HC Deb 19 July 1872 vol 212 cc1430-43

, in rising to call attention to the defective condition of apprenticeship and training of persons intending to follow the profession of Elementary School Teachers; and to move—"That it is desirable to reconsider the Grants for Public Elementary Education, so as to encourage the establishment of Undenominational Normal Schools," said, the first object was to secure the attendance of children at school, and the next was to provide that they should be well taught. He must express his regret that it was not in the power of his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council to place in the hands of hon. Members the Report of the Committee for the past year sooner; but having considered the Report for 1870, and to a great extent that for 1871, he must repeat his conviction that the Government did not give the subject to which he was referring the attention which it deserved at their hands. As regarded the supply of teachers, the Report of 1870, speaking of the supply of elementary teachers in England and Wales, stated that the supply at the time was 12,500, and that it would be necessary to raise the number to 25,000, in consequence of the increased number of schools which would be established. In the Report which had been just issued, the number for England, Scotland, and Wales was estimated at 30,000. Now, in Prussia, in 1864, the number of elementary teachers for a population of 19,000,000 was 37,000, so that, according to the due proportion Great Britain alone, for a population of 26,000,000, would require 52,000 elementary teachers; and making every possible allowance for the services of pupil teachers, he did not see how the number could be reduced as low as 30,000 when elementary education became universal. But even supposing that 30,000 would be sufficient, which he did not admit, the right hon. Gentleman only allowed 5 per cent for waste, and he contended that that was quite inadequate, especially with reference to female teachers, a large number of whom upon marriage were obliged to abandon their profession of teaching. As to the quality of education, it appeared on all hands that the pupil teachers on the completion of their term of service were not properly prepared to enter the training colleges. In fact, nearly the whole of the first year's course was devoted to teaching the pupil teachers those subjects with which they ought to have been well acquainted before. When tests had been abolished in the Universities, he did not believe it could be contended that while four-fifths of the cost of the education of students in training colleges—amounting this year to £104,000—were paid by the Government, the admission to those colleges should, with the exception of certain qualifications being required, remain absolutely within the control of the managers of the colleges, who in most instances insisted upon adherence to their own particular tenets. He did not say that it had been in the power of the right hon. Gentleman to suddenly change this state of things, but he thought it was the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to contemplate the necessity for making an alteration at an early date; and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would lay before the House some plan by which they would be assured that an adequate supply of well-trained teachers could be obtained, and a fair share of the public money given to those who believed that the training of these teachers should not be denominational. He believed that the time at which the senior A A examination was passed was before the age of 17. He also believed that many of the students of Scotch Universities were under 19 when they left to take the charge of schools. But elementary teachers were kept till the age of 18, without precaution being taken that they should be taught what was most serviceable. He was told that in the latter years of the course they were apt to become—if not rebellious—careless. The career of these young people ought not to be sacrificed for the exigencies of the school. The results of the present system were not satisfactory, and he thought that it was a mistake to require that no students should enter the training schools until they were 19 years of age; and to burden those colleges with any fresh subjects under any condition whatever. He would give those qualified to enter the training colleges at an earlier age than 19 years every inducement to do so, and would hold out encouragements for them to remain there for three years instead of two. He believed that plan might be carried out without additional expense, for the country was not bound to pay for the whole of the maintenance of the students. He must again say that he regretted that the Report had not been placed in the hands of hon. Members until the day before yesterday, so that short time had been given for its being studied, for the matter was one which required very close scrutiny, both by the Education Department, and by all who were interested in the progress of education. There had been a great demand of late for the in- troduction of scientific subjects into the training colleges; but he deprecated that being done until they were satisfied that the present subjects were taught satisfactorily. In Berlin and nearly all the great towns of Prussia the boarding system had ceased to exist, and the young people lived with their parents instead of with teachers, an example which he thought might be followed with advantage. What he asked now was that the school boards should be aided in establishing normal schools, and that the pupils should be received earlier and kept longer; and he believed that would secure a much better class of teachers. The subject was one which demanded, and which, he hoped, would receive, earnest attention on the part of Her Majesty's Government. He would conclude by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House it is desirable to reconsider the Grants for Public Elementary Education, so as to encourage the establishment of Undenominational Normal Schools,"—(Mr. Samuelson,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, the House could scarcely have expected, looking to the Notice of Motion given by the hon. Member for Banbury, that he would have found so much fault with the system of pupil teachers and with the training colleges, which were two of the most valuable parts of the educational system set up by the Minutes of 1846, and developed by subsequent Minutes of the Council of Education. He feared there was some foundation for the statement that of late the pupil teachers had entered the training colleges inadequately prepared, but the defects in their training had been very greatly exaggerated. The establishment of the system of pupil teachers and of training colleges was the result of careful inquiries in France, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland, and of subsequent experiments made in England at Battersea and Norwood; but since its adoption in 1846 it had experienced many vicissitudes. In 1861, it received a severe blow from the Revised Code, which withdrew the direct remuneration of the principal teacher for the successful instruction of pupil teachers, reduced the period of instruction, and lowered the standard of examination of pupil teachers; while the changes made in the training colleges had also an injurious effect, as the syllabus of studies was curtailed, and the entrance and annual examinations were made less searching. As a consequence of the Revised Code, the number of students in the colleges declined from 3,107 in 1863 to 1,922 in 1867, and the number of pupil teachers in 1866 was less by 5,306 than in 1861. This diminution in numbers accompanied the deterioration in quality. He was happy, however, to think that the system was recovering from this shock. The number of pupil teachers had increased from 11,519 in 1867 to 20,454 in 1871. The hon. Member for Banbury had not quoted any authority in support of his strictures on the pupil-teacher system. He (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) might, on the other hand, refer to the account given of it by the Royal Commission, which reported in 1861, cold and critical though that account was. The Commissioners stated that almost all the evidence went to prove that the effect of the presence of pupil teachers upon the condition of the schools was very beneficial, especially when compared with the influence exercised over the schools by monitors. Would the hon. Member go back to the old monitorial system?


denied that he wished anything of the kind; what he advocated was the training of a better class of teachers by means of colleges.


understood the hon. Member to propose that pupil teachers should serve in schools for only three years, instead of five years as at present. This would be a step back towards the monitorial system. He ventured to say that if the hon. Member inquired into the matter, he would become assured that the services rendered by pupil teachers during the last two years of their apprenticeship were considered of more value to the school than those of the other three years. In those two years they were of great use as teachers, and acquired the knowledge fitting them to enter the training college. The hon. Member asked that a fair share of the public money should be given for training colleges different to those already existing. But there was nothing in the regulations of the Committee of the Privy Council which would prevent that Department giving annual grants to any training colleges which might be raised. The hon. Member could scarcely ask more than was done for existing colleges, and if he could inspire any persons with enthusiasm sufficient to cause them to found a different kind of college, he would have no difficulty in obtaining grants from the Department. A plan had recently been suggested to the London School Board that the Government should provide a college which would afford neither board nor lodging; but the Committee appointed to consider it had not approved of it. The hon. Member had referred to the case of Germany, and had stated that the old colleges which boarded and lodged students had been abandoned, and that day-colleges had been substituted for them. Now, he had seen no report to that effect. The latest information which we possessed on the subject was published in 1859, by Dr. Pattison, now the Rector of Lincoln.


said, he had visited Prussia for the express purpose of informing himself on the subject in the autumn of last year.


said, that might be, for the system in Germany had undergone frequent changes; but the Report to which he was referring stated that the teachers in the elementary schools in Germany underwent a long and careful training in colleges set apart for the purpose, and that in all the colleges the pupils were required to live on the premises. It was clear, therefore, that if the hon. Member based his argument on the results attained in Germany, those had not been obtained by means of day-colleges, but by colleges similar to our own. He was glad that the hon. Member had drawn attention to the great want of an additional supply of teachers; but he must demur to the large estimate which he had given of the number that would be required in future years. He thought it would be nearer the mark to say that the number of teachers that would eventually be required would be about 30,000. According to a statement published by the London School Board there existed now a deficiency of about 8,399 teachers be- low the number requisite for 3,250,000 of children; or, there would be wanted in two or three years, with the increase of population, 10,000 additional teachers; but, on the other hand, the Board estimated that the training colleges could, by the end of 1873, supply 3,402, and they expected an addition of 1,246 ex-pupil teachers and acting teachers, and in 1873 a further sum of 830, making a gross addition to our teachers of 5,478. Against that increase must be set two years' waste on the present staff. Deducting, therefore, 2,625, the School Board calculated that we had not at present the means of adding more than 2,853 teachers to the existing staff before the close of 1873, whereas we should need about 10,000. The hon. Member had alluded to the Reports of the Inspector last year on the training colleges; but on turning to Mr. Cowie's Report for this year, he (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) found that gentleman reporting that he was convinced that, taking the training colleges all together, they were doing good and honest service, and were endeavouring to make the most out of the material on which they were expending their energies. In conclusion, there could, he thought, be no greater mistake, when we were endeavouring to supply a great want of teachers, than to depreciate the means for obtaining and training them which we already possessed, or to attribute the defects of the existing system to the wrong causes.


said, no words which he could use could condemn the proposal of the hon. Gentleman opposite more strongly than it condemned itself. The hon. Member for Banbury proposed practically to reduce the training of pupil teachers from five years to three, and yet the scheme was described as one for improving the education of pupil teachers. Such a proposal, if adopted, would soon bring us back to the old monitorial system, under which untrained children in the school were faute de mieux employed to teach children only still more ignorant than themselves. During the last 40 years the efforts of educational reformers had been mainly directed to raising the standard of the training of teachers for our elementary schools. As to the other proposal of the hon. Member to increase the number of teachers by allowing students in the colleges to reside in lodgings in the neigh- bouring towns, it would be utterly destructive of all discipline while it would fail to attain the object in view. The out-students would damage the training of those in college, and by no means supplement their deficiency. Again, the hon. Member had not succeeded in proving that establishing secular training colleges would tend to increase the supply of teachers. It would certainly result in the loss of voluntary aid given to training colleges by the zeal of the various religious bodies. A secular college would certainly have no private support or interest taken in it. In his opinion, it would be better to rely for an increase in the colleges on the increased demand for pupil teachers, which demand, more and more supporting itself, they would be able fully to supply with the assistance now given to them by the State.


said, the Report published by the Education Department for last year had only been sent to hon. Members that morning, and as they had not adjourned till 3 30 A.M., of course, they had been unable to give sufficient attention to the document. Consequently, they did not know what the Education Department had done in the last 12 months, or what they intended to do during the coming year. It appeared from the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. B. Samuelson's) experience in Germany last year, that the Germans were departing from the system which formerly obtained, and which was described in the Rector of Lincoln's Report. The effect of that change was that instead of pupil teachers being at present all boarders, as was the case 12 or 13 years ago, when the Rector of Lincoln's Report was written, the system had been altered in the direction intimated by his hon. Friend (Mr. B. Samuelson), and they had no boarders now at all—at least, very few. [Mr. B. SAMUELSON: They have none.] Then the next question came to be—Was the system of pupil teachers really the best system that could be adopted? He did not believe it was the best, and, in his opinion, Prussia showed that there was a better still. The result of the present system in England was, that the greater part of the scholars in our large schools were taught by apprentices from the age of 13 to the age of 18, whereas in Prussia the scholars were taught by trained teachers who had passed through the training colleges and received certificates of merit. The great merit of the pupil-teacher system was said to consist in this—that these young people were trained early for the business of their future lives. But how were they trained? It was by the most exhausting labour, and teaching those who were almost as old as themselves; and after they had undergone this exhausting labour, it was expected that they should devote themselves to preparing for the training colleges. Under these circumstances, could it be wondered at if they failed? The real question was, whether we could not do something to improve this system? The Reports showed that though religious instruction was well attended to, yet the results in reference to secular teaching were not equally satisfactory, and especially so in reference to such subjects as grammar and mathematics. He would say that not only was the system of pupil teachers an unsatisfactory one, but that from the very nature of things it could not last. They depended to a very large extent upon pupil teachers for the supply of teachers; but in the large schools, where the very best system should be carried out, it was found that the numbers of pupil teachers was very much in excess of the number of other teachers, so that most of the children were educated by apprentices, and there was being brought up a larger number of pupil teachers than could possibly find situations in the schools hereafter. He knew that the present demand was far beyond the supply; but as soon as they had got their supply, they could not continue the system of pupil teachers, because it would either give a larger number of teachers than would be required, or else pupil teachers must go through their course with the intention upon its completion of turning to some other profession. He should like the Government to take this matter fully into consideration, and to intimate to the country what their views were upon the whole question. He hoped that they would not forget the experience of Prussia; and he thought that it would be of advantage if they could diminish the amount of work done by the pupil teachers prior to their going to the colleges, and increase the number of years of stay in those colleges; and it would be specially important if they could be taught the art of teaching as such persons were taught in Prussia. After they came from the training colleges their course should be completed as young men in our schools. That being so, it would be absolutely necessary that we should alter the system of our denominational colleges, and consider whether day-colleges could not in some way be permitted. That would render the cost of education much less to the State, which now paid three-fourths of the cost of maintenance as well as of the cost of teaching. Day-colleges would also to a great extent get over the religious difficulty, for the present colleges were not only denominational, but for the most part they belonged to one denomination only. By having adult teachers in our schools, he believed that they would much improve the existing educational system, and in doing so, would make it cheaper.


said, he entirely agreed in the regret that they had not more time for the discussion of this question, but it was not his fault that he had not been able sooner to bring the Estimates before them. The subject was, no doubt, a most important one. With regard to the Report, he was sorry that it had not yet been got out; he had done his best to hasten it; but it had been exceedingly difficult to get it out early on account of the Returns which were to be considered in it; but he trusted that in future years some means would be found by which it could be laid before the country earlier. But the present year was one of the most exceptional work in the office, in consequence of their having to bring the Act into operation, and he hoped that in the coming year his own time would be more entirely devoted to the educational work of the Department; but he must strenuously deny that even as it was, this important subject had been neglected. As to the particular Motion he had nothing to complain of in the tone of the hon. Member (Mr. B. Samuelson), who was, indeed, very forbearing towards him (Mr. W. E. Forster); but he had a right to complain when it was said that they had not been able to attend to the question. Sir Francis Sandford by substituting exact for general marks had discovered the weakness of the training colleges in 1869 and 1870, but now there was a very great improvement in these establishments. Now, as to the want of scientific teaching. Their work in the elementary schools with the present children must be very much confined to elementary teaching, because they were sweeping in children from the streets who had hitherto had no education at all. They must be prepared to give as good education as the children could receive; but he must repeat that in this also they had not neglected the matter. He would now refer to the actual Motion and recommendation of the hon. Member (Mr. B. Samuelson). The hon. Member (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) had really stated the case very fairly in favour of the pupil-teacher system. His (Mr. W. E. Forster's) own impression was, that it was in itself a good system; that it was a way by which they got hold of young men and women who had had a good preparatory training before they actually went into the training schools. He thought that there was something in an apprenticeship in teaching which was superior to the mere art of teaching how to do a thing. He had greater confidence in a person who had been a pupil teacher for four or five years than he had in a young person who had simply attended lectures for that period; but however that might be, they must take things as they found them. They were in a difficulty. They had to see how they could suddenly do their duty in education, and a part of that duty consisted in their being able at once to furnish a very great number of fresh masters and mistresses. What would be the result of their proceeding upon the plan that the pupil teachers after having served three years should go into the training colleges? The immediate result would be a dead-lock; for how could they get the schools taught in which there were at present pupil teachers? The same thing would apply to their remaining for three years in the training colleges. They could not do that at present, because they wanted teachers. He did not undertake that there should at once be the best possible training for our teachers, but he wished to remind the House of the present difficulties, and that they had to meet a great and sudden demand. They required a number of fresh masters and mistresses, and must take the best they could get. They could at present only look upon the training colleges as giving a high tone to education; but they could not as yet rely upon them altogether for supplying teachers. The hon. Member for Birmingham seemed to think that they might have too many pupil teachers. [Mr. DIXON: As regarded the future.] In that case the hon. Member seemed to be looking forward to a blessed Millennium, when they would all have done their work and got the country covered with schools. What they had now to deal with, however, was the difficulties that arose before they got to that point, and he must say that he rejoiced that the number of pupil teachers was very largely increased. He rejoiced that whilst in 1866 the number of pupil teachers had fallen from 16,000 to 11,000, it was now raised to 22,000. That would enable them to secure to the training colleges and to those who entered them, a better future. They must most carefully consider whether they could secure better teaching to pupil teachers by masters and mistresses in the schools; but they must also bear in mind that with their present dearth of teaching power they could not afford to give time to the masters and mistresses to teach them, or to the pupil teachers to learn. He was only showing their difficulty, and was by no means saying what they would like to do. One thing they had done—they said that these youths must be taught separately by themselves; and that he believed was a matter of considerable importance. As to undenominational schools, he must say that the hon. Members (Mr. B. Samuelson and Mr. Dixon) showed very great fairness in the way in which they alluded to the question; but there was one mistake that they had fallen into—they supposed that the cost of the present schools was borne by the State in a larger proportion than was the fact. The figures on page 137 of the Report showed that last year of the cost of the training schools not three-fourths, but only two-thirds, was granted by the State. The amount granted was £81,000, and there was derived from other sources £40,000. It must not be overlooked also that of the original cost of the schools, £446,000, there was granted by the State only £138,000, whilst there was furnished by subscriptions, &c., £308,000. At the same time, he had great pleasure in observing, that though building grants had been discontinued, the past year had seen two British and one Wesleyan college started. Of course, more training colleges were wanted; but if the State entered into the business it would, probably, drive voluntary effort out, and would lead to considerable cost. With respect to giving any encouragement to the establishment of undenominational or secular training schools, the State ought to consider the matter very carefully before it reversed the policy adopted in the stopping of building grants. If it did so, however, and if the advocates of secular education started a training college, and endeavoured to obtain a grant, the Department would, no doubt, consider any application made on its behalf. He must remind the House that in consequence of the passing of the Education Act, the State no longer interfered with religious education in denominational schools, and he rejoiced to say that those who started training colleges, whatever their religious views might be, felt how absolutely necessary it was, unless more harm was to be done than good, that the master and mistress to whom they entrusted young children should be able to give them a moral training. He did not know what the precise conditions of State aid in Germany or elsewhere might be, and it was impossible to make a just comparison with those countries, unless they knew the precise conditions both of the children and the teachers; but the Scotch schools had been alluded to, and it was true that they were not boarding schools, but care was taken that the young persons who attended those schools should be well looked after, and in the case of the young women it was found better to have boarding colleges. Moreover, it must not be forgotten in dealing with England that there were special moral duties for the teachers to perform, and special moral temptations to which they were subject. That being the case, he thought that they might challenge comparison with most parts of the world for the good conduct of the teachers in the Government schools. He was, nevertheless, prepared to acknowledge that strong arguments had been adduced in favour of day training schools, if conducted with due care for the good discipline and management of the teachers. That was one of the questions which must be borne in mind, and which the Government would bear in mind with the most careful attention. Several persons of strong religious character, and anxious for religious training, had told him that this matter was under their consideration, and he should himself earnestly desire to consider any plan on this subject which might be brought before him, or to devise how we could supplement the present system. His hon. Friend would not, however, expect him to state any crude views before he had come to a proper conclusion in the matter. He was sorry to check the present useful and practical discussion, but he would appeal to the hon. Member not to press his Amendment to a division.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

Back to