§ MR. MUNDELLA
Sir, I am about to apply to the Committee to grant, for the purposes of public education, an amount to complete the large sum of £2,938,930, for the year 1883–4, which, as compared with £2,749,863 granted by Parliament for the year 1882–3, shows an increase of £189,067 for the present year. This sum of £189,067 does not, however, represent the true difference between these two years; for, in February last, we had to apply to the House for a Supplementary Estimate of £42,122, for the expenses of the year 1882–3, which thus reduces the increase on the Estimate for 1883–4 to £146,945. The Supplementary Estimate of £42,122 567 for the year 1882–3 was required in consequence of the unusually rapid rate of increase in the average attendance of children last year; and we attribute that increased regularity of attendance, in the first place, to the influence of the Act of 1880, which made attendance compulsory generally throughout the country; and, in the second place, to the efforts of teachers, managers of schools, and school beards, to anticipate somewhat the New Code of 1882, which provided for payments for average attendances. The rate of increase which was allowed for—namely, 4 per cent, although it was apparently very ample, did not represent that which actually took place in 1882–3, for the real increase amounted to 5.3 per cent. That we are justified in attributing that rate of increase in the average attendance to greater regularity of attendance, rather than to any unusual increase in the number of schools under inspection, is shown by the percentage of average attendance, which has risen from 70.77 in 1881 to 71.97 in 1882, an advance which has brought up the average attendance in the country to the highest point that has been reached in our experience. The increase in the Estimate for 1883–4 is almost exclusively accounted for under the Vote "Annual Grants for Day and Evening Scholars," which now stands at £2,610,000, as compared with £2,423,000 for 1882–3. Our estimated increase of average attendance for the first part of the year is 4.5 per cent, and 4 per cent for the remainder of the year; or, in round numbers, an increased average attendance of 44,000. And we have had, for the first time, to make an estimate of the probable earnings of the public elementary schools under the New Code, as compared with the earnings of those schools under the Code which expired last year. Now, Sir, having data to go upon, we have made our calculations with great care, and, I am glad also to state, with very great accuracy. I am able to say, with reference to the probable grant for this year, that we have taken an amount which, we believe, will leave an ample margin—namely, 16s. 2d. per head. It is, of course, possible that the actual amount of the capitation grant may, by a little, exceed, or fall below, this estimate in some cases; but we hope and believe that in very few cases indeed will the earnings fall below 568 the earnings of the previous year. I am glad to be able to announce to the Committee that the rate of the grant, which we anticipated would be somewhere about 16s. 2d., has, upon a statement of the average attendance of 229,000 received this morning, come out at 16s. per head for the months of June and July, as compared with 15s. 11½d. per head for the two previous months of May and June last year; so that the earnings under the New Code appear to us to be no less than the earnings under the Old Code. It is true that some schools will not earn as much, while others will earn more; those which teach their subjects best will obtain a better grant under this Code than under the former; but those which indulge in a more ambitious programme, and teach imperfectly, will find their expectations disappointed, and will get a smaller grant than under the Code of last year. The principal items on which the Estimate for the grant is based are 16s. 2d. per head for the day schools, and 9s. 2d. per head for the night schools, which were before 8s. per head, or 1s. 2d. per scholar more. There are various items of increase—namely, £3,730 for Inspectors' Salaries, which represents the ordinary increment under that head, and £1,000 under the head of "Travelling Allowances," for increased lodging allowances to Inspectors' Assistants from 7s. 6d. to 10s. a-night; the former amount being too small to enable the Assistants to remain away from, home at night. There is a decrease in the Estimate of £2,880 for the payment of Children's Fees under the old system of the Act of 39 & 40 Vict. c. 79, s. 18, which charge is now dying out; and, at the end of another year, the grant under that head will have entirely expired. The grant for 1882–3, as I have stated, was £2,791,985, and the expenditure £2,791,340, which leaves a saving of £645. The grant for Day and Evening Scholars was £2,465,105; while the expenditure was £2,467,916, leaving a deficiency of £2,811, which is met by savings on other sub-heads of the Vote. The rate of grant for every Day Scholar was estimated at 16s. for last year; and the result was exactly 16s. 0¼d., or an advance of 2¼ d. over that of the previous year, while the Estimate per Evening Scholar was 8s., and the result was 7s. 10d. Perhaps, at this point, the 569 Committee will allow me to give a few statistics of the comparative progress made during the past year. The first point I wish to call attention to is the increase in the average attendance. Children have continued to come into the schools at the rate of 3,000 a-week, being at about double the rate of the increase of population, the number which came into the schools last year being 144,000; while the increased average attendance, which we have been accustomed to estimate at about 100,000 a-year, has been exceeded by more than half that amount, and was last year 152,000. The statement runs thus—out of every 100 children on the books, there was, in 1870, an average attendance of 68.1; in 1871, 68.3; in 1872, 67.9; in 1873, 66.8; in 1874, 67.2; in 1875, 66.9; in 1876, 67.4; in 1877, 68.2; in 1878, 68.75; in 1879, 66.9; in 1880, 70.6; in 1881, 70.77; and in 1882, 71.97. The figures, I think, the Committee will agree with me in saying, show a considerable and satisfactory increase in the average attendance of children at the schools. The number of schools inspected last year was 18,289, as against 18,062 in 1881; and I am able to inform the Committee that the accommodation in 1882 exceeded that of the previous year, the number of children provided for in 1881 having been 4,389,000, as against 4,538,000 in 1882, showing an increased accommodation for 149,000. The number of scholars on the register for England and Wales in 1881 was 4,045,000, as against 4,189,000, showing an increase of 144,000; while the scholars in average attendance in 1882 were 3,015,000, as compared with 2,863,000 in 1881, which gives the increase to which I have already drawn the attention of the Committee of 152,000, or 5.3 per cent. Again, the number of scholars individually examined increased last year by 124,000, the percentage of passes having risen from 81.82 in 1881 to 82.80, or 1 per cent. The proportion of scholars examined in the Fourth Standard and upwards also rose from 26.83 in 1881 to 28.26 in 1882; and I regard it as one of the best features of the year that we are able to announce so large a number of scholars comparatively in the upper Standards. The number of certificated and assistant teachers rose from 44,580 in 1881 to 48,118 in 1882, the increase 570 being 3,538; on the other hand, I am glad to say that the number of pupil teachers fell from 33,639 in 1881 to 28,285 in 1882, being a decrease of 5,354, or at the rate of 6 per cent, due to the fact that the working of the New Code requires more assistant masters. Now, the number of children on the roll of the voluntary schools last year was 2,884,250; while that on the roll of the board schools was 1,305,362. The amount of fees in the voluntary schools was at the rate of 11s. per scholar, and in the board schools 9s. 4d. per scholar. The total amount of fees paid in all schools in 1881 was £1,509,000, and in 1882 £1,586,000; the voluntary contributions having remained very much as they were—namely, at £724,846. The principal points of interest in the Statement I make to the Committee are—first, that the accommodation has increased at about the same rate as in the previous year; and, secondly, that the increase in the number of children upon the register is 4,000 less than in the previous year, and 3,000 less than the increase of accommodation, the percentage of increase of children being nearly the same for both years. On the other hand, the increase in the number of children on the register shows a greater rise than in any year since 1870. There are now places for 4,588,000 children; but I would point out to the Committee that that supply must always be in excess of the demand, because many of them are not availed of; numbers of those in the rural districts becoming less and less availed of, the migration to towns necessitates a large increase there, but leaves an excess in the country districts. I am sorry to say that, according to the late Returns, several counties are much below one-sixth of their population with reference to places, as will be seen when the Report is in the hands of hon. Members, which, as I believe, will be the case tomorrow morning, although I had hoped it would have been before, so as to have given them an opportunity of considering it before this Vote came forward; which, contrary to my expectation, has been taken to-night, instead of next week at the earliest, as I anticipated it would be. With respect to the Standards; in the Upper Standards, there has been a very large increase of scholars, the number having risen from 535,442 in 1881 to 599,029 in 1882, which shows a rise 571 from 26.83 to 28.26 in the Upper Standards. But, Sir, that does not quite show the progress made in this respect. In 1872, the percentage of children examined in the Upper Standards was 17.96, which rose in 1878 to 20.77, and in 1882 to 28.26; but, at the same time, it must be borne in mind that this percentage is calculated on a very much larger number of children in each case. In 1872, the number of children in the higher Standards was, in round numbers, 118,000; that rose in 1878 to 324,000, by a steady annual advance; and in the year 1882 it stood at 599,029, which would show that steady progress had been made in Standards IV. to VII. Well, Sir, although this shows a steady progress, and, perhaps, to the mind of some, a very rapid progress, brought about, as I can testify, with a great deal of labour, there is still a great deal to be done, and I am not the man to stand here and diminish the importance of that work. I have always stated my opinion in this House, from the very outset of the work, that until we have brought in all the children, we cannot expect anything like an educated generation; and that, even then, it will take 20 or 30 years to get a thoroughly educated people. I say, now, there is room for improvement, because there are still 500,000 children who are not on the register; and it seems a matter for surprise that, notwithstanding the numbers who come in year after year, the real deficiency of the country in respect of education should have been so very much beyond the calculation of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), or any of us. We much deplore the shortness of the school life of the English child; if one proposed piece of Continental educational legislation becomes law, that school life will be shorter than in the case of children in any country of Europe North of the Alps. The Belgian proposal is, that no child shall be employed who is under 12 years of age, and that every child shall be at school from the 6th to the 12th year; and that, I say, places every child in Europe on this side of Italy in a position more advantageous than the children in this country in respect of education. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) has remarked how very few children pass the higher Standards; but I say that this 572 is not to be wondered at, when we consider that there are more than 9,000 parishes in England and Wales in which the Standard of total exemption is Standard IV. Out of 304,000 children presented in that Standard in 1881, 130,000 disappeared from the register in 1882; and that process continues, because the children pass earlier and earlier out of school—a steady process of depletion is going on, by which the upper Standards are kept as low as possible. On the other hand, I would point out to the Committee that if the children who now pass out of the schools at an early age, and on the attainment of Standard IV., were retained until the age of 12 or 13, the increase in the number of children in the upper Standards would be something like 300,000 or 400,000. Thousands of these children, when not restrained by the Factory and Workshops' Act, have to begin labour soon after they reach the age of 10; and I have in my hand a statement showing how much earlier than usual children are passing through the Standards. A deputation a short time since waited on me, asking that the standard of education might be lowered in the agricultural parish of Meare, in the county of Somerset. The parish, it appeared, was flooded, and things there were all in a bad way. Standard V. was in use, and the deputation wanted Standard IV. to be substituted for it; and the clergyman of the parish put into my hand this paper, which shows the age at which the children passed the Fifth Standard in 1877, and the age at which they pass it now. In 1877 the average age at which the children passed Standard IV. was 14; in 1873 it was 13 years 5 months; in 1879, 11 years 8 months; in 1880, 11 years 2 months; in 1881, 10 years 10 months; in 1882, 10 years 9 months; and in 1883, the Standard was passed at the age of 10 years and 8 months. The age of 10 years and 8 months was that at which, no doubt, a large number of children in the country left school, and went to full-time agricultural employments; and my fear is that many of these children, when they have attained the age of 13 or 14, will have forgotten all that they learnt at school. I have given a number of figures, which show the large expenditure of money which has taken place, as well as the great 573 efforts and sacrifices which have been made in the cause of education, and I have shown what are the results. These, I regret to say, are not altogether commensurate with the expenditure; and I am, moreover, of opinion that they cannot be so until we make up our minds to bring about something like uniformity of Standard throughout the country, and, at least, to fix a Standard for full-time labour to be applied from one end of the country to the other. My opinion is that Standard IV. should be required with half-time, and that Standard V. should be passed before full-time labour is commenced. Great as are the efforts and sacrifices we are making in the cause of education, there is no doubt that other countries are making greater; and I should like to give some idea of what is being done in this respect abroad. It is against my inclination to read long extracts; but I have recently received Returns from Her Majesty's Ministers abroad as to the state of education in the countries in which they reside, and, with the permission of the Committee, I will refer to some passages in them of a very striking character, which set forth our own deficiencies. There is a statement from Sir John Strachey to Earl Granville, to the effect that in Saxony, with a population of 2,907,000 in 1880, the compulsory scholastic period continues from the sixth year until the scholar has completed 14 years of age; that the proportion of children under the school liability is as 1 to 6 of the population, or, in exact figures, 16.80 for every 100 souls, the dispensations allowed being too few to affect this proportion, which is the standard for children of all ages; that, in 1880, the children announced as liable to school attendance were 493,437, of whom the children in attendance were 492,912, and those on leave of absence, sick, inmates of asylums, &c., numbered 525; so that every child was accounted for. [An hon. MEMBER: In free schools?] No. Saxony has never had free schools; she has the most perfect system of education. The compulsory finishing schools in 1880 were attended by 68,672 scholars; the children who go out at 14 years of age to work attend night schools until they are 17 years of age, or until they have thoroughly passed in the highest Standard. A similar state of things exists through- 574 out Germany. I have a Report of one of Her Majesty's Inspectors, who visited Germany, and the account which he gives of the curriculum in the Berlin schools is such as would astonish my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith). It puts our curriculum in the shade, and is something altogether different from it. The children are required to attend from 7 o'clock in the morning until noon; and every child is expected to go through, and does go through, the whole of the prescribed course. The educational systems of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland, are almost upon the same lines; but what is more surprising than these is the prodigious effort now being made in France. I believe that, for the present year, apart from school buildings, the grant made by the Central Government for Education, Science, and Art is £5,300,000, and that provision is made for 40,000 new schools, for which loans are to be made, and assistance given, by the Government. The City of Paris alone has spent three times as much per head as the City of London for the purposes of education. I am sure many hon. Members are asking themselves what we have to show for all our large expenditure; and we hear constantly the inquiry whether our population is more moral, more orderly, more temperate, and less vicious and criminal, than it was before education was obtainable? Sir, it is idle to talk about the effect of education on the people of the country, seeing that we have only recently got the children into school; but there is, nevertheless, a great deal to encourage us in the success which has resulted from the measure of 1867. The adults of the criminal classes are just as ignorant to-day as they were at the time of the passing of that Act; I believe the percentage of those who read and write well is 2.45; the percentage of those who can neither read nor write is 30.9 of the men, and 40.10 of the women. But there is one phase of the subject which is encouraging. I believe the board schools have done much to remove many children from the streets. Recently, owing to an article which appeared in one of the newspapers, I have had to inquire into the state of juvenile criminality in Birmingham; there are always some people who are ready to have a fling at Birmingham. I sent 575 the article in question to Mr. George Dixon, who was a Member of this House, and respected by everyone who knew him, and who has devoted his life to the education of the population of that town; I asked him how far the article was true. The point was whether indecent profanity was on the increase since the establishment of board schools; and He replied to the effect that he had reason to come to the conclusion that since their establishment there had been a steady improvement in the language and manners of the children of the town. The average of juvenile offenders taken by the police before the magistrates was, for the five years before 1880, 1,373; the number in 1880 was 1,082; and in 1881–2, 842; the reduction from 1,373 to 842 being, I think, a very satisfactory result. But with regard to England, we have an excellent account in the last Report of the Inspector of Reformatory and Industrial Schools. The maximum number of juvenile offenders was reached in 1869, when the number of boys and girls was 10,314; this number fell, in 1875, to 7,212, since which year the number has fallen steadily, and in 1882 it reached 5,483, notwithstanding the increase that has taken place in the population. Then, Sir, for Scotland, we have a similar gratifying result. In the year 1872, when the Scotch Education Act was passed, the number of juvenile prisoners was 1,136, and that number has steadily fallen to 854; and the Edinburgh prison, which used at one time to contain a great number of juvenile offenders, is now almost entirely vacant of that class. Every day I live I become more and more satisfied; and if we are to make any inroad upon the vice and criminality of the country we must commence by taking hold of the children in their very earliest ages, by nipping evil influences in the bud at the very outset of the child's career, and not by leaving the child until it flaunts its vices in the streets, or is brought before the police court. We must take note of the beginning of their association with crime, by remarking their absence from school and the irregularity of their attendance. I look very hopefully to the Report I have received from the Royal Commissioners on Industrial Schools; and I can only repeat, especially for Scotland, where they are very anxious to have Industrial Schools in- 576 troduced into their system, that I hope we shall be able to deal next Session with that question. Now some of the best friends of education think we are pressing too hard for intellectual work. I will not forestall the statement which I am sure will be ably made by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool by going into that part of the question; but I must, for a moment, touch upon another kindred question, which seems to me to affect the health and the progress of our school population. Whatever I may have to say in regard to the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool I will reserve until he has made his speech. My attention has been much attracted to two phases of this question; one has reference to what has been said about the alleged overwork of the children; and the other has reference to the wretched homes in which the mass of the children live, and the question of under-feeding. I am bound to say the question of underfeeding, as far as I can gather, is by far the most serious question of the two. Mr. Marchant Williams, one of the Inspectors of the School Board of London, has, from his own interest in the question, been making very careful inquiry into the condition of all the thousands of children at present attending the School Board schools in London. There is an impression among many people that education in London has not reached the class for which it was intended; that we are not dealing with the poorest classes; and that the School Board of London is not bringing under the system the very poorest, most wretched, and most miserable among the outcast population. I cannot conceive a more mistaken notion, for anyone who takes up Mr. Marchant Williams's Report, and who will visit the schools in Whitechapel, Finsbury, Marylebone, Walworth, or Bethnal Green will be somewhat astonished at the wretched character of the surroundings of the children, and the wretchedly-fed children who are to be found in those schools. My attention was first called to the question by an accident, which I will shortly relate to the Committee. I was referred to a school in the country which is doing marvellously good work, and which has had surprisingly good results among a scattered population, and I wanted to know how those results 577 were accounted for. I made an inquiry of the Inspector with respect to that school, and I will state to the House the result. It was a rural school in Dorsetshire. [Au hon. MEMBER: Whereabouts?] It is on the Coast, at the village of Rousdon; and the results of that village school have been very startling. In 1880 there were on the books of the school 89 children; the average attendance was 76; 79 were eligible for examination; and there were passed 98 per cent in reading, 96 per cent in writing and spelling, 98 per cent in arithmetic, 56 per cent in geography, 79 per cent in grammar, 8 in literature, and 5 in domestic economy. That was rather a heavy programme; but, at the last inspection, which came off some two or three months ago, I find the following was the result:—There were 84 children on the books; the average attendance was 81.6; 81 out of the 84 were eligible for examination, and there passed 100 per cent in reading, 100 per cent in writing and spelling, 98 per cent in arithmetic, 100 per cent in geography, 87 per cent in grammar; while 14 passed a good examination in literature, and 1 passed well in domestic economy. Order, discipline, singing, and needlework were reported good, and the school was classed "excellent." It is impossible that there could be a better school than that.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
It is a National School, which was set up a few years ago by an hon. Member of this House, who, finding the success of the school lacking, the labourers wretchedly fed, the population poor and scattered over an extensive district, devised the means for getting better results than could ordinarily be obtained. He found that the children were poor and ill-fed, and that they could not walk three or four miles backwards and forwards to school two or three times a day, bringing with them wretched morsels of food for dinner, with satisfactory results. Well, my hon. Friend who set up the school perceived that something must be done in the direction of feeding the children, as well as educating them, and he solved 578 the difficulty in this way. He said—"I will give the children one meal a-day on the five days a-week they attend the school, and they shall pay for that meal one penny a-day." My hon. Friend is a thorough business man, and he has kept an account of every penny spent and received, and the result is not uninteresting. I hold in my hand a record of the quantity of food supplied. The account of the expenditure was carefully kept to the utmost farthing; and, at the last examination, it was found that the total number of dinners given to the children was 110,221 from October, 1876, to December, 1882, at a total cost of 107,406 pence, and they were good full meals for every child. If anyone doubts how it can be done, I have hero the items of flour, suet, meat, potatoes, bread, rice, sugar, and every other article consumed in the dinners supplied in that school, the total number of which was 110,221, at a cost of 107,406 pence for seven years. The average of solid food per child was about eight ounces. It could be fairly said that 10 dinners, including cooking expenses and wear and tear, did net cost more than 1s. The girls assisted in the cooking, which was part of the curriculum of the school. I thought I ought to inquire from Her Majesty's Inspector what his opinion was as to the experiment made in this rural school, and Mr. Howard writes—I believe that Sir Henry Peek's experiment has turned out a very great success. What strikes one at once in coming into the school is the healthy, vigorous look of the children, and that their vigour is not merely bodily, but comes out in the course of examination. There is a marked contrast between their appearance and their work on the day of inspection, and those of the children in many of the neighbouring schools. The mid-day meal is good, and without stint. It acts as an attraction, and induces regularity of attendance. In fact, the number on the register is 59, and the average attendance, above 56, speaks for itself; but, besides that, the dinners supply physical material, by which better brain work can be done. The examination hardly does justice to the condition of the school; it gives the number of classes; but does not give the quality. In the accompanying sheets I have put clown some statistics.I will not give the statistics; but Mr. Howard shows that four out of five of the children passed easily. He goes on to say—Their work is most thorough; but, without regular attendance and intelligence to act upon them, much of it would be thrown away. As 579 to the regular attendance, I find there are some children who have been in attendance 400 times a-year. It is not amazing, therefore, that this satisfactory result should have been produced.The Inspector adds that—It is a real pleasure to examine the Rousdon School. Before the school was started, the education of the children of the neighbourhood was as low as in any part of the district.He goes on to describe what was the real condition of the children in the neighbourhood. I do not bring this forward for the sake of complimenting the hon. Baronet opposite the Member for Mid Surrey (Sir Henry Peek); but I want to point a moral, and to show the connection between education and properly feeding the children. This Rousdon School proves that children properly fed, and attending school regularly, not only enjoy a good physique and good health, but that they prosper in their education also. There is no over-pressure on those children, and it proves that there is no over-pressure where there is regular attendance and good feeding. The great difficulty we have to contend against is the lack of these two essentials. Let me refer the House to the case of the Jew's Free School, Bell Lane, Spitalfields. It is a school where the teachers have to grapple with enormous and unheard-of difficulties. There are about 3,000 children, who come in with a very imperfect knowledge of the English language, speaking a patois of two or three European languages, and most of them having some knowledge of Hebrew. The average attendance is 95 per cent, and the work done is amongst the highest in England. They pass a heavier curriculum, and in a larger number of classes, than any other school. The school is in every way excellent. Then, how is it done? I myself asked how it could be done among such a wretched population. The children, when not at school, are employed in selling news, papers, or cigar lights, or lucifer matches. They are poor Jews' children, put to earn something directly the school hours are over, and it is surprising what the enterprize of these people is. But considerable influence is exercised by the benevolence of the friends of the school, who not only pay great attention to the wants of the children generally, but also present gifts of clothing, and in other ways help the children to attend the school. I am 580 afraid that, in this respect, the Jews are very much better than the Christians. In the West End, the Jews do their duty thoroughly by the children of the East End Jews. I wish I could see the West End Christians doing the same by the East End Christians. I have here a statement with regard to three other schools. The first is the Saffron Hill School, Farringdon Road. It is a school supported by 313 families, 182 of which, or 58 per cent, live each in one room only. There are others who live two in a room; and so they go on, living one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and even ten in a room. Fifty-eight per cent of the children of the Saffron Hill School in the Farringdon Road come out of those wretched homes of one room. The Golden Lane School is supported by 487 families, 400 of which, or 82 per cent, reside in one room only; 21 per cent have six persons and upwards in a room. The Tower Street Schools, Seven Dials, are supported by 339 families, 289 of which, or 85 per cent, reside in one room each; eight of these families have nine persons in a single room; and so they range, from one to eight, nine, and ten persons in a single room. I am taking advantage of Mr. Marchant Williams's figures in regard to this question, and he reports upon a considerable number of schools. In the Drury Lane School the percentage of attendance is very excellent. The average attendance is 86 in the boys' department, 86 in the girls', and 71 in the infants' department; 52 per cent of the children come from families living in one room only; 3 per cent from families residing in two rooms; and 12 per cent live in more than two rooms. The were Street School, close to Clare Market, was examined by Mr. Matthew Arnold, and he states that the way in which the boys recited a poem showed that they were extremely intelligent children, and that they had thoroughly mastered what they had learned. Nevertheless, 75 per cent of those children belonged to families who reside in one room only. Many of the children are the offspring of the criminal and vicious classes. The children are to be pitied, and are sometimes found faint from want of food. Indeed, in many cases, persons have gone out to buy bread for the children, in order to enable them to stand the school labour. But if any- 581 body supposes that these children are' better out of school than in, it is the greatest possible mistake in the world. It is the one bright spot in the child's existence; it is his only place of happiness and comfort, and he is under good sanitary regulations while he is at school. He is warm, and well fed, and is subject to cheerful exercises, including singing and physical training, which are most enjoyable to him. Indeed, the children cry when their mothers want to keep them at home, and they cry also when the holidays come. There cannot be a better proof of what is being done by bringing the child into the school. I have only given the Committee facts with regard to three or four schools; but I could give a great many more, and I could show that all over London a fearful state of things exists, and that it behaves people with human hearts and ordinary minds to do something in order to help the children to attend school. I must say that my Friend the hon. Baronet who sits opposite the Member for Mid Surrey (Sir Henry Peek) has set an example which ought to be taken up all over London. There is no country in which so little has been done to help the children to go to school as in our own country—I mean to help them with food and, clothing. Great sacrifices have been made by benevolent societies in America to rescue thousands of children from the streets of Now York and elsewhere. Indeed, the results of those efforts have been something which we, in England, could hardly realize; but we now see that 10 dinners can be provided for 1s.; and if the West End would only do a little more in charity for the children of the East End, thousands of these children might be saved from broken health, and induced regularly to attend school. I am afraid I have detained the Committee too long; but I have very little more to say. 'While I hear complaints that we are overloading the children with work, I should like to say a word to the teachers and managers, as to making their curriculum too hard. I believe that this is not for a love of gain merely, because I find it is quite as bad where the teachers are paid a fixed salary; but it is done for mere ambition—from the desire to be successful in competition, and a desire to stand well with the managers of school beards. The ten- 582 dency is to overload the Time Tables and to cram the children; but I believe it will be found that this system will not pay in the end. The teacher who teaches two class subjects gets 2s. a-head; but he only gets 1s. if the work is not well done; and it is far better to do one well, and get 2s. for it, than to teach two imperfectly, and only get the same result. I would urge everybody not to be so ambitious; but let the aim be to do solid and thorough good work. We have now just entered upon the first Code of the new Act, which I believe will produce greater thoroughness, and discourage the overloading of the Time Table. I know that one thing complained of is the caprice of the Inspectors. Perhaps I may be allowed to detain the Committee for a moment or two, while I state what has been done in this direction, in order to secure evenness and uniformity of administration, and to prevent teachers and managers from being subjected to the individual caprice of the Inspector. To insure uniformity, the country has been mapped out into 10 districts, an experienced person having been put over each; a list of points upon which discretion is left to Her Majesty's Inspectors, and on which methods may vary, has been drawn up, and we have arranged for a conference of the heads of the 10 districts, at which rules of procedure can be arrived at amongst themselves to be applied generally throughout the country. We have also provided for a provincial conference in each of the 10 districts, Cambridge, Sheffield, London, Newcastle, &c., with suffragans to go over the same ground. Arrangements have been made for summarizing the results of the provincial conference, in order that there may be a comparison in successive years. The seniors are to be advised of the results of every three months' work by the District Inspectors, and it is intended that there shall be an additional exchange of visits, and a general supervision of each division by a senior; and I believe that year by year we shall get the examinations much closer together than they ever have been before. I do not hesitate to say that hitherto, in some instances, the questions put by the Inspectors have assumed the aspect of arithmetical problems altogether opposed to reason and common dense. The 583 queries put to the children have been more like conundrums and puzzles, than plain, straightforward questions; and, instead of having elicited the intelligence of the children, they have been of such a nature as to defy them to answer them. We want to stop that, and the only way we can do it is by constant comparison. As it have said, the senior is to be advised of the result of every three months' work of the District Inspectors, and we shall then be able to see all that is doing, and whether anything is going wrong. Arrangements have also been made to divide the duties between the senior and his subaltern, and the Inspectors will be able to go into any district in order to compare notes and see what the examination is. Having done this, we think we ought to insist upon fair trade between the teachers and managers by imposing average uniform tests upon every subject. I am glad to say that from one end of England to the other the interest taken in education is rather increasing than abating. Nothing is more absorbing to the man who puts his heart into the work; he only wants to know the amount of good done under his own eyes, and he is content to see the results of his zeal realized. However people may find fault with and sneer and scoff at education, everyone who has done good work in connection with' it must see the blessed results which have been produced. Scotland has always been the pioneer in education, and the Scotch people are still doing their work exceedingly well, and holding their own admirably. While England is earning 16s., Scotland is earning 17s. 8d.; and I am afraid it will be a long time before we overtake them, either in the amount of our grants, or in the quality of education, and the number of subjects in which the Scotch children pass. But Scotland has got advantages over England. They have a high position of long standing, and the people have a thorough appreciation of education. Moreover, they have a Commission which is doing splendid work in Scotland—namely, the Educational Endowments Commission, under the Bill which passed last year. That Commission is devoting itself loyally and manfully to its work. There are between 200 and 300 schemes already before them; and it is expected that Scotland, by means of that Commission, 584 and by means of the munificence of its people, and by their efforts for education, will be able to obtain enormous educational benefits. There has been something like £150,000 spent for a new technical College at Dundee; and with the endowments from private munificence I believe Scotland will gradually acquire that ladder which will bridge over the gulf between the elementary and the higher schools, and provide technical schools for the instruction of its workmen. There is no lack of educational zeal in Scotland, and there is no question which we could touch upon in regard to which there is so much sentiment as there is in regard to education in Scotland. Then, again, the Welsh people are making extraordinary sacrifices. I have been astonished to learn of the sacrifices made by all classes, and especially by the miners, on behalf of the proposed Welsh University. I am told that hundreds of miners have subscribed £5 or £10 a-piece for that purpose to be paid by weekly instalments. I should not have conceived it possible that such people would have had so much appreciation of higher education as to make such sacrifices from their luxuries and comforts in order to give the children of Wales the benefit of higher education. I greatly regret that the Government have not been able to pass the Intermediate Education Bill for Wales this year; but I trust that early next Session we shall be able to do so. In all the great centres of England new technical Colleges are springing up. An immense amount of public support and generosity has been manifested. Our manufacturers are beginning to find that knowledge is really power, both morally as well as intellectually; and nothing is more wanted in regard to our industry than that kind of scientific education, which will enable our work-people to use to the best advantage the materials they have to deal with. We have not yet acquired the state of things described by the French Minister, who, at a particular time, said that all the boys in France, of a given Standard, were learning a particular lesson; and I hope we shall never attempt a mechanical uniformity of that character. The Royal Commission on Technical Education has now been at work for nearly three years. It has traversed the whole of Europe, making an inspection of every 585 School, College, and University; and the Commissioners have done this entirely at their own cost. I do not know if there ever was a Royal Commission before where every Member paid his own expenses and devoted his time so freely and so largely to the benefit of the public as these Gentlemen have done. I am sure that the country will reap the greatest advantage from their labours. We are in the midst of a time of growth, and I hope of increasing strength, in regard to the education of the people; and, imperfectly as I have been able to place before the Committee the Vote I am asking for to-night, I believe that if we will only be patient and continuous and persistent in our work, in another generation England will have really national education, although the Minister may not be able to put his hand on his watch and say—"At this moment, all the children in the country are learning such a subject, and doing such a sum;" for, as I have said, I hope that time never will come; but I do trust that in our own way, and in our own time, we shall raise English education to a position in which it will bear favourable comparison with the education of the world. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving a Vote to complete the sum of £1,938,930 for Public Education.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,That a sum, not exceeding £1,938,930, 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 1884, for Public Education in England and Wales, including Expenses of the Education Office in London.
§ MR. S. SMITH
said, he rose to call the attention of the Committee to the subject of which he had given Notice—namely, the over-strain on both pupils and teachers under our present system of education; but, in the first place, he should like to say a word or two to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) on the admirable Statement he had just made. He (Mr. S. Smith) could assure the House that if the hearts of other hon. Members had been touched, as his had been, by the deep sympathy the right hon. Gentleman had shown for the poor and neglected children who filled the slums and poor neighbour- 586 hoods of the crowded streets of our great towns, they would join him in the hope that the words spoken by the right hen. Gentleman, and the suggestions he had thrown out, would bear much fruit in the future. He thought it was a great scandal that a country like England, the wealthiest in the world, should have so large a mass of uncared-for and neglected children—a certain source of untold evil in the future. He had no desire to speak on this subject of over-strain in any spirit of antagonism to the growing education of the country, for no one took a deeper interest than he did in educational advancement; and he had done all that he could for many years to help forward the education of the children of the town with which He was connected. He could assure the Committee that he felt great satisfaction in the advancement which had been made within the last few years in the matter of education; and he desired also to bear testimony to the able management of the Education Department under its present accomplished Head, and to the excellent work it had performed. But all things human had their faults; and he believed it was his duty to say that faults and defects of a serious kind had been growing up in connection with our educational system, which were partly a result of the very success of the educational system itself. He had been hearing from time to time, for some years past, of the grievous injury done to children, as well as to teachers, and more particularly to pupil teachers, through the excessive competition engendered by our modern educational system. He believed these consequences were, to a great extent, the result of an ambition to obtain the largest share of the Government grant it was possible to get, and which could only be obtained by pushing children forward beyond their strength. He had himself met with cases of young girls whose health had been seriously injured by the over-pressure of our school system, and it had led him to make inquiries into the subject. As the result of those inquiries, he had within the last month or two come into possession of a large amount of correspondence from all parts of the country, which more than confirmed. the suspicions he had entertained before. Many of the letters, received from competent and re- 587 liable persons, contained such a tale of suffering endured by the children and the Younger teachers as made his heart very sad; and he was sure that, if those letters were read to the Committee, the effect they would produce upon hon. Members would be the same as that which they had made upon his own mind. He would ask the indulgence of the Committee for a very few minutes, while he quoted some extracts, well selected, from the great mass of correspondence which had come before him. He would spare the time of the Committee as much as possible; but it was quite impossible to give anything like an adequate view of the subject without asking for a little indulgence from hon. Members. He would first read an extract of a letter from Mrs. Reynolds, the Lady Superintendent of the Training College for Mistresses at Cheltenham—a very able lady indeed. She said—I constantly hear from teachers of the evils of the present high-pressure system, and it is worthy of note that these complaints come most from the most able and successful teachers. Such often say—'My heart aches for these poor children; it is downright cruelty to drive them as I do; but I must do it.' If one suggests that it would be better to act rightly and wisely by the children, even at the risk of a reduced grant, one is met by the reply= But if I do not drive, and get the grant, the managers will get someone else who will; they must have the money.' I believe the evil is greater in voluntary than in board schools; partly because they have not so good a staff; and partly because the managers are more completely dependent on the grant for their support. It is well worthy of remark that a large number of poor children are unable to use their brains as they ought for want of food, to say nothing of the want of proper clothing and pure air; and yet these wretched children have to be driven and forced, that they may do as much as the thriving children of the well-to-do artizans or respectable clerks.He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman when he expressed a belief that a large proportion of children were altogether under-fed, and that the food they obtained was neither sufficient in quantity, nor suitable in quality, to enable them to comply with the demands made upon them in connection with their school work; yet, as Mrs. Reynolds said—These wretched children have to be driven and forced, that they may do as much as the thriving children of well-to-do artizans or respectable clerks.He would now read an extract from a 588 lady, with whom he was intimately acquainted—a lady who had been interested in the management of schools for 30 years past, and who had herself had charge of a number of orphan girls, whom she brought up and educated. Upon every word stated by this lady he could depend. She said—I cannot resign to any Inspector the value of my 30 years' experience. I maintain that in my almost daily visits to the schools I had the power of looking behind the scenes, which they never can possess. Teachers and pupil teachers are over-worked, and children are puzzled and worried and punished because they cannot rise to the Standard required. There is too much hard work for the brains of girls and little children. I have watched one school through the different phases of its history—1st, private management; 2nd, moderate Government inspection; 3rd, high pressure, which is how I would designate the present phase. The requirements of the Code for Infants and Girls' Schools are far too high. Little children under seven are expected to do things which gentlemen of any sense would be very sorry for their children to do. For instance, in arithmetic, children from five to seven, scarcely able to hold slate and pencil, are required to put sums down (from dictation), requiring a knowledge of tens, hundreds, and thousands. This is done by the poor child, but at the cost of temper and time on the part of the teacher, and of exceeding worry on the part of the child. The Inspectors see the result of this tremendous labour, long hours (far too long long for little brains), and they deem all is well but teachers and pupil teachers are greatly over-worked, and lose spirit and health, and, in some cases, life. I heard from a friend of mine, who had some management in a school at Bootle, of two bright girls, both of whom died of brain fever, caused apparently by the worry of seeking to prepare their classes, while they, themselves, were preparing for examinations.He might say, in connection with that statement, that a great number of deaths from brain fever had come before him in the course of his inquiries, both among the children and among the teachers. She went on to say—Some of our teachers lost their health, and had to give up. If the Code were more reasonable, the children would be able to have more solid teaching in really useful things, tended to fit them for the duties of life.He would now ask the Committee to listen to a letter from Mr. Francis Peek, late member of the London School Board. Mr. Peek wrote to him as follows:—When on the London School Board, I observed a tendency, which I have since found extends to other school boards, as well as to the Government Inspectors, and even the Education Department itself, to welcome every sug- 589 gestion for an increase of the number of subjects taught in elementary schools; and as the Inspectors are perpetually striving to screw up ' teachers and scholars to an ideal excellence in all sorts of subjects, it is absolutely impossible that children of tender age can digest most of them.In regard to that statement, he might say that he had been gratified at the remarks which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman with reference to the subject. Mr. Peek went on to say—As, however, a pass in these brings an extra grant, the result is 'cramming' on the part of the teachers, and superficiality in the children, who seldom retain for long what has been thus 'crammed' into them; while even the little that is retained is in such disorder that it is practically useless. Payment of the teachers by results greatly aggravates the mischief, and the whole system makes the profession of a school teacher a misery, too often destructive of both health and peace of mind. In face of all common sense and experience we are torturing our teachers in an attempt to turn children, with no natural advantages, into painful phantoms of undigested knowledge. I am convinced that we are thus destroying the health, elasticity, and power of enjoyment of the rising generation, and that the certain effect of such an over-strain, if persevered in, will be a sad deterioration of the English people, both physically and mentally.These were very serious and grave words, coming from one who had paid as much attention to education as any man in that House. Personally, he (Mr. S. Smith) was convinced, from the evidence which had come before him, that experience in regard to the present school system proved that its tendency was to weaken the physical stamina and mental power of the children subjected to it, and that, ultimately, it must tend to deteriorate some of those high qualities for which the British race had hitherto been so much distinguished. Some might think that an extravagant opinion; but he would read a few lines from a very competent authority—Professor Gamgee—Brackenbury Professor of Physiology in Owen's College, Victoria University. Professor Gamgee wrote as follows:—Several years ago, when acting as assistant physician to the Manchester Hospital for Sick Children, I had occasion again and again to notice the bad effects of excessive work on the feeble organization of children attending the board schools. Amongst the patients attending the dispensary connected with the Hospital, such cases frequently occurred, especially among girls. Severe headaches, sleeplessness, and other symptoms, characterize these cases; and I have, indeed, often made the observation to persons 590 who have spoken to me of overwork, that the most characteristic and undeniable cases of overworked brain are to be found amongst the children, especially the girls, attending our public elementary schools.He had another testimony, from a very able physician in Scotland, of large experience—Dr. Strachan, of Dollar, who said—My experience, gained during 20 years' medical practice, leads me to look upon the great pressure now brought to bear upon school work as a very serious evil indeed. It has always been found, too, that the continued strain upon the growing brain, when it does not induce disease and death, interferes with the development, and prevents the brain attaining to its full strength and vigour.He believed no truer words had ever been written. Dr. Strachan went on to say—Formerly, only the clever children suffered; but the Code has changed all this. The duller children who form the tail' of the class must, in some way or other, be brought on a level with the clever ones, and alas! for the 'tail.' Prizes have no keen attraction for them. As with the old man's donkey, when the bait hung before their noses fails to tempt them on, they must be whipped up from behind—and a great deal of whipping-up it requires. Still, it must be done, or the Inspector will give a bad report, and the teacher will lose his money, perhaps his situation. The 'tail' and the 'head' must, by some means or another, be kept abreast, and all must equally toil along the weary path of childhood, and be alike worn out before manhood is reached.These were very strong statements, but they only represented hundreds of similar ones received from all parts of the country; and the only difficulty he had to contend with was that of making a selection out of the vast amount of materials he possessed. He did not know whether it would be right for him to detain the Committee much longer; but he had still many interesting papers in his possession, from which he would just give one or two brief quotations. He had one from an able man, known personally to himself, who had long been a schoolmaster. He wrote—By the pressure of the Code I was positively driven from the work of teaching at the early age of 50, the alternative being an early grave, or an asylum. How many younger men have succumbed under this 'reign of terror' (I can give it no milder name), I could relate from my own experience. After resigning teaching, I travelled a good deal in Germany, Switzerland, and the United States, observing specially the difference between the schools in these countries and the inspected schools in England in the following particulars.591 He wished to call the attention of the House especially to what followed:—1. The careworn and anxious look of both teachers and children in inspected schools in England are in striking contrast with the joyous, cheerful appearance of the children in the American schools, especially. 2. In none of these countries is the principle of paying teachers upon the results of the examination of each individual child ever dreamed of. In 1876, I attended an International Congress of Educators in Philadelphia. Most of the States were represented, and most of the countries of Europe. When I described the system of examination in English inspected schools, everybody expressed the utmost astonishment and incredulity, and asked whether Englishmen were mad in this matter.In connection with that subject he had also the testimony of Mr. Oscar Browning, of King's College, Cambridge, who said that—At the International Educational Congress held in Brussels, in 1880, the English system of payment by results met with universal disapproval.He had also the testimony of the medical attendant of one of the largest lunatic asylums in Scotland—namely, Dr. Clouston, of the Royal Asylum, Morningside, Edinburgh—In my professional experience in this asylum, where we have 500 pauper patients, and 300 private patients, and 350 yearly admissions, I have constant proofs of the ill effects on the brain of wrong methods of education.There was other testimony as to the effect of this high-pressure system in bringing about lunacy. Mr. R. M. Chamney, head of the Training College for Male Teachers at Cheltenham, said—I am quite sure that the present forcing system is unwise, and doing harm both to education itself and to the children who are subject to its influence. The best and truest teachers feel its evils most acutely.The Principal of the Sheffield Collegiate School also stated—My predecessor gave free tuition at this school to six boys of exceptional abilities taken from the board schools. All these boys fought their way up the school, and all took high first classes in the Cambridge locals; but just when they appeared to give the highest promise they broke down with one exception.He then detailed the history of the five who, far from realizing their early promise, had become stranded wrecks, and added—This induced me to give up the scholarships.The evil of which he (Mr. S. Smith) 592 complained ran through the whole educational system of the country from top to bottom. From this undue pressure and constant cramming, He believed the children of the wealthy suffered as much as those of the poor, and it had one effect which he regarded as most serious. It was reported on high medical testimony that brain disease among the children in Scotland had risen in the last decade by about one-half as compared with the previous decade—the figures given by Dr. Beveridge in the decade ending 1868 having been 5.8 of deaths from diseases of the brain, against 7.7 in the next decade in eight of the large towns in Scotland. [Mr. MUNDELLA asked what the hon. Member was quoting from?] He was quoting from statistics compiled by Dr. Robert Beveridge, physician to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, which were corroborated by statements made in other quarters; and he was sorry to say they all tended to prove the great increase of brain disease amongst children—a result which he undoubtedly believed to be due to the present system of forcing and cramming. It would only weary the House if he were to go through the vast amount of statistics which he had from various sources, such as Dr. Richardson, Professor Owen, and others; and he would now only state the conclusion he had drawn. He thought that the chief error of the present system of education was the forcing of all children of a similar age to the same point, the attempting to keep abreast of each other strong children and weak children, clever and stupid children, children from cultured homes and children who came from homes in which there was not the slightest kind of culture. An attempt was made to bring all these children up alike to the same standard; and he believed that, physiologically speaking, that was a total mistake. There was as much difference in the intellectual calibre of children as in their physical and muscular powers, as everyone knew who had paid any attention to the subject. One child, at eight years of age, would commit to memory as much as another could scarcely manage when it had attained 16. One child could hardly be taught to spell, whatever devices were resorted to, while another learnt at once. Another child had no capacity for numbers; while 593 others had an abnormal capacity for them. There never was a greater absurdity than to attempt to bring children of the same age up to the same standard of knowledge. It was quite as absurd as it would be to attempt to force all boys of the same age to lift the same weight, or run the same distance, in an hour. There was, he repeated, the same difference in the mental capacity of children as there was in their physical and muscular powers. Many slow children who did not do well in examinations turned out the most robust and useful men and women; whereas, on the other hand, the nervous and precocious children usually declined, and made no mark in afterlife. He believed that it was a well-known fact that a large number of precocious children proved sad failures, and greatly disappointed the expectations of their friends in after-life. He was prepared to say that the Standards adopted by the school beards were, in many instances, a great deal too high—certainly, a great deal too high for poor children in the East End of London. The great evil of the system was that it forced all children to undergo identical training. The schoolmaster was forced to put great pressure upon his pupils, in order to get as many passes as possible in the examination. One who had already screwed his scholars up to the highest pressure was told that unless he brought up the school to, say, 95 per cent of passes, he would lese his situation; and thus the screw was applied harder and harder every year, until, at last, the result became quite alarming. Taking 100 children in any well - conducted school, there would be no difficulty, he believed, in passing 80 per cent of them; but to pass 90 or 95 per cent meant forcing the children far beyond their powers; and, in sonic cases, especially of weakly, stupid, and dull children, it almost meant death. It was a merciless system, and its tendency was quite as strongly felt by the school teachers and by the school managers as by the children. He might state that a great number of cases had been brought before him, in which little children of eight or ten years of age suffered from sleeplessness. They lay awake at night, going over their lessons; and when they get up in the morning they were unable to eat their breakfast, but were quite worn out, and were 594 then forced off to school to begin work again. One lady friend told him that in the village in which she lived some cases had occurred which quite puzzled the doctors. There was a new disease which had broken out among the children. The little things could not sleep at night, and had got into the way of going over the sums they had learnt in school. The doctors could not make it out, until two of the children died of brain fever; and then, at last, it began to dawn upon them that it was the effect of over-pressure at school. He believed that persons with strong brains, and strong physiques, had very little idea of the terrible effect which the system he had described produced upon little children, and especially upon girls. No doubt, if we went on, generation after generation, increasing the tendency to nervousness in the young, especially in girls, we should go down in the scale of nations; and many of the advantages we had hitherto enjoyed from the robust constitutions and vigorous faculties which had distinguished the natives of Great Britain from ancient times would be lost to our country. The New England States had, for a long time, practised a high-pressure system of education; and the result was to be seen in nervousness developed to a high degree, with people pale, sickly, and suffering from dyspepsia. He was told, on good authority, that if the New England States were not constantly supplied with fresh blood from Europe, there would be a tendency on the part of the population to die out. He had hitherto said very little about the pupil teachers; but he wished to remark that the sufferings of the children were not at all equal to those which had to be endured by the pupil teachers. He did not think there was any class of people in the British Isles so overstrained and over-taxed as these poor pupil teachers. Many of them were young girls, who were subjected to a great strain at a time when it was most dangerous that any pressure should be put upon them at all; and yet they were compelled not only to labour in the schools for five hours per day, but they were expected afterwards to study for another five hours as well. And that was not all, for they had not even a Saturday half-holiday. The Saturday holiday was almost unknown to pupil teachers in our large towns. He was 595 told that in the London board schools the pupil teachers had to work from half-past 8 in the morning till 8 o'clock in the evening of Saturday. They had to attend lectures and classes without end, so that life was one incessant grind; and several instances had come before him of loss of memory, loss of eyesight, partial paralysis, and general breakdowns. Many of the cases were most lamentable. He could see no remedy except the gradual discarding of pupil teachers altogether as part of the machinery of teaching, and supplying their places by properly-certificated teachers of older years. Masters and mistresses of schools were also over-worked, and one effect produced upon thorn by the system was irritability of temper. They were so over-worked that they often became quite irritable, and lost their temper with the children; and the school, instead of being a place of happiness and contentment, where the teacher set an example of moderation and calm demeanour towards the children, was one where he gave way to temper, and whipped and spurred the poor children, until the school became—he was going to say a place of torture—but he would say, the very reverse of what they would desire a school to be. It seemed to him that the whole educational system of England was suffering from "cram." He was very sorry to see that we were getting into the way of making every test of human life depend upon an examination. He could not conceive anything more injurious to the highest faculties of man than this system of "cram," which was destroying, to a large extent, the thinking and reasoning power of the human mind. Young people who passed well were constantly spurred on to attain some higher standard, which could only be reached by crowding the mind with crude, ill-digested knowledge, which weakened the thinking powers, and produced weariness and satiety in afterlife. After having passed such severe condemnation upon our educational system, it might be asked if he had any recommendations to offer. He did not pretend to offer any complete panacea for a class of evils which had sprung up gradually during a series of years. The first thing was for the country to realize the extent of the evil, and then the remedy was likely to be devised. There were, however, some points which 596 had suggested themselves to him, and which he might refer to before concluding his observations. He was of opinion that education should have a more direct bearing upon the work of life, and that its object should be to fit children, when they reached mature age, to act the part of good citizens, and to discharge, with vigour and robustness, the functions they would be called upon to fulfil in the world. It was evident that in any system of education which would tend to fit a child for the duties of life, the physical powers must be attended to quite as much as those which were intellectual. There should not be more than three hours per day of pure study or mental work for young children. Dr. Richardson, one of the highest authorities we possessed on hygiene, declared that the time set apart for study should not exceed that amount. He (Mr. S. Smith) believed that Dr. Richardson was perfectly right, and that the amount of work done by a young child in a day should not exceed three hours. Then, after these three hours of mental study were over, he would allow some time to be spent in gymnastics, singing, and other exercises, which did not draw upon the mind. He thought that the Education Department should turn its attention much more than it had done to gymnastics. Let them remember that the playground was just as essential for the well-being of a child as the school-room. They ought to send out a Circular with instructions to all the schools of the country, pointing out what were the requisites for sound physical health. One of those was that the school-room should be cleared every hour, when the windows should be opened, so that a fresh supply of air could come in. He had known of children kept in a small room for an unreasonable number of hours, till the atmosphere became quite foul, in the vain attempt to force the dull children up to the level of the clever ones. In many cases children were kept in school for three hours at a time, without being allowed a draught of fresh air, and they were sometimes detained till 6 in the evening, while the teachers were striving to force on the stupid ones to the required standard. The next thing he would suggest was that there should be a medical inspection of schools. Among the Inspectors there should be a certain 597 number of medical men, who had sympathy with children, and a knowledge of the nature of children; and there might be among them some leading sanitarians, of whom this country now possessed a large number. Then there ought also to be a Commission to visit the various schools in the country, carefully noting everything bearing upon health, consulting the parents, and inquiring as to the various affections of the children, such as sleeplessness, want of appetite, nervousness, &c. He believed such tales would be told to the Commission as the House of Commons little imagined, and then Reports could be laid before Parliament from time to time. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had alluded to the importance of extending feeding schools amongst the poor. He (Mr. S. Smith) thought that nothing was more needed. It was lamentable to think that thousands of children went to school, often without breakfast, and sometimes with scarcely anything in the shape of dinner, and that they sat in school for hours, endeavouring to cram learning into their enfeebled brains. If Parliament compelled persons by force of law to send their children to school, and the little ones were to be forced to undergo such a grinding system, they ought not to injure them in so doing, but should provide them, in cases of proved necessity, with sufficient nourishment to enable them to stand the pressure. He would also recommend the extension of the half-time system. The children who attended school three hours a-day often learnt quite as quickly as those who attended for six hours, and were much more healthy and happy, and more fitted for the work of after-life. If they could devise some means by which they could bring a large number of our ragged children to school for three hours a-day, and give them industrial training as well, he believed it would do much to reduce the pauperism of the country. He knew that these views would be regarded as partaking somewhat of the region of Utopia; but he thought they might have institutions in which industrial and mechanical education could be imparted to the children of the poor in large towns. It was becoming a very pressing question whether they should not give our pauper class an industrial or mechanical education, and thereby fit them for an honest 598 future life. So far as the Inspectors were concerned, he objected to those whom we employed in elementary school inspection being selected from University prizemen, who, unfortunately, had little knowledge of the capacity of young children, and who were more fitted to put questions in the nature of conundrums, than to conduct little children through the simple exercises appropriate to their time of life. He was entirely opposed to the present system of choosing the Inspectors. He thought they ought to have been chosen from the most accomplished and the most successful teachers, who would be infinitely better fitted for the work than University Dons. Then, again, he would prefer that those teachers should be chosen for Inspectors who were fathers of families, and who thus possessed that intimate knowledge of the capacity of children which only parents themselves could have. Lastly, he would suggest—and this was the most important suggestion of all—that not only should we have a medical inspection of schools, but that the grants should be partly dependent upon the physical health of the children. He thought, if they accepted that principle, they would strike a vital blow at the system of over-straining. They wanted something to act as a counter-inducement to this over-pressure—something as potent in force as the causes which were impelling them in the wrong direction; and be thought there would be nothing so efficacious as to make the grant of money partly depend upon the health and happiness of the children. If they had two different influences bearing upon the children—one dealing with the mind, and the other dealing with the body, and each independent of the other—great advantages would be derived. He should strongly favour the medical inspection of schools, so that there should be a proper development of the physical as well as of the mental qualities of the child. In consequence of the want of such inspection, there was a great deal of silent suffering on the part of pupils and pupil teachers, who had no Representatives in that House; and education ought to be imparted under better, happier, and healthier conditions. We were applying sanitary science to our great towns, and we should apply the same science also to the educational system of the country. It might 599 be said that all this might cost a great deal, and that it would add considerably to the expense of education. No doubt it would; but he was willing to face that. The present cost of our educational system was only ½ per cent of our national income. He thought that was an extremely small amount, and he thought a country so rich as ours could well afford to devote a much larger sum of money to the education of its children, and especially of those living in the large towns. He did not think they would regret paying an extra 1 d. of Income Tax if it would enable them to give to their children a healthy elementary education. He apologized to the House if be bad spoken with undue warmth; but he felt strongly in this matter, and he was pleading the cause of the weak and the helpless, who had no voice in that House. He had spoken as the friend, and not as the enemy of education. He pleaded for a higher system, for a fairer and a more harmonious ideal—for the comprehensive training of the youth of the nation, which would better fit our future population for the toil and strain of life. He would venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman now sitting before him (Mr. Mundella)—and he was sure the suggestion would meet the approval of the Committee and of the country—that he should appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the hygienic aspects of education. If the right hon. Gentleman would give some assurance to that effect, he would cause a thrill of satisfaction amongst multitudes of overworked teachers and anxious parents. The result of our modern system of education was to make the machine roll on remorselessly, producing a great amount of suffering among the poor weak creatures it crushed beneath its wheels. Just as the conscription in foreign countries fell heavily upon those who were weakly and unfit for military service, so did the educational system of this country coil, like a huge boa-constrictor, around the children of the nation, drawing its folds tighter and tighter, till at last it came to produce no small amount of real suffering. He strongly recommended that the State should do all in its power to make the school life of the children healthful, happy, and profitable; and, in conclusion, he begged to thank the Committee most cordially for the patience 600 with which it had listened to his remarks.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR
Sir, the subject brought under the attention of the Committee by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) is of extreme importance, and well worthy of our most anxious consideration. Unfortunately, I had not observed his intention of bringing it forward till yesterday afternoon, or I would have been better prepared than I am at present to take part in the discussion. But the subject is not new to me, and it is one which has all my sympathies, and, I may say, excites my constant suspicions. Perhaps I may be allowed to say that no one in the House has raised a warning voice so often, or has written more upon the evils of examination, and upon the dangers of overwork in our schools and Universities, than myself. I have always looked with jealousy and suspicion on the rapid growth of examining systems, through competitions and examinations, and I am not likely to have neglected the changes in our school system as likely to intensify the evil. It is teaching, not examination, which is the great duty of schools and Universities. Examinations have been the only means discovered to test the efficiency of the teaching; but, in themselves, they form, in my opinion, a weakness and a danger in our educational system, and should be watched with jealousy and suspicion. I therefore thank the hon. Member for Liverpool for drawing attention to these evils; and, if I have not come to the same conclusion as he has done, it is only because the facts have been too stubborn for me, and not because I have been disinclined to look upon them in a fair and impartial spirit. The condition of mental work and overwork are the same in the brain as they are in other parts of the body. Every organ is benefited by work, and every organ is subjected to injury by overwork. On the muscles, as in the brain, a fair amount of work improves it. Well-regulated work, when the supply of growing material is sufficient, will develop and strengthen the brain, as it develops and strengthens the muscles under proper exercise. Insufficient work is bad for both. Irregular work, when the brain is stimulated too much at one time, and too little at another, is not adapted to its healthy growth. These are elementary 601 truths; but they bear upon the subject to which the hon. Member has invited our attention. Our national system of education in elementary schools is based upon these truths. There are seven Standards, embracing subjects suitable for different ages. The lowest Standard cannot be passed before a child is seven years of age, and its demands are exceedingly low. Each successive Standard, up to the Sixth, advances by degrees, little by little, each child having a year to acquire the advance. The obligatory subjects, reading, writing, and arithmetic, are certainly very moderate in their successive requirements. By the time a boy is 10 years of age, he is only asked to read a passage, to write six lines, and to do the four rules of arithmetic, with the addition of money. By the time that he is 11, he reaches Standard IV., which is the chief statutory condition of labour; and he need only read and write a little better, and know sums relating to money and to weights and measures. These are all the subjects which the State demands as a condition of Government aid. The pupil may, or may not, take up a class subject; and if he is capable of applying his reading to a little more knowledge of English and geography, he can win additional grants. Specific subjects may be left out of consideration for the present, as they cannot, in the English Code, be taken under Standard V., when a child is 12 years of age. The Time Tables provide that the attention to these various subjects shall be distributed over the hours of attendance, so that the brain shall not be overtaxed by too long attention in one direction. The question now is, are these requirements too high for the great bulk of the pupils in our schools? Among 4,500,000 scholars attending our schools, you must always find some who would break down under any requirements. If you have scholars badly cared for at home, stunted in growth, and under-fed, you will find some who will not prosper under any condition of school life, or, indeed, of any kind of employment; but the question is, are the conditions suitable to the many, though they may be unsuitable to the few? We may try to answer this question in several ways. The first would be to compare our educational requirements with those of other nations which have had a much longer 602 experience in national systems of education. If you do this, you will find that the requirements of the English Code are inferior to those of all other leading nations, both in Europe and America. We give five years to a child to become tolerably proficient in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Germany, with considerably higher conditions, only allows three. Our ancestors did not require five years for such elementary education. In Scotland, where national education has prevailed for centuries, the great educationist, John Knox, only gave two years to the acquisition of this elementary knowledge. His words are—Two years are more than sufficient for to learn to read perfectly, to answer the Catechism, and to have entries in the first rudiments of grammar.With the experience of other countries, aiming to do in three years what we exact in five, with lower conditions of learning, I would be surprised to find that there was any general breakdown of the system. That there have been cases of breakdown I admit, and will presently allude to; but, on the whole, is there substantial evidence of such a breakdown in the great mass of our 4,500,000 scholars? Let us examine the question by the aid of our mortality tables. I hold in my hand the Journal of the Statistical Society for June, in which, without reference to the question of scholars, the mortality of children is given for every 1,000 children from 1838 to 1854, and for the five years from 1876 to 1880, when our school system had got into full play. I will not trouble you with the detailed figures; but the broad result is this—that ever since our national system of education has come into play, the reduction of mortality among children has been surprisingly great. Between 5 and 10 years of age, boys have a lessened mortality in the latter period of 30 per cent, and girls of 33 per cent. Between the age of 10 to 15, boys have a lessened mortality of 32 per cent, and girls of 35 per cent. That finishes the ages of school children; but, lest you should think that the evils of work might show itself as age advances, I give one more period. Between 15 and 20 years of age, boys have a lessened mortality of 30 per cent, and girls of 35 per cent. These are very remarkable results, and they are verified by the figures of the Registrar General, who 603 tells us that, taking all the children under 15, in the 10 years preceding the Education Act of 1870, and the 10 years subsequent to it, there is a reduction of 19 per cent in the mortality in the later period. This is a less percentage reduction than that I have already mentioned, simply because the mortality of children under 5 years of age is included; and in all classes of disease the reduction is manifest, except in brain diseases, which remain identically the same in both periods, having been only one death in 2,000 of the juvenile population—an amount so small that it has no significance in either period. So far, then, as mortality is concerned, the evidence is all the other way. The apparent result of improvements in hygiene is, in itself, only 6 per cent, so that the high figures during school ages must have a specific cause. School life seems to have had a most favourable influence on the health of the children of the whole population. They have been taken out of the streets and alleys, and from the vitiated atmosphere of their own homes, and they have been brought into schools with proper sanitary arrangements, and the benefit to their health has been a surprise to sanitarians from the largeness in the reduction of the mortality. But it has been urged, in the recent pamphlets which have been issued on the subject, that the increased brain strain evidences itself in the augmented number of suicides which have startled the country. Undoubtedly, there is some over-strain in the competition of the world, in our struggles for existence, which is increasing the number of suicides, and these are certainly more common among educated than among uneducated people. But the cause, whatever it is, has nothing to do with our schools; for the number of suicides advances as age increases, up to the advanced age of 65. Among mere children there are no suicides. From 5 to 10 there are 3½ per 1,000,000; from 10 to 15 years of age there are 24 per 1,000,000, equally among males and females, which shows that, at this age, sexual causes govern it, for after that the suicides of females are comparatively small; but those of males are above 300 per 1,000,000 when they reach 50 years of age. The question of suicides has clearly nothing to do with the overwork of school life. On the whole question, therefore, I see no 604 evidence to believe that our school system is doing anything to injure the health of our population, but much evidence to prove that it is benefiting their general health. Now, let me come to the specific cases mentioned by the lion. Member for Liverpool. I do not deny that some of them are genuine instances of overwork, only I object to his generalizations. There is a weakness in the present system; and where it manifests itself, the school managers and the teachers ought not to escape responsibility. The principle of the Code is regular, graduated, and systematic teaching all through the year, and that ought to be the habitual method of all schools. But a lazy or indifferent teacher may slacken his efforts for nine months in the year, and make a very heavy whip to cover his deficiencies for the last three months before the examinations take place. I hear—indeed I know—there are schools where this cramming system prevails. When this system of relaxed school effort for nine months, and excessive coaching for three months prevails, the bad results described by the hon. Member for Liverpool may naturally be expected. It must be borne in mind that the schools throughout the country are not the schools of the State. They are either schools managed by school beards, or by committees of managers. The State simply says to them—"If you do certain work in these schools in a methodical way, we will give you certain grants in aid of your efforts to promote the education of the poor." If the schools lose hold of the principle of spreading over the whole year the graduated education suitable to the age of the children, and allow slovenly teaching for nine months, and then cramming for three months, the responsibility should rest en school managers and teachers, and not on the State. The recent Code was fixed after a year's deliberation by all persons interested in education. All parties interested were heard, and their objections considered—the result being certainly a Code which, at all events, lessens to a considerable extent the probability, or even possibility, of cramming. As compared with previous Codes, this Code rewards thoroughness and excellence of teaching, rather than mere mechanical results obtained. Thus, specific subjects are relegated from Class 4 to Class 5. 605 Scholars may be withdrawn from examinations for reasonable causes without lessening the grants. Children can again be presented in the same Standard for good reasons. Thoroughness of teaching and systematic teaching are well rewarded; so that it is now better for a teacher to teach one subject well, than two subjects only fairly. All this is, at least, in the direction of mitigating the evils of which the hon. Member for Liverpool complains. I trust that the discussion today will lessen them still more; for schools in which they occur will now feel that they are not the result of the scheme of national education, but because they have not sufficiently supervised it in their schools. If such evils result, the teacher is to blame, and the school managers ought to make him responsible. Over the mass of 4,500,000 scholars no such evils are apparent. In the case of the few, they may appear in individual cases; and the bad health of the scholars may be the cause of the breakdown, and not the action of the teacher. But if a whole school, or the greater part of it, shows symptoms of lassitude and overwork, either the teacher is at fault, or the managers of the school who stimulate that teacher to undue exertion. Let the responsibility be understood, and I believe that the occasional breakdown of scholars will be much lessened.
§ SIR HENRY HOLLAND
said, he was sure that those hon. Members who had heard the very able and interesting speeches of the right hon. Gentleman who had last addressed them (Sir Lyon Playfair), and of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith), would feel regret that a larger number of hon. Members had not been present. He (Sir Henry Holland) confessed that he thought the charges of the hon. Member for Liverpool against the existing system had been fully met by the speech of the right lion. Gentleman; but, in one matter, he entirely concurred with the hon. Member for Liverpool—namely, that very close attention should be paid to the qualifications of the gentlemen chosen to be Inspectors. He (Sir Henry Holland) did not believe that first-class men from Oxford and Cambridge necessarily made the best Inspectors; and he thought, moreover, that more care should be taken to secure, as far as possible, 606 greater uniformity in the mode of conducting an examination and of inspecting schools. He was very glad, therefore, to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council of Education (Mr. Mundella) that his attention had been directed to this point; and he (Sir Henry Helland) thought, as far as he could judge from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that the new arrangements to secure a more uniform and thorough inspection were satisfactory. He would now proceed to state the special case which, at the request of his hon. Friend the Member for West Surrey (Mr. Brodrick), who had paid great attention to the subject, but who, unfortunately, could not be present that evening, he had undertaken to bring before the Committee. He desired to press upon the Education Department the case of certificated teachers appointed before 1846 and 1851. The question was, whether some provision could not be made to secure pensions to them upon retirement? The case was, he must admit, not a new one; it had been brought forward more than once; but he ventured to urge a favourable reconsideration of the subject upon two grounds—first, on account of the hardship to the individual teachers; and, secondly, on the ground of public policy, that education was hampered and injured by the continuance of those teachers in their different schools, who, although often incapacitated by health or age, were unable, though ready and willing, to retire, because they could not receive any pension. Now, first as to the teachers themselves. A Minute of the Committee of Council, of December, 1846, enabled the Committee of Council to grant retiring pensions on certain conditions. Many teachers regarded that Minute as a promise of pensions to "all" who fulfilled the conditions. He (Sir Henry Holland) did not contend for the correctness of that view. He agreed with the Report of a Committee which sat in 1872, of which he would read an extract:—Your Committee are of opinion that these Minutes of 1846 were not intended to hold out any such promise; but that their true construction is that which is put on them by the Minutes of 6th August, 1811, and the Circular Letter of October, 1851—namely, that the Committee of 607 Council on Education took power, but did not pledge themselves, to grant pensions.There is no doubt, also, that by the Circular of October, 1851, distinct notice was given to all teachers that no pensions could be claimed as a right. That view the Education Department have repeatedly held, and he was not prepared to dispute it. But, admitting that those teachers had no legal claim, they surely had a strong, equitable, or moral claim. They had laboured long in the service; they had done good work, which now, from ill-health, or age, they could not properly continue. They fell, then, strictly within the terms of the Minute of 1851, which was declared to be intended to facilitate the appointment of competent successors in the place of "meritorious, but incapacitated," teachers. He was, of course, only pleading for those who were meritorious and incapacitated; and that their case deserved most careful consideration and assistance was shown by an Amendment proposed to the Committee of 1872, and only lost by 2 votes, which was to the effect that the case of certificated teachers who had devoted many years to continuous service in elementary schools was deserving of considerate attention at the hands of the Education Department and Parliament. But the misfortune was that money was wanting. By the Minute of 1851, an annual sum of £6,500 was granted for pensions and gratuities to retiring teachers; and that amount was, he had been informed, slightly increased by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) when he was Vice President of the Council. [Mr. MUNDELLA said, that was not the case.] Well, at all events, the amount of £6,500 was continued; but it had not proved nearly sufficient. It had been urged that the teachers should have put by money, and thus made provision for their old age or loss of health. But the salaries were now much larger than they were before 1846, or for some years after that date; and if the point was a good one against existing teachers, it did not follow that it held good against the teachers who were appointed before 1851; nor could it, in fact, be justly pressed against them. So much, then, for the case of the individual teachers. He would now press the claim upon the second ground 608 —namely, of public policy, which it was clear was a very strong one. It would be needless to point out how schools must suffer, and how seriously education must be hindered by teachers continuing to manage the schools, although really incapacitated for work. He had been furnished with a list of some cases, which fully bore out that statement, and lie would venture to read one or two of them. There was the case of a schoolmistress, whose pension was refused on the ground of there being no funds. She was 58 years old, and had taught for 30 years, and she was keeping on the school, though "unfit for work." There was another case of a teacher, who had served about 31 years, and was reported as "entirely disabled." No hope was held out to him, as there were so many claims. Another case was that of a teacher, 62 years old, who had taught for nearly 40 years, and was reported as "totally incapacitated by an incurable disease." His name had been put on the list; but no hope of a pension was held out to him. He had only cited those three cases; but the list would be found, on inquiry, to be, unfortunately, a very long one, containing very sad cases. The evil had been fully admitted; and attempts had been made, from time to time, to grapple with it by some superannuation scheme. The Committee of 1872 reported that suggestions had been made to them for superannuation schemes, not only in the interests of teachers, but on the ground of public policy, which they thought worthy of consideration, and they suggested that they should be re-appointed for the purpose of considering them; but it appeared that effect was not given to this suggestion, and, as a matter of fact, no scheme of superannuation had as yet been approved. Another way in which attempts had been made to deal with the question, or rather to meet particular cases of hardship, was brought under the notice of the Public Accounts Committee of this year. The managers of some schools provided pensions for former teachers out of the funds of the schools. The Comptroller and Auditor General objected to this expenditure of school funds, and raised the question whether it was not irregular, and contrary to the terms of the Education Act, 1870. A Departmental Committee was 609 appointed to consider that and other questions, and they reported that the power given to the Education Department, to grant pensions to teachers in certain cases, did not disable the managers of any school who could afford it from undertaking, out of their own funds, this frequently indispensable condition of restoring or maintaining the efficiency of schools. The Public Accounts Committee, after careful consideration of the Report, were satisfied with the explanation given by the Departmental Committee, and held that the application was within the meaning of the Act of 1870. That expedient for securing the retirement of teachers might, then, be considered regular; but it was hardly desirable that school funds should, if it could be avoided, be applied in that way. He saw no remedy but to increase the Pension Fund. The increase would not be permanent, and would steadily diminish as the ages of the teachers for whom he was pleading—namely, those who were appointed before 1851—varied from 57 to 68. If the Education Department could persuade the Treasury to allow some moderate increase of the present Pension Fund, so as to provide pensions for most, if not all, of the meritorious but incapacitated teachers to whom he had referred, he believed that a very great hardship would be removed; that great benefit would accrue to the cause of education from the increased inefficiency of schools; and that Parliament would readily ratify and approve of such a temporary addition to the present Pension Fund.
§ MR. RICHARD
I rise to move the Amendment that stands in my name, to reduce the Vote by £2,000, the amount of the grant to the Training College at Canarvon, in North Wales. I do not intend to make any general observations on the interesting statement submitted to the Committee by my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) beyond saying this, that it affords additional evidence of the ability and earnestness with which He administers the business of the important Department under his charge. I wish to thank my right hon. Friend for the hearty tribute of respect and admiration he has paid to my countrymen for the ardour with which they are prosecuting the work of education. It is to me a matter of infinite regret, as it is, 610 I believe, to all the Welsh Members, as well as to the people of Wales generally, that the Bill, which I know has been prepared by my right hon. Friend, for Intermediate Education in Wales, has to be postponed for the present Session. But I draw some consolation from the hope held out to me by the Prime Minister, in the early part of the evening, that that Bill would be "among the earliest"—and I emphasize that expression that it may not be forgotten—to be introduced next Session. But the one point on which I wish to make a few remarks is that to which I called the attention of the Committee at some length two years ago—namely, the denominational character of our Training Institutions. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) has published a pamphlet, in which the whole case is presented with great clearness and force. My hon. Friend shows that the number of children in school beards is increasing at a rapid ratio, so that it now amounts to nearly 1,000,000, all of whom are taught on the undenominational system; but that out of 39 Training Colleges in England and Wales, 34 are strictly denominational—that is, entirely under sectarian management and independent of Government control. And what renders that more anomalous, is the fact that 29 per cent of the funds for building and establishing these institutions is derived from the State; while 73 per cent of the annual income by which they are supported is derived from the same source; of the remainder, nearly 14 per cent is paid by the young people who are trained, so that little more than 12 per cent of the whole cost is defrayed by voluntary contributions. Some of these institutions are not merely distinctively, but rigorously, denominational. They all require candidates to submit to examination in the Prayer Book. In some, they are asked if they have been confirmed, according to the rites of the Church of England, and whether they are Church communicants, or intend to be so; and, in certain cases, a pledge is exacted that they will only teach in Church of England schools. Now, surely, there is here gross injustice to Nonconformists—that they can be admitted into these State-supported institutions only by submitting to conditions that are offensive to their consciences. I can give the House an illustration of the 611 flagrant excess to which this is sometimes carried. It is the case to which my Amendment refers, and which has already been brought before the House in a Question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler). There is a College at Carnarvon, in North Wales, presided over by a clergyman, who carries his High Church proclivities to the most extravagant pitch. Quite recently, a young man applied for admission to the College. He was brought up, I believe, in a National school, and had been confirmed by the Bishop, and communicated at Church. But he was of Nonconformist parentage, and had been baptized by a Dissenting minister. This was the reply of the Principal to his application—This being a Church College, none but Churchmen can be received as students. Now, at present, as I gather from your papers, you are not a member of the Church of Christ at all, but merely of the Congregational Society, into which Mr. John Roberts says he admitted you on February 10, 1868. Before I can place your name on the College list of candidates, it will be necessary for you to obtain from your parish priest the conditional baptism which the Prayer Book provides for such cases. When you have sent me this certificate I will write again.The Rev. Mr. Rees, Vicar of Conway, by whom the young man had been recommended, was shocked at this display of intolerance, and wrote to remonstrate with the Principal. He was reminded that even lay baptism had been declared valid. He wrote back, adhering to his decision, and saying that Dissenting ministers were not even lay Churchmen. He added—The various Dissenting societies are not 'Churches,' but 'clubs.' … Dissenting ministers have no authority to minister in sacraments but what is derived from their own assumption of sacerdotal dignity, as in the cases of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.In the course of the correspondence that ensued, he used these among other flowers of speech—Dissenting ministers are in the condition of gas or water taps, whose connection with the main has been cut off.… Their outward sign must of necessity lack the inward grace, and therefore their administrations cannot have more intrinsic value than grace without meat, a shell without a kernel, or a knife without a blade.I quote this trash, not because I attach the slightest importance to it—and certainly the Nonconformists of Wales care 612 very little what the opinion of this gentleman may be as to their orders, their Churches, and their services—but I quote it, in order to point out to the Committee the gross adsurdity and injustice of making the people of Wales, three-fourths or more of whom are Nonconformists, pay for the support of institutions where doctrines are taught so offensive and insulting to their most sacred feelings. This gentleman has been teaching these things for a long time. Twelve or 15 years ago, he published a work designed to prepare the young men under his care for their examinations—examinations, I presume, by himself. Among other instructions he gave them were these—Show that the sacraments, as administered by Dissenters, must be mere blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits. … Show that there is perfect safety in the English Church, and that to leave her for any other Church or mere sect must be a most fatal error. ….. Show from Scripture that a Real Presence is essential to both sacraments. Show that the phrase 'Protestant faith' indicates a ridiculous impossibility.The Committee can conceive whether an institution so conducted is adapted for the Principality of Wales, where, as I have said, the overwhelming majority of the people are Nonconformists, and, where they are not Nonconformists, are, I believe, sound Protestants. It is no wonder, therefore, that Carnarvon College, as a Training School for Wales, has proved an utter failure. Its object was to furnish teachers for National schools in the Principality. But when the Departmental Committee, of which I had the honour to be a Member, was prosecuting its inquiries into Intermediate and Higher Education in Wales, Mr. W. Morgan, Vice Principal of this College, gave evidence, from which it appeared that, out of 33 young men at that time in the institution, only three were Welshmen; and it was made pretty clear that the reason of that was, that a great many managers of even National schools in Wales object to Carnarvon College, in consequence of the religious teaching given there. Now, I venture to press on my right hon. Friend to take this matter in hand; I further press upon him the general question of the denominational character of our Training Schools. If he remains long in his present Office—and I hope he may, for he is the right man 613 in the right place—he will have seriously to face this subject; for I can assure him that there is a growing feeling of dissatisfaction at the continuance of this anomaly in our educational system. There is a storm threatening to gather over his head, for which he will do well to prepare. On those grounds I have placed the Amendment on the Paper, which I will now move; but whether or net I shall go to a Division will depend upon the answer I receive from the right hon. Gentleman.
Motion made, and Question proposed,That a sum, not exceeding £1,936,930, 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 1884, for Public Education in England and Wales, including Expenses of the Education Office in London."—(Mr. Richard.)
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, the speech they had just listened to was in remarkable Contrast to the various speeches they had heard to-night, because it raised a point of very disagreeable controversy. He did not think it would be desirable to go at any length into the matter, and the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard) had given them a good example in the brevity of his speech. At the outset, he (Mr. J. G. Talbot) would say at once that he was in favour of the present system of Training Colleges, holding it to be in accordance with the system upon which those institutions were founded, and on the faith of' which they were built and had been maintained for so many years, and from which so much benefit had been derived by the country. He, and those who, like him, entertained that view were at one with the hon. Member in condemning much of the conduct of the particular gentleman to whom reference had been made. At the same time, he felt it would be ungenerous in him, speaking in regard to a man of whom he knew nothing, and who was not present to defend himself, if he were to say that he dissented from all his teaching, or from the way that he conducted his College. This matter raised a largo question, upon which it would be necessary to hear both sides, the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Merthyr Tydvil being only ex parte, They did not know what could be said by the Principal of this Training 614 College; but he (Mr. J. G. Talbot) must say, that if that gentleman acted upon the remarkable principles, as to the admission of students, which the hon. Gentleman had described in the quotation he had given, those principles were entirely wrong, and he (Mr. J. G. Talbot) was sorry that this gentleman should have adopted such a line of conduct. A gentleman who adopted such a line of conduct as that was certainly a very bad friend to the Church, inasmuch as he gave to the hon. Member a ground on which to found a general charge, which he (Mr. J. G. Talbot) was prepared to show was entirely unfounded, and without any proper plea or justification. He (Mr. J. G. Talbot) had said that these Training Colleges had done good service to the State, and that statement could not be denied. It was a strange fact that hon. Gentlemen like the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, whilst they were fond of impugning these Training Colleges as sectarian institutions, which deserved no pity at the hands of those who claimed to be the most unsectarian, somehow or other never seemed to go to the length of supporting their principles by their purses. These Gentlemen did not come forward to do what Church people had done—namely, to found Training Colleges of their own. That was a remarkable fact on two or three accounts, because he thought that the man who was not prepared to pay anything for his principles did not believe them. The position of these Gentlemen was remarkable, inasmuch as most of the trained teachers in the country came from Training Colleges which were the subject of the hon. Gentleman's animadversions. He saw opposite the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley), who was a member of the London School Board. A great number of the schools that Board had founded—and it was a grave question whether all were necessary—were conducted by teachers trained in these very denominational Training Colleges, and that seemed to him (Mr. J. G. Talbot) the plainest and most positive proof that the so-called denominational training given in these Colleges was not by any means of. that deleterious description that the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Richard) would have them believe. If the training were as deleterious as described, the Colleges could hardly 615 have turned out the admirable body of men and women whom members of school -boards were so glad to avail themselves of as trusted teachers. That, He thought, was enough to meet the assertion of the hon. Gentleman. One thing he was certain of, and that was that when the hon. Member said that a pledge was demanded of these teachers that they would only teach in National schools, he was proved to be wrong by the facts of the case, because where did school board teachers come from? If the hon. Member's speech was left unanswered, it would leave the impression that the system at Carnarvon, which all agreed in depreciating, and which all thought was unwise and injudicious, was, in the main, the same as in other Training Colleges. [Mr. RICHARD: I did not say so.] He (Mr. J. G. Talbot) was glad he had risen, because he had elicited a disclaimer from the hon. Gentleman; but any Member who had heard the speech of the hon. Member would have been under the impression that the hon. Member thought and wished the Committee to think that the system of Training Colleges generally was the system adopted at Carnarvon. He was glad to find that that was not the impression which the hon. Member entertained; and, so far, he was satisfied that he and the hon. Member were of the same mind upon the matter. With regard to Training Colleges generally, they had been founded on certain definite principles; but some of them were founded distinctly on Church of England principles, and there was no secret as to the principles upon which they were founded, any more than there was as to the principles upon which the National schools were founded; and although it was true that a great deal of assistance was given them by the State, that was given on the distinct understanding that they were to be in accordance with the principles of the Church of England. Therefore, he thought it would be a great breach of faith, such as no Government could assent to, if they were even to contemplate the idea of upsetting the foundation upon which they existed. He did not wish to enter upon these matters, which involved questions of theological controversy, which were always painful subjects to discuss in that House; but he felt bound 616 to meet the observations of the hon. I Gentleman, and he hoped the hon. Member would see that he had endeavoured to do so in the spirit in which he had brought the matter forward. With regard to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella), there was one point upon which he could not help thinking his statistics were misleading. He spoke of the great diminution of juvenile crime, and invited the House to come to the conclusion that that diminution was entirely connected with the progress of education. He would not say that the two things did not go together to some extent; but there was a great deal more to be said before coming to an absolute conclusion upon the matter, because anybody who had administered the Criminal Laws knew that juvenile criminals were a great deal better treated now than they were years ago. The sentences upon them were very much less severe than they used to be, and they must not forget the great systems of reformatory and industrial schools.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, he should be glad to think that the great progress of education had led to this diminution of crime; but they must remember that whereas, in the old days, when young persons, whether boys or girls, wore taken to prison, they were put there for a short time, and after being released, and having few chances of doing better, they got into trouble again, and so swelled the number of juvenile commitments; now, on the second commitment, they were often sentenced to reformatory schools, and, therefore, did not again go to swell the ranks of criminals. He only mentioned that, because, perhaps, it was as well, when they heard these statements, not to go too far in an optimistic direction, and think that everything was to be done by sending children to school, but to take into consideration other matters which partially mitigated such statements as they had heard. There was one point upon which he should like to hear what the members of the London School Board had to say. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had, as he understood, challenged those who disputed the work of the Loudon School 617 Board—or, at least, who did not believe that the Board had clone enough. It was untrue, he said, to say that the Board had not got hold of the classes for which it was primarily founded—that was those whom other agencies had not gathered together—and he had given some harrowing pictures of the wretched condition in which many of the children lived—all to show how thorough was the work of the School Board. [Mr. MUNDELLA: A portion of them.] He knew that; but what he wanted to hear from the members of the board was this. He thought it was much to be regretted that, after all the agencies and energies of the School Board, they still had not reached the residuum, and that a large number of children were wandering about who ought not to be wandering about. He wanted that admitted, because then there would be something upon which to found future exertions. He should not be disposed to endorse all that the advocates of the School Board contended, when they pointed to their energetic action, and said they were the only people who could do this work. The London School Board had a power which no other body had of dealing with these children, and it was their duty to sweep up all the leavings of every other system. He did not say it was an agreeable duty; but it was a duty which the State had imposed upon them, and he was afraid they had neglected that duty. The House would probably hear more when the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) brought on his Motion as to the rival proceedings of school beards in competition with other systems, and as to the question whether school boards were extravagant or not; but he thought that when a school board rated a district to the extent the London School Board rated the people, they ought to be able to show that they had spent their energies in doing that which was their special work, and not in drawing away children from other schools. That was the charge he wished to put before the members of the London School Board, to see if they could meet it in a satisfactory manner. He had heard it said that the principle upon which that School Board acted was to say that a voluntary school was in default in not providing the accommodation it ought to provide, and in having fees that were too high. He had heard, for instance, that in a 618 fairly well-to-do district in London, where the people were able to pay reasonable fees, and where the fees in the voluntary schools were something like 4d. a-week, the School Board had said that these schools did not properly provide what was required, and, therefore, they should consider them as nonexistent, and provide another school for the children whose parents could afford to pay 4d. a-week. If that statement was correct, the school beards were not doing what they were intended to do when they were established under the Act of 1870. He challenged those responsible for the Act to say whether that was the principle they intended to adopt? Then he had heard it said that because voluntary schools were not filled to the brim they were not doing proper work, and that the fact that they were not absolutely full showed that they were not appreciated by the people in the district; and, therefore, they were condemned. If these were the principles of the Board, he did not wonder that the rates were so high. He only wondered that the Education Department did not put some check upon these extravagant proceedings. It was said with regard to the Board—"Why do you complain of extravagance, when, after all, you have the matter in your own hands? You need not send to the Board these extravagant representatives." That was natural, perhaps, in theory; but it would not work in practice, because the opinion of the people who elected the members of the School Board were the parents of the children who wore sent to the schools; and, therefore, it would be almost contrary to nature that they should not be willing to send their children to school at someone else's expense, and tax other people as well as themselves. He made these remarks in all good feeling towards the Board, for he knew that they had a difficult and an arduous task, and, no doubt, the members of the School Board would have an opportunity of correcting any misstatements; but this was a matter which he thought should be brought under the notice of the Education Department, for if educational burdens were pressed upon the people too heavily, there was likely to be a reaction against education altogether. The right hon. Gentleman had given some parallels by which, appa- 619 rently, he wished to impress the minds of hon. Members with the idea that we as a nation had not done our duty in some respects, as some other countries had. We ought, no doubt, to be willing to take example from other countries; but he (Mr. J. G. Talbot) was not at all sure that the English people would desire to see their sons and daughters grow up in the moral and physical condition of those of some of the countries mentioned. Certainly, when the right hon. Gentleman spoke of France, and the amount of money she had spent on education, He could not help considering whether a great deal of that money had been spent in consequence of the extraordinary conduct of the French Government, which had lately been irritating and discountenancing the voluntary agencies which had been so long engaged in teaching the children. That policy, he thought, had caused more expenditure on the part of the State; and if that was so, he did not think the example of France would go far to encourage this country in extravagant expenditure. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that in Belgium children were kept in school from 6 to 12; but, surely, the time of an English child was much longer. [Mr. MUNDELLA: That is the minimum.] Perhaps that was so; but the right hon. Gentleman put the minimum against the average of an English child. A great many English children went to school before they were 6, and remained after 12. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the advantage to children of being able to leave school at an early age, he could not help thinking that was a remarkable thing, and likely to make people oppose a system of compulsion under which children left school very much earlier than they used to do. He did not say they could avoid compulsion altogether; but it was a little remarkable that, under a system of non-compulsion, children remained longer at school than they now did.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, it was easy to say that; but he was speaking of children whose parents used to keep them longer at school than they now did; and this class of children were now 620 being taken away earlier, because they treated the minimum as the maximum. They wore now taken from school at 11 or 12 years of age, partly because they could by law be taken away at that time, and partly because of the pressure of the work. The right hon. Gentleman had also stated—and very interesting it was—that children now reached the higher Standards earlier than formerly; but he (Mr. J. G. Talbot) would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider, if that was so, how great must be the pressure upon these tender brains for them to reach the Fourth and Fifth Standards two or three years earlier, and whether their infant energies were not unduly pressed under the present system. Everyone must feel grateful to the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) for bringing forward this question. The over-pressure of children and teachers was a matter seriously deserving the attention of the Committee, and he was delighted that the matter had been brought forward, especially by a Gentleman on the other side, who could not be supposed to have brought it forward in any spirit of hostility to the Government. In fact this was not a matter for Party feeling, but one upon which all Parties should be united. Looking at the different conditions under which children of the upper and middle classes pursued their education, and the number of years they had in which to mature their education, and considering how shocked people must be at seeing pressure put upon those children in the elementary schools, he thought the right hon. Gentleman ought to carefully bear this matter in mind. Then, with regard to the teachers, it was a matter for serious consideration whether we were not weakening the staff of those to whom we should have to look hereafter for educating our children. He was afraid that, if this was inquired into, it would be found that a great many of the pupil-teachers and younger students in our Training Colleges were being pressed to an extent which would be very distressing indeed, if it could be followed to its results; and that was especially the case with regard to female teachers. These young women, at an age when they had scarcely emerged from their childhood, had to fix all their energies upon subjects which were forced upon them by the Education Department; and they 621 were injured, not only by the pressure of acquiring knowledge, but by pressure arising from feeling that their livelihood depended on their passing the numerous examinations. This was a matter which seriously deserved the attention of Parliament. He was sure all would agree in rejoicing that education was making progress in this country, and he hoped that that would continue.
MR. LYULPH STANLEY
said, that this was not a debate upon the London School Board, but on the Vote for the Education of the country; and he should confine himself, as far as possible, to that question. He wished to speak in support of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard), because that hon. Gentleman had illustrated, by special instances, what he (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) considered a crying evil. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. G. Talbot) was wrong in his information as to the Church Training Colleges. He (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) would refer to two Training Colleges which the hon. Gentleman should know something about. One was Culham College, the Diocesan College for Oxford; and, there, candidates were required to produce a certificate of character from a clergyman or managers, and a certificate of baptism; and teachers were required to make a declaration that they would follow the profession of Church teachers in elementary schools. That, he thought, must mean that they would teach in Church schools; because no College would wish to exact from teachers that when they entered school board schools they would pursue their profession as Church teachers. They were also examined in the Old and New Testaments. It was bad enough to make baptism a test; but, at Carnarvon, in the case of this young man, who had been baptized and confirmed, and had become a communicant at Conway, the fact of baptism was not considered sufficient. The test of baptism did not affect the conscience of a candidate, because, as a rule, people were baptized as infants; but the test of being a communicant led directly to hypocrisy, and many years ago Parliament came to the conclusion that it was not only demoralizing, but degrading, to make the communion a test. The other case he would mention was Whiteland's College for Mistresses, and there the candidates were supposed, 622 after training, to educate children in the principles of the Church of England. That appeared in a printed form; and it must be construed, he supposed, that they would take situations in Church schools, if requested; but he did not suppose that it meant that they would make a propaganda of Church principles if they were engaged in school board schools. Returns upon the subject of the tests imposed on candidates had been furnished by the London School Board in 1880; and there was no doubt that, since they had been before the public, the authorities of the Colleges had been more careful in what they said in answer to applicants. He was referring to what was the rule, when, comparatively lately, information was asked for with reference to this matter. They had been told that the Training Colleges had done good service to the cause of education. Everyone, of course, knew that, as a general rule, a trained teacher was better than an untrained teacher, although there were exceptions to that rule, and sometimes persons were found who made good teachers without having been trained. Every good school manager, however, would prefer a trained teacher to an untrained one; but this matter of training was practically the monopoly of the Church Colleges. It was a well-known fact that the great bulk of training accommodation in this country was Church accommodation — ["No, no!"] — and as an hon. Gentleman near him appeared to dissent from that view, he should be glad to forward him the pamphlet he had written on this subject, by which the hon. Member would see the precise amount of denominational and undenominational training accommodation, in proportion to the denominational and undenominational schools. He maintained that a great injustice was inflicted on the students who, failing to get into undenominational Colleges, were obliged to go to denominational Colleges, in some of which the teaching was of little value. In the Training Colleges he had been referring to, the students were expected to have been confirmed and to be communicants; they had no option, and must submit to the whole Church system. He was aware that, in the present congested state of Public Business, it was not possible to raise this question in a suffi- 623 cient manner and in the way in which it would have to be raised hereafter; but he could assure the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, that he would make a great mistake if he supposed that there did not exist a strong feeling upon this subject out-of-doors, because a sense of grievance did exist, and a strong belief that injustice and injury was done in this matter, which could not but tend to impair the efficiency of education throughout the country by the existing practical monopoly. It was said that those who objected to the practice at the Church Colleges should establish Colleges of their own. He remembered that, some time ago, Lord Cranbrook delivered a speech in that House, in which he spoke of "those miserable philosophers who never paid anything in support of their principles;" but he could assure the Committee that he and his hon. Friends thought very little of that taunt. He came now to the palliative which the Vice President of the Council had applied to this evil, and upon which he had bestowed so much praise; and he was sure hon. Members would give him (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) credit for correctness, when he said that the right hon. Gentleman was not at all inclined to do anything to change the present system. The right hon. Gentleman had announced his intention of supporting that system as it stood; but, for the moment, there had been a slight concession put into the Code in Article 110, and to the inadequacy of that Article to meet the evil complained of he desired to draw the attention of the Committee, in the hope that before the Code was brought out, one or two alterations would be made, which would give substantial effect to the offer which it professed to make. The proposal was to pay £10 or £15 to managers who would take a pupil-teacher into their service and furnish them with the instruction necessary to enable them to pass the certificated examination. The first blot on the proposal was that the payment was only to be made for the assistant teachers required to make up the minimum staff of the school according to the Code, which was distinctly deficient. The Education Department was aware that no school managers could do justice to the requirements of the Code, if they had to work with the miserable staff 624 under the Code, which counted a certificated assistant teacher for 80, an ex-pupil-teacher for 60, and the head master for 40 pupils. He did not believe that a single good manager of a school could be found who attempted to work his school with the minimum staff of the Code. His next objection to this article was that the pupil-teachers were required to serve three years in the same school. He thought, if these persons served three years under the same employers, no more could be reasonably asked of them. He hoped these points would be borne in mind by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council; and, although he (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) could not promise him any abatement in their agitation to secure equal justice in the matter of Training Colleges, anything that was done for the young people in question would be greatly appreciated. He sympathized with the New Code, which he regarded as a great improvement on the last; and he believed it would tend to the great object of thoroughness of teaching, which they had in view. But it gave a tremendous power to the Government Inspectors; and that made it all the more necessary that the Department should be very careful in their appointment of Inspectors. He did not agree with the remarks of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Henry Holland) on the subject of Inspectors, his experience being that whenever there was any complaint of the Inspectors and the way they did their work, they were generally due to the conduct of Inspectors' assistants taken from the ranks of the elementary teachers, and not from the ranks of the Inspectors. He pressed his right hon. Friend to consider that the better the Inspector, the greater his enthusiasm in education, and the more likely he would be to impose his ideas upon Schoolmasters and managers. That was the danger. It was to be feared that they would cease to be School Inspectors, and become School Organizers imposing their methods on the schools. While he rejoiced in the work done by the Department in the cause of education, he could not desire the present relations of the Education Department to the schools of the country to be permanent; moreover, he was jealous of centralization in this matter, and looked forward to the time when the Central 625 Department would exercise less authority, and when more would be left to the free action of the localities. He hoped the Department would bear in mind, and would continuously impress on their officers, what was set forth in a Circular issued to them some years ago—namely, that they were Inspectors only, and were not to interfere with the management of the schools. As an illustration of what he considered interference on the part of the Department, he would mention the Circular issued last year, in which an order was given that the names of the children should be kept on the register for six weeks. He maintained that that was going beyond the proper province of the Department, and that they might have guarded against that which they desired to prevent by saying that every child on the register should be examined, or accounted a failure. He was sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council speak of our ambitious programme, because he had admitted that it was a poor and paltry Code as compared with the Codes on the Continent; and he (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) could not but think that the right hon. Gentleman had been a little frightened by the cries of over-education that had been heard from the Front Opposition Bench. There seemed to him a disposition to shrink from a liberal programme, and they were told by the right hon. Gentleman that it was impossible for a boy to take up specific subjects in the Fourth Standard. Why, then, did he allow scholars in the Fourth Standard to take up specific subjects in Scotland? He was sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that a halftime system should be introduced, to begin uniformly when the child had passed the Third Standard, because he (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) thought it would be better that the Standards should be raised. He objected, where school beards had a higher standard of exemption to the extension of half-time compulsorily, to a lower Standard. As regarded any over-strain, he did not believe that anything of the kind existed in the schools, except where it was the natural result of underfeeding, and the miserable state of the children's homes. But in one Department there was over-straining, and that was in the case of the pupil-teachers, and especially the girl pupil-teachers, who 626 had to teach all day, and study at night, when they ought to be in bed and asleep. The cause of that was in the mistaken economy which underlay the educational system of the country. The amount we spent per head upon education was paltry and miserable as compared with what it should be; and if hon. Members looked at the system of Switzerland, Germany, and Holland, they would find a much more liberal scale of expenditure. It was true that abroad teachers were not paid so much in money as in England, because labour was not paid for on the Continent so highly as it was in England; but the salaries of teachers were nearer the English level than were the salaries of School Inspectors and of officials in the Education Department. The fact was, we were teaching children by means of children, who ought to be themselves learners and not in the position of teachers; and he should be glad if a system could be introduced, with as little delay as possible, which would allow the pupil - teachers to work in school for half the day, and devote the rest of it to their own studies.
§ MR. H. T. DAVENPORT
said, he should like to call the attention of the Committee to the unsatisfactory condition of many private schools in towns and country districts that were outside the purview of the Act. He ventured to say that these stood in need of a much larger amount of control than was at present bestowed upon them. In the discharge of his duty he had visited 200 or 300 of these schools, when he was appointed Inspector of Returns in 1870, and he had, upon his experience, formed a strong opinion that, in the interest of education, they ought to be suppressed. He ventured to suggest that the schools he was referring to should be inspected and reported upon, both to the Department, the Home Office, and to the magistrates of the district; and that, in the event of the schools not being reported efficient, and the managers not cooperating with the Education Inspectors, the certificates for half-time given by them should not be recognized by the Factory Inspectors. Further, he believed that if pressure were put on the magistrates, asking them not to receive the excuse given by parents, when summoned before them, that their children were attending one of these wretched 627 establishments, it would tend to their suppression, and produce a most beneficial result. He did not want to weary the Committee by detailing the miserable conditions on which the schools were carried on; but he might mention that the majority of them were held in the back kitchens of cottages, in the lofts over stables, and generally in places devoid of all educational appliances. Then, as to the teaching, he had known instances of schools being kept by women who could neither read nor write, and by people unable to give any sort of education at all; while, with regard to those kept by persons capable of imparting knowledge and instruction, the teachers were, for the most part, people who had failed in every other walk of life, or who, as teachers, had been dismissed from their situations for incapacity and dishonesty. Moreover, these places stood in the way of the school beard, inasmuch as they afforded a refuge to which parents could send their children, in order that they might escape the attention of the school board officers. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would institute an inquiry into the condition of these schools, and that he would devise some system under which a careful examination of them could be made, allowing those that were properly conducted to remain, and putting down with a strong hand those establishments which were a great hindrance to the cause of education, and a fraud upon the parents.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, he thought it would be desirable that some further time should have been allowed the Committee to consider the general statement with regard to this Vote before discussion upon it took place. There were one or two points to which he would call the attention of the Committee and the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council. The subjects taught in the elementary schools were divided into three classes. First, the obligatory subjects—reading, writing, and arithmetic; secondly, four class subjects—history, geography, English, and elementary science; and, thirdly, a certain number of optional subjects, which could only be taken by the elder children. With regard to the latter, he would say nothing; and with reference to the specific subjects he would only, 628 in passing, express his regret that the right hon. Gentleman should have pre. vented these subjects being taken up in the Fourth Standard, and have confined them to the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Standards, contrary to the practice in Scotland, which had led to satisfactory results. He had received a letter from the Secretary to the Liverpool School Board, expressing the great regret of the Board at the change which had been made by the Education Department, and which had deprived the children of that town of a system of education that had been found to be very advantageous to them, 2,000 children having been presented for examination in specific subjects while in the Fourth Standard. He did not for a moment wish these subjects to be made obligatory in the Fourth Standard; but the point was one which might safely be left to the discretion of school beards and committees. Passing from this to the class subjects—namely, history, geography, English, and elementary science, of which only two might be taken up, he complained that the study of grammar was made an arbitrary subject. The effect of this he believed the Committee would see would do nothing less than discourage the study of elementary science in National schools. His right hon. Friend said it was desirable that one subject should be taken up before another was dealt with; but did his right hon. Friend mean to say that no child was to be taught arithmetic and geography until he had a thorough knowledge of history? If not, thee there was no reason why three subjects should not be taken. Great progress in science could not, of course, be made in the case of children; but what they were taught could be taught thoroughly—that was to say, they could be well grounded in it, which was a very different thing to having a mere smattering of the subject. He hoped the time would come when no child would leave an elementary school without having a grounding in elementary science, in history, and the other subjects. He might observe that Canon Mosely, in one of his Reports, supported this view, when He said—In an elementary school, the learning o: one thing aids the learning of another; and if various things be taught, not only is the knowledge thus acquired greater in respect to the aggregate, but in respect to each element.629 Everyone knew that you could not keep children to one subject; you must give them variety, or they got tried, and really ceased to learn what they were being taught. Variety in mental diet was as necessary as variety in bodily diet; and, for his own part, he thought that three subjects might be as easily learnt as two. That, however, he was willing to leave to the discretion of the school board authorities. Having listened to the remarks of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) on the subject of overstraining, the Committee might think that he, in advocating elementary science, was advocating something which involved a further strain on the children; but that was not the case, because, if there were any strain at present, it was due to the character of the knowledge now imparted, which was almost always derived from books. Over-education might, he admitted, be a real danger if it were purely literary. English poetry, history, lists of dates and kings, battles, names of places, and outlines of maps, all tended to tax the memory; and he believed it would be found that elementary science would constitue a relief, rather than a further tax upon the mental capacities of children. Under the present Code, however, the number of class subjects being limited to two, and grammar being obligatory, he feared that elementary science would be practically excluded. In fact, the study of science was a rest to the children; and that was, no doubt, one reason why it was so popular. He found, in taking a vote at one school, that of the four subjects—history, geography, grammar, and elementary science, over 60 per cent of the children preferred the science, 16 per cent the history, 13 per cent the arithmetic, 10 per cent the geography, and not 1 per cent the grammar. That was, of course, no reason against teaching the latter subject, but it was a strong argument in favour of teaching elementary science. They knew that half-time schools were very successful, notwithstanding the shortness of the hours devoted to study, because the physical training benefited the children; and he believed that science, properly taught, far from interfering with the other subjects, would positively benefit them. He hoped hon. Members would not be carried away by the somewhat ambitious title of "elementary science." It meant 630 nothing difficult, or abstruse, nothing beyond the limits of a child's apprehension or the range of his observation; but, on the contrary, simple explanations and illustrations of the every-day facts of Nature which came before him. It was a curious illustration of the manner in which they were often misled by words. If they only had in their language some simple title for the explanation of common things, he doubted whether anyone would for a moment propose to exclude such a subject from their schools. Dr. Crosskey, Chairman of the School Management Committee of the Birmingham School Board, had favoured him with a very interesting memorandum on the mode and results of the scientific teaching in that town, where about 2,500 were now receiving such instruction. The results had been most remarkable and satisfactory. The effect had been to raise the whole intellectual life of the children. They took a most keen interest in the ministrations afforded them; and this was, perhaps, more strikingly the case in the the lowest parts of the town, and among the very poorest children. The keenness of observation taught them by the constant struggle for existence seemed to make them enjoy all the more vividly the new world thus opened to them, and they really revelled with delight at the result of the experiments shown them. Scholars who were irregular in their attendance on other days were always most regular on the days when the science lessons were to be given. There had been one rather amusing result of the science lessons in Birmingham. A remarkable social change had been brought about in particular parts of that town, for the Scripture lessons had led to an alteration of the washing day. That day happened to fall on the day on which the science lesson was given, and the mothers found it impossible to keep their daughters at home, so determined were they not to lose that particular lesson. The parents had, therefore, completely to alter their domestic arrangements on that day. It was evident that intellectual tastes were fast being aroused which would lead the children, when they should leave school, to pass into the various evening classes. The experience of Birmingham was the same as that of Liverpool and other places. The classes which distinguished 631 themselves most in the elementary science teaching also did best in the other subjects, the children's minds being quickened in every way by the scientific training. It was hardly necessary to point out how evident it was that we had in the great mass of our population a store of latent scientific capacity, which only needed the opportunities of cultivation to render it most useful in developing the resources of the country. Moreover, in this matter the idiosyncracies of schoolmasters ought to be considered. It was, no doubt, possible to render grammar very interesting. A master who could do so would, probably, take this idea up; but to force it on everyone, irrespective of circumstances, would surely be a very great mistake. There was one other reason he would urge, and that was the desirability of leaving, as far as possible, freedom of action to school beards and committees. When we had bodies like the School Boards of London, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester, it was surely ridiculous to dictate to them on such matters. He thought he might claim the vote of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross). In a recent article in The Contemporary Review, that right hon. Gentleman had said—The functions of the Local Government Board and of the Central Authorities had, in some instances, been pressed too far, and more license and liberty of action might fairly be left to the several local authorities.He thought he might also claim the sympathy of the Prime Minister, because, in the debate on "Grants in Aid," on the 17th of April last, the right hon. Gentleman had said—One of the greatest objections I entertain to this method of subvention is founded on its tendency to promote centralization, the greatest of all evils, and the most menacing, in my opinion, to liberty with which the country can be threatened."—(3 Hansard,  520.)He would, therefore, ask his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) not to promote this "greatest of all evils." He hoped the Committee would not suppose that the expression "elementary science" meant anything difficult or abstruse. It referred only to simple explanations of the ordinary facts of Nature; and he earnestly commended the subject to the 632 attention of his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council, because the Code as it stood was an unnecessary interference with local self-government, and directly tended to exclude the book of Nature from our National schools.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, he did not wish to discuss the details of education; but he desired to say a word or two upon the general question which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) had alluded to at the commencement of his speech. That hon. Gentleman had said that the question before them was that of a grant of public money for the purposes of National Education; and he (Mr. H. H. Fowler), taking, as he did, rather a gloomy view of that subject, would like to say a word upon the state of affairs as disclosed by his right hon. Friend that evening. His hon. Friend the Member for Oldham had expressed his dissatisfaction at the amount which was being spent in that country upon National Education, and had intimated that Parliament was guilty of having acted in a miserable spirit of economy. Now, the figures did not carry out this statement, because last year there was spent, in elementary education, £6,500,000. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Mundella) had moved that night the largest Vote that had ever been moved in the House of Commons for the purposes of National Education. It must be borne in mind that, besides the Government grant, there was raised last year £1,834,000 by school rates. Therefore, in dealing with this question of National Expenditure for Education, they had staring them in the face the fact that, last year, £6,500,000 was spent on the elementary education of the children of the people of this country, of which £4,250,000 was being raised by public taxation. In putting these figures before the country, He did not want it to be understood that he defended a penurious system of education. He knew no expenditure, if satisfactorily managed, which would give a better return, or be attended with a more satisfactory result, than the expenditure upon education; but he thought, as administrators of the public purse, they were bound to ask, Were they getting their money's worth? There had been a sort of doctrine preached during the last few years, not confined 633 to this Administration, that the expenditure on account of education was a sort of sacred subject, which must not be. touched. They might urge economy with reference to the Army, Navy, or Civil Services; but the sure test of educational efficiency was the expenditure, and the more they spent, the more efficiently the Department was conducting its duties, and the mere satisfied the country ought to be. He repudiated this theory. The question he wanted to ask was, What did we get for this enormous expenditure, and was the money being spent as it ought to be expended, and were we getting a proper return? The Committee would observe that every speaker had pointed out the lamentable deficiences in the present system, and had urged that, in some mode or shape, there should be some material alteration. Last year the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) told them that there were on the register 4,189,000 children. Well, they were very satisfactory figures, and the Committee cheered them when they first heard them. When they came to analyze the figures, however, they found that 416,000 of the children were under five years of age, and that 898,000 were under seven years of age. Therefore, they had 1,314,000 children under seven years of age. [Mr. MUNDELLA: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council cried "Hear, hear!" but he (Mr. H. H. Fowler) was of opinion that the figures He had quoted were more applicable to a National nursery than to a National system of education. As a matter of fact, there were something like 2,750,000 children under 10 years of age. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the school age in Belgium and in other European countries. There was no doubt that, however much we might be efficient in our Standards of Education, and in our Code, we were behind other countries in reference to age. The too early age at which we began, really meant the too early age at which we finished. There were, in this country, 3,000,000 children, or only 75 per cent, in average attendance at school. The next fact that ought to be taken into consideration after the average attendance was, what was the result of the examination? The actual number of children presented for examination was 2,150,000 out of 634 4,100,000; so that, practically, there were 2,000,000 children of "school age"—namely, over seven years of age—who were presented for examination; and, so far as age was concerned, they were equally divided between under 10 and over 10. Now, every one of the 1,000,000 children over 10 years of age, ought to have been presented in Standards IV., V., and VI.; but, as a matter of fact, there were only 591,000 presented in these Standards, and only 60 per cent of them passed in the three subjects. They might test the efficiency of the present system of education in another way. Of the 2,000,000 children presented for examination, only 1,378,000 passed without failure; and, of that number, 734,683 were under 10 years of age. The Committee thus arrived at the result that there wore only 643,492 children, no matter to what Standard they belonged, over 10 years of age, who had passed in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Now, that was the actual net result for the expenditure of upwards of £6,000,000 of money, of which £4,250,000 came out of the Public Funds. He, therefore, could not join in the chorus of jubilation which had been chanted, on account of the progress of National Education in this country. No doubt, the country was much better off in the matter of education than previously, and he would admit that his right hon. Friend was doing all he could to improve the National Education; but they were deluding themselves, they were deluding the ratepayers of the country, if they believed that it was satisfactory that, for such a large expenditure of money, under 650,000 children over 10 years of age, should pass in reading, writing, and arithmetic. He had still further unsatisfactory figures with reference to the higher Standards. In Standard V. there were 184,000 children presented for examination, and out of that number 73,000 failed. The most lamentable test of all was that in Standard VI., where there were only 68,000 children presented, out of 4,000,000, and only 42,000 passed. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council pointed out, that evening, what really was the source of this evil—namely, the early age at which the children left school, and the different Standards which were set up for exemption. He (Mr. H. H. Fowler) 635 thought that, of all questions brought before them that evening, there was none which deserved more serious consideration than the different Standards prevailing in different school beards and school attendance committees districts as regarded the age for exemption. They had, even in the same districts, different Standards existing in different schools; and he thought that whatever might be the advantages or disadvantages of centralizing the system, he did not think they could do anything better than get some uniform rule with regard to examinations. There was another reason why education in this country was so backward, and that was the unfortunate machinery which was called into operation by the Act of 1876. School attendance committees had now had a fair trial, and it might safely be said that they were a great failure. He had read the Reports of eight School Inspectors, Those Reports related to various parts of the country, and the School Inspectors reported upon the hostile attitude assumed by the school attendance committees, not only with regard to the provisions of the Act, but in respect to educational results. The Inspectors stated that the difficulty they had to deal with in the case of school attendance committees was that they would not enforce the law—that they did not want education; that they were adverse to education altogether, and believed it to be totally unnecessary, and unsuited to the people. The educational machinery, in the shape of school attendance committees, had broken down entirely; and he thought they would have to look this question in the face very seriously sooner or later. He desired to say a word or two about the cost of education. There had been a good deal of controversy raised, and there was a Memorial presented the other day to the Prime Minister with reference to the great injustice which had been done in denominational schools by the operation of the present system; and he (Mr. H. H. Fowler) thought it was right they should ascertain whether there was any ground of complaint on this matter. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. J. G. Talbot), in his speech that evening, alluded to the cost of the London School Board specifically, and implied that that Board was acting un- 636 justly and unfairly towards denominational and voluntary schools within the area of its jurisdiction. He (Mr. H. H. Fowler) found that, so far as voluntary effort was concerned, there had been little increase in this country during the last 10 years. He found that the subscriptions, which, in 1873, amounted to £418,000, had now increased to only £724,000, so that the real increase in voluntary effort during the last 10 years was represented by the small sum of £306,000; but there had been an increase in grant during that period of £800,000, and in the pence of £500,000. Therefore, for £306, 000 increase in voluntary subscriptions, the State had practically secured for the voluntary schools an addition of income amounting to £1,300,000. He believed this question would be raised to-morrow night upon the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt), and, therefore, he would not anticipate the discussion which would then take place. He could, however, if it were desired, show that the practical operation of the Education Act of 1870, instead of being a disadvantage to the National Society, really gave to the Church of England £1,000,000 per annum for educational purposes. The special question, however, to which he wished to call the attention of the Committee was that with reference to the working of the Education Act in rural districts, as affecting rural Nonconformists. He had no desire to refer to what had taken place at Carnarvon, and he did not wish to approach this question from a Party point of view, or from a point of view of Nonconformity as opposed to the Church of England. What he wanted to call the attention of the Committee, and the attention of hon. Gentlemen opposite, to was, that, under the Act of 1876, they had practically made education compulsory in every parish in England. But what had they done? They had made education compulsory in attending denominational schools. Them were, as it was well known, in nearly every parish, a church and two or three chapels. The presence of the chapels indicated the presence of a population which, at all events, was not in direct harmony or sympathy with the church. They compelled the child of a rural Nonconformist to attend a school where the teaching was certainly, in some respects, such as the parents did 637 not approve of. He knew it would be said that a child had the benefit of the Conscience Clause; but it was well known that the Conscience Clause could not easily be put into operation. A Nonconformist could not isolate his child; and the effect of the Act had been that they had sold the education of the parish to the denomination which provided the parish school, and they had done that at a time when the special teaching of a very large class of the clergy of the Church of England was more distasteful—to use the mildest term which he could find—was more distasteful to conscientious Protestant Nonconformists than it had been during the last 200 years. He should be sorry to introduce any subject of theological controversy; but he wanted the naked fact to be brought home to the Vice President of the Council and to the Committee, that they were compelling the children of Nonconformist parents in the 12,000 or 13,000 parishes of England to attend schools in which, in the great bulk of the parishes, the religious teaching was in direct hostility to and condemnation of the faith and opinions of the parents of the children. There was another aspect of the question in which a similar great injustice had been done, and that had been the transfer of denominational schools to school beards, upon certain terms, which practically made the schools obtain support out of the public purse, and, at the same time, continue of a denominational character. For instance, the school of the Church of England was transferred to the school board; but the school board was only to have the use of the school from 10 till 5, so that from 9 to 10, and after 5 o'clock, as the case might be, the religious teaching in the school was to be the same as that under the old régime, the only difference being that whereas, formerly, the cost of the school was defrayed by subscription, it was now defrayed by the rates. By this arrangement these schools so transferred were not nominally board schools until a given hour of each school day, but each morning, before the hour specified, the school was opened and conducted as a denominational school. Arrangements were made whereby the school should remain in charge of the same teachers. both during the time it was conducted as a denominational school and during 638 the hours it was conducted as a board school. This system gave a distinct denominational character to those board schools; and he maintained that it was a direct violation of the spirit of the Act of 1870. It was a direct violation of the pledges given to the House of Commons by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), and also by the right hon. Gentleman who was then at the head of the Government (Mr. Gladstone). He (Mr. H. H. Fowler) did not make these remarks in any spirit of hostility to the Church of England; but he did so on the broad principle of injustice to Nonconformists as Nonconformists. It was not fair or just that schools supported out of the public purse should be carried on as denominational schools, and be under denominational management, which created a great deal of unpleasant friction in the working of the schools in various localities in England. He was sorry to have troubled the Committee at that length. He had not said all he had meant to say, because he felt the time of the Committee was too precious. All he wanted to put to the Committee was this simple query—Whether the country was getting its money's worth for its expenditure upon National Education? His belief was that the efficiency of the system of education could be, and ought to be, greatly improved, and his knowledge was that the present system was working unjustly and unfairly to a large class of Nonconformists in different parts of the Kingdom. He thought they were all anxious to obtain the best and fairest system of National Education at the least possible cost; and, in his opinion, the time had arrived when, in the interest of education, it would be desirable that a Select Committee of the House should be appointed to examine into the working of the Education Act, and to inquire into the complaints made, and to ascertain whether a mode could not be found for promoting efficiency, removing injustice, and, at the same time, ensuring economy.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, he would not have interfered in the debate but for the observations of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler). The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the Act of 1870 had operated unfairly to Nonconformists in rural districts. It 639 must be remembered, however, that Churchmen complained that the Act of 1870 had operated in large towns unfairly and unjustly towards them. If the principle of local self-government were adopted in regard to National Education, and the majority in any one district were allowed to be more or less supreme, the Nonconformists must submit when they were in a minority, just as Churchmen must when they were in a minority. Now, in large towns, as a rule, Churchmen had to contribute not only to the maintenance of voluntary schools, but also to schools, some of them secular, and others in which religion was only taught at certain hours. As to rural places, he undertook to say that in not one single instance had there been an infraction of the Conscience Clause that the Education Department had not taken notice of. During the time he was Vice President of the Council, various complaints came up from the rural districts; but he could assure the hon. Member for Wolverhampton they were of the most frivolous description. If he remembered aright, there was only one instance in which anything like a sectarian spirit was displayed; the Nonconformists gained the supremacy, and they immediately discharged the schoolmaster, who was a Churchman, for no other reason than that he was a Churchman. These questions would from time to time occur. He was certain that although complaints might reach the ears both of Conservative Churchmen on that side of the House, and of Nonconformist Liberals on the other side, the Act had, on the whole, worked well, and that the Education Department would only be too ready to take notice of any infraction of the Conscience Clause, or of the spirit and intention of the Act. During the long discussion which had taken place that evening they had travelled over a multitude of subjects, and there had been a tendency on the part of some speakers to depreciate what had been done in the way of primary education. His strong impression was, that if they could get accurate statistics as to what was spent on primary education in other countries, it would be found we spent more. Let anybody look into the expenditure of a school, and they would find the main item of expense was the salary of the teacher. The salaries of the teachers in 640 this country were far higher than in any other country. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) said that the Municipality of Paris spent three times mere per head on primary education than was spent in London. [Mr. MUNDELLA: On education; not primary education.] That made all the difference. As a matter of fact, there was no public money spent in London, except upon primary education. The London School Board spent, apart from the Government grant, £2 2s. per head on every child in their schools. Apart from the expense of building the schools, it had struck him that it was absolutely impossible that a local authority could spend £6 6s., or 160 francs, per head upon every child in the school.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he meant that the taxation per head of the population was, in the Municipality of Paris, three times more than it was in London —not the expenditure—on every child.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, that, whatever might have been the comparison the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) made, he (Lord George Hamilton) maintained that the amount spent on primary education in this country, no matter from what source it sprang—whether from subscriptions, or rates, or Government grant—was equal per head to that spent in any other country. The right hon. Gentleman drew a somewhat depreciatory comparison between the number of hours children attended school in this country and in Germany. The right hon. Gentleman told them that the children of Germany attended school four hours in the morning and five in the afternoon, and did home lessons in addition. Perhaps that accounted for the fact that every third German wore spectacles. [Mr. MUNDELLA: I did not advocate it.] He was glad to hear that. He listened with great interest to the observations of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) as to the results of what was believed to be the over-strain upon young children and teachers in our elementary schools. The system now in force was one of payment by results. The system was established by Mr. Lowe, now Lord Sherbrooke. At that time there was nothing like compulsory attendance; and anybody who happened to come into contact with Lord Sherbrooke, and dis- 641 cuss with him what his motive was, they would learn that his great object was to get children to school, and that, in his opinion, the best method of doing that was to pay by the results of their attendance. Lord Sherbrooke never intended that the system of payment by results should apply to many subjects now tested by it; but, the system having been adopted, it was necessary to develop it, and its development was attended by many inconveniences. At present there was a system of universal compulsion from one end of the country to the other; and it seemed to him (Lord George Hamilton) that whoever occupied the position of Vice President of the Council should endeavour, as far as he could, to relax the iron rigidity of the system of payment by results. One of the reasons which induced him (Lord George Hamilton) to give his sanction to the New Code was that it gave greater latitude to the teacher, and more discretion to the Inspector He was persuaded that a great deal too much detailed work was imposed on the Education Department, and that too many appeals were made from schools and managers on small points, which ought to be settled in the localities themselves. He was glad to hear the Vice President of the Council address a warning to those who endeavoured to make their curriculum too ambitious. He (Lord George Hamilton) had always had a theory that, if they wished to institute a sound system of elementary education, they should have as few subjects as possible taught, but taught thoroughly, and that they should afford facilities to clever children to pass up to the higher grades. There were schools in which as many as 12 subjects were taught, and it was because such a large number of subjects was allowed to be taught, that there was a great strain put on teachers and pupil-teachers. Some managers thought that masters ought to teach all the subjects. The subjects were proper to be taught in certain schools; but at no University would a man be found who could or who would be prepared to teach all subjects. The tendency, undoubtedly, was for teachers in elementary schools to endeavour to gain some knowledge of all subjects. It was absolutely impossible that they could obtain a sufficient grasp even of a small portion of them 642 to be able to teach them efficiently, and many of the teachers broke down in the effort to do so. He had always felt that what they ought to do was to simplify the system of the elementary course, but afford every facility for children to pass up to the higher grade schools. There had been much criticism upon the system of Training Colleges. It must, however, be borne in mind that the criticisms had been passed by hon. Gentlemen who admitted they were opposed to a voluntary system of education. If there was to be a system of denominational education, those Training Colleges were absolutely necessary. He, however, thought it right that they should intimate to those who were placed at the head of these Colleges, that they must conduct them according to the ideas of the day; that if they chose to indulge in religious prejudices, they must expect to bear the consequences. He would not enter into any lengthy criticism of the expenditure of the London School Board. He believed that expenditure was extravagant previous to the last election; but, now, a considerable change had taken place, and he was of opinion the fact was due to the smaller number of ladies now serving on the School Board. When the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney) was making his eloquent speech the other night in favour of conferring political rights on ladies, he (Lord George Hamilton) could not help hoping that, if the day ever arrived when ladies were sitting in the House as Members, it would fall to the lot of the hon. Gentleman to be Chancellor of the Exchequer. He (Lord George Hamilton) believed that now the London School Board were doing their best to deal with the practical difficulties which must surround primary education in London. Undoubtedly, from time to time, they might justly expose themselves to the charge of extravagance; but, in the past year or two, they had, on the whole, done their work well. The hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) had alluded to the limit imposed on pensions, and he and other hon. Members had ad-vacated that the fund of £6,500 should be extended, and that the teachers who entered previous to 1862 should be put on the same footing as they were some 20 years ago. The difficulty which he 643 felt in supporting any Motion or proposal of that kind was that, when the late Government were in Office, Lord Sandon felt very strongly the difficulty in which the Education Department were placed in consequence of the withdrawal of the pensions, and the Duke of Richmond put pressure on the Treasury to allow a sum of £6,500 per annum to be granted in pensions to necessitous teachers. The Treasury assented to place such an annual charge on the Estimates, on the understanding that no claim for arrears would be made. No one could be Vice President for one year without experiencing the hardship of selecting, from the number of necessitous cases brought before them, the teachers who should receive pensions. If the right hon. Gentleman could induce the Treasury, either to increase the fund, or make any other arrangement which would provide for the limited number of teachers who entered previous to 1862, he would do a good and benevolent work, which the teachers from one end of the country to the other would gratefully recognize. He (Lord George Hamilton) would apologize to the Committee for having detained them at that length; but he hoped, in concluding, he might be allowed to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council upon the satisfactory statement he had been able to make, as well as upon the conciliatory manner in which he had dealt with the many difficulties which in the course of the year had been laid before him.
said, reference had been made to the inefficiency of school attendance committees. He had worked on a school attendance committee ever since the system was started, and he quite admitted there was some foundation for the remarks of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) upon the subject, to the effect that such committees had proved failures on many occasions. Those who worked amongst agriculturists experienced great difficulty in getting them to do their utmost to secure the attendance of children at school, when the children were able to do work on the farm, and so to earn wages for their own support, as well as to be useful to the farmers. School boards, as well as school attendance committees, were, however, severely 644 handicapped in their operations by the unwillingness displayed by magistrates to convict in the cases of non-attendance brought before them. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council was able to do anything in this matter; but he hoped that, during the ensuing year, the right hon. Gentleman would turn his attention to the subject, and endeavour, at least, to obtain Returns from the different districts of the number of cases in which parents had been summoned for the non-attendance of the children at school, and of the number of cases in which magistrates had failed to do their duty in supporting the school attendance committees in their efforts to secure the attendance of children at school.
§ MR. CROPPER
said, he wished to say a word or two upon the desirability of a general superannuation fund for schoolmasters. The subject of pensions to the teachers certified before the year 1862, which was introduced by the hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland), and subsequently commented upon by the noble Lord opposite (Lord George Hamilton), had its own very important place; but he (Mr. Cropper) felt that the sense of necessity for such a fund as he advocated was growing largely in the minds of the schoolmasters in the country. Schoolmasters, very properly, desired to know whether they would be met in the matter by the Department. The large employers of labour, including the great Railway Companies, were finding it essential to provide superannuation funds, to which their workmen could subscribe, because it enabled them to obtain better workmen, and it prevented valuable and trusted workmen being thrown on the rates in their old age. It was a disgrace that schoolmasters and school mistresses should, in their old age, be thrown on the rates; and he should be glad to know whether the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) would be willing to consider favourably some scheme by which school teachers should have some superannuation of their own which should be a permanent charge on their salaries? There were many persons who would unite in promoting such a scheme, and he believed such a scheme would be greatly welcomed by the teachers whom it would be calculated to benefit. 645 His hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) had spoken of the system of cramming children. He (Mr. Cropper) was convinced that if it were possible to prevent overtime in the school, and to discourage the habit of taking work home to do, which often kept the children up until 11 o'clock at night, their health suffering in consequence, we should be relieved of some of the distressing cases which his hon. Friend had so touchingly referred to. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would "pass the word" that there should be no undue retaining in school after hours, and no great insistance upon home lessons. If he would do that, he would do immense service to the children of this country.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, he wished to reply to some remarks of the noble Lord opposite (Lord George Hamilton). The hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had rightly complained of the injustice done to Nonconformist children in rural districts; and, upon that, the noble Lord said he had rarely heard of any case of violation of the Conscience Clause. The noble Lord must be aware that, perhaps, by not one in 100, or even in 1,000, was the Conscience Clause taken advantage of in the rural districts; because, if parents demanded that protection, the child became marked. That was the real answer to the noble Lord. During this interesting discussion, a feature had been introduced which, he thought, showed that there were a large number of children who were not able to learn their lessons through a want of sufficient food. That was a feature in the social condition of the country which should be borne in mind; but there were other matters connected with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) which required some attention—for instance, the fact that there were 500,000 children who were not on the registers; and that, in 9,000 parishes, children had been allowed to go as efficient when they had not attained the Fourth Standard. The progress of education, doubtless, was good, when it was compared with the state of things a few years ago; but it was not so cheering when compared with what it ought to be; and he agreed in the view that the results were small from one point of view, considering the price that was 646 paid. About 600,000 children were presented for the Fourth Standard, and upwards. He believed the average cost in Church schools was about £1 14s. 6d., and in Board schools £2, or an average of £1 17s. In manufactures, waste was taken into account, and the articles were put on the market at a price determined by their being fit for the market. In education, anything below the Fourth Standard was not of value; for what a child learned up to 10 years of age was forgotten by 14; but every child turned out under the Fourth Standard cost the country £9 4s. or £9 5s. per annum. He did not agree with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton in finding fault with the price, for he considered education cheap at any price. He did, however, think we might get more for the money we spent. He had stated at many public meetings—and it might be an answer to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. G. Talbot), who said the people would get tired of the burden of education—that we might stop the Education rate when it reached the amount we paid for the Army; and he had never yet heard any serious opposition to that suggestion. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) had said the great difficulty was in securing regular attendance, and he gave a good many examples; but in all those examples, except Saxony, the good results were due to there being free schools. No doubt, we might get that system in a generation of time; but that was not a sufficient answer, because the point was, what was to become of the children of the present generation? It would be poor satisfaction to them to knew that, a generation hence, children would be well educated. He (Mr. Jesse Collings) had been for some years a member of a school beard, and he did not know anything more painful than the difficulty arising from the poverty of people, to whom 1d. was a matter of the last importance. In Birmingham, last year, 2,000 children were taken before the magistrates for non-attendance, and the major number of the cases sprang from the real inability of the parents to pay the fees—and what were the fees? In Birmingham a very large sum was drawn from school fees; but from that had to be deducted the salaries of the Board Inspectors, who were principally occupied in looking after the children. They 647 would not be necessary but for the fees; and, besides that, there was the expenses of collecting the fees. Schools in Birmingham were not filled, and did not yield satisfactory results when the fee was 3d.; but when the fee was lowered to 1d., there was no difficulty in filling them. Then there was the question of waste; and he believed that fees that were given up would be recouped over and over again by the extra amount of work which would result from regular and larger attendance, as the result of the abolition of fees. From an economical point of view this consideration was irresistible; and the principle of compulsion must ultimately carry with it the abolition of fees. It seemed to him as absurd to ask a child to pay for going to school as it would be to ask a soldier to pay for becoming a soldier, or a policeman to pay for being a policeman. How long the working classes would stand that system he did not know; but he did not think it would be very long. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman had no power, except under exceptional circumstances, to grant free schools; but be had the power to reduce the fees to 1d., and he (Mr. Jesse Collings) hoped he would exercise that power. Before very long, the Birmingham authorities were coming to him to ask for permission to reduce the fees all round to 1d. At present there were hundreds of children who could not pay the 3d. fees; but there was not enough room in the schools where the fee was 1d. The consequence was great detriment to education; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would go as far as he could in the direction of lowering the fees to 1d., which he had the power to do; but free education was the real solution of the matter.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) would deal in a very decisive manner with the Principal of the Training College which had been mentioned, for it would be a discredit to the Education Department, and an outrage upon the House of Commons and the country, if a gentleman who had so far forgotten what was due to those in the Establishment was allowed to remain in that position. Those Colleges, if they were to continue, must answer some national end; and they could not be primarily or 648 exclusively sectarian. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the centre of gravity of the Education Question had completely changed. Originally, we had an exclusively denominational system of education, and Training Colleges and institutions of a similar character were fostered by the State; but they were founded upon what he (Mr. Illingworth) considered a false system of education. Board schools were now getting a majority of the children within their walls; and, as soon as there was a general system of local government in the country and popular representation, there would be an increased demand for board schools, even in the agricultural districts of the country. The right hon. Gentleman could not deny that there were many defects in the present denominational schools, and in their management. He thought the right hon. Gentleman would wish to be somewhat in advance of the noble Lord opposite (Lord George Hamilton), who had already gone so far. There was an increasing demand for non-denominational Training Colleges, and the sooner that was assented to the better. He should welcome day Training Colleges; but he would not press that matter now, because he had confidence that the right hon. Gentleman would seriously consider that question. There would, however, be serious disappointment felt by those who rejoiced at the satisfactory state of education generally if something substantial was not done. With regard to the question of pensions, while recognizing some claims under the old arrangements, he should strongly deprecate pensions for elementary teachers under the New Code. He did not know why it should be expected that teachers in our elementary schools should not be required to exercise forethought and frugality, or why the State should undertake an increased burden at a time when the public charges were so heavy. The proposal was an unfortunate one, and there was a great deal to be said against it. When we were dealing with English Training Colleges, we must not forget that the question of Irish Training Colleges would shortly be before the House of Commons. When the question of elementary education was being fought out in 1870, and so much denominationalism was imported into the English 649 Act, and so much more into the Scotch Act in the following year, he made up his mind that whenever a demand for denominational Training Colleges in Ireland was made, he should be unwilling, because of the strong differences which existed between him and the majority of the Irish people, to take up the ground of bigotry and oppose such a demand; and he should rather welcome the proposal about to be made by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, which, at any rate, would establish uniformity.
§ MR. WHITLEY
said, he was sure every friend of education must have listened with great pleasure to the very satisfactory statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella), and he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the way in which he had carried out the Education Act. He should be very sorry if this question of education was pressed, as some hon. Members were inclined to do, from the point of view either of the Church of England or of Nonconformity; for he hoped the day had gone by when they would approach the question in that way; for, after all, the great object was to see that children were properly educated. He was very much obliged to his hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. S. Smith) for having brought forward the question of overpressure. In days gone by, and under the Old Code, that was a very urgent question indeed, and he (Mr. Whitley) had presided over many meetings of teachers, by whom this question had been brought before the Committee of Education. He had been obliged to make many charges against Inspectors of pressing education to a far greater extent than children could possibly bear; but he was thankful to be able to admit that the Code of last year made a great difference in this respect. Nothing had pleased him more than the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the great question in the present Code was not the advancement of a few children, but the general merits of the schools altogether. That object, he was sure, had been attained in a great measure; and, so far as his experience went, the right hon. Gentleman was correct in saying that the effect had not been to materially increase or diminish the grants to schools. It was very satisfactory to people to feel that their children were 650 not being over-pressed with education, and that the great object was the general benefit of the children. In that respect, the New Code was a great improvement on the Old Code, and he was sure he could express to the right hon. Gentleman the gratitude of the teachers for the change he had introduced. He sympathized very much with the hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) in regard to pensions, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider the case of the old teachers under the Act of 1862. Their case was a very hard one, for, no doubt, they had been induced to enter upon teaching by the impression, and under the pledge of Parliament, that they would receive some pension; and if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to enlarging the present grant of £6,500, which was quite inadequate, he would be conferring a great boon on teachers who had now been working for more than 30 years, and who deserved the gratitude of the country. He had very little knowledge of secondary schools; but in Liverpool there had never been any difficulty between the Nonconformists and the Church of England. Liverpool had one of the best school boards in the Kingdom, and very much of the success of education was due to the wise and practical way in which they had worked. There had been no difficulty between the school board and the denominational schools; they bad worked amicably together, and had only the one object in view, of giving the best education to the children. The Liverpool School Board, in this respect, were entitled to the gratitude of both the city of Liverpool and of the community at large. The Conscience Clause was adopted in the Church of England schools; but many Nonconformists, who sent their children to those schools, would be the first to admit that the management of those schools had been wise and excellent, and that they had nothing to complain of with respect to the Conscience Clause. If all schools were conducted as they were, there would be no denominational bigotry; and everybody could give themselves heart and soul to the great work which the House of Commons sought to effect—namely, the education of every child. He hoped the day was coming when all denominational differences would be lost sight of 651 in the great work of education; and that the work would continue to go on in the prosperous way in which it had progressed during the past year.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, the debate had ranged over a great many subjects relating to education, and, for the first time that Session, the friends of education in the House had retailed a long list of grievances. It would have been a great advantage to the Committee, if the various points raised could have been discussed separately. Personally, he felt a great difficulty in dealing, in the few minutes more that was left to them that evening, adequately with the voluminous and interesting matter which had been laid before the Committee since 6 o'clock. He would endeavour, however, as perfectly as possible, to meet every point that had been put before him, and he trusted the Committee would forgive him if he did so with the greatest possible brevity. Hon. Members would pardon him if he began backwards, by dealing with those subjects which were the most fresh in his memory. The question of the Carnarvon and other Training Colleges had been raised by his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard), and the noble Lord opposite (Lord George Hamilton) had very properly said that such institutions ought to be conducted in accordance with the ideas of the day. The Department had felt it to be their duty to tell the managers of the Carnarvon College, that they must institute a thoroughly radical reform in their training; that they must make it thoroughly efficient for the Welsh people, or else their grants would cease. Nothing could be fairer than the way in which the Department had been met, because the managers had intimated to the Department, that it was their intention to effect a complete and entire change. They only asked for time in which to be able to make the necessary arrangements. As far as the Carnarvon Training College was concerned, everything had been done that ought to be done, or that any reasonable man could demand in order to make a complete radical reform, and the Department expected the College in future to do as good work as any other Training College in the country, and do it in a right and proper spirit. There was a Training College in England, in regard to which it would be necessary 652 to require as great a change. That College was not efficient, and the Department must tell the managers, as indeed they must tell the managers of all Training Colleges, whether Church or Nonconformist, that they must make themselves thoroughly efficient, otherwise the grant could not be continued. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. J. G. Talbot) had spoken of the Church-paid Colleges. He (Mr. Mundella) hoped that, when he came to deal with the question of Scriptural knowledge, he should have the support of his noble Friend opposite (Lord George Hamilton) in asking the Church Training Colleges not to place the obstacle of Scriptural knowledge in the way of teachers who wished to enter these Colleges. The insistance upon Scriptural knowledge was most unfair to the teachers, and he hoped it would be abandoned. The question, however, of maintaining Training Colleges as denominational institutions was not one for him to decide, but one for the House itself to determine; and if hon. Members desired that Training Colleges should cease to be denominational institutions, the Act of 1870 must be repealed, and Training Colleges entirely altered. His hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) had asked why grants were given to denominational schools, and why Parliament subscribed £750,000 a-year to maintain those schools; he had asked why they did so, when the schools might, in addition to the instruction required of them by the Department, be allowed to give that religious instruction which they believed to be desirable? Now, he asked his hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, how he would enforce the attendance at schools of Roman Catholic children, if they had no Roman Catholic teachers to instruct them? By what the hon. Gentleman proposed they would place a great obstacle in the way of education. If what his hon. Friend meant was that the Church Training Colleges should teach as many as they required for their own purpose, and that the Roman Catholics should do the same, and that the British and Foreign Schools should do the same, he (Mr. Mundella) agreed with the hon. Gentleman: But what was the effect of the proposal? When they spoke of difficulty, where did the pinch come in? He (Mr. Mun- 653 della) only asked, the other day, the Secretary of the British and Foreign School Society whether he could admit any more teachers in their Training Colleges; and that gentleman told him that they could admit a few more, and they were making arrangements. He further asked the gentleman if he could establish a day Training College, so that the teachers might, if they liked, live in their own homes, and go daily to the College? The answer he received was—"Why should we do that? I do not think that we can find places for the men we are now training. We are really training more than we can find employment for." He (Mr. Mundella) believed it was a fact that some of the last Christmas teachers were now unemployed; he understood that many denominational teachers could not even find employment. The question, therefore, was a very pertinent one—"Why should denominational Training Colleges be set up if the teachers cannot find employment?" He (Mr. Mundella) was anxious that there should be no grievance in matters of conscience—that no one should be excluded from a Training College because he was a Churchman or a Nonconformist. They must all admit that the Act of 1870 was a noble measure, that it was doing a great work; and he begged hon. Members not now to indulge in agitation, but to get one generation of children educated, and then, if they liked, make a change. He implored them not to plunge again into the religious turmoil which prevailed at the time of the passing of the present Act. In the meantime, he would be only too happy to do what he could to remove all unnecessary difficulties in the way of any teachers on the question of conscience; and he should ask Church Training Colleges, who still retained the obstacles referred to, to remove them, and deal with the state of affairs according to the spirit of the age. His hon. Friend the Member for East Cornwall (Mr. Acland) complained of the conduct of magistrates. So did he (Mr. Mundella). He had to complain every day; and it was not school attendance committees who alone had to complain. School boards had just as much cause for complaint as school attendance committees—indeed, many school boards had sent to him to say their work was completely set at naught and their influence 654 frustrated in consequence of the action of the magistrates. Unhappily, the Educational Department had no control over the magistrates; but he hoped some means would be found to bring them to their senses. He held it to be the duty of the House of Commons to speak very plainly upon this subject, and he hoped that hon. Members would bring all cases of magistrates refusing to do their duty before the House. It was high time that the country had magistrates who would perform their duties; and he hoped one effect of the action of hon. Members would be that some higher authority would see fit to either censure or to remove those magistrates who failed to discharge the duty the country required of them. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Kendal (Mr. Cropper) had spoken of the evil of home lessons, and another hon. Gentleman had said that the Department ought to stop home lessons. That, however, was a question for managers of schools. What were managers and School attendance committees for if they did not attend to such matters? Were the Department to issue an edict that no pupil was to learn two verses of poetry of an evening? His hon. Friend (Mr. Cropper) also asked him if he would be willing to do anything towards the superannuation of teachers? Ever since he had been in Office that question had constantly cropped up, and he would be only too happy, if he could, to find some means of settling it. Teachers ought to be provided for; and he would admit that it was a scandal that teachers in their old age should, in many cases, have to go to the workhouse. But teachers were getting good salaries; and if anybody ought to set an example of thrift, it ought to be the teachers of our youth. They were not the grievance of the State; the State did not employ them. They got the best price they could from their employer. What control could the Department have over teachers? How could they exact from teachers payments in a superannuation fund? It was said the Department might stop the grant, might make a reduction in the grant. What did that mean? It meant superannuating the teachers at the expense of the subscribers or the rateyayers. If teachers ever came to be superannuated, they must come within the range and class of civil servants; and if they became civil 655 servants, they would not obtain anything like the salaries they were getting today, and they would find promotion very slow indeed. They would find also that they could not carry their talents to the best market; indeed, they would soon come to find that their present condition was, after all, the best. Still, if it were possible, he should be glad to be the instrument of founding a superannuation fund; but, at present, he could not see the way clear. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) had been exceedingly kind and practical in his remarks, and he (Mr. Mundella) was very grateful for the support the noble Lord always gave him, and fully appreciated the very fair and candid manner in which the noble Lord always dealt with these questions. He (Mr. Mundella) was bound to say that, since He had been in Office, no one had been more considerate and more impartial in his criticisms and less of a politician in his action than the noble Lord. He (Mr. Mundella) was glad to acknowledge such a disposition on the part of the noble Lord; and he trusted that when it became his lot to sit on the opposite side of the House, he should benefit by the example now set him. The large expenditure upon education in Germany had been referred to; but the reason, in Germany, why education was so costly was because they had no such things as pupil-teachers—they had no assistant teachers; but they had a large and excellent staff of masters to every class, and a class room for every 50 children. That was the reason why education was so much better and so much more costly with the Germans than with us. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), in his very powerful and able speech, struck a very high note, and he (Mr. Mundella) was glad the hon. Gentleman did so. He was very grateful to the hon. Gentleman, and also to his hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley), for raising the question of a higher Standard of Education. He (Mr. Mundella) should be very glad if they could obtain a higher Standard, and he hoped they should; but they could not advance at once to the position the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton asked them to take. The hon. Gentleman complained that so few children were 656 passed into the higher Standard, and said that, in this country, we began education too early, and left it off too early. He had said, moreover, that there were 1,000,000 children, under seven years of age, at school, and that, therefore, our schools amounted to nothing more or less than National Nurseries. Infant training, however, was the very foundation of good education. It was an immense advantage to the children, and also to the parents, when the mothers went to labour, that the children should go to the infant school, and the children were much better trained than they could be if they were kept at home. The Act of 1870 was purely a compulsory Act. At that time managers of schools chose their own Standards. He (Mr. Mundella) had refused low Standards, and he never meant to accept a low Standard in the future, and he trusted that no attempt would ever be made to minimize the Standards. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton called his attention to the difficulty which the Nonconformist suffered from what he termed compulsory attendance at Church schools. No matter, whether the school in a parish was a Church school or a Nonconformist school, children must attend school; and, of course, it must be always remembered that every child had the benefit of the Conscience Clause. If there was no Nonconformist school in a parish, whose fault was it? The Department never placed any obstacles in the way of the formation of Nonconformist schools. He had never refused annual grants to Nonconformist schools; but, on the other hand, he had made grants to a large number of new Wesleyan and other Nonconformist schools. How could it be said, therefore, that the Department had one dictum for Church schools and one for Nonconformist schools? If the lion. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton knew of any place where a Nonconformist school could be established with advantage, and if he would only establish it for 12 months, he (Mr. Mundella) would promise him that lie should have an annual grant. The hon. Gentleman stated that schools were charged in very unfair conditions, because he said that, in some cases, Church schools had been charged for as Board schools. He (Mr. Mundella) doubted whether such a practice was legal, and 657 he would take good care to have the matter thoroughly looked into. He did not mean to say that his Predecessor had done anything illegal; but he doubted very much whether it was in accordance with the spirit of the Act that Church schools should receive support as Board schools. Personally, he was of opinion that a school paid out of the rates ought to be exclusively undenominational. His hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) dealt, with his usual ability, and in his usual fascinating style, with the question of scientific instruction, and rather complained that the Department had removed the specific subjects from Standards IV. and V. The Education Department had come to the conclusion that it was better to remove from these Standards the teaching of specific subjects. The hon. Gentleman had asked why the Department should interfere in the matter; why should schools not be allowed to make their own choice of subjects? Now, he (Mr. Mundella) would give an instance, which he discovered the other day, of the manner in which the choice the hon. Baronet advocated had been exercised. One of Her Majesty's Inspectors was inspecting an excellent school board school. It was I good from top to bottom; a thoroughly good school, from the infant class to the Sixth Standard—nothing could possibly be better; but there was a specific subject taught, and the Inspector asked the reason. He asked the master what could have induced him to teach such a subject, which was not at all suitable for a London school. Well, the teacher had got his certificate, probably with a view of teaching in a rural district. He had, however, obtained a situation under the London School Board, and he, no doubt, thought it a pity that his training should be lost, so he resolved to instruct the children upon the subject of agriculture. He (Mr. Mundella) knew of no better subject or more valuable subject to teach in a rural school; but he could not regard it as otherwise than as entirely out of place in a London board school. Why did they insist upon the teaching of what his hon. Friend called grammar? He begged the Committee would not be led away by supposing that it was dry Lindley Murray simply that was taught. It was the whole range of poetry; and nothing could be better than that a child 658 should learn so much poetry, that he should be grounded in it, and know the meaning of words, and know, in fact, the meaning of his own language. Professor Huxley had said that every other country in the world taught language but England. That learned Professor said—Begin by teaching children the meaning of words, and then they will be able to grasp their own language.One of the best science schoolmasters in London was asked the other day how he was able to teach science so well; and his reply was—I begin by teaching English first, and when children understand the meaning of words, they can safely be taught science.He (Mr. Mundella), the other day, took his hon. Friend's (Sir John Lubbock's) Motion to the Chief Inspectors, when they were sitting in council, and he asked them to consider the Motion, and to give him their deliberate opinion in regard to it. What was the answer they wrote him before they left the Office? Why, that they had come to the unanimous conclusion that, in the interest of education, he (Mr. Mundella) ought to stamp his foot upon such a proposition. With respect to the very interesting speech delivered by his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith), he (Mr. Mundella) could only say that he approached the question almost as enthusiastically as the hon. Gentleman himself. He (Mr. Mundella) had insisted upon reducing the hours of pupil-teachers; but who had opposed him in that step? The National Society had protested against it from first to last; the clergy from one end of the country to the other, and the managers had protested against it, and had said he was going to make their system of education more expensive. If he could do it, he would reduce the hours from 25 to 15 a-week. That would be a wise step to take, because it was unreasonable that young men and women should have 25 hours' teaching a-week, and after that to encounter all the difficulties of their own education, and have to prepare, besides, for their annual examinations. The hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) made a very proper speech on behalf of the old teachers, and the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex stated the case admirably, showing what was done some years ago in this 659 respect, and how the matter was then left. A Committee of the House reported that the teachers had no legal claim. He should be glad if he could give something more than was being at present granted—he should be glad if he could soften the heart of the Treasury, in order that he might be able to deal liberally with these poor old teachers. If he could do that, it would be a great relief to him, for the most unhappy day, or rather two days, he had in the year were those upon which he had to go through the applications of these old, infirm teachers, and found it necessary to reject 50, 60, or 100 of them. He was sure that a no more difficult task could be allotted to a Vice President than to have to give out a few miserable pensions, leaving so many of the applications undealt with. But, of course, the Secretary to the Treasury looked closely after him in these matters. He would promise to make an appeal to the Treasury upon this subject. As to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley), he believed the Training College to be an excellent one. On the whole, he was thankful to hon. Members for the spirit they had exhibited throughout this debate. He was quite sure that all must rejoice at the tone and spirit of the debate, which had been fair and honourable to all Parties, and he hoped it would be an advantage to the education of the country. He trusted that now they might be allowed to proceed to the Vote.
§ MR. RICHARD
said, that, after the statement of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Mundella) as to the measures he had taken, and was taking, with reference to Carnarvon College, he should not think it necessary to press his Amendment. He only hoped his right hon. Friend would not hold his hand until the reforms which were promised were really carried out. He should like to correct an involuntary error into which the right hon. Gentleman had fallen as to Homer-ton College. The right hon. Gentleman had said that many men were educated in the schools of that College for the ministry of Congregational bodies. Formerly that was the case; but some years ago it was altered. There had been a junction made between this and some other Nonconformist bodies in London, and the Establishment had been rendered an undenominational Training College. 660 The young men trained there, as a rule, devoted themselves now to teaching.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question put, and agreed to. Motion made, and Question proposed,That a sum, not exceeding £255,723, 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 1884, for Public Education in Scotland.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he was not going to make any complaint as to the length of the debate on the English Education Vote. Having heard a great part of the debate, he was bound to confess that it had been an extremely interesting one, and one of very high tone; indeed, he could have wished it had been longer, rather than shorter. But it was an extremely unfortunate thing for Scotch Members that their Educational Vote should have come on at 10 minutes past I o'clock in the morning, at which time it was impossible for them to begin an academical discussion on the question. He would simply thank the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) for the generous appreciation that he had given of the efforts that were being made in Scotland to improve education, and the success of which was shown by the fact that they were able to earn 17s. 11d. per scholar against 16s. 2d. in England. Thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that appreciation, he would postpone any remarks he had to make on the subject until another occasion.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he had to complain that it was customary now with the Government to hustle through all Scottish Business after half-past 1 o'clock in the morning. He saw the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate in, his place, and he should like to ask him whether they were to be kept here at such a time as that to discuss the Scotch Education Vote, when those hon. Gentlemen who had observations to make would be prevented from making them by reason of the fact that, at that hour of the night, the Committee was absolutely exhausted? It must be borne in mind that they had to meet at 2 o'clock that day; and, under the circumstances, how could it be supposed that hon. Gentlemen could address themselves satisfactorily to matters 661 which were of the greatest importance? In addition to that, they had before them on the Paper five other important Scotch Votes, all of which had to be discussed. These were the Exchequer and Audit Offices Vote, the Fishery Board Vote, the Lunacy Commission Vote, the Registrar General's Office Vote, and the Board of Supervision Vote. In addition to these, they had also to discuss that night the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Bill in Committee, and there were still 11 pages of Amendments to be considered. It seemed to him absolutely necessary that Scotch Business should be better attended to. He did not know of what advantage this new Bill would be to them, giving them a Scotch Minister who was not in the Cabinet. To his mind, it would merely be a peg on which to hang objections, and from which they would derive no benefit at all. He was sorry the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) had not bestowed upon them the advantage they would have derived from hearing his speech on the Education Question. He wished it to be recorded that he, for one, protested against Scotch Business of the greatest importance being put down for consideration at half-past 1 o'clock in the morning.
§ MR. WEBSTER
said, that, for once, he found himself entirely in accord with the right hon. and gallant Member opposite (Sir John Hay). He (Mr. Webster) was the last to complain of there being usually any neglect of Scotch Business; and he thought they had very little cause to find any fault on that subject, English Business being, as a rule, quite as much put aside as Scotch Business. On the present occasion, however, they had great cause for complaint. He himself had wished to make some remarks on the subject of education in Scotland, and he knew that other hon. Members on that side of the House had wished to do the same at an hour when their observations would have had some chance of being fairly heard. The subject of Training Colleges in Scotland was one upon which Scotch Members felt strongly. He had himself intended to address the Committee upon it, and he had reserved his observations, which he might otherwise have made on the English Vote, until they arrived at the Scotch Votes, from a desire not to interpose on the English discussion. From 662 the course the Government were taking, however—from the way in which Business was being rushed through that night — Scotch Members found themselves prevented from discussing this important question. It might be said—"Why don't you proceed to discuss it now?" But he would ask hon. Members—"How is it possible to expect a House exhausted with nine or ten hours' important Business to pay calm attention to remarks of Scotch Members upon Scotch subjects at such a period of the morning?" He must say he felt very much inclined to move to report Progress. [Cries of "Move, move!"] Well, as it seemed the desire of the Committee, he would move to report Progress.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Webster.)
§ MR. HEALY
said, he was very glad that the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Webster) had taken that course, because not only was it proposed to bring on that Scotch Education Vote, but the Government also intended, he was informed, to ask for a Vote on Account of some hundreds of thousands of pounds later on. Considering the important questions they had to bring before the Committee upon these Votes, it was very unfair that they should be proposed at such an hour as this. He had been anxious, a few nights ago, to raise a question as to the Wexford riots; but he had not had a favourable opportunity, and he had, therefore, intended to bring the question forward that night. He did not, however, see the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in his place, and he was sure the Attorney General, who was present, did not know anything about it. When Scotch Members had vented their ire on the Government, the Committee would be asked to take a large Vote on Account, which was lower down on the Paper, and then the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had to introduce his Irish Police Bill, the merits of which Irish Members had been waiting there that night to hear. One Irish Police Bill was not enough, it seemed, for one Session, but they must have another. He trusted the hon. Gentleman opposite 663 would stick to his Motion, and that if it was resisted by the Government, another Scotch Member would get up and propose that the Chairman do leave the Chair.
§ MR. RAMSAY
thought that the hon. and learned Attorney General must be aware that Scotch Members had a great deal to endure; but he was rather sorry that his hon. Friend (Mr. Webster) should have moved to report Progress. He would ask the hon. Member to take into consideration the state of Public Business generally, and to bear in mind that, though the Government were guilty of neglect, the present moment was not a favourable opportunity for making the complaint. The state of Public Business was such as to fill with anxiety all those who were interested in the condition and prospects of the Legislature; and he thought, therefore, that that was not a proper time to bring Scotch grievances before the Committee. He rose for the purpose of asking his hon. Friend to withdraw his Motion, and to allow the Committee to proceed with the Vote.
§ MR. J. A. CAMPBELL
said, he thought the Scotch Members would have a grievance, if the Government persisted in going forward with that Vote at that present moment, inasmuch as they had heard no remarks with regard to it from the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella). The interesting remarks the right hon. Gentleman had made at an earlier hour were entirely confined to the English Vote, and the statistics he had given them did not include any reference to Scotland. Under the circumstances, if Scotch Members were called upon to give a vote upon this subject at the present moment, they would be voting in the dark.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said, he trusted the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) would not proceed with this Vote to-night. He wished to point out that the same thing had taken place last Session on the Education Estimates—that was to say, the English Vote was discussed and passed, and the Scotch Vote was taken at a late hour in the evening when it was impossible for it to be discussed. To-night, there had been no explanation from the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council with regard to the Scotch Vote, and 664 there had been no opportunity for any Scotch Member to say a word about it. The right hon. Gentleman, as had been pointed out, had delivered a most instructive speech—a most delightful one to listen to—but it had contained not one word about Scotland. It was only fair that the discussion should be postponed. The other Votes, after the two English Votes to come on, were Scotch; and if they postponed the Education Vote and the other Scotch Votes, they would be able, on some future occasion, to come down to the House with some security that Scotch Business would be taken, and they would then be in a position to have adequately discussed the proposals of the Government. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would agree to postpone these Votes.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, that he had said as much in his speech as he could with regard to Scotland; but it would not have been in accordance with the Rules of the House for him, in moving the English Education Vote, to have made any observations on the subject of the Scotch Education Vote. He had been sincerely hoping that they might have got to the Scotch Vote at an early period. As the hon. Member for the Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Ramsay) had said, it was the state of Public Business which placed them where they were. If it were the desire of Scotch Members, he would not, for a moment, oppose the postponement of the Vote; and if the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Webster) would withdraw his Motion for reporting Progress, he (Mr. Mundella) would withdraw the Vote, although he must say it would have been much more convenient to have passed it that night, and to have taken the discussion on Scotch Education on the second reading of the Education (Scotland) Bill now before the House. He thought that would have afforded a much better opportunity than even this evening for the discussion.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that, before the Motion for Progress was withdrawn, he would ask the attention of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) to the Vote on Account which was to follow. The Prime Minister had stated that it was the intention of the Government to ask for a three weeks' Vote on Account, but the Vote on the Paper was for five weeks; and it was, therefore, at 665 variance with the promise made to them, and which he was sure the Prime Minister had intended to make in perfect good faith. The effect of the proposal would be very marked indeed on the proceedings of the House; and he therefore hoped that Progress might be reported, in order that the Vote might come on to-morrow, when a question might be put to the Prime Minister as to whether he did not intend to adhere to the promise which he had made?
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, it was true that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had said something about a three weeks' Vote; but there was a little misunderstanding at the time, and it was necessary that the Vote should run over a little longer period. He (Mr. Courtney), however, would make this suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. H. Smith), which, he thought, would meet with his approval—namely, that he should deduct from the total Vote one-fifth. Each item, of course, would be proportionately reduced.
§ MR. WEBSTER
said, that, on the understanding pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella), he would withdraw his Motion for reporting Progress. It was not necessary for him to repudiate any such motive as that suggested by the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy). At the same time, he must confess he had made the Motion from the conviction that this was about the most important Business in which Scotch Members could be engaged, and that it was not doing justice to these most grave subjects to have the discussion upon them at half-past 1 o'clock in the morning.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, it was a question whether it would not be desirable now to report Progress. The understanding certainly had been that the Vote on Account should be for three weeks, and the statement on the Paper was for a five weeks' Vote, which would practically, so far as the Committee were concerned, be giving up all control of the finance to the Executive for the rest of the Session—for no one contemplated that the Session would last more than five weeks from the present time. He was sure the Committee would not allow such a thing as that for a moment. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Courtney) 666 suggested that they should deduct one-fifth; but he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) would point out that, in order to keep faith with the Committee, it would be necessary to deduct two-fifths, as the Prime Minister had promised that he would only take three weeks' Supply. Unless the hon. Gentleman did that, the Committee would persist in the Motion for reporting Progress. Surely the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) would wish to abide absolutely and implicitly by the promise of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. He (Sir R. Assheton Cross) supposed they should have an answer?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he understood that the Prime Minister did not say definitely three weeks' Supply, but that what he had said was that a Vote on Account for about three weeks would be asked for. He understood his hon. Friend (Mr. Courtney) to say that it was not the fact that the Estimates on the Paper were for five weeks. His hon. Friend had proposed to reduce the Vote by one-fifth, which would practically amount to reducing the Vote to three weeks' Supply. It was not the intention of the Government to depart from the spirit, though they might have done from the letter, of the Prime Minister's assurance. As soon as progress had been made with the legislative Business before the Committee, and seine of the pledges of the Government had been carried out, it was their intention to devote every available day to make progress with Supply. That intention would not be in the least altered by any additional sum that might be obtained on account that night. The proposal which had been made by his hon. Friend was made with a wish to adhere to the spirit, if not absolutely to the letter, of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
hoped the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would deduct two-fifths from the Vote, which would make the sum just as easy to calculate as it was at present. If he did that he would come within the spirit and the letter of the Prime Minister's proposal, and there would be no difficulty or delay in the Committee. Were they to have an answer to that? If there was a two- 667 fifths' deduction made hon. Members would not divide.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, it would be in the recollection of the Committee that the engagement was a positive one that the Vote should be for three weeks, and that the Prime Minister expressed his intention, after the Agricultural Holdings Bills had passed through the stage of Report, not to proceed with Supply before the other Bills on the Paper were disposed of. The noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) had said that the Vote was not for quite five weeks. Well, the Estimates for the Civil Service were £9,996,000, and the Vote now proposed was for £990,000, and if they multiplied £990,000 by 10, they would arrive at the total sum of their Civil Service Estimates. The fact was that the sum asked for was a little more than five weeks' Supply. It seemed to him that it would be to the advantage of both sides of the House if engagements once made were fairly and honourably adhered to. He thought hon. Members would feel that when an engagement was made with the House full, that engagement should be strictly kept with the House when it was nearly empty.
§ MR. RAMSAY
hoped the Government would consent to report Progress, and that no further time would be wasted in discussing the matter.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
said, the Committee had been discussing the question for some considerable time, and he feared, if they went on, valuable time at the end of the evening would be lost. Therefore, sooner than lose time, he would consent to take three-fifths.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,That a further sum, not exceeding £1,032,570, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charge for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, viz.:—