HC Deb 10 July 1877 vol 235 cc1053-60

moved the following Resolution:— That the English Education Code, by requiring that all students of training colleges receiving Government aid must reside within such colleges, a condition not imposed by the Scotch Code, and by withholding from graduates of universities the encouragement offered by the Scotch Code to enter on the profession of Elementary Teachers, tends to increase the cost of the erection and maintenance of these colleges, and to diminish the number of duly qualified teachers. The hon. Member observed, that unless some change such as he suggested were made in the English Education Code, it would be found extremely difficult to supply the elementary schools in this country with a sufficient number of trained teachers. Comparing the applications for admission and the actual number of admissions to training schools in England and Scotland, he found that in 1876 the number of successful candidates in Scotland was 646, of whom no less than 519 were admitted into the Scotch training schools; whereas in England it was necessary to reject 42 per cent of the candidates who had successfully passed the examination for admission, the proportion rejected in Scotland being only 20 per cent. It could not be said there was an over-supply of trained teachers in England or in Scotland. In the latter the supply, which was certainly not in excess of the demand, amounted to 1 in 96 of the children in the schools; whereas in England there was only one trained teacher for 128 children. In England for eight elementary teachers there was but one in training for the profession; whilst in Scotland for four elementary teachers there was one student in training. Therefore, if there was no excess of trained teachers in Scotland, it was clear that in England there must be a great deficiency in the supply. That deficiency, he believed, could be supplied if the English training schools were assimilated to those of Scotland. In England every student must be boarded within the College; but in Scotland there was no requirement of that nature. In England the cost of training one student was £33 a-head; but in Scotland it only amounted to £26 a-head. If the Scotch system were adopted in this country, he believed the National Society and the British and Foreign School Society would be prepared to meet the increasing demand for space in their training schools, and would provide the necessary accommodation, which they would be able to do at much less cost than the present. If the school boards in large towns were given the power of establishing day training schools for those who were to be employed as teachers in their own schools, great facilities would be afforded for the training of elementary teachers. Within the last four years 100 trained graduates of Scotch Universities had entered into the profession of elementary teachers, and so important was the privilege deemed by the Universities of Scotland, that they had united in drawing up a scheme of instruction for elementary teachers, which they had submitted to the Lord President of the Council. He had seen the scheme, which he considered to be a good and sound one, and he hoped the noble Lord would tell them that it had been adopted by the Government. He hoped they would receive an assurance from the noble Lord that it was the intention of the Government to consider, with a view to their abolition, the distinctions that at present existed between the Scotch and the English Education Codes, to the disadvantage of England, for which no adequate reason had been assigned, and which he regarded as a blot on the system of elementary education in England.


seconded the Amendment. He wished to state that he concurred entirely with the remarks of the hon. Member on the advantages of the Normal Schools and Colleges in Scotland, and could certify that the Scotch system worked exceedingly well, and much better than any system of Colleges for students, where there would be an orna- mental building with corridors and public rooms, and other expensive architectural arrangements. If the expense were calculated, it would be found that it would cost less for a student to share a small house as a lodger than to enter a large College. He must warn the noble Lord against relying upon the advantages gained by young men at Universities as being sufficient to make good teachers. The people in Scotland viewed the training of teachers with very great jealousy. It was not necessary that they should be learned men, but they should be practical and good teachers. Many who had attended the Universities and were very learned made very bad teachers. If, therefore, the noble Lord placed too much reliance on University training, he would fall into an error which might prove disadvantageous.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the English Education Code, by requiring that all students of training colleges receiving Government aid must reside within such colleges, a condition not imposed by the Scotch Code, and by withholding from graduates of universities the encouragement offered by the Scotch Code to enter on the profession of Elementary Teachers, tends to increase the cost of the erection and maintenance of these colleges, and to diminish the number of duly qualified teachers,"—(Mr. Samuelson,) —instead thereof.

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


said, the subject had been already discussed this Session, and the opinions of many leading Members of the House were pretty well known. The differences between the English and Scotch Code were, for the most part, matters in which the Department had no option. It was bound by the Scotch Act to recognize attendance at the Scotch Universities. Some consideration had to be paid to the habits and customs of a country, and the usage was one which suited Scotland; but while it would not have been wise to upset it, it did not follow that it would suit this country. The English system started on the assumption that boarding-houses were abstractedly the best. The moral training of young men and women was a serious matter; it was of the ut- most importance that they should not be scattered about towns in chance lodging-houses, and that they should be gathered together under the supervision of good and trained teachers. There was every prospect of an ample supply of well-trained teachers for a few years, the present supply being calculated to be sufficient for the "waste" incident to a staff of 25,000. There was an ample supply of male teachers, but the increase in the number of small schools and girls' schools might render it necessary to augment the arrangements for the supply of female teachers. No request had been made by an English University for arrangements similar to those which existed in Scotland; he did not imagine Oxford or Cambridge was likely to make such a request, and the Department would not be able to entertain such a proposal from a University which was merely an examining body, and did not engage to take the oversight of the morals of the young people committed to its charge. Of the staff of 12,400 scholars under instruction about 8,000 came from Training Colleges and 4,000 from other sources. The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) had usefully called attention to the danger of taking mere University men as teachers without due securities for their efficiency. At present grants were made to Scotch Training Schools only, and not to the students personally, and were not paid until the students who earned them for their school, after examination by the Department, actually became teachers, and went through a two years' course of probation. The Scotch Universities proposed that Bursaries should be established for individual students, to enable them to attend University classes for two years without going to a Training School. They also asked that the Bursars should be examined by the University, and that a diploma, granted by the University, should be accepted by the Department as equivalent to a teachers' certificate. They also proposed that the Bursars should make a "declaration of agreement" to follow the profession of a teacher, in consideration of the public money spent upon their education. These proposals represented the course which the hon. Member for Edinburgh very wisely appeared to deprecate. The first objection taken by the Department was that the proposal failed to secure due supervision—in such towns, for example, as Glasgow and Edinburgh—of the students, who were young men of from 18 to 21 years of age. It also failed to secure any practical training in the art of teaching and any instruction in subjects essential for teachers of elementary schools, but lying outside of the University course. There was also no security that these young men would receive any religious instruction. Another objection was that there was no real security that the students would follow the calling of a teacher after they had been trained for it at the public cost. The Education Department also felt that the proposal, so far as it removed the élite of the Queen's scholars from the Training Colleges, not only discredited institutions which had done thoroughly well a great work for the elementary education of the country, but rendered useless much of the large expenditure which had been contributed by the public funds and the voluntary promoters of education in Scotland towards the foundation of these training schools. The proportion given by the Government towards these Training Colleges had been £20,000, and the sum raised by voluntary subscriptions had been £30,000. The Education Department wished, however, to meet the views of the Scotch Universities as far as possible, and they proposed in the first place to allow the Queen's scholars greater freedom in attending the Universities during the five months of their winter session by removing the restriction on the number of classes (two) in which they might be enrolled. It was proposed in the next place to distinguish by some special mark in the class list of the examination for Queen's Scholarships the candidates whose proficiency in special subjects, such as Latin, Greek, and mathematics, appeared to qualify them for attending University classes. The third proposal was that such Queen's scholars should be allowed —not required—to attend classes in these subjects in a University, and relieved still further than at present from attending the Training School classes during the University Session. Lastly, it was proposed that existing arrangements as to their religious, practical, and professional training, and the payment for the students, should remain on the present footing. In short, the Queen's scholars were to continue to be regarded in all respects as students of the Training Schools, but would be permitted if qualified to receive a larger share of their education at the hands of the Universities than present arrangements allowed. He hoped that the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. B. Samuelson) and hon. Members for Scotland would admit that the Department had done what it could to meet the reasonable demands of the Scotch Universities, although they could not give up their objections to the previous proposal of the Universities. Everything now pointed to a large and adequate supply of thoroughly trained teachers, who should be worthy to take charge of the intellects as well as the moral and religious education of children. Schools would be gradually left more and more in the hands of the school-teachers, as it was becoming more and more the practice to confide the management of the school to the teachers. He knew that the only object of his hon. Friend was to obtain as good teachers as possible for the schools; but it was the duty of the Department to secure a due and adequate supply of teachers without making a great revolution in our system of English teaching.


remarked that the noble Lord was under a misapprehension in assuming that the moral and the religious training of the Scotch schools was less perfect than in England, for the Governing Bodies of those schools took the greatest care to secure the proper moral training of the young people committed to their care. The best evidence that that object was attained was to be found in the fact that many of the teachers trained in these schools were employed in England, and none gave greater satisfaction than those who had been trained in the Scotch institutions. He wished also to refer to the remarks of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren), where he seemed rather to undervalue University training. He should regret if it were to go forth that any disregard was shown in Scotland to University training. While the training of teachers in the art of communicating instruction to their pupils was fully valued, it was important that the highest possible acquirements should be attained by those who had to take charge of the education of the young. How could that be done better than by instructing them in the highest branches of knowledge? He thanked the noble Lord for the encouragement he was prepared to give, and hoped he would continue to progress in the same direction.


said, that at the commencement of the Session he had expressed his views pretty clearly on this question, and he would now only briefly state why he should support the Motion of the hon. Member for Banbury. The noble Lord had not met the argument of the hon. Member by statistics. From the statistics in the Report, he (Mr. Forster) should have come to a different conclusion to that of the noble Lord. There were a very considerable number of teachers who were not trained at the training schools. The Report showed that 24 per cent of the male, and nearly 37 per cent of the female teachers, did not receive their education at those institutions. He thought, in all probability, that would continue to be the case. There was no doubt that the Training Colleges had become filled, and had responded to a considerable extent to the increased demand; but he thought the Department itself did not look forward to their fully meeting the demand. The chief reason for his supporting the Motion of the hon. Gentleman was, that he thought the present restrictions in the English Code, as compared with the Scotch Code, threw obstacles in the way of better training being given to those who did not go to the present Training Colleges. He did not see why the Department should not try the experiment of having day Training Colleges in large towns. The effect would be that side by side with the present Training Colleges we should have a number of day Colleges or Halls, in which there would be scholastic teaching in which young men and young women would also serve an apprenticeship to the art of teaching, and in which care would be taken that they were well looked after during the period they were receiving instruction, a result which might be secured by providing that they should not be admitted into these day Colleges unless upon the responsibility of the managers. By that means we should, he thought, be able to get teachers beyond the supply now furnished by the Training Colleges with as great proficiency and, at the same time, at a much less cost. He regretted to hear the noble Lord say that he could not listen to any of those suggestions because of the necessity of keeping up in this country security for religious teaching; for if the Vote for Training Colleges were to be based upon that argument, he strongly suspected that no Education Department would be able to maintain its position. He was as anxious as anyone that our teachers should receive religious instruction; but at present there was nothing which made it necessary that Training Colleges should give religious instruction, although, of course, we were glad to know that they did do so. He believed, he might add, that there would be great difficulty in increasing the number of Training Colleges, unless some means were provided by which young men and women might be trained for the profession of teaching without being compelled to go to a denominational College. The question of expense, too, was not a slight one. The cost of training an English teacher was nearly £39, while the Scotch teacher cost little more than £25, and he saw no reason why a system which had been found to work well in Scotland should not be introduced into the English Code.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 121; Noes 78: Majority 43.—(Div. List, No. 229.)