HC Deb 08 July 1881 vol 263 cc359-60

asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether one of the results of the passing of "The Elementary Education Act, 1880," has been that some School Boards and School Attendance Committees have lowered the standard of education fixed by their bye-laws for the total or partial exemption of children from the obligation to attend school; and, whether he will lay upon the Table of the House a Return showing the extent to which the Act has operated in this direction?


Sir, the Elementary Education Act of 1880 required that on or before the 1st of January of the present year every district in England and Wales should pass bye-laws regulating school attendance. The result has been that about 1,200 sets of bye-laws, embracing a population of 6,500,000, have been passed. In settling bye-laws for a Union, composed of a number of parishes, we have endeavoured as far as possible to secure uniform standards for partial and total exemption for the whole Union. To effect this we have, in some instances, had to lower, and in others to raise, the standards in certain parishes. The general effect, however, has been to raise the standards, and in thousands of parishes to supply standards where none were previously in force. In the factory towns and districts the half-time standard has, in some instances, been reduced. This is owing to the fact that before the passing of the Act of last year it was contended that no standard was requisite in the case of factory children. These and all other children are now required to pass a standard before going to work, so that, although the nominal standard has in a few instances been lowered, the effect of the Act has been to raise the standard and increase the efficiency of educational work throughout the country. I have already laid on the Table a Return showing the standards in force in every parish and borough in England and Wales, and this, I hope, will meet the requirements of the hon. Member.