§ (Mr. William Edward Forster, Mr. Secretary Bruce.)
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I believe, Sir, I must make an apology to the House, which is not very frequently made, for not having entered at sufficient length into an explanation of this Bill when I brought it in. The fact was I knew I should have to make a full explanation on moving the second reading, and not wishing to inflict two speeches on the House, and believing that the Bill might be much more easily explained when hon. Members had it in their hands, my explanation on introducing the measure was as brief as I could possibly make it. Hon. Members need not, however, be apprehensive that my explanation on the present occasion will be as long as I can possibly make it. I propose to be as brief as I can, considering the importance of the subject, which has excited a great deal of interest in the country; but, as there are many details in the Bill, I must beg the attention of the House for some little time. I have this advantage in now entering into a full explanation—that during the three or four weeks that the measure has been before the country it has excited much interest, and some objections have been stated which I hope to be able to answer in the course of my remarks. The first question which hon. Members will no doubt put to me is this—"On what grounds do you ask the House to give to the Government such large powers for the reform and re-organization of Endowed Schools and educational endowments?" Therefore I must briefly state to the House the facts which have induced the Government to come forward and ask for these powers. I happened to be on the Commission which was appointed to inquire into the 1357 condition of secondary education throughout the country, and I will, as briefly as I can, give the final upshot and result of that inquiry, which was conducted by many men much more worthy of regard than myself—men of different political and religious views, and I think most of them men whose opinions on educational questions would have great weight on account of their antecedents. We were ordered to examine into the condition of all schools which had not been examined into by two previous Commissions—the one being that presided over; by the Duke of Newcastle, which dealt with elementary education, and the other the Special Commission which was appointed to inquire into certain Public Schools. The first difficulty which we had to contend with was that, being supposed to be a Commission whose duty it was to examine into middle-class education, we found it almost impossible to define the meaning of the term "middle class." We found that it included an enormous portion of the community; but for our purposes we quickly discovered that this great section of the British population might be divided into three parts—that for school purposes they were very conveniently divided by the ages at which the boys in general left school, and that by those ages we might in broad terms define very well the class and condition of the parents. We found that one class was composed of men in much the same position as those who usually send their sons to those Public Schools for which we legislated last year, such as Eton, Harrow, and Winchester—men, in short, of independent income, and for the most part men who look forward to sending their boys to the Universities or to giving them the same school education as those receive who go to the Universities. The age we found at which the boys educated at those schools—the tone of which was very much the same as that of our great public schools—left them was generally between eighteen and nineteen. We also found that there was a second grade larger in point of numbers which left school generally between sixteen and seventeen, which comprised those who were being educated for special professions—such as the army or engineers, the medical or legal professions—and those who were being educated, and they constituted a considera- 1358 ble number—for trade. We found also that there was a third grade very much larger than the other two—indeed, as great, if not greater, than both together, and, in my mind, the most important grade, as far as the question of legislation is concerned—in which the boys left school about fourteen, and were the sons of small farmers, small tradesmen and shopkeepers, or of superior artizans. I shall not trouble the House with any detailed account of the condition of these three grades, but, on the whole, the result as we ascertained it was certainly not satisfactory. In the first grade we found that the education attempted was a high classical education, given in many cases successfully; but we found generally that there was great difficulty in obtaining a good scientific education, such as might be obtained in Germany or France, and that there were not many schools in the kingdom in which such an education could be procured. We found, in short, that parents who were in a position to spend any amount they might please on the education of their boys experienced great difficulty in getting them taught well anything but Latin and Greek. The same remarks apply to the second grade, at which the boys did not remain long enough at school to obtain anything like a complete knowledge of Latin, their acquaintance with Greek being-little more than a mere profession, while the sciences and modern languages were neglected. Petitions have been presented this evening on this subject, and in one of them—that from the Council of Medical Education, which is signed by Dr. Hawkins, and into which I have had an opportunity of looking—the petitioners say that—The maintenance of a sufficient standard of examination is rendered exceedingly difficult owing to the defective and limited education generally given in secondary schools.Again, in the Petition signed by Dr. Acland on behalf of the British Medical Association, composed of about 4,000 members, there is a statement to the same effect. I will now trouble the House with one or two answers which were given in the course of the long inquiry of the Commission. We examined, among others, Dr. Gull, who was asked—What, in your opinion, is the state of previous education which at present, generally 1359 speaking, the candidates for the medical profession obtain?The answer was—I should say still a very defective condition. There is no thoroughness in the teaching. I should say that men are defective in common writing and spelling. … Of course there are numerous exceptions, but it is still a common thing. There seems to be no training of the faculties of men for acquiring knowledge at all.Dr. Gull describes the age of those of whom he is speaking as about sixteen, and Mr. Paget, in answer to a question which was put, said—I should say that the condition of knowledge of young men coming up for examination in regard to scientific subjects is highly unsatisfactory.I had an opportunity of seeing the Petition, presented from, the London University, in which it is pointed out that their matriculation examination is not of a very high standard. "Nevertheless," they say—The average proportion of candidates who have been unable to pass the matriculation examination during the last ten years has been nearly 40 per cent, a fact which, considering the object and nature of the examination, proves the existence of grave deficiencies in the secondary school education now provided in this country.That applies to the first and second grades, and in the case of the third grade—which occupied our attention more than any other—we found the state of things to be even more unsatisfactory. Parents in the first grade, being generally persons in affluent circumstances, are able to take care of themselves, and I think it is hardly necessary to legislate for them, though we spent a considerable portion of last Session in discussing a measure relating to our great Public Schools. The same remark applies to the second grade, but if we are to look after education at all in the country we must direct our attention to the third grade which I have mentioned. With respect to that section of the community we did not find either that the aim was high or that the education given was as good as it might be. As Canon Moseley says, what is wanted by parents in this grade is very good reading, very good writing, and very good arithmetic, though I should be sorry if the portion of our population of which I am speaking should be content with the elements alone. The final conclusion at which we arrived was this—After saying that— 1360Whether schools shall be public or private, for boarders or day scholars, large or small, nay even what shall be the particular curriculum, is a secondary consideration, and saying that the first consideration is that the teaching shall be sound and stimulative, the discipline manly and firm,the Commissioners add—It is plain from the evidence of our witnesses, and the still more important evidence of our Assistant Commissioners, that the schools, whether public or private, which are thoroughly satisfactory, are few in proportion to the need. Of these few there are some public and some private, but the private schools are those intended for the upper class and the upper half of the middle class. Below that line there is little good education till we come to the elementary schools under Government inspection. That little, however, is in public schools.No part of the Report is, in my opinion, more completely borne out by examination than that general summary of the state of education. But, passing from that part of the subject, I come now to another portion of it into which we were ordered to inquire—I mean the resources of Endowed Schools which were provided by our ancestors chiefly for the purpose of giving secondary education. It was our business to examine into the number and income of those schools, and the following are the statistics on the subject, which I am enabled to furnish as the result of our inquiries:—Of Grammar Schools, into which it was more particularly our province to inquire, there are, independently of the seven Public Schools for which Parliament legislated last year, and including St. Paul's School, but not including Merchant Taylors', 782, whose gross income is £345,757, of which there is a net income for the purposes of education of £202,684. Those schools have also control over exhibitions amounting to £14,265. There are 2,175 schools whose total endowments amount to £247,480, of which I believe about half is applied to education. We have consequently 2,957 Endowed Schools whose gross income is £593,281, out of which, at least, £340,000, is at present appropriated to education. Now, that is an income which ought to do a great deal. I have had one or two maps made with the Endowed Schools marked on them, and it may be seen that they are scattered all over the country, so that one would expect that if this large income were well bestowed, it must have a great effect on education. I will now briefly describe the result of our inquiry into the condition of these schools; and, in doing 1361 so, I will refer to some of the cases which came under our notice, not mentioning the names of the schools, which, however, can be furnished to any hon. Member who may desire it. The head master of one of the schools told an Assistant Commissioner that—It was not worth his while to push the school, as with the endowment (about £200 a year) and some other small source of income he had enough to live on comfortably without troubling to do so.Another master of a large Endowed School, having an endowment of £651, put his nephew and son into the respective positions of second and third masters. The Assistant Commissioner—Found the discipline most inefficient, and the instruction slovenly, immethodical, and unintelligent; there was no one subject in which the boys seemed to take an interest, or which had been taught with average care or success.At another school—at a short distance from the one just mentioned—with an income of £610 a year—There were thirteen pupils, and it appeared as if even this number would be reduced; the school rooms were in a shameful state, and the scholars, though showing signs of having had teaching, were in a thoroughly bad state of discipline, and apparently only staying on to qualify for the school exhibitions.There was another school reported on in the same district, with an income of £204, so that if all these schools had been well and carefully administered, the education of the whole district might almost have been provided for. At this school—The sons of the master and of the incumbent of the parish appeared to absorb an inordinate share of the teaching; none of the town boys had made even respectable progress in the ordinary rudiments of education.Then, again, there was a school with anet income of £792 a year, where the head master taught three boarders, and no others: the under master only attended when he chose; the usher taught an inferior village school.In another school, where two masters received £300 between them, and one had a good house also, one boy was receiving instruction, while a private school close by had eighty boarders and forty day scholars, paying higher than the grammar school fees. At another school, with an income of £266, there were only eleven pupils, and "the whole place wore an aspect of decay and desolation," but the master objected to a new scheme being procured. In another instance the master 1362 had other business, and at one time carried on continuously with the school the business of a flour and spinning mill. The upper half of this school "were profoundly ignorant on all subjects." In another, where the master—since dead—received over £200 a year, the Assistant Commissioners found him occupied in preparing a system of "teaching prime numbers," the system being contained in two perfectly unintelligible cards, which were shortly to be brought into use in the school. There is another case in the south of England in which the trustees made it a condition with the master on his election that he should take boarders, but he fixed the terms so high (£120 a year) that they were practically prohibitory—Six day boys, all very young, and paying fees composed the school. The boarders' dining room was occupied as a coach-house by two of the master's carriages, the night study was a laundry, and the large dormitory a billiard room.Our Assistant Commissioner in Suffolk found that at one school the master—Did no work whatever, but supports an old age in the comfortable schoolhouse; at another he was almost helpless from age and paralysis; at a third he was honest enough to declare that he was no longer fit for work; at a fourth he was deaf; while at three others he was no longer in the prime of life, and was languishing under his work. That is to say, more than a fourth of the grammar schools in one county were suffering from the bodily infirmities of the master.Now, I do not say that those instances give an average impression of these schools. There are many good schools among them, and many more aiming to be good. There are many which give a substantial education, and with regard to those which do not succeed in giving it, it often arises as much from the system not meeting the necessities of the time, which require something more than a mere classical education, as from any want of zeal and earnestness on the part of the master. I could point to several most excellent schools which we discovered in the course of our inquiry, and since I introduced this Bill I have found objections made to it, not by the bad schools—they never come near me—but by some of these good schools. They are afraid of the Bill. Now, I wish to assure them and the House that it is not for the good schools that the Bill is framed. We cannot, of course, exempt such schools by name, for in 1363 that case there would be no end to endeavours to obtain it, but schools which are well managed need fear nothing from the operation of a Bill which is to introduce good management. Looking over the state of our Endowed Schools generally, I find, independently of the glaring errors I have mentioned, two or three deficiencies in the system. Even the good schools aim too exclusively at a classical education, and have an almost irresistible tendency to become monopolized by the children of the rich. As they become good classical schools they raise their terms. The schools next in rank, where the pupils leave about the age of sixteen, take their type and example from the superior schools. They attempt to give an education from -which the children can derive little benefit, because it is of no use to confine education almost exclusively to Latin and Greek in dealing with boys who leave school at sixteen. Many of these schools, therefore, with excellent intentions, are yet practically giving scarcely any education at all. Below these, again, there is a large class of elementary schools which, when good, merely save the neighbours from doing their duty in providing elementary instruction, and when bad, prevent the establishment of good elementary schools. In fact, speaking generally, where Endowed Schools do not do good, they do harm, because they prevent the competition of other schools. A bad classical or quasi classical school keeps out of existence a good commercial school. A bad elementary Endowed School prevents the establishment of a good inspected school. Indeed, I must say that if we cannot reform the whole system, I should be inclined to agree with some persons of great weight and authority, that with the view of promoting education throughout the country, we had better ignore the Endowed Schools; that if we cannot reform them we had better lose sight of them and go on as if they did not exist. But I will not abandon the hope that it is possible to reform them and that, when freed from the abuses which have arisen in their administration, they will be productive of great good in the future. It is only because beneficent men now living see the misapplication and the uselessness of educational endowments in the past, that we have not at this day as large endowments as 1364 were given in former ages; and I believe that if the Legislature now determines that the real intentions of the founders shall be carried out, and that the spirit shall not be sacrificed to the letter of these trusts, these old endowments will be succeeded by still larger ones in the future. We have an instance of this in the case of Mr. Whitworth, who, for the spread of education, has made an endowment quite equal to any made in the time of Edward VI. Well, now we come to the question what we may hope to do in re-organizing these schools. I have endeavoured to show what is the state of secondary education, and next, what are the resources of the Endowed Schools, what they are doing, or rather, what they are not doing; and now, one word as to what they might do if they were rightly re-distributed and reformed. I believe that they might then give the education which is needed to vast numbers of the middle classes—to many more than the 37,000 children who are already in these schools—and that they might do this so as to stimulate the private and proprietary schools, instead of preventing their existence. They should be administered, I think, not upon the principle of bestowing education as an alms and a dole upon classes who can afford and who wish to pay for it, but rather upon the principle that what an endowment can rightly do is to provide good and sufficient buildings, and put the master in such a position that while he has a small and certain income at starting, the increase of that income shall depend on the way he does his work. We had to consider carefully this question—whether it is desirable that masters should have any payment out of the endowment, or should entirely depend upon the school fees. I confess that I formed my opinion on this point in a great measure from my trade experience. I looked upon masters as persons employed by the trustees to do certain work, and—I hope they will not feel the comparison a disparaging one—I thought it would be right to treat them as I should treat persons whom I employed to do any commercial work. Now, I have found, that the way to get the best service in such cases is to give a small fixed income, which makes a man independent of great want or calamity, and then make the remainder of his income de- 1365 pend, fairly and generously, upon the success of the undertaking in which he is engaged. I believe that -will be the system by which we can best regulate the payments to the masters of these schools, whereas now very frequently their income is entirely independent of the success of the school, and in those cases the school does not succeed. Hitherto I have talked only of the middle classes, and have said nothing about the working men and the poor. It may be said that many of these schools were founded especially for the poor. No doubt in many cases they were; but in many cases, on the other hand, it seemed that the object of the founder was simply the promotion of education. But I shall be asked—"How do you propose to administer schools especially founded for the benefit of the poor? Will you hand these over to the middle classes?" Now, I must remark here, that the poor are not confined to one class. There are many needy men—needy, too, from no fault of their own—to whom it would be the bitterest trial and humiliation if they could not give their children a high education. There is many a struggling clergyman, many a professional man, who has worked hard as a physician or as a lawyer, who finds it hard work to give his children the education without which he feels that they will lose their place in society. It is not our business specially to legislate for parents in this class, but we should not lose sight of them; and it is not to the credit of this country that if a man in this class wishes to give his son the same education as a boy in the same class would get in France and Germany—if he sends his son to a good boarding school, and thence to the University—he would have to spend very nearly £2,000 to do so. Then there is a class of parents below that I have mentioned, comprising also many professional men, many tradesmen, and members of the Civil Service, to whose sons something more than a mere elementary education is a necessary of life. These men find a great difficulty in providing the necessary education for their children, and they must not be forgotten, for they pay a large portion of the taxes of the country—I doubt, indeed, whether there is any class which pays a larger proportion of taxes in proportion to their means than persons with incomes of from £150 to 1366 £500 a year. They are hit by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in indirect taxation, and in direct taxation through the income tax, and they have a right to be considered. But when I said that this was to be a poor man's question, I meant that it should also be a working man's question; or, if not, I should hardly be inclined to take the matter up. How, then, can we make this Bill a working man's Bill? It may be replied by seizing the endowments and applying them to the promotion of elementary education. I hope and trust that will not be done. Such a measure would be, indeed, a deviation both from the intentions of the founders, and from the use the foundation, and as to the promotion of elementary education, that is a duty which falls on the nation, and the nation must perform it. I hope, therefore that neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer nor the President of the Poor Law Board will attempt to seize hold of this fund either to relieve general taxation or the poor rates. You cannot, I believe, though it may seem a paradox, satisfy what is due to the working man—and due to him according to the intentions of the founders—without in some way departing from the letter of their intentions. Their intentions were, in very many cases, that all classes should be admitted to the schools, and that those pupils who evinced a special faculty for learning should continue to receive education quite independent of their condition in life or the position of their parents; and that arrangement was easily carried out in those days, when there was not so great a demand for learning as now, and when only those boys who were capable of learning remained for a long period at school. Now the case is altered; education being a necessity to the middle classes, the Endowed Schools are crowded by their children. Gratuitous admission to them is by favour, and it rarely happens that the working man's child comes in; and when he does, he comes in with an invidious distinction. He is often regarded with scorn, and kept out of the play-ground. The way to really get him in is to substitute for admission by favour, admission by merit, and let the free boys come in by open competition. These schools, therefore, might be made to provide good masters and good education for the middle classes, and also to 1367 meet those comparatively exceptional cases, in which, children of working men are both specially fitted for high education and can be allowed by their parents to remain at school. Both these ends might be met, but they are not met now. The middle classes do not receive the good education which they want, and it is most difficult for a clever boy in one of the elementary schools to find any means of getting a better education after his first course of instruction is finished. In order to provide means to secure these ends, we need powers to form, if necessary, fresh trusts, and to reform the management of these endowments. We must be provided with power to give the schools, in many cases, fresh governing bodies, to enable the governors to see that the masters teach the subjects which the parents want the children to learn—to give the head master authority over his assistant masters—to give girls, whose education is now the worst cared for, that share in the advantages of these schools, which I am sure was the intention of many of the founders that they should have, and to encourage day schools, for we must remember that without day schools it is impossible to supply good secondary education in towns, though we must also not forget that no sufficient education for the sons of small farmers can be obtained without cheap boarding schools. Above all, we must have power to prevent the rich seizing hold of the results of the reforms now proposed. If this be not done, just in proportion as you make a school good the richer parents will be anxious to send their children to it, fees will rise, and the poor boys will be elbowed out by those above them. There are two ways to prevent this—one, by taking power to fix an average of time at which toys should leave, and thereby to determine the relation of schools one to another; and the other is by making a fresh system of exhibitions, to substitute admission by merit for admission by favour. I hope the House will bear with me while I explain how this free admission by merit will provide for the clever children of the working classes. It will be said that this is a boon in name and not in reality; because if admission is made to depend on examination upon entrance into school the richer parent will have an advantage, in consequence of being better able to prepare 1368 his child for examination. I would meet that objection by affixing this exhibition, not to examinations upon admission into the schools into which the boys come, but to examinations at the schools from which they come. You have elementary and national schools in the country, and if you attach to those schools exhibitions to a school above them, every boy who proves his pre-eminence by getting one of the exhibitions is thereby promoted to the school above, and by that means you make a ladder by which the clever boy may mount to the highest education, and you stimulate the tone of all the schools below and around. I will give one instance of the way in which this will work. I will take the case of Edward the VI.'s Grammar School at Birmingham, of which the gross income at present is £12,000, and in a few years will be, it is believed, £20,000, and at the end of the century maybe £40,000 or £50,000. When we examined into the school we found free nomination the rule, making this large and good school do as much harm as good. This free admission by favour was described by the head master and our Assistant Commissioners as a—Blight on the preliminary education of the children of 300,000 people, and as having destroyed nearly all the private schools in Birmingham.Nor did the harm stop there. There were thousands of children who did not gain admission, but whose parents neglected their education, hoping to get nominations. The system has now been reformed, and the following is a statement of the result, received from the Rev. Charles Evans, the head master, in the course of the present month:—The governors have entirely abandoned the system of nomination. Admission to the Grammar School is obtained solely by a competitive examination, in which the candidates are grouped according to age, a certain number of vacancies being assigned to each group. Applicants for admission to the elementary schools register their names at the secretary's office, and are examined and admitted in their turn as vacancies occur. It would, I think be impossible to devise a fairer mode of admission than we have at present, and I feel convinced that if we could only obtain power to impose fees on all pupils in excess of those whom the charity can afford to educate gratuitously—that is, 500 in the grammar and 1,000 in the elementary schools, I should be able to make this institution in a few years educate three-fourths of the children of Birmingham. I regard the free admissions as a most powerful engine for this purpose. In a few years 1369 they would act like so many scholarships, stimulating and rewarding industry and merit throughout half-a-million of people. The surrender of the nomination system is more than equal in its beneficial effects to there-foundation of the school. The experiment is doubtless being tried under favourable circumstances—a large town to operate on, a school with a high local reputation, and 600 free admissions—that is, about 160 prizes a year to stimulate industry and reward success. These free admissions will soon grow into honourable distinctions, each one of them indirectly educating, by the hopes of success which it will excite, fifteen or twenty boys. The competition is carefully graduated, the candidates being grouped according to age, and a certain number of vacancies being allotted to each group.In the same manner, I believe, if yon properly regulate the system of exhibitions you will produce the same effect on education throughout the country as, in all probability, will be made in the town of Birmingham. It is for powers to obtain these results that we now ask this House. But hon. Members who have paid attention to this subject may ask, are there not already constituted bodies that possess these powers? There is the Court of Chancery, and there is the Charity Commission. But to put a school into Chancery would be very much like what would be thought of putting oneself in Chancery. It is a process slow, cumbrous, and costly; besides the Court of Chancery is not adapted to such educational work. It is the business of that Court to interpret—to form a new scheme by the interpretation of the will of the founder; and when they interpret it, it is often not according to the wants of this age, but according to the letter in which these wants were defined at the time of the foundation. We need not be surprised if this interpretation often varies. Then, there is the Charity Commission, whose services as a body have been but little acknowledged by the country. It has been acting persistently, most laboriously, doing a great work, but it is in fact overworked, and its powers are insufficient. It is only in smaller charities that the Commissioners have the initiative. Besides neither they nor the Court of Chancery have power to consider one school in relation to another, or to attempt any system of re-distribution. True, the Commissioners have the power of submitting to this House special Bills, but this requires so much preparation, and even when the Bills have been prepared, so much watching that it is difficult to carry them through. 1370 In fact, since the Commission was instituted, fifteen years since, they have only carried eighteen Bills, and only nine of those related to schools. I trust I have stated to the House some grounds why we ask these additional powers. But I do not for a moment deny that there are difficulties in the way. We thought it useless to attempt to meddle with the matter at all unless we took strong powers; and we might as well not trouble the House with any consideration of the subject as not to ask them to give the means by which we might really effect this work of reform. At the same time we felt we ought to fence these powers with every limitation that could, without interfering with their efficiency, be placed around them. We have endeavoured to do that, and I must leave it to the House to say whether we have or not succeeded. First of all, there are several limitations directly by the Act itself. Clause 11 provides that due regard must be paid to the educational interests of the locality in which the schools are situated, and as regards the locality, I believe that no educational endowment need be carried beyond the county in which it exists. Clause 12 meets existing interests of individuals—trustees, masters and boys. Clause 13 exempts several schools from this part of the Act. These are the direct exemptions by the Act, but they are not the limitations and checks on which I mostly rely. The real cheek upon the extensive powers we take and give is the method by which we intend to use them and the body to which we give them. We have fixed on that body which we think most likely to be under the greatest sense of responsibility to local and public interests. Public opinion is, after all, the best check in this country. The Government carefully considered the question as to the body to which it would be best to give the power we ask for in this Bill, and, after the closest consideration, it seemed wisest and safest that we should not shirk responsibility in this matter; but if the Government of the day undertook it, it is impossible for them to do it without special assistance. The whole means of procedure, then, are these—It is the Government of the day working by special help. The Commissioners, as described in the Bill, who are to propose the reforms, are merely officers assisting the Government, 1371 and the mode in which they are to work I will briefly describe. I believe some persons have thought that the Commissioners have in themselves the power to alter trusts and settle schemes; but the Commissioners alone have no power whatever. What the Commissioners are able to do is this, as provided in Clauses 26 to 45—They are instructed first to prepare schemes; next, having prepared and published these schemes, they are to send them down to the governing body of the school—the trustees and head master—care being taken also to publish them in the locality, so that parents and all interested may be informed of them. Then, two months are to be allowed, during which the Commissioners are ordered to receive suggestions and objections. They are then, if necessary, to go down to the locality, or send down an Assistant Commissioner to make local inquiry, and after the local inquiry is completed they are to make up their own minds as to what scheme is to be proposed, and the scheme thus finally proposed by them is to be submitted to the Educational Department of the Government—the Committee of Council, in which I have a subordinate place at present. The responsibility will rest on the Government whether they approve the scheme. If they do approve it they will lay it before Parliament, and it will become law, if not objected to, within forty days by either House. Everything the Commissioners do will be mere waste paper till it has passed the ordeal of Parliamentary assent. There will, therefore, be in every case ample opportunity to object to a scheme locally and in writing, to bring local influence to bear on the Government, and also on both Houses of Parliament, for the purpose, if necessary, of disallowing it. Hon. Members may feel some surprise that the machinery proposed by the Government deviates so widely from the recommendations of the Schools Inquiry Commission. No doubt, the Schools Inquiry Commission recommended a system of Provincial Boards. I was a member of that Commission, and we spent some time in considering that question; and I am still inclined to think the conclusion we came to was correct, if we could find such a constituency as we require; but the difficulty was to find such a constituency ready to our hands; and, indeed, the difficulty of finding a perfect local con- 1372 stituency was almost an insuperable one. There was the other suggestion of the School Inquiry Commission, that, failing such a constituency, Government must make their own choice of local nominees. But how could the Government be sure that any local constituency would really have the confidence of the locality? We have endeavoured to secure by the means we propose both local inquiry and the hearing of local objections to every scheme. There is another difference between our Bill and the recommendations of our Commissioners. They recommended not merely an immediate reform and re-organization of the schools, but that there should be a machinery at once constructed that should secure the future inspection of the schools. It is objected to this Bill that we ask for great powers to re-organize, without taking any security that the schools do not go back in a short time to their old level. I must acknowledge that if hereafter matters were left alone this would probably be the case; but we thought it was better to leave this question to solve for the future, and for this reason—not that there should be no power to see that the trustees do their duty, after new trustees are appointed, but because we shall be in a better position, after these reforms and re-organization are completed, to decide to whom these powers tad better be given, and what powers are necessary. I propose, therefore, to leave this matter for the present to the Charity Commission, which has exercised its powers with great conscientiousness and care. But this is a temporary Bill for the reform and re-organization of Endowed Schools, and when it has been completed—in, perhaps, about four or five years—we shall be in a different position from what we are now, and we shall know what powers are necessary. Besides, we may hope that in that time a general system of education may arrive at something like a permanent position. We may expect that a change will be made in elementary education in two or three years, and when that is settled we may more completely define what the powers of the central government ought to be in regard to education, and how they ought to be exercised, and we may hope to find some means of creating local representation and a local constituency in educational matters. We have not followed another recommendation of the 1373 Commissioners. They recommended that in many towns, where the Endowed Schools do not meet the wants of the population, power should be given to make a rate for building municipal secondary schools, and for improving the existing buildings. We think we had better leave this also to the future. There is at present much difference of opinion with regard to the incidence of rates, but that also is a question which cannot long remain without some settlement.
The first part of the Bill—and, possibly, the most important part—is that for the reform and re-organization of the Endowed Schools. In schemes for this reform, it has been thought necessary to make one or two directions, especially concerning what is called the religious difficulty, but which I must say is far less of a difficulty than it is generally supposed to be. This question increases in difficulty in proportion as it applies to schools not frequented by our sons, and it is less in these Endowed Schools than in elementary schools, but still the difficulty exists. The hon. Member for Stamford (Sir John Hay) has put upon the Paper one or two Amendments to the clauses affecting the religious question. I do not doubt that he has looked at that portion of the Report of the Schools Inquiry Commission which shows how the recommendations were arrived at on which these clauses were founded. These recommendations were framed and signed by gentlemen having as strong a view on that question as it was possible to find. We had long debates upon it, and at last the Report was signed by the Dean of Chichester, Mr. Thorold, and Lord Lyttelton, and I would suggest to the hon. Baronet opposite that he should read the long memorandum by Lord Lyttelton giving a history of the process by which he was convinced that the Conscience Clause was a fair and just one. [Sir JOHN HAY: I have read the whole of it.] The principle of that clause is that all public schools must be open to the public. It is the pride and glory of these Endowed Schools that they are public; that means that they are open to the public; and it is our duty to see that that large portion of the public who are not members of the Church of England are not excluded from them. But while we give the greatest possible power and latitude to 1374 the parents to insure that they may share the advantage of these public schools without having their religious views interfered with, we have also borne this in mind, that the position of day and boarding schools is very different. The master of a day school has the care and superintendence of the boys while they are in the school, but the parent has the real charge of their moral and spiritual welfare. But when you send a boy to a boarding school you give the master the trust and responsibility of superintending the moral and religious instruction of the boy in your place, and you sympathize with the master when he says that he can only teach his boys the religious views that he himself holds. In the case of such boarding schools we propose that, at the wish of the parent who objects to the religious educacation in such school, day school edution may be provided. I do not, how-over, wish hon. Members to suppose that this question of the Conscience Clause will ever get practically out of the walls of this House. All these Conscience Clause questions are matters of theory more than of practice. If the matter had been left to schoolmasters and parents to decide for themselves, without any attempt by others to interfere or tyrannize over their religious feelings, we should have found no difficulty in the matter. I have been called a supporter of the secular system of instruction, but there will be no more secular instruction in the operation of these Conscience Clauses as applied to Endowed Schools than there is at this moment. The principle of the Conscience Clause has, in fact, been adopted for years. It is included in every school scheme sanctioned by the Court of Chancery. In the other House of Parliament Lord Cranworth, in 1860, introduced a Bill which became law and which provided for the protection in Endowed Schools of the conscientious feelings of parents not in communion with the Church. Let me read the evidence of the present Lord Chancellor (then Sir William Page Wood) and Sir Roundell Palmer on this clause. The Lord Chancellor gave it as his opinion that the Conscience Clause would be introduced into Edward the VI.'s Schools.The Conscience Clause," he added, "is now inserted in every scheme without exception, unless there is a positive exclusion of any but Church 1375 teaching. It must not be merely a Church school; it must not be merely that the founder says 'I intend this as a Church school;' but he must say 'this is exclusively a Church school,' and if he does not say so the Conscience Clause is introduced.The cases of exclusion the Lord Chancellor said were, he thought, not many. Sir Roundell Palmer used similar language. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Hay) is really fighting after the battle has been decided, because the thing has been done. Sir Roundell Palmer said—I think it is now well settled that in all cases where the Court settles a scheme—it being a Church school—it says religion should be taught according to the principles of the Established Church, but that no children whose parents, or persons standing in the place of parents, object, should be compelled to learn any formularies or to attend the public worship of the Church of England.Again—The only case which would preclude the Conscience Clause would be if there was an express and positive direction that every child should be taught so and so; but the cases are so rare that one almost suspects where they do exist they are overlooked in practice.We have thought it right to except from the operation of the Conscience Clause all purely denominational schools, whether Church of England or otherwise. It was supposed by some that, by using the word "denominational," I did not intend to include the Church of England schools, and by others that I did intend to include the Church schools, and to cast thereby some slur on the Church of England. I hope I shall be acquitted of any such designs. I have so often heard hon. Gentlemen opposite speak of denominational schools, and express their preference for a denominational system of instruction, that I thought it a natural word to designate schools whether connected with the Church or not. By the 25th clause we take a modified power to deal with certain charities that have not hitherto been regarded as educational. There was nothing that appeared to us more clear than that a vast number of these charities, instead of doing good, were doing harm. I cannot help thinking, therefore, that it would be an immense advantage that, while re-organizing our educational endowments by this Bill, we should not lose sight of those charities, especially in the neighbourhood of the schools, but that we should see whether they might not be made use of for purposes as good as those for 1376 which they were originally established. No doubt, any power of this kind ought to be used with great care. My hon. Friends the Members for the City of London (Mr. Crawford and Mr. Alderman Lawrence) have presented Petitions on this subject from City companies, whose lasting success has no doubt been very much owing to the way in which they have looked after their own interests, and the interests of those who have been committed to their charge. I trust, however, that they will find in the course we propose to take that the fear they entertain is groundless. But I should be sorry if this clause were not, in principle at least, accepted. What we propose is this. We thought that the Commissioners would have already so much to do that we ought not to put upon them the task of inquiry, and therefore we have, as it were, made use of the Charity Commissioners, and decided that no charities which are not educational are to be used for educational purposes unless recommended by the Charity Commissioners. If hon. Members will read the Report of the Charity Commissioners, issued only a day or two ago, I have no doubt they will admit with respect to many of those charities, that, if doing some good, at least a large amount of mischief is mixed with it. There is, for instance, Smith's charity, of £16,000 a year, a part of which is given to poor relations of Smith, who appear to be discovered year after year, though Smith died more than 200 years ago. Certainly, as far as I can discover, those who partake of this charity cannot be happier, but are a great deal poorer from their chance of receiving a portion of this bequest. But that is but a small part of the harm done. The Commissioners do not speak of it in terms of very strong condemnation, but the evidence they produce shows that more than half the income is given in doles in 209 different villages and towns, and it is impossible to read that evidence without feeling that in far the larger majority of cases those doles are pauperizing the places in which they are distributed. In fact, the statement of an incumbent of one of those places is, "I consider that a charity was never worse applied. I think its effects are demoralizing."
I come now to the second part of the Bill, and here I have to say that though we consider local inspection may be post- 1377 poned, we have not thought that the examination of the schools could be put off. I wish here briefly to explain why we do not feel that we could postpone the examination of the schools. Why is examination needed? Because it is the only way by which we can carry out the principle which, generally speaking, has teen acknowledged by both sides of the House in education, as well as in other matters—namely, that we should pay by results if we possibly can. If results are rightly defined and the payments fitly arranged, so that in trying to obtain one result we do not sacrifice another, nothing is so good as such a system. But it is impossible for the State to adopt this system directly in dealing with Endowed Schools, because we are not the paymasters, for after all it is the parents who are the paymasters. The way we can get the masters paid by results is to guide the parents. Now what is the use of having culture in the country, and of the State being able to bring it to its aid, if we cannot help the poor farmer and tradesman by some such examination as would give them that guidance in the choice of schools which almost all acknowledge that they greatly want? Well, if we are to do that, we simply require that there should be a power possessed by some body or Board of examining all the scholars in all the Endowed Schools once a year. We say that we think that ought to be compulsory upon all whom we touch by the Bill, that is, upon all Endowed Schools except those which we already examine—that is to say, those in receipt of a public grant from the Privy Council—and the seven Public Schools for which we legislated last year. I am sorry that such a provision was not put into the Act relating to those Public Schools, because I believe it would have done them much good, and in that way an example would be set to other schools which show some reluctance to be classed side by side with schools that are their equals. But we found from every kind of inquiry there was another want, a want arising from this—that many masters are incompetent. To remedy this defect training schools for secondary education were suggested. We find that training schools in France have done great good, but upon the whole the Schools Inquiry Commission came to the conclusion that they would not recommend them, be- 1378 cause their establishment would give too much power to the Government and too little scope for diversity of thought and the free action of opinion. But the Schools Inquiry Commission did come to the conclusion that the request which private masters made—that certificates of competence should be given by some competent body—was by no means unreasonable. We, therefore, take power to intrust the granting of these certificates to what we regard as a competent body. What shall this body be? You must remember that it is a Board or a Council that is to be formed, not for the purposes of inspection or seeing that the law is carried out and that the trustees fulfil their duty, but simply for the purpose of examining and informing parents of those two things—what masters have to teach and how these masters do teach. The body to whom we have thought it right to intrust this power is the body that was recommended by the Schools Inquiry Commission—an Educational Council of twelve members, six to be chosen by the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and London, and six by the Government. It was thought that the older Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, from their distinguished history and from the position which they had held and still hold in public estimation, and the younger University of London, from what it had been able to do in so short a time, would win the confidence of the country; and I must say this, I am sure from inquiries I have made that the two older Universities are day by day more and more looked up to from all parts of the country as great national seats of learning from which we might hope for assistance in a reform such as this. But we thought there ought to be other men of learning and experience in teaching on the Board, and therefore power is given to the Government to name as many as are to be named by the Universities. I must say that some such Educational Council would be useful, not only for thus examining scholars and giving certificates, but, in all probability, for counselling the Government and. the country upon educational matters. It is by means of this Council that we hope to make this Bill have its effect upon private and proprietary, as well as Endowed Schools. After all that may be done for the improvement of Endowed Schools, we can- 1379 not rely on them alone for the education we desire to give; we must look to private schools also. We have seen several of the best private schoolmasters, and we find a general desire among them to obtain acknowledgment as a profession. While therefore we have thought it right to compel Endowed Schools to submit to examination, we have also felt that it would be desirable to offer the same examination and certificate to private schoolmasters, believing that the best will try to obtain certificates and will court examination, and that those who shun examination and certificates will themselves be shunned by the public. But we are obliged, in fairness, to make the conditions in the case of private schools the same as with regard to Endowed Schools. I have said, in the beginning of my remarks, that I have had an opportunity of hearing various objections made to several clauses of this Bill. I have had conferences with several of the best masters of Endowed Schools and others, but I am glad to be able to state that I have heard no objection to the principle of the Bill. I have heard no objection to the object at which we are trying to arrive, although I have heard doubts expressed with respect to some of the provisions, and especially as to the Council of Examination. But so far as I can make out these doubts have arisen from misapprehension of our intentions, and I cannot help thinking that if these objections turn out well founded it will be very easy to introduce amendments to remove them. A doubt has been expressed whether in establishing an examining body we did not intend to dictate to the schools the subjects of instruction. We have no such intention. Some have supposed we intended to prevent the Council from acknowledging University examinations, but we have no such intention. Then, again, objection has been taken to the mode in which we make the examination self-supporting. I must say one word on the question of expense. The expense of reforming and re-organizing the schools is to be paid for out of the Consolidated Fund; but the expense of examination will not be paid for in that way, on the ground that, though the country may undertake the expense of the task of reform, it cannot undertake that of conducting the examinations. Another objection that has been made is 1380 that it is unfair to exclude the Cathedral Schools from the operation of this Bill. That is a matter which, no doubt, may fairly be discussed. The clause in which we arrange for the dismissal of masters is supposed by some to have an effect and an intention which was never contemplated. Again, I have heard complaints of our definition of educational endowments; and I may at once frankly state what, in my opinion, that definition ought to include, and what, I believe, it does include. It includes all schools for boys and girls for general education, and all exhibitions into and out of those schools. But if it be supposed to include Colleges, I can only say that it is not intended to do so. This, and similar points are, after all, not questions affecting the second reading, and I think they are matters in which the Government may fairly hope to have the assistance of the House generally, and that of Members on both sides, in amending the Bill if it may be necessary. It has been so often said that Bills of this nature are not party Bills that I hardly like to repeat so trite a truism; but I may say, that although this may have been called a strong Government, with a great majority at its back, I believe there would be no chance of our carrying a measure of this kind, affecting so many different interests, if it were a party measure. We put it therefore before both sides of the House in the full expectation that from both sides we shall receive help in perfecting and amending it; and if it should be thought that that help could best be given by a Select Committee like that to which the Public Schools Bill of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Walpole) was referred—not, of course, for the purpose of hearing evidence, which would entirely put an end to the Bill—the Government will be quite willing to assent to that course. I will only, Sir, make one or two very brief remarks before I sit down. I feel that this is a difficult question, and one with which I am by no means competent to deal. I could wish that it had fallen into the hands of one who possessed that culture which it has not been my good fortune to receive. But I trust that this measure will not suffer on account of any deficiencies on my part. The work before us is a great one, and having begun that work, I hope the House will do its best to bring it to com- 1381 pletion this Session. Depend upon it, this matter of secondary education is one which we cannot afford to leave in its present state. To take only the lowest ground, the competition, commercially, which we have to encounter with other countries, should make us lose no time in legislating upon it. I will take the case of my own borough. I do not know that it is worse—I believe it to be better—than many other places in this respect; but it offers us a very practical illustration. Bradford is a large manufacturing town—the centre of a great manufacturing district; it exports goods to other countries, at least quite as much as the neighbouring towns, and there is no reason why the middleman, the merchant, the person who arranges the process of exchange from the manufacturer, should not be an Englishman. He never, or scarcely ever, is. He is almost always a German in the case of the German or even of the French trade. It is the same at Manchester and, I believe, at many other places. Why is this? Because the education given to the boy who leaves school at sixteen or seventeen on the Continent at once fits him for these pursuits, while our own education for this purpose is deficient. There is a great cry just now for technical education; but it is necessary, in speaking of technical education, to avoid the error of putting the cart before the horse. We must give in our schools—what is given on the Continent—the groundwork and elements of science, before technical education can be of much use. Again, there is one fact bearing on the events of the last year or two which I think ought to make one of the objects contemplated in this Bill seem very important. We have brought new social forces into play that must affect the interests of the country. We have conferred more power upon the labouring class. Who are likely to lead that class? Those belonging to it who have most talent. Therefore, it is surely most important that we should provide the means by which boys of talent among the working class should grow up fitted by culture to use their talents aright. One word more as to the founders. We are told that by reforms we desecrate their memory; but were they here-—I almost wish they were—they would help us. They were the reformers of their day. They would be the reformers of 1382 this. They would call it a cruel mockery of their benevolent intentions to sacrifice the spirit of their gifts to the letter in which they are worded. And looking at the time when many of these foundations were endowed, there is a special fitness in our now setting to work to give them new life and strength by adapting them to present wants. Many of the richest and most important of these schools date back to the glorious Tudor times, when England was waking up to take the foremost part in the march of Christian civilization. Who were these founders? And why did they endow these foundations? They were men who were possessed by the new ideas of the age; they were fighting for industry against feudalism and for equal laws against class privileges; for free thought against bigotry; and knowing that knowledge and education and culture were on their side, they wished, by providing for future education, to procure champions for their cause in the future. And now, again, new ideas have power—this new central idea, bringing with it many others, that no special class is to guide the destinies of England—that not the aristocracy, nor the bourgeoisie, no, nor yet the working class, is to govern England—but that England for the future is in truth to be self-governed; all her citizens taking their share, not by class distinction, but by individual worth. And what is this but England carrying out in her far better way that idea which the great Napoleon strove by force to realize; that one principle which supported him spite of all his errors and crimes, La carrière ouverte aux talens, or, as Carlyle translates it, "the tools to him who can use them." Thanks to these founders, we have, at this moment, a great opportunity of helping to the realization of this idea—of yet again making our past minister to our future; and in the confidence that the House will not let slip this opportunity, I submit to them this Motion.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. W. E. Forster.)
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
, having taken a great interest in the question, tendered his sincere thanks to his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council for the candour, the conciliatory tone, and the fulness of explanation 1383 which, had characterized all his long and very interesting speech. At the same time, he did not think he should have even his right hon. Friend's dissent when he said that the very fact of his speech having been so long and so full in its explanations was the best justification of the considerable alarm which the Bill had occasioned, and he accordingly welcomed and claimed the promise of referring it to a Select Committee. The fact was, that the Bill was not self-explanatory. The scheme drawn out by his right hon. Friend in his speech was the scheme recommended in the blue book, he might say the multitudinous blue books of the Royal Commissioners. But on the face of the Bill there was no antecedent necessity that the recommendations of that Royal Commission should be given effect to in one single particular. What was the Bill, taken briefly? Why, that three anonymous gentlemen, forming an all-powerful triumvirate, should be appointed by the direct exercise of the Prerogative, and that that triumvirate, in an absurdly short space of time, should have power to initiate, to reform, to alter schemes, subvert constitutions, and re-cast the whole arrangements of the numerous Endowed Schools of England. He did not for a moment say that was his right hon. Friend's intention, for he had disclaimed it in emphatic terms; but it must be remembered that the animus imponentis was not necessarily what governed any law, and that there was enough in the Bill to excite the apprehension which it had raised, that such might be its practical working. His right hon. Friend said to the good schools—"Don't be afraid, our Bill does not touch you; it is merely for the bad schools." But, in fact, it did touch the good schools, as well as the bad. It swept in—with some named exceptions—every Endowed School, great or small, more than thirty years old. It gave power to the triumvirate—whose names did not appear in the Bill—to frame schemes, to send inquisitions up and down throughout the country, and to arraign and depose the trustees of the most flourishing, just as much as of the deadest and most paralyzed school. It was true that that power was fenced with sundry provisions, and sundry appeals were proposed in behalf of the existing governing bodies; but they all knew how difficult it was for any body 1384 of men, however intelligent, who had only a parochial or even a county knowledge of business, to grapple with that higher, finer, and more dexterous experience of administration which the official mind and official habits give to men. And, certainly, to borrow a familiar phrase, on the face of it the power of the Government in that Bill seemed over-weighted. It was over-weighted because it gave to that Commission so sudden and abrupt a power of initiation, without a preliminary day of grace during which the schools themselves might be invited to tender their own scheme. And in the Select Committee, which he gladly welcomed, when they took to re-casting the Bill, he took it for granted that the absurdly narrow space of time appended for that purpose would be altered. In his opinion a requisition ought to be sent to all the Endowed Schools within a certain period, inviting them to send in their own schemes of reform, which might be proposed either by the governing body, or by the masters, or by the community, for whose benefit the school professes to exist. If this were done the Commissioners would be made acquainted with the present mind of the schools and of the locality, and a great deal of the alarm which at present existed would be dissipated. He also thought that the names of the Commissioners ought to be inserted in the Bill. When the Public Schools Bill was under consideration there were discussions both in that House and in another place as to the names of the Commissioners, not from any personal motives, but because a reasonable conviction was entertained that on the personnel of the Commissioners must depend much of the tone and character of the reforms they proposed. In the nomination of the Commissioners there would be something like a guarantee, which did not now exist, as to the moderation or the radicalism—he did not use the word in an offensive sense—of the reforms proposed to be carried out. Then, it might be fairly claimed that the number of the Commissioners should not be so small as three. No doubt, fiscal reasons were to be considered in regard to this matter, but it should never be forgotten that efficiency ought to be preferred to economy. The present Government had introduced the precedent of unpaid high officials in the Treasury and elsewhere, 1385 and why, then, should they not include in this Commission the names of some eminent educationists who had the means and the desire to give their services to the country gratuitously? If the Commissioners few in numbers, and not impossibly men of one idea, acting from theory rather than experience, should grade schools according to their mere geographical position, a great grievance would often be occasioned. As an instance, he would mention the Free Grammar School at Cranbrook, with which he was well acquainted. At the date of the election of the late master only five or six town boys attended it, and for all reasonable purposes it was absolutely defunct; but a fortunate choice of a new master having been made in him, that gentleman, who died about three years ago, raised the institution to the position of a small public school, which it maintains under his successor, elected out of a numerous list of candidates. There were about eighty boys there at the present time, mostly boarders, sons of gentlemen of high position, partly town boys, sons several of them of small tradesmen, and they were taught high classical subjects, with the good-will of both classes of parents, while at the same time a good modern deportment coexisted. But under the geographical arrangements of the present Bill this school would, in all probability, be graded as a second-class school, in consequence of the proximity to Tunbridge. Such a proceeding would, however, be unfair to the people of Cranbrook, who liked to have an opportunity of giving their children a classical education. This case offered an apt illustration of the evils which might result from schemes being sent down cut-and-dried from an office in London. In the adjacent parish with which he was acquainted there was a school with a pretentious constitution, but without either master or scholars, the endowment being only £35 a year. This, of course, ought to be swept off the face of the earth as a separate school. His right hon. Friend had strongly insisted on the necessity of the clauses relating to what was termed the "Conscience Clause," and urged that the battle on that point had been already either won or lost, according to the views which people held in reference to that subject, as the Court of Chancery had for some time imposed a Conscience 1386 Clause on all Endowed Schools which came within its scope. But it was not the bare question of the Conscience Clause that created so much alarm in the minds of many excellent persons in the country when they read that portion of the Bill. It was not a question as to the admission of Dissenting boys to the benefits of education, without calling upon them to take part in the dogmatic teaching, which they objected to; that which led many persons to be alarmed was the loose way in which certain clauses of the Bill were drawn. They feared that if those clauses passed into law many schools which had been hitherto Church schools for all practical purposes would be gradually metamorphosed into Dissenting schools, and that, on the other hand (for he desired fair play) Dissenting schools might be changed into Church schools by a dexterous manipulation in the choice of the governing bodies. There was no objection to opening the doors of Church schools to scholars of all denominations; but, at the same time, if a school had had a dominant denominational character, either from its commencement, or for a long time past, that character ought to be sufficiently preserved. On this point the master of an old grammar school, characterized as "very satisfactory" in the blue book, had written to him in the following terms:—I have no remark to make on the clauses which relate to religious instruction, for this reason—under the new scheme given by the Master of the Rolls in 1855 for the regulation of this school it is ordered that religious teaching be on the principles of the Church of England, to which all the scholars are entitled unless a parent gives in writing an objection to the same. I have been head master of this school nearly fifteen years, and have never received a single notice of objection to the course of religious instruction all that time until last week—that is, since the introduction of this Bill into the House of Commons, and I believe that emanated from the bidding of a body in London which concerns itself in this matter. Since I have been master I have had upwards of 350 boys in the school of various religious opinions, and among the present scholars are a son of a Baptist minister and a son of a Wesleyan minister whom I am preparing for Cambridge University.He contended that this school ought to be allowed to go on in the same manner as hitherto, and no risk ought to be run of impressing any "body in London" or elsewhere with the idea that they might, by means of a little successful agitation, substitute for the Conscience 1387 Clause the subversion of all distinctive religious teaching in any school. He held in his hand another communication from the head master of a large school. It was a distinctive Church of England denominational school, and as such these clauses did not weigh upon it and as also it was founded within the last thirty years it did not come under the provisions of the measure. His correspondent, therefore, was not actuated by any personal feeling in the matter, and, moreover, he was a strong Liberal in politics. Nevertheless, this gentleman expressed the greatest alarm at these clauses, for fear they should ultimately lead to the obliteration of all religious teaching in nearly all the schools in the country. He had, he thought, given sufficient reason to show that the Select Committee must re-consider this portion of the Bill, in order sufficiently to protect in a liberal and comprehensive spirit the religious colour of each school wherever any had been impressed upon it by long traditionary usage. He wished, moreover, to point out that the Bill was not merely formally, but really, divided into two parts, and it might be a question whether the latter or permanent portion, might not be advantageously postponed till next year. He ought to mention that another very distinguished head master, presiding over one of the most successful of modern schools, Wellington College, who had written to him, objected to the clause which required a certificate of fitness to be obtained from all persons being desirous of being appointed masters at schools other than the exceptional seven Public Schools. He was himself from personal association anxious to sustain the credit of those old foundations. But he was still more anxious for fair play, and he desired to give an equal start to the new Public Schools which had challenged them to an honourable rivalry, and to those distinguished ancient Grammar Schools, which were actively bidding for places in the front rank. Now, if Harrow, Eton, and Winchester might select their masters from the tripos list at Cambridge or the class list at Oxford, it was unfair to require University men, if chosen masters of Wellington or Bradfield College, or Tunbridge, Ipswich, or Uppingham School, to go down provided with papers signed by the Educational Board in 1388 London. Honours, he contended, ought in every case to be a certificate. He was not prepared to condemn the examination as proposed by the Bill, but he must at the same time point out that they would involve a risk of cramming, not, indeed, in the great, but in the smaller and private schools, which would be tempted to regard the good report of the examiners from the profit side; and as to the mode of conducting the examinations, he thought it would be much more effectual if an Assistant Commissioner were sent, from time to time, to present himself at a school when he was least expected and see how things were actually going on. Such unpremeditated examinations would test the working capacity of the master, as no cut-and-dried questions from London could do. If, then, the second part of the Bill were to be passed in the present Session—for which he saw no reason—the whole question relating to the examinations would require to undergo careful revision. There were other points in the Bill on which he should like to comment, but he would abstain from saying more with respect to it on that occasion. He had said enough to show that, urgent as the need of reform in the Endowed Schools was, and able and straightforward as was the statement of his right hon. Friend, yet there were deficiencies in the measure which fully justified those who were most anxious for a thorough reformation in not accepting it precisely as it stood on the ipse dixit of the Executive. With a view to their amendment, he would readily accept the Select Committee which the right hon. Gentleman had offered.
§ MR. JAMES HOWARD
said, the right hon. Member who introduced the Bill before the House had stated that during the inquiry made by the Commissioners a great number of ill conducted schools and badly managed endowments had been brought to light, but that some really well managed and good schools had been met with. The right hon. Gentleman further stated that whilst the trustees of the bad schools had not been near him, the governing bodies of the good schools had sent up deputations which had waited upon him; that whilst the badly managed schools would be reformed and dealt with, the good schools had nothing whatever to fear from the operation of this Endowed 1389 Schools Bill. He (Mr. Howard) was glad to hear these remarks fall from the right hon. Member, for in the borough he had the honour to represent in that House one of these good schools did exist, and some 1,600 children were receiving therein an excellent education. The introduction of the Bill before the House had filled the minds of the trustees with anxiety if not with alarm, and he was therefore glad to hear that such a school had nothing to fear from the operation of the Bill. Nevertheless, he (Mr. Howard) was anxious on one point. Under the provision of the Bill three Commissioners are to be appointed to frame measures for the future disposal and management of the vast number of charitable endowments in the kingdom. The duties of these Commissioners will be of the most grave and responsible character. What he therefore desired to know was who was to nominate them? and he would also ask whether this House is to have any voice in the election or rejection of these important officers? He believed that it would be a great national disaster should gentlemen be appointed to this office who had imbibed educational hobbies or crotchets, or who are under the influence of narrow or stereotyped views for dealing with so great and comprehensive a subject as the future education of the great middle class of the country. He gathered from a perusal of the Schools Inquiry Commission, that some members of that Commission inclined to a considerable extension of boarding schools—indeed desired a complete net-work of boarding schools similar to our great leading Public Schools. As this Bill is founded upon the Report of this Commission perhaps he should not be considered out of order if he made just one or two remarks, and only one or two, upon the subject. It did not appear to his mind that a large extension of boarding schools is what the country most requires. Those who can afford to avail themselves of boarding schools are quite capable of taking care of themselves. He would rather devote a large portion of the funds which will accrue, should this Bill become law, to the establishment of superior day schools, and thus bring home to the very doors of the middle classes and place within their reach a cheap yet superior education. There are vast numbers of parents of the upper and middle class 1390 who had a liberal education themselves, and who naturally desire similar advantages for their children—but from their straitened circumstances they are altogether unable to afford the expense of sending their sons to a boarding school. Hence the necessity of bringing as it were home to them superior day schools in which a liberal education would be imparted at a small cost. This view of the subject had been forced upon him from the fact of his having been for twenty years past a trustee of one of the largest of our Endowed Schools, and of the advantages of which thousands of families of the class he and the right, hon. Gentleman had alluded to had availed themselves. He (Mr. Howard) considered the Bill open to objections in many of its details and trusted that the Government would consent to the course recommended and refer the Bill to a Select Committee.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
It was, Sir, with great pleasure and satisfaction I listened to the statement of my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council (Mr. W. E. Forster). He has placed it, I think, beyond dispute that the condition of Endowed Schools in this country is such as to call for some strong remedy; and although I am not prepared to say that I assent to every point in his Bill, yet there is, I am sure, every disposition on both sides of the House to turn to the best advantage those endowments which have been left by our forefathers. My right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) presented a Petition from his constituents to-night in favour of the Bill, but he did not, I observed, express his concurrence in its prayer; nor am I surprised that such was the case, for the right hon. Gentleman has written a pamphlet on the subject, which shows that it is one upon which there must be some slight difference of opinion among the Members of the Government. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman is, as far as I understand, of opinion that with all the buttresses which we may build up to strengthen our endowments we are simply endeavouring to prop that which in itself is pernicious. That, however, is a matter which I shall leave my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council to settle with his right hon. Colleague, who, although he 1391 presented a Petition in support of the Bill, absented himself during the delivery of a speech from the Treasury Bench which would no doubt have given him very great pain. I wish now to say a word with respect to the Endowed School charities, where, for instance, there may be an endowment under £100 a year. In those cases the Commissioners are to have much greater power than in others; but there are many instances in which such schools are admirable, and in which the endowment of £100 a year constitutes the least part of the advantage derived from them by either the masters or the scholars, for although the endowment might have brought the school into existence, it, in the main, contributes little or nothing towards its support. The most irresponsible power will be vested in the Commissioners in regard to such schools, for they will have a less power of appeal than that which will be possessed by schools with large endowments which might not have attained to the same degree of practical efficiency. Now, in my opinion, the schools with endowments under £100 a year ought to have some protection in this respect. There is also another point which requires, I think, to be discussed at some length. I allude to the question how for the purposes of the Bill those small charities are to be dealt with which are mentioned in the 25th clause. Anyone who has seen the working of those charities must come to the same conclusion as my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster) stated in his speech to-night—that they are not only in many instances useless, but often pernicious. But, at the same time, they were in the main intended for particular classes. I have read an account of the use made of Mr. Henry Smith's bequests. A gentleman with £400 a year has, I think, got part of them, and it is quite clear that that is not the sort of poor relation who was contemplated by the donor. He meant his bequest for the benefit of the poor, but this measure, it appears to me, takes some of those funds from the destitute poor, and applies them practically to the purposes of middle-class education. There are plenty of uses to which they may be applied with the view of benefiting those for whose advantage they were originally intended; and I am sure the middle classes do not themselves desire, if they 1392 are only so applied, to appropriate them in any sense to their own use. In the main, it is no doubt desirable that parents, where they have the means, should see after the education of their own children; but after all the State has a duty thrown upon it by the trusteeship of these endowments—a state of things which is recognized in the powers intrusted to the Charity Commissioners. They would not be able to undertake the great work proposed by this Bill, and I agree with the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) that it would be most desirable, as well in the interest of the public as of those who are to be dealt with by the Bill—especially the head masters of these schools, many of whom are of the very highest character and possess a reputation not inferior to that of the head masters of the great Public Schools—that the names of the Commissioners should be inserted in the Bill. It would be very hard for the masters to be subjected to the control of Commissioners whom they could not look up to and respect, and as the names of the Commissioners appeared in the Bill of last year, I do not see any distinction between the two cases, or any reason why these names should not appear in this Bill also. When the Bill has received the sanction of the Legislature, the masters will thereby receive a guarantee that their interests will be properly looked after by men who have passed the ordeal of a scrutiny by both Houses of Parliament. Many points of detail have been submitted to me, but I do not think it desirable to discuss them at this stage of the Bill. They will be considered by the Select Committee, and I should not be justified in trespassing upon the House by adverting to them now. I will only say in conclusion that I shall be happy to give all the assistance in my power to the Bill in its future stages, so as to make it a measure which will be in accordance, not only with the feelings of the founders, but also with the best interests of the country.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, that probably no Member had received more communications from his constituents respecting this Bill than he had, and he entered the House this evening feeling a good deal of alarm on the subject, but that alarm had been considerably relieved by the speech of his right hon. 1393 Friend the Vice President of the Council. The City Companies had, perhaps, a greater interest than any other in this measure, for large funds and estates had been placed in the hands of nearly all of them for educational purposes; and he might add that no body of men had of late years been more ready to accommodate themselves to the advanced ideas of the age, and to place these institutions on a sound and useful footing. The Skinners' Company administered one of the largest and most successful grammar schools in the country: the Haberdashers' Company had five of those schools, and the City of London School, established under the authority of an Act of Parliament, passed rather more than thirty years ago, would become subject to the provisions of this Bill. Now there was no single institution of the country which had had such an effect on the education of its neighbourhood as this school; and since 1847 or 1848 no fewer than seventy-four young men brought up there had taken high honours at the Universities, especially at Cambridge, some of them having been Senior Wranglers. The authorities of this and other City schools had been considerably alarmed by this Bill, but he accepted the statement of his right hon. Friend that such schools were rather intended to be held up as models than to be altered and re-administered by the Commissioners. With regard to Clause 25, which proposed to deal with such loans as some of the City Companies were in the habit of advancing to young and deserving men, he was told that these loans had been of inestimable advantage in many cases, and that there were persons in the City who owed their prosperity to the help they had received in this way from their own Companies. He should be sorry, therefore, if this power of lending money were withdrawn, for the Companies were the best judges of the claims of those to whom their bounty could be most beneficial.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on his clear and able statement, but could not help pointing out that, while the speech was in accordance with the recommendations of the Commissioners the Bill was not. The Commissioners said that Parliament should lay down the general principles to be adopted in dealing with these en- 1394 dowments, and that the aid of local authority and local knowledge should be sought. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman adopted that view, and he (Mr. Goldney) contended that the Bill should lay down certain principles upon which the endowments should be dealt with. As the measure was framed the Commissioners, without hearing any one, would exercise absolute power over seven-eighths of the 3,000 Endowed Schools that existed in this country. Where the school income was more than £100 a year the course was plain, but in cases where that income was £100 a year or under, the 37th clause shut out any appeal from the persons affected or any control by Parliament. If the principles laid down by the right hon. Gentleman were good, they should be stated in the Bill itself. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman, with regard to the admission, to the Endowed Schools by a species of competitive examination was, in his opinion, very unsatisfactory. Competitive examinations might be all very well for boys of thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen years of age; but he feared that if younger children were tested by it all the stupid ones would be excluded from free admission to the Endowed Schools. The stupid children ought to be educated as well as the clever ones, and some provision ought to be made to secure the benefit to all. This was one of the subjects well worthy the consideration of a Select Committee.
MR. WINGFIELD BAKER
said, he was desirous to see an additional principle introduced into the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had observed that good schools had nothing to fear from the provisions of the Bill; but if that were so it would be desirable to have the matter expressly stated in some provision of the Bill. It had been sought by legislation, especially by that of last year, to establish a particular standard of education, to which it was sought to elevate those schools which had not yet attained to it. There were many schools which were now gradually rising—schools that were almost equal to the excepted schools, both in the character of the education they imparted and the number of scholars they educated; and considering the admirable management under which those schools were placed; he could not see why the Legislature 1395 should violently interpose its interference. He would first refer to one of those schools of which he had particular knowledge, as he was one of its governing body—he meant the King's School at Sherborne. That school had attracted the attention of the Commissioners, who stated that the character of the education there was as good as that at any Public School, and they also spoke highly of the school dicipline, arrangements, and nature of the building. The school promised to become one of the great Public Schools of the country. There were many other schools which he might include in the same category, including Uppingham, Bromsgrove, Highgate, Tunbridge, Ipswich, Leeds, and Manchester. The number of boys at Sherborne was 257, whereas the number at Westminster was 148; at the Charterhouse, 138; and at Shrewsbury, 185. It was said that some of these schools were excepted because they were connected with cathedral towns; but was that the case with Eton, with Rugby, or with the Charterhouse? This test therefore was not to be relied upon. Why should schools thus favourably reported on, although of ancient foundation, not be allowed to go on under existing authority? And why should a percentage be exacted on their profits for advice they did not want? While he admitted that in several respects the Bill was an admirable one, he thought that this was a subject which should insure the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and he (Mr. Wingfield Baker) would ask him to re-consider the subject with a view of placing the class of schools he had mentioned on a footing with those which had been singled out for special favour.
§ MR. CHARLEY
said, he would be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would explain why it was that, under the 18th clause, it was proposed to abolish in all cases the jurisdiction of the ordinary over schools. There were gentlemen—and he said so without meaning offence—on whom the very name of a Bishop acted as a scarlet rag on a bull, but why should the connection between the ordinary and a Church of England school be severed? Such a provision might be satisfactory to the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield), who thought that Bishops were only old tutors and schoolmasters, but he (Mr. 1396 Charley) held them in sufficient regard to induce him to wish to see the old association maintained. The hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) had described this as part of a gigantic scheme for secularizing educational endowments, and other persons entertained the same fear. The 16th clause gave power to appoint persons to introduce schemes, and men of any or no religion might be of the governing body. The Commissioners were to be the nominees of the Liberal Government, and were to constitute a tribunal which was to be a substitute for the Court of Chancery, because it would act more in accordance with the spirit of the age; and might not that require that these schools should not be Church of England schools? Power was given to any governing body to apply the 16th clause to Church of England schools, and a governing body meant a majority of the governing body; which would be entirely under the control of the Commissioners, whom he could only describe as a triumvirate armed with despotic powers to do away with any existing corporation.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, he was connected with the governing body of Tonbridge School, which had been referred to, and he quite agreed with his hon. Friend (Mr. Wingfield Baker) that where it could be shown that the governing bodies had discharged their duties efficiently they should not be interfered with. Tonbridge School was founded in the reign of Edward VI., and was placed under the Skinners' Company by Sir Andrew Judd, its founder. From that time to this the company had conducted the school to the satisfaction of all those interested in it. The inhabitants of Tonbridge were perfectly satisfied, so was the head master, and both were extremely anxious that the governing body should not be interfered with. The Commissioners, under Clause 10, were empowered to introduce into the governing body of any school a certain number of governors hitherto altogether unconnected with the school, and who could have no personal knowledge of its wants. The governors of this school were extremely jealous as to the exercise of this power; and it would be well to ascertain, in the first instance, whether any charge had been made against the school, before such a power were given 1397 to the Commissioners to do away with the present government without any sufficient reason being assigned for such procedure. He thought his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council had made a mistake in this instance. He was sure that many other schools were entitled to make the same objection. The right hon. Gentlemen might say that if he made exception in the case of these schools, others would demand to be excepted, but the Commissioners themselves had pointed out that there were nine or ten schools of such a kind that they ought not to be made subject to the provisions of this Bill. With regard to the seven schools introduced into the Act of last Session, the governors were in the first instance to make a scheme for themselves; and the same power, he thought, should be given to Tonbridge and other schools in that category. He believed the governors of all those schools would be most anxious to extend their utility, and were quite prepared to do so. He therefore hoped, his right hon. Friend would not be afraid of introducing into the Bill, as exceptions, the ten schools the masters of which had demanded an exemption from its operation. Tonbridge School had nearly 200 boys in attendance; the school, the chapel, and other buildings, were all that could be desired; and very much had been done by the governors within the last four or five years. It was only forty or fifty years since the funds of the school had very much increased; and previous to that time the expenses of the school had been borne by the Company itself. He admitted that there were many cases in which this Bill would be found most useful in its operation; there were no doubt a certain number of monstrosities, as described by his right hon. Friend, extremely startling, and he thanked him for introducing the Bill on that account. It was necessary for the purpose of removing such evils, but it should be confined to those schools which absolutely required amendment, and he thought it would cause misunderstanding and heartburning if the trustees of those schools which had been well managed were dealt with so summarily. Nine schools selected by the Commissioners as schools of a special character should be excepted from the Bill, and he asked that if the Tonbridge School could not be excepted, the governors 1398 should at least be allowed to make out their own scheme in the first instance, and to submit it, if necessary, to the Commissioners. He agreed with the opinion that the names of the Commissioners should be inserted in the Bill, because these throe men would be able to re-model and deal with all the Endowed Schools just as they chose. That might be all very good, but it might also be very bad, and very great evils might arise from their proceedings. He looked with some dismay upon the enormous expense to which the Public Schools might be put in appealing, first to the Privy Council and then to the House. If the House agreed to give them a scheme, it must be embodied in a Bill which must be referred to a Select Committee, and then counsel must be engaged at an enormous expense to conduct it through the Committee.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
said, that the case as it affected the Grammar School of Bedford was that all the world wanted to put its hands into the pocket of the school, and that when it was prevented it said the governors were bad men and wanted to obstruct education. The Members representing towns containing Endowed Schools did not think it right to stop the progress of the Bill, although it was clear that if they had banded themselves together they would have been able to offer very considerable obstruction to its passing. He would, for his own part, admit that there was a great deal in the measure that would be very beneficial, and that there was much that really needed reform in some of these grammar schools. What the governors of the Bedford School desired was to deal directly with the Vice President of the Council and the Government. His right hon. Friend's views on these topics he knew, but he did not know the views of the Special Commissioners. It was shown clearly that the great want was of schools for persons of small fixed incomes, and especially of cheap boarding-schools for the smaller farmers, and no county had met this want in a more magnificent manner than Bedfordshire. What his constituents objected to was the fear of what a Special Commission might propose. There should be an opportunity to schools that were doing their duty well to prepare a scheme and prove their case, before anything was forced upon them by the Commissioners. 1399 The Bedford Grammar School was free to all the world, and the only limit to the education given was the limit of accommodation in. the shape of houses for families in the town. There could, however, be no extension of this accommodation while the present uncertainty prevailed. He hoped his right hon. Friend would assure the House that schools that were doing a great work should, in the first instance, propose their own plan.
said, the remarks of the last two speakers indicated the quarter from which the storm was likely to blow. The problem of combining central superintendence with local activity was one of the most difficult to realize, and it would be well not to be too confident that if these large powers were given to the Commissioners, they would be exercised to the satisfaction of those who would be subjected to the inspection. What he objected to was, that there was no discrimination with regard to these schools. Good and bad were alike to be inspected, and what was more, they would have to pay for it. He trusted that the scheme of central supervision would be carefully investigated. He concurred in what had been said by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Goldney), as to a strictly competitive examination. Although he approved of the system of competitive examination, he thought it was highly necessary that the attention of the schoolmaster should be given to those boys who, wanting the abilities of others, evinced a praiseworthy desire to advance in their studies.
§ MR. LEA
said, as a new Member, he could not help expressing his feeling of anxiety that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee. He had always had an idea that referring a Bill to one of those Committees was very apt to shelve it altogether, or to postpone it to another Session. He should be very sorry to see such a course pursued in this case. When, the other night, he heard the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) express his general approval of the measure, he (Mr. Lea) was very glad to hear that there would be no organized party opposition. One or two hon. Members tonight had called the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the manner in which the Bill affected schools of a higher 1400 class. He should like to do so to schools of a lower grade. Those schools mostly belonged to Nonconformist bodies, and were supported chiefly by voluntary contributions and subscriptions, by the small fees—say, 2d. or 3d. a week—of the children, and also by small endowments, which brought them within the scope of the Bill.—["No !"]—He believed he was right in the statement he made. He had carefully studied the Bill, and he found no clause exempting those schools when they were in receipt of no Government grant. Of their number he knew nothing; but he did know that such schools did exist, and the clause whereby a fine of 5 per cent was laid on the fees of the children would be felt a very heavy burden, and would have either to be deducted from the income of the schoolmaster or schoolmistress, or to come from the small funds of the school. Those who had had the management of such schools knew well the difficulty that existed in keeping a school in a proper state of efficiency. If enough money could not be raised under the 25th section, he thought the expenses of the Educational Council should come out of the Consolidated Fund. Another point that he wished to allude to was the fact that the Educational Council would have the power of fixing its own fees. Without fearing that they would do so in an improper way, he thought it would be better if that were left to some other body—say, if they liked, the Committee of Council on Education. Then, to-night, he had heard several hon. Members refer with some alarm to the powers which would be given by the Bill. He was aware that the temporary Commissioners would be possessed with it; but he thought the powers of the Educational Council were rather too restricted. It seemed to him that the Government would constantly have to appoint temporary Commissioners, or that schemes for the altering and amendment of those schools would sometimes have to wait a considerable time; and he was rather in favour of giving that power to the Educational Council. He trusted he might be excused referring to those few points; but he was very anxious the Bill should pass into law this Session, with its main provisions untouched; and it would, he felt confident, meet with public approval. The great capability which the right hon. Gentleman had exhibited in bring- 1401 ing in the Bill proved that he was perfectly able to deal with the great question of a national measure, of which he (Mr. Lea) considered that a first instalment; and the country would not excuse any omission on the right hon. Gentleman's part, if he failed in doing so.
referred in terms of commendation to the extraordinary labour and care which, during a period of four years, had been bestowed upon the subject of Endowed Schools by a Commission of unpaid gentlemen. It must be a great gratification to them now to find that their efforts had not been without result. He was of opinion that his right hon. Friend had done right in inserting in the Bill the Conscience Clause. He rejoiced at the removal of the monopoly with regard to the head mastership of Endowed Schools, all who heard or read that description, and he felt convinced that the Universities and other public institutions would furnish an ample supply of able masters as soon as it was known that it made no difference whether they were clergymen or laymen. He should have been pleased if a hope had been held out in the Bill that ultimately local Boards would have been established, not because he feared the bugbear of centralization, but because no better influence could be exerted on the minds of parents than by giving them a share in the responsibilities of managing such schools. It would be necessary to have some authority possessed of a wider range than the mere locality in which the school was situated, and therefore he should be glad if, during the passing of the Bill through the Select Committee, some clauses should be added enabling the Government or the Educational Council, either at once or at a fitting time, to establish provincial Boards such as were suggested by the Commission. Several hon. Members had protested against their schools being brought under this Bill, but he saw nothing in the measure to prevent these schools from framing schemes for the sanction of the Commissioners. It was an absurdly limited time which his right hon. Friend proposed to give to the Commission which he was about to appoint under the Bill. The examination into the state of these schools had been a labour of four years to most able men, and now it was proposed that, at the 1402 most in four years, schemes should be drawn up for some 3,000 schools, that they should be revised by that House, and undergo various operations, and then the Commission was to cease. It was impossible, no matter what the capacity of the gentlemen employed in the task might be, to get through such a vast amount of work well in so short a time. He highly approved of the introduction of examination, but he should greatly regret to see the establishment, in any great numbers, of special scientific schools. They had not answered in France, Germany, or Switzerland, or anywhere they had been tried. Wherever literary had been separated from scientific instruction the scientific instruction as well as the literary had been a failure. He, therefore, entered his protest against training any young man simply in science without a literary foundation for his education. There was one thing which he regretted, and that was that this measure should have preceded instead of succeeding a measure for national education, because the difficulty of grading the schools was thereby increased. They would neglect their duty if they were to allow elementary education to remain where it was; but as they had not as yet framed a scheme of elementary education, the only thing that could now be done would be to reserve such powers in this Bill as would bring these schools into harmony with a more extensive and well-defined system of national education.
§ MR. WALTER
said, he believed that his hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Samuelson) need not be much alarmed at the prospect of the limited duration which he thought the Bill prescribed for the action of the Commissioners under it, because not only was there provision in one clause for the continuance of their powers in case Parliament should so think fit, but he might remind the House that Commissioners had as many lives as cats, and there was very little fear, in his opinion, that that term of three years assigned in the Act would be anything but the first of the nine lives which that Commission was probably destined to enjoy. If he were disposed, to criticize any limit assigned in the Bill to the period which must elapse between any of the steps in the progress of that scheme, it was the limit of forty days between the presentation of any 1403 scheme to that House and the period in which an address condemning it must be presented to Her Majesty. He did not know what particular reason could be assigned for restricting that interval to forty days, unless it were that that was the period of repentance given to Nineveh when its downfall was threatened. But while he concurred most sincerely in all that had been said in commendation both of the excellent speech of his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, and also in the urgent necessity of a stringent measure for reforming abuses in these schools, he could not help regretting that fair consideration had not been shown to those schools which had been referred to by his hon. Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) and other Gentlemen who had preceded him—namely, Tonbridge, Repton, Uppingham, Sherborne, and others, which, to say the least, were on a par with some of our best Public Schools which were included in the Act of last year. And although it might be very difficult to draw an exact line between those schools and others which stood in a somewhat similar category, yet it would be a proper subject for the Select Committee to consider whether some ten or more of those schools might not be comprised within the scope of the excepted schools, and, so far, might save the Commissioners the trouble of inquiring into them. Because, although it might be said that if they drew a line between those schools and others which came under the operation of the Bill, inasmuch as the tendency and object of that measure was to raise up the other schools to their level, that line would cease to exist, yet they must recollect that there was a class of schools excepted from the Bill of a similar character—namely, those established within the last thirty years. Wellington College, with which he happened to be connected, would be in a singular position. It was neither included in the Act of last year relating to the seven great Public Schools, nor placed under the operation of the present Bill. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: It comes under the second part of the Bill.] Well, he did not know whether the authorities of that school would be particularly pleased at that. He thought they might just as well be excepted from the operation of 1404 the Bill under any circumstances. As his right hon. Friend had corrected him on that point, he would ask his attention, for one moment, while he quoted a passage showing what were the views of the head master of that school with regard to the operation of the second part of that Bill. He had been in communication with the head master of Wellington College, as well as with the heads of several other great Public Schools, in reference to the second part of that measure; and he could tell his right hon. Friend that a very strong objection was entertained by some of the head masters of the most distinguished schools against the plan for limiting their choice of assistants to certificated masters. It struck him on reading the Report that the minds of the Commissioners had been rather influenced by the opinions which they had gathered from an examination of the Prussian system. The idea had got abroad that in Prussia, in consequence of the law which prevented any but certificated teachers from teaching either in public or in private schools, they obtained the most perfect machinery for teaching which the world had ever seen; and he had no doubt that that impression existed in the minds of the gentlemen who drew up that Report and that they would, if they could, enforce in this country a system very similar to that of Prussia. Now, it was worth while for the House to hear what the head master of Wellington College had written to him the other day as to what he had himself witnessed in Prussia under the operation of that system. It was a very short passage, and well deserved the attention of hon. Members. Dr. Benson said—I once saw a master pass his examination for a teaching certificate at Berlin. He had to attend at the principal and moat advanced modern gymnasium and take a turn with the first class. The hour and the boys were sacrificed to him. He did it very badly indeed; and I said that I thought so to the professor who presided. He said, 'Oh, yes, of course he did it badly; but we must give him a first-class certificate. He is a very distinguished man, and he will make a good teacher in time, no doubt.' He said it would be absurd to refuse him admittance to his vocation; that the system was necessarily formal, and would be better dispensed with.That was the evidence furnished to him by the head master of Wellington College—which, he ventured to say was at this moment second to none in this country—as to the absolutely unsatis- 1405 factory test which that system of examination for teachers gave. Dr. Benson's own account of how to choose a good head master was as follows. He said—The best description of how a master should handle his form, and deal with little difficulties, which I ever heard, used to be given to me by one of the weakest masters I ever knew. He would have been perfect on paper, or in ticketing a form, with examiners standing by, in whose presence the boys would be perfect in behaviour; but leave him alone, and there would be a riot. On the other hand, one of the best, clearest, most definite, most popular masters I knew was one of whom, even at the end of two terms, I was in despair.Well, with evidence of that kind, which he had no doubt could be multiplied indefinitely, he thought it was unreasonable to attempt to force upon the great public schools a class of masters the only test of whose fitness was an examination which they were to undergo at the hands of that Educational Council which could examine them only as to their knowledge, and could not possibly have any means of testing their ability for teaching. That, as everybody knew, could be ascertained only by experience. Dr. Benson said that any good tutor of a College would give a pretty correct idea of the fitness or unfitness of a teacher, that there was no other sufficient test than experience, and that, probably, a period of not less than two years would afford a satisfactory proof of whether a master was fit for his work or not. It was, therefore, to be hoped that this subject would be gone fully into in the Select Commitee, and he ventured to think that this part of the measure would probably undergo revision.
MR. STAVELEY HILL
said, he had no doubt that when the Bill went before the Select Committee it would receive, as it required, very careful consideration. The 61st clause provided that the examination of the different schools should be paid for in proportion to the fees paid by the scholars. Under that provision they would have the school of Birmingham, for example, paying nearly £500 per annum towards the expenses of the examination—a sum which would pay for the education of between fifty and fifty-five children under the endowment at Birmingham. Why that amount should go for the examination of a school which was confessedly at the head almost of all the Endowed Schools in England he failed to see. He took the Bir- 1406 mingham school as a fair specimen of one class of schools with which the Bill proposed to deal. It was not many years since that school was in a very decayed state. In 1828 it had only 115 scholars, and the building was in a ruinous condition. Now, however, there were 1,767 children educated on that foundation, and the present building was well known as one of the most magnificent character, and which gained for its architect the opportunity of erecting the building in which they now sat. Having himself been educated in that school he took a particular interest in it. Its endowments were now large, owing to the increased value of the property. They were £10,000 a year, and if the views of the present head master were realized they might soon be augmented to £20,000. And yet that institution had grown in usefulness without special legislation. He was a scholar in it a quarter of a century ago under the present Bishop of Manchester, then its head master; there were brought up there boys of every religious denomination, Christian or Jew, all being educated together, and without the slightest feeling of distinction between boys of different positions in life. Some of the Birmingham boys of that period went to Cambridge and took the highest degrees there, some of those who did so being the sons of small shopkeepers or of men scarcely above the artisan class. The boys were educated without any regard to their different religions, and he never heard any objection on that ground, although he had been since informed that one or two Roman Catholics had objected to certain points of the religious teaching. Such, then, was the condition to which the school had been brought without special legislation of any kind. Now, what was the present state of the law with regard to charitable trusts? The right hon. Gentleman had, in his opinion, somewhat underrated the powers conferred by the Charitable Trusts Act with respect to schemes for schools. The Charitable Trusts Act of 1853, as amended by that of 1855, gave full powers for altering the governing bodies and amending the schemes, with the proviso that the new schemes should be laid upon the Table of the House, and be afterwards incorporated in a short Act of Parliament. Under the provisions of the Statutes he 1407 had just referred to, a special Commissioner, called an. Inspector, might be sent down to report into the state of a school and its governing body, and then to arrange an amended scheme for its management. That scheme, having been laid on the table of the House, was, if no objection were brought forward, to be referred at once to a Select Committee—a body quite as able to deal with a matter of this sort as any three Commissioners, however eminent, who might be selected by the right hon. Gentleman. Well, if a scheme could be passed in this manner, and if a fresh governing body could be thus called into existence, where was the necessity of putting the schools to the expense which they would have to incur if the present measure became law? Reverting to the high position of the school at Birmingham, he said that as the right hon. Gentleman had read a letter from the Rev. Charles Evans, the head master, he might, perhaps, ask permission to read one addressed by the same reverend gentleman to himself, and dated the 22nd of February, after the present measure had been brought forward. It was in the following terms:—I do not at present see many objections to Mr. Forster's Endowed Schools Bill; if carried, everything will, of course, depend on the character of the Commissioners whom they may appoint. They ought to be men, at any rate, who will take an unprejudiced view of the recommendations of the late Schools Inquiry Commission, the adoption of whose recommendations as regards this school in particular would, I believe, be disastrous to the cause of education in Birmingham. The main features of the scheme recommended by that Commission for the whole country have long been anticipated here. We have, as you know, schools of three grades—1. Elementary, 2. English, 3. Classical—a perfect system of affiliation, with unrestricted means of transfer from one school to the other, so that a ready opening is offered to merit wheresoever found. The elementary schools are open to the first applicant, who is invariably admitted in his turn as vacancies occur, while admission to the New-street school is entirely competitive, the governors having been induced by me to abandon entirely the nomination system; and now I am quite sure that if let alone, and with power to impose a fee on all beyond a certain number, say 500 here and 1,000 in the elementary schools, I could make this institution in a few years educate three-fourths of the children of Birmingham. The free admissions would soon grow into distinctions and school scholarships, stimulating and rewarding merit and industry throughout 500,000 people.And now one word with regard to another part of this Bill, whereby it was sought to place all the power in the hands of 1408 three Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman had urged, indeed, that appeals would be allowed, but what was the nature of those appeals? In the first place, an appeal lay from the decision of the Commissioners to the Committee of Council on Education. But surely schools would never take the trouble of appealing to them from the judgment of their own Commissioners? It had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman that there was an appeal to the Privy Council. Passing by, however, as hardly worthy of consideration two cases in which appeals would lie—namely, when vested interests were interfered with, and when the scheme was not made in conformity with the Act—passing by those cases, he was unable to find that any power was given of appealing to Her Majesty in Council. It was only given in cases specified by the Act, but no cases were specified. They might be well alarmed, therefore, when they saw that all the power was to be vested in three Commissioners, from whose decision there was practically no appeal. Those Commissioners might destroy the governing body of a school, overrule every statute under which the governing body acted, while the scheme put forward by the Commissioners would become the sole law for the management of the school. Yet, all the instructions given by the Bill to the Commissioners were contained between Clauses 20 and 24, one of which, as might be expected, abolished the Bishop. The only other point to which he would draw the attention of the House was the way in which charities other than Endowed Schools were dealt with under Clause 25. That clause empowered the Commissioners to deal with those institutions which were classed as "educational endowments." Now, although many persons thought charities of this kind tended to encourage pauperism, yet he must instance, with regard to the city of Coventry, many in that now suffering community would have been long ago in a state of starvation but for the old seniority funds which were doled out carefully to the deserving freemen. He alluded to this circumstance because there was no appeal in cases of charities under £100 a year, and the Commissioners having their eyes mainly directed to education would have every desire to get hold of all the money they could, and would consequently feel 1409 inclined to say that these were the very funds they wanted to carry out the objects they had in view.
said, that his right hon. Friend and Colleague the Vice President of the Council had in his able speech replied to many of the objections which had been raised in the country since the introduction of the Bill, and if his right hon. Friend had heard the objections raised since he moved the second reading he would no doubt have been able to reply satisfactorily to them also. The strongest point which had been urged against the Bill up to the present time was that respecting the desirability of excluding from its operation certain schools of undoubted character and excellence, such as Sherborne, Repton, Bedford, and Tonbridge. But if these exceptions were admitted, no doubt in a short time a large batch of other excellent schools would be recommended for similar treatment. He sincerely hoped the Select Committee would not agree to proposals of that kind, and, indeed, he thought it would be even better to include in the Bill the seven Public Schools which were now exempted from its operation. It would be impossible to provide for the proper gradation of schools unless all were at once under the view of the Commissioners, and the exclusion of any schools besides those included in the Act passed last year would fatally infringe the principle of the Bill. An objection had been raised with respect to the certificates of the masters, and it had been assumed that every master who presented himself must be examined by the examiners appointed by the Educational Council; but the hon. Gentleman who had raised, that objection could hardly have read the Bill, for it was provided by the 2nd section of the 58th clause that not only were certificates of fitness to be granted for examination by those examiners, but in respect of any examination which the Council might deem sufficient for the purpose. If necessary, provision might be made in the Bill itself to meet the objection which had been made with respect to those who had passed the University with honours, especially if they happened to have taken the higher honours. As to the Commissioners they were appointed for a limited time, the object of the Bill being that there should be a body who could at once apply themselves to the task of 1410 giving effect to the recommendations of the Commission, and having done that it would be for Parliament to consider what would be the future stops to be taken with the view of dealing with the supervision over the schools. The present measure was not recommended to Parliament as a final Act. The work was only initiatory, and how it was to be continued hereafter it would be for the wisdom of the Legislature to determine. His right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) had found fault with part of the application of the funds. The Bill, he said, took away those doles which were frequently applied to the benefit of the poor in order to give them to the middle classes. Such, however was not the object of the measure. One of its immediate objects was that the poor should gain advantages from those doles, though not precisely, perhaps, the advantages for which his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) contended, and one of its great recommendations, in his opinion, would be found in the fact that, in the words of the Manchester school deed, it would afford the benefit of education to boys of the poorest and humblest class, who, notwithstanding their poverty, were "of pregnant wit." Again, it was urged that the Commissioners wore not directly responsible to Parliament; but it should be borne in mind that those Commissioners themselves were but the creatures of the Privy Council, and that the Privy Council was responsible to Parliament. Indeed, that was one of the reasons why the Commissioners were not named in the Bill, as had been done on a previous occasion when unpaid Commissioners had been appointed. As matters stood in the present case, the whole responsibility of the conduct of the measure rested with the Government, and with them rested also the responsibility of naming the Commissioners. As to the operation of those Commissioners on endowments under£100 a year, that was a matter of detail. The Charity Commissioners now had the power of absolutely framing schemes wherever the amount of the endowment with which they had to deal did not exceed £50 a year, and it remained to be seen whether that principle might not very well be extended to endowments of £100 a year. His hon. Friend the Member for Pembrokeshire (Mr. Scourfield) was opposed to having the cost of in- 1411 spection cast upon the schools themselves, and if his hon. Friend meant by inspection examination, no doubt he was right in saying that they would have to bear the cost. He should, however, remark that they would not have to pay the cost of the original inspection, and it was only fair they should defray the charge of an examination which was for their benefit. The hon. Gentleman who had spoken last (Mr. Staveley Hill) seemed to think there would be no great advantage in appointing Commissioners under the Bill, and that the Charity Commissioners might carry out its provisions. The fact, however, was that the power of the Charity Commissioners to deal with endowments was very limited, while, in the next place, they would only be enabled to deal with the schools in reference to the schools themselves, and not with the question whether a school good in itself might be exactly the sort of school adapted to the wants of a district. There was no doubt that the powers proposed to be given to the Commissioners were arbitrary, and it was necessary that it should be so. But these Commissioners were, as he had said, but the creatures of the Government of the day, who would be responsible to Parliament for their proceedings, and that, he thought, would be sufficient to prevent any abuse of their powers. He did not rise to discuss the principle of the Bill, which had been admitted to be sound on all sides, and he would only add that he could state, on the authority of his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council, that the deputation of leading schoolmasters of the country, who would actually have to conduct the schools in question, had urged no objection against the principle of the measure. He should have been content to say nothing on this occasion, but he had wished to remove some of the misapprehensions which were current both in and out of the House.
MR. ALDERMAN LAWRENCE
thanked the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council for the very lucid statement he had made, and for his ample admission that the Livery Companies of the City of London had no grounds for fearing that their large educational establishments, which they had conducted so successfully for centuries, were likely by this measure to be taken out of their control. As the right hon. Gentle- 1412 man had decided to send the measure to a Select Committee, in accordance with the prayer of the Petitions that were presented that evening, he begged to thank the Government for agreeing to this. It was not his intention now to discuss the details of the Bill, which would be more properly considered by the Committee. He would merely say that he hoped the clause which swept into its net the various small and even large charities, of which time might have altered the use, would be carefully examined. The lending powers, for example, of the City Companies, by which they might advance sums varying from £100 to £500 for seven years without interest to young men who could give good security, ought to be respected, for there were many persons now of high standing in the City who owed their present position to the benefit of those trusts.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he wished to suggest a slight alteration of the Bill. It was complained that certain schools had not been excluded from the provisions of the measure, but his complaint was that all the schools of Scotland had been so excluded. An hon. and learned Gentleman opposite had referred to the Endowed School of Birmingham as a magnificent foundation, because it had an income of £12,000 a year, with 1,000 scholars. Now, one of the Endowed Schools in the City of Edinburgh had an income of £16,000 a year, and educated 3,300 out-pupils, besides those taught within its walls. There were other two Edinburgh foundations which had from £8,000 to £10,000 a year, and several others which had £2,000, £3,000, and £4,000 a year. On what principle these had been excluded from the Bill he could not understand. The fact was that these Scotch endowments required more to be looked after than those of England. The Charitable Trusts Act which had been referred to by the hon. Gentleman opposite did not apply to Scotland; the Court of Chancery had not the power to alter any endowment in Scotland, and there was no court in Scotland which had that power. When Scotland contributed £9,000,000 out of the £72,000,000 of Imperial revenue, it was only just that its interests should not be overlooked. He was aware that a Scotch Bill was talked of, but a great many Bills were talked of for Scotland which never 1413 passed. He wanted to see the clause struck out which said that this Bill should not apply to Scotland, and he expected that the greatest good would result from the change. Some hon. Gentlemen seemed well satisfied with what to others appeared a very low scale of educational results. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) had referred to that town and county as if it were a perfect paradise educationally, but he (Mr. M'Laren) happened to have in his hand a Return presented to Parliament for another purpose, which showed that Bedfordshire was amongst the worst educated districts in England. Even if the people of Bedfordshire were well contented with their present state, that was no reason why the inhabitants of other districts should not desire to raise them up to their own level. He found that out of every 100 women married in Bedfordshire forty-four could not sign their names, and out of every 100 men thirty-four could not do so, whilst in Northumberland, Cumberland, and the northern and eastern parts of Yorkshire persons signing with marks were not one-half or one-third so numerous. He trusted, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Committee of Council would not be misled by statements made about the flourishing condition of this or that school, although much lauded by persons, who really knew little about their results. He appealed to the educational statistics of the country, and thought it would be difficult to find schools in Bedfordshire, or anywhere else, which would not be greatly benefited by being subjected to the operation of this Bill.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he heartily concurred with his right hon. Friend in hoping that this very important measure would be treated upon its own merits, and would not be made a party measure. But, this being so, he hoped the Government would carefully consider that feature in the Bill which provided that the Commission should be identified with the Government of the day. Now, he could not help feeling that this was a mistake. Without pledging himself to the course he should take after hearing the matter thoroughly argued out, he believed that the hands of the Commission would be strengthened by naming the members of it in the Act, and by giving them something of a 1414 more permanent position than they would otherwise enjoy. These gentlemen would have no easy task before them. It was all very well to talk of the principles upon which endowments should be dealt with, but when you come face to face with local interests and had to grapple with bodies of trustees and others, it would be found that the persons who had to deal with these interests had a difficult task before them, and should, therefore, be a really strong body. He did not object to their being strong; in his opinion they would not be strong enough owing to their connection with the Government of the day. This connection would be a weakness to the Commission and possibly also to the Government. He regretted, that it had not been found possible to give effect to the idea that local bodies should be intrusted with some of the delicate functions which would have to be discharged in re-organizing these endowments. Local bodies, having local knowledge, would be enabled to deal better with many of these questions than a central body; but if it was thought that a central and not a local authority should act, it ought to be appointed by Parliament, and would be all the stronger if it were independent of the Government of the day. He hoped that this subject would be fairly discussed in the Select Committee and that many of the objections to the details of the Bill would there be obviated, so as to accomplish what he believed to be a most essential reform.
§ MR. ACLAND
said, that, as a Member of tire Schools Inquiry Commission, he felt grateful to the Government for embodying in a form so suitable for legislation the general scope of the proposals of that Commission. He was still of opinion that ultimately some local and provincial machinery would be desirable for the permanent working out of our secondary education, and that conclusion was supported by the example of some of the most cultivated countries on the Continent. It was gratifying to him to find that the religious objections which had been advanced by one hon. Gentleman had not been followed up by any other hon. Member, and he thought that the House might congratulate itself also that the Bill was not likely to be stopped by a combination of local influence. With regard to one point which had been mentioned during the debate, he 1415 thought it might be shown in nearly every case that masters were considerably embarrassed by self-elected bodies of trustees, and that administration by irresponsible trustees was not the best arrangement which could be made for the government of a school.
§ MR. RAIKES
said, he had been really unable to discover anything that could be called a principle in this measure. Both sides of the House might claim a wish to pass some measure upon the subject, and the Bill merely embodied the feeling that there should be a reform and re-organization of Endowed Schools. The whole of the working of the Bill was to be left to a Commission, consisting of three persons not named, who were to exercise greater functions than Parliament itself ever exercised in former times; who were responsible, it was true, to the Government of the day, but who were not to be directly responsible to Parliament. He could not see how the system of the Educational Council and of the examiners could be carried out without superseding in a great degree the existing system of middle-class examinations established by Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee.
§ And, on April 1, Committee nominated as follows:—Mr. WILLIAM EDWARD FORSTER, Sir JOHN COLERIDGE, Mr. WALPOLE, Mr. ACLAND, Mr. MOWBRAY, Mr. JAMES HOWARD, Mr. ADDERLEY, Mr. BUXTON, Sir JOHN PAKINGTON, Mr. MELLY, Sir STAFFORD NORTHCOTE, Mr. WALTER, Sir JOHN HAY, Mr. PARKER, Mr. GEORGE GREGORY, Mr. WINTERBOTHAM, Mr. JOHN TALBOT, Mr. JACOB BRIGHT, Mr. BERESFORD HOPE, Mr. DILLWYN, and Mr. GOLDNEY:—Five to be the quorum.