HC Deb 03 April 1882 vol 268 cc648-57

(1.) £2,199,863, to complete the sum necessary for Public Education (England and Wales).


Sir, the sum required for public education in England and Wales for the year 1882–3 is £2,749,863, as compared with £2,683,958 granted by Parliament for the year 1881–2, showing an apparent increase of £65,905, or £82,086 less than the estimated increase of the previous year. But the real increase on the expenditure of last year is £111,500, the Estimate for 1881–2 having proved to be £45,000 in excess of the sum actually required for the service of that year. The true difference between the two years, therefore, is the increase in 1882–3 of £65,905, as it appears on the Estimates, to which is to be added a saving on 1881–2 of £45,500, making a total increase of £111,500, almost the whole of which occurs under the sub-head of the Annual Grant for Elementary Schools, and is accounted for by the anticipated increase of 140,000 additional children on average attendance at day schools. The rate estimated last year at 15s.d. has proved to be less by l½d. per head than the sum actually assigned; and the estimated rate of 16s. per head for the coming year allows for a further increase of 2d. per scholar, as compared with the increase of 2¾d. of the previous year. There are also some small increments under various sub-heads, with the particulars of which I will not, at this late hour, occupy the attention of the Committee. I may, however, mention a slight increase of charge for two senior Inspectors and six Sub-Inspectors at a lower rate of pay, an arrangement that will ultimately effect a saving on the Inspectorial Vote. The sum granted in 1881–2 was £2,683,915, and the sum expended, £2,638,500. The saving occurs almost entirely under the subhead of Annual Grants to Elementary Schools. We estimated the average attendance in the day-schools for last year at 2,983,682; but the result has shown only 2,909,000 in average attendance, and an increase of 150,000 scholars on the rolls. There has been a considerable decrease in respect of the evening schools, the estimated average attendance at which was 42,763, and the expenditure £18,709; whereas the actual attendance and expenditure were 37,940 and £15,142 respectively; and there seems to be no doubt that, under the existing Code, the night schools will gradually become extinct. The attendance at them has been steadily decreasing for some years past. The statement I have made will show that it is becoming more and more difficult to get in a number of the neglected children who are still outside. The attendance is certainly not as large as it ought to be; nevertheless, when I come to show the educational progress we have made, I think the Committee will have every reason to be satisfied with the work of last year. Probably at no period since the passing of the Act of 1870 has there been more satisfactory evidence of solid progress in education than there has been during the past year. The by-laws are beginning to tell on the quality as well as on the quantity of the education given in the schools. The number of children who leave our schools for labour may be reckoned for the past year at 7,000 per week, whereas the number entering the schools weekly is no less than 10,000; and this excess has been going on year by year during the last 10 years. The increase during last year in the number of scholars is 120,000, and we anticipate for next year an increase of no less than 140,000, the normal increase, according to the growth of population, being something like 150,000. Now, there are only two tables which I shall trouble the Committee by referring to, for the purpose of illustration. The first of these shows the decline of the dunces, or neglected children, and the second the advance of the children in intelligence. I have here a table showing the number of scholars over 10 years of age presented for examination in the three lowest Standards. In these Standards the total number presented in 1872 was 118,931, and of these 14.71 per cent were presented in Standard I.; in 1875, 481,094 children were presented, of whom 11.83 per cent were in Standard I; in 1878 there was a percentage of 10.48 in Standard I., out of a total of 775,772 presented; while in 1881, out of a total of 1,011,208 children presented for examination over 10 years of age, only 5.48 per cent were presented in Standard I. I will now take the higher Standards. In Standards IV. to VI., in the year 1872, the number of children presented was 144,799; in 1875 it was 194,509; in 1878 it was 324,517; and in 1881 it was 535,442, showing a growth of about 420 per cent since 1872. The statistics of the past year show that there is now accommodation for 4,389,000 children in our schools, being an increase in that respect of 159,000 in the past year. The number of scholars on the register is 4,045,000, or an increase of 150,000 on last year, and the scholars in average attendance number 2,863, which shows an increase of 112,000. The average attendance is the highest yet attained, and amounts to 71 per cent of the number of scholars on the Books. Of scholars examined the total number is 1,995,000, which shows an increase of 91,000 on the year 1880. The percentage of passes in the "three R's," as it is termed, was 81.82, and that is the highest number of passes we have ever had. The proportion of scholars in Standard IV. and passing was 23.8; on the whole, a very large increase upon previous years, and showing a steady increase. The certificated teachers numbered 44,600, being an increase of 3,174, and of pupil teachers there were 33,639, showing a slight decrease. Now, as to the expenditure and the cost of maintenance of these schools. The cost per scholar in board schools averaged £2 1s. 6d., or a decrease of 5¾d.; and in voluntary schools, £1 14s. 10¼d., or a decrease of 2½d. But in the London board schools the cost per scholar was £2 15s. l0½d., a reduction of nearly 2s. per head; and the cost per scholar in the Provincial board schools was £1 17s. l0d. The London board schools earned 16s.d. per head, or an increase of 2d.; and the voluntary schools earned 15s.d., or an increase of 2¼d. Satisfactory as these figures are as to the increase in numbers and payments, there is still great scope for improvement. We have school-places for 4,389,000 children, and there are 4,045,000 on the registers; but the highest average attendance we have yet reached was 2,863,000. This shows an average daily absence of 1,182,000. Now, what does this mean? It means a waste of expenditure, a loss of power, and a loss of grants to the schools. The teachers are there, the buildings are there, the expenditure on the schools is the same; but yet there is this large absence. Everything that can be done, as the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) suggests, shall be done to increase this average attendance and to improve the quality of education in this country. I will not detain the Committee at this late hour with a statement as to Scotland; but I want to mention one illustration as to the attendance. There are two or three instances of the same kind to show what can be done when there is a proper staff, and when there is a steady pressure to increase the average attendance. There are two schools in this country which are striking illustrations of what can be done under the greatest possible difficulty. First, there is the Jews' School at Manchester, a very large school, and 50 per cent of the parents speak broken English. Three or four languages are spoken in the families of the scholars, yet 99 per cent of the children pass. At the Jews' schools in London 2,400 children passed this year, which is 98⅓ per cent, or the highest education obtained by any children in Her Majesty's schools. These children, many of them, have come to the schools within the year with an imperfect knowledge even of the English language. Well, the figures I have given for England, although they show a general steady advance, compare unfavourably with those for Scotland, as I will point out. The percentage of average attendance of the number on the Books in England is 71, whilst in Scotland it is 75.2. The percentage of passes in Standard subjects in 1881.2, in Scotland, was 88.32. In England the per- centage of scholars, in all schools individually examined in Standard IV. and upwards, was 26.83, and in Scotland 36.13, showing that there were at least 10 per cent of older children in Standard IV. in Scotland more than there were in England. I believe that in England there is just a trifle over 1 per cent of all the 4,000,000 of children in the schools over 14 years of age. In Scotland there are more than 3 per cent; and when you come to the payments there is no comparison between the two countries. It must be remembered that the public schools in Scotland combine elementary education with secondary education, and that every year they are sending up increasing numbers to the Scotch Universities. The rate of progress is shown by the Returns of Inspection made on the 30th of September. These seem to indicate that the school boards in Scotland have not much more room for gathering in children. They only increased the number in the schools last year by 11,000. They have completed nearly the whole supply of accommodation for the whole of the children, and, no doubt, the field they have before them now is a very limited one. But the attainments of the children are increasing in a greater ratio than their numbers. The estimated grant in Scotland for 1881–2 was 17s. 6d. per head. They actually earned 17s.d.; and I have estimated for the present year 18s. per head, which will give Scotland 2s. per head more than England. They have accommodation in the schools of Scotland for 612,483 scholars. There are on the registers 545,000, and the average attendance is 410,000 scholars. The percentage of attendance to the number on the Books is 75.24. The percentage of passes in the "three R's" is 88.32, and the expenses of maintaining the schools in Scotland are these—In the public schools, £2 2s.d. per head, being an increase of 3d. per head; in the voluntary schools, £1 16s., being a decrease of 1s.d The grants earned in the public schools were 17s.d. per head; and in the voluntary schools, 16s.d. It is impossible for me to close my remarks about Scotland without saying that that country has done wonders since the passing of the Education Act of 1870. Great as has been the progress in England, the progress in Scotland, both as regards numbers and completeness of attainments, has been much more marked; and, no doubt, Scotland has done more, in an infinite degree, towards the completion of her national system of education than England. Nevertheless, the educationists in Scotland are now looking forward anxiously and impatiently to the further development of their national system. Some localities are, it is said, without the means of higher education. There are gaps that require to he filled up, and which demand, and are receiving, the best attention of the Scotch Education Department in connection with the recommendation made last year by the Endowed Schools Commissioners. The most important and pressing measure for Scotland is the Endowed Schools Bill, which, I hope, will receive the sanction of Parliament this Session. With the power to utilize her endowments, with a Code that admits of increased expansion and usefulness, with the elementary schools linked to the Universities, Scotland will become possessed of a truly national system of education which Englishmen must, I fear, be content, for at least a generation to come, to regard with envy and admiration. I had intended to say something about the New Code; but, at this hour of the morning, I will not detain the Committee longer. I have made a statement which, I hope, will warrant the Committee in granting the Vote for which I ask. I can assure the Committee, in conclusion, that there never was an educational proposal more thoroughly considered, and one where the suggestions made were more carefully weighed and sifted. I admit the friendliness with which the Code has been criticized; and I believe the fears expressed by some hon. Members as to its operation will be dissipated in the first 12 months' experience. I beg to move the Vote of £2,199,863, for Public Education in England and Wales, and the expenses of the Education Offices in London.


said, he did not rise for the purpose of opposing the taking of this Vote, even at that very late hour of the morning; and he hoped the Government would duly appreciate the great consideration hon. Members were exhibiting towards them, especially when he reminded them that when he held the Office of Vice President of the Council he was never allowed to take a Vote after half- past 11 without having every prominent Member of the present Administration dividing the House against him. His reason for not opposing the grant tonight was that about 10 days back, when he questioned the Government as to the propriety of giving hon. Members an opportunity of considering the Education Estimates before the Easter Recess, those Estimates were put down for to-night. It was not the fault of the Government that the whole evening had not been devoted to the discussion of them. The Votes for England and Scotland might be taken to-night; but the Government should undertake not to bring on the Report to-morrow, but to postpone it until after Easter. They had already sufficient money to last them for two months, and the Education Question should be allowed to come on at a time when it could be thoroughly discussed. Would the noble Marquess give them an assurance that the Report would not be put down until after Easter?


An arrangement that would be convenient to the noble Lord would be, that we should not attempt to take Supply to-morrow, but put down the Report, in order, if there is time, that discussion should be taken. If there is not time, then, of course, it could be postponed until after Easter. I would not propose to take Supply to-morrow, but to put down the Report of this Vote after the Committee on the Army Bill.


thought that if the debate on the Report were put off until after Easter, hon. Members would, in the meantime, have an opportunity of consulting with their friends outside the House who were interested in the subject of education. The matter was much too formidable to be hurried over. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) had himself stated that he had intended to go into the question of the New Code, but had been prevented by the lateness of the hour. He (Viscount Sandon) was quite sure the Government would not lose anything by accepting the suggestion for the postponement of the Report.


If it would be more convenient to the House for us to postpone the Report until after Easter we will adopt that course.


said, he rose to call attention to a question which was of some importance to Scotch constituencies. He proposed to move the reduction of the Vote.


The Scotch Vote will come on presently.


said, he wished to move the reduction of the English Vote. If he had waited for the Scotch Vote to come on, he believed he would not have had the opportunity he sought; otherwise he should have been most happy to meet the convenience of the Vice President of the Council and the Committee. He proposed to reduce the Vote by £1,000, in order to call attention to a point on which, he believed, Scotland was rather unfairly treated. There was no allowance made to Scotland in respect of needlework. It was provided for in the English Code. The grant in Scotland was conditional on plain needlework being taught in elementary schools. Article 17 of the Scotch Act was to this effect—that before any grant was made to a school, the Department must be satisfied that, among other conditions, girls were, as a rule, taught plain needlework and cutting out as part of the ordinary course of instruction. But needlework was entirely excluded from Schedule III. of the Scotch Code, and was excluded from the subjects in Schedule IV., for which alone the grant was made, whereas in the English Code there was provision for a grant of from 2s. to 4s. per head; and if they examined the Irish Estimates they would find a still greater discrepancy—£140 was provided for needlework in the Normal School in Dublin; and a salary for an instructress in needlework of £45 a-year was provided in the Model School. The amount was only £39 last year, and it had since been increased. There was also a sum of £ 100 for needlework materials. [Mr. MUNDELLA: Not in the English schools.] No; in the Irish schools. He was pointing out the discrepancy between the Scotch Votes and the English and Irish Votes, and the apparent unfairness with which Scotland was treated in the Estimates. It would appear, further, from the Irish Estimates that a sum of no less than £2,500 was provided for the salaries of 170 work mistresses in the National Schools. He did not mean to say that full value was not obtained for the money voted, and he believed that it was most desirable to teach needlework; but what he wanted to draw the attention of the Committee to was this—that Scotland was not fairly treated in the matter. He had often been told as the reason why Scotland did not obtain fair consideration in regard to these grants in aid was that the Scotch Members were too bashful to ask for them. He wished to impress upon his Scotch Colleagues that it was their duty to ask the Vice President of the Council for some encouragement in this branch, or some equivalent, at all events, equal to that which had been offered to the Irish schools. If he failed to obtain such encouragement he should feel obliged to put the Committee to the trouble of dividing.


remarked, that it had been found unnecessary to provide needlework in the Scotch schools, except where it was taken as a special subject. Where it was taught as a class subject, according to the Schedule, a grant was given, and the same principle applied to Scotland and England equally with Ireland. He could assure the hon. Member that Scotland already earned her fair share of the grant.


was satisfied with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman.

Vote agreed to.

(2.) £358,512, to complete the sum necessary for Public Education (Scotland).

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum not exceeding £291,400, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1883, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Science and Art Department, and of the Establishments connected therewith.


hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would not press this Vote at that hour of the morning (2.30). It was clear to him that it was impossible for the Vote to receive a fair discussion. He was quite aware of the difficulties which the Government had to contend with, and he was not desirous of interposing additional ones in their way; but it was really a serious matter, in regard to the financial arrangements of the country, that, night after night, the Votes in Supply were brought on for discussion at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, and that many most important Votes were passed without any discussion at all. Now, with regard to this Vote, and to the question of education generally, it was most important that suggestions and expressions of opinion should be obtained from hon. Members in every part of the House, in order that full information as to the feeling of the country might be obtained. They had already passed two Votes quietly on the assurances which had been given to the Committee by the right hon. Gentleman, and they had agreed to stop what might have been a most valuable discussion.


said, he thought the subjects involved in this Vote had been very well discussed in the early part of the evening. The debate, indeed, had been almost entirely confined to matters connected with this Department, and he hoped the Committee would now allow the Government to take the Vote. He had been in attendance since 4 o'clock in the hope that he would be allowed to take these Votes.


said, he thought the Committee ought to have some little regard for appearances. Either they had a serious function to perform or they had not, and it was a perfect farce to pass Votes of this magnitude at that hour of the morning. When he filled the Office of Vice President, he was never allowed to take a Vote after half-past 12 o'clock. The Government had already got two large Votes, and had been able to make their Statement; and he thought the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President ought now to rest content. They had so far succeeded without a division, and he hoped the Government would give way.


said, he could not press the Vote against the desire of the noble Lord and hon. Members opposite; but in regard to the remark of the noble Lord that he had never pressed forward a Vote at so late an hour, he must remind the noble Lord that he never had the same excuse.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday 17th April.

Committee to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.

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