§ (1.) £1,658,807, to complete the sum for Public Education.
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE) (Kent, Dartford)
Mr. Courtney, it now becomes my duty to place before the Committee the Educational Budget for the coming year, and in doing so I am deeply conscious that I am addressing many hon. Members who have devoted a lifetime to the cause of education; and as the Estimates which I shall hare the honour of placing before the Committee are those of my Predecessor, and as I have not been many months in the Office which I now hold, I venture to claim from hon. Members that indulgence which, for those reasons, I am sure they will extend to me. There is another and, perhaps, more solid reason why I should not detain the Committee at any great length on matters, at all events; which are likely to be, in the future, 368 subject of controversy; and it is because, as the Committee is fully aware, one of the most important Commissions of modern times has collected an enormous mass of evidence, and it is only just to them to wait for their Report before we attempt to deal practically with the matters coming under their cognizance. I see behind me my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir John R. Mowbray), who is a Member of that Commission; and mindful of the remarks which he made the other evening, I do not propose to transgress the limits of the matters which fall within the scope of the inquiry of the Commission which he represents. Whatever may be the Report of the Commission, there is one thing on which I am certain we are all united, and that is that the suggestions of the Commission, and the legislative results that may follow, may be, at all events, for the solid advantage of the educational future of our country. I trust that whatever changes may come may be carried out without arousing Party spirit, or those sectarian difficulties which distinguished the legislation of some years ago. Now, if we attempt at this time to reconnoitre our position after the lapse of 17 years which have come and gone since Mr. Forster's Act was passed, I think we cannot be accused of acting with the waywardness of a child in taking up the plant just after it is set in the ground to see how the roots have grown. The lapse of those 17 years affords, at all events, some excuse for our endeavouring to see whether the system which now obtains is an absolutely perfect system, or whether it may not be remodelled to the advantage of the cause of education. With these few prefatory remarks I hope to be able to place before the House as succinctly as I can the Educational Budget of the year; and I propose, as usual, to place before the Committee the statement of the expenditure, and then to state a few facts as to the results of that expenditure, and what it has produced. The total sum required for Education in 1837–8 is £3,458,807, as against the sum of £3,402,989 for 1886–7. The Estimate for the coming financial year, therefore, shows an increase of £55,818. The annual grants for day and evening scholars show an advance of £52,502, or a sum of 369 £3,107,759 for 18S7–8, as against £3,055,257 for 1886–7. The reason for this increase is twofold. First, there is an estimated rise in the rate of the grant per day scholar from 17s. 4¾d. to 17s. 5d.; and, secondly, there is an increase in the number of children in average attendance of 52,000—that is to say, the total number of children in average attendance estimated for the financial year is 3,552,047, as compared with 3,500,197 last financial year. The increase in average attendance beyond the last figure ascertained for 1886 is 77,366, or 2.25 per cent. This rate of increase is slightly in excess of last year's estimate—that is, 2 per cent—but is still a low estimate when compared with the rate of increase in previous years. It is obvious that as we develop, or come nearer to, the number of children who should be in daily attendance, we so far exhaust the supply, and the old rate of increase must proportionately fall off; and we are practically left to deal with the increase of population, about 50,000. I must now offer some explanation as to the increase of ¼d. per day scholar in regard to the grant. It does not represent the actual increase; in fact, last year the estimate was 1¼d. too high, as was proved by the sum actually expended. The estimate was 1½d., and it turned out to be ¼d. too much. The Department are, therefore, really providing, not for an increase of ¼d., as would appear from the estimate, but of 1½d. as compared with 1886–7, although showing on the Estimates only an increase of ¼d. I must here mention another change which has been made, and which, I trust, will be an advantageous change, as far as the future is concerned. For drawing, £20,000 is withdrawn from the Estimate, as compared with last year, as the Science and Art Department have the sole control now as to drawing. For purposes of comparison, this sum is deducted from the Estimates of 1886–7, in order that it may be a correct one as regards the general expenditure. As to some other sub-heads, no provision has been made for increase in the staff of London, or for purposes of inspection; but there is a small increase of £ 1,137 and of £2,375 for salaries and inspection of a normal character. I will now turn to another matter, which I look upon as of great importance—I mean the question of pen- 370 sions to teachers. I wish to show the Committee what we are doing for our teachers as compared with what was done before the passing of a certain Minute, which allowed teachers to be exempt from the limit who had entered the ranks before 1851. In 1883 there were given 17 pensions of £30; this year there are 32 of the same amounts. There were 86 pensions in 1883 of £25; that number has now risen to 226. There were 129 pensions of £20 in 1883, and now there are 265. In 1883 the total grant for pensions and gratuities was £5,580. In 1887–8 the estimate is £12,370. That is a sum which, I believe, the Committee will not grudge, although I admit that the greatest care ought to be exercised in granting these pensions. There have, however, in former years been cases of great hardship on account of our inability to grant pensions, owing to our limited funds. There is, however, a novelty, and that is an item of decrease of £1,100 for Training Colleges., which is entirely owing to the reduction in the cost of maintenance and living of the students boarded in the Colleges. The grant is restricted to 75 per cent of the expenditure, and hence the proportionate reduction of the estimate. The actual expenditure from the Vote for 1886–7 was £3,421,339, or £1,649 less than the sum voted, which was £3,422,988. The sum expended would have been less but for the exertions made to quicken the payment of grants, so that a larger number than usual were paid within the financial year. Complaints of delay are now rare; and by increased efficiency of administration only, the time that elapses between the inspection of a school and the payment of a grant has been very materially reduced. That is a brief explanation of the expenditure of the year. I would now ask the patience of the Committee while I give a few details as to the results of that expenditure; and I think that, although we have not, perhaps, moved forward so fast as many might wish, it will, at the same time, be acknowledged, when the Committee hear my statement of the results of the year, that they are fairly satisfactory. Now, what have we gained in regard to our educational position for this large outlay? The number of schools inspected in 1885 was 18,895, and in 1886 it was 19,022, showing an increase of 127. Then, as regards school accom- 371 modation, there were in 1885 4,998,000 school places, and in 1886 5,145,000, showing an increase of 147,000, or 3.56 per cent. In 1885 the number of scholars on the register was 4,412,000, and in 1886 it was 4,506,000, showing an increase of 9!,000. In 1885 the number of scholars in average attendance was 3,371,000, and in 1886 it was 3,438,000, showing an increase of 67,000. The percentage of average attendance to the numbers on the register was 76.4, and in 1886 it was 76.3—a very slight decrease indeed. The percentage of passes in Standard examinations in 1885 was 85.14, and in 1886 it was 85.99. Then I come to the number of scholars examined in Standard IV. and upwards, and this is the brightest spot in the picture which I have to sketch. In 1885 the number of scholars examined in Standard IV. and upwards was 783,000, and in 1886 it was 848.000, showing an increase of 65,000 children in one year. I should like, before I close this portion of the statistics, to give the Committee the figures in reference to the teaching staff. In 1885 the number of certificated and assistant teachers was 61,616, and in 1886 it was 64,310, showing an increase of 2,694. There was also an increase in the number of pupil teachers; in 1885 it was 25,750, and in 1886 it was 27,804, showing an increase of 2,054. As far as these figures go they exhibit a very fair rate of progress, especially in the notable increase of the scholars examined in Standard IV. and upwards, which is almost exactly commensurate with the addition to the general number in average attendance. It shows, at all events, that the material turned out is of an improving character. There is only one blot, if it may be called a blot, in the figures I have read, and that is that there is a slight change for the worse in the rate of increase in average attendance. I think we may say that it has been at a standstill in the past year, and the progress of the previous year is not quite maintained, which must in a large measure be attributed to the very long and severe winter we went through which seriously impeded attendance at school in the North of England especially, the roads having been blocked up with snow. It is obvious that where the children have to walk a certain distance to school, the circumstance of the 372 ground being covered with great heaps of snow must seriously affect the average attendance at school. On this question of attendance there are other causes—material causes—which also operate; but I may recur later on to that particular point. I should, however, like, if I am not wearying the Committe with figures, to give them the comparative increase of the number of scholars on the registers and in average attendance for each of the four years commencing in 1883. In 1883 the increase in the number on the registers was 84,000, or 2.4 percent for that year. In 1884 the increase in the number on the registers was 64,000 or 1.5 per cent. In 1885 the increase on the registers was 75,000, or an increase of 1.73 per cent; in 1886 it was 94 000, or 2.12 per cent. The average attendance in 1883 was 112,000, or an increase of 3.7 per cent; in 1884, 146,000, or 4.67 per cent; in 1885, 98,000, or 3 per cent; and in 1886, 67,000, or 1.99 per cent, I should like to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that in 1882 there was a change made as regards registration, which, of course, affected these figures considerably for the nest year or two. It would appear that while the average attendance had been increasing at a gradually reduced rate, until 1885–6. the rate of average attendance far exceeded the rate of increase in the number of scholars on the roll—that is to say, out of every 100 scholars enrolled, there were, until last year, a gradual increase as regards average attendance. But in 1886 it was stationary. I turn now to the actual results of examination, and here the record is most satisfactory. We can show a steady increase, not only in the scholars examined in Standards IV. to VII., but an equally good result as regards per centage of passes in the Standard examinations. The percentage of scholars in Standards IV. to VII. was, in 1883, 29.03; in 1884, 31.26; 1885, 32.9; and in 1886, 3.47. Hon. Members will therefore see that a steady progress has been maintained, and one that is most satisfactory as regards the results. Again, the per centage of passes in the Standard examinations was, in 1883, 82.89; in 1884, 83.58; 1885, 85.14; and in 1886, 85.99. Here also hon. Members will observe that the progress has been steady and satisfactory in every respect. Now, I should 373 like, for one moment, to show what the result as regards Standard IV. and the higher class examinations has been since the Act of 1876, which, as hon. Members are aware, brought about compulsory attendance. I think the figures show a marvellous rate of progress. In 1876 the number of scholars examined in Standard IV. and upwards was 235,000, while in 1886, after 10 years' experience of the working of the Act, it was 848,000, or an increase of 260 per cent. The total number examined in 1876 was 1,142,000; in 1886 it was 2,445,000, or au increase of 114 per cent—that is to say, in the higher Standards, the number of children examined was increased 3½ times as rapidly as the children examined in the lower Standards. I think we ought to congratulate ourselves on such a result as that a further proof of substantial progress may be gathered from the "merit grant," which determines the standard of excellence attained by the great mass of elementary schools in the country. There are practically four degrees, as hon. Members are aware—below fair, fair, good, and excellent,—and I should like to show the percentage of schools classified under these several degrees, and for that purpose I will take the years 1884, 1885, and 1886. Taking infant schools and classes first, the children "below fair" were, in 1881, 6.95 per cent; in 1885, 4.7 per cent; and in 1886, 3.7 per cent; those who were "fair" were, in the same years, 32.95 percent, 28.4 per cent, and 26.3 per cent; "good" were 47.65 per cent, 50 per cent, and 51.29 per cent; and "excellent" 12.15 per cent, 16.9 per cent, and 18.71 per cent respectively in the schools for the other children; and taking the same three years, the results were as follows:—"Below fair," 6.47, 6.6, and 5.65 per cent; "fair," 30.05, 28-.6, and 28.63 per cent; "good," 48.97, 4.89, and 50.22 per cent; and "excellent," 14.49, 15.9, and 16.1 per cent. Now, if we take the two first as representing the moderate schools—below fair and fair—and the last two the better class of schools—good and excellent—we have this result, that in 1884 the best infant schools were 60 out of every 100, whereas they are now 70, and of those for older children the good wore 63 out of every 100, and they are now 66. So far as these figures go, I think the Committee will be satisfied, although the Budget 374 may be said to be an enormous one, having reached a magnitude which the founders of the Act of 1870, and those of us who support it, never appreciated at the time, yet, that the money is not thrown away, and considerable and active progress is being made. I should like to touch upon one or two general topics; but before doing so I may give some figures to show the increase in the number of school places, of the children on the register, the average attendance, and the grant per head. Seventeen years have now elapsed since the passing of the Act, and I do not think that this is a bad time for endeavouring to illustrate our position now, compared with what it was then. In the year 1870, when the Act was passed, there were 1,878,000 school places, 1,693,000 children were on the register, with, an average attendance of 1,1.52,000, or 68.03 per cent, the grant per head being 9s. 11¼d. In 1886, however, there were 5,200,000 school places, 4,553,000 on the register, and 3,470,000 in average attendance, or 76.21 per cent, while the grants had increased from 9s. 11¼d. to 17s. 2½d. per scholar. Having said so much in regard to the educational expenditure, I trust I may be forgiven if before I sit down I allude to one or two subjects which, although they are in themselves minor subjects, are illustrations which may guide us in our future anticipations. In the first place, I wish to allude to the most valuable change which we have made in the year in respect of drawing. It is unnecessary, I think, to urge on the Committee the great importance of spreading and nurturing in every way we can the teaching of drawing. In reading the Report of the Commissioners on Technical Instruction there is nothing that strikes one more than the great astonishment they express as to the way in which, in contrast to the system of Continental countries, we in this country have neglected the important subject of drawing. In their Report they show how in nearly all the places abroad they found that drawing is an obligatory subject of instruction in the primary schools, and is regarded as of equal importance to writing. The number of hours devoted to the subject is frequently as many as three per week; whereas in England the subject is not only not obligatory, but in about three-fourths of our ele- 375 mentary schools no instruction whatever is given on this subject, and in those schools in which it is done the time rarely exceeds one hour per week. They complain of the absence of competent teachers and the want of proper models, and they make a strong recommendation that instruction in the rudiments of drawing should be incorporated with writing in all primary schools, both for girls and boys, by which also, in their opinion, writing would be much improved. Whether we have reached a stage when we should adopt that system I do not stop to discuss; but I am glad to find, not only from this Report, but from other circumstances to which I will refer, that, at all events, the people of this country are waking up to the fact that we must endeavour to make some room in our curriculum for this kind of instruction in our elementary schools. I believe that owing to the frequent changes in the application of the instruction, drawing in our elementary schools has suffered grievously. In a great many of our schools the changes in a vast number of instances are found out too late to be applied the same year. I trust that we have at last discovered a system by which we find ourselves on firm ground, which will work satisfactorily, and will not need change. In 1885 a new course of instruction in regard to drawing was adopted, and then, for the first time, it was decided that drawing should be taught in the schools and made a class subject. At the same time, the Minute of the Science and Art Department provided that the grant in drawing should not be made through that Department after March 31st of this year. The twofold system does not seem to have worked well, and the figures show a considerable decline in the number of children who learnt drawing. Of the average number of elementary schools which had adopted drawing, no less than 300 declined to be again examined under that system in 1885–6; and as regards the connection between the elementary schools and the grant from Whitehall, only 1,400 schools adopted the system in 1884–5. We know how much the teachers are pressed under the present system; and it is perfectly natural that they should look to the grants from Whitehall with a desire to gain the seventeen-and-sixpenny limit in the easiest way, by adopting the 376 cheapest and less troublesome method of instruction. It is only human nature to expect that they would take that course. Before I leave the subject I should like to mention what the result has already been of the change which has now been made of placing the whole system—the grant and the distribution of the grant—under the control of the Science and Art Department outside the seventeen-and-sixpenny limit. By a Minute of the 8th of March, 1887, it was provided that after the 31st of that month all the grants would be paid by the Science and Art Department. Since that date, of 4,700 schools in England and Wales, 2,652 have already accepted the terms; whereas only about 1,400 schools adopt drawing under the old system. The figures I have now given show that we have advanced with great strides since this change was made, and if we take into consideration the circumstance that the notice adopting these terms in the school need only be given within six months of the termination of the school year, I think it will be agreed that the change is likely to prove eminently successful. There is another subject of a technical character, somewhat analogous, to which I should also like to refer for a few moments—I mean the teaching of cookery in our elementary schools. An enormous advance, as hon. Members are aware, has been made in the teaching of cookery in our schools, and they will also be aware of what has been done of late years to forward that question. I need not remind the Committee that at the present moment a specific grant of 4s. is allowed for girls who are instructed in cookery. The instruction given is not only of a theoretical character, but the scholars are also obliged to go through certain lessons of cookery with their own hands. In 1883, cookery was only taught in 420 of our schools; but now it is taught in 812 schools. The number of girls has also increased from 7,799 in 1884–5 to 24,556 in the present year. That is a most important and satisfactory change. I do not think a more welcome reform has ever been made in what I may call the internal arrangements of our educational system. There is nothing that can be more welcome to the poorer classes than the introduction of this cookery question. It is impossible to estimate the gain to 377 a poor man's home by girls being taught thrift, economy, and cleanliness. Whether girls leave school to go into service, or remain at home, it is satisfactory to know that they had been taught home duties, and if they become wives, they will be able to make their homes happier and more comfortable, and their husbands will probably be kept at home instead of being driven away to the public house. A further change has been made with regard to the question of cookery, which I am anxious to mention for a special reason, because, from circumstances which have come to my knowledge, I have reason to believe that in country districts the managers of schools do not seem fully aware what the result of the change is, and how it ought to be immediately and successfully applied. I allude to the change in the Code whereby we offer the grant of 4s. for cookery to evening schools. It is a very wide change, for it not only enables the grant to be given for girls in the evening schools, but it also throws open the evening classes to the scholars in the day schools, if they like to attend them. Therefore hon. Members will see that the grant is a generous one in this respect, as it will enable scholars to get an extra grant from the day schools by attending the classes for cookery in the evening schools. This is a most important change, and I am glad to find, from communications I have had, and from personal conversations with the Inspectors and others, that the subject of cookery is being most actively taken up. All I know is that the Inspectors are fully alive to the importance of dealing with the subject, and there is good reason to believe that the movement is not only a popular movement, but that it is steadily progressing. But that is not all. I have heard one or two objections made to the proposal on the ground that the number of hours of instruction required by the Code would be prohibitory in many cases. If hon. Members will look at the Code, they will see that there is bound up with it the necessity for 40 hours' instruction in cookery, plus the 25 hours demanded for other purposes in the evening schools. It has been urged upon me that these 40 hours are prohibitory if they are to be added to the 25, and instances have been given of the cases of girls who are employed all day in the factories. It is asked how 378 they can possibly manage to gain the grant, because they have not the time at their disposal, plus the 25 hours that are necessary to enable them to gain the other grant? But we are spending at this moment a considerable sum in grants in connection with this question of cookery, and in one year the grant went up 38.14 per cent. This new difficulty having been raised, what I propose is that we shall give the system now inaugurated a fair trial for a year, and if we find the difficulty is a substantial one, we will make some alteration with regard to the number of hours. The suggestion has been thrown out, and I think there is something in it, that we should make some modification in the number of hours, and a like modification in the grant, and I am told that a change of that kind would be popular. I referred just now to what I consider to be a weak spot in the statement I have to make. It has reference to the school attendance, and no doubt hon. Members will point out that it is not what it ought to be. I believe this to be one of the most difficult problems that we are called upon to solve. Whatever the Commission now sitting may have to urge against it, I do feel strongly that any radical change with regard to school attendance must be made in regard to the habits and prejudices of our people. It is only natural that I should allude to the difficulties which have occurred in the past year. I believe that much of the difficulty with regard to attendance has been due to the disastrous state of trade and agriculture. It is obvious that in the present state of agriculture, with an enormous acreage laid down in grass, and the growth of cereals being largely reduced, that a large amount of labour must be driven into the large towns. These two difficulties of a depression of trade and agriculture act and react upon one another, and instead of having a steady labouring population, not liable to sudden influx, you are liable to a large sudden access of population, and too often of a shifting population which cannot get work, and are in great difficulties. No doubt this is a grievous blot and difficulty in regard to the compulsory attendance of our children at school. I believe that an hon. Friend of mine—tho hon. Member for Lincolnshire—who has taken the trouble to visit most of our London schools, and I 379 think we owe him a debt of gratitude for doing so—is able to state that he saw in our board schools only two many children who bore on their faces evidence of hunger, showing how impossible it is to feed the brains of those whose stomachs are starving. I know that I am touching delicate and dangerous ground. [Cries of "Hear, hear !"] Yes, I am aware of it; and I know that I shall be told—and I acknowledge the truth of it—that this is a Poor Law question, and that by feeding these children we shall be setting up in our schools a huge system of outdoor relief. I cannot conceive anything more impossible or absurd than to attempt such a thing as that. If we attempt anything like wholesale relief to these unfortunate children, it would be an obvious temptation to parents to manufacture hungry children and send them to the schools. That would be a most dangerous system to adopt. I think that much of the evil I am speaking of might be obviated, and I believe it is obviated as far as possible by the humanity and discretion of the school board officers. The problem is how can the whole evil be best obviated? And here I would say that one of the chief reasons why I call attention to the subject is this, that I believe the proper way to obviate the evil is by a judicious application of charity on the voluntary system, which is never absent where distress exists in our large centres. I think a great deal of good would come from the further development of the system, of penny dinners. Where the system is well managed, it is made to pay. It is, I believe, a sound system, and if it were properly applied, it might be found a very great remedy for the evils to which I have referred. There is one other subject akin to this which I should like to allude to, and that is the difficulty—a very grave difficulty—which some of our poorer children suffer in some of our voluntary schools, especially in the country. With, regard to the payment of fees, I know that in this matter a very great grievance is felt in many of our districts in regard to the payment of the fees of the children in voluntary schools. It is claimed that these children are not on all fours with the children attending the board schools. The parents object to having to go very long distances to receive very small sums of money—they object to appearing 380 before the Guardians with others in formâ pauperis; they say that it causes a kind of stigma to be attached to them which they have no right to be asked to boar; they declare that it is unfair and unjust to many of them, who, although they could obviously and easily obtain this form of relief, would rather go without it, and prefer to suffer and say nothing rather than have the stigma of pauperism attached to their names. An effort of legislation has been made this Session with regard to the question, and I believe that as the order has been discharged, I have a right to refer to it. Under that Bill, a Committee would have been appointed in each locality to deal with the matter; but a Committee is not a responsible body, and it seems to me that it would be a dangerous system to establish, seeing that it would be a rate-charging system. There would obviously be a great temptation on the part of the Committee to gain popularity by easing individuals at the expense of the community. There would be nothing more simple and easy than for a body of three or four people discussing this question when they are living in the country, in the midst of the population affected by their decision, to be guided by motives of this kind, and I think the system would be an extremely dangerous one unless the responsibility were allowed to rest in the proper quarter. The only suggestion I have seen which would have occurred to me as likely to answer and work fairly well is this, that there should not be a separate Committee, but a Sub-Committee of those who are responsible—the Guardians themselves for instance—to deal with the matter.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
My right hon. Friend says they would not do it. Perhaps not; but at all events that would be a fair effort. Such a Sub-Committee as I have described should meet elsewhere than at the place where the Board usually meets, and at a different time to discuss these matters. Indeed, they might meet in another building. In this way I think the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman, apprehends might to soma extent be obviated, and we might avert the stigma which would otherwise attach to the parents of applying in formâ pauperis. I admit that this proposal may be found 381 impossible to work, but I merely threw it out as a suggestion. I, however, am certain of this, that the difficulty must be met in some way or other, and I have no doubt we shall receive valuable assistance from the Commission now sitting. I have only one other subject to deal with before sitting down. I should like to give one or two figures to the Committee with regard to the vexed question of payment by results. I am not going to argue on the merits or demerits of the system of payment by results. We know the importance of the system, which is very much condemned in some quarters, and whatever changes are made in the future with regard to it, I am quite sure that there is nothing which can have a more important bearing, either for good or for evil as regards education than this matter of payment by results. When we hear so much said about payment by results, I should like to read some figures to the Committee dealing with individual fixed payments, or general payments, as compared with individual payments on results. Take the infant schools and classes. The average attendance was 995,867, and the amount of the payment last year was 14s. 8½d. year head. No part of that grant can be said to have depended upon individual passes. Three-fifths of it was absolutely fixed, subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions, and the remainder depended on the general character of the work done, giving the teachers full freedom as regards choice of method. Then take the schools for the older children—the amount of the average attendance of the children was 2,464,571, and the payment per head was 17s. 9¾d. Then, again, the fixed payment was 4s. 6d., the payment for general excellence and class teaching 5s. 11d., as against 7s 4¾d., for individual examination payments. If we take the total for the infant schools we should have £441,684 of a fixed grant, and £290,678 as a general grant; and in the case of the older children, the fixed grant was £559,433, thegeneralpayment£730,234, and the individual £905,576. I think it is only fair to put these figures before the Committee, and in so doing it should be understood that I do not wish to enter into a preliminary discussion as to the good or evil of the present system. It is one of the most difficult and com- 382 plicated questions we shall have to consider in the future, and it will have an enormous result as affecting our school system. My task is now well nigh over. I am more than grateful to the Committee for having paid such close attention to my remarks. It is impossible for anyone holding the responsible position which I have the honour to hold not to be anxious as regards the future of this great educational system of ours. The more closely we study the question, the more assured we shall become that the future of this country is inseparably connected with this educational movement. Perhaps, as regards the future, the most refreshing thing for us to contemplate is this, that amidst all the strife and din of Party the education question is free from Party taint; and I trust that, whatever our future contests may be upon this question, they will not he contests of Party, but contests between men who think only of what is good for the future of the State and for the thorough, and good education of our children.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
I rise with great pleasure to re-echo the sentiments which have just been uttered by my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council. I am sure we are all glad to congratulate him for the interesting statement he has placed before the Committee to-day, and for the record of continuous progress under the Education Acts—a progress which, I think, in its beneficial effects has been beyond the result of any other legislation that has ever been passed by the House of Commons in the present century. Reference has also been made to the Royal Commission, now sitting, and the right hon. Gentleman, in his opening remarks, made an apology for trespassing on their functions. I am bound to say that there was no necessity for that apology, because I do not think that in the statement which the right hon. Gentleman made the other night he trespassed in, the least degree upon their functions. He was strictly performing his duty as Vise President of the Council in placing before us every question that affects the education of the country. I am not one of those who expect much from the Royal Commission. It is a case, I think, where they might say—"Blessed are they that expect nothing." But I did 383 expect that some useful information would be got through the sitting of the Commission. We have had that already from some of the witnesses, and if we do not get a good majority Report we shall get a Report from some of the Members which will be useful in the future. That is one advantage from the sitting of the Commission which no one is more ready to recognize than I do. It comes from letting well alone. The appointment of the Commission had this good effect, and I am thankful for it, that it showed that the Code and the instructions which were adopted in 1883 have been continued from that time to the present with increasingly successful results. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentlemen who now sit on the Treasury Bench (Sir William Hart Dyke and Sir Henry Holland) fur the continuity of their policy, and for having carried on the work on the lines on which the Government proceeded when I had the honour to occupy the position which they have occupied under the present Government. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that there has been no increase in the average attendance during the last year—that there has been a slight diminution. Since the passing of the Act of 1876, with the exception of the first quarter of that year, the attendance has steadily increased. It has risen, I believe, from 76.3 per cent to 85 per cent, and I am glad to find that the Committee of Council recognize the main factors in that success. They attribute it mainly to the Act of 1880—the Act which prescribed the Standards. What we really need now is an extension of that Act. We want a minimum Standard, and that the Standards, when fixed, shall apply to the whole country. The right hon. Gentleman has attributed the arrest of the progress in average attendance to the severe winter. That may, no doubt, have had something to do with it; but the depression of trade and agriculture and the difficulty of paying fees had probably still more and were the principal factor in the question. There are two difficulties in the way of raising the average attendance, and one of them is that throughout England and Wales an authority is established which is in the main indifferent to education—the Boards of Guardians. School attendance committees ought to be equal to the school boards; but they are not 384 in general very earnest about this question of enforcing attendance. The fact is, that there are not sufficient school attendance officers, and the magistrates themselves do not sympathize with the work, and do not enforce it. Mr. Oliver, the Inspector for Lincolnshire, says, in the general Report of the Chief Inspector in 1886, in regard to the Eastern Division—With some two or three exceptions managers rely altogether on the local authority to secure attendance. The administration of the compulsory clauses by local bodies is very unsatisfactory, speaking generally. School boards and attendance committees are, in too many cases, composed of persons whose (supposed) interests are opposed to their duties. In some cases their members are themselves the chief offenders against the Act within their district. In very many instances they are ignorant of their duties, or wilfully neglect them. Much of the blame for the (admitted) unsatisfactory administration of the clauses is thrown upon the magistrates, not altogether without reason.Mr. Davies says the same thing. He says—The attendance is the weakest point in my schools. Without being able to charge any of the boards or attendance committees with culpable negligence, yet I cannot but feel that the attendance officer's work is in most cases poorly done. He is generally too much connected with his surroundings to do his duty well. I quote a case I had to take notice of. At a school in the Sleaford Union the mistress and clergyman complained loudly of the uselessness of the school attendance committee, saying that the attendance officer had not been once to the school in the past school year. They replied, ' Yes; but that the mistress had arranged with the officer that he need not come unless she sent for him;' and the committee seemed to think this a good arrangement.Mr. Wilson says—It is a very common practice here for the by-laws to allow children to be absent most or ail of the summer (if qualified for half-time), and only to enforce their attendance the rest of the year. I have lessened the evil by getting 250 attendances instead of 150 in many cases. One Union has abolished half-time. The only half-time recognized should be some regular system of alternate days or weeks, and I would grant total exemption to no child under 13. The present system of education in country districts is very largely a waste of public money, as the children leave about 11 years old, and forget all again.A similar statement runs all through the reports from the rural districts, and, indeed, in some of the reports from Wales the same statement is made. What is the remedy for the present state of things? If we are not 385 to have a school board in every rural parish, we ought to have some independent educational authority, separate from the Boards of Guardians. There never was anything worse for education in this country than to have put the education in the non-school board districts into the hands of the Boards of Guardians. The evil effect produced by the system has been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman himself. There is no power to remit or to pay fees on behalf of poor parents, except through Boards of Guardians; and in times of distress, the parents, whether poor agricultural labourers or town artizans, object to go before the Boards of Guardians to plead to be relieved from the payment of 2d. or 2½d. a-week, or to have the amount paid for them. Until you get rid of that evil, you will have constant complaints as to the average attendance. In London the average attendance is 82 per cent, or 6 per cent above the average attendance of England; but the average for England is brought down enormously by the low attendance of the agricultural districts; 82 per cent is the average in London, and in many of the large towns it is oven more than that. Then what must be the average in the rural districts, where compulsory attendance is not enforced? Mr. Wilson reports that much of the money spent on education in the rural districts is absolutely wasted, because the children leave school at so early an age that they forget everything they have learnt. We must do what the Scotch have done. We must have a minimum Standard, whether in the towns or in the rural districts. Why should there be a difference in the case of a peasant's child on one side of the Border and not on the other? Why should the Standard on one side of the Border be never less than the 5th; whereas in England it is constantly the 4th, and I am afraid there are some cases in which it is as low as the 3rd? And, be it remembered, I am speaking of full time, and not of half time. My right hon. Friend referred to Bradford; but in Bradford they have been screwed up to half time. Some of our low Standards refer to full time. I have been told recently by the manager of one of the best rural schools in England—the Woodside School—that the Fourth Standard is the Standard of full time, and that the 386 Guardians are unwilling to continue payment when the children have passed the Standard for full time. The truth is that the children are are taken from school altogether too young to retain the education they obtained in the rural schools. I am glad, however, to see that in some cases the progress has been very marvellous, and the growth in the percentage of children passing the Standards is the most satisfactory feature in the Report of the Education Department. There is a table on page 10 of the Report which the Committee of Council has presented to us which shows some very remarkable results. Whereas, in 1872, there were only 36,800 children presented in Standard V., which was the present Standard IV., the number presented last year was 265,000, the number presented in Standard VI. in 1872 was only 15,000, last year it was 103,000; and while in 1872 in ex-Standard VI. and Standard VII. there were none presented, last year the number presented was 25,000. All this is a satisfactory proof of the progress we have a right to expect and to ask for. The Estimates entitle the country to look for progress. What I want to point out is that our large expenditure is in a very great measure defeated by the want of further legislation in the direction of raising the Standards, and of better machinery for compelling the attendance of the children in schools. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the percentage of schools which have passed as "fair," "below fair," "good," and "excellent." I was glad to see the "good" and "excellent" increasing; but when the right hon. Gentleman spoke of "fair" and "below fair" as moderate schools, I could not agree with him. So far from being moderate, such schools which can only be called "fair" and "below fair" are bad schools; we ought not to have them; they are a discredit to us. The main cause is one which I shall refer to shortly. I have been advocating the raising of the Standards. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to consider the advantages which the Scotch have obtained from raising their Standards. He will find it an interesting study. If we turn to the percentage of children who pass in the high Standards in Scotland, it will be found that more than 7 per cent above 13 years of age are in attend- 387 ance in Scotland, while only about 3½ per cont of the children are in attendance in England. Then take the subjects in which the Scotch children are passing. I should like the Committee to hear two or three figures which show the quality of the education in Scotland as against our own. The scholars examined in Latin last year in Scotland were 7,145. As the population of Scotland is less than one-sixth of that of England, we ought, if we are to hold our ground as compared with the Scotch, to have 44,000 examined in Latin in England; but the number was only 342, and I believe they were nothing but pupil teachers. And what were the number examined in French in Scotland? I think we are all agreed that French should be taught in our elementary schools to the higher classes. The time will come—it ought to have come now—when we shall make one foreign language obligatory in our schools. My right hon. Friend sent Mr. Matthew Arnold to Germany to inquire what they were teaching there. He went to Hamburg, and he found that every child in an elementary school at Hamburg was taught English. In Scotland last year 5,154 children were examined in French. Multiplied by six, we ought to have had 30,000 examined; but we passed only just about as many as the Scotch, so that for every child in England who learns French at an elementary school six are taught in Scotland. The real reason is that the children are kept longer at school. I would appeal to the hon. Gentleman opposite who represents the London School Board (Sir Richard Temple) what hope he can have of success in the London School Board if he cannot secure a full-time attendance. It simply means a vast expenditure with miserable results. It is high time that a change should be made. With regard to the remission of fees, I think that the time has come when we can no longer leave that matter to be dealt with by the Guardians. It is my opinion that unless we establish a certain number of free schools in every town, we shall have free education altogether forced upon us. I, for one, should rejoice if that were so. I have come to the conclusion that it would be the best way of promoting good education in England; that it would be most satisfactory in its results, 388 and that it would do more to elevate our population than we are now doing. What are we doing now? While we are raising them on the one hand by giving them instruction, we are degrading them on the other by bringing them into contact with all the machinery of pauperism. If a man or woman once breaks through that sense of independence, and that honourable spirit which the English people possess, which refuses them to go to the Board of Guardians for relief for the mere sake of the education of their children, depend upon it they will soon go for something more. They will have got rid of the first sense of shame and the first feeling of reluctance; you will have broken down their spirit of independence, and instead of going for 2d. a week they will go for 3s., and you will find that you have been adopting means for increasing pauperism. I trust that as speedily as possible we shall establish some free schools. I think that in London there is abundant scope for them, and also in every large town, and I am afraid everywhere. If we do not soon adopt some method of establishing free schools I am afraid we shall be bringing the people into a contact with pauperism from which it will be difficult to free them altogether hereafter. I have drawn a comparison between Scotland and this country in regard to the higher subjects and the larger attendance in the Scotch schools. It is not that the Scotch people are making better progress than we are. I find on examination that the ratio of progress is greater in England than it has been in Scotland, and I believe that our English children pass a more strict test and a more severe examination than the Scotch children do. It is, however, a remarkable fact that, whereas each child in this country only earns 17s. 2d. per annum, the Scotch children earn 18s. 7d. per head. I am well aware that our fellow-countrymen and the Scotch Representatives are fully alive to these facts, and as an indication of progress it may be a matter for rejoicing; it is due very likely to the higher subjects which are taught in Scotland, and the fact that the children there remain longer at school. It is, nevertheless, true that every Scotch child last year drew 1s. 6d. per head more for education than an English child. There is another point which the 389 right hon. Gentleman did not refer to, and he will, perhaps, excuse me if I draw his attention to it. It is a matter referred to in the Report before us as to the relative progress of the Board and voluntary schools. I remember when I went to the Education Department in 1880, the grants paid to the voluntary schools were in excess of those paid to the Board schools. Since then the board schools have been gradually creeping on improving the character of their instruction, while the voluntary schools, as compared with the board schools, have been falling back. It is a fact, according to this Report, that the children in the voluntary schools are now earning one shilling per head less than the children in the Board schools. I am making no charge against the voluntary schools. I know there are many voluntary schools which are quite as good as the board schools. I know some voluntary schools which are among the very best schools in the Kingdom; but that only proves how many there must be that are very bad, seeing that they have fallen so much below the earning rate of the board schools. Let me ask the Committee to consider what that sum of 1s. per head represents. It means 2s. in some instances, and where a voluntary school is earning 2s. per head less than a board school it means that the voluntary school is a far inferior school for a child as compared with the board school. What is the cause of this? I believe it is that we want better teachers and a better staff in all of our schools. But the voluntary schools are specially starved for want of stuff. Too much reliance is placed in voluntary schools upon pupil teachers, and pupil teachers are about the worst device we can resort to for conducting voluntary schools. I hope to live to see the time when there will not be such a thing as a pupil teacher in England, which is, I believe, the only country in Europe where such a thing is to be found. It is simply a device to save expense, and the expense is saved at the cost of the children and their school life. I trust the time will come when we shall get rid of the pupil teacher altogether. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of drawing. Now, the Drawing Minute was copied strictly from the recommendations of the Commission on Technical Education. The 390 Department said—" We will bring it within the 17s. 6d. limit, and the grant will be more easily earned if we include drawing in it." What was the result? The right hon. Gentleman has found it necessary to call in the aid of the Science and Art Department without troubling the Privy Council upon the matter. I am glad of that. I have always advocated the propriety of abolishing the 17s. 6d. limit, and I should be very glad to see it go altogether. I am glad to say in the presence of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. J. G. Talbot) that that is one of the few things I desire to see brought about in connection with education. We ought to get rid of the 17s. 6d. limit. Let the schools earn what they can, but do not put a limit upon them. Offer them certain advantages on condition of their giving certain instruction. There is only one way in which I feel that drawing can ever be made successful, and that is by making it obligatory. You must put it exactly on the same footing as you put reading, writing, and arithmetic. It must be made compulsory. I know it is said that this will involve a considerable outlay; but when you are giving £3,500,000 in grants, and £3,500,000 upon school boards and others, or a sum of £7,000,000 on the education of your children, what is the use of leaving out so essential a branch of technical education as drawing, which is the language of industrial art, so to speak, for the sake of saving £50,000 a-year? Therefore, I trust the right hon. Gentleman will not rest satisfied until he has made drawing obligatory. No doubt there are a great number of teachers who cannot teach drawing properly. They have never been taught themselves; but that question opens a largo field which I do not wish to enter into at any length. I should like to see the cost of training teachers more than doubled; because to set up a child of 13 or 14 years of age as a monitor is about as preposterous a device as ever entered into the mind of man. When the average of age was five years, the monitor system was better than nothing; but as matters now stand, it is wasteful and expensive to the last degree. I am glad of one thing, and that is for the grant for cookery in night schools, and I cannot see why both cooking and 391 drawing should not be taught in the night schools as well as the day schools, and a separate grant made for them. I believe that would be an immense gain. Then I would make another suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman—namely, that we should drop a great deal of the inspection and individual examination up to the Third Standard; this, I think, would effect a considerable saving by diminishing the waste of labour and the expenditure on individual examination as now carried out. I have only one or two more remarks to make. I am strongly of opinion that we must, if we are to make our education thorough, adopt the Continental continuation system. A great deal might be done in this way by night schools, and I should not object, nor do I think anyone else would object, to the system being made compulsory—that is to say, I do not think there would be any objection in the country to its being made compulsory—say, up to the age of 14 years. In Switzerland, it is compulsory up to the age of 16; in Germany to 17; but we may take it that children who pass at an early age to labour should obtain two or three nights a-week at continuation schools, until such time as they pass the higher Standards, and in that way they would get both manual instruction and a groundwork of technical education. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to what has been done to the poor hungry children. The Committee cannot conceive the enormous amount of good that can be done in this way by the smallest possible expenditure of money. I remember some years ago there were two good men in this House, one of whom said to me—"I will give £100 a-year to start with," and another said—"I will give you £50." I drew from them just what was necessary to feed the children and pay for the necessary work in connection with it, and since that time there has risen up in London and throughout the country dinner associations which are feeding many thousands of children. I have heard of one case where more than 10,000 children get every day one comfortable meal, and the whole cost of that comes to something under ££00 for the year. I cannot conceive a more excellent work. Why, ill Birmingham they are feeding children at one halfpenny per head per day, and one gentle- 392 man has been able to supply farthing dinners. This only shows what the cheapening of food has done in this country. It was found that the penny dinners were more than many of the poor children could digest, and that a halfpenny dinner was quite enough to sustain and satisfy a child; and now farthing dinners are being supplied on a largo scale. This is glorious work. I remember one case at Lucerne in which I was greatly interested; I was told, although the schools there are free from top to bottom, that much work remained to be done by the benevolent. They had a Scholars' Aid Society, and although the education was free, 25 per cent of the children were helped with food and boots and other necessaries to enable them to go to school. That proves that a State system does not put a stop to private benevolence, but, on the contrary, has a tendency to increase it.
§ SIRRICHARD TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
I shall not attempt to detain the Committee by travelling over the wide field which has been traversed by the two right hon. Gentlemen who have pro-ceded me, nor shall I endeavour to imitate their good example by entering on any technical discussion. I shall endeavour to keep strictly to the Vote before the Committee. This is a Vote for what are called grants-in-aid and subsidies to Board schools and voluntary schools throughout the country. Now, the sum allotted to Board schools and other schools of an elementary character amounts in all to £3,500,000 sterling, or more than three-fifths of the total amount allotted in England to education generally. I propose to consider whether this Vote for subsidies to schools—this sum of over £3,000,000 sterling out of the £3,500,000 allotted to elementary education—is applied as well as it might be, and whether the money is made to go as far as it might go for the moral, intellectual, and physical training of the rising generation of the poorer classes in this country. I shall not attempt to parade before the Committee any knowledge drawn from Blue Books or Statistical Bureaux; what I shall say is derived from personal knowledge, derived, in my capacity as Vice Chairman of the School Board for London, from repeated visits to those parts of London which are, perhaps, but little visited, and where the work is actually carried on amongst 393 the humbler classes. I come now to the question—"Are these sums of money applied to the best possible purpose?" The Department, of course, go on a system of payment by results; and how is that system tested? By inspection and examination. What is the character of that examination and inspection? It is partly statistical and partly general, and in connection with what I am about to say I have derived some encouragement from what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bright-side Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) upon this very subject. I am obliged to confess that, in my opinion, the test has hitherto been too much of a statistical and too little of a general character; and if the Committee will permit me, I will show what I moan by that. Now, I fear we must confess that in respect of the actual knowledge which we communicate to children from the age of five to that of 10, or at the outside 12, in our elementary schools, most of it will be speedily forgotten when the children enter on the course of active existence, and that much of it must be evaporated in the hurry-scurry, the rush and crush of workaday life. But while these things are forgotten, will nothing remain? Yes, surely; and that is the memory of the moral character and formation of the system through which they have passed, and which they never can forget. It is our object not only to impart the rudiments of instruction to the rising generation of the humbler classes, but more particularly to form their character and improve their manners, and to show them how to form happy homes for themselves, so that it may be truly said of our system—emollit mores, nee sinit esse feros. Now we are bound to consider the physical condition of children as well as their education, for the two are connected one with the other. We must look, I repeat, to the manners of the children; we must try to teach them by the example of their instructors to be kind, gentle, respectful, and considerate to all those around them. Surely it is consideration and thoughtfulness for others which constitutes the standard of nature's gentleman. We must try also to make the children cheerful. These children come largely from unhappy, troubled, and anxious homes, having known what is the effect of res 394 augusta domi; then let them learn in our class-rooms something of the gentleness of life, and the brighter side of existence. Yet let us give them discipline; let us see that those who are brought up in such homes shall be taught to obey and be disciplined to do everything to order, and to imbibe that system which forms so large a part of the business of life. Then we should see to the comfort of our school buildings—that these should be capacious, commodious, and well-ventilated, in order that they may form the best possible contrast to the squalid and, in some parts of London, the fœtid homes—owing to insanitary conditions—from which these poor children come. If we wish to render the interior bright, there should be paintings on the walls, object lessons, and maps and charts; we should also see that there is manual exercise, and especially musical instruction, which tends more than any other art to soften and refine the manners. I connect these subjects most closely with education, because I say that we have heretofore devoted to these considerations too little regard, and have regarded too much the statistical test of examination. Although the money we vote to-day is much better applied than it used to be, still much remains to be done; and, therefore, I urge these considerations upon the Committee in order that in future we may have a better test of the efficiency of our educational system. If grants in aid of this system, amounting to the large sum of £3,000,000 and upwards, are to be given entirely on examination, these cardinal principles are lost sight of, whereas I submit the carrying out of these principles should be tested by inspection, and that more regard should be paid to these general results. It is said that these things cannot be the subject of inspection: I venture to assure the Committee, on actual experience, that they can. You may say that if the Inspector is to make his Report on general conditions, the manager may make things look nice on the day of inspection. But, Sir, that cannot be done; it is impossible for a schoolmaster, at the last moment, to make children, who have been sulky and inattentive on all other days, look bright and cheerful on the examination day. If the schoolhouse and its playground is well cared for and furnished, I say that you can be quite certain that on 395 the day of inspection the appearance of the children—their faces, their manner, their oral delivery, their external neatness—may be taken as a sample of the average condition of the school. No doubt, it is possible to polish up a little and make things look their best; but I submit it is impossible to make a school look well on the day of inspection if it has been, up to that day, neglected. I can hardly agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield, if I understand him correctly, as to our having too much inspection. I submit, with regard to the large area in London, that it is impossible to obtain a proper standard of efficiency unless we have proper inspection. [Mr. MUNDELLA: I spoke of individual examinations.] Then, I hope I may claim the support of the right hon. Gentleman for what I say. I submit that the schools can be tested in respect of these conditions. If the Government Inspectors cannot do it, I say that the School Board Inspectors can. I think I have made good my proposition—that the money we are asked to vote to-day is, on the whole, well expended—belter expended than it used to be—but still, not so well expended as it might be; and why? Because we have yet much to do before we can establish in the School Board system, and in the Education Department of the Government, the principle that, although giants in aid should depend largely on the results of examination, they should also partly depend on the general character of the schools reported on, not by Her Majesty's Inspectors alone, but also by the Inspectors of the School Board itself. Now, this brings me to a topic touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, and that is the question as to whether anything can be properly done, and, if so, how much, in the way of feeding the children, a subject which has been twice touched upon by preceding speakers. Now, I entreat the Committee not to press the School Board too hard on this point, because, as the Committee will perceive, this is a thing which must be worked out gradually. I ask the Committee to consider the effect of an obligatory system upon public opinion.
I would point out to the hon. Baronet that although it 396 is quite pertinent to the Vote to glance at the means of increasing the efficiency of elementary schools, it is not a subject which can be discussed in detail on this Estimate.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
Then, Sir, I will not discuss it any further. I hope, however, after what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella), that I may be permitted to point out what has been done in London regarding the physical condition of the children in the Board schools.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
Yes; it will be done in miniature. Then, I would like to explain that if we cannot give any formal instructions to the teachers, we have, nevertheless, endeavoured to make them understand what is their duty in this respect. We do not undertake, as a Board, to provide penny dinners for the children; but we have, of course, all manner of private organizations. We help to give, or cause to be given, penny or halfpenny dinners to thousands and tens of thousands of children; and I may say that, in our case, the numbers that were mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman opposite—some 10,000—may be multiplied by four or five to give an idea of those who are daily provided for. We have also an excellent establishment called the Poor Children's Aid Society; we have ladies and gentlemen of position and benevolence in the neighbourhood of every Board school who endeavour to provide something for the necessitous children. I have heard it said that the School Board should not enforce the attendance of children who are in a weak, depressed, or half-starving condition; but, on the contrary, we contend that these are the very children whom we ought to get at, because when they are at school their state is observed day by day, and is appreciated and sympathized with, and some remedy, either directly or indirectly, is almost always sure to be found for it. There are exceptions to the contrary, no doubt; but I am confident that such children do not long escape attention, and that it is not long before some remedy is applied in their case. I hope in saying this I am not transgressing your ruling, Mr. Chairman; but I have thought it necessary to say something on the subject 397 after what has fallen from the Vice President of the Council and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield. Then I should like to say just one word with regard to evening classes. I am bound to say that I could not undertake to propose that the attendance at these classes should be made compulsory; because the rule would apply to children beyond the age of 12, and that, of course, would involve not only an increase of local rates, but would also lead to an increase of public expenditure. On the other hand, we are endeavouring by direct or indirect means to secure such attendance as we can at evening classes, because we have in them continuation classes in the best sense, and we are through them enabled to insure that the children preserve some remnant of the knowledge they have acquired as day scholars. Then, with regard to the subject of pensions, which has been alluded to by the Vice President, I maintain that this pension question has proceeded but a very short distance as yet. A very few thousands of pounds have been put down; and although the Vice President of the Council has given us an account of how the pensions have arisen in a certain number of years, it is still only a matter of a few hundreds of individuals. If the profession of teacher is to be made a dignified and proper one, there must be, I submit, some regular system of pensions. Now, we cannot expect that this Committee will vote the money for the purpose, and I apprehend that the ratepayers will not like the money to come from the rates; but pensions must be found somehow or other. There is, however, the very best possible means for the establishment of such a system in compulsory assurance. Let the teachers in all Board schools and voluntary schools submit to a deduction from their salaries, and from these deductions let funds be formed for the purpose.
I would point out to the hon. Baronet that this is certainly going beyond the Question before the Committee.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
Then, Sir, perhaps I may be allowed to make a few remarks on the subject of fees, because that is one which affects the finances of the Education Department. We are endeavouring in London to 398 secure a better collection of fees than before; to insure that there shall be no arrears; that in the case of parents who can pay they shall be enforced; and that the obligation shall only be carried out in respect of those parents who are able to pay. But I cannot hold out any hope that we could assent to the principle that there should be free schools without any fees whatever—schools in which education would be entirely defrayed either at the expense of the Votes in this Committee, or at the expense of the local rates. With regard to technical education I have nothing to say on this occasion, having said my say on a former occasion, except to assure the Committee that our feeble efforts in this direction in London do not amount to much. I am glad to hear the favourable testimony which has been given with regard to instruction in cookery, and I hope that money will always be granted to young women to qualify in that most necessary art. One word, before I conclude, with regard to voluntary schools. It was the principle of the Elementary Education Act that the School Board system should supplement and not supersede the voluntary system. Now, the great complaint is that that system has, and does still, interfere with the voluntary system. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield has pointed out that, while the Board schools are moving forwards, the voluntary schools are sliding back. The cause of that is not that there is any want of support for the voluntary schools; it is owing to the severe competition of the School Board. Now, that does affect this Vote particularly. If in any part of London a Board school is set up where voluntary schools have before done, or could be got to do, the work, there is so much loss to the poorer classes of London, because the Board school set up in the locality might, with more advantage, have been set up elsewhere. The voluntary school would furnish pupils that would win grants from the Education Department, and grants would also be won from the Board school set up, say, in the East of London. I cannot promise that money would be actually saved in this Vote by the voluntary schools being left to do the work; but then the extra money would be won by competition by additional students, and I think Parliament would not grudge the extra amount, 399 least of all for such objects as those advocated by the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to attendance, I assure the Committee that it is almost impossible to escape the vigilance of our Board. We have Inspectors, Visitors, and subordinate officers who work day and night all over this Metropolis; and I ask the Committee to remember that, although we have not more than 80 per cent in attendance at any one moment, yet with regard to the remaining 20 per cent it is to be believed that they are in school at other times. I venture to say that there is hardly a case to be found of a boy or girl who does not, on some day or other, attend school. I have now to thank you, Mr. Chairman and the Committee, for allowing me to state what appears to me to be a very important argument with regard to the future of elementary education in this country, and for allowing me, from personal knowledge, to express the conviction that to provide for that future elementary education is one of the most important duties which this House can possibly perform. It is this education which shall make the rising generation a wise and understanding people, and which shall prevent the growth of Socialism and the kindred evils that threaten the State; it is this education that will enable the humbler classes to enjoy the institutions of their country, and hand these blessings down to those who shall come after.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
We find that out of the whole number of elementary schools in this country there are only 370 which present any children for examination in history, and only 43 who present them in elementary science. The present class subjects are, as we know, history, geography, English and elementary science, but under the present Code only two class subjects can be taken, and one of these must be English. Of course, the great majority of the schools take geography for one class subject, and the result has been that elementary science cannot be said to be taken at all and that history is very much neglected. I doubt whether it is desirable to carry instruction in grammar so far as it is demanded under the Code. That is my individual opinion; but I am glad to find it is shared by hon. Gentlemen opposite. But surely we may trust to the School 400 Board to select the subject in which they would submit children for examination. I think in this matter I shall have the sympathy of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) in the matter of manual instruction, because it will be a natural introduction to be afforded by the Technical Instruction Bill. If you will allow a latitude to School Board Committees to exercise their discretion in this matter, I venture to think that a great many would adopt some system of manual instruction, and thus lead up to the technical instruction proposed by the Bill before the House. I do not express that opinion without having reason for it, because I find in one instance that on the 19th May last, on the Motion of the Rev. Mr. Lawrence, a Resolution was carried—That in the opinion of the Board it is necessary to introduce into the schools some regular system of manual training.And I believe that many school boards in the country hold similar opinions. And this would probably be popular with the masters themselves, because 80 elementary teachers have already accepted the offer of the City and Guilds of London Institute to give them instruction in the use of tools, and that number will probably be exceeded. If, therefore, my right hon. Friend will modify the Code in the manner suggested, I think we may make a tentative beginning in the direction indicated and see what can be effected. But, of course, nothing can be done if the Code be allowed to remain as it is at present. Some will, no doubt, think we can do nothing in technical instruction without a large amount of machinery; but if hon. Members look at the books which have been lately published, they will see how much may be learnt by these means and that a good and thorough groundwork in the elementary phenomena of Nature with which we are surrounded may be given at a very small expenditure. As we keep our children at school up to 10 and 11 years of age—and I hope it will be longer in the future—surely it is not a satisfactory state of things that we should send them out into the world without knowing something of the history of their country and elementary science. Mr. Matthew Arnold found that in Germany the subjects are twice as numerous as in Eng- 401 land, and the satisfactory working of the Hamburg schools he believed was due to the variety of subjects which made instruction interesting to the children. There is, I think, very little doubt that unless we make education interesting the children will forgot what they have learnt when they have left the schools. And, on the other hand, if we succeed in making it interesting it will be their object to continue it in after life. Then we need not refer to foreign countries alone as to the effect of manual instruction, because we have a certain amount of evidence bearing upon the question in connection with the half-timers. The Commissioners say that although these children receive less than 14 hours of instruction a week, their percentage of passes is higher than the average in the case of children receiving double that amount of schooling throughont the country; and I am convinced that the introduction into the schools of manual instruction, in the sense of teaching the children to use their own hands, will be of great advantage in itself to the children, and have a beneficial effect on others also. We have excellent school boards over a great part of the country, and I ask if it is not absurd that we should lay down such minute guidance as exists at present? Ought we not to trust to them to select subjects for themselves? Even if we were certain that we had got hold of the best system as a whole, I think we ought not to attempt to enforce it throughout the country. The needs of localities vary; and, moreover, there will be always some masters capable of teaching one subject better than another, and we ought to allow a certain amount of latitude in this respect. My right hon. Friend will, perhaps, tell me that we have a Royal Commission now sitting; but we have seen this year a considerable number of Amendments introduced into the Code this year, and although I can understand that there may be an objection to demand more of the schools, or to introduce any obligatory change during the sitting of the Commission, still the suggestion I venture to throw out is merely to allow a certain latitude of action to managers; and I cannot think that the fact of the Commission being in existence can be any reason whatever against giving the latitude I ask for. But my right hon. 402 Friend may think it, perhaps, well to refer to the Commission. It may be that some time will elapse before they report upon the intricate and difficult questions referred to them; but my right hon. Friend might at least obtain from them an indication of their views on this subject. I trust my right hon. Friend will take an interest in the matter, and, if possible, allow to the school boards or committees power to select for themselves amongst the class subjects, and that provision should be made for manual instruction in the schools.
CAPTAIN HEATHCOTE (Staffordshire, N.W.)
I wish to ask the attention of the Committee to one or two practical points which have come within my own observation during the period in which I have given attention to this subject. In the first place, with regard to the remission of fees, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President, of the Council that it is almost impossible to get rid of the pauperizing atmosphere which, in the minds of the poorer classes, always surrounds the office of Board of Guardians. It would not be in Order for me to foreshadow what might occur next Session; but I may, perhaps, say that I do not think any machinery that now exists would be a suitable substitute for the Boards of Guardians in this matter. As we have to go on as at present until a suitable authority is constituted, I think it worth while to consider whether we cannot mitigate some of the inconveniences or evils which exist. There is one difficulty that presents itself in connection with the Boards of Guardians—namely, that parents have to make applications to them at fixed intervals for the purpose of getting a remission of fees. In my own district, in order to obtain remission of the fees, some parents have to make journeys of several miles in order to wait on the Board of Guardians. Now, I venture to think it would not be difficult for the Guardians in some way or other to resolve themselves into Excuse Committees to meet at the schools once a fortnight, or monthly, to hear applications for the remission of fees. I do not think it would be necessary to have more than one or two Guardians present on each occasion. These Committees in case of need could refer any cases which came 403 before them to the Board of Guardians, and ask that their decision should be ratified. I think that, at any rate, this plan would get rid of the difficulty as to the pauperizing nature of the atmosphere which surrounds the application to the Board of Guardians. I am sure that parents would much rather go to the school house and see some of the Guardians there than to the Union, and I venture to suggest this plan as being worth the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) has deprecated individual examination until Standard III. is passed. It is only with the greatest diffidence that I venture to express an opinion contrary to that of such an old educational hand as the right hon. Gentleman. I believe the right hon. Gentleman objected to individual examination in the particular stages on the ground that abolishing examination would effect a saving of labour and expense. No doubt, to a certain extent, that might be so, although, in my opinion, it would be carried out at the cost of the children themselves. I do not think there is any educational agency of such value as examination. I think examinations interest and attract children to the acquirement of knowledge in a way which the ordinary dull school life does not; and I think a large school board with which I was for some time connected owed much of its success to a very efficient monthly examination which we caused to be held in the schools. Those examinations were conducted on this principle—that they should be 10 per cent more difficult than the annual examination, and the result of them was that the children found the examination papers set by the Inspectors very much easier than they were accustomed to, and they therefore went to them with a confidence which greatly contributed to their success.
I do not quite follow the right hon. Gentleman. The children were examined individually in their classes.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I hope it will not be supposed that I want to abolish inspection or examination of children in classes. I would continue that, of 404 course, for the purpose of promoting them to higher classes. I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman is quite correct in saying that the children went through 12 examinations in the year; but if so I should be very sorry for them.
Each class was examined four times annually individually. However, having pointed out that in my opinion the examinations should be as frequent as possible, I will not pursue that subject any further. I wish to call attention to what seems to be the unfair mode of dispensing the merit grant. This in different districts seems to vary very greatly; there seems to be a wide difference between the meaning given to the instructions as between one district and another. I find, for instance, that in Bedfordshire the "excellent" class is represented by 7.55; in Berkshire by 30.86; at Brighton 19.25; and Preston 32.18. Now, I cannot suppose that the difference of average intelligence between Bedfordshire and Berkshire is so enormous as these figures indicate, and I am, therefore, forced to the conclusion that the interpretation placed by the different Inspectors upon the instructions varies considerably. I venture to think that three classes does not give the Inspectors a fair chance, and I think they should have greater latitude, because it is not possible for an Inspector always to say that the children in a school belong to one of three classes. My opinion is, then, that these classes should be sub-divided into plus excellent, excellent, and minus excellent, at 3s., 2s. 8d., and 2s. 4d. respectively. I think it is obviously unfair that a school which the Inspector may think not quite "excellent" should not get something more than a school which only just receives the next lower degree in the scale. I would, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council to consider how far it may be possible to go in the direction of making the classification more elastic, and I venture to think more fair.
§ MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
I imagine that we could hardly spend a Saturday afternoon more profitably and pleasantly than in the manner in which we have spent this. I think I may venture to offer my congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on the admirable manner in 405 which he has rendered his statement to the House, and, I may also venture to say, for his strongly sympathetic feeling which he has manifested. I mention this because we must all feel it to be particularly satisfactory that, with the growth of this great educational work, there is a practical agreement between both political Parties that our only aim ought to be to so direct the administration of affairs as to render the greatest service to the country for the money voted by Parliament. I venture to address the House for a few moments for the purpose, in the first instance, of acknowledging, on behalf of my Colleagues with whom I have had the honour of serving on the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction, the kind and appreciative manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President referred to our work and our Report. He quoted particularly that passage in the Report in which the Commissioners speak of the peculiar contrast presented between the method of giving instruction in drawing in our own country, as compared with that of our competitors on the Continent. I was particularly glad that he also quoted the passage from the recommendation of the Commissioners in a sense as if he concurred with it—that passage in which we strongly and unanimously recommend that the importance of drawing should be recognized to the extent that it should be made as obligatory in our elementary schools as the teaching of writing itself. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), in his references to the Report of Mr. Matthew Arnold, spoke of that gentleman's commendations of the teaching in the schools of Hamburg, and I observe that so far is the importance of drawing recognized in that town, that the teaching of it precedes the teaching of wrting. All we have asked is that it should be made coincident with it, and that one should be made—as we believe it could be—a help to the other. Now, the Committee will not require that I should dwell at any length upon the importance of a thing which is conceded in the abstract, though not generally realized in practice. But so much is said just now about the importance of mechanical and technical training of all kinds that it cannot be too often repeated that "good, efficient, industrial drawing," 406 as my right hon. Friend has always called it, is a very essential foundation to every kind of specialized manual training. But in the Continental schools, and especially in the schools of Paris and France generally, there is practised a very excellent and very general method of making young hands skilful by teaching modelling, and it would be a great thing gained if Parliament realized, in its efforts to give the country more facilities for technical instruction, that good sound drawing and modelling, taught by some means in the elementary schools, will be a most valuable foundation for any applied teaching of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield, during his term of Office, did very great service by his endeavours to give effect to the recommendations of the Commissioners by encouraging and enjoining the teaching of drawing in the day schools. We have heard to-day many explanations which go to show how it came about that that experiment was so far a failure. We have realized the important influence of the 17s. 6d. maximum limit, and we all know that, under this system of payments by results, it is inevitable that our school managers and our school teachers should look to the business of grant earning rather than to the efficiency of the schools. But there is one other practical difficulty which stood in the way, and that was the extreme difficulty of finding in many schools capable teachers—teachers who were themselves instructed in drawing, and were able to give instruction intelligently in the methods of drawing to others. Another difficulty, which everyone who has been connected with school management must realize, is the fact that our time tables are already so full that it is very difficult, indeed, to find room for these other subjects, however important we may consider them to be. We are allowed—we have a minimum which is practically the maximum of two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening, or 20 hours' per week for all these secular subjects. We have heard a great deal in recent years—I am happy to think that the apprehension on the subject is nearly spent now; but we have heard a great deal about over-pressure, and about the evil of the particular work and occupation of the day schools. Well, 407 again referring to the schools at Hamburg, we find that the number of hours in the lower Standards is 26; in the intermediate Standards 28, and in the higher Standards 32 hours per week, as against the 20 hours which is practically the limit in the English schools; and I think we must make up our minds that if these subjects are to be taught with anything like efficiency there must be some understanding that the number of hours devoted to the work will be considerably increased. Certainly in all the other schools on the Continent—and I imagine also in the schools of America—these hours are largely increased.
§ MR. WOODALL
Yes, in the higher Standards particularly. But, as I have shown in the case of Hamburg, even in the lower Standards six hours more are given than are allowed in the ordinary time tables of the English schools; but we have heard to-day that which seems to suggest that the solution of these differences will be found rather in the encouragement of supplementary evening classes than even in the extension of the hours of morning and evening work. We had, for instance, the very interesting statement from the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council with, regard to the working out of the scheme by which children in attendance in the day schools are allowed to earn 4s. grants through attendance in evening classes. I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman point the moral of that experience when suggesting that facilities should be afforded for the teaching of drawing in the evening schools under similar conditions. I would venture to press most strongly that modelling should be taught coincidently with drawing, and under these same conditions. To introduce modelling would, after all, only be carrying out the further development of the Kindergarten methods now grown so much in favour. I speak the more confidently on that point, because I had an opportunity as Chairman of the Burslem School Board of trying this experiment with the permission of my right hon. Friend, and I think I shall be sustained in saying that the Report of the Inspectors specially sent down to inquire into the matter was, on the whole, very satisfactory and encouraging in regard to the 408 method, though I am sorry to say that the conditions under which grants for this kind of teaching are at the present moment made are practically prohibitory, and will have to be reconsidered before the teaching can be effectively carried out. What has been said with regard to technical training surely will apply to our deficiencies in regard to those subjects to the importance of which the country is now become alive—to our deficiencies in commercial subjects, more especially languages. The teaching of modern languages in our evening classes would surely be a very helpful thing, and I cannot help feeling that it would be a very attractive method of bringing home instruction to both boys and girls attending the day schools. But the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council will, no doubt, if he accept the principle of these suggestions and has any desire to carry them further, as I understand him to desire—he will have to revise the conditions of the present Code in regard to evening classes, and especially the 6th section, which declares that no scholar shall be presented for examination in additional subjects alone. That is equivalent to say that no children shall be allowed to earn grants in evening schools in additional subjects only. I do not know if an exception is made in the case of cookery; but if it is, then what I ask is practically conceded—namely, that that clause in the Code should be done away with, and then greater progress will be made in making these evening classes supplement day teaching, besides serving as continuation schools. It is particularly satisfactory to find that there is such, a general concurrence in this House with regard to the value of this principle which has contributed so much to the success of the educational systems of Germany and Switzerland. It has been suggested that attendance at these evening classes—which are regarded as continuation schools—should be made compulsory. Well, I am ready to admit how beneficial has been the operation of compulsion in regard to ordinary elementary instruction; but I think it will be found that there is considerable divergence of view and difference in practice among Continental nations with regard to the expediency of enforcing attendance at the continuation schools. For instance, note the difference in two 409 States contiguous to each other, the Kingdoms of Bavaria and Wurtemberg. While evening schools are worked with great advantage in both of these States, there is a different practice in each with regard to compulsion. In one compulsion is in force, and in the other the parents arcs left to their own choice in the matter. I remember having a conversation with a distinguished man, who has rendered enormous service to the Education Department of one of these States, in which he pointed out to me that the country might well be satisfied if only the élite of the population availed themselves of the further education. At any rate, I hope that the question of applying compulsion will not be allowed to retard the carrying out of this most excellent system of continuation schools. It has been pointed out already that not only would this system have the effect of enabling boys and girls to further carry on their instruction, but that it would have a great effect in preventing that which now too commonly happens—namely, children losing in two or three years very much of what they have acquired during their whole school life. Well, Sir, we have heard to-day much that is practically encouraging with regard to the progress that has been made; but I cannot but feel that there is still cause for much disappointment in the figures showing the average attendance, and I hardly think the Committee could have been more profitably occupied than in considering how that low average is to be explained and how it can be amended. One, of course, must feel, from a money point of view, that it is a serious waste of power that school managers should have been called upon to find places for children and that a fourth of those places are normally unoccupied. I will not venture to trespass upon the ruling which the Chairman has laid down with regard to the discussion of the penny dinners. It is particularly gratifying, however, that they have succeeded so far, not only in satisfying humane and benevolent sympathies, but also, I imagine, in contributing very largely to improve the average attendance at the schools where the system has been carried out. I have had some experience in this matter myself, and no part of that experience has been more astonishing than that where I have found out the possibility of taking money from the 410 children—a penny or a halfpenny from some—and ensuring a gratuitous meal to those who could not pay without its being known which of the children pay and which do not. The hon. Baronet who spoke from his experience of the London School Board made some reference to the possibility of our being called upon to feed our scholars gratuitously; but it is notable that the French and the Belgians regard the attendance of the children and their physical condition of such importance that it is a general practice to subsidize the efforts of the parents to provide a mid-day meal—that is done even after a practically gratuitous education has been given to the children. I remember being particularly struck by the system at Liege, where the children not only have a gratuitous meal, but free medical attendance as well when required. Well, there is one other point upon which I wish to say just one word, because we have seen cropping up now and then incidentally in the course of the speeches on this subject some references to the fact that these elementary schools are intended exclusively for the humbler classes of the country. I cannot help feeling that there is a sort of superstition that lies at the base of the view that is held on this subject by many people in this country, and which seems to suggest that the middle classes who can contribute so much to the support of these schools cannot, without loss of dignity, avail themselves of their advantages. Now, in most other countries those State schools are the common means of education of the country. I remember seeing myself, in Switzerland particularly, the children of the poorest and the children of the richest sitting side by side in these common schools—sitting together in the first grade of the system from which the ladder goes up. But I see Mr. Matthew Arnold refers to this matter, and says that a rich man in Zurich, the greatest employer of labour in Switzerland, told him that he sent his own children, both girls and boys, without any hesitation to the popular school. I think it would not be difficult to establish the fact that in all the subjects which are required to be taught in elementary schools better teaching is given in the popular schools than is to be had in more pretentious establishments, and I think, also, we may feel that however large the expenditure 411 may be, and however inevitable may be the growth of it, it is the very best and most remunerative expenditure that this Committee can be asked to vote.
§ MR. C. W. GRAY (Essex, Maldon)
I wish to make one or two remarks in reference to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) has said as to his desire in connection with education in the rural districts. Now, I am sure that all hon. Members who are interested in the rural districts wish that all opportunities for education should be given to the boys and girls—the sons and daughters—of the agricultural labourers who may have talent, which, when properly directed, would lead to their turning out very valuable members of society. I hope that no one will think that while venturing to criticize one or two remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman, I do not feel just as warmly upon this subject as the right hon. Gentleman does himself. But no one, it seems to me, up to the present, in this debate has for a moment considered the views of the agricultural labourers themselves upon this subject. I think when agricultural labourers are only obtaining the wages which they receive to-day to oblige them by law to keep their children at school for a year longer than they are required to do to-day would be a hardship to many of them. That is a point which ought to be remembered. When a man has a large family and is earning some 11s. or 12s. a-week it does seem to me very hard indeed to say to him—"You shall send four or five of your children to school until they are 14 years of age." I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that if the children had not passed certain Standards he wished them to be kept at school until they were 14 years of age.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I was referring to the Report, page 14, and was commenting on the fact that vast numbers of children pass out of the school at 10 years of age, after passing the Fourth Standard.
§ MR. C. W. GRAY
Quite so; but I am talking of those cases where children, either because they are not very bright, or for other reasons, do not pass the Standards quickly. The labourers have put it to me over and over again that they think there are cases of children who have not capacity to enable 412 them to pass these Standards at all at any age, and that it would be much better to bring such children up in some suitable way—that is to say, in a way that would enable them to earn an honest living, by being allowed to learn agricultural work on the farms—instead of their being kept grinding away at what everyone who knows the character and disposition of the children must feel to be work at which they will never make any headway. The labourers do think that it is very hard that children having these characteristics should be forced to attend school so long as they are at present obliged to; and what the labourers will have to say when they hear the proposal which has come from the right hon. Gentleman—namely, that children of that description should be kept a year longer at school—I do not know; but I would advise the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends not to say much about the subject in our rural districts, so long as they think elections are in the air. The speeches which have boon delivered in the course of this debate have been somewhat lengthy, and as I am a comparatively junior Member of the House I will refrain from detaining it any longer at this moment.
§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
I should like to be allowed, to make a very few remarks upon this most important question, as it is one I have taken a deep interest in for many years. I regret that such a very important subject as the education of the people should be discussed in so thin a House, and so near the end of the Session, because, as has been said by some speakers to-day, there is no doubt that the education of the country is one of the most fundamental of all the interests with which we have to deal. It is one which has more to do with the welfare of the country than many others which often engage our attention. I listened with much interest to all that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council has said, and I must say I feel the warmest sympathy with many of his observations. I feel thankful to him for having so boldly advocated the establishment of evening classes, as I have been labouring for some years to bring about a system of evening continuation schools. It is true that in your Education Estimates laid before the House there is an appearance of a certain amount 413 advancement. Well, I do not wish to say a word in disparagement of the educational staff of the Education Office of this country. They have done admirable work since the year 1870; but it must be remembered that they started from a condition of things which was almost as low as zero, and that there still remains an immense amount of work to be achieved. Twenty years ago the education of the country was at the very lowest, and though it is true we have made considerable advances since that time, yet I am bound to say that there still remains an immense amount of work to be done, looking at the progress which other nations have made. I have given a considerable amount of attention, during the last few years, to these subjects, and it has impressed itself upon my mind more and more that unless we quicken our pace, looking at what is going on in other States in educational matters, we shall soon fall hopelessly in the rear. Now, I wish to call attention mainly to what I think the defect in our present system of education in this country, and that is the very early age at which children leave school. We cannot too much emphazise that evil. It is totally impossible for children who leave school at the age of 11 or 12 to have any true conception of education at all. It is quite impossible to have any real culture of the mind, or formation of the character, proceeding from such an education. I have been examining the figures in the Education Report this year, and I find there—as anyone may who studies the subject—that a very large number of children leave school after passing the Fourth Standard; that another large section leave after passing the Fifth Standard; and that a comparatively small proportion remain to pass the Sixth Standard. What is the age at which they leave school? So far as I have been able to make out, the average ago is scarcely higher than 12 years; in fact, in some parts of the country the average is as low as 11 years. I believe that in the town of Wolverhampton not less than 97 per cent of the children leave school at the age of 11. Let the Committee consider this fact—that in a large manufacturing town only 3 per cent of the children remain at school after the age of 11. I say that that is a shameful state of things. The point I 414 wish to call attention to more especially is this—the terrible deterioration that takes place in the children after leaving school. At great labour, and at great expense, we bring children together in the schools we have provided for national education. We see a wonderful change for the better take place in them up to the age of 11 or 12—we see a great improvement in them in habits, in appearance, and behaviour. Then they leave school; and supposing you were able to bring them once more into the school some two years after their leaving what a change you would see! Everyone who mixes at all with this class of the population knows that the deterioration which by that time has taken place is something dreadful. The very appearance of the children is altered. They are lower in character, in habits, and conversation; they are dirty and untidy in their dress; they have contracted an amount of low cunning in running about the streets, and the value of what little education they have received is in very many cases almost entirely lost. I wish the Committee would allow me to read two or three sentences on this subject from a gentleman who has devoted more attention, I suppose, to this question of evening education amongst the poor than any other person in the country—I refer to Dr. Paton, of Nottingham. He says—First we build up at great expense a colossal system of primary education, and then we allow the results to be very largely wasted and lost. Teachers speak despairingly of the fruits of their labours in the children two years after school has been left. He says that the gardens which by daily culture have been made to show wonderful promise for the future are given over to utter neglect, and many a time the labour bestowed upon them is lost. He declares that we cease to educate our children at the most receptive period of their lives. These remarks must commend themselves to everyone. I entirely agree with Dr. Paton's observations. No doubt our children do leave school before their minds have reached the receptive period, because real education does not begin until about the age of 12. In my opinion the real receptive period is between the ages of 12 and. 16, I for it is then that the mind, so to speak, 415 takes form and character—it is during that period that education forms and moulds the character—and during that period what kind of education do many of our children receive? They are still under the influence of education, but it is an education very different to that which they would get in our schools. They are being educated in the streets with low and vicious surroundings, in squalid homes, and by the popular penny serials which contain that miserable and wretched trash which circulates to such a vast extent amongst the children of the poor. They are being educated at the penny music gaff and the cheap dancing room. How, then, can we wonder that three or four years after they have left the great bulk of them have lost all the refining influences of their training, and sink so low in the social scale, and in very many cases become so degraded that it is absolutely impossible afterwards to raise them to a higher standard of life? A great proportion of the children are unable to maintain themselves, and I contend that we shall never succeed in raising the character of the children of the poor in this country, and that all our efforts to deal with the gigantic social evils with which we are brought face to face, unless we give to our children a truer, more thorough, and lasting education. We have in this country a greater mass of pauperism, human misery, and degradation than any other civilized country in the world. A larger proportion of the people of this country are unable to maintain themselves honestly, a larger proportion of the people of this country live in squalid and wretched homes than in any Continental country, than in any Colony, than in America, and I say that all our efforts to deal with these gigantic evils will fail unless we educate our children more thoroughly. I speak of things of which I have some experience, for I may venture to say that I have been connected with movements for the alleviation of the miseries and the improvement of the condition of these classes during the greater part of my life. As a member of one of the largest societies in this country, I have been brought face to face with all these facts, and have bought my experience dearly. I have learned by 20 or 30 years of incessant effort that you will make no palpable 416 impression on the mass of social degradation that exists in the midst of our English towns, unless you lay hold of the children and give them a truer, more thorough, and lasting education than they get at present. If no other country in the world were ahead of us we might, perhaps, be contented to remain where we are; but it is an extraordinary fact that everywhere we go we now encounter on all sides people from countries whose education is immensely superior to our own. It is a shame that the richest country in the world should be content to allow its children to be worse educated than those of much poorer Continental countries existing close to our shores. In Germany, as most hon. Members are aware, education extends to a far older period of life than it does in England. I have been reading up a good deal upon that question lately, and I have been astonished to see what a much higher education is given in Germany to the whole mass of the population than is given in this country. In that country the age at which children leave the day school varies from 13½ to 14 years, and after that comes the evening continuation school in a large part of Germany, the attendance being compulsory up to the age of 16 years. Think of that, and think of the fact that our older children leave school for good and all at the age of 11or 12 years. Under those circumstances we need not wonder that the Germans are beating us everywhere. Wherever our people come into fair and equal competition with the Germans our people have to give way, whether it is as clerks in London, as artizans or merchants abroad, everywhere Germans are going ahead of us, and I say we cannot wonder at it. The German people are far bettor educated, and, what is more, their education is far more judicious, useful, and practical than ours, and is far better calculated to develop the thinking, reasoning, and guiding powers than the hard mechanical system that prevails in our elementary schools. Now, a great deal has been said in the course of this debate about the evening classes, and it might be thought by some who have not very carefully studied the subject that we have a very good system of evening schools in this country. But what are the facts of the situation? Last year the total average at- 417 tendance at evening schools in England and Wales was only 2,000, and the number has been steadily decreasing since the Act of 1870. The reason of it is this—our wooden system of elementary education so disgusts the children, and takes such little hold upon their intelligence, that it is almost impossible to get them to attend evening schools. The attendance has been steadily falling off until, virtually speaking, we may say that we have no evening schools at all now. It is true that last year noble efforts were made in London to resuscitate the evening school under the name of Recreative Schools, and it is hue that a large number are attending those establishments, and it is true that more or less something has been done in the same direction in other large centres; but, properly speaking, the evening school system has fallen off. To all intents and purposes in this country the education of the children belonging to the masses of the population comes to an end between the ages of 11 and 12. I would ask hon. Members what would become of their children if they were to finish their education between the ages of 11 and 12? Would hon. Members expect their sons and daughters to maintain a decent position in life if they received no further mental training after that age? They would not—and yet human nature is the same all the world over. Nay, the poor even require more culture and more assiduous attention, for they learn less at home and are brought in contact with more dangerous influences than the children of hon. Members. I advocate this system of evening continuation schools not only for intellectual purposes, but also for moral purposes. I believe that the corruption of our children which goes on in the streets of this country is something dreadful. The children who leave school between the ages of 11 and 12, and go into the streets, learn and see everything that is bad; but if we could only keep them at evening schools up to the age of 15, I think we should thereby do more to elevate the moral standard of this country than by any other system which could be devised. I would urge the rendering of our evening schools more attractive. Children who attend them are very often tired out with their day's work, and unhappily the present schools to which we would wish them to go are unattractive. Certain regulations 418 are laid down, and unfit those establishments for drawing a very large number of children. I am told that one of the rules to entitle a child to earn a grant is that it should commit 80 lines of English to memory. Surely that is unnecessary. What is wanted is not reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the committing of lines to memory, but simple technical education, education of the eye and the hand. Simple manual training in drawing, modelling, wood engraving, and such arts. Of course, there must be a certain amount of literary training, and a certain amount of scientific training of a simple kind; but I believe that it is quite possible to make these schools so bright, attractive, and interesting, that very little compulsion would be required to induce children to attend them. I do not think you will over be able to bring the masses of the children into the evening continuation schools without some sort of compulsion; but I would propose that you should call it indirect compulsion. I would propose that the examination Standard should be raised to the Sixth and Seventh Standards all over the country. I would suggest that the rule for the future should be that all children shall attend the day schools till they have passed the Sixth and Seventh Standards, or until they have reached the age of 14 years; but I would do this—I would allow them to have a choice after passing the Fifth Standard either to complete their education in the day schools, or to attend the evening schools. The result of that would be that nine-tenths of the children would be taken by their parents after passing the Fifth Standard in the day schools, and put into the evening schools. In that way we should gradually draft the children into the evening schools without appearing to apply any special compulsion. We should make the evening schools, so to speak, a kind of refuge. I think the children would gladly resort to them, in order to escape from the more severe methods of the day school. I think that by this means we should get from 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 children to attend our evening schools. I would say that if children left the day schools at the age of 12, we should require them to attend the evening schools until the age of 14, and I should hope ultimately until the age of 15, because I 419 think that the youngest age at which a child should be released from education. I might be met with this difficulty, and no doubt it is working in the minds of many here present—"How can you expect children to attend your evening schools, who have been working 10 hours a-day?" I have had seriously to reflect upon that point myself. We know that under the Factory Acts half-time begins at the age of 10, and full time at the age of 13. Well, I regard it as something barbarous that we should require children to work full time at so early an age as 13. I think it is physically most unhealthy. It produces a weak, stunted population, and I think our population will never be what it ought to be until we raise the age at which our children can commence working full time. I have not so much objection to half-time, because I think that a child can do almost all the mental work that is good for it in half a day. To my mind, three hours of mental work is quite as much as the children can stand. I therefore think that there might be a reasonable amount of half-time for children still, but I hold that the age of 10 is too young at which to begin half-time. If we could raise the age to 12 for commencing half-time it would be an advantage, and if we could raise the age at commencing full time to 15, that would be a still greater advantage. What I would recommend would be if the Government could persuade the House to adopt this plan that we should modify the Factory Acts so as to prevent children from working more than six hours a-day to enable the children to attend evening schools. That I believe would do more to lift up the whole level of the population in the next generation than all the other Acts which it is in our power to pass. We should in that way, I believe, enable the great mass of our population to qualify themselves for emigration. Our country, particularly our large towns, are overcrowded, and the children in our streets obtain an education which certainly does not fit them for life in the Colonies. I would give them an education calculated to fit them for useful careers in the Colonies. I would give them in our evening schools that practical training of eye and hand, as well as of the mind, which will elevate the ideas of our children, and will make 420 them discontented with their lot in the streets, and anxious to join those hundreds of thousands of people enjoying a healthy and invigorating and substantial career in the Colonies. And now I have said most of that which I desired to say upon the subject. I would say a word here about our present system of education. I have already stated that it is too wooden in character. I do not believe in payment by results; I believe it was necessary at the beginning, but we have now outgrown it. It is a harsh system. It makes the school a scene of grinding, driving, and pushing to earn grants; it takes away the attention of the teacher from the level of the school in order to devote himself mainly to the most backward and stupid of the children; it keeps the whole level down. I am thankful that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council has indicated that he is now in favour of very much modifying the system of payment by results. I hope that sooner or later this country will follow in the wake of all other intelligent countries in making the examination of a much higher type depending on the general character of the school, and the general character of the education given, and also on individual examination for the purpose of passing a certain number of children all on the same level. I think the time has come when we ought to make a new departure altogether on the matter of education. I see an hon. Friend here who is so very anxious to have an opportunity of saying something himself on the matter. I shall be happy to make way for him, therefore I will be as brief as I possibly can. I hope the Bill for Technical Education will pass. It will deal with some of the points I have endeavoured to place before the Committee; but it will only be in a small degree, because it will only touch a small proportion of the people ' of the country. If the Government; would consent so to widen that measure as to make it deal with the whole question of evening schools, they would cover very much of the ground which I have tried to describe to the Committee. I would urge the Government to do that; but whether they do so or not, I hope that before voting these sums Parliament will insist that there shall be such an extension of the educational system. 421 in the country as shall get rid of the terrible poverty and misery that we have in the midst of us.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)
I think it comes with a very bad grace for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) to throw stones at the Royal Commission now sitting, to treat it with scorn and contempt, and to suggest that its Report will be of no value. I listened with some surprise to the right hon. Gentleman's speech. The right hon. Gentleman has been Vice President of the Council, and has had his share of responsibility, and certainly it was strange on his part to take up the attitude he has adopted towards the Commission which has been for two years dealing with a great many important subjects bearing upon education. I always understood that the right hon. Gentleman, if he was anything, was an educationalist, and yet this great and important Commission which has now been sitting for two years—and of which the right hon. Gentleman was, by the way, a Member when it first sat—is to be treated with scorn because he does not know what will come of it. That is not very encouraging for us on this side of the House, who have boon urged to put aside Party politics in dealing with this question of education. The Commission have devoted a great deal of labour and attention to this important subject, and after having done so, and after having examined an enormous number of witnesses, and reported with considerable care, to be told that the Report was of no value is, to say the least of it, discouraging. I do not think that the way in which the right hon. Gentleman has spoken on this subject is at all the way in which an ex-Minister of the Crown ought to have treated a matter of this importance. Let me here call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to some of the subjects which we are now considering—some points under the consideration of the Commission upon which I decline to express any opinion, seeing that they are still under discussion. They are considering the question of payment by results. They are considering the question of the merit grant; they are considering the question of over pressure; they are considering the question of compulsory attendance; they are considering the question of the 422 17s. 6d. limit; and they are also devoting attention to evening schools, upon which the right hon. Gentleman made such an. interesting speech. They are also considering the question of cookery, and the question of drawing. These are some of the subjects to which we have been devoting a great deal of attention, and these are questions upon which I believe we shall be able to make some recommendations. I do not say whether the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) will be able to accept the recommendations, but I believe that if the country looks at them fairly and dispassionately they will lead to great results in the future. Of course, if we are to be told ah initio that whatever we say will not be worth hearing, neither this Royal Commission, nor any other Royal Commission, under such circumstances, can I hope to do any good. I will not be led by the right hon. Gentleman, nor by any other right hon. or hon. Gentleman into expressing an opinion on these vexed subjects. As to compulsion, I am not going to say whether it can be carried out or not; but I do think that the right hon. Gentleman, and those who agree with him, ought to study a little more than they appear to have done the conditions of life in the agricultural districts. A great deal of the misconception which arises upon this matter takes place in the fact that the right hon. Gentleman, and those like him, live mostly in the atmosphere of towns, and very naturally perhaps go to other countries for recreation, and do not take sufficient pains to ascertain the conditions of life in their own rural districts. Surely anyone who wishes to solve the great question of compulsory education so far as the rural districts are concerned should study the question at home. He should go and see how the people live, and having done that, I do not think he would be prepared to lay down such broad and deep lines as have been laid down by the right hon. Gentleman without a little more searching of heart than sometimes takes place in this House. I am not going in any way to express an opinion upon this subject, but I think I may refer to facts and figures in the Blue Book for the purpose of showing the relative positions of the board schools and voluntary schools. The average attendance at elementary schools of all kinds is 3,438,425 children; and of these 423 there are in voluntary schools 2,187,118, or nearly two-thirds of the whole number. The cost per head in London voluntary schools is £2 3s. 5d., and in London school boards £3 3s. 4d.; the average grant earned is 17s. 3¼d. in the the voluntary schools, and l8s. 6¾d. in the board schools. These figures may be appealed to in support of the maintenance of the compact originally made by Mr. Forster that board schools were to supplement, and not to supplant, voluntary schools. It is a notable fact that in the past year the accommodation in voluntary schools has risen by 54,787 places. The Report of the Education Department, speaking of voluntary schools, states that—The great majority of schools which have come under inspection since 1870 have been erected, enlarged, or improved without any Government aid, at a cost to promoters of at least £6,000,000.It is necessary to remind the House when this subject is under discussion that voluntary schools are entitled to consideration and to equal treatment with board schools. There is only one other subject on which I wish to detain the Committee for a moment, and it is connected with pensions. There is one point—namely, that the benefit of pensions which have been recognized by the authorities should be extended to teachers who were in training at the date of the Revised Code, and who had entered as pupil teachers before that date. This is not a large subject; but the present condition of affairs bears hardly upon a few excellent teachers. What I ask for would involve no fresh burden upon the taxes, because it would come out of the limited grant of £6,000 a-year; it would merely imply that the grant would continue a few years longer. I refer, of course, to the Revised Code of August, 1862, and here is an example of the unequal working of the arrangement. There were two pupil teachers in 1862; one went to College in 1862–3, became trained master after 1862, and so lost his chance of a pension; the other became an assistant master at once, although untrained, and although less qualified as a teacher, is eligible for a pension. Surely a means ought to be found of correcting such an anomaly as this, by which of two contemporary pupil teachers the less qualified gains a pension which the other loses. I am glad to have an opportunity of putting 424 this matter before the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope he will give his attention to the subject. I am obliged to the Committee for the attention it has paid to the few remarks I have made; and, in conclusion, I would merely express a hope that this great educational question will be discussed without a semblance of Party bitterness.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I should just like to explain, in regard to what the hon. Member has just stated, that I said nothing at all in depreciation of voluntary schools. I simply referred to a page in the Report, which the hon. Member has not touched upon, to the fact that the voluntary schools are earning 1s. per head less than the board schools, and I expressed regret that that should be so.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
I will only detain the Committee for a very few moments, my desire being to speak directly to the point of the expenditure of money. Before doing so, let me congratulate the Committee on the fact that during this debate we have heard little or anything of a reactionary expression of opinion on the matter of education. On the whole, from both sides of the House, we have heard only expressions in favour of the forward movement of education, which goes to lift this question out of the reach of Party matters. But, Sir, it is a remarkable fact, which I would call attention to, that though I have been in the House four years, this is the first opportunity I have had of attending a debate on Educational Estimates. They have always been pushed aside to a late or, rather, an early hour of the morning. I am glad that a satisfactory opportunity has been given to-day for discussing these matters and expressing our opinions upon them. As to the expenditure of the £3,500,000 that we have had to do with, the Committee, I think, will admit—it must be evident to them—that you cannot work without tools, and that however much we may hope to improve the objects for which this money is expended, still we can never get the worth of that money unless we are employing good and well-trained teachers for carrying out the system. The whole of the education on any line, whether it be technical or elementary or any other line, is always bound to depend upon the provision of proper teachers. Upon that point I 425 wish to make a single remark. In the Report of Mr. Matthew Arnold—which has now been before the country for about a year—marked attention is drawn to this very same point—the necessity for improved training on the part of our teachers. He shows how very much improvement in the character of our teachers will facilitate that very desirable method of instruction which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) has foreshadowed as desirable; and may thereby, both directly and indirectly, through that means relieve the pressure on the children, and make it possible for them study a larger number of subjects in our elementary schools. Now, with respect to the training of our teachers, I want to come to a practical point, and that is all that I rise to speak about. We have at present a certain number of training colleges. In these training colleges, roughly speaking, three-fifths of our teachers are trained, and the remaining two-fifths are not trained in the training colleges, so badly off are we for trained teachers in this country. I have nothing to say against the training colleges. I do not propose to interfere with them in any extension of the opportunities for our teachers to be trained which I might urge on the Committee. This, however, is what I would urge—namely, the desirability of having a large number of day training colleges in the great towns. I would have the educational machinery, so to speak, prepared in the towns the populations of which require to be educated. I fancy, for instance, that the supply of teachers needed in Birmingham would, roughly speaking, be about 100 per year, and you have there an opportunity for a sufficiently large institution, to be conducted on a cheap and easy basis, for the production of the number of teachers required. From the calculation which I have gone into upon this matter, I have reason to believe that you could have 10 or 12 of such day training colleges, or day training schools, for teachers, giving them a three years' training, in 10 or 12 parts of the country, turning out, roughly speaking, annually, 1,000 trained teachers, at an expense of no more than £50,000 or £60,000 a-year. These are figures which I have gone into, and when I bring that before the Com- 426 mittee, and show that by so small an expenditure such a valuable result can be gained, it will be seen how immediately my remarks are directed towards making the £3,500,000 more useful to the country. You might thereby be producing instead of 1,500 teachers which you produce per annum now out of your training colleges at a cost of £ 115,000 per year, produce nearly twice that number at a cost of only about 50 per cent more than the present cost, and the circumstances are such that this could be both efficiently and cheaply done. Now, in the neighbouring country in Scotland they turn out there just now no fewer per annum than 426 trained teachers from the training colleges, taking the population of this country to seven times that of Scotland, if you multiply that figure by seven you get, roughly speaking, twice as many trained teachers turned out in Scotland as we have in England, and we know how much more efficient education in Scotland is than education in this country. Now, I want to call attention to this, that the sum of money that I have mentioned in connection with day training colleges includes not only the two years you require as at present in residential training colleges; but, practically speaking, a three years' course. And there is one point upon which I ought to call attention here; it is, that at present the teachers under training in training colleges in England do not get anything beyond the training colleges; whereas the teachers from the training colleges in Scotland in a large number of instances attend the University. Out of 302 teachers attending training colleges in Scotland last year 160 attended classes and lectures at the University—that is to say, 55 per cent of the whole, and many of those attended a two or three years' course', and that is not including those who, after having become teachers, come back and take degrees in the University. I have the testimony of one of the best known Professors in Edinburgh that those teachers who attend his classes are amongst his best pupils there. I wish to call attention to a point bearing upon this, and I do not know, Sir, whether you will call me to Order. I was afraid, Sir, that you were about to rise to call me to Order, though I could not see why you should do so, because 427 I am showing where it is that we may provide the material for the better utilizing of this £3,500,000. "What I come to is this—that if you establish 10 or 12 more large day training colleges in our big towns, you find you have now provided in these big towns what you did not possess when the Elementary Education Act came into force—namely, colleges of the same kind that you find in the Scotch Universities. You therefore have the very means of giving that higher education to your school teachers than which nothing has been more beneficial in improving the school training in Scotland. In the matter of the training of our teachers, we are vastly behind our neighbouring countries, as has been shown by Mr. Arnold's Report, which Report I commend to the consideration of the Committee and the country at large.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I will not detain the Committee more than one moment. My only object in rising is to state as emphatically as I can how diametrically opposed are the men I represent to the opinions expressed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Flintshire (Mr. Samuel Smith) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). What the agricultural labourers want—and I speak of what I know—I have been called reactionary by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Hoxton Division of Shoreditch (Mr. James Stuart)—is not that their children shall be under educated, but that they shall be relieved from attendance at school after the age of 12 years. It is not that the labourer feels the payment of the school pence that he makes this demand, but that the labourer is deprived of the use of his children at an age when they may be made useful. I have no intention to make a speech upon this question. I only call attention to it because I have a notice on the Paper bearing upon it, and because I hope next Session to be able to call the attention of the House to the matter, when I trust to have the support of Members sitting on the Ministerial side of the House who represent agricultural constituencies.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
As I have the honour of being a colleague of my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Mr. J. G Talbot) upon the Com- 428 mission to which reference has been made, I propose to occupy the attention of the Committee for a very few minutes. The discussion has ranged over a very large number of subjects, and I -was very glad, indeed, that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) drew very particular attention to the question of attendance. The Return which has been presented to the House shows that there are no less than 1,000,000 children out of school who ought to be in school, and that the average attendance of children is 1,250,000 less than it ought to be if the children attended properly. This is a most important matter, and one to which the earnest attention of the Committee should be directed. I, myself, believe that the two weakest spots in our educational position are London and the rural districts. The hon. Baronet the Member for the Evesham Division of Worcester (Sir Richard Temple) said that the attendance in London was very good, and no doubt, as compared with the rural districts and some parts of the country, it is very good; but, as compared with many of the large towns, it is by no means as satisfactory as it ought to be. I do not desire to blame the London School Board for the deficiency of attendance in London. I believe, on the whole, that the work of the visitors and the By-laws Committee is done in a satisfactory manner, and it is due very much to causes over which they have no control that there is this deficiency in the attendance. The two chief causes of this deficiency are the action of the magistrates of London and the action of the Home Office. While I had the honour of a seat on the London School Board, the Board were continually going to the Educational Department, asking them that School Board cases should have a fairer and more satisfactory hearing than they get at the present time, because it was proved to us, over and over again, that not only were a very large number of the magistrates out of sympathy with the Board, and that they always put the School Board cases last, and did their best to prevent them being taken; but, as a matter of physical fact, there was not actually time to take the School Board cases if the other cases were to be taken in a satisfactory manner. Therefore we urged on the Department, and they urged, time after time, on the Home Office, that there should be greater 429 facilities given for the hearing of summonses for non-attendance at school. I wish to point out that it is not because the School Board, or any other body, desire to be harsh in this matter, that they desire greater facilities. Nothing is worse, nothing is more injurious to the parents, than that there should not be proper facilities for the hearing of these cases, because parents in London are dragged to the police courts time after time, not only lose their wages, and have consequently to consort with persons of low character attending the court; and, therefore, I contend that greater facilities for the hearing of these cases should be given, not only in the interests of the children and of the country, but in the pecuniary and moral interests of the parents themselves. I hope that the difficulty of getting magistrates to convict in clear cases, and the mere physical difficulty of obtaining the hearing of School Board cases may gradually be overcome. Then, again, other stumbling blocks in the way of compulsion are many of the School Attendance Committees in rural districts. I think hon. Gentlemen opposite who have spoken have entirely missed the point in this question, because they say that the children ought not to be compelled to remain at school until 14 years of age. I think they exaggerated a good deal what my right hon. Friend the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) said. Our point is that they do not attend, at present, even up to the age or Standard that is expected of them, and a very low Standard it is, too; and we wish the Department to give some attention to this matter of attendance in rural districts. It was given in evidence before the Commission—it is published, and, therefore, I am sure my hon. Friend (Mr. J. G. Talbot) will not object to my mentioning it—it was given in evidence by the Department themselves that they never interfered in the matter of attendance in rural districts unless the matter were brought particularly to their notice. But there is no one to call their attention to it in that active manner; and I think it ought to be the duty of the Department, through their Inspectors, to see that some kind of inquiry into the attendance in rural districts is properly carried out. Some hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway said it was very hard on the parents in rural districts that the children should be forced to attend 430 school; but if they look at the Return of the Education Department they will see that, in a large number of rural districts where there are school boards, the children are as capable of attending school as those who reside in large towns. It is the laxity of the School Authorities, not the physical difficulty in the way of the children, that causes this great loss to the nation in the non-attendance of children at school. This laxity of attendance is very hard on the teachers; it is unjust to the children who are visited with the sins of their parents; and it involves a great waste of money to the country at large. Just one word on another point in connection with this matter. I am sure none of us desire that compulsion should be carried out in a harsh manner, but we do believe, that with full regard to the liberty of the subject and convenience of the parents, it may be carried out better than it is at present. But while we desire compulsion we also desire to attract children to school, and the best way of making schools attractive is to give the greatest possible liberty to the managers and teachers. A great deal has been said about the question of payment by results. I believe that so long as voluntary schools exist, and so long as non-representative management exists you must have, in the upper standards at least, some form of individual examination, but, at the same time, a great deal more liberty might be given to the managers of the schools. My hon. Friend the Member for the London University (Sir J. Lubbock) has already pointed out to the Committee that in the matter of class subjects greater liberty might be given to the managers. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) is a protectionist in the matter of corn, but he is certainly a protectionist in the matter of grammar, because he forces grammar down the throats of all children throughout the country, and refuses to give any choice to the managers in this respect. Is it not absurd that we have amongst our class subjects, this repulsive subject of grammar, and force everyone to take it, and that most useful subjects of science should find scarcely any place in our schools? That is entirely due to the obstinacy of the Department, not merely under the right hon. Gentleman, but under his 431 Predecessor in Office the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside I Division of Sheffield as well. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir William Hart Dyke) will take this matter into consideration. It is a small matter, but it is a matter in which I believe we are all agreed. I do not think that he need plead that a Royal Commission is sitting as an excuse for not taking this matter into consideration, and for giving the managers throughout the country full choice in class subjects.
§ MR. ADDISON (Ashton-under-Lyne)
I do not propose to say more than a word upon what the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Poplar Division of the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Sydney Buxton) has just called a small subject. I consider it an important one. The hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Woodall) pointed out that the time table was already crowded, and that a couple of hours in the forenoon and a couple of hours in the afternoon is as much time as we can reasonably expect children to give to educational matters. What I desire to say is this—that if the localities are allowed a choice of subjects, it would not only be a good thing, but they might, to a great extent, or entirely, get rid of one of the subjects which is called English. English consists chiefly of two subjects. One of them might be much minimized, and that is spelling. I quite agree that children ought to have a good wholesome foundation of spelling, but I protest against their time being taken up with the minutia of spelling when it could be more usefully employed in other directions. Spelling is a mere arbitrary sort of art, and there is no addition to be made to human knowledge by par-suing it into all its niceties. How can it matter, for instance, whether we spell threatre with "tre" or "ter" as the Americans do? All this minutiœ is a matter of little or no importance, and is not education in the true sense of the word. I cannot possibly understand why so many years should be taken up with the minutiœ of spelling when they might be so usefully employed in that drawing of which we have heard so much. I admit that in some degree spelling is necessary as a foundation, but what are we to say of that barbarous and ridiculous subject which is called grammar? This is really a very important matter for the right hon. Gentleman the 432 Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) to direct his attention to. As regards the grammar, I do not say for a moment that the study of the structure of languages—ancient or modern—is not of great interest to advanced students. The study of the comparative structure of the different languages is a beautiful one, but guarding myself in that way, I maintain that grammar as taught in our elementary schools is entirely useless. It is supposed to be in some mysterious way necessary; but it does not teach people the use of words, the meaning of words, or how to pronounce words—how to speak. It teaches them literally nothing in the world except to say "I go," instead of "I went," and the like, which they might equally well learn by obsertion, and not by a number of barbarous and tiresome rules which are almost unintelligible to anyone who does not know how to speak without them. It is useless for speaking, it is equally useless for writing or composition. All the great literary masters from my own namesake to Macaulay and Carlyle, and other great writers, have made styles for themselves. Until we get rid of the superstition that grammar is any good, or that the minutiœ of spelling is any use, we shall waste a great deal of time. I urge upon the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council not only that the Code may be in this respect modified, but that in reality there should be no Code at all, or at any rate very little. I certainly think that more freedom in the choice of subjects should be left to those who understand the want of the district in which the school is situated.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
It is astonishing how much agreement of opinion there seems to be this afternoon between the two sides of the House. I am very glad indeed to support the appeal made by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Addison), to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on the subject of that exceedingly dry and uninteresting study—elementary grammar. If the study could be put off until children and young people had sufficiently matured intelligence to see where the interest of the subject lies, then it might have an educational value, but at present it is simply discouraging, and for the 433 young mind disgusting. I do hope, at any rate, that entire liberty will be given to school managers to say whether they will have it or not as a class subject. I suppose that in the course of this conversation we are all of us anxious to urge upon the attention of the House some particular point. My point is the Kindergarten system, and that has not been referred to this afternoon. In the interesting speech made by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Eversham Division of Worcester (Sir Richard Temple), he insisted upon the necessity of what, I think, the formative part of education. I ask, Sir, if we can be satisfied with the results that have been attained hitherto in this respect. We all rejoice that the criminal statistics have been very much reduced since the increase of education, and this, so far as it goes, is proof of good moral intercourse; but if we are to judge by the conversation in the streets, or at any rate in crowded places of popular assembly, I fear we shall not come to so satisfactory a conclusion. Surely when generation after generation, counting a generation of school children at five or six years—have been instructed in what is called English, and above all in the use of grammar and the value of words, we may expect that the conversation of the majority of the English people would not consist so largely in the repetition of one or two monotonous epithets, and especially one which is never absent from the conversation even of those which have been brought up in private or voluntary schools. I think we ought to see some improvement in this respect. So far, I quite agree with the hon. Baronet (Sir Richard Temple) that the formative element should be more considered than it is at present. You will never produce that moral effect you want to exert upon the minds of the very young, unless you make all their lessons interesting. Let them love the school, and feel that it is as it were a second home. The Report of Mr. Matthew Arnold upon schools has been mentioned several times this afternoon, and I must quote—though I do it with grief and sorrow—certain words of his which strike me as being exceedingly sad—The fault of the teaching in our public schools at home is, as I have often said, that it is so little formulative.I hope the hon. Baronet will bear that 434 in mind in carrying out his own high and important duties.It gives the children power to read a newspaper and write a letter, to cast accounts, and it gives them a certain number of pieces of knowledge, hut it does little to touch their nature for good, and to mould it.Now, that, I think, is exceedingly sad coming from a man of such wide experience as Mr. Matthew Arnold. But that is confirmed by the new Report of the Education Department on the training colleges. If the teachers themselves have but little formative influences brought to bear upon them in the course of their training, how are they to be expected to exert that formative influence on their pupils? In the Report on training colleges for for schoolmasters, Mr. Oakley tells us the complaint is of want of intelligence on the part of the students in the colleges. In the Report it is shown that such answers were given to questions as that Shakespeare was a theological writer; that he was the author of the Waverley Novels; that he was the author of East Lynne, and that Bacon was credited with the Principia Latina. Now, all these matters point very much to the advantage of formative influences, and what I contend is that if you are to have these formative influences you must begin at the beginning, you must take in hand the youngest children, and you must give not "pieces of knowledge" they are not capable of digesting, but you must surround them with certain influences that will develop their faculties. German writers on education tell us that a young child coming to school at. the age of six years can neither speak properly, nor see properly, nor hear rightly, nor use his fingers correctly, and that the first object of a teacher ought to be to develop the intelligent use of the various bodily or active powers it possesses. That is just what the Kindergarten system aims at. It is made a reproach against Kindergarten that it does not begin by teaching reading, writing, and arethmetic, and unfortunately the Education Department will not listen to its exclusive employment because it does not teach children the minutiœ of spelling, and does not immediately teach them the difference between a noun and a verb, and between an adverb and a preposition. I think it is high time some trial of this system 435 were made. Mark what you would get. If you begin by developing the whole body and mind of the little children, then you can evolve from these elementary exercises other and higher lessons which shall include the sort of manual practice which is constantly advocated now, but which shall take also the intellectual elements, and so shall prepare the growing boy or girl for the higher technical school in the future. When we insist upon manual instruction, let us be aware we do not abuse this new fashionable doctrine. Once we begin to make a mere mechanical use of it, and try to make a boy or girl a mere saw or sewing machine, we altogether fail in our object. If we are to carry out this doctrine correctly, I am convinced we must begin with the Kindergarten, and I beseech the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) to take this matter into his earnest consideration, and lay the foundation of a truly combined, and organized, and purified system of education from the lowest class in the infants' school, even to the Universities. I speak feelingly on this subject, because when I happened to be a Member of a little school board in one of the suburbs of of London, I endeavoured to get liberty for that board—it only managed two schools—to depart a little from the ordinary methods of instruction, and use the Kindergarten as nearly as possible exclusively. You observe there are no Standards for children below seven years of age, and what we wished to undertake was that, if the Education Department would kindly permit an abrogation in the case of our two schools, the children should pass the First Standard when they were seven years old. This is more than the Kindergarten ought to undertake; but we undertook it. I wrote to the Education Department making this suggestion and I reminded them of certain passages in a letter to school boards emanating from the Department which, I thought, facilitated the granting of my request. I have reason to believe that my letter was never read. The fact is, that in reply to me the Department very kindly declined to express any opinion, and still more kindly sent to me the very document for my information from which I had quoted to them for their information. This fact proves to me very well 436 that my letter was never read in the Education Department. I think it is time that some attention was given to this question, of the adoption of the Kindergarten system by the Education Authorities. The present system wants altering, and a very slight step would be necessary to alter it in the direction I suggest. I think that wherever you find an intelligent body of managers who understand the subject and who undertake that their children shall pass through the Second Standard at eight years of age, liberty ought to be given to them to employ the Kindergarten system exclusively, and that you should not insist upon little ones being examined in reading, writing, and arithmetic before that age. I have not attempted to refer to documents; but the directions to Inspectors certainly show that it is expected that little children of four and five years of age shall have made certain physical and tangible progress towards the reading of words of one syllable and the writing of single letters. This is inconsistent with the Kindergarten system. It is inconsistent with the right exercise of formative influences. My remarks upon this Vote are necessarily somewhat fragmentary; but my point is that if we begin at the beginning and adopt the Kindergarten system in our infant class, we shall evolve from it one continuous system of manual, spiritual, and bodily education which will prepare children for the highest avocations to which they may be called.
§ MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
I desire, on behalf of the Scotch Members of the House of Commons, to make an appeal to English Members. We, the Scotch Members, are very anxious to get the Scotch Vote discussed this afternoon, and I really do think, without at all depreciating the importance of the Vote, that at this period of the Session we might hope to get the two principal Votes for English and Scotch education in the course of one afternoon. It is quite possible for us to carry the discussion too far, and I do hope that hon. Members will consent to allow, at least, two Votes to be taken this afternoon.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
I, of course, feel that I have no right to put any pressure upon the Committee in regard to the length of the discussion, and I only rise now to thank the Com- 437 mittee generally for the kind and courteous reception they have given to the appeal I made in introducing this Vote. This discussion, as has been truly said, has ranged over considerable ground, and I assure the Committee that I have listened to the discussion with the greatest care and interest. I have taken note of all the chief points urged by hon. Members, and a good many proposals which have been made I fully sympathize with. I will take care all the points receive my serious consideration, and I trust to formulate some proposal in respect to them. I only now conclude by urging the Committee, considering the lateness of the Session and the reasons just adduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire (Mr. Marjoribanks), to agree to the Vote without further debate.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I do not want to inflict upon the Committee any lengthened observations, but there are one or two points which I have boon specially asked to bring before the Committee upon the Education Vote. One of these points relates to the position of the teachers of which nothing whatever has been said this afternoon. If we waive our right to bring forward such important matters as this upon the present occasion, shall we have an opportunity of referring to them on Report, or at any subsequent stage? If not, I am bound to say I shall sit here until the House is adjourned, and if necessary, oppose the taking of the Vote to-night, in order that the question of the status of our teachers may be considered in Committee.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
I presume that there will be no difficulty in raising the question upon a future occasion.
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
I have only one observation to make before the Vote is passed, and that has reference to the treatment of the people in my borough who cannot pay their school fees. At present owing to the fact that we have only a half-day police court at Hammersmith these people have very frequently to attend at the Westminster police court. I think that the Education Department and the London School Board might arrange to have a magistrate specially told off to take School Board cases—a magistrate who would go from one place to another, and thus avoid the necessity of parents 438 being dragged long distances to court, and being obliged when they get there to consort very often with disreputable characters.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
I should like to point out the anomaly there is between the English and the Scotch grant. Owing to the different system of reckoning the time under the two systems a difference is made in the grant. If the hour were more convenient I should emphasize this difference by proposing to reduce the amount of the Estimate by the difference which occurs; but, under the circumstances, I content myself by calling attention to the difference. It is obviously unjust that a different scale of grant should prevail in the two countries.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £213,392, 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 1888, for Public Education in Scotland.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Glasgow and St. Andrew's Universities)
I shall occupy the time of the Committee very briefly, but it is advisable that I should state certain facts as shortly as I can which will place the Committee in general possession of the present state of things in regard to education in Scotland. In the first place, I will refer to a matter which has been noticed before, and that is the cost of the Scotch Education Department in consequence of the change made in its transference to a separate Committee. The cost in London is practically the lowest possible. It amounts to 1.7 per cent of the whole cost of Scotch education, and that is a diminution upon last year, when it was 1.8 per cent. A comparison with the old arrangement shows that while the cost of the higher staff which was always separate for the two countries amounted in 1885 to £3,962, it now amounts to £3,303. The removal of the clerical staff which in 1885 was paid from the English Vote brought about this result, that the English Vote was reduced by £3,417, as representing the Scotch work in the general office. The amount now paid in the Scotch Office for clerical work is £4,286. Thus the higher staff costs 439 £659 less, and the clerical staff £869 more, making a total difference of increase of £210. But the additional work which, is done in consequence of what has happened within the last two years is greatly out of proportion to this increase. The letters received in the Scotch Education Department on Scotch education business increased in the first year of the new arrangement by no less than 67 per cent, and there is an increase in the present year equal in proportion to that again of another 67 per cent on what it was before, so that there is an enormous increase of clerical work for Scotland compared with what there used to be. As regards the new work done by the Department within a recent period the inspection of higher schools has been conducted in Scotland to the extent of 38 schools, and then, in addition to that, there are cases under the Endowed Schools scheme, of which 292 have been submitted, 190 approved, 39 remitted to amend, and 62 under consideration. Of the 170 that have already been laid on the Table of this House all have been approved except one which was disapproved on a technical ground only. As regards the annual grant, the net increase in Scotland in the earnings of annual grant amounts to £29,129, and the total Vote to £553,392. This increase is due to two causes. First, the average attendance has increased; and, second, the amount earned by the individual has increased also. The average attendance, estimated at 491,197, was last year 476,890, showing a considerable increase. In 1873, when this may be compared with the aided schools, there was an attendance of 220,508 in the aided schools. These, of course, did not comprise all, because there was no opportunity at the time to obtain correct statistics, and, therefore, it is impossible to make an exact comparison; but still the figures give a very clear indication of a very large increase, and in addition to that in regard to the increase upon the average attendance, and the amount earned, it must be noticed that the Commission some years before reported that the other schools were not, as a rule, efficient at all. But the increase upon the individual earnings is the most startling of all. In 1873 it was 9s. 10¾d., in 1886 it had risen to 18s. 7½d., and in this year, as estimated according to the 440 knowledge already acquired, it has risen to 18s. 11d. This indicates, I think, increased industry and increased intelligence and attainment on the part of the children, and also, I think, greater energy and success on the part of the teachers. A few words upon certain sub-heads. One sub-head disappears altogether; that is the sub-head of building grants. All the applications were finally dealt with, and the school accommodation in Scotland is now practically complete for some time, except in so far as regards certain particular cases. Of course, as regards rapidly-increasing population, in some cases it can never practically be held to be complete. But there is in Scotland at the present moment accommodation for 701,598, or no less than 17.81 per cent of the population. In 1872 there was accommodation for 274,000. The cost at which increased accommodation has been provided is £3,800,900 from rates, and £577,955 from grants. The attendance has greatly increased, but still it is somewhat deficient. As against 656,464, which would be the proper average, the actual average attendance has been 483,996, showing a difference of 172,468. It is much to be feared that the compulsory powers possessed under the Act of 1872 are not efficiently exercised in some cases to a very considerable extent. This particularly applies, of course, to the Highlands, whore no doubt there are special difficulties; but the failure increases the burden on the locality by the loss of grant, and it is to be feared that in many cases it does not result so much from the impossibility, from distance or weather, of the children getting to school, as it is from their illegal employment in contravention of the Act. In 1885 with a view of stimulating attendance in Highland schools, a special grant was offered to them, which came to 5s., 6s., 7s. or 8s., according to the state of the facts instead of 4s., on higher percentages. This has had a good effect, because the amount paid as special grant in 1886 among that sparse population has been £3,136. That shows a substantial advance, though it does not reach the extent to which we hope it may come yet; and the grant was shared by 374 out of 647 schools, which shows that a substantial improvement has been made in a large number of schools. Then, as regards Gaelic teaching, 441 further inducements have been offered to pupil teachers who know the Gaelic language to join the training colleges. Marks are allowed for Gaelic in the entrance examination, and also Gaelic itself is recognized as a specific subject, although I am sorry to say it has not been very readily taken up. Of secondary schools, 38 schools have been examined, of which 22 were under school boards and six under voluntary management. I am sorry to say the results do not indicate a flourishing condition of these secondary schools as a whole. This is, to a great extent, caused by scanty resources, and a consequently small staff and meagre appliances for carrying on the work. Pupils, unfortunately, also do not complete the curriculum. They leave after the one or two years, and the higher classes are very much attenuated. This is to be regretted, and the Department is considering how to deal with it. We hope much from having an outgoing examination from these schools, and this proposal receives general support, but I urge very strongly that voluntary efforts will do more for these secondary schools than they have done in the past. With regard to changes in the Code, the chief change has been the abandonment of the individual examination in the lower Standards, which after what has been said to-day, I am sure the Committee would approve. This facilitates greater freedom of organization in the schools, greater opportunity of observing the capacity of the children, thereby adapting the training to encourage the children, and to prevent that feeling of despair, and of being left behind on the road, from which children suffer acutely and often abandon the race of education altogether. The evils of mere payments by results are thus, to some extent, modified. Our action in this direction is necessarily limited by the Parliamentary rule of payment by results; but in so far as we have been able to do it consistently with that rule, a great deal of good has been effected. The second change has been the development of class subjects, to distribute intelligence over the school. There is a Committee sitting on this subject, of which the hon. Member for the City of Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker) is Chairman, and the hon. and learned Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay) And Mr. Cochrane Patrick are members, and 442 to which all are giving valuable assistance. The Department hope shortly to have the assistance of the Report of the Committee. I shall not indulge in a peroration, but simply content myself with this brief statement.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
I do not know how far it is expedient to crush the discussion upon such an important a Vote as this into the space of half-an-hour. If, however, Scotch Members generally are agreeable that the Voce should be passed at this Sitting, I shall do nothing to prevent the attainment of such an end. Now, as to the general result, as stated in the Report of the Department, I find that the number of students presented in Standard V. has increased by 8.21 per cent; but let me point out that this increase is not due to the fact that the age has been raised to 14 years, and that employment under 14 years of age is prohibited unless Standard V. is passed. It is well this should be borne in mind, because we are apt to attribute this increase to an improvement in the educational machinery. With regard to school attendance, I may point out to the Department that we have no information whatever regarding the number of children who are attending other than State-aided schools. I believe that every school board has got information not merely as to the attendance at their own schools, but as to the attendance at other schools. Probably the reason for not giving this information has been that in consequence of the information the Scotch Education Department has been enabled to give a most unfair representation of the progress of education. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate has not been free from such a tendency in his remarks to-day. He told us, for instance, that the school accommodation in Scotland in 1873 was only 274,000, and that it is now 701,000, thus making it appear as if this accommodation had been the result of increased accommodation being provided which did not exist before, forgetting altogether that the state of matters was that at the former period there was only a limited number of State-aided schools. In point of fact, according to the Census Returns of 1871, there were 541,000 children receiving instruction in Scotland, which shows the fallacy of drawing a comparison between 443 the State-aided schools in 1873 and State-aided schools now. If the Department will tell us the total number of children at school in 1873, and the total number of children at school now, we should know the difference—instead of it being about 120 per cent, as they try to make out, we should find that the percentage of the population between five and 13 years of age at the Census of 1871, compared with the number at the Census of 1881, showed only an increase of percentage of population and attendance at school of 9.21. The reason why the Scotch Education Department do not furnish us with the full details of the children attending not merely State-aided, but all schools, is that they would otherwise never be able to continue the fallacy which they have carried out for a great many years in their Report. Another Return which we wish to have is that of the ages at which the different children passed the Standards. For instance, if we find that there are children attending school in Standard I. who are 12 years of age, I think that something is wrong. The Glasgow School Board give the ages of the children in the different Standards. The Department have got the materials, out of which they can give the ages, for I believe the school boards make up every three years a statement of the ages at which the children pass the different Standards. Then, in regard to the school accommodation, it has been pointed out by the right lion, and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate that there is accommodation for 701,598 children; but I find that the average attendance is only 483,996, so that apparently there is a large surplus of accommodation in Scotland. Now, the Department seem to point out that there ought to be a very large increase of attendance—that there ought to be as many as 173,000 more at school. It may seem a paradox, but it is nevertheless true, that there is far too much attendance at Scottish schools from one aspect of the matter—that is, for the amount of educational work that is done. For instance, in order to pass Standard V., which means six years' attendance at school, any child who makes 125 whole attendances will be able to pass one Standard each year, which Standard is below the average capacity of children. Now, the 444 total number of children in Scotland who have been at school for six years—that is, children between six and 12 years, which will represent the number who have been at school for six years—is 466,440, and we find that there are other children in Standard VI. to the number of 33,826; in other words, if these 500,000 children are at school in Scotland, we should expect that they will give an attendance of six years, and every one of these children ought to be able, at the end of six years, to pass Standard V. What would be the result? That in Standard V. we should have passing every year 73,000 children out of a roll of 500,000, instead of which we have a very high roll of attendance in Scotland, but we have only 55,000 passing Standard V. It is not the number of the children or the attendance that I complain of, but the question is whether we are getting proper educational results. It is a mistake to suppose that by driving children into school we are thereby promoting education. It may be the very reverse. If we make the curriculum extend over seven years instead of six, if we are neglectful, and make it take a year longer to pass a child in Standard V., as a matter of course we increase the attendance by one-sixth, but this additional attendance is not a beneficial increase. Then with regard to secondary education. We are told now that secondary education is not in a very satisfactory state in Scotland. For a long time this was not admitted by the Department. We are told that there are 7,443 pupils in one subject, but what kind of education do they get? Only 894 passed in the third stage, which is the only stage that will be of the least use to them. In the same way with French; 5,154 got a smattering of French, but only 412 passed that stage. Then in regard to class subjects. I think it would be a great advantage if we could do away with the individual examination. We have done away with that in Standard V. For instance, in Glasgow we were in a very awkward position in regard to the children. According to the Code, 250 attendances at one school were necessary before a child could go for examination. In Glasgow the flitting term is in May, and the examination of scholars was in the autumn, and we found that a child, through its parents 445 removing from one district to another, was not able to make the recognized attendances at one school, and could not pass the proper Standard, and was kept for another year in that Standard. There is another point worthy of notice. One of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools—Inspector Kerr—had other appointments besides that of Chief Inspector, for which he draws £900 a-year; but I do not find in the Estimates any notice of the emoluments for these other appointments. I believe that Mr. Kerr is also Inspector of some of the Educational Endowment Schools, and is doing work in that direction. I think it unfortunate that the Inspector of Elementary Schools should have anything to do with the secondary schools, because he will thereby be carrying the same system of examination into operation. It is unfair that any Inspector who gets £900 a-year for devoting his whole attention to that work—and there is plenty of work to be done in the case of Glasgow—should devote his attention to other matters, and receive salaries for the other duties he performs. I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer; but the question of education is one of very great interest to the people of Scotland, especially in view of the fact that we have a Commission of Inquiry sitting on the part of the Department regarding secondary education. I think that instead of the present Commission we ought to have a Commission composed of Members of this House, so that we could have an impartial investigation. Such a Commission is sitting for England, and I doubt not it wilt be of the greatest benefit to English education. We in Scotland have as much need for such a Commission; indeed, the Department have admitted the fact by appointing a Commission themselves. Unfortunately, the inquiry at present taking place is not an impartial one; it is totally under the control of the Scotch Education Department, and can only tend to drive everything into the hands of school boards.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
There can be no question that this is one of the most important questions which Scotch Members have to consider. We are very interested in the subject of national education, especially so since its control has been transferred to the Scotch Department. The reason I rise at this juncture, however, is because I 446 am the only Scotch. Member who did not wish to make a speech upon this Vote. I think that, on behalf of my hon. Friends who have remained in the House the whole day for the purpose of expressing their views and criticizing the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate, it is not too much to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) to acknowledge that it is not at all fair to press on this Vote to-day, and that it is absolutely necessary that some further opportunity should be allowed for the discussion of this very important subject. I make that appeal, because it is not a very pleasant practice, and one which Scotch Members do not very often indulge in, to talk out an Estimate of this kind. It is, however, quite evident that if any single Member wishes to insist upon the right to discuss this Vote at greater length, nothing can be easier than to talk it out. I do not want to do that, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will admit the reasonableness of my appeal.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I admit the reasonableness of the appeal with only one reservation, which is that the Vote has been taken at the request of Scotch Members. [Cries of "No, no!"]
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I understood it was so; and I at once deferred to their wishes. But there can be no doubt that if it is the wish of hon. Gentlemen from Scotland to discuss this Vote at greater length, they are fully entitled to do so. The Government will agree to a postponement of the Vote, but it will not be in my power to put it down for an early day nest week, as the first days next week are already pledged. But I will put the Vote down on the earliest possible day afterwards, and then I hope hon. Gentlemen will be in a position to take advantage of it. I presume, however, that hon. Gentleman are prepared to take the responsibility of the postponement of the Vote.
§ MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
I did appeal to English Members to stop the discussion of their Vote in order that the Scotch Vote might be 447 taken this afternoon. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) that we are entitled to a much longer time to discuss the Vote than that now at our disposal; but for my part, considering the time of the Session, I think Scotch Members might waive their claim. If they do so, however, it will be purely a matter of favour to the Government.
§ DR. R. MACDONALD (Ross and Cromarty)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate has said that the special grant for Gaelic is not taken much advantage of in the Highlands. I should like to ask him whether a scheme has been formulated for examination in Gaelic, or whether it is not the case that Inspectors have refused to examine children in that language, because they say that no scheme has been prepared according to which they can examine the children, although they may have been prepared for the examination?
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
I believe a scheme has been prepared for these examinations. I did not say that nothing had been done, but that I was disappointed at the extent to which the special grant has been taken advantage of.
§ DR. R. MACDONALD
I can give the names of the schools at which Inspectors have refused to examine children in Gaelic.
§ DR. CAMERON
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman utilize the time remaining to us in answering the Question I have put to him some time ago—namely. Whether he will take care that the grant in respect of half-timers is equalized in Scotland to what it is in England?
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Dr. Cameron,) put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next.
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.