HC Deb 23 March 1875 vol 223 cc225-8

asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether after consideration of the representations made to him in the Debate upon the New Education Code (1875), he is prepared to make any alterations; and, if so, whether he will state them to the House?


Sir, owing to the adjournment of the other branch of the Legislature, I am unable to lay upon the Table the alterations made by the Lord President and myself in the Education Code. I therefore think it may be for the convenience of hon. Members, some of whom have had much correspondence on this subject, if I state very shortly and succinctly the changes determined on in this Code. They have been so determined, after much consultation with gentlemen acquainted with the subject in all parts of the country, and I may say, on behalf of the Lord President and myself, that we are both surprised and gratified to find that the objections to the New Code resolve themselves into so small a number. Under these circumstances; the changes made in our proposed Code are not large and do not affect its principle. We have added a note under 19 A 3 by which the Inspector will be instructed not to interfere with any method of organization adopted in a Training College under inspection, if it is satisfactorily carried out in the school, and it is also explained in a note that under "Discipline" the managers and teachers will be expected to satisfy Her Majesty's Inspector that all reasonable care is taken in its ordinary management to provide for the general character and moral government of the school. In 19 B 3 a change is introduced to meet the case of the temporary severe pressure upon both voluntary and board schools both in town and country, by the large number of untrained children, who, many at a late age, are being brought into them by the operation of compulsory bye-laws and the various Labour Acts. These children being generally entirely untaught require more attention and labour than others; and to provide for this state of things, which I think we may consider temporary, it is arranged that till March 31, 1878, a grant will continue to be paid for a scholar who passes in only one subject for that one pass. This change becomes additionally necessary, as we have thought it desirable in the interest of the children to insist on the presentation for examination, as far as possible, of all who have made the requisite attendances. As to the Clause 19 C 6, respecting which many representations have been made to us, whereby a deduction of 2s. per head was proposed to be made from the grant of 4s. per head on the new class examination, unless 40 per cent of the scholars were presented under Standard IV. or upwards, we have felt bound to consider the expressions of opinion coming from hon. Members of experience on both sides of the House, from experienced Inspectors, as well as from voluntary schools and school boards, both rural and urban, that we had aimed too high in this particular. Considering also that this general opinion was confirmed and pressed upon me by my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster), we have felt it right to lower somewhat our requirements, though we cannot consent to abandon the provision altogether, whereby a condition is attached to this grant which we believe will be a most valuable agent in promoting the better education of the children, and giving an incitement to the teacher to advance them properly from an early age. We propose, therefore, that the operation of this and of most of the other important changes in the Code, represented by Nos. 17 (d), 19, 21 (a), 22,28, 29 (b), 108, and 109 should be deferred from August 31, 1875, to March 31, 1876, so as to give the teachers and managers ample time to prepare themselves and their scholars for the change of system. For the year after March 31, 1876, 20 per cent—instead of 40 per cent—will be expected to pass under this article; for the next year, 1877, 25 per cent; and for 1878, 30 per cent. As to the Standards we have, I hope, made several improvements. We have slightly diminished the number of lines to be learnt, and have made a change much desired by all the associations of teachers, whereby history and geography may be grouped in such a way as to enable the scholars under Standards IV., V., and VI. to be taught and examined as one class. With respect to article 19 D, whereby special grants of £10 or £15 were made to schools with populations under 300 and 200 souls, to meet the unequal pressure upon these small schools, whether voluntary or board, of the requirements of our improved education as regards teachers, &c, we have found our wording failed to meet the real cases of need. We have, therefore, substituted the following clause for that in the new Code:— D. The sum of £10 (or £15), subject to a favourable Report from the Inspector, if the population within two miles by road of the school is less than 300 (or 200) souls, and there is no other public elementary school with sufficient accommodation for such population within three miles of the school. Hitherto little provision has been made for the small schools of about 15 scholars in remote villages of less than 100 souls out of reach of any other school, and for which a regular certificated teacher is impossible, and a young girl pupil teacher unsuitable. To meet this want we propose to apply section 59 (a) to these little schools, so that women, approved by the Inspector as efficient teachers, may in these special cases be employed. To meet the various requirements of different localities as to evening schools, we propose that, instead of insisting upon 40 attendances, we should insist only on 40 hours' instruction; but, as I said before, the changes as to evening schools, which will come into force next autumn, we consider only tentative. I regret that in the present condition of night schools, and considering the various difficulties connected with inspection, we have not seen our way to introduce, as my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster) suggested, the extra subjects into those schools. I am happy to say that we have been able to arrange that under the varied provisions of the Labour Acts, children must pass in the three subjects of the Standard, the passing of which entitles them to a certificate. A slight alteration has also been made in the subjects required from pupil teachers, and a slight diminution in the language requirements under extra subjects. The opportunity has been taken of making one or two other unimportant but useful working changes. Considering, then, the large alterations which we have thought it right this year to make, and our conviction that in the interest of education the Code should be altered as little as possible for some time to come, we have thought it right to welcome criticisms upon our new Code, and, after carefully weighing them, to make such changes as seemed desirable at once this year, in accordance with former precedent. These alterations have now been finally passed by the Committee of Council, and we have every reason to believe that, while we meet the views of many of the most valuable Inspectors, of leading members of school boards, of clergy of much educational experience in purely rural as well as in town districts, and also of the most qualified and thoughtful teachers of country and town schools, we shall attain the object we have kept steadily in view, of improving and giving fresh life to our system of elementary education.


asked when the alterations would be laid on the Table?


said, the only reason for not laying them on the Table now was the adjournment of the other House; but directly after the Recess he hoped to present them.