HC Deb 26 June 1873 vol 216 cc1451-65

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) £1,083,603, to complete the sum for Education, England and Wales.


in rising to move the Vote for Public Education, said, the Vote showed a considerable decrease on that of last year. The sum which he was about to ask for was £1,299,603, or in round numbers £1,300,000. That showed a decrease on the Vote of last year of £101,952. There was an increase in three items of £11,000–£4,500 for Inspectors, it having been found necessary to appoint four additional Inspectors; £1,000 on new extra grants, under Section 97 of the Act of 1870; and £5,390 for training colleges, in consequence of the large increase in the number of students, which he felt sure the Committee would not be disposed to regard with regret. There was a decrease of £509 for the Central Office, of £13,000 in the sum allowed for the working of the Act, and of £52,900 for building grants, in consequence of the buildings not having been erected as quickly as might have been possible, though, perhaps, as quickly as could reasonably have been expected. In making the Estimate last year, however, it was deemed desirable to take every contingency into account, and to err, if at all, on the safe side. There was a decrease of £12,500 in the sum for night schools, which was chiefly owing to the new regulations adopted with regard to these schools. He regretted on account of their good social effect that night schools should have been diminished; but they were social rather than educational institutions, and he was still of opinion that the House had done right in stipulating by the new regulations that the money expended on edu- cation should be really given for educational results. He came, in the next place, to a considerable decrease of £34,000, which was due to the day schools. The reason of the decrease was that matters did not get on quite so quickly as had been thought possible, and that it had, as he had before stated, been deemed wise to err on the safe side. Taking that view, there had been an over-estimate last year; but, notwithstanding, nearly the same amount was asked for in the present. That was done because there were good grounds now for being confident that the Act was getting into work; that the number of schools was increasing, and the number of scholars, and, as a consequence, the number who had to be paid. He found that the increase since August was very considerably greater than for the corresponding period last year, and that new schools were coming in very quickly. From 1862 to 1869, the average number of new schools brought under Government inspection and receiving Government grants in England and Wales was 492 each year. In 1870, the number was 1,114; in 1871, 1,353; and in 1872, 1,530. It was found in addition that the attendance was greatly on the increase, and it was only due to those gentlemen throughout the country who were engaged in the working of the school boards with such devoted energy that he should give two or three facts to show the results of their labours. He found that in Stockport the average attendance had increased 15 per cent since compulsion was introduced, and in Bath 17 per cent. In Manchester the weekly average attendance had increased 36 per cent in 15 months; while in London the average increase had been in the two years ending last December 36,041, and in Hull 3,580 since February, 1872; while in Leeds the average attendance had increased since 1869 to 8,475, or 63 per cent. As yet the increase had not told in the Returns published in the yearly Estimates; but it was an increase which was telling in the inspection which was now going on from month to month. The monthly increase in the actual payments as compared with last year furnished very striking facts as regarded the larger number of schools and the larger average attendance, and he believed he might safely put the average number of attendances this year at 1,557,910. In 1869—the last year previous to the passing of the Act—the number of average attendances was 1,062,999, so that there had since been an increase of 500,000, or 50 per cent. The actual results, he might add, of inspection in England and Wales were as follow: — The number of departments of day schools inspected in 1872 was 14,101; the day scholars present at examination, 1,607,511; the average attendance at the day schools, 1,336,158. Those scholars were taught by 14,771 certificated teachers, 1,646 assistant teachers, and 21,297 pupil teachers. The population of England and Wales had increased from 1869 to 1872 5½ per cent, and during the same time the number of day scholars instructed 24½ per cent; the scholars present at examination rather less than 21 per cent; the average attendance rather more than 25 per cent; the certificated teachers also rather more than 25 per cent; and the pupil teachers more than 70 per cent. That was the increase up to last year; but the present would show a much larger proportionate increase—a very pleasing fact so far as the progress of education was concerned, but one which would necessitate next year probably a much larger Bill. He did not wish the Committee to suppose that the increase which he had just mentioned did not still leave much to be done. In 1872, the population of England and Wales might be put at about 23,000,000, and, as far as he could estimate, we should aim at an average attendance at elementary schools of about 3,000,000. Our schools would now hold 2,300,000, which, as the Committee would see, would leave a large deficiency in the accommodation, which ought to be considerably in advance of the average attendance. Some of the deficiency with regard to school accommodation was no doubt already supplied; and one of the good results which had followed the inquiries instituted under the Act was that, even in cases where the managers had not thought fit to come under Government conditions, they had in several respects improved their schools, and were improving them, so as really to supply education; while also a larger number of those schools were every day coming under the conditions of Government aid. The building grants, when completed, he estimated would give room for 300,000 more children than they had before. That was without touching the large sums being expended by the different school boards in building schools, taking advantage of the means of obtaining money through the Public Works Loan Commissioners. The London School Board was at work now for 100,000 children, a number which that Board itself, and the Education Department also, believed was the least they could start for, being considerably under the deficiency given by the actual Returns. Besides the case of London, the Department had already recommended loans from the Public Works Loan Commissioners that would afford accommodation for at least 115,000 more children. The Committee would, perhaps, expect a few words as to the progress made in getting the Act into operation. Taking the Census of 1871 as his basis, the population of England and Wales might, in round numbers, be divided somewhere in this fashion:—In the metropolis and in boroughs, 9,800,000; and in 14,082 civil parishes not in the metropolis and boroughs, 12,900,000. For this population of 22,700,000 there were school boards in London and in all the larger boroughs–103 in number—for 8,500,000 of the population; and also school boards in 445 civil parishes, which, although a small proportion in number of the 14,082 he had mentioned, yet comprised a very considerable number of the larger of those parishes. There were school boards in these parishes for 1,500,000 of the population, so that altogether there were school boards for 10,000,000 of the population, leaving 12,700,000 without school boards. The Committee must not suppose that those places were now either without education or without great efforts being made to give it; but, undoubtedly, it was the business of the Department and the object of the Act that in all those parishes there should be strict inquiry as to whether there was sufficient education or not. The only part of the country where it was not necessary to make an inquiry before ordering the adoption of a school board was in the metropolis, in which it was decided to have such a board at once. In the rest of the country school boards were to become necessary if there were no other means of supplying the deficiency. The large towns and several of the large parishes had of their own accord declared that they would rather meet the requirements of their position by voluntarily forming a school board. With regard to the other parishes, it had been the duty of the Department to make inquiry and to act according to the results of that inquiry. Some hon. Members might think that process took rather longer time than it need do; but those who had practically to conduct it found that it proceeded as quickly as could reasonably be expected. It might have been possible to have put on more Inspectors, and covered the country at once with a larger staff; but there was a limit to the extent to which any Department could carry on work of that kind, because difficult points were constantly arising which had to be decided by two or three persons at its head. The permanent heads of his Department had done as much work as it was possible for any human being to do in the time, and he did not believe it could be done much, if at all, quicker with a due regard to doing it well. It was no slight task to institute a searching inquiry throughout the kingdom. That inquiry came to an end in the Spring of last year. The first notices were issued on the 16th of May, 1872. By the 31st of May, 1873, they had published the notices for 8,551 districts, and they hoped to complete those notices in August, or within 16 months of their commencement. The Committee might be interested to hear that of those 8,551 notices, as regarded 3,465, or about 40 per cent, the amount of accommodation was sufficient; and in regard to 5,086, or about 60 per cent, it was more or less deficient. Of those last, in respect to 2,817 they found strong reasons to order a union of parishes, and they had sent out notices that they should be formed into 989 united districts. Out of the 8,500 and odd parishes they had dealt with up to the 31st of May last, although they found 5,000 deficient, he should mislead the Committee if he did not state that in many cases the deficiency was very slight and would be easily filled up, while it was impossible to say to what extent it might be filled up even where it was rather large. So much for the working of the Act. With reference to the report of the examination, it was impossible this year to compare the results of the examination with those of the previous year, because they had not got a year of the New Code with which to compare this year. The New Code introduced a considerable change in the mode of examination one most important alteration being that the age for infants was raised from six to seven. The consequence was an apparent diminution in the number presented for examination. Then the standards of examination were a step higher than last year, and the number of attendances demanded was also larger. Therefore, they were not in a position to compare the results with any previous year. He should be interested, however, in comparing next year with this. In one respect such a comparison might be expected to be rather discouraging. As the school boards and the voluntary managers succeeded in sweeping up the neglected children of the country, they must necessarily bring down the average results of the examination; and they must bear that in mind in justice to the teachers; for nothing was more arduous than to deal with a big boy or girl who was brought into the school utterly untaught; and in some cases the number of such children would lower the general result; but it must not, therefore, be imagined that good work was not being done. As to special subjects, they were making to some extent satisfactory progress. Of 118,799 children presented in standards 4 to 6, the three higher standards, 71,507 were examined in one or more special subjects, and of those 18,958 passed in two subjects, and 30,515 in one subject. Thus about 50,000 out of 71,000 passed their examination in special subjects. This educational business was and must be hard work. Sometimes they seemed to be making very little progress; but, on the whole, he believed their progress was considerable, and also sound and sure as far as it went. They had three great problems to solve?—First, to get the schools; second, to get the children into the schools; and third, to get as much teaching as possible for them during the time they were at school. Their first problem they were very quickly solving. They would speedily have schools throughout the kingdom. The attendance also was increasing, though it was still deficient. They had in that respect to contend with the very prosperity of the country, because work competed with education. Yet they were making progress, and he trusted the House would take measures to insure its being still more rapid. Then he came to what was to be taught to the children. The hon. Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) took great interest in that. He entirely agreed in principle with the hon. Baronet. The principle he would lay down was that they should aim not merely at giving the children elementary instruction in reading, writing, and ciphering, but strive to teach them everything useful which they could learn during the time they could keep them at school. He believed that under the present Code the children of the poorer classes would receive education from which they had before it existed been practically excluded. They should not, however, go too fast. The foundation should first be laid—the elements of education be imparted before they could hope to go further. They had the encouraging example of Scotland before them, and it was one which he trusted they would follow. With respect to the sum asked for Scotland, he had only to say that, the Scotch Act having only been passed last Session and the New Code only now coming into operation, it was not probable that a larger grant would in consequence be required for Scotland during the current year. He expected this to be the case, judging by the English precedent; but should this turn out to be a mistake, a supplementary vote would be asked for next Session. He hoped the Committee would vote the sum for which the Government asked.


wished to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman who had last spoken—whether there was, under the present regulations, any provision made for the examination of masters for certificates in schools which had not hitherto received a grant from the Government? He believed that in the last Code proficiency in teaching music had been rendered an essential qualification in the examination of masters of elementary schools. Admiring, as he did, music as much as any man, he did not think that music formed such an element of education as should render the capacity to teach it an essential qualification for a certificate to the master, or for a grant to the school. He wished to know what the right hon. Gentleman thought on the subject?


complained of the inadequacy of inspecting power in the town of Liverpool, and of the disadvantages in an educational point of view resulting therefrom. There were 157 schools to be inspected, and there was but one Inspector, who had one assistant. He would suggest the appointment of supernumerary Inspectors, who would by their training become fitted for the higher office.


said, he was of opinion that everybody must have been satisfied with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, and he believed the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) must now see that education was progressing favourably, notwithstanding the fact that school boards were not general throughout the country. He thought that much more would be done by encouraging voluntary effort than by compulsory education. He disapproved, however, of taking away anything because children could not sing, though he would encourage singing as much as possible, and believed that "God save the Queen" would be the most popular song among them. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) stated that a great want of school accommodation existed; but some of the Inspectors demanded a great deal more than the necessity of the case required. Some allowance should be made, and the Inspectors should not ride roughshod over those who were trying to do their duty.


said, he had listened with great interest to the lucid statement which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Education Department. It was, no doubt, a matter of congratulation that the number of children sent in for examination in the extra subjects was increasing; but it appeared that even now, out of 1,500,000 of children in our schools, only 70,000 were examined in anything more than the mere rudiments of reading, writing, and arithmetic, nor did he think we could expect that under the present provisions of the Code there would be any great improvement in this respect. He therefore congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the improvements he had introduced in the Scotch Code, and hoped that similar modifications would be introduced into that for England. As regarded those who passed in the fourth and higher standards, 3s. per scholar was allotted by the New Scotch Code to history and geography. Again, the grants for extra subjects were no longer to be reducible by the excess over 15s. a-head. He had always argued that this limitation rendered the grants offered for extra subjects practically delusive, in confirmation of which he observed that the Education Department estimated the amount which would be earned this year at 12s. a-head on the average. It was obvious, therefore, that if the schools averaged 12s. by reading, writing, and arithmetic alone, the best ones would earn the full 15s., and there would be no inducement to take up any of the so-called extra subjects, under which term it must be remembered, was included everything except mere reading, writing and arithmetic. He regarded the alterations in the Scotch Code, therefore, as great improvements. When on former occasions he pressed the question on the right hon. Gentleman he was supported by the Chairmen, both of the Education League and of the Union, by every Member of the London School Board who had a seat in the House, and indeed, by almost everyone in the House who took an interest in education. He hoped, therefore, that the boon now granted to Scotland would next year be extended to England.


said, he hoped that this Vote would never again be proposed until the Report of the Committee of Privy Council had first been laid on the Table. He regretted that the extravagance of some school boards was in flitting unnecessary burdens upon the ratepayers; but he congratulated the Committee on the great progress which education was making throughout the country. He hoped the Government would take care that there was an uniformity of action among the Inspectors, some of whom, he understood, had a much higher standard than others. It was also to be desired that Inspectors should be more accessible to the teachers.


asked whether the Government would take some security that schools should not be closed in districts in which children did not attend by reason of attending Sunday schools?


said, he hoped that a better supply of certificated teachers would be found for rural districts. In his parish, a school which had been kept open every day except during holidays for 35 years since its establishment, had been closed during the last nine months, because a certificated teacher, as ordered by the Privy Council, could not be obtained, although a most ample salary had been offered.


also complained that the supply of certificated teachers was not sufficient, and expressed a hope that the item for normal schools would be increased next year. He, however, could not but congratulate the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) on the increase of education throughout the country.


bore testimony to the great value and importance of night schools. It was a most interesting sight to see such numbers of young men, women, and grown-up people sitting side by side of an evening after their day's work, endeavouring to make up for their deficiencies in education. These were schools which were particularly susceptible of discouragement, and he regretted to think that the action of the right hon. Gentleman might tend in that direction.


complained that the usual Report had not been placed before the House prior to the discussion on this Vote. It was delayed last year, and was still further delayed this year. This placed hon. Members at a disadvantage in the present discussion. In country districts the people seemed to be afraid of school boards; but facts proved their great practical value. The increased attendance at schools in Birmingham during the last 12 months under the school board system was 50 per cent, as against 50 per cent increased attendance at school throughout the whole country during the last four years. The Vice President of the Council had said that there were 5,000 districts where a deficiency of school accommodation existed, and he should like to know in how many of these districts school boards had been formed? He should like also to know what had been done with reference to normal schools?


trusted that, however valuable the work done by school boards might be, there was no disposition on the part of those who were interested in education to endeavour to thrust school boards on districts where they were not really required by proved deficiency of the means of education. School boards were, at the best, an expensive mode of proceeding— which would tell largely on the people's minds when they came to reckon the costs, and which would tend to discourage education if they were forced upon districts where it was not shown that they were necessary. With respect to the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Forster's) statement, it did not appear to be so sanguine as the one he made last year; but it was one on which the House and the country might be congratulated. For his own part, he was not so sanguine as to the effects of direct compulsion as he was last year and the year before. Considerable results had been obtained, no doubt, by the application of direct compulsion; all the children most readily got at had been swept into schools, but the difficult work remained behind. Those parents who were indifferent to the value of education were beginning to find out how they might evade the regulations that were laid down, and by some means or other managed to keep their children at home, or to continue that irregularity which had been the bane of the schools in this country. He looked with longing eyes in the direction of indirect rather than direct compulsion. He believed that better results would be obtained if some system could be established under which a certificate of attendance at school should be made a condition of employment in ordinary pursuits as well as in manufacturing districts. There were many difficulties which had to be met, and he would earnestly entreat hon. Gentlemen who took an interest in education not to be too sanguine, but to wait patiently, expecting smaller results than were calculated upon last year, but not to be discouraged, and to look right and left for means of inducing rather than of compelling parents to send their children to school.


said, that the discussion had been full of useful hints, and afforded a hopeful sign of that interest in the subject throughout the kingdom, without which the Department would be altogether helpless. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for South Essex (Mr. A. Johnston), as to whether the Education Department would take steps to ensure that the schools now considered efficient should continue to be efficient, it was impossible to say when the Department might think it necessary to institute fresh inquiry; but of course it would be the duty of the Government to find out, from time to time, if districts were supplied in the sense of the Act. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) had asked in how many of the 5,000 odd districts in which a deficiency existed school boards had been formed? The Act did not give the Department power immediately to issue an order for a school board. They had first to give notice of the deficiency, and that might be disputed. If it was not, there was still a final notice to be issued intimating the ascertained deficiency, and notifying that unless it was supplied within some period not exceeding six months a school board would have to be established. These final notices had not yet been issued to any great extent, because it was thought better first to finish issuing the first notices throughout the country, and that would be done by August this year. The hon. Member for West Sussex (Colonel Barttelot) said that the Inspectors of the Department ought not to proceed by hard-and-fast-lines in ascertaining deficiencies. It had been their object not to do so; and although they had not given universal satisfaction, they had not had any overpowering evidence of dissatisfaction. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had asked two questions. With regard to the examination of masters, there was in the Code a means by which the master of a school which was not in receipt of a Government grant could obtain a certificate without going up for examination, under certain conditions. With regard to such cases as that which the hon. Member had stated, he (Mr. Forster) would undertake to consider the matter fully before the next Code was settled. With regard to the Musical Fine, the rule had not been unsuccessful. The Code required that singing should be part of the teaching of the Elementary Schools, and that a shilling should be deducted from the grant for average attendance where singing was not taught. The final result had been that for all the schools which had been inspected last year the deductions under the Musical Fine had been only £262 10s. out of the total grant of £848,319. Music and singing were generally taught in the schools with very successful results. The hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. F. S. Powell) seemed to think that school boards might be extravagant in consequence of the grants made to them; but he (Mr. Forster) would rather have thought that complaints, if any were made at all, would have been that the grants were rather too much than too little fenced round. As to the staff of Inspectors, he could not honestly say that it was at present too small; but there were circumstances connected with last year which were exceptional, and in some cases untried men had to do the work. The mode of conducting examinations was becoming more uniform, and the President of the Council and himself had revived the custom of having an annual meeting of the senior Inspectors to give suggestions as to the mode in which inspection should be conducted, especially as to the mode of conducting it with uniformity. Hitherto the Government had not set to work to start any establishment in which suitable masters might be trained, as it was a serious matter to do so. He thought however that the suggestion that training halls might be started was one well worth considering, although he hoped it would not be left to the Government to originate them. With reference to the question of compulsion, he might point out that the great size of London made the work of the London School Board much more difficult than that of any other board in the country, for they had to deal with such an enormous multitude of persons who were neglected and more or less degraded. They must also bear in mind that there was a considerable difference between the town and country, and that though there might be some villages and districts in the country where there was great neglect, there were not those masses of neglected children which they saw in towns. The hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) had said that modes had been discovered for evading the Act; but he (Mr. Forster) had endeavoured to meet those cases in the Bill which he had lately introduced. With regard to the night schools, although the regulation that every school must be open 60 times in the course of a year and the average attendance of the scholars must be 40 might have had the effect of shutting up some schools, he thought that any institution which was worthy of support on educational grounds should be able to comply with that condition. He hoped the Committee would agree to the Vote which he now asked.


gave the right hon. Gentleman credit for great earnestness and zeal in his endeavours to promote the education of the people; but he regretted that the results, as compared with the cost, were not as satisfactory as might be expected; and he thought that the heads of schools might receive a caution on the subject.

Vote agreed to.

(2.) £218,503, to complete the sum for the Science and Art Department.

In reply to Mr. BOWRING,


said, it was quite true that Mr. Cole had resigned his position as Superintendent of the Science and Art Department, at South Kensington, and the important question of the appointment and duties of his successor would be taken into consideration by Lord Ripon and himself, with the assistance of his Colleagues in the Government. He could not allude to the resignation of that gentleman without saying that he had always found him a most efficient, devoted, and painstaking public servant. He only wished that in every Department they had such good servants. He had found very few persons to compare with Mr. Cole either in devotion and industry or in ability and knowledge. He had also been most successful as an administrator.


said, that the answer of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to Mr. Cole's successor was not satisfactory. He objected at so late an hour to go on with this Estimate; particularly as the Government intended, as he understood, to take Supply at the morning sitting this day.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) £129,413, to complete the sum for Public Education in Scotland.


asked how it came that this year the sum allowed for education in Scotland was only £3,000 more than when they had no Act, and he also wished to know why the building grants were put down at the very small sum of £1,400, while the Vote for building grants in England was £105,000?


said, that the reason why the Estimate for Scotch Education was not larger was they did not think it necessary to make it so during the first year of the passing of the Act. If they found more money was wanted, a Supplemental Estimate could be introduced next Session. As to the Scotch Code, that had been drawn up with a view to consult the feelings and wishes of the Scotch people, and he should be very much surprised if Scotland did not earn more money per child than England did.

In reply to Mr. DALGLISH,


said, he could not undertake to alter the Scotch Code at once, provided it did not come up to his expectation.

Vote agreed to.

(4.) £4,610, to complete the sum for the Board of Education, Scotland.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock;

Committee to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.