who opened the debate spoke a good deal about the liability of managers under the new Code. He thought that the uncertainty which would attend the administration of the grant, would paralyze the efforts of school managers. The right hon. Gentleman more than once cited Mr. Birks. Now Mr. Birks is a great authority. This is the gentleman who made the startling discovery which has upset the statistics of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President, and which is to overthrow the Revised Code. Mr. Birks accuses that right hon. Gentleman of "playing the despot with the Christian education of a whole people;" therefore Mr. Birks is not an authority prejudiced in favour of the Revised Code. But upon this point Mr. Birks and the right hon. 104 Gentleman who opened the debate would seem to be at issue; for Mr. Birks says that "as soon as the examination could be made a fair working test, of minimum progress, he suspects that the maximum would be speedily reached even in a majority of our existing schools." And with reference to his own school—a rural one in an agricultural county, the very kind of locality where the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Stanhope) anticipated that the operation of the Code would be most oppressive—he says, "So far, then, as can be guessed before trial in so complex a scheme, I do not think that the school would suffer direct pecuniary loss." And we must remember that this was written before the modifications were introduced which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) announced in his speech, and the tendency of which was entirely in the direction of increased grants. But the gravest charge which the right hon. Gentleman brought against the new Code was, that it would injuriously affect the religious education of the people. He argued that, under a system of, tests, unless there were a test for religious knowledge, religious instruction would be comparatively neglected. But I do not think that religious knowledge is a fit subject for tests. I do not think that it ought to be considered in the light of a commodity bearing a money value. By far the most important part of religious instruction is that which is addressed, not to the memory, but to the heart. You may, if you please, burden a little child's memory with the whole weight of Goliath's spear, and reproduce this important fact by examination. You may, if you please, follow the example of a certain reverend educationist of whom I heard recently, who published a sacred arithmetic for the use of national schools, full of problems such as these; "There were 12 apostles, 12 patriarchs, and 4 evangelists, multiply the patriarchs and apostles together, and divide by the evangelists." "Solomon had so many hundred wives and so many hundred concubines, substract the concubines from the wives, or the wives from the concubines," I forget which, for I have not mastered the niceties of the subject. But is all this sort of thing teaching religion? But the right hon. Gentleman says that we must have some security for adequate religious instruction. What security have we now? Why, religion is the power which has set all this machinery in 105 motion! Dr. Temple calls it the flywheel. He says that the state "purchased the aid of the religious communities by incorporating their objects with its own." And will the hon. Gentleman maintain that the fly-wheel will come to a stand-still unless it be kept perpetually lubricated by the Government, and that the zeal of your clergy and of your religious laity (your only valid guarantees for public religious instruction) will cease unless it be subjected afresh and doubly to the supervision of the State—a supervision which, when a few years ago it was contemplated to impose it, you deprecated as altogether derogatory to the position of the clergyman, and which, when a few weeks ago you imagined that it was about to be withdrawn, with equal consternation and equal clamour you extolled and invoked. Well, but the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the new Code will not only impair the religious education of the people, but their secular education as well. It will do this in the first place through the relaxation, which it introduces, with reference to the attainments required of teachers. Now, I confess that I should regard with jealousy any such relaxation, unless it could be shown, either that the present race of schoolmasters are over-educated for their work, or that persons of inferior acquirements would do the work as well. Now, the right hon. Gentleman argues, and very plausibly, that in proportion as you lower the standard of attainment in teachers there will be a corresponding decline in the character of the education given—an opinion, however, which hardly coincides with that of some of the Inspectors. For example, I find Mr. Brookfield writing in 1853—"It is an undoubted truth, that of the good schools in my district under certificates the proportion is by no means in favour of those of a higher class." And, in 1857—"Upon a very careful investigation of the results effected by teachers holding a third class certificate and by those of a higher diploma, I do not find any such difference in favour of either division as would justify a general inference to the disadvantage of the other. The preponderance of efficiency, indeed, is somewhat, though very slightly, in favour of the third or lowest certificate." Well, if this be the case, it is possible that we have been all along employing tools with too fine an edge for the rough work which they have to perform; and if this be so, I think we ought to hesitate before we reject the 106 contemplated relaxation, especially as all motives of economy point in the same direction. But the Revised Code w ll injuriously affect secular education, because, as Sir James Shuttleworth says, its object is to "define national education as a mechanical drill in reading, writing, and arithmetic." The right hon. Gentleman did not use these terms, but his arguments were, I think, to the same effect. Now, Sir, that class of objections appears to me to arise from a total misconception of the objects of those who framed the Revised Code. Surely it was not their aim to fix the maximum but the minimum, of instruction. I do not even think that the principle of the Revised Code is rightly defined as the principle of payment for results. I do not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. Buxton) accurately describes it as a system of educational piece-work. The principle which is at the bottom of this Code appears to me to be the principle of no payment for no results. The framers of the Code seem to say, "You may teach whatever else you please in your schools; but if you expect to receive the aid and countenance of the State, you must teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, and teach them well. You must lay a foundation upon which something like an education may hereafter be reared—either at school or after leaving school." And here I must demur to the term which the right hon. Gentleman opposite employs when he calls this system of elementary schooling a system of national education—just as though a nation like ours could be educated in any number of elementary schools. I think it is Mr. Gibbon who says somewhere that "every man who rises above the common level receives two educations—one from his teacher, the second, more personal and important, from himself." And, in order that the children of the poor may receive this second, more personal and important education, it is positively indispensable that they be furnished with the barest necessaries of intellectual life. Well, Sir, at this late hour, I will not longer detain the House; but I must thank both sides of it for the indulgence with which they have listened to my imperfect observations.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till Thursday next.