HC Deb 17 June 1886 vol 306 cc1723-49

According to the promise of the Prime Minister the Education Statement was to be made on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill. The Estimates which are before the House were prepared by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Henry Holland) when he was Vice President of the Council, and the Code, which made little alteration in the previous Code, was also signed by him before I entered Office. I have no complaint to make in the matter, and I only mention it in order to give him the credit. As the House will not be required at the present time to enter into the consideration of the detailed Estimates, it may be more convenient if I deal less with these, and direct more attention to the general results of our educational system than is usually the case in making the annual Statement. We ask the House to vote for elementary education, £3,422,989, or £123,092 more than last year. This increase is due to two causes—1. The increase in average attendance; 2. The increase of grant due to a higher efficiency in passing the Standards. On each of these causes of increased Estimates I have a few remarks to make. The natural increase due to the necessity of providing schools for an increasing population has been in past years largely augmented by bringing into schools neglected children under compulsory law. But, fortunately, there is now a partial exhaustion of this source of supply. For some years after 1870 the increase in average attendance varied from year to year from 7 to 13 per cent. Since 1880 it has been going down gradually from 6 per cent to 3 per cent, and we calculate it for the current year to be only 2.6 per cent. In time we may hope that the normal increase will only be that due to the growth of the population, which is about 50,000 annually. The next cause of the increase of the Estimate is one in regard to which we have full satisfaction—namely, to the higher results of education by a more satisfactory passing of the Standards. Last year the rate of grant per day scholar was 17s.d., and this year we are obliged to ask for 17s. 6d., or an increase of 4½d. Of this 1¼d. is due to the cost of drawing being transferred from the Science and Art Department to the Education Department; but 3¼d. is entirely due to the increasing proficiency in passing the Standards, and better average attendance. The increase of school accommodation during the past year has been greater than the increase in school children. The increase of school seats in 1885 amounted to 172,000, while the increase in average attendance was only 98,000. It will be more interesting, however, to state what is the aggregate provision of school seats, and what is the use made of them by children. The population in 1885 is estimated at 27,499,041, and the school seats in elementary schools under the Department absolutely required are 4,583,173. The actual supply is now in excess of this demand by upwards of 400,000 seats; but although this is satisfactory in the gross, there are still several counties in which the accommodation is not equal to one-sixth of the population. In London the increase of school children is 12,000 annually, so that at the present rate of increase a new school for 1,000 children ought to be opened in London for at least 10 months in the year. But the adequacy of accommodation and the number of children on the school registers do not show how far the schools are fulfilling their purpose in educating school children. For every 100 children of school age who ought to be at school the public schools have provided 91 seats; but only 80 scholars are on the register, and only 62 are in daily attendance. Undoubtedly we are improving steadily, but there is still great need for further exertion. To show our rate of progress and existing deficiencies, I must remind the House of the dates of the Acts under which we work, and compare the rate of progress under these Acts and under the Codes which produced substantial changes in the educational system. The main Act which gave to England and Wales a national system of education was passed in 1870. In 1873 there was an amending Act, on which I need not dwell. The next important Act was Lord Sandon's Act of 1876, which made it the duty of every parent that his child should be taught during the age of 5 to 14. This Act introduced indirect compulsory attendance by imposing upon employers of labour the responsibility of seeing that the requirements of the Acts were obeyed. It also established School Committees in districts which had no School Boards. Then an Act of 1880 substituted direct for indirect compulsion by providing that no children should go to work till they had passed certain Standards. The Codes followed the changes in the Acts; and therefore the Codes of 1871, following Forster's Act of 1877, following Lord Sandon's Act, and Mr. Mundella's Code of 1882, following the Compulsory Act of 1880, are marked features in our national system. The Codes required time to show their effects, and I wilt take two years after each Code to show our progress in getting children into daily attendance at schools. In 1873, two years after the Code of 1871, out of every 100 children on the school registers 66.8 were in daily attendance. In 1879, two years after Lord Sandon's Code, the average attendance was 69.95; and in 1884, two years after Mr. Mundella's Code, 75.46 were in attendance; and last year—1885—we have the largest regular attendance on record—76.4, or more than three-fourths of all the children on the register attended school with regularity. This percentage exceeds that of Massachusetts, the best educated State in America, where the average attendance is 72.5, while in New York State it is only 59.6. This increase is very satisfactory, and shows that parents appreciate the schools and urge regular attendance; partly, also, because the Act of 1880 prevents the children being employed in labour till they pass certain Standards. But look at it in another way, and the House will see how much remains to be done. Of every 100 children on the registers we have now got 76.4 in daily attendance. But 23.6 per cent of absentees is a heavy allowance to make for sickness and other unavoidable causes. The number of children on the registers is 4,412,000, and of these no less than 1,041,000 are daily absent from one of the two openings of the schools. There is, therefore, much room for increased activity on the part of the managers of schools, as well as for increased efficiency in the working of the Code. Unquestionably, however, we are making great progress. Perhaps the House will appreciate this more easily if I show what proportion of the population is now in public elementary schools. For this purpose I must add the number of children who are being educated in workhouses, certified efficient schools, industrial schools, &c. This raises the number of children on the registers of all public elementary schools to 4,630,000 children. For every 100 of the population in the year 1869—the year before the Act of 1870—there were only 7.0 children at public schools, while at the present moment there are 16.67. If we compare this with foreign countries, we have great reason for gratification. Germany was long ahead of this country in a national compulsory system of education; but there is only one town in that country—Elberfeldt—which approaches our numbers; that town has 16.3 children out of 100 of the population at school. Berlin has only 10.64, Cologne, 12.8; Frankfort is still behind what we had in 1869. Hamburgh, which has excellent schools, has only nine children out of the 100 of population. The number which we have reached of 16.67 in 100 of the population is a reward for the liberality of Parliament. Before I leave this part of the question, I wish to state that there is a considerable improvement in regard to infant schools. The methods of instruction for older scholars and infants are different. The infants require separate and well-arranged departments. Much attention to this improvement has been given in recent years, and they are now improving more rapidly than schools for older children, as will be seen if we take the classification for the merit grant, and divide them into moderate and really good schools. The really good infant schools, comparing 1885 with 1884, show that they have increased by 6.8 per cent, while the really good schools for older scholars have increased by only 1.34 per cent. Before I pass to the instructional results of the schools, I ought to state how much extra-Parliamentary resources have come to the aid of the grant in last year. Voluntary contributions amounted to £757,000; the rates yielded £1,141,000; and the school pence amounted to £1,791,000. If we convert these sums into the aid per child taught, the rates gave 19s., the voluntary contributions, 6s.d., and the average school fee per child was 11s.d. in Voluntary schools, and 9s. 4d. in Board schools. I pass now to a more interesting part of the annual Statement—the results of the teaching. That these are rapidly improving are shown by the substantial fact that the House is asked to pay 4½d. per child more than it did last year for better average attendance and better results of teaching. In 1880, of all children examined in the Standards, 81.2 per cent passed; last year this had increased to 85.14 per cent. But that is a crude way of viewing the result. When children pass a Standard lower than Standard IV., or leave school at 14 years of age in order to enter into labour, the wear and tear of life soon rubs off their thin veneer of education. Standard IV. is fortunately the lowest Standard which most School Boards adopt to let children become half-timers at 10 years of age, and it can readily be passed by an average child. There are, however, some towns which have adopted Standard III., and one large town which still retains Standard II., though I am glad to say it is ashamed of it, and intends going one step higher. Generally, however, Standards IV. and V. are those prescribed. Now it is interesting to see what progress is being made in teaching children up to those Standards, which alone become to them a life-possession in education, and I am glad to say it is steadily increasing. The per centage of children in Standard IV. and upwards to all scholars examined was 24.61 per cent in 1880, and it has increased to 32.9 per cent in 1885. Still the schools seem to have little attraction for children when the exempting Standard has been reached, for they rapidly disappear from the school. Of the 407,137 children who came up for Standard IV. in 1884, as many as 166,732 disappeared from the examination lists of our schools in 1885; while the 221,491 scholars in Standard V. of 1884 had dwindled to 91,039 in 1885; and, lastly, of the 83,270 scholars in Standard VI. in 1884, there only remained one-fourth, or 21,416, in 1885. Opinions differ as to how far education should be carried in public elementary schools; but it should certainly be carried higher in our schools than in those of other countries, because we do not possess those continuation or improvement schools which most European nations have as part of compulsory or of formative education. Our elementary schools form a system in themselves, having little or no connection with secondary schools for the further teaching of working men. Sometimes a few scholarships are attached to them by which bright scholars may enter endowed schools. But for the mass of the people the education begins and ends in our public elementary schools, although they should be mere steps into continuation or improving schools. Last year a cry of over-pressure arose, and many persons believed that school children, were being too severely urged. To a certain extent that was true as regards individual instances. It is a fact that English elementary schools demand much less work from children than foreign schools. Mr. Matthew Arnold's Report will soon be in the hands of Members. In it he contrasts the work of a Hamburgh child, as typical of a German child, with that of an English child. He says— To release a child as we do from school at 10 or 11, because he passes the Fifth Standard, would be thought in Germany absurd and most injurious. He tells us that the weekly number of hours for a Hamburgh child, between 10 and 14, is 32, while with us the Code only enjoins 20, though, in practice, 24 or 25 hours are given. Then in these 32 hours the German child has to learn 13 subjects, while in our 20 hours the English child has only seven matters of instruction. But in Germany there is no cry of over-pressure. The German child must remain within the school till he is 14, and is not releasable by any Standard. The popular schools in Hamburgh, in addition to the "three R's," history, geography, geometry, natural science, and drawing, have English as a compulsory subject, and French as an optional one. Thus, when the German or Swiss child leaves the elementary school, he is far in advance of the English child, even if the latter had passed Standard VII., which so few do. With the English child his education is then ended, while the foreign child, after leaving the elementary school, finds continuation and improvement schools ready to receive him as part of the public system of schools. While, therefore, we may be justly pleased that our elementary schools are covering the area for primary education, we would sadly mistake our ability to raise the English working population to the intelligence of foreign working men if we do not give them means of advancing in knowledge. A pressure is now being put upon the Education Department which I foresee will become so great that the mind of Parliament must soon be taken in regard to it. This pressure is in the direction of technical education, and I must ask leave to say a few words in regard to it. Twice this Session the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Mather) has had the first place to call the attention of the House to the subject; but he has given way to political exigencies. His Motion is as follows:— That, in the opinion of this House, it is essential to the maintenance and development of our manufacturing and agricultural industries, in view of the rapidly increasing competition of Foreign nations, both at home and abroad, that our National system of Education should be so widened that manual training, the teaching of the natural sciences, and technical instruction may be brought within the reach of the working classes. This Motion covers the whole question of technical education, and is, therefore, wide in its scope; but at present I desire to confine my remarks to that portion relating to elementary schools, in which the hon. Member demands that— Our National system of Education should be so widened that manual training and the teaching of the natural sciences may be brought within the reach of the working classes. It is to be observed that the Education Department has been gradually forced to include some technical subjects into the Code, and to extend instruction beyond the three R's. Manual work is already adopted to a limited extent. Thus girls are taught needlework, and pressure is constantly put on the Department to increase this form of manual leaching, to the exclusion even of the English in the upper Standards. Again, cookery is taught to girls in the last years of their attendance at school. As yet it has not widely extended, but it is rapidly growing. In 1884 only 7,597 girls earned the grant of 4s.; but last year they had increased to 17,754. Both school boards and voluntary associations are making arrangements to extend this humble but very necessary kind of technical instruction. Again, last year the Department made a serious attempt to introduce drawing systematically as a class subject, the Science and Art Department undertaking the examinations, while the Education Department made the payment which, as I have already stated, accounts for 1¼d. of the increased grant per child that we ask for this year. Now, drawing is of immense importance in training both the hand and eye, even while it is freehand drawing; and if we can extend it into mechanical drawing, so as to enable boys to understand working plans placed before them, it becomes almost half of technical education. Now, what has been the result of our year's experience? I cannot express it to you in figures, for I have not yet got them; but I may say generally that it is satisfactory in quality and unsatisfactory in quantity. The quality of the drawing has much improved in the schools; but there is an indisposition to take it as a class subject through all the Standards. The reason for this is obvious. By Lord Sandon's Act the amount of grant not conditional upon subscriptions is limited to 17s. 6d. per child. The schools naturally desire to reach this limit by subjects most easily taught among the six class subjects, and drawing is found to take more time and attention than some of the other subjects. The Government will have to consider seriously whether, as the examinations are already under the Science and Art Department, the payments should also, as formerly, be made by it, so as to remove the cramp which keeps down the growth of drawing in elementary schools. I have thus shown that there are various kinds of manual teaching as well as mental teaching encouraged by the Code. Now, a new demand is made that the use of tools in wood and iron should be taught to boys in larger schools. Already some of the largo towns have built workshops and supplied them with tools for boys in the upper Standards of board schools. The boards in these cases do not ask us for money in aid of this equipment; but they demand, under Article 16 of the Code, that the Department should recognize the use of tools as a specific subject, and pay for it accordingly. The House need not be reminded that a specific subject is one taught to individuals and not to a class. The specific subjects are enumerated in Article 15; but the 16th Article invites the school managers to take any other specific subject if it is sanctioned by the Department. Two difficulties have met us in dealing with these demands. The first is that our Inspectors, able and talented as they are, have no experience in appraising the results of working with tools in wood and iron. This might be got over by asking the Science and Art Department to do so, because in administering the Whitworth scholarships it has got experience in this direction. But our main difficulty is that we do not like to enter into a branch of education without knowing the mind of Parliament. Unfortunately, the very important Reports of the Royal Commission on Technical Education have never even been discussed in Parliament, and have not yet seriously occupied the attention of the Government. That Commission found in various foreign countries that the use of tools is taught in elementary schools with excellent effect, and with this knowledge it would be difficult for the Education Department to say that it would not approve the teaching as a specific subject. But I would make a remark as to the conditions under which such an application could be considered. It is clear that the use of tools could not be encouraged among children learning the lower Standards. There is work enough to be done in giving literary education to these children. In after life they will have nothing but manual labour, and it would be hard to abstract any part of their time from the small amount of literary education which they get at school. After children have passed Standards V. or VI. the advantage of teaching the use of tools is more worthy of consideration, for it is then that they are apt to leave school altogether, and anything which would induce them to remain longer at school must prove a gain to themselves and to the State. Foreign countries keep all children to 14 years of age, and we fail in doing this. No less than 175,000 children have become half-timers by passing moderate Standards soon after 10 years of age. These are questions of importance, which cannot be determined by the Education Department without knowing the mind of Parliament. It is a great disadvantage to our educational system that there are not more frequent discussions on such subjects in the House. The political pre-occupations of recent years have stood in the way of such discussions; but the want of them paralyzes the hands of the Administration. Before referring to other subjects of technical education, I should like to make a few remarks on the progress of the Science and Art Department, as it, both directly and indirectly, does much to spread a knowledge of the Science and Art which form the true basis of technical education. The progress last year is remarkable. There are now 1,984 Schools of Science and Art under the Department, and last year 94,838 individuals were under instruction in Science and 69,837 in Art, besides those in the elementary schools. In subjects bearing directly on technical instruction, such as machine construction, building construction, applied mechanics, steam engines, practical chemistry, mining, and metallurgy, there were last year 28,639 persons under education. Gradually the localities are equipping well-furnished laboratories to make the chemical instruction practical as well as theoretical; and last year there were 14,587 places in these laboratories for experimental practice in chemistry. In Art, also, the progress of last year is very satisfactory, especially in the higher grades in which the subjects of design, architecture, and modelling are treated. The number of papers sent in for examination last month in the two grades of drawing was 57,867, showing an increase of 5,903 as compared with 1885. The Department of Science and Art now carries on a most useful work by circulating objects of artistic excellence to the various local museums throughout the country. There are now 30 local museums which have permanent loans made to them changed each year. Of these 14 have been added in the last two years, and the average value of each loan is £2,000. As the total sum granted by Parliament for the purchase of new objects is £10,000, it will be obvious that the local museums are supplied with objects of Art of greater value than the Annual Vote. The number of objects circulated to museums, exhibitions, and schools last year amounted to 26,718. Those who are interested in the promotion of technical education must be satisfied that this House and the Government have not been negligent in promoting it to a considerable extent, and even in anticipation of the demand which has only lately expressed itself in a more definite form than formerly. The House is aware that a Select Committee sat upstairs during this Session to inquire into the operation of the Endowed Schools Acts. Unfortunately, it has not been able, owing to the premature closing of the Session, to complete its evidence and to make its general Report. But I may state some general facts in regard to which there is no division of opinion. The Charity Commissioners adopted the views of the Schools Inquiry Commission, and divided the schools into three grades. The third or lowest grade of school was intended to meet the wants of the working classes exclusively, and was little above a higher elementary school. But the public elementary schools have advanced so much that the better schools are equal to the third grade endowed school, so that this class of school is now no longer regarded as necessary. It seems, therefore, to be expedient that these schools should be changed in their character into what foreign countries call improvement or continuation schools, and that they should be intimately connected by scholarships with the common elementary schools of the district. The Charity Commissioners have been spontaneously acting in this direction, and have been trying to impress upon those lower endowed schools more of a practical or technical character. It is in this direction that we must look for speedy development of advanced education for the working classes. Abundant evidence was given to the Committee that by the aid of scholarships to be competed for out of the elementary schools poor lads of promise were able to use the endowed schools of the country as schools of advancement. The Charity Commissioners have announced that in future they will endeavour to promote technical education through these schools. Returns were laid before the Committee showing that this had been done to a considerable extent already, even in advance of the demand which has recently arisen. A fully-equipped technical school requires a considerable endowment; but schools with smaller endowments teaching Science and Art can be used as stepping-stones to more advanced technical schools. It is in such a direction that the country must chiefly look for the development of technical education, because the Votes for Elementary Education are already so large that Parliament may be unwilling to give to them an indefinite extension. All the schemes of the Charity Commissioners have ultimately to be approved by the President and Vice President of the Education Department, so that by a cordial and activece-operation such as that which now exists between the two Bodies, a necessary link may be forged between the primary and endowed secondary schools of the country. It is the absence of any combination between primary and secondary schools which renders this country so inferior in educational organization to other countries in Europe. A few years ago a Select Committee, presided over by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Mr. Childers), recommended, as a first stop to obtain this organization, that a Minister of Education should be appointed. But Parliament in the following year, instead of consolidation, effected division in the educational work of the country by separating Scotch education from English education, and putting the former under the charge of the Secretary for Scotland. This, therefore, is the first year in which the Vice President of the Committee of Council for Education in England has nothing to tell the House about education in Scotland. I did all I could to prevent the repeal of this educational union last year; but I was unsuccessful, and the union was repealed. The Lord President is still a connecting link between the two countries; but the Vice President, who is responsible to this House for the educational administration of English education, has now no knowledge or responsibility for what is doing in Scotland. We used to receive much encouragement from the comparison of educational progress in the two countries; but now I know nothing about it till the Report comes out, unless the Lord Advocate follows me, and gives an educational statement for Scotland. I am afraid that I have detained the House too long upon a subject which bristles with statistics, and, if I had chosen to introduce them, with questions of controversy. I have avoided the latter, because there is now sitting a Royal Commission which is dealing very fully with the contested subjects of administration. They necessarily arise, however fairly and equally the balance is held between two systems—namely, voluntary and board schools. They are both working with the same end in view—the efficient elementary education of the people. The difficulties of working the two systems were greater formerly than they are now, and the Royal Commission will, no doubt, help us to remove the few points of friction which may remain. In the Select Committee on Endowed Schools we were all struck with one fact, that denominational difficulties seemed altogether to have disappeared. In a like Committee in 1873, on which I sat, our whole time was taken up in adjusting sectarian disputes. In the Committee of 1886 they had vanished altogether. This gives hopes for the future working of elementary education, because when the promoters of different systems have the same end in view it ought to be possible to work in complete harmony. This has been a year of great educational activity as regards inquiring into educational deficiencies. There is another Royal Commission of Inquiry in active operation. Its object is to devise the best means of educating the blind, the deaf, and the imbecile. Though a Member of that Commission, I have been too fully occupied with other work to take an active part in its deliberations; but from the evidence which I receive, and from my occasional attendances at its meetings, I am sure that we shall have a most valuable Report upon the means of educating those whose disabilities are so pitiable, and who look to us for the means of enabling them to become useful, and often productive, members of the community. In reviewing, as I have attempted to do, our educational position under the Department to which I belong, with no certainty that I will ever appear before you again in the position of Vice President, allow me to gratify my personal feelings, in which, however, I am sure you will share, by a concluding remark. I have pointed out to you that, so far as the original Act of 1870 founded a national system of elementary education, our progress since then has been eminently satisfactory. But the master builder who erected that edifice is no longer with us. In 1870 I was a mere apprentice hand in Parliament, and could do no more than lay a few bricks in the building which Mr. Forster was rearing. It is the only year since I entered Parliament in 1869 that we are no longer assisted by his counsels on all subjects which touched the welfare of the people, and I am sure that you would have thought my educational statement incomplete if I had failed to make some loving allusion to his memory.

MR. CONWAY (Leitrim, N.)

said, the Vice President of the Council had glided over certain little difficulties that existed. In the debate on the Education Act of 1870 it was over and over again laid down by speakers in that House that no harm was intended to the voluntary schools—that the board schools were to be supplementary and not competitive. The children in voluntary schools were quite as well taught as in board schools, and the voluntary schools were much more economically managed. The House ought, therefore, to see that no wrong was done to these schools. But since 1870 many of them had been crushed out of existence by the board schools; and between 1870 and 1880, 22, and between 1880 and the present time, 15, Catholic schools which had fulfilled every condition of the Code had been closed in consequence of the action of the board schools and their managers. In some cases the Department had shown itself ready to remedy grievances, but had been overborne by the school boards, who, in some respects, had more power than the Department. He hoped, however, that the Department would re-assert itself; and if the present Government again came into power, as he hoped they would, he earnestly trusted that they would remedy this most serious grievance.

SIR HENRY ROSCOE (Manchester, S.)

said, he must congratulate the Vice President of the Council on his lucid and admirable statement, and trusted he would long continue to fill that Office. Having, together with the Surveyor General of Ordnance (Mr. Woodall) and his hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Mather), been engaged on the Royal Commission on Technical Education, he was extremely pleased to find the right hon. Gentleman speaking out so strongly and so decidedly on this important subject, which he believed the country now generally felt should be introduced into our elementary school system. It was interesting to know that the Vice President had long entertained these views—that he was, in fact, the first to draw attention to the subject many years ago. In comparing the work done in this matter on the Continent with that done in this country the first point that struck one was the great difference in regard to drawing. He found that abroad the attention paid to the subject, which was the foundation of technical instruction, was almost universal; whilst in this country, in no fewer than three-fourths of the schools, drawing was not taught at all. He was extremely glad to learn that this question had attracted the attention of the Education Department, and that we were actually paying 1¼d. per child per annum for this most important subject. The subject of manual instruction had been mentioned by the Vice President; and he wished to point out that the subject was comprised in the recommendations of the Royal Commission, who advised that proficiency in the use of tools for work in wood and iron should be paid for as a specific subject, arrangements being made for the work being done, as far as practicable, out of school hours. He agreed with the opinion of the Vice Presideut as to the desirableness, in the higher Standards especially, of introducing manual work. Just as they had laboratories for the teaching of practical chemistry, so they ought to have workshops and appliances for the teaching of manual work, and in which not furniture or boxes should be in ado, but correct geometrical forms should be constructed, and models illustrative of mechanical principles. It seemed to him that as the Department paid for manual work, such as sewing and cooking by girls, there was no reason why they should not pay on the results for manual work by boys. With regard to science teaching, in the first place he would congratulate the Vice President of the Council upon the great progress made by the Science and Art Department. That Department was unique in Europe. There was no such thing in any part of the Continent as a thoroughly well organized system of examinations extending all over the country and comprising all sorts and conditions of men. This system, founded by the late Prince Albert, had grown to really astonishing proportions; and as a rule the work done—he spoke from his experience as an examiner—was admirable, and was producing most marked and valuable results. But in education there was no standing still, and he held that there were many matters, especially manual instruction, that might with great advantage be taken up by the Science and Art Department. The Royal Commission had recommended, with regard to scientific instruction, that the class subjects should be only two in number instead of three, and that in the lower divisions of elementary schools the object lessons should include geography. In the elementary schools of the lower grade the object lessons were most admirably taught; but then there was a great break, and the object which the Commission had had in view was to render scientific teaching, elementary scientific teaching—continuous from the lower grade of the elementary schools to the higher grade until the point was reached where the subject became a specific one. He trusted the House would not lose sight of the importance of setting the foundations of technical instruction in the elementary schools, and that drawing and manual instruction would be further encouraged, for he felt sure that that was the direction in which we must look for giving that sound practical instruction which was needed in order that our artizans might be educated up to the highest pitch of proficiency, and to enable them to compete with, success with foreign nations.


said, he must, in the first place, congratulate the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Lyon Playfair) upon the excellent and interesting statement which he had made. He had not only travelled over all the special questions of interest in this educational question; but he had managed to pass over all the many debateable points. He had been wise in adopting this course, as a Royal Commission was sitting to examine into such, points; and he (Sir Henry Holland) trusted that they would be thoroughly threshed out before that Commission. He himself, certainly, in the few observations he had to make, would keep clear of these special matters. His right hon. Friend (Sir Lyon Playfair) had been kind enough to give him the credit for the preparation of the Estimates and signing the Code. As regards the Code, he would remark that he had thought it his duty to make as few alterations as possible. He regretted that it had been found necessary so often to alter the Codes, as such a course threw increased difficulties in the way of those who had to work them. He thought that the Code of 1883, for which the country was so largely indebted to the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Mundella), who had done so much in the cause of education, should have a longer trial before any experimental changes were made. He also considered that as his own tenure of Office of Vice President was likely to be so short, he should only make such alterations as were called for by some immediate and pressing necessity. By referring to page 30 of the Code it would be seen that only two alterations had been made. The first was rendered necessary by the alteration as to drawing; the other was made to meet an objection raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General to the terms of Article 15 of the Code of 1883, which provided that, for the purpose of calculating the average attendance, each "attendance of a half-time scholar shall be counted as an attendance and a-half." This the Comptroller and Auditor General called "special attendances not actually made." He admitted that the power of defining an attendance was given by Section 97 of the Education Act of 1870; but he contended that the Department had no right to declare that an ordinary attendance should count for one and a-half or two attendances. This view was disputed by the Department; but there seemed no good reason to keep up the difference, as the principle of half-time was not disputed, nor the power of defining an attendance. An alteration was therefore made defining the attendance of a half-timer to be one hour and twenty minutes. As to the Estimates, he would only observe that the right hon. Gentleman had shown that the increase was entirely due, first, to increased attendances, and therefore increased grants; and, secondly, to increased efficiency. These improvements were most satisfactory, and must reconcile taxpayers to what was always primâ facie an unsatisfactory thing—namely, an increase of Estimates. He was glad to hear the statistics given by the right hon. Gentleman as to the attendance in this country compared with the attendance in Germany and America. Great doubt existed upon this point, and with a view of solving it Mr. M. Arnold was sent out, while the late Government were in Office, to inquire into this point, as also into the question of over-pressure and standards of education. He regretted that, owing to circumstances over which the right hon. Gentleman had no control, the Report of Mr. Arnold was not before the House; but he gathered from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the attendance here was better than in Germany; and the official Reports from the United States showed the same result; so that we had nothing to fear from a comparison with those countries which had been so often thrown in our teeth by speakers who had not really studied the question. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman as to the great and increasing improvement in infant schools; but he thought that, in many cases, there was still room for improvement in the teaching of infants, and in interesting them more in their work. He believed that wherever the Kindergarten system, or some modification of it, had been introduced, good results had followed. As regarded technical education, he was fully alive to the difficulties of introducing it to any large extent in purely elementary schools. Nor did he believe that the ratepayers would assent to the increased charge which would have to be made if it were so introduced. His present impression was that they must look to endowments, and to the schemes of the Endowed Schools Commissioners, for the establishment of such schools in central and convenient localities; while, at the same time, they might hope to see some technical education given to those children in elementary schools who had passed the Fifth or Sixth Standards. It was unfitted for those who were in the lower Standards, and who had not mastered the indispensable subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic. But this matter should receive the careful consideration of Parliament at an early date. As regarded grants for drawing, which was an important item in technical education, he did not quite see the force of the suggestion of his right hon. Friend that they should be paid by the Science and Art Department. It did not appear to him (Sir Henry Holland) that it made any real difference whether the amount in respect of such grants was paid by the Science and Art Department or by the Education Department. The money in either case must come out of the pocket of the taxpayer.


said, he referred to grants above the 17s. 6d. fixed by Lord Sandon's Act.


said, he quite understood that; but if the amount was to be paid it would come out of the pocket of the taxpayer whether it was voted for the Science and Art Department or the Education Department, and the only difference was that in the latter case the Act referred to might have to be altered. And now, with the leave of the House, he would address himself to the speech of the hon. Member for North Leitrim (Mr. Conway), who was a skilled witness in educational questions, and to whom the House had listened with great interest. The hon. Member had made special reference to the Dan-y-Graig case, and as this case had come before him (Sir Henry Holland) as Vice President he desired to make some observations upon it. He would first point out to the House the position of the case when he had to deal with it. A decision against making the grant had been given by his Predecessor (Mr. Mundella) on December 12, 1884. That decision was based upon the interpretation given to the Act of 1870 by the Education Department—namely, that when once a school board had been started, they must supply any deficiency of accommodation in the district under their jurisdiction, and that the Board were the judges whether such deficiency exists. This opinion was based upon the wording of the 18th section of the Act of 1870, which he would venture to read to the House. It provided that the school board— Shall, from time to time, provide such additional school accommodation as is, in their opinion, necessary in order to supply a sufficient amount of public school accommodation for their district. He begged the House to observe that the board were to judge whether there was a deficiency; and it was very doubtful, to say the least of it, whether the Education Department could interfere with the exercise of their discretion. If the board failed to provide sufficient accommodation, the Department had express powers given to them to interfere, and to compel the board to do their duty; but it would seem that they had no power to prevent the board from enlarging their schools and providing more accommodation, although the Department might not be satisfied that such accommodation was in fact wanted. The action of the Department in assenting to the enlargement of their premises by the Board, and the reasons for such action, are stated in a letter of January 23, 1886, to the Rev. A. P. Wilson— The application of the school board for permission to enlarge reached this office on the same day (viz., 21st February, 1884) as that upon which the warning before referred to was sent to you. It was not within their Lordships' administrative duty or power to direct the school board to postpone their own application (which they were entitled to make under Section 18) in favour of one from voluntary managers. With the view, however, of avoiding an unnecessary expenditure upon competing schools, a suggestion was made to the board to communicate with you upon the subject of your undertaking. The decision whether they would act upon this suggestion or not was a matter for their own discretion upon a review of the local circumstances within their knowledge. Rightly or wrongly, however, the Education Department had in June, 1884, granted their assent to the board to enlarge their premises on the ground of the proved deficiency of accommodation, and the duty which rested upon the board to supply such a deficiency. The ratepayers had, therefore, been taxed for the enlarged school, and their interests had to be considered when the Department were asked to make a grant to a voluntary school, however good and efficient—and this school was undoubtedly both good and efficient—in the district of the school board. In these circumstances, he did not think he was justified—and the Lord President concurred in this opinion—in overruling the decision of his Predecessor and the practice of the Department. He would add, what had not been fully pointed out by the hon. Member for North Leitrim, that the Dan-y-Graig school managers could not have been taken by surprise by the refusal of this grant. They had not had, as they asserted, permission given to them by the Education Department to build, as no permission was needed, and none was therefore granted. But, on the other hand, they had full warning given to them in February, 1884, that the school board would be consulted as to the grant. In a letter of that date it was stated that— For the purpose of avoiding any misapprehension, their Lordships cannot make any promise of annual grant until the school is in operation; and also that before giving such promise they will have, in accordance with their ordinary practice, to invite the opinion of the school board upon the application of the managers. The managers, in these circumstances, could hardly blame the Education Department for their action, though they might find fault with the Act of 1870, or contend that it had been wrongly interpreted. Well, this was one of the questions which he hoped would be brought before the Royal Commission which was now sitting. Speaking for himself alone, he should like to see each case dealt with on its own merits. He did not suppose that the Education Department would desire to have this responsibility thrown upon them; but he was inclined to think that it should be put upon them; and that they should have power, if they had it not now, to refuse to allow a school board to enlarge their premises, and thus cast an additional burden upon the ratepayers, when, in the opinion of the Department, there was already sufficient accommodation in the district if the voluntary schools were taken into account. He thanked the House for the attention they had given to him; and he desired to conclude, as his right hon. Friend (Sir Lyon Playfair) had done, by expressing his sense of the great loss the cause of education had sustained by the death of Mr. Forster, and of the untiring zeal and ability which he had always displayed in promoting that cause.

MR. MATHER (Salford, S.)

said, the Vice President of the Council had referred to the fact that he had put a Notice on the Paper of his intention to open out the very wide subject of extending to the working classes the advantages not only of elementary education, but of manual training and science instruction generally. It was impossible on this occasion to enter upon that great subject. He would content himself with some observations on the new era which the Vice President had opened out before the House by the expression of his views upon, the future of education in favour of bringing science and art teachidg and technical knowledge within the reach of the working classes. Those who had already spoken in the debate represented the professional knowledge of teachers in connection with educational matters. He belonged to that large army of employers who had to make use of the forces which the teachers in our elementary schools, Colleges, and educational institutions placed within their reach for the purpose of carrying on the great industries of the country. He had observed during the last 15 years in which the Education Act had been in operation that the youths coming into their employment year by year had shown a higher degree of refinement, greater brightness in their manners and aptitude, and a higher moral tone in their general conduct. To the Education Act of 1870 they must attribute these changes, and he would be the last to deprecate the advantages it had brought to the country. At the same time, there appeared to be a lack of those qualities which were necessary to enable us in the future to maintain the position of the country against the competition of other nations. The practical faculty of the boy coming into the workshop at the present time was not developed in the same measure as literary knowledge had been acquired. Such was the tendency of the education now given in our elementary schools that there was a distinct want felt on the part of employers of labour in consequence of the boys coming to them having scarcely a superficial training in science, and, so far as practice of the hand was concerned, as in drawing, hardly any training at all. He hoped from the speech of the Vice President that that state of things would speedily be altered. That could only be done by bringing manual training within the scope of the Elementary Education Act. This manual training would not interfere with the necessary literary instruction. On the contrary, it had been found, where manual training had been given in conjunction with elementary education, that all the subjects appertaining to that kind of education were more rapidly acquired, and more readily understood by the boys and girls, who during a certain portion of the school time had some means of manual employment. The experiments made in educating both head and hand together had been very successful in the United States. Manual training, if provided in our elementary schools for boys between the ages of 10 and 13, would tend to qualify a large number of the children of the working classes for occupations more likely to benefit themselves and the country than some of those they now followed. The great cry from all our Colonies had always been not to sand them young people who had no knowledge of facts and things and the use of their hands, but to send those that had a practical training. Hitherto the Education Code had given much more encouragement to the literary than to the practical side of education. He had hoped to introduce for the consideration of the House the subject of having in our elementary schools a workshop or laboratory in which the boys could pass some hours a-week, and in which they would receive a training constituting the experimental stage for the subjects taught them in their class-room. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman, if he remained at the Education Department, would encourage this view. There could be no doubt that we had to meet in competition nations which had endeavoured to inculcate into the minds of the lowest classes the necessary knowledge to enable them to make the best use of the materials they possessed. No country possessed richer materials, so far as the bounty of Nature could bestow them, than our own. No country possessed in such large measure the energy, perseverance, and determination which distinguished the Anglo-Saxon race. But in the future we must not rely so much upon these natural resources, because other countries with less resources were still following closely upon our heels. We must meet intelligence with intelligence, knowledge with knowledge, and skill with skill. He had the greatest confidence that England in the future might maintain even a higher relative position than she had held in the past, for when once the attention of Parliament and the country was turned to our needs they would take the means necessary to supply them. It might be necessary that the country should be asked to supply larger funds for educational purposes, and money spent in that direction he would never deplore. It was money better spent than in the building of ironclads, which were very soon found to be obsolete and useless—["No, no!"]—or, at least, had to be altered. To insure our not being overtaken by the competitors who were beginning to draw up to us, the country must not begrudge an increased expenditure upon education. The sciences, he held, ought to be taught to children early in life, just as the mysteries and paradoxes of grammar and language were taught to them now. It was not the enemies who might come against us with physical force that we had cause to fear, but rather those opponents who, going into our markets with greater skill, greater knowledge, and greater enterprise, turned us out from possessions we had hitherto enjoyed, and which we hoped to hold against the world for nil time. In defending those possessions any amount of money would be well spent. If every child were able to spend five hours per week in the workshop connected with every elementary school the working classes of the future would be intelligently trained from earliest youth in the mechanical arts to enable them to cope with the other nations of the world. The training of the head and hand mutt go together, and then he was sure that intellectually, industrially, and morally England would hold in the future a place higher than that she had held in the past, and that whatever progress other countries might make we would still hold our own against them. Before sitting down he wished to refer to another subject, and to urge that the school board should be made the proper authority for the remission of school fees. Great hardship was caused to parents by their being compelled to appear before Boards of Guardians to prove their poverty before they could obtain the remission of their children's fees.

MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)

said, that the Budget which the Vice President of the Council had explained to the House was the Estimate which had been prepared by his Predecessor in Office. He would have been glad if the Vice President of the Council had given the House the advantage of his opinion on some of the burning questions connected with the subject of elementary education in this country. He had given the House the benefit of some statistics; but while they expected those, they ought to have heard more in regard to the health of the children who were now under elementary training, and especially with reference to overpressure. There was no doubt, although the reports were not now so alarming as they had previously been, that there was still a great deal of injury being done to the health of children through the heavy tasks expected of them. He (Mr. Stanley Leighton) thought it would have been well if the Vice President of the Council had made some reference to the famous Report of Dr. Crichton Browne on this subject, for this was a Report which had justified the suspicions and the anxieties of the whole country. The Code was still enforced with a rigidity which was incompatible with the elasticity of human nature. A little more discretion should be permitted to the teachers to withdraw children from the examination. They should be allowed to do this without permission or direction from the Inspectors. Teachers naturally knew more about the children intrusted to their care than the Inspectors could know. That was a matter which had over and over again been pressed upon the House and the country by those who understood the working of elementary schools; and Vice Presidents, no matter what side of the House they sat upon, had not given due attention to the matter. He should like to have heard more from the right hon. Gentleman as to the system of payment by results as it worked in England and Wales. It was a question which the Education Department should take thoroughly in hand. Unless the health of the children was better looked after in our elementary schools, our system of education would keep them at a continued disadvantage in life. Again, he urged that they wanted continuation schools, and they wanted secondary schools; but they ought not to have the elementary schools mixed up with the secondary, otherwise, instead of enabling poor children to rise to the higher steps of the educational ladder, they would keep them back. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had spoken of his desire to ascertain the mind of Parliament on some of the subjects to which he had referred; but it should be remembered that they might fairly expect the Minister who had charge of the Education Department rather to lead Parliament on these questions than to follow it. The House wanted to know what the Minister of the Education Department had to say on these and cognate subjects; and he was of opinion that the right hon. Gentleman had not gone so far into the whole matter as the House had a right to expect.

MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)

said, that, as a Member of the Royal Commission on Education, he desired to express his concurrence with the views of the hon. Member for South Manchester (Sir Henry Roscoe) as to the desirableness of something being done to impart scientific and technical instruction to the pupils attending our elementary schools. This was a matter which he had himself frequently urged on previous occasions. At the present time it was found that the labour market of this country was being to a large extent destroyed, so far as Britons were concerned, by the importation of skilled foreign labour into the country. This labour was obtained at a much lower price as compared with what was ordinarily paid for it in our manufacturing districts; and it was far in advance, as regarded scientific skill, of anything which we could offer in our schools here. There could be no doubt that one of the great deficiencies we had to meet at the present time was the want of scientific and technical education. He hoped the hon. Member for South Manchester would come before the Royal Commission on the Education Acts and give evidence on this important point. The Commission desired to obtain evidence such as the hon. Member could give. He had a confident hope that they would be able to make their Report within about a year of the present time.

MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)

said, that he, too, was a Member of the Commission, and therefore he could not discuss controversial topics. He congratulated the Vice President on the able and interesting statement he had made. He thanked the late and the present Government for the appointment of the Commission which he urged without apparent effect in the course of the debate on the Education Vote last year. Pressure was brought to bear with more success after the debate; and the gravity of the subjects inquired into, and the evidence taken upon them, had been quite sufficient to justify the appointment of the Commission. Evidence of a practical kind had been given by persons of actual experience, and all such evidence would be gladly received and carefully considered. It was satisfactory to find that the voluntary schools were not only holding their own but making progress. In Church of England schools the accommodation had risen from 2,413,676 in 1883 to 2,515,770 in 1885; the average attendance had risen from 1,562,507 in 1883 to 1,637,426 in 1885, and the voluntary contributions of all denominations in 1885 amounted to £583,936. Notwithstanding the magnitude of the school board system, it must not be forgotten that there was all this voluntary agency, which was discharging a great deal of the educational work of the country. The Vice President strongly deplored that the House had so little time for the discussion of educational matters. If the Government had resisted the blandishments of Irish Members below the Gangway the House might have had more time this year. The past could not be retraced; but it was to be hoped that the House would in the future have more time to attend to the education of the country.