§ MR. DIXON
rose to call attention to the New Code; and to move—That an humble Address he presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will he graciously pleased to direct that the New Code he amended by the omission of Article 19 D.The hon. Member said, that every new Code issued by the Education Department possessed an increasing interest, in this respect at any rate—that it affected a greater number of persons and interests of increasing magnitude; and the Code had the power of regulating the principles which guided the education of the country to an extent that was not always understood, and certainly had not been fully considered. One point connected with the new Codes issued by the Education Department had not received sufficient attention—namely, the great difficulty of properly discussing their provisions by the House. The Act of 1870 provided that the Code must be laid on the Table of the House for 30 days before it became effective; but it might happen, as in the present instance, that the Easter holidays would deduct a considerable portion of that time, and thus the chance of a Member who wished to bring forward the subject of obtaining priority by ballot on Tuesday was lessened considerably. He had been compelled to bring the matter forward after a consideration of merely a few hours. The exact operation of these Codes, moreover, was very difficult to understand, and how were Members not only to make up their own minds within the 30 days, but to obtain the opinion of those persons in the country to whom hon. Members were accustomed to turn for advice and assistance in such matters? He would suggest to the Government that when any future Code was challenged the Government should be bound to find a night for the discussion before the Code came into operation. He did not approach the Code in any unfriendly spirit. On the contrary, he expressed his gratification—he might almost say his gratitude—to the Vice President of the Committee of Council for the great improvement that the Code had ushered in. The great object of the Code, if he understood it correctly, was to improve the quality of education 1509 in the elementary schools, and that was done by making the condition of the grant more difficult, or, in other words, by making a larger amount of education necessary for the attainment of the same amount of grant. In this feature of the new Code he fully concurred. This matter had been fully discussed by the London and provincial school boards, which agreed that education in the elementary schools was to be chiefly developed by a more complete adoption of the system of payment by results. The difficulty in the way was the necessity for 250 attendances before any grant could be made on the examination in the Standards. It was felt that this necessity had a very discouraging effect upon many schools. It deprived them of grants in the case of children who, though they had not made 250 attendances, were yet able to earn grants by passing in the Standards. The proposition was almost unanimously adopted that the 250 attendances should be done away with, and that a system based upon payment in proportion to increased attainments should be substituted. The new Code did not follow the first part of the recommendation, and he was very much afraid that a very deserving class of schools throughout the country would find that they were in a worse position than they were before. The schools that would mainly suffer would be the board schools in the large towns. He would notice some of the reasons why he thought that effect would be produced. Under Clause 19 A a new condition of the grant was imposed, whereby, in the event of a deficiency of discipline and organization in the school, a deduction of 1s. would be made. To that he did not object. The next point was that the standards were certainly raised very considerably, in this way—that it was necessary that in the higher standards the reading should be "with intelligence." This was, undoubtedly, an enormous step in advance. Another advance was made in writing, though not to so great an extent. He entirely approved of the provision that from Standard II. upwards the children should be required to pass an elementary examination in grammar, geography, and history; but the effect of this increased stringency of the Code would be to diminish the grant. In time the schools would no doubt work up to the Standard; but for the moment 1510 the effect would be a diminution of the amount of grant earned. Besides, there was an important reduction of 3s. in the grant on reading, writing, and arithmetic—namely, a reduction from 4s. to 3s. in each of those subjects. On the other hand, an advance was promised on the average attendance of children above seven years of age, provided they were to pass the examination creditably in two of the four subjects—grammar, geography, history, and needlework; and an addition was made to the grant for passing in additional subjects. But there was a condition attached to the grant of 4s. on the average attendance—namely, that 40 per cent of the scholars must be presented in Standards IV, V, and VI, and if that condition were not fulfilled the amount would be reduced to 2s. Now, with regard to the probability of the fulfilment of that condition, what was the result of the examinations last year? It was found that only 16 per cent of the children who were present at the examination were presented in Standards IV. and upwards, and therefore an enormous jump had been made all at once from 16 per cent to 40 per cent. So that it was absolutely impossible for some years to come to have the 4s., and it was in reality a question of only 2s. But then there was a condition attached even to the 2s., that condition being that one-half of the children must pass creditably; and what were the chances of one-half passing creditably? He had no figures as to the probable result with respect to the 2s.; but last year the Report showed that of the children on the register of the schools only one-third passed the examination in the three R's. Now, what was required was that 50 per cent of the numbers who had been on the register for three months should pass, and he would ask, if only one-third passed in the three R's last year, what were the probabilities of one-half of the children passing now that the standards were raised? He was inclined to think that the value of the 2s. was very considerably diminished by that consideration. Again, the grant for specific subjects had been increased from 3s. to 4s. That, of course, everybody would approve of; but the value of this increase was diminished by the condition appended, that 75 per cent of those who were present must pass. Whilst strongly 1511 in favour of raising the Code, and whilst he hoped that the same course would be adopted by succeeding Ministers, he could not help thinking that it had been done with too little regard to pecuniary considerations. The schools which would be most disadvantageously affected would, he believed, be the board schools in large towns. With respect to the second part of this subject, he found in Clause 19 B that the schools in the country—the small schools in the rural districts—were not affected by any means in the same way. Instead of trying to uphold the principle of payment by results and, as far as possible, to strengthen and carry it out—even at the cost of a largo pecuniary sacrifice in the case of many schools in large towns—he found that instead of trying to carry out that principle still further, the Government was deviating from it, and a re-action was setting in in a direction which was the very reverse of payment by results. Certain grants were to be made without any reference to increased efficiency or greater results. He did not expect to be able to induce the Government to alter their decision in that respect; but he wished to enter his protest, in order that he might reserve to himself the right to oppose any further changes in the same direction. There was another point. There were a great many schools in the country of the hind referred to which were in a somewhat embarrassed condition; and the question we had to consider was whether they should go on struggling as they were now doing under all the disadvantages of want of means, or whether we should adopt what he believed to be the right and proper course—the alternative offered by the Act of 1870, of establishing school boards. He trusted it would not be supposed that he was by any means unfriendly to the Code; he was prepared, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), to thank the Vice President of the Council for the admirable provisions there were in it; but he had thought it is duty to make these comments, and he trusted that the Department would see the advantage of having the Code freely and fully discussed.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That an humble Address he presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will he graciously
pleased to direct that the New Code he amended by the omission of Article 19 D."—(Mr. Dixon.)
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he was responsible for the clause limiting the time for the Code being laid upon the Table, and for the reason that it was exceedingly inconvenient for managers and teachers to have a Code hung up a long time after it had been promulgated. It was competent for any hon. Member to move a Resolution with regard to it at any time, and he could not conceive any Government disregarding the result. A special case might be made out for special assistance to the schools described in the Article, which was only to come into force when there was only one public elementary school within three miles of a population of not more than 300. There was a great difficulty in getting good schools in villages so situated. The description in the clause meant, generally speaking, a very poor and sparse population. He hoped it would not be supposed that this was a question of school boards versus denominational or voluntary schools, for it was quite likely that, taking Wales into account, school boards even at present would be as much benefited as voluntary schools by the arrangement in the Code. He was trying to find out what it would be possible for a school to get with 300 inhabitants within three miles, and he could not see that even a capital school, making the best of the Code in such a position, could at present earn more than £30, and for that sum it would not be possible to get good teachers. On the whole, he should have preferred a larger grant for average attendance in the case of such schools, so reserving the system of payment by results. This, however, after all, was a difference in form rather than reality. In fact, his hon. Friend (Mr. Dixon) while submitting a Motion, to the effect that the Government was giving too much money, had made a speech rather to the effect that they were giving too little. The hon. Member seemed rather to underrate what the Government were giving. The alterations in the Code had been made with a great deal of care in that respect, and he doubted whether any man, however much of an expert, could say exactly whether schools would lose or win. The hon. Member said they would lose; but he did not appear to have quite taken 1513 into consideration that they were much more likely to get money out of an increase of the average attendance than from money paid on individual examinations. Four shillings on the average attendance was very considerably more than 4s. on the passes. He differed from his hon. Friend in regard to the desire he expressed that the provision for 250 attendances should be departed from. While they were aiming at a higher standard of education, their great difficulty was the attendance; and they might depend upon it, that if any relaxation of the kind which the hon. Member suggested were made, there would be a falling-off in the attendance every year. He confessed that he was glad to find that the Government had adopted the principle of the Scotch Code, and had said that something was to be paid for the examination of classes in matters which were not confined to the "Three Rs." The time had quite come in which we might so far deviate from the principle of the Revised Code as to make the examination of the classes one of the things for which a grant should be made. He approved very much of the alteration in the standard which required some knowledge of history and geography. It was quite as easy to give children a complete mastery of reading, and make them learn a little geography and history at the same time, as to do so without touching those subjects at all. Thus far he had approved what had been done; but now he would ask the Vice President of the Council to consider whether his hon. Friend was not right in thinking that the turning of 4s. into 2s., unless 40 per cent of the children above seven passed in Standard IV., was not just now requiring too much? In his opinion, it was impossible for any school to fulfil that condition at present. What he looked forward to was this—that as we improved in the number of attendances, and therefore in the quantity of knowledge imparted, we should have to screw up the Standards from time to time. He was afraid managers and masters of schools would consider that money offered on such terms was a mockery. He understood that the examination under C 1., for which 4s. was to be given, was an examination of classes, and not of each child; and that it would appear by the instructions given to the Inspectors that what was meant 1514 was that some children would be picked out and examined, half of those so examined to pass creditably. He did not object to the stipulation that in order to get the money for special subjects 75 per cent must pass in the Standards; because we must always guard against the danger of masters neglecting the children generally, in order to pass some in the special subjects. His noble Friend was grappling with a difficulty which he himself had not been able to combat—that of making needlework a subject of actual examination. He wished his noble Friend success; but he had found it impossible to carry out the object in view, owing to the difficulty of getting from the Inspectors an adequate knowledge of the subject. His noble Friend was liberal with regard to night schools—in fact, perhaps, too generous. The night school, no doubt, had social advantages; but when it came to a question of granting Government money, he thought a school ought to be open 60 times in the year in order to get it. His noble Friend however, had reduced the number of times from 60 to 40. Neither did he like the reduction of the time from an hour and a-half to one hour. There was danger in such a course, of creating among ignorant persons a notion that when public money was obtained on such terms, the education given was not worth the having. At present, night schools were prevented from sending up scholars for special subjects, but such a restriction ought not to be maintained. It might be said, that when we got to higher education we might rely on the South Kensington grant; but that grant was confined to science, and there were many young people who took naturally to history or literature in preference. He was glad to find that the 15s. limit, which he (Mr. Forster) never could get rid of, was to be abolished. He had lately come to the conclusion that it was working badly, because the expenses were increasing. Few things were more dispiriting to managers and teachers than to find that, having earned the money, they lost it, because, in fact, they had earned it. He should support the present or any other Chancellor of the Exchequer in saying there was another safeguard which it would be most dangerous to pass—that, for every shilling of Government money another shilling should be found in the 1515 locality, either in the shape of fees or voluntary contributions. That was the present provision, and if we departed from that we should lose our grasp of the great principle, which had been hitherto maintained, of Government supervision and inspection combined with local interests and local management.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, he thought the House ought to be grateful to the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) for bringing this subject under their consideration. Notwithstanding the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), he could not but regret that they had not had more time to consider the new Code, particularly as he understood the Government intended it to be final for some years. He was, however, happy to find, from his inquiries out-of-doors, that the points of difference which were likely to arise were very few, and that the Code was likely to meet with a great amount of approbation; and, if the 40 per cent restriction on the examination of children in special subjects were modified, the higher class of teachers in the metropolis would offer no objection to the rest of the Code. There was only one school in the whole of Westminster—a district which contained a large number of high-class schools—which could pass 40 percent of its scholars in the three higher Standards—IV., V., and VI.—and that was the upper school of the Wesleyan training college, which was a commercial and not a elementary school. The National Schools of St. James's, Piccadilly, and St. Martin's-in-the-Fields could not, at the present moment, pass 40 per cent of their scholars in the three higher Standards. It must be remembered that every addition to the standard of attainment required was an additional strain on the teachers; and, if they "screwed up" the standards much higher, they would have to add to the teaching power of our schools. The teachers were employed from 9 to 6 o'clock, with an hour for dinner; and the evening was often spent in preparation or in working with pupil-teachers; while in some places, they were under moral compulsion to teach for an hour or two in the evening. It was a great concession, which would be hailed as a boon, that voluntary and uncertified teachers might in future conduct night schools. 1516 He understood from some of the best elementary teachers in London that children were now leaving school at an earlier age than they used to do, and that was because the London bye-laws spoke of 13 as the limit; it was inferred by parents that that was the age at which elementary education was supposed to be completed, and they were only too ready to avail themselves of such a suggestion. As to the special grant of £10 or £15, he did not see why the limit of three miles was inserted, and why a school in a sparsely-populated district should be denied the grant because there might be a school two miles away from it. They had reason, however, to be thankful to the Government for the consideration they had given to the demands of the teachers. As to night schools, in country districts they were of the greatest advantage and importance, because they gave the children an opportunity of making up for that irregularity of attendance which rural occupations rendered inevitable. Although they might not be so essential in manufacturing districts like those represented by the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), in agricultural and rural districts night schools were doing a substantial part of the elementary education of the working classes by filling up, as it were, the interstices of their early training. To understand the Code itself was a serious intellectual study; but as far as he had been able to master it, there seemed to be a provision for letting the girls off some portion of the subjects, which the boys were expected to master, in order that they might devote more time to needlework. He regarded that provision as a great advantage to the community generally, for it was a matter of no small importance that the future wives and mothers of this century should be good needlewomen. Another change for the better was that children should be examined after attending for three months, instead of after a certain number of attendances. The additional grant to the teachers was a great boon; and he would like to know whether this grant should be given to all the pupil teachers who were employed in the best schools or whether only to a minimum number? The postponement of the age clauses would be considered a great advantage, and another sensible alteration was the 1517 reduction of the time of attendance of infants. He thanked his noble Friend (Viscount Sandon) for the practical improvements which he proposed, and thought the House was indebted to the hon. Member (Mr. Dixon) for the opportunity which had been afforded of discussing these important changes. In the schools with which he was acquainted the managers were willing to co-operate with the Government in raising the standard of education as far as it could properly be raised. This end could not be too quickly attained; progress in this, as in other things, to be sure must be expected to be slow.
§ MR. STORER
, in opposing the Motion, said, the inhabitants of rural districts were exposed to greater difficulties in the maintenance of schools than in the urban districts, and paid much higher rates, while the education given in these schools often caused the boys to migrate to the towns, so that they were educated at the farmers' cost but not for the farmers' advantage. He hoped the hon. Member (Mr. Dixon), on consideration, would not grudge these small rural schools the encouragement which the Government had been kind enough to give them under this clause.
§ MR. STEVENSON
asked whether it was within the power of the Education Department to impose a restriction upon the choice of electors, as had been done by declaring that no teacher of an elementary school would be recognized as a member of a school board? Surely this was a question for the consideration of the electors, and it was going beyond the Education Act of 1870, which disqualified from being elected as members of a school board only the teachers of schools under the Board. Such cases must be rare, and it was not well to prevent the electors from availing themselves of the services of experienced teachers.
§ MR. J. G. HUBBARD
thanked the Government for proposing these alterations in the Code. They suggested a decided improvement in the character of the education which was to be given throughout the country. The remarks of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon), however, as to the difficulty of earning the same amount of assistance as was earned before, seemed to be perfectly well founded. In reference to the requirement that 40 per cent of the children should pass the 1518 three higher Standards, he was informed that a considerable number of the teachers and managers of some of the best voluntary schools in the metropolis were of opinion that even in the best schools, 25 per cent would be nearer the mark than 40. If so, that would make a serious deduction from the amount of assistance to be given to voluntary schools. Whether the board schools excelled or failed in their teaching, their pecuniary position was unimpeachable; because the board could levy additional rates to make up any deficiency in their receipts from the grant. Every restrictive rule in the Code, however, operated seriously on the voluntary schools. The hon. Member for Birmingham recommended the universal adoption of school boards; but before those boards could be made acceptable throughout the country, the Elementary Education Act must be restored to its original form, by which more liberty was given than was the case now for religious teaching. A community that was desirous of having a denominational school could not have it under the Act as it stood at present. The people of Scotland under their Elementary Education Act enjoyed that privilege; and he asked, why should it be denied to the people of England? Without greater freedom of religious teaching, it was idle to talk of establishing school boards all over the land. He suggested very seriously to the Government, that in conducting these revisions of the Code, they should bear in mind the peculiar difficulty under which the voluntary schools were now working. If those schools were to hold their ground, they must regain some portion of their liberty, and the teachers must not be muzzled when they spoke on any subject—least of all when they spoke on a subject of such transcendant importance as religion. He trusted no difficulty would be found in considering the point which had been so well raised by the hon. Member for Birmingham.
complained that the discussion, instead of being confined to the Code, had ranged over the whole subject of the Education Act. His opinion was, that a good deal of exaggeration had been indulged in by both sides. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) and his Friends, on the one hand, exaggerated the amount of sectarian feeling thrown into the 1519 teaching in the elementary schools connected with the denominations. But, on the other hand, there was quite as much exaggeration in asserting that the teaching in board schools was purely secular. Returns recently presented, showed that an amount of religious teaching was given in board schools which might fairly satisfy the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken. He begged to thank the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council for the improvements he seemed to have introduced into the Code of this year. Many of the changes now made were such as he and others in that House had urged when the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) was at the Education Office, and, as a whole, they were in a wise direction. Another improvement was the introduction of a standard above the Sixth, the object of which was to enable children to be presented in extra subjects. This would serve as an inducement to parents to keep their children longer at school. It was, moreover, gratifying to see that in addition to the periodical examinations, it was proposed to have something like a regular system of visits by Inspectors without notice. But, at the same time, he thought that if that system was to be properly carried out, the staff of Inspectors would have to be increased. In regard to the Agricultural Children Act, he was glad to see that facilities had been given for obtaining the certificates needed under it, and he thought that steps should at once be taken with a view to putting that Act into force; inasmuch as there might otherwise be a serious interference with farm work, by suddenly requiring that the children were to be sent to school, after the farmers had been led to think that the old system was to be allowed to go on. As to the Motion of the hon. Member for Birmingham, he thought it a very small matter, affecting but few schools and involving no great principle.
MR. LYON PLAYFSAIR
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Birmingham would withdraw the Motion which he had submitted. He assumed, in making this suggestion, that his noble Friend would keep to the conditions of the Code as it stood. If the proposition of the hon. Member for West Kent (Mr. J. G. Talbot) was adopted, it would simply be a premium to small schools. If there were any managers of schools 1520 or teachers who complained that the Code established too high a standard, their fears might be allayed by the fact that this was practically the Code which had been in operation in Scotland, where it was found that a great deal more money could be made by that than by any inferior Code. The principle of this improved Code was a very wise one because it did less for mere mechanical results, and more for intellectual teaching. It infused a higher intelligence into the schools, and it was that higher intelligence which produced the good results. All experience showed that unless schools were forced to pass the higher Standards—above the Fourth—the money spent on the education of the children was almost thrown away, because it was only then that they came to acquire the knowledge that was necessary to fit them for the ordinary business of life. Any increased grant given in that direction was given for permanent results useful to the nation, and he congratulated the noble Lord on the advance he had made in the Code, which would be of great use to the country.
§ SIR THOMAS ACLAND
said, that under the operation of the Code, of late years the tendency had been to push needlework aside, which was a very serious matter with regard to the happiness of the working man's family. He would suggest whether something might not be done to check that tendency, and restore needlework to its proper position in our schools.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, he could not sufficiently thank the House for the cordial reception it had given to the new Revised Code, which, on the part of the Government, he had had the pleasure of laying on the Table a few days ago. He must, however, demur to the complimentary remark of the hon. Member for West Kent (Mr. J. G. Talbot), that in preparing that Code he had risen above the prejudices of the Department to which he belonged, and had struck out a new line for himself. He wished it to be clearly understood that, although the Government had taken much trouble in perfecting the Code, the chief credit in preparing it belonged to Sir Francis Sandford, the head of the permanent staff of the Department, to whose indefatigable labour, mastery of details, and public spirit the merit of the Code was principally owing. Having gone with 1521 much care into the matter, he was led to believe, upon the best authority, that the effect of the considerable changes to be carried out by the Code—reflecting as it did the idiosyncracy of England as much as the Scotch Code did the idiosyncracy of Scotland—would be that ordinary schools would get just as much as before, that good schools would got more, and that very good schools would get a great deal more. That was a result which the House would doubtless wish to see brought about. It was exceedingly difficult to calculate the effect of these large changes, operating as they did over the large surface of more than 2,000,000 of children; but it was hoped that their results would prove satisfactory in every respect. As regarded inspection, he might state that the Government had increased the English staff of Inspectors by 12, and if the number was still too small to secure an efficient system of inspection, it would be increased. An inspection, to be efficient, must not be hurried; it must not consist chiefly of adding up the number of attendances on the part of the children; but it must be such as to awaken the intelligence of the children, and to help and encourage the teachers in their work. He agreed with the suggestion that visits without notice—as they would be termed in future, instead of being called "surprise visits," which was an objectionable phrase—would be a most valuable mode of increasing the zeal of our school teachers. He would now run rapidly through the points referred to by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon). In the first place, he believed that the effect of the Code would enable the board schools—which, having the resources of the ratepayers at their backs, would be able to secure efficient teachers—to attain the rank of very good schools. The hon. Member had rather blamed him for putting 1s. of the sum given for attendance upon the discipline and organization of the school; but where children were brought together in large masses, the discipline and the organization of the school become of the utmost importance. The hon. Member had further contended that the Standards were too stringent; but he did not think that, upon consideration, the hon. Member would find that his charge was well founded. The truth was that, tinder the old system, too much 1522 credit was given for the mere mechanical acquirement of reading, and it was often discovered that the children having got a certain page by heart, were pretending to read with their books turned upside down. Therefore, by working into the mere mechanical reading a little grammar, physical geography, a little knowledge of the geography of England, and a certain amount of history, it was thought that the mind of the child would not be overburdened, and that the teaching would be rendered more lively. He believed also that the acquirement of reading would thus be rendered more easy. Those were the principal additions which the Government had made to the Standards. They, however, had ventured to require that the children should learn certain standard passages of poetry; and, by adopting this rather high type of education, they had not taken a mere theoretical flight, but had adopted a course that was essentially popular among the poorer classes, and he hoped that the minds of the children would be impressed with the lines taken from many of our best authors, and that these might sometimes be a consolation to them in their hours of labour. The hon. Member had complained of the vote of £10 or £15 in aid of the small board schools; but he had overlooked the fact that that sum was not merely put into the pockets of such schools without any return being required, inasmuch as to get that £10 or £15 they must first obtain £30 to meet it. He did not see his way to get effective schools in the midst of small populations without affording some stimulus of this kind. In a population of 300 there ought to be 50 children at school, and there was to be a certificated teacher, who should be a woman, part of whose duty would be to manage the rough boys of the district. She ought to have £60 a-year, but how was this to be secured without some provision of this sort? Under these circumstances, therefore, he felt that he could appeal with confidence to the hon. Member not to press that part of his Motion which related to this subject. In reducing the grant from 4s. to 2s. for grammar and geography unless 40 per cent of the scholars were presented under the Fourth Standard, their object was to induce teachers to push their scholars into the upper Standards. 1523 The observations that had been made on the subject of the alteration by his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. B. Forster) and other hon. Members would, he could assure the House, receive the most careful consideration of the Department. Allusion had also been made to the night schools, to which he might say he attached much importance. Whether or not night schools were to become part of the general system of the education of the country was a problem which probably those who came after them would settle. Children now left, and would, he feared, continue to leave the schools at 10, 11, or 12 years of age, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, for them not to lose most of what they had learnt at school. He imagined that when the State adopted the principle that the people should be educated, it was intended that even if children did not remain at school after the age of 12 they should retain what they had already acquired, and no way of enabling them to keep the education they had got was so good as leading them to attend night school voluntarily. It was therefore worth while for the State to encourage them to do so. His right hon. Friend had referred to the fact that there had been an alteration of the hours of teaching—that alteration had been made after much consideration, and had been made in the hope that if instead of an hour-and-a-half's dry teaching they substituted an hour of steady work with a half-hour of singing and other subjects of attraction, a greater number of children would be induced to attend the schools. They were also prepared to allow volunteer teachers to attend the night schools, provided the Inspectors passed them as qualified—in the hope of enlisting a great deal of the educational enthusiasm of the country in the work in which they were engaged. The suggestion of his right hon. Friend that grants should be given for special subjects in the night schools would receive careful attention; but it was one as to which he could not give an answer off-hand, concerning, as it did, the Treasury as well as the Educational Department. He (Viscount San-don) thought he had touched on all the principal subjects alluded to in the debate, and he was glad to find that the hon. Member for West Kent (Mr. J. G. Talbot) supported the Government, be- 1524 cause he had large experience in the question of education. The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Stevenson) demurred to the provision forbidding masters of schools to be members of school boards. In the Department they had looked at this point from the side of the schools, and thought it their duty to follow former rules prohibiting schoolmasters from undertaking any business which would interfere with their school duties. But they had no idea of casting a slur upon the masters or teachers, many of whom were far superior to some of the members of small school boards. This was a complicated matter, and before he could give any answer with regard to it he must consult the Lord President and others. He quite concurred in what the hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Thomas Acland) had said as to the importance of teaching the girls in the schools needlework, and could assure him that the subject had not been overlooked. Within the last fortnight he had communicated with every Inspector in England on the subject, and a large number of them had assured him that needlework was well taught; and the object in view was that every encouragement should be given to that branch of instruction. It was said that girls were oppressed with an undue amount of arithmetic; but the fact was that the general usage of the Inspectors had been to put to girls less difficult questions on arithmetic than to boys because they found that they were rather over-burdened with needlework. It was not the case that needlework was to be treated as an extra subject; but a provision was made to meet the views that had been expressed. It was absolutely necessary that the girls should learn needlework, or the schools would not get the grant; and if the girls did the work in the presence of the Inspectors, and it was taught systematically, they would get a grant of 2s. more. He altogether sympathized with the wish of the hon. Member for North Devon that everything that was possible should be done to improve the homes of the labourers, and that they should have good and practical wives, and he would venture to call attention to the specific subjects in the 4th Schedule—mechanics, physiology, and all sorts of grand things—to which he had ventured to add "domestic economy" for girls, which in- 1525 cluded the subjects of food and its preparation; clothing and materials. The dwelling; warming, cleaning, and ventilation. Washing materials and their use. Rules for health; the management of a sick room. Cottage income, expenditure, and savings, in which subjects if they passed they would obtain an extra grant of 4s., just as boys would in physical geography. In the present Code the Government had endeavoured to carry out the promises they made last year. Their great object was to secure that there were thoroughly good schools within the reach of all the population of this country, providing that sort of education which the best class of labourers would think most fitted for their children. In that object he trusted they would succeed. He thanked the House for the support they had received, and he looked forward to considerable effects resulting from an improved Code which had been the joint work of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.