HC Deb 16 April 1874 vol 218 cc632-4

asked the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, If he will state to the House the decision arrived at by the Department on the subject of the restrictions regarding the size and arrangements of schools in Scotland, recently brought under his notice by a deputation from Scotland?


I am glad to have an opportunity of replying to the question, as the Motion appears to have excited considerable interest in Scotland. When the Lord President and myself entered the Education Office we received a request from the Glasgow School Board to waive the rules of the Department under which all the Scotch school boards had been notified that building grants were made respecting the shape and arrangement of fittings of the school rooms. This was no slight matter, as under these rules all grants for English and Scotch schools before the Scotch Act of 1872 had been made—for schools the total cost of which amounted to £6,000,000; and the School Boards generally in England were expending some £2,500,000 more under much the same regulations, which were the result of the large experience of the Department. "We thought it well, therefore, before coming to a decision on the subject, to hear the opinions of Scotch Members on both sides of the House, and also to communicate with other school boards. For this purpose we requested a deputation from Scotland to meet us, which consisted of Members from all parts of the country, and of the Chairmen of the Edinburgh, Glasgow, Govan, Paisley, and Dundee School Boards. Their opinion was unanimous as to the earnest desire of Scotland for greater freedom as to the size and fittings of the new Board schools, and, at the request of the Lord President, drew up a statement of the changes which would meet the wishes of the country. We thought those changes reasonable, and have drawn up the following regulations in exact accordance with them, which I will read:— 1. That the regulations in regard to the width of school-rooms of which the area exceeds 500 square feet he altered to give liberty to School Boards to adopt any width up to 32ft., and 2. That, in the case of all schools, the School Boards be left free in regard to the arrangement of the furniture. We were bound, I think, to inform the School Boards of what the great experience of the Department showed to be the best form for the rooms and the best arrangement of fittings; but, having done that, I think we are right in leaving as much latitude as possible to the school boards, who are ultimately responsible for the success of the schools, and I have no fear myself that, though according to English ideas the arrangement may not be the best, the zeal and earnestness for education which characterize so remarkably both teachers, pupils, and parents in Scotland will not permit the education in those schools to be inferior to our own.


said, that in consequence of the nature of the Answer, he should not bring on the Motion on this subject of which he had given Notice for to-morrow.