§ £2,104,339, to complete the sum for Public Education.
§ * THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE, Kent, Dartford)
I believe I shall be following the usual course if I commence the observations I shall have to make to the Committee by explaining, in the first place, what work has been done in the past educational year. The sum voted for 1888–89 was, on the original Estimate, £3,576,077; but there was subsequently a Supplementary Estimate of £24,690, making a total of £3,600,767. The total expenditure for the year was £3,600,692, so that a balance was left of £75. The chief cause of the Supplementary Estimate was that the rate of grant per day scholar, estimated at 17s. 6£d., reached 17s. 7¾d. The total sum required for the year 1889–90, for which I ask the Committee to be responsible, is £3,684,339, or an increase on the sum originally voted for the year 1888–89 of £108,262, or, allowing for the Supplementary Estimate, of £83,572. This large increase of £108,262 is accounted for by an addition of £101,459 for annual grants for day and evening scholars, now equal to £3,323,903, and of £1,940 for training colleges, the sum being now equal to £119,140. Those large sums are required to meet (1) an increase of 83,144, or 2.3 per cent in average attendance of day scholars, and 3,300, or 10 per cent in the average number of evening scholars; (2) an increase of 1¾d. per scholar, or £27,254 in grants to day schools, now 17s. 8¼d. per head; and (3) an increase in the number of students in the training colleges. With reference to the expenditure for salaries and staff there is little or no change to mention. There is merely the normal increase both at Whitehall and in the Inspectorate, the only change being the promotion of six writers to be 350 clerks to the Lower Division. With regard to teachers' pensions, although the position of matters is not, on the whole, as satisfactory as could be desired, yet an additional sum is being paid by the State for so worthy an object. Provision has been made for four additional pensions at the highest rate of £30, 17 at £25, 13 at £20, the total number now in receipt of pensions being 607. In June, 1884, the restriction imposed upon the number of pensions, so far as it affected the claims of teachers employed before August, 1851, was relaxed, with the result that, whereas in 1884 there were 17 pensions of £30, now there are 45. In 1884 there were 86 pensions of £25, now there are 257. In 1884 there were 129 pensions of £20, and now there are 305. The addition to the annual cost of teachers' pensions is £8,600, the total sum provided for pensions and gratuities being £14,215. I will now give a few statistics as to the rate of progress in the elementary schools in the past year. I will give a comparison of the number of schools inspected between 1887 and 1888. In 1887 the number of schools inspected was 19,154, in 1888 the number was 19,221, or an increase of 67. Again, in 1887 we found school accommodation for 5,279,000 children, and in 1888 for 5,356,000, or an increase of 77,000. The scholars on the register in 1887 were 4,635,000, and in 1888 they were 4,687,000, or an increase of 52,000. The average attendance at the schools in 1887 was 3,527,000, and in 1888 it was 3,615,000, or an increase of 88,000. With respect to the percentage of the average attendance to the numbers on the register, it is satisfactory to note that we have got over the slight decrease, or rather the halting progress, of the two preceding years. In 1887 the percentage was 76.1. In 1888 it was 77.1. There was thus a solid gain of 1 per cent in 1888 as compared with 1887. The percentage of passes in standard subjects in 1887 was 87.32, and in 1888 it was 87.97. The number of scholars examined in Standards IV and upwards is a fair test of the efficiency of the teaching in the schools, and there also satisfactory improvement is indicated. The number examined was 912,000 in 1887, and in 1888 it was 953,000, showing an increase of 41,000, or of 4.5 per cent. The percentage of such scholars to the 351 total number was in 1887 36.3, and in 1888 37.4, or an increase of 1.1 per cent. Now I will take another item which has been again and again discussed in the House, and which is acknowledged to be of very great importance as regards the future domestic happiness of the girls in the schools. I refer to the teaching of cookery, and I ask the House to listen to a few figures, because they show that since I gave a pledge some two years ago that the Department would do its utmost to promote instruction in cookery we have made rapid progress in that matter, although we have not yet reached the maximum point. The number of girls earning the cookery grant in 1887 was 30,431, and in 1888 it was 42,159, or an increase of 11,728. I will now give the number of certificated teachers. In 1887 it was 66,547, and in 1888 68,683, or an increase of 2,136. The number of pupil teachers has risen from 28,930 in 1887 to 29,901 or an increase of 971. Looking at those figures as a whole, they show a decided though gradual improvement in the efficiency of the work done in the elementary schools. They indicate naturally a rather lower rate of increase than in previous years, except on two headings, which I consider of the greatest importance. In the first place, there is a solid increase in the percentage of average attendance to the number on the registers. In fact, we have made up the lost ground of the two preceding years. In the second place, there is a large addition to the cookery grants, showing the advantages of the centre system of teaching and peripatetic teachers. In 1884 the number of girls taught cookery was 7,600; in 1885, 17,700; in 1886 the increase was 6,672, or 38 per cent; in 1887 it was 5,905, or 24 per cent; and in 1888 no fewer than 11,728, or 38 per cent, the total being 42,159, or nearly six times the number receiving grants in 1884. The increase in the number of children on the registers has fallen from 129,000 to 52,000; but the increase in the average attendance is the same as in 1887 (88,000), showing that the enforcement of regularity of attendance has more than kept pace with the addition to the number on the books during the year under review. I believe the new Code will have stimulated school attend- 352 ance, and there is yet ample scope for energy in that direction when we remember that there is now a daily absence of more than one million children. I am convinced that that deficiency might be much further reduced by making school life more popular, and varying the curriculum, rather than by fines and compulsion. Taking into account all schools affording elementary instruction, there are no-fewer than 4,800,000 children on the registers, or 16.75 per cent, of the population: while before the passing of the Education Act of 1870 there were only 7.08 per cent, of the population on the registers of such schools. That result has been achieved by the addition of 6,378 voluntary schools since 1870, providing accommodation for l,668,000 children, and by the addition of 4,562 Board Schools, providing accommodation for 1,809,000 children. These additional schools are provided as follows: From 1870 to 1876 there were 4,396 voluntary, and 1,596 Board Schools provided; from 1876 to 1882 1,744 voluntary and 2,272 Board Schools; and from 1882 to 1888, 238 voluntary and 694 Board Schools. The school supply may now be considered as well provided for, only 67 schools of all kinds being added last year. Before I leave these statistics I should like—and especially in view of probable coming Debates on these important matters—to give a few figures with regard to school expenditure, and the cost of maintaining our elementary schools. The cost of maintenance per scholar in average attendance in Board Schools in 1877 was £2 4s. 7½d., as against £2 4s. 7½d. in 1888; in voluntary schools the cost was £l 16s. 4£d., against £1 16s. 4d. in 1888, being a decrease of ½d.; excluding London, the cost in Board Schools was £1 19s. 8½d., as against£l.19s. 8d. in 1888; in voluntary schools the cost was £1 15s. 9½d., as against £1 15s. 8¾d. In the London Board Schools the cost was £3 0s. 5d., as against £3 0a. 6¼d. In 1888, while in the London voluntary schools the cost was £2 3s. 9½d., as against £2 4s. 1½d. in 1888. London-excepted, the expenditure throughout the year has been stationary throughout England and Wales, the net result being a diminution of ½d. per head in the cost of voluntary schools. In Lon- 353 don, however, the cost of Board Schools has risen 1¼d., and now reaches 6s. 3¼d. a head more than in 1884, while the cost in voluntary schools has risen 4¼d., and now stands at 1s. 11¼d. a head more than in 1884. The increase in the cost of schools in the rest of the country has been during the same period, in Board Schools 1s. 11¼d., and in voluntary schools 1s. ¾d. The increase of cost, therefore, in the Metropolis contrasts unfavourably with the rest of the country. Contributions from the rates amount to, per scholar, 17s. 7¼d., a reduction of 1¼d. compared with 1886–7; subscriptions, 6s. 7¾d., the same as the year before; payments by children in Board Schools, 8s. 11¼d. per head; in voluntary schools, 11s. 6¾d. per head, being a reduction of 1½d. and 1d. respectively. Compared with the figures of 1884, the rates have increased 1s.4¼d.per head, the voluntary contributions have fallen ¾d. per head, and the school fees have fallen 6½d. per head in Board Schools and 1¼d. per head in voluntary schools. The increased cost per scholar from 1884 to 1888 has been, in Board Schools, 2s. 11d.; in voluntary schools, 1s. 2d. A reduction during the same period has taken place in the fees and contributions of voluntary schools of 2d. per head, and in the fees payable to Board Schools of 6½d. per head. The total deficiency has been met in Board Schools by an increase of rates 1s. 4¼d., miscellaneous receipts 1¼d., additional grant 1s. 11¾d.—being a total of 3s. 5¼d.; and in voluntary schools by an increase of endowment ¼d., and additional grants 1s. 3¾d.—or a total of 1s. 4d. So much for the educational work of the past year. But if I finished my statement here I should be doing not only myself, but also the Department with which I am connected, a grievous wrong. I must therefore pass on to review other matters. I have been told over and over again during the past few months that the Code with which my name has been connected is much too stringent. It is now practically withdrawn from the cognisance of Parliament; but, so far as my experience goes, I think that one of the most indifferent methods of enjoying life is to have anything like a joint parentage in a Revised Code. The amount of inquiry, disturbance, and criticism is such as to be absolutely destructive of peace and 354 comfort so far as this life is concerned. Before I proceed further with my remarks however, I must express my extreme regret that the constant pressure of public business has prevented me from making an explanation of the Code. I admit that I have not pressed my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to any great extent, and when I refer to the criticisms of the Code I do so in no impatient and carping spirit. A document so intricate and so replete with technical language might easily be misunderstood, and, therefore, I am not surprised at the criticism. The Code was criticised from two points of view. It was urged by many that it did not go far enough, so far as education is concerned; while others said it went so far as to injure the schools in which they were most intimately interested. I believe, however, that whatever sins of omission or commission may be in these proposals, it will be acknowledged by all that, so far as its educational aspect is concerned, it is one of the best Codes ever laid on the Table of this House. I should like, if I may be permitted, to allude for a few moments to one or two of the more important questions raised in this document. One of the chief criticisms to which I have been subjected is that the Department have only partially adopted the recommendations of the Royal Commission, while they ought to have been adopted as a whole. It is true that the Department have not adopted all the recommendations of the Commission, but with some experience of the House and with some knowledge of political Parties I was aware that some of those recommendations would have provoked bitter Party controversy. We may fairly urge, therefore, that the Department did right in seizing upon recommendations which had received the commendation, not only of those who signed the Majority Report, but of those who signed the Minority Report as well. Let me deal, then, for a few moments with this charge. I may turn to the page of the Report in which the majority say that their desire has been first to make such recommendation as will give the country certain inestimable advantages for the present large outlay. But what happened, for example, in regard to the proposal to assist voluntary schools out of the rates? Those who 355 represented the interests of the majority of the Commission held a large meeting at which this question was discussed, and by an enormous majority the proposal was rejected. I should like now to deal with the most important change which was proposed, and that was in regard to the administration of the Grants. No one has studied either the evidence laid before the Royal Commission or the Majority or Minority Reports without coming to this conclusion—how very little really was urged in favour of the maintenance of the existing system of payment by results, and how much was urged against it. In framing these new proposals the Department felt, of course, the heaviest responsibility, because, so far as educational results were concerned, and particularly in respect of the elementary subjects, we felt we were leaving safe ground. We felt the gravest responsibility in bringing these proposals before Parliament. The great complaint made and urged before the Commission was that the existing system had grown too mechanical in its character, that it produced nothing but a system of cram, and that, instead of turning out the pupil with all his faculties broadly and widely developed, it looked upon the wretched scholar much in the light of a machine calculated to grind so many bushels of corn. In regard to the new system of administering the grants, the Education Department have endeavoured as nearly as posssible to follow the recommendations of the Majority Report of the Royal Commission. These proposals have been criticized from various points of view. In the first place, the Department has been told that payment by results would practically obtain under the new proposals. My reply to that is that nothing of the kind would happen, and that under them the elementary subjects would be judged on the same system as class subjects; the whole standard would be examined, and the Inspector would judge accordingly, and the award of the grant would not depend, as heretofore, on individual passes, but on the fact that the children, as a whole, had reached one of three standards which were named. It is difficult to explain the scheme without the Committee having before them the instructions which would be issued to Inspectors, but the Department hope to 356 found it on a system which has been thoroughly tried and tested in this country. It is said that the scheme leaves too much in the hands of the Inspectors, but I have to point out that these Inspectors are gentlemen who have been well tested in the work they have to accomplish, and none will have had less than 10 years' experience. No doubt the Inspector's Report will indicate to the Department what grant a school should receive, but the Report will have to be of the most searching and thorough character, and upon that Report the Department will have to judge. I have been told that the new proposals will be destructive of the interests of many of the voluntary schools, and that I shall be regarded as an immolator and destroyer. That I need hardly say, considering my predilections and my past experience, is not precisely the line of conduct I should sketch out for myself, but it would be well, perhaps, I should state how I believe the proposals will work. In the first place, the lowest grant of 12s. per scholar, according to our late proposal, must, at all events, be awarded to every school for two years which has a certificated teacher. I think there was something humane in a proposal by which every efficient school which has a certificated teacher should have two years, at all events, in which to improve its position and be secure of the 12s. grant. I should like to explain the position in regard to the three proposed grants of 12s., 14s., and 15s. 6d., respectively. These represent in the three standards of the schools, the percentage grant, the merit grant, and the fixed grant of 4s. 6d. At present no school does obtain 12s. per scholar unless it can produce 78 per cent of passes; likewise no school can obtain the 14s. grant unless it passes 90 per cent, and no school can obtain the 15s. 6d. grant unless it has 96 per cent of passes. I find that nearly 20 per cent of all our schools passed less than 78 per cent, and earned less than 12s. per scholar, and, therefore, in the case of that 20 per cent the Department's proposals will give an additional impetus to improve the efficiency of the schools. Proceeding on we find that 37.39 per cent of our day schools pass less than 90 per cent of the pupils, and receive 357 less than 14s. I find in most of these schools there is the same result—an increased grant in every case up to the maximum. Again, I find that no less than 42 per cent of the remainder of our Board Schools pass between 90 and 100 per cent. A large majority of these pass between 90 and 96 per cent. There is also a considerable gain in grant per head in each one of these schools. Therefore, when I am told that this is a vast scheme for the demolition of voluntary schools, I cannot help regarding the statement as somewhat astounding, and I am anxious to discover some fact or reason which will act as a warning to me and bear out the assertion.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield)
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the number of schools that passed less than 70, less than 80 and 90 per cent. Could he tell us the number of schools which passed less than 65 per cent and less than 60 per cent, and the number that get no grant at all?
§ * SIR W. HART DYKE
I have no doubt I could get the information from the right hon. Gentleman, but I have not the figures with me. I know that, below 65 per cent, there are a good many.
§ * SIR W. HART DYKE
Before I leave this point, I may say that, in respect of the poorer or struggling class of schools in this country, this scheme of ours is eminently calculated to assist such schools. It will afford them the utmost encouragement to improve their efficiency, and they will be, in the vast majority of instances, afforded the solid and substantial advantage of an increase of their grants. Then, Sir, there is another branch of our system of grants—that for class and extra subjects. We propose seriously to relax the position of our schools with regard to these class and extra subjects. We have a proposal, which I hope will be renewed, to no longer insist on the necessity of teaching English as a first class or extra subject. I have alluded already to the question of cookery. I think the widening and opening of the curriculum of extra subjects will be found of enormous importance. Take, for instance, the scattered schools in agricultural districts. Can we rest content with the knowledge that our agri- 358 cultural schools in England and Wales are passing in elementary subjects and nothing else? I consider that a mistake, and a deplorable mistake. Again and again, by hon. Members on both sides of the House, I have been questioned as to instruction in agriculture in our schools. I know something of rural school life, and I am not going to suggest anything so absurd as the turning out of first-rate agriculturists from our elementary schools. But there is a vast difference between that and the absolute ignorance which we see in our agricultural districts of what is destructive to agriculture and what beneficial. A deal of good could be accomplished by giving some instruction in insect life, and illustrations might be hung in our rural schoolrooms of insect life with the utmost advantage to agriculture. What do we propose to do? That pupils may attend combined science classes—a plan which has been productive of great benefit in Hertford-shire and other counties where the central system of teaching has been carried out. I believe, not only in rural districts, but in towns the combination of schools for the achievement of a particular purpose is of great advantage. What one school1 is absolutely unable to do can be accomplished by a group of three or four schools with very little trouble and expense, and by means of a peripatetic teacher they could carry out a system of instruction such as I have indicated, with vast consequent improvement to our school life. I need hardly mention, Sir, that there is then the great question of drawing. Hon. Members are aware that we have placed drawing outside the 17s. 6d. limit, and a most useful change I believe it was. Hon. Members will be glad to hear that there is a vast improvement in respect of the numbers being taught. I believe I am right in saying that the number of children being taught drawing in our elementary schools has increased 25 per cent. That is most satisfactory. I am one of those who think that the pencil ought to run a harder race for supremacy with the pen in the teaching of our schools. I am of opinion that enormous benefit is to be derived from teaching children drawing in our schools. If hon. Members will look at the Code, they will find that managers were encouraged to submit to the In- 359 spector a progressive scheme of lessons in class and specific subjects, and the curriculum would thereby have been widened to the greatest possible extent, and could have been readily adapted to the special circumstances of particular classes of schools. As regards the voluntary schools, I ought to say, before leaving this branch of the subject, that they will find a new field of exertion in these class and extra subjects, for which the Code offered fresh facilities. It will be asked, How is this to be done? It is true that a vast number of these schools do not at present see their way to afford instruction in extra subjects? But I would venture to plead that the new way of administering grants and conducting examinations will give to these schools time which they do not possess under the present system. It would give more time for teaching, and a better method of classifying the pupils. It would be a more elastic system—would cause less drudgery; it would be more liberal in its character; and I believe, if it is adopted, that the time hitherto wanting for teaching of these extra subjects will be available for their benefit.
§ * SIR W. HART DYKE
The hon. Member refers me to the 17s. 6d. limit. I am not going into that question, which is a matter for legislation; it is not a question which can be discussed on a Vote; but of this I am sure, that, if any movement is made in the direction of assisting the school by further grants from the State, no such proposal will be considered valid or adequate by this House which does not carry with it some security that the extra money paid will be actually expended for the benefit of education. That, I think, may fairly be urged and demanded. My hon. Friends may say, "It is of no use shadowing forth these changes, which may be of use to these schools, if we are met by the vexatious difficulty of the 17s. 6d. limit." I have taken six counties in different parts of England, which I believe to be typical counties—Buckingham, Herefordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Westmoreland, and Wiltshire. In these counties I find a total of 1,547 schools, out of which only 204 schools have exceeded the 360 17s. 6d. limit, 525 over 15s., 542 over 12s. 6d., 190 over 10s., and 26 under 10s. Only 17 per cent. of these schools are handicapped, if I may so term it, by the 17s. 6d. limit, while no less than 83 per cent are below that limit. Therefore, so far as 83 per cent of these schools are concerned, these proposed changes would be of considerable benefit; and, taking the proposals as a whole, I think there is not one of these schools—and I say it as School Manager in a country district—which will not be able to bring its total grant up to the 17s. 6d. limit. Again, I must say that I find it difficult to discover how proposals such as these are to immolate and destroy the great mass of the voluntary schools of this country. We have been told that they will destroy some 3,000 voluntary schools, and before this Debate closes I shall be anxious to know how they will destroy 300, or 30, or 3. Though I am afraid that I am detaining the House, still I think that the matters which I am discussing are of a very important character. I should like to say a word or two with regard to our teachers. Some of the largest and most considerable of our proposals affect our great teaching system. I must say I have marvelled at the inaction of the teaching community with regard to these proposals. They are, to my mind, so manifestly to the advantage of the teaching community that I have been puzzled from time to time that they have not been more cordially accepted as to principle and less criticised in minutiae of detail by the great mass of the teachers of this country. Now we have a proposal which I hope at all costs will be renewed, and it is that we relinquish the endorsement of teachers' certificates. We believe that it has been irritating, and that it has sometimes operated cruelly upon teachers who have been hard workers in their profession. The most important change, however, which we propose for the encouragement of teachers is in respect of freedom of classification. These changes were urged by the Report of the Royal Commission. I am aware that in certain quarters these changes have been criticised as not being real, but only changes on paper, and that if put to the test of practice would fail. I can only say that these proposals as 361 regards freedom of classification are intended to be complete, and real, and conclusive. We propose that a teacher may put his scholars, as regards reading, writing, and arithmetic, in any standard he chooses. We have been told that no proposal of this kind will be satisfactory so long as the word "age" is left in certain Articles of the Code as one of the tests of the capacity of a child. I think myself broadly that it would be against experience of all kinds, and against common sense, if we were to strike out "age" altogether as a means of testing the capacity of a child. Take a case. The Inspector passes a child whose face shows the evident traces of overwork. Would not one of the first questions which a man of sense and responsibility would ask be as to the age of that child? To forbid such a question as that would, to my mind, be an absurdity. In judging of the capacity of a child it will be the duty of the Inspector to consider every possible circumstance, including that of age. I think the objection to the word "age" is a wrong one, for after all its retention would not work injuriously as regards our teaching system, but serve as a protection both to teachers and children. Then we are told that the liability of all scholars present to be examined is likely to work harshly, though I think it will be a most useful provision. It is said that a child may have been in the school only two or three weeks when it is seized upon and examined by the Inspector to the injury of the expected efficiency of the school. I think such a criticism as that does not do much credit to the common sense of the Inspector, who would surely not be fit to remain long at his post if he did not easily discover how long the child has been in the school. Sir, there are one or two other points on which I should like to touch—among them that relating to day training colleges. We shall not propose vast revolutionary changes as regards the training of our teachers, but we do consider that the recommendations of the Commissioners on this point are well worthy attention, and we think that the experiment should be made. I will say this, in regard to our proposal, that so far as the Universities are concerned, and in regard to all Institutions who are prepared to receive day teachers for training, we have received the 362 greatest possible encouragement, especially from the Yorkshire College at Leeds, and the other University Colleges, the members of which have shown the greatest anxiety to be of service. The religious and moral training of our teachers is a subject of the greatest importance. I perfectly admit the importance of the religious and moral training of those who have to instruct our children. I will not go further into this point, except to say that we shall in every possible case have appointed a strong Local Committee in association with this new system when inaugurated. I deeply regret the postponement of this Code in regard to bilingual teaching in Welsh schools. The proposal to afford facilities for the teaching of Welsh and English side by side has met with unanimous support through the whole of the Principality. And in reference to this, I should like to remove a misapprehension which seems to prevail. It is thought that these proposals are made to promote the teaching of Welsh; but to my mind they are in a precisely opposite direction. We have made them entirely from an educational point of view, and because we found that unless some change was made in the Code, the Welsh people, in their efforts to learn English, would be heavily handicapped when it came to a question of examination. So far as my wishes and object are concerned, these changes have been made to promote the education of the Welsh children, and to enable them to get the best equipment when they start life. I am aware, Sir, that there have been several severe criticisms of our proposals with reference to evening schools. I at once admit that some amendment of them is necessary, and they shall be carefully considered by next Session. We think, further, that the additional subjects which we proposed should be taken in the evening schools were not sufficient. We feel that instead of two, four additional subjects should be allowed in evening schools in respect of such children as are not presented in any standard. I see by the Majority Report of the Commission it is suggested that we should do away with any distinction as to elementary subjects in evening schools or classes. But there is one difficulty so far as we are concerned, and 363 that is that the elementary schools receive public grants under the Act of 1870, and that so far as the Education Department is concerned we must recognise the teaching of elementary subjects, and put that test to scholars before they can have the advantage of evening schools. We have been much criticised in respect of the curriculum of evening schools. We are told that we ought to have a very wide curriculum. We will treat it as widely as possible; and I conclude that the permission will apply to evening schools, where, under the footnote to Schedule IV., any subject with the approval of the Department can be taken as a specific subject. These proposals involve a curriculum as wide as any educational reformer could wish. It is proposed that a special curriculum should be drawn up with reference to all these extra specific or class subjects; but to my mind it would be far better to leave the curriculum as wide, and as open as possible, and to let it be made as useful as possible to the wants of the locality in which the school is situated. I am aware that I have only touched on two or three points of interest in our educational system. It is utterly impossible in remarks such as these to cover the whole ground. I need hardly say, Sir, that we have had but one object in view, and that is the improvement and furtherance of our great national scheme of education. We shall endeavour, if possible, to turn managers into a new groove, to improve the general character of our schools, to make our school life more elastic and more popular, and, with regard to extra class subjects, to do our very utmost to widen the curriculum. One or two notices have already been given for next Session, and they rather point to the fact that the educational barometer presents more stormy aspects, perhaps, than it has done for some years past; but, so far as I am concerned, I know of nothing at this moment, and I trust that nothing would happen in the near future, which would lead me to be unfaithful to the traditions upon which the great Act of 1870 was framed, and which were to make the School Board system supplementary to, and not destructive of, voluntary effort. Well, Sir, whatever may be in store for us in the near future, I do not disguise from myself the fact that there are questions of vast educational im- 364 portance looming in that near future. Still, I trust that the House will approach those questions in a calm, broad, and judicial spirit, as becomes a Representative Assembly. I am certain of this—that we cannot afford to quarrel, or make political capital out of these great subjects. There is plenty of information to show that Continental nations are taking vast and daily strides in educational matters. They are sparing neither time, energy, nor money to bring about great results in education. Therefore, Sir, we cannot afford to waste time in quarrelling over those questions instead of coming to a practical result at as early a date as possible. I hope and trust that we shall approach them in a non-Party spirit; and I am quite sure of this—that whatever may be the result of our labours, whatever may be the result of our Debates on these important questions, we shall, at all events, ever be mindful that there is no issue so great, which an. Assembly like this can debate and consider, as the education of the people, involving, as that education does, the fate and future of this great nation.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
Sir, the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has-placed before the Committee is not only interesting but highly satisfactory to every Member of this House and to the nation at large. As I understand, during past years not only has the attendance of children at school greatly improved, but practically we are very nearly up to our accommodation power. All we have to do now is to keep pace with the annual increase of children; at the same time, the moment has now fully come when we should endeavour to increase the efficiency of the schools by improving the education. We all concur, I think, in what the right hon. Gentleman said in reference to the withdrawal of the new Code. It was a very liberal Code, and a very considerable step forward in education, and embodied many very valuable suggestions. On this side of the House we certainly do feel that if the Code was not so thorough in some respects as many of us wished, yet we knew that it was high time, after the four years of stagnation which we have had since the Royal Commission, that a further step should be taken in order to carry out their 365 recommendations. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was a pressure of business during this Session which had caused the collapse of that Code. Of course, that is only a way of putting it. We know, and the country knows, that it was not lack of time, but the pressure brought to bear by men behind the right hon. Gentleman upon the Government, which caused the withdrawal of the Code. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the other day that the Party of which he is one of the most brilliant ornaments had among it no reionaries. We know it is perfectly true that reactionary Conservatives have almost disappeared; but I regret to say that, in respect of elementary education, we have still Conservatives—and those the Representatives, chiefly and unfortunately, of the Church of England in this House—who have caused the withdrawal of this Progressive Code. I am led to say that its withdrawal, to a certain extent, was the fault of the Education Department. While the right hon. Gentleman was presenting to us the Code, he left us very much in the dark as to how these vast and Radical alterations were to be carried out. I think that hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House thought the Department would have done well for their own sake and the sake of the Code if they had laid before the House the instructions to the Inspectors on which they wished the Code carried out. I regret the delay which will be caused to progressive elementary education by the withdrawal of the Code. The right hon. Gentleman expressed the hope that the Code would be re-introduced. I trust he will be successful in doing so. And if his speech is an indication of the lines on which the Code will go next year, I do not know that we on this side of the House need so very much regret the delay which has taken place. But I am afraid that the same malign influence which destroyed the Code this year will be encouraged by its success to act in like manner towards the reintroduced Code. Those who have opposed it have done a very ill service to the cause which they have at heart. I do not believe that any political action in regard to educational matters for very many years past has done so much to injure the voluntary system in public estimation. For many years past I have 366 been one of those who can see a very great advantage in the dual system of Board and Voluntary Schools. But those who support the dual system as it at present exists do feel that, after all, the voluntary system only exists so long as it is really educational. When we find, as we have lately found, unfortunately, that voluntaryists look more particularly to the interests of their own denomination; and when we find the Archbishop of Canterbury reported to have said at some educational conference a while ago that this Code must be destroyed in the interests of the Church, then I confess it seems to me that to take up such a position is likely to do very much injury to the voluntary system. And not only so, but this opposition has been a very foolish opposition. The right hon. Gentleman, as Education Minister, clearly pointed out in his speech that the position of affairs under the new Code will not be disadvantageous, but rather advantageous to the voluntary system, because they will gain by the increased grants to the small schools. So that on the mere score of pounds, shillings and pence they will find they have made a great mistake. But if these educational reforms did entail a certain increased liability on voluntaryism, they ought not to whine to this House over those proposals; they ought cheerfully to accept them, for it is a fatal position for voluntaryists to take up that denominational poverty is to stand in the way of educational progress. As far as I can see they have no case. After all, voluntary education does or ought to imply some sacrifice on the part of those who are interested in that system. [Cheers.] I am glad to find that hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House cheer that proposition. I think it is too much forgotten that sacrifices, instead of having been increased of late years, are very much diminished, and there is a large number of voluntary schools which are voluntary only in name, and which are carried on by means of fees and grants, and without any sacrifice at all on the part of the voluntary managers. Considering the very large sums that are paid to the voluntary system, and the very liberal way in which it has been treated, I do not see how they can expect the nation to vote additional sums unless they are prepared to make 367 some corresponding sacrifices on their part. During the last 10 years the voluntary system has received something like £160,000 annually in children's fees, and they are educating a quarter of a million more in their own particular tenets. Not only are the Voluntaryists not called upon for further sacrifices, but the burden upon them is actually diminished by no less than £30,000 a year in less than 10 years. I think we may fairly ask those who are specially interested in these schools, to be ready to re-subscribe this small sum, if the nation, in its desire to have further educational progress, requests them to make some further sacrifice to the interests of their own special schools, and join with the Vice-President of the County Council in hoping that this subject will never be made an acute Party question, for in the educational future of this country it is essential that all Parties and sections should combine to improve it. I feel sure that nothing will more damage the cause of education than that a large section of the community interested in special schools should endeavour to prevent progress by pleading their poverty. I think it a pity that, even if the Code were going to be withdrawn, we had not an opportunity of discussing it in this House, because that discussion would have been the means of rendering some assistance to the Department and also to the House in appreciating the merits and demerits of the scheme. The chief point of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was that in which he referred to the substitute he proposed under the new Code for payment by results. I am one of those who think that the Code would have gone a long way to get rid of the many evils which existed under the old system. We should, by the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman, have got rid of the old multiple system; but, at the same time, I think that, under present circumstances, it would be impossible to get rid altogether of the system of making some recognition by grants of the merits of the schools. It is proposed by many of the teachers that there should be regular grants given to every school, and that it should not depend on the examiners or on the machinery of the schools, but that it should be by a combination of machinery and teaching and good buildings that good results 368 should be awarded. But if we had not to make large payments to the beneficiary managers under the prevalent system, I doubt whether we should see large sums paid to Local Bodies to make them responsible for the management and inspection of the schools, and I also doubt whether such a system could be carried out. I am not sure that, under our system, where we cannot have a local buffer, such a system as that would answer, and I believe the proposal to abolish payment by results would be a satisfactory step forward, because it would get rid of that which was thereat evil—the old system of the individual examination of every child, and the payment of a percentage on examination—a system shown by the evidence before the Commissioners to be overwhelmingly bad. The right hon. Gentleman emphasised the great opportunity given to teachers for the classification of the children and the choice of class subjects, and probably every hon. Member will welcome the great change which under these two heads it is proposed to make; but I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman on one point—namely, that, although he proposes to give full freedom of classification, he is still going to retain classification by age. He desires that the word "age" should remain in the Code and be one of the items in classification. If we were starting a fresh system there might be no evil in such a principle; but the great complaint of the teachers and managers is that the Inspectors in the past have gone almost entirely on the age of the child, and if that word is still left in the Code the result would be that, the Inspectors having got into this rule, there would still be a great deal of difficulty in the classification. In regard to the choice of class subjects I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that under the new Code he has given practically freedom of choice; at any rate there is greater freedom than under the old system; but I am afraid that what is given with one hand is to be taken away with the other. It is proposed that schools shall not earn grants unless they take one of certain subjects, and the Department alway sseems to desire that as far as possible the obnoxious class-subject of grammar shall be crammed down the children's throats, as they put that in the class subjects with repetition, 369 making repetition compulsory. Under these circumstances freedom of choice in class subjects will not be so great as the right hon. Gentleman supposes. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to carry his new Code, as I think it would in many respects be one of the greatest educational departures of modern years. It is too much to expect that in the next few years the right hon. Gentleman will deal with the question of fees. I am not now going to discuss the question of free schools, but I would ask whether he could not see his way to the fees in the voluntary schools being made lower and more uniform than they are. I cannot for the life of me see why the fees of the School Board schools should be absolutely under the control of the Department, while those of the voluntary schools are practically under the control of the managers and not of the Department. In a number of instances the fees in the voluntary schools are very irregular, and in some cases among the rural schools we find that they have been actually raised almost to prohibitive amounts in order to drive the children out of school, so that the farmers and others might utilise their labour more quickly. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that the children leave the schools at far too early an age, and I think that if he could only make a proposal to raise the age he would meet with almost universal approval. I would, however, suggest whether he could not combine such a proposal as that, which would throw a large burden on the parents, with some system under which fees might be greatly reduced and made more uniform, so that the parents would be to some extent relieved from the burden they have now to bear in the shape of loss of the children's wages and the cost of their school attendance. Thanking the Committee for its kindness in listening to these remarks, I cannot conclude without once more expressing my deep regret that the Code has been withdrawn, and my strong hope that the right hon. Gentleman will reintroduce it, or perhaps introduce evea a better one, next year if he has the opportunity.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
I cannot but heartily join with the hon. Member who has just spoken in congratulating the Minister for Education 370 on the statement he has made to-night in a genial, sympathetic, and statesmanlike manner. I am sure that this House will heartily concur in what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman as to the principal objects to be aimed at in regard to elementary education. I am certain that those objects are being obtained within the Metropolitan area, and that if hon. Members of this House could only see the educational work that is being done in London they would feel some pride in what is being achieved for the culture of the children, and look with hope and confidence to its good results to the country. I am sure that if the public could have seen the children of the Board Schools perform their march past in the Park of Lambeth Palace last year, and have witnessed the physical exercises the other day in the Albert Hall, they also would have felt pride in what is being done. We cannot, perhaps, get up an exhibition of drawings; but in music I believe we could fill the Crystal Palace with choirs of our children under our own teachers as conductors. We are going to have an exhibition of needlework in the East of London during the autumn, which I am sure will astonish all the spectators; and as regarded cookery, if hon. Members would visit the cookery centres between 1 and 2 o'clock, I am confident that their external senses would be gratified. I am sure that my right hon. Friend has exercised a wise discretion in postponing the introduction of the Code, at least till another Session, so that the public mind may be better matured by discussion during the Autumn on the subject. Nobody on my side of the House has doubted the excellence of the intentions of my right hon. Friend in regard to the voluntary schools. No one has ever accused my right hon. Friend of having done anything wilfully to immolate (as he calls it) or spoliate voluntary schools. It is felt that many of the proposals that are of benefit to the voluntary schools apply mostly to schools in the interior of the country in those counties such as that the right hon. Gentleman represents, and such as I myself represent, but that these benefits are not extended equally to the great voluntary schools in the towns, which are suffering from the competition of the Board Schools. 371 These are the schools where the real pinch exists, and where the actual struggle must be waged. If there was to be real benefit to voluntary schools at large, how is it that no increased provision was made in the Budget on this account? Has the Chancellor of the Exchequer made any increase to his Budget on account of the Code? Not at all. He has not done so in the Budget for the year, and I fear he will not do so in the next Budget. What would happen would be this: new concessions would be made in one direction and new restrictions would be imposed in another—addition in one place, subtraction in another—so that both ends are made to meet. But, on the whole, there would be no net gain to the schools. The objections and difficulties of voluntary school managers in respect to the new Code I will, in a few moments, summarise. I must do this in justice to my constituents. In the first place they contend that their liabilities are increased, while their resources will not be increased. Liabilities will be augmented in various directions in respect to space in schoolrooms, to establishment of teachers, and to apparatus, but there will be no increase where with to meet the increased liabilities in these three important departments of school management. On the other hand, they contend that their grants on the whole will not be increased. It may be so in some of the small schools in the interior of the country, but not in the great voluntary schools in the towns, and I think the danger is not for the country schools but for the town schools. In the country schools there is no competition whatever, while in town schools there is a grinding, crushing competition on the part of School Boards. It is difficult to argue in detail before this House as to whether such and such articles in the Code will benefit particular classes of schools, but those who are the managers and best judges as to whether they will gain or lose, declare for the most part that they will not gain. There is no complaint against my right hon. Friend for not moving in the matter of the 17s. 6d. limitation. Of course there is great grief over this limitation, but all our voluntary friends are well aware that the expansion of this will require legislation, and that 372 if legislation is proposed a great deal of strong feeling will be evoked on the other side, and opposition to the alteration would be serious, and would have to be wrestled with. As regards payments by results our voluntary friends are, no doubt, thankful to see that the stringency of the system heretofore exercised will be relaxed, but what will be substituted will be an unlimited, irresponsible, inspectorial discretion—excuse the long words, but perhaps they are allowable in an educational discussion—everything will depend on the instructions given to the inspectors. It may be that under these instructions the new system will be more burdensome than the old; it may be that while payment by results is a chastisement with whips, payment on inspectoreal reports may prove a chastisement with scorpions. That is the fear which prevails, and it might be advisable for my right hon. Friend to publish those instructions simultaneously with the Code. Further, in the execution of these instructions much will depend on the discretion of the assistant inspectors, and I would commend to my right hon. Friend that if the assistant inspector makes a report adverse to a school, an appeal should lie to the principal inspector. And, further, if it is contemplated to withdraw a grant from any school, that school so threatened should have due notice thereof, and the right to show cause to my right hon. Friend why the grant should not be lessened or withdrawn. There is great apprehension, and more than apprehension, much sorrow at the proposal to withdraw the grant for pupil teachers. The pupil teacher system is, in my judgment, essential to all schools, and particularly to voluntary schools, on both financial and administrative grounds. What our voluntary friends feel is this, that it was in order to find money for additional advantages and same time to strengthen the schools in the interior of the country, in rural districts, schools that are not exposed to competition, that the grant for pupil teachers was withdrawn, and the withdrawal creates great disappointment to the town schools which are exposed to School Board competition. One great recommendation of the pupil teacher system is its economy, but it I further conduces to efficiency. The best 373 teachers are those who have been brought up to the business of teaching from childhood. Selected scholars first serve as junior then as senior pupil teachers in special centres, then as ex-pupil teachers, and then after passing through the training colleges and won further their parchment certificate, and at last, having served as apprentices for eight or 10 years, become full-fledged assistant teachers. These are the very best men and women of their class who have imbibed the doctrines of pedagogy from their earliest years, and therefore we contend that a great blow to efficiency, as well as to economy, is being inflicted when the pupil teachers' grant is withdrawn. As to the training colleges, the voluntary school advocates have no objection to day colleges being instituted, but they fear that the day colleges, introduced in certain circumstances and conditions, would be enabled to compete unfairly and injuriously with the training colleges already existing, which are residential, and which have been founded for many years and have done wonderfully good work and brought up their alumni in a manner no day college can possibly equal. Therefore, there is an apprehension. No doubt my right hon. Friend may be able to make such regulations as shall secure an open field without favour, both to existing or residential training colleges, and the new day colleges to be set on foot. Another great disappointment is that the new Code made no provision for technical education. We contend, subject to the better knowledge of the Education Department, that nothing would have been easier than to obviate, by executive orders without legislation, all trouble about elementary schools, which trouble will now survive this Session, be carried over to next Session, and perhaps will never be solved. We say it would have been perfectly easy to make such regulations for technical instruction within the four corners of the Education Act. Further, we say the Code might have gone further in popularising evening classes. We are constantly liable to the eloquent and fervid appeals of the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith), because we, for years, have been trying to extract from the Education Department under this and preceding Governments certain reasonable facilities in order to make evening 374 classes popular. We did hope that this matter would have been settled by the new Code. I admit that the Code has done something, but much more might have been done. My right hon. Friend men ioned that the teachers as a body do not seem to be strongly in favour of the new Code, and is not that a signal proof that the Code requires further consideration? But I am not aware that there is disapproval of the Code on their part. While teachers think that there are many good points about the new Code, they at the same time complain that there is no provision, or a matter as to which teachers in England, whether in Board or voluntary schools, consider themselves much aggrieved. There is no provision whatever, either by Parliamentary or any other agency, in the nature of superannuation arrangements for them when they are unable any longer to carry out the exhausting labour in the classrooms, and this too by deductions from salaries without any burdens to the rates. This is a matter of great importance, because it not only affects the teachers personally, but the efficiency of the schools as well. In the absence of any such arrangement, teachers have to be kept on year after year, teachers of excellent character against whom no specific complaint can be alleged, but on whom increasing years are telling so that they are no longer equal to the discharge of their arduous duties. Now, Sir, I feel bound to take this opportunity of stating so much to the House, on behalf of my voluntary friends, not only on account of my experience in the Metropolitan area, where we School Board people are brought face to face with the greatest voluntary schools in the country, who are carrying on the most arduous of all the struggles now being waged anywhere, but also in justice to my own constituents and to a large class of clergy and school managers and of other persons interested in education who form the chief pillars of support of the voluntary school system. I say that the voluntary school system in this country is a system which deserves the support of Parliament and the nation. In the first place, it is a magnificent display of patriotic effort, the like of which is not to be seen in any other country under heaven. My right hon. Friend the Member for 375 Sheffield is fond of telling the English I people how much they have to learn from other nations in the matter of education. It is true we have much to learn from other nations, but I venture to think they have still more to learn from us, and I was sure they can claim nothing at all comparable to the system instituted by voluntary agencies in this country. The system has this advantage, that it saves a vast amount of money to the Public Exchequer and to local taxation. My hon. Friend who has just spoken talked as if the voluntary system was indebted to the nation, and as if it was rather kind of the nation to concede assistance. In my opinion, on the contrary, the nation is indebted to the voluntary system, eminently so. It is to the nation that millions of money are saved not only in taxation, but in a degree of private effort that no State effort could equal. No one can deny the assistance we receive from the local managers of Board Schools, but this, good as it is, does not equal the vigilance and loving care of benevolent friends towards voluntary schools. Such schools set an excellent example by the spirit they display. My hon. Friend who has just sat down says that these schools are no longer supported by subscriptions.
§ * SIR R. TEMPLE
My hon. Friend says some of them are not supported by subscriptions, but that—and that is a remarkable admission from an opponent of the voluntary schools—they manage to carry on the work by fees alone and grants. That is too good to be true, but if they do they have thereby set up the strongest possible ground for the support of the House and the country. Look at the Board Schools. Do they manage to carry on mainly by the fees? The fees in London amount to only one eighth of the total amount expended on elementary education. And yet are the voluntary schools inferior? I am not sure that their average earnings of Government grants do not compare favourably with ours. One remark further in reference to what fell from my right hon. Friend as to the expenditure of the London School Board as compared with other School Boards and voluntary schools generally. 1 am afraid that the censure of my right 376 hon. Friend, if censure I may call it, mild censure by implication, is, in regard to the London School Board in my humble estimation, too well deserved. The London School Board has always spent too much and is still doing so, spending more than ever. Nobody in this House has stood up in his place more often to defend the conduct of the London School Board than I have, but its finances I cannot altogether defend. For several years from 1884 up to the present time, I have struggled not without success to keep expenditure down, and I shall not cease to struggle; but what I want to point out is that this question does not concern the House of Commons and does not relate to these votes. Whatever offences we commit in the way of financial extravagance does not in any way affect the sum we have to ask the House to vote. That is a question not between the London School Board and the House of Commons, or even between the Board and the Education Department, but between the Board and the ratepayers. If the ratepayers choose to elect a School Board who spend their money right and left they alone are answerable, it is their pockets that will suffer. I thank the House for allowing me to make this statement, and I will resume my seat with this observation—that my right hon. Friend and the Government have shown their wonted sound judgment in allowing a little time to elapse before the Code is re-introduced. We are not afraid of any adverse verdict as affecting the voluntary schools, we are quite confident that the more their work is examined the more splendid it will be found, like fine gold tried in the fire of criticism. At all events it will give my right hon. Friend and the Education Department the opportunity which has not been adequately afforded as yet of really taking the Voluntary School Managers into their confidence. I cannot help thinking that a good deal of trouble would have been avoided if the Education Department had been less reserved. I would entreat my right hon. Friend to consider this matter in consultation with the recognised Authorities of that great voluntary system of which the nation is so justly proud. I am sure they will give him every possible assistance, and he will find that no section in this country is more anxious to promote 377 that physical, mental, and moral culture that should render the rising generation of Englishmen a wise and understanding people.
§ * SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
The hon. Baronet the Vice President, in the closing sentences of his speech, justly insisted on the importance of education for the future happiness and prosperity of the country, and it is very much to be regretted that so little time is devoted to the subject. We hear of a Scotch Session, an Irish Session, and sometimes an English Session; I wish for once we could have an Education Session. What is the position in which we find ourselves? Two very important Royal Commissions have recently investigated the subject—namely, the Technical Instruction Commission, and the Education Commission. They each recommended important changes, and it is most remarkable that in very many points, I might almost say on all educational points in each case, the Commissioners were unanimous. The Technical Education Bill has been promised over and over again, and as often our hopes have been disappointed. I do not blame the Vice President of the Council, it is not his fault, but it is an additional evidence of the need there is that we should have a Minister of Education with a seat in the Cabinet, and then educational questions would receive the attention their importance justly demands. Then again the Education Commission, though divided no doubt on many important points, as was inevitable considering the diversity of views represented, was unanimous or almost unanimous on purely educational questions. Some of their recommendations, though by no means all, were embodied in the New Code. For my part I thank the Vice President for the care he has devoted to the subject, and for the improvements he has introduced, and I regret that the Code has been withdrawn. The objections to it were not educational objections. I think that the hon. Gentleman opposite and the supporters of voluntary schools, who object to the New Code, entertain exaggerated ideas as to the cost which would be involved in the new requirements, and that they underrate the average amount which Will be earned under the New Code. It 378 may reasonably be expected that the increased efficiency will secure a larger grant. Of course we must remember that it is in the essence of the existence of voluntary schools that there should be a substantial sum raised by subscriptions. It is a serious misfortune that the Code is to be postponed. Is it not possible, even now that the educational changes, as to which there is no question, should be accepted? They are imperatively required. For instance, the present Code presses unduly on night schools. There is no compulsion in the case of night schools, and the consequence, of course, is that unless they are made interesting and attractive to boys and girls, they will not be attended, and, as a matter of fact, they are lamentably few and far between. Again, the Commissioners were unanimous as to the subjects of instruction which they regarded as essential. They said:—The following are the subjects of elementary instruction which we regard as essential, subject to the various qualifications which we have already made: Reading, writing, arithmetic; needlework for girls; linear drawing for boys; singing; English, so as to give the children an adequate knowledge of their mother tongue; English history, taught by means of reading books; geography, especially of the British Empire; lessons on common objects in the lower standards, leading up to a knowledge of elementary science in the higher standards.That is to say they regarded the four class subjects as they are technically termed—namely, geography, history, English, and elementary science as essential. But the Code only allows two class subjects to be taken, of which English must be one and geography is generally the other. I am aware that there is, for those who know it, a postern door of escape, and they may take class subject as a special subject. But that is a roundabout process and is scarcely ever made use of. Now, what is the result? Out of, say, 20,000 schools only 383 presented any children in history, and only 39 in elementary science. When I mentioned the corresponding figures last year I was told that I must have made a mistake, and I will, therefore, quote the very words of the Report—The wider range of class subjects allowed by the Code under the head of 'elementary science' does not appear to be taken advantage of to any great extent at present. The returns show but 39 schools which have taken subjects under this head, while geography has been 379 taken in 12,035 schools, needlework, by the girls, in 7,137, history in 383, and drawing in 505.Of course I know that there are schools in which these subjects are taught, though the children are not presented for examination. That, however, strengthens my case, because it shows that as at present constituted the Code discourages the very thing we wish to secure. Schoolmasters naturally consider that the Department wishes children only to take up two class subjects, and they limit themselves accordingly. The London School Board, as the right hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham has often reminded us, has set an excellent example in this respect; they not only teach all four subjects, but went further and took up some of the specific subjects also. They found the results excellent. So far from interfering with the elementary subjects, the variety introduced, the greater interest excited, benefited the reading, writing, and arithmetic. Mr. Rankine reports that—In specific subjects this district is preeminent. No other district in England approaches it. Over 6,000 scholars were examined last year in specific subjects, The favourite subjects are physiology, domestic economy, and algebra. The children examined passed well in all subjects. The higher the instruction is carried in any school I find the lower work improved in proportion, and better results in reading, writing, and arithmetic are obtained with less pressure. This is, no doubt, owing to cultivation of general intelligence.The result of the wider education given in German schools is the same. Surely, then, the time has come when every school should be examined in all the four class subjects. I do not mean that in every school they can all as yet be insisted on, but that this is what we should aim at. In the old, I regret that I must now say the present Code, if any class subjects are taken one must be English. The Education Commissioners unanimousely recommended that this rule should be withdrawn and the school authorities should be allowed to choose their own class subjects. This the Department has done in the new Code, but then I am sorry to see that in another part of it they introduced a provision that "No school shall receive more than 12s., unless the Inspector reports that the scholars throughout the school are satisfactorily 380 taught repetition as set forth in Schedule II." But repetition is part of the English. This is really therefore taking back with one hand what they have given with the other. I hope my right hon. Friend will see his way to omit this when he reintroduces the Code next year. But could he not even now in accordance with the unanimous recommendations of the Commission remove the provision which makes English compulsory. There is only one other subject on which I should wish to say a word before I sit down. Our elementary school system in the case of boys is altogether a training for the brain, I might almost say of the memory; there is nothing which tends to give a command of the hand and eye. In the case of girls, of course there is needlework, but we have nothing of the same sort for boys. The experience of the Slojd system in Sweden, and of other foreign schools, I might add, I think, of our London School Board, shows that there is really no difficulty in the matter, though, of course, it can only be introduced by degrees; and I hope that when my right hon. Friend is reconsidering his Code he will introduce provisions, not of course as yet requiring, but encouraging the introduction of manual training into our elementary schools—not intended as a preparation for any particular handicraft—but to give control over the hand and eye. I believe, and I speak from some little experience in this matter, that such lessons would be very popular with the boys, and that would in itself be a great recommendation. I am convinced also that it would have a good effect on the purely literary studies. We often hear of the importance of teaching children to read with expression, but what is much more important, is that they should read with ease. This can only be acquired with practice; and people only read much, if they have been taught to enjoy it. The cardinal mistake that we have made has, I venture to think, been that our object has been to teach as much as possible, instead of endeavouring to make the process pleasant so that the children might wish to learn, and might teach themselves. What children learn for themselves is far more valuable than what they are taught. The changes to which I have called attention, which were unani- 381 mously recommended by the Commission, and which would not, I believe, be seriously contested in this House, would leave more freedom to school managers, would encourage and promote continuation schools, and would render our system more practical and more interesting to the children. The weakness of our present system is the absence of interest, and consequently of the wish for continuation schools, so that too often the children forget what they have so laboriously learnt. If, on the other hand, we can but enable them to realise the delightful and inexhaustible fund of interest and enjoyment to be derived from books, and still more from Nature herself, then indeed we shall need no compulsion, our schools and our libraries will be full, and the prisons and public-houses comparatively empty.
§ * MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
We all agree with the hon. Baronet in wishing that more attention should be paid to education in the House, but I think the state of the House during this Debate will hardly encourage the Government to give us many more Bank Holidays for the discussion. Now, when I listened to the speech of my hon. Friend the Vice President, I thought that the Chief of the Education Department ought to be the most popular man in the country, for he described himself as the most generous of givers of public money, and that the Department must be the model Department in the Government, for he described it in glowing terms of praise. I hope I will not throw any discord into this discussion, if to a certain extent I criticise both the speech of the Vice President of the Council and the conduct of the Department. I have just presented a Petition, signed by 20,000 persons, who complain of the way in which the education of this great country is managed. The Petition is from managers, and parents who send their children to school, both voluntary schools and Board schools, and what do the petitioners ask for? For the relief and encouragement of voluntary schools. They think that the voluntary system is unfairly treated at the present time by the Department. They think that the policy of the Department is and has been for many years a stand- 382 still policy, and that there is a great deal of inefficiency in the way in which the business of the Department is carried on. If the complaints of the petitioners are well-founded no Government, whether it be Liberal or Conservative, can afford to overlook or to neglect them. Who make the complaints? Not reactionaries, not men who have hindered the cause of education, but men who have stood in the forefront of the educational movement for the last 50 years, men who show their interest in the education of the poor by annual subscriptions to the amount of three-fourths of a million sterling, by invested capital in schools and school plant of the value of £30,000,000; men who, without any assistance from the rates, are now managing the schools which contain more than half of the school children of England. What will be the cost to the country of extinguishing these schools? It will be many millions sterling a year, and £30,000,000 down. Who do these schools belong to? They belong to all religious denominations, to the Church of England, Methodists, Independents, Baptists, Wesleyans, Roman Catholics, and to Jews; their watchword is "freedom of religious education." The English people are essentially a religious people; I do not think any one will be found to deny that, notwithstanding the activity of the Secularist party in the House of Commons. The managers of voluntary schools believe that there is if not an intention, at all events a tendency in the action of the Education Department to violate the concordat with Mr. Forster. Everyone will allow that moral training is at the root of sound training, and that the foundation of moral training is religion. When men begin by eliminating religion they often end by obliterating morality. In the new Code there are no instructions whatever to the Inspectors to report on moral training; yet the Royal Commission declare that it should be the first duty of the Inspectors to report on moral training, and to impress on teachers, managers, and children the primary importance of that essential element of all education. The members of the Royal Commission may well say, "Who has read our Report?" They are like men crying in the wilderness; the Department seems to have 383 paid no attention to their recommendations. "Accuracy of knowledge" is one of the points upon which the Commission suggest that the Inspectors should report upon. Will it be believed that during the 20 years the Department have never succeeded in giving an authoritative definition of "elementary education?" The idea of elementary education changes with the Code, and there is no limit to the number of Codes. There must be some mental confusion at the Education Department or they would not have gone on without defining the education which is to be paid for out of the rates and taxes. This mental confusion seems to prevail throughout, for no classification of schools has been arrived at. Neither in the time of the right hon. Gentleman nor of his predecessor (Mr. Mundella), and between them they had held office for 10 years, no attempt has been made to distinguish between schools under different conditions, and to treat them according to their circumstances. What has been done for the poor urban voluntary school—that school which is of such great advantage socially and religiously? Simply nothing. Then we come to the small rural schools, of which there are 4,000, whose attendance is less than 60. What has been done for them? Nothing, or hardly anything during the time of my right hon. Friend opposite, or my right hon. Friend the present Vice President. All that has been proposed is that they should be compelled to provide a much larger staff and should have the inadequate compensation of £10, which would in no way cover the increased expense. Every one who knows anything of schools in country places will admit that if the cause of education is to be advanced, these schools should be assisted by a special grant towards the staff. Again, voluntary schools are unfairly treated by their enforced association with pauperism. In the case of Board Schools parents unable to pay school fees get them remitted without difficulty, but in the case of voluntary schools a parent has to go to the Board of Guardians and submit to all the unpleasantnesses of pauperism before his fees are remitted. The right hon. Gentleman has now been three years in office, but no change has yet been made as regards the hardship to which volun- 384 tary schools are subject in having to pay rates while night and Sunday schools are exempt. Now, I wish to make it quite clear that the complaint which I now make is rather against the policy of the Department than against the right hon. Gentleman personally. The policy inaugurated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield still governs the Department in every respect. We remember the struggle we had with him on the matter of overpressure. Although personally a man of kindly good nature, yet we found the right hon. Gentleman was killing two or three children every month. It was only by bringing forward case after case and making the public fully aware of what was going on that we were able to get any relief. We all remember the famous Report of Sir Creighton Browne on overpressure, which the late Vice President tried to suppress. We have to a certain extent corrected the evils of overpressure, but still the salaries of the masters are dependent upon grants, and that is the fruitful source of the danger. We hope the hon. Gentleman will make the salaries of the masters not so much dependent on the grants as they are at present. The chaos in which the right hon. Gentleman opposite left the Department compelled the Government to appoint a Royal Commission on Education, and though that Commission has reported, that Report unfortunately has not yet been acted upon. I would appeal to my right hon. Friend to effect reforms in the conduct of his own Department. There is a want of confidence in that Department, and that is shown by the rejection and withdrawal of the Code—a want of confidence that I can assure him is very widespread. The Inspectors require to be inspected. There is great difficulty in getting rid of a bad Inspector, who may cause terror to a whole district. The other day I brought to the notice of my right hon. Friend what appeared to be a case of untrustworthiness in an Inspector, and told him he would find that other complaints against this Inspector had been made. My right hon. Friend said he could find nothing to confirm the statement that the removal of the gentleman from one district to another was due to any misconduct, 385 that anything was known of his antecedents at the place I mentioned. But the fact was that the gentleman was cast in damages and costs in the County Court for striking a boy with a book in the course of an examination. I am not blaming my right hon. Friend, but I mention this incident to indicate that the Department is not as well managed and as well manned as it ought to be. And now I wish to point out how the creation of new precedents which has been going on from time to time by the Department has led to the invariable injury of voluntary schools. Those who know the rules and methods by which the Education Act is worked know that School Boards have the right of appealing to the Department to obtain compulsory powers to purchase sites for schools, and it is right that they should have this power. But the School Boards have not the right to compulsorily acquire the sites of voluntary schools, for these are guarded by the 23rd section of the Education Act, and this has been recognised by the Department until last year when they attempted a new departure, and to apply the compulsory powers of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act to force a voluntary school to sell its site to a School Board. Now, a new practice such as this is contrary to the concordat of Mr. W. E. Forster, and would, if allowed, lead to the effacement of voluntary schools. The case I refer to is known as the Middleton St. George case. Next I wish to call attention to a matter about which I asked a question this evening, and received a rather unsatisfactory answer. The method laid down in the Code as the basis for measuring the accommodation in voluntary schools is eight square feet per child. This has invariably been adopted. Article 96 and Note of the Code directs that "eight square feet of internal area for each unit of average attendance" shall be the basis adopted, and the principle hitherto acted upon by the Department is that voluntary schools shall not be touched by the 10 square feet basis, and that in case of schools which have been passed by the Department for a certain number of children the arrangement shall not be disturbed. But the other day at Luton, in order to give a defence for the enlargement of the Board School, a voluntary school was, 386 for the first time, measured on the basis of 10 square feet instead of eight, and the Vice-President said that voluntary schools would be measured on that basis.
§ * SIR W. HART DYKE
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, but I am afraid I did not make myself understood in the latter part of my reply. I did state that there were other cases.
§ * MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
I would ask my right hon. Friend to give me other instances. I am informed that there is no case precisely parallel to this Luton case. I believe this is the first case during the 19 years the Education Act has been in force in which 10 square feet measurement has been adopted in calculating the accommodation of a voluntary school. What I want to point out is the somewhat unfair spirit in which the Education Act is worked by the Department against the voluntary schools, and I appeal to my right hon. Friend to remove the unfairness. We who are interested in voluntary schools cannot but be dissatisfied with the partiality which reigns in the Department. The voice of the Education Department is the voice of my right hon. Friend, but the hand is the hand of his predecessor, and the head that conceives these new principles seems to be that of the ingenious chief of the Department.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's County, Birr)
Like the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, I have always been a strong supporter of the voluntary system, and I wish the right hon. Gentleman had devoted some of his time to dealing with what, after all, is the real question before us, rather than have gone into the mass of details he did. The right hon. Gentleman asked for some explanation of the causes of the opposition to the New Code now put off to next year, and some hon. Members on the other side have given explanations. Whether they are the whole or only part of their explanations I do not know, but I will tell him very distinctly why I put down notice of opposition. It was this. I felt that the Code raised questions as between voluntary and Board I Schools, which under the conditions and I at the time of the Session could not be debated with any good result. Further, I looked upon the Code as merely a compromise. When the 387 Royal Commission issued their Report, if the Government with their big majority between them had had the courage to carry the recommendations of the Commission into legislation they could have done a very great deal of good, and all parties might have been satisfied. But the Government allowed three years to pass, and then introduced the Code as a compromise only dealing with details of the proposed changes. The result appears to me to be that all hope of this Report of the Royal Commission being carried out has long passed. I do not myself see how the hopes expressed in that Report, and by those of us who sat on the Commission will ever be carried out by the present Government. I myself wish sincerely the Government had acted at once upon the report of the Royal Commission and carried out their own intentions, which were, to all intents and purposes, the intentions of the Royal Commission, for they had their majority on the Commission. I regret exceedingly they did not do so and effect a settlement of the question which was possible then but which, I believe, is utterly impossible now. We have gone a very long way beyond that Report. The very fact that the Report has been considered and discussed throughout the length and breadth of the country, and discussed by all educationalists, has made it impossible that the scheme which really underlies the Report can be carried out. The right hon. Gentleman was afraid of outside opinion and of a section of his own followers perhaps, but from whatever course it may be, the golden opportunity has been missed, and we must now seek for a settlement of the question upon a basis entirely different from that which we had formerly hoped for. I think there is nothing more dangerous to the cause of education than that it should become a Party and political question, but a Party and political question it is fast becoming, and is now far more than it was three years ago. Free education is now a plank in a political platform, and we have seen the principle carried out in Scotch legislation. I have come to the conclusion that supporters of both voluntary and School Board systems must be prepared to accept free education, compulsory education, education 388 up to a standard and inspection. We shall have to accept nearly all that is accepted in Board Schools. I will go further and say this, that I think the result in the very near future will be that the whole system of education in the country will have to be under a system of Board Schools. Of course it will be impossible for voluntary schools to pass under Board School management under existing conditions; there must be a compromise on both sides, there must be a "give and take," and I am satisfied that a fair and honest compromise between the voluntary and the School Board systems can be effected. I, for one, do not fear it. The difficulty, of course—the main difficulty, and I speak more especially for those of my own creed, is that in accepting what the Board Schools demand we could not accept any system that would introduce into our schools a system of proselytism. We must find a system of compromise with the School Board system that will enable us to live together and carry on our educational system without injury or annoyance, to either side. I certainly would have preferred the carrying out of the original system, but that is impossible; we have been driven into the position in which we find ourselves. I suppose there would have been considerable difference of opinion among those who support the voluntary system, and I think that difference of opinion will be to their injury; but they must blame themselves for the position in which they find themselves. I think a good deal of it has arisen from the fact that in some of the voluntary schools the political element has been introduced, more especially in some of the country schools. That accusation has been made against them, and whether it is true or not, we find ourselves in the present difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman has asked us to give him our views upon it, and I give him my view most willingly, for I know the interest he takes in the subject. These are the views I hold, and I believe that a compromise may be effected, that we may take this question, once for all, out of the political arena, and devote ourselves to the interests of education apart from every other consideration.
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
It is impossible to overrate the 389 importance of the speech to which we have just listened. It indicates a policy with which I have the greatest sympathy, and frankly expresses views I have long entertained on the education question. I hope the importance of the subject may not be measured by the attendance of Members; for, indeed, I think it is impossible for the House of Commons to be engaged in a more important discussion, one that has a more important bearing on the future of this country. It is one of the most important considerations that meet us in relation to this great problem, that there are still a million of children not reached by our educational machinery, and we have to find a means of reaching these children; for it is from these largely that our criminal classes and our drunkards and many evils of society spring. I have listened with intense interest to the discussion, and I cannot help thinking that those who look at this subject from a voluntary point of view shut their eyes to facts that nevertheless they will have to encounter. It is not for the advantage of the country that three-quarters of a million in grants of public money should be placed in the hands of those who promote education merely as a means to sectarian influence. It is against the extension of this sectarian influence we protest and have to fight. We have had strong illustrations of this. The Technical Instruction Bill would have passed but for the opposition of voluntary schools, chiefly due to clerical influence. I am one of those who think that we shall never reach our educational requirements until we have compulsion in a much stronger form; but the country will never allow compulsion to be exercised by a self-elected body such as the managers of voluntary schools are. We are rapidly tending towards free education, and I only wish that in our own Local Government Bill we had been as wise as our northern friends in devoting the relief of local taxation to that purpose. I congratulate our Scotch friends on their success in this direction, and I am sure that the advantages of the principle cannot long be controlled by a geographical boundary. While I listened to the statement of the Vice President, I could not help noticing the fact that while expenditure for educational purposes is growing, subscriptions for the voluntary system are 390 declining, and this, I think, clearly indicates that those who talk so much about the voluntary system do not make much impression in respect to it. But I do not wish to introduce more discord, though I cannot but express my belief that the clerical desire to keep control over education has checked the progress of education in this country. Long ago we should have had a really national system if we had had less of the clerical fingers upon the educational springs of the country. I listened with delight to the speech just delivered. It came from one who represents a section of Christians not supposed to have the most broad and liberal views, and, coming from the hon. Gentleman, it is a fingerpost that indicates the road that the Education Department would do well to follow; and I am sure we shall all have cause to rejoice at the advantages it will bring to the nation.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
I find that whilst there are 16.4 per cent of the population on the school registers in England, there are 15.9 per cent of the population on the school registers in Scotland—taking the year 1887—and the average attendance per population in England is 12.9 per cent of the population, as against 12.4 per cent in Scotland. Then again, in regard to the annual inspection, we find that a larger number of children are present at the annual inspection in England as compared with Scotland, and the results are, therefore, very creditable to England, the population of which is undoubtedly in advance of Scotland, both as regards the number of children on the school registers, the number in average attendance, and the number presented for inspection. Of course the attendances in the higher standards are larger in Scotland than in England, but then in England the compulsory standard is the Fourth Standard, while in Scotland the compulsory standard is the fifth. Again, in Scotland no child is allowed to work in a factory until it attains the age of 13 years, and that restriction does not apply in England. Again, in Scotland no child is allowed to pass from school until it has either passed the Fifth Standard or is fourteen years of age. It is quite evident, therefore, that you have superior educational results in Scotland as compared with England. In England 391 you have, to begin with, a higher number of children on the school register, and what you want now is to bring up your educational standard. That is only to be accomplished by England following the lead of Scotland in making the fifth the compulsory standard, in preventing children under 13 working in factories, and in making the compulsory school age 14 years. There is less difficulty in raising the standard in England, because there a child goes earlier to school than in Scotland. In Scotland 3 per cent of the children go to school under seven years of age; in England 5 per cent are under seven. Now, I say there is no practical difficulty in making the compulsory standard in England the same as in Scotland, and I venture to think if this were done we should in a year or two have educational results in England far surpassing those obtained in Scotland. Another fact to be borne in mind is that in Scotland the Board Schools combine elementary with secondary education. I will cite the case of the City of Glasgow in order to show the extraordinary result of this system. According to the Report of the Education Department it is expected that one in every seven of the children at school will be found in private schools. Therefore, of the 84,000 school children in Glasgow, 12,000oughttobe found in private schools. But the result of the educational system prevailing in Scotland is that there are only 4,000 children in Glasgow in schools where the fees are above 9d. a week, and 2,500 of these are in public schools, so that there are only 1,500 children whose parents may be said to pay for education without assistance, and even that 1,500 includes children brought into Glasgow from the country in order to get the benefit of the better education to be obtained there. In fact, the class of children who attend secondary schools in England are in Scotland to be found in the Board Schools. You have an enormous proportion of the better class children who go up to Standard VI., and who, by taking specific subjects, are capable of earning the higher grant. In conclusion, I would again urge that by raising the compulsory standard and the school age in England you would secure educational results superior not only to those obtained in Scotland, but superior also to the results obtained in any country.
§ SIR HENRY ROSCOE (Manchester, S.)
The small attendance this evening is not very encouraging, but we ought to remember that this is the 5th of August, and to-day there are attractions which draw Members away from this House. I think if we could induce the Government to bring on the Education Estimate at an earlier date next Session, we might have a larger attendance of Members for a discussion of so important a character. I join my hon. Friend the Member for London University in regretting that the Government were forced to withdraw the New Code, for it seemed to me it was a real step in advance. We have already given Scotland educational measures of the highest importance. Wales has been given a Bill providing for intermediate education, which, I trust, will prove an enormous improvement; and now I ask how long are we in England to wait? Are we so advanced in our education that we can afford to let other countries get ahead, of us? It is a matter of the deepest regret to all friends of education that in consequence of outside pressure this Code, which promised so much, had to be withdrawn by the Government. I speak feelingly on the subject, for the same influences, I fear, also acted detrimentally to the Technical Education Bill, which I had the honour to introduce to this House. It is much to be regretted that this has been so, for those who have had the opportunity and advantage of seeing what is done in Continental countries in this respect will, I think, agree that we in England are behindhand, and that it is imperative we should put our shoulders to the wheel and improve our educational system if we are to succeed in the competition with other nations. Even at this late period of the Session something might be done in the direction suggested by the hon. Baronet the Member for London University, and surely it is possible to take into consideration some of these matters which are non-contentious. The questions of drawing and manual exercise are matters of the gravest importance to our national system of education, and seeing; to what a large extent they are introduced in continental countries, I think we may assume they are equally necessary in this country for the proper edu- 393 cation of our children. I wish in the most earnest manner to impress upon the Vice President the great importance of now dealing with these matters. Our present system of elementary education requires to be made more practical and to partake less of the character of book work. I trust that this subject will more and more engage the attention of the country, and I repeat that I think it it most unfortunate that this matter should have been postponed to the fag end of the Session when our forces are somewhat exhausted. I hope the educational debate will take place earlier next Session.
§ MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
I have the honour of representing a city which stands well forward in the matter of education, and I have the best authority for saying that there they do not in the least regret the withdrawal of the Code. On the contrary they quite approve it, because they hold that a Code which proposes to introduce such radical changes requires at least six months' reflection before it can be adopted by the House. It is not a light matter to introduce a change which would be so widespread in its effects. In Liverpool, the School Board and the voluntary systems have worked harmoniously together, and I should regret to see the voluntary system cease to be one of the leading factors in our educational system. I hold in my hands a memorandum from the Liverpool Elementary School Managers Conference, which practically embraces all the managers of the City of Liverpool, in which they say they believe it is most desirable that the limit to which so much reference has been made should be removed, and in which also they recommend that the suggestions of the Royal Commission as to the rates levied on schools should also be acted upon. The hon. Member who last spoke seems to feel great regret that his Bill has not been allowed to pass this Session; but if he will examine it more closely, I. think he will allow that it is distinctly one-sided, and while it may do a great deal for the advantage of education, it will also do a great deal of harm to the voluntary system, which most of us are determined shall go hand in hand with the School Board system. It is therefore rather hard that the hon. Member should thus criticise our action, 394 seeing that while we are anxious to promote the cause of education we are also anxious that justice shall be done to a system which has hitherto worked with so much success. At this time of the night it is unnecessary for me to enter into the various questions raised by this Code. I had intended in a few days to bring under the notice of my right hon. Friend the important question of cookery. I believe the Liverpool people are much interested in this branch of female education, and I desire to ask the Vice President if he is willing to extend to England the advantage which the Scotch enjoy in this matter? In English night schools, before a pupil can earn a grant, it must put in an attendance of 40 hours, but in Scotland a child attending the class 24 hours earns a grant of 4s. I think it is practically impossible for a hard working girl—who spends the day in manual labour—to give as much as 40 hours attendance, and a modification such as I have suggested would, I am sure, be much appreciated and work well.
§ * MR. MATHER (Lancashire, Gorton)
I am glad to hear that the hon. Member's ardour in educational matters is not confined to a desire to promote voluntary education. I am sure on this side of the House we have no desire to say a word against voluntary schools. So far as they exist for the purpose of' promoting education in its truest and best sense, we desire they should have the benefit to be derived under the New Code, but in order that they should be reckoned amongst the great educational institutions of the country, their efficiency must be equal to that of the Board Schools, and they must be judged by the measure in which they contribute to the education of the people generally. I think this Debate has taken place at an unfortunate moment, and I hold that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on Education deserves our sympathy. We have had testimony of the earnestness which he brings to bear on these questions, and I think some efforts might have been made to render this Debate more worthy of the subject we are discussing by selecting a day when hon. Members could have attended in greater number. The hon. Member for Liverpool has alluded to the action of the hon. Member for Manchester City, in regard to his Technical- 395 Education Bill, and has rather blamed him for not having introduced a measure which commanded assent from both sides of the House; but if the hon. Member had followed the fortunes of this Bill I think he would have seen it was shipwrecked on the ground that it could not be made satisfactory to some hon. Members opposite who have the greatest power with the Government in directing educational matters. The hon. Member perhaps forgets that a distinguished Member of the Party opposite proposed certain Amendments to the Bill.
§ * MR. MATHER
I presume, Sir, I am not in order in further referring to this Bill, but I would suggest that the failure to pass it is not the fault of the hon. Member for Manchester. Now although we are nominally discussing the Education Estimates we are really discussing the New Code, and the right hon. Gentleman has invited an expression of opinion to day in order that the subject may come before the House next Session in a complete form and then receive the assent of Parliament. Now I believe that in our elementary schools throughout the country there is accommodation for more than five million children, and the important question we are now discussing is what subjects and methods of instruction shall be hereafter adopted in these schools. We must bear in mind that the use of our school system is unhappily almost confined to what we may call the working classes, and it is therefore most important that the subjects and methods adopted in them should be suitable to cultivate the intelligence, the aptitude, and the thinking powers of the children for their own future advantage and the good of the nation. In my opinion, we do not now get from the schools results that are adequate to the requirements of the country. We have not for the last 20 years had the plan of instruction which is best capable of developing the capacities of the children and preparing them for their future duties in life. In Germany, Prance, and America you will find an entirely different system of education. There all classes are educated together; the schools are usually supported by the State, and the education, from the lowest to the highest, is available for every class 396 in the community. Anyone looking at our curriculum will, I am sure, admit that we have not been sufficiently practical in our methods. Happily, at last we have introduced the Kindergarten system into our infant schools, and that has, undoubtedly, pointed the way towards the introduction of a similar system into our higher grade schools. Manual training ought to be combined with class subjects; and experience shows that children who have had the former kind of teaching are able to excel in the class subjects prescribed by the Education Department those children who have devoted their whole time to those subjects. Wherever manual elements are introduced into elementary education— wherever drawing is taught at an early age and continued up to 13 or 14, and is also associated with workshop training, the children have been found far more apt in all the essentials of education than those who had not had such privileges. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will well consider this matter, and see if he cannot improve the Code in this respect. This is not a Party question. I recognise fully the desire of hon. Gentlemen opposite to promote the cause of education in this country. I believe they are as earnest as hon. Members on this side of the House; but we can no longer ignore the fact that in the future we can only hope to hold our own among the nations of the world by securing the increased intelligence of our people, and developing our intellectual resources. In England we have natural resources superior to those of all the other nations of the world; and we only require to combine with those resources an education fitted to make our working classes a thinking, intelligent, and sober people, in order to hold in future a position higher even than that which we now possess. A little while ago we were engaged in discussing the Government proposals to spend a large sum of money on Naval defence. Well, many of us think the intelligence of our people is our first line of defence, and some of the money might be better spent on the education of the children of our working classes, with a view to enabling them to make the best use of the resources with which bounteous nature has endowed us, and thereby ensuring still greater pros- 397 perity for this country in the future When the Government come forward next Session with their new Code and their other proposals relating to education, I trust that, as the question is not a. Party one, we shall all unite with one accord in endeavouring to bring our educational system into harmony with the wants of the age and the requirements of the nation.
§ MR. JOHN G. TALBOT (Oxford University)
The speech we have just listened to is, I think, a satisfactory exemplification of the tone of this Debate; but, unfortunately, when we come to practical conclusions we do not always agree as to the method in which the principles to which we give expression should be carried into effect. It is easy enough in this House to lay down a more or less sound theory as to the principles on which education should be conducted, and say that it ought not to be treated as a Party question. No one echoes that sentiment more than I do; but when hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House come forward and ask that that sentiment may be carried into practice, and that no Party consideration shall prevent even-handed justice from being dealt out to them, they suddenly find all the forces of the Party to which they do not belong mustered together against them, and any concession to what is called the voluntary principle is immediately denounced in this House, and by the more powerful agencies outside of it. I hope that this will be an exception to the general rule, and that when this question comes to be more fully and more completely considered by my right hon. Friend and the officers of his Department, they will be able to assure us that it will continue to be conducted on the lines I have laid down. It must never be forgotten that education in this country has had a remarkable history. Like almost all of our great institutions, it was first brought to the front by voluntary agency, and at a time when the School Boards were not in an active state of existence, the voluntary principle was perfectly alive. Lately, emphasis has been laid on the fact that religion should be made the foundation of all education in this country. The advocates of voluntaryism do not, however, go the length of asking that religious and voluntary principles should be made the foundation of edu- 398 cation; but they contend that the system inaugurated in 1870 was intended to supplement and not to supplant, and should be maintained in its efficiency and integrity, at the same time not forgetting the important service which has been rendered by the voluntary principle to the cause of education. Our action, therefore, has been based on a conviction that we are bound by the traditions which we value, and by the interests which we represent, to see that in the new Code, which we believe to be a great and new departure, the interests of voluntary schools shall not be allowed to suffer, and that fair play shall be extended to both sides. That principle underlies the action we took upon the question of technical education. We value technical education as much as anyone, but we were determined that in this matter all the schools should be placed on an equality. And now, having made these few preliminary remarks, I ask the permission of the House to say a word or two in reference to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Education. I acknowledge, Mr. Chairman, that you have been very indulgent to us to-night, for, although we are apparently discussing the Education Estimates, we have been permitted to refer to the Code which has been withdrawn, and I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate set us the first example in this matter. One of the points on which the Education Commission laid particular stress was the question of transfer schools, and in regard to that the Commissioners said—That in any fresh educational legislation it should be enacted that no transfer of a school held under trust should take place without the consent of a majority of the trustees, and that the Department should not sanction such terms of transfer as interfere with the original trust beyond what is required for the purpose of the Education Acts, and that provision should be made that no structural expenses involving a loan should be incurred without the consent of the trustees who lease the building.This is the point on which, if I may venture to say so, I think my right hon. Friend should take care that in any further legislation on this subject, whether by Code or by law, due security is provided. A great deal of complaint has been made in the past that voluntary schools have been transferred to School Boards by the mere fiat of a temporary 399 Board of Managers, and that the consent of the Trustees has neither been asked for nor given to the transfer. That seems to me to be a very inequitable state of things, and hence it received the attention of the Education Commissioners. Another point as to which I would like to say a word or two arises upon the recommendation of the Commissioners as to the limits of primary and secondary education. On this point the Report says—That, as the meaning and limits of the term 'elementary' hare not been defined in the Education Acts, nor by any judicial or authoritative interpretation, but depend only upon the annual Codes of the Department on whose power of framing such Codes no limit has hitherto been imposed, it would appear to be of absolute necessity that some definition of the instruction to be paid for out of the rates and taxes should be put forth by the Legislature. Until this is done, the limits of primary and secondary education cannot be defined.No doubt there is a certain amount of restlessness on the part of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House on this subject of education. They are never satisfied, and possibly they ought not to be satisfied; they ought always to be trying to get something better. At the same time, I think they ought to remember that, excellent and admirable as education is, there is a limit to the public purse, and representing, as we do, the taxpayers of the country, we should bear in mind that, however desirable it may be that the children of any class should have a thoroughly good education, too much ought not to be done at the public expense. I remember that some years ago I was very much struck by a remark made by a right hon. Gentleman, whose death this House has so much cause to deplore—I mean Mr. John Bright—who said that, for his part, elementary education meant giving a child the power of reading intelligently, of writing a good hand, and of adding up simple sums. Some people think there ought not to be any limit to the instruction in our schools. They would not only provide technical education, but they would teach Latin and French, and would go on, until they had adopted practically the curriculum in force at Eton, at Harrow, or at Winchester. I say, let the people face this question. I do not represent a popular constituency, but many hon. Gentlemen do, and I would 400 suggest that they should ascertain what is the feeling of their constituents on this matter. Now, Sir, there is another subject on which I would say a word or two. I find a recommendation of the Royal Commission points out—The necessity for having some form of evening school for the purpose of fixing and making permanent the day school instruction and that it would be worth the while of the State to spend more money on such schools.That, I think, is a reasonable and logical suggestion. The great difficulty is, that the children when they leave-the elementary schools are apt to forget what they have learnt, and I should be very glad to see if something could be done in the way of establishing evening, schools which would give permanency to the day school instruction. Now, Sir, I have been challenged sometimes to say what it is we want in the way of additional assistance. We have been told that we are very unreasonable not to rest content with what we obtained in the Code; but if I may sum up in a very few words what we want and. what we did not get under the new Code, it is simply this: Additional burdens were laid on the voluntary schools; but while you put those burdens upon them you did not provide the additional income which was necessary in order to meet the extra requirements, and I think we, at any rater had a right to expect that something would be done in that direction. I shall be rather surprised if my right hon. Friend contradicts me when I say I do not imagine he has made any provision in his Budget this year for an increased grant for elementary education. I should be very glad if he could assure us he would do so next year. Until I get a positive assurance from the Government that we may get a little more grant from the Government, I shall remain of opinion, that whilst the burdens are proposed to be increased, the means of meeting those burdens are not intended to be proportionately increased. We ask for additional assistance to enable us to meet the additional burdens which, are to be thrown upon us. It does not seem to be unreasonable to raise the 17s. 6d. limit to 20s., as proposed by the Commission, any more than it was to raise the 15s. limit to 17s. 6d.We be- 401 lieve the 20b. now represents half the present cost of the education. I do not think, then, that our request is an unreasonable one, although it is a very undue favour to ask for the voluntary schools. I am aware that, in regard to the Board schools, it is only a question of putting your hand into one pocket or the other; but I am sure the managers of the Board schools are anxious to keep down their expenses as much as possible, and would be glad to have this increased grant. What I ask for the voluntary schools, I am ready also to concede to the Board schools. As to the rating of the schools, the strong argument which has been advanced is that this House is already committed to the principle of exemption in the case of the Sunday and ragged schools, and it seems almost unfair that whilst excepting them you should not except ordinary schools which give education on all days of the week. There is one other matter on which I should like to ask my right hon. Friend's attention. There is a very sore feeling on the part of a limited number of the older teachers of this country, and I think if my right hon. Friend can remove that sore feeling he will be doing a very charitable and wise act. Lord Lingen, who was Secretary to the Education Department in 1869, and afterwards, for several years, Secretary to the Treasury, says he did not know of the exclusion of the two classes of teachers I refer to from the benefits of the pension system. The contention is that many persons were induced to become pupil teachers, and many others were in training at the Training Colleges in May, 1862, on the strength of the old pension system, and that these have a claim to share in the pensions. I say that these persons, and those who were engaged between 1846 and 1851, have a very strong moral claim upon the bounty of the State; and I do think that if Parliament would make up its mind to accede to that claim, it would be a real act of bounty to these persons, and an act of advantage to the schools in which they are serving, as it is obvious that persons of this age must have given the best of their strength to the work, and it would be better if they were allowed to retire. I thank the Committee for having listened so patiently to what I am afraid has been a rather disconnected address. 402 I will only say, in conclusion, that I think I can assure my right hon. Friend, if I know anything of those with whom, I have the honour of acting on this side of the House, that any proposals he may make in an Educational Act next year will be received by us with every desire to co-operate with him in the great work in which we are engaged-We do not yield one jot to hon. Members opposite in our desire to promote the true education of the country; but we say that, representing to some considerable extent the voluntary schools of the country, we are determined that by no act of ours shall the voluntary system suffer.
§ * MR. G. DIXON (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
I have been waiting to hear from hon. Gentlemen opposite what their reasons were for attempting to delay the passing of the New Code. We now know accurately and definitely, from perhaps the greatest authority in, this House, what those reasons are. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Talbot) has told us that the objection to the New Code is mainly, if not exclusively, that it calls for greater efficiency on the part of the voluntary schools and, at the same time, it does not provide for them a larger amount of grant. The hon. Member for Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leigh ton) told us earlier in the evening that there had been on the part of the upholders of the Board Schools a violation of the Concordat of 1870. Now, one thing perfectly clear from the Debates at that time, and the principles upon which the Education Act was-based, was that whilst every consideration should be given to existing, voluntary schools, and the grants to those schools should be increased in order that they might meet the demand for better education, in no case was the grant made from Imperial resources to exceed the amount levied in the locality of the school. No doubt in some cases this grant was to exceed half, but that was merely because some of the schools were extremely poor, and the limit was made of 17s. 6d.; beyond that limit the grant was not to exceed half of the entire cost of the school. But what becomes of the Concordat of 1870 if we are to acquiesce in the demand of the hon. Member for Oxford, and to give grants to the 403 schools beyond that which they levy in the localities? It has been said that the poor schools in agricultural districts would receive greater grants under the New Code, but the complaint made is that voluntary schools in large towns are not to be benefited. But what is the condition of the schools in the large towns which require assistance and in whose interest a valuable Code is to be suspended? These are the schools almost invariably without any contribution, or at any rate with a mere minimum of contributions from so-called subscribers. I am speaking that which I know, because as Chairman of the Birmingham School Board I am well acquainted with voluntary schools. It has been the Board's policy to treat them with every possible consideration. For years past many of these schools have not had the funds required to carry them on, and special efforts to obtain increased subscriptions have not been attended with success. It was supposed at last that the remedy would be a general subscription amongst all the voluntaryists in the whole district to help the poor schools. Yet the schools remain as before, and the contributions are so small that we are expecting continually that some of them will fall through. Depend upon it that if the proposals of the hon. Gentlemen opposite are to be carried out, and whenever the funds of these poor voluntary schools fall short they are to be made up out of the Exchequer, there will be a principle established which the majority of the people of the country will not approve of. We have been told that, while the contributions to these schools have fallen off, the number of scholars attending them has increased. It has been said to-night that there has been a decrease of £30,000 in the annual contributions to "voluntary schools during the last 10 years. But, supposing you act on the principle suggested by the hon. Gentleman, and when these schools are in difficulties you, because they are religious schools, give them a grant from the Exchequer, do you think the voluntary contributions would increase? No, they would diminish still more, and you would have to come forward with larger and larger sums to meet the falling off of the voluntary contributions. Let me remind the House and the country that 404 these voluntary schools, for which so much is said, and in order to assist which they have upset this valuable Code, are not equal to the Board Schools. They are far inferior. We have been told that the voluntary schools must be nearly equal, because the grant is nearly equal. But every expert knows perfectly well that, in this respect, the grant is no guide whatever. It was one of the grievances of the hon. Member for Shropshire that the new Code was to require more space per child; and that simply means that the voluntary schools do not provide that amount of cubic space for scholars which the Department thinks necessary. In fact many of the schools are too crowded, and are, therefore, in an insanitary condition, which is a serious hindrance to their educational work, as well as an injury to the health of the children. That is not all; the kind of education given in these schools is necessarily very inferior. I do not complain. I have never ceased, from the time I took an interest in elementary education, to say as much as I possibly could in honour of and to show my esteem for what had been done by the voluntaryists up to the passing of the Education Act. But because I honour them for what they have done and say that their work was a self-sacrificing, a noble, and a very valuable work, it does not follow that this great country is to stop at the point which they have happened to reach, and that we are not to make any effort to meet the constantly progressive demands for the further education of the great masses of the people. By the Act of 1870 an enormous advance was made in the provision of means for the education of the people. And who opposed the establishment of a national system of education? It was the friends of the voluntary system. And what have they to say now? They acknowledge that the education given by the Board Schools is a good education; at any rate, that it is equal to the education they give. We say it is inferior. We have now got, probably, accommodation enough for the children of the country. We have got what used to be considered fairly efficient education for all; but we who have the subject continually before us see that the improvements made are far from sufficient, and that if we do not want to lose a great part of 405 that which we have obtained by the expenditure of these £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 of grants by the State, we must go further. The proper way to deal with this question is to say that the School Boards interested in the education of the people, or the voluntary managers, if they care to do it— we do not object to their doing it— must do more than was supposed to be necessary in 1870. The hon. Member for Oxford University thinks, as Mr. Bright thought 20 years ago, that to teach the children in elementary schools to read and write is enough. Let me tell hon. Gentlemen opposite that we do not think so now. The country does not think so, and the working men do not think so. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Talbot) will be surprised when I tell him that the working men of Birmingham are really in advance of the School Board; they are continually pressing it forward; their complaint is that it does not do enough; they watch the course of legislation on the subject; and they express in the strongest terms their dissatisfaction at delay. The School Board feels that it is their duty to do more than the law permits them to do. We feel it is our duty to give what is sometimes called secondary education, to supply future workmen with the means of acquiring the elementary and scientific knowledge alluded to by the hon. Member for Manchester (Sir H. Roscoe) and to provide evening continuation schools to enable workers to learn what will make them more successful in their particular trades. And we are met by the National Society and the voluntaryists in this way—"You shall not have these advantages unless you will give more money to the voluntary schools." The great mass of the electors in the country will not permit the education of the working classes to be retarded by such motives. It is an entire mistake to suppose that increased grants to voluntary schools will put them on a level with Board Schools. One half-crown addition to the grants will have to be followed by another as the subscriptions fall off; and yet neither the taxpayers nor the ratepayers would be represented in the management of these schools If the so-called compact of 1870 were to be violated, you may rely on it that 406 the country would be up in arms against you; and even if you succeed for a moment your success will be but fleeting, and before many years are over the principle you are now laying down will be swept away.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Lancashire, N.E., Darwen)
The hon. Gentleman, who has just sat down need not be afraid that we on this side are anxious to confine elementary education to merely reading, writing, and arithmetic. We fully acknowledge the feeling of the-country in favour of higher education, and we are determined to act upon it, If anything were wanted to show how determined we are to pursue a policy of that kind it would be found in our attitude towards technical education. We fully admit that the feeling of the country is in favour of introducing technical education, especially in the higher schools; but even in elementary schools we are willing to give effect to that feeling. We maintain that any assistance given for the purpose naturally ought to follow the lines of the original Act, and must be equally given to both classes of schools recognised by that great settlement in 1870. Before I deal with the larger question, perhaps the Committee will allow me to say a word or two on a question particularly interesting to my own constituency—namely, half-time. I venture to ask my right hon. Friend to take this question into consideration, whether it would be possible to re-introduce the provisions that existed in the Act, 1876, but were-abolished in 1880. I know it will require an Act of Parliament to do it— namely, to allow a standard of previous attendance to count as an alternative to educational efficiency in permitting half time employment. The right hon. Gentleman opposite does not think so.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
That may be so in the view of the right hon. Gentleman, but that is not the view in the manufacturing districts. A number of children who are not able reach the same standard of proficiency as others, are kept back for a considerable time from half-time employment, and this is resented by the parents. I think that by such an arrangement these children might be allowed to become part of the 407 wage-earners of the family, and in that way education of the children would become more popular with their parents. This view has been pressed upon me by an important Local Board in the neighbourhood of Preston, and also by the Teachers' Association of Blackburn. I would press this upon the consideration of my right hon. Friend between this and next year. And now let me turn to the new Code and the reasons for its failure. I do not for a moment think that any attack was intended by my right hon. Friend upon voluntary schools. For my own part, I give the Government great credit for having introduced a system totally different from the old payment by results under which we have so long suffered. But though the Code in its main outlines was a good Code, no doubt it was among voluntaryists allover the country widely unpopular. It contained certain provisions of an irritating character, and a good deal that was vague, but we should have believed that the vagueness would have been interpreted in a proper spirit, and that the provisions that were irritating would have been carried out so as to inflict no hardship upon voluntary schools if only we could trust the authorities who would administer the Code. We do not distrust the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board; but we have a profound distrust of the Education Department, not merely because in the changes and chances of political life the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield may resume his seat on the Treasury Bench—and of course from our point of view that would be a public disaster— but because the right hon. Gentleman has left his spirit behind in the Education Department; and though my right ton. Friend does his best to restrain that spirit, we see it peeping out in every direction. Let me take two instances. There has been a question of increased cubic space in the New Code. I do not believe that the Government intended that provision to apply to existing schools; but in its words it did apply to them, and we found a most extraordinary reluctance on the part of "the Government to withdraw that provision. Then there was the question of fixed grants. I am myself of opinion that the method of assigning the grant in the New Code was a very good one. 408 I presume that the Government intended that the lowest grant of 12s. was not to be withheld except in cases of gross in-efficiency. That is what my right hon. Friend would probably say. But those who represent voluntary schools have no confidence that this provision would be interpreted in this harmless manner, so it became our duty to putdown Amendments to make the meaning clear, and I am bound to say that, distrusting the Department as we did, the proceedings of the Government did not reassure us. Hon. Gentlemen are well aware that this is not the only Chamber in which these discussions take place. Listening to the utterances of Her Majesty's Government, taken as a whole, we could not feel sure that there was this determination to interpret all that was vague and irritating in a manner fair to voluntary schools. We could not feel sure that that was the case. Speaking for myself I do not share all the fears that have been expressed; but what I urge on the Government is this— that between now and next year they should make their intention clear. If they would make all these points clear before next year I do not believe that the Government will experience any difficulty from those who sit on this side of the House, at any rate, in passing their New Code. And now I turn to the question that has been discussed to-night. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are always telling us we must not attempt to bring about a change in the Concordat of 1870. The Act of 1870 gave a certain period in which voluntary school managers were invited to establish voluntary schools all over the country, and Parliament thus entered into an engagement of honour from which it cannot escape so long as voluntary schools do their duty. Since 1870, again, a great many new circumstances have come into existence; there is, in the first place, the astonishing multiplication of voluntary schools, which I do not think was anticipated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian or by Mr. Forster at that time. The voluntary schools have become by far the most important educational agency in this country. They educate a far larger number of children than the Board Schools do; according to the reports of 1886–7 the numbers are in the proportion of 22 to 13. Then there is the enormous increase 409 in the cost of education which was not contemplated at the time, and which throws an enormous burden on the rates and also on the voluntary subscribers. The hon. Member for Edgbaston said that the voluntary subscriptions had fallen off in the last 10 years, but the hon. Member forgot that for the most recent period, from last year to the present day, the voluntary subscriptions have practically remained at the same figure, and even in the period mentioned they have only fallen away by the comparatively small amount of £30,000, and even this has been made up by an increase in the amount of endowments. If hon. Members doubt that, they will find from the Report of the Commission that is so. But there is a third, and a much more important, event which has taken place since the settlement of 1870. The Nonconformist witnesses before the Royal Commission have declared that no religion whatever is possible in the Board Schools. I know the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield believes in the religious education given in the Board Schools, and I will not say a word against it. I am glad to feel that there is some sort of religion taught in the Board Schools, but the witnesses to whom I have referred showed that it was impossible or of no value. The public opinion in this country is in favour—strongly in favour—of religious education. Does anyone deny that the people of this country are profoundly impressed with the importance of teaching religion to their children? Does not the Sunday school itself show the enormous desire the people have for religious teaching? I have shown that the Board Schools had failed to provide religious education, and I entirely repudiate the view of the Member for Birmingham that the electors in this country are opposed to the voluntary school system.
§ * MR. G. DIXON
I did not say they were opposed to the voluntary schools. What I said was that they were in favour of making their education more effective.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
I apologise to the hon. Member. I have no doubt I did misquote him slightly. What the hon. Gentleman, I think, wished to imply was, that the people of this country would not allow religious considerations to stand in the way of educa- 410 tional progress. I believe the hon. Gentleman is entirely wrong. I believe the people do not care for very advanced educational systems, and that they do care for religious education. When I think of the constituency the hon. Member represents, I am surprised at the line he has taken. A country district might have a feeling against a voluntary school which the Nonconformists were obliged to attend, but how Birmingham can find anything to complain of in the existence of voluntary schools I do not know. In the constituency I represent there is no Board School at all. Every denomination has its own school, and my hon. Friend (Mr. Tomlinson) represents such another constituency. But in the case of a country district where there might be a theoretical objection. I feel bound to say that nothing is more instructive, in reading the Report of the minority of the Commission, than the account which they give of the action of the Conscience Clause. The Conscience Clause, they agree, is not violated; but they say it has been ineffective. It has been ineffective because the Nonconformists do not make the slightest use of it; that is to say, they are content with the present settlement. That being so, we have to consider the position in which we are now placed. After the Report of the Commission it will not be possible to remain exactly where we are. The majority of the Commission reported that the two systems ran along side by side, but the pressure is becoming almost more than the voluntary system can bear, and that, unless something is done for its relief, we must look to the time when the voluntary system must gradually disappear. We must not merely look at the rights of the voluntary system. The hon. Member said the voluntary schools have no right to expect assistance from the State unless they made every effort to maintain their subscriptions. I have no doubt they will do that, but I look at the matter from the point of view of the community. It would be a profound disaster to lose these voluntary schools, and I would go a long way to prevent it. Some hon. Members seem to think that we who touch their educational system are poachers. Well, we will be no longer considered poachers. We have a distinct line. We enjoy the support, I believe, of a majority of the electors. 411 We certainly enjoy that of the majority of the House, and we intend to use the power placed in our hands. I do not say that any Member will propose that direct rate aid should be given to the voluntary schools. The time is not yet ripe for that great question, but no consideration will restrain us from making the demand if we think fit. In the case of technical education, the hon. Gentleman has declared in the most emphatic manner that he will not allow any assistance to be given to voluntary schools. We are sorry hon. Members take that line, but we are determined to meet them. Next Session we hope to meet them in the open and defeat them in the Division Lobbies. Let not hon. Gentlemen think that at the next Election they will be able to throw it in our teeth that we stopped technical education, for we fully intend to carry it out ourselves. We are often told in these discussions that we are being defeated by other countries in the great competition that exists at the present day, but I am not convinced. When I look back on history I find that we have not always followed the example of foreign nations, and yet we have been successful and they have failed. I find, too, that there has been one undoubted characteristic to be recognised—the religious character of the English people. How do we know, with all our technical education and the rest of it, an irreligious England would produce the same result as in the past? We insist on religious teaching as a basis. We insist on the maintenance of our denominational schools, whether for Catholics, Methodists, or Church of England, and we believe we shall succeed.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I am glad, Sir, that when I rose before I had not the good fortune to catch your eye, for it has given me the opportunity of hearing the admirable speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon). There is no man in the House more thoroughly qualified to speak on the work of education, and I may tell the noble Lord that though he seems to doubt it, no Member in the House has done more for the religious education of children than my hon. Friend has done in Birmingham. He cannot be surprised if I say, speaking from my experience of the Education Department, that no Member has 412 done more for voluntary schools than the hon. Member (Mr. Dixon). I have known him put his hand into his pocket" to advance them
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
Looking at what they have done in the past, I should be rash to predict the collapse of the voluntary schools; but I do think there is a risk that they may be over-pressed, and I desire to protect them against it.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
That was the burden of the noble Lord's speech—that having in view the burden they are bearing and the difficulty they experience in competing with the Boards Schools, something should be done by the Government for the voluntary schools. I must say that I do not think the First Lord of the Treasury will thank the-noble Lord for his speech, and I am certain that the noble Lord has made the task of the Vice President very much more difficult than it was. And before I pass on I should like to refer to what I think was much to be regretted in the speech of the noble Lord, and what I think he himself will one of these days regret, if he does not feel ashamed of it. The noble Lord attacked the Education Department; he said he believed in the good intentions of the Government, but that he had no faith in the Education Department.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Yes, he applauds that statement. The noble Lord said I had left my spirit behind me in the Education Department. I wish I was sure of that; but I will say this to the noble Lord—that it is disgraceful that a Member of the House should attack officials when they cannot defend themselves.[Ministerial cries of "Order!"], It is a shabby thing, at least, to attack permanent officials when they are not present to defend themselves, and have no one to do so for them; but, speaking from what I know of the Department, and of its traditions under every Vied President, I believe that it has been perfectly impartial in all its dealings with Board and voluntary schools; and if it has had any leanings, they have been almost always in the direction of the voluntary schools, which they are anxious to prevent from going to the wall. I am afraid the reference of the noble Lord was entirely confined to one important Member of the Education Department—namely, the Secretary to the Department, for I heard his name 413 called out by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Loughborough Division.
§ * VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
I must interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. I decline to have any words put into my mouth beyond those I used and to which I adhere. I am not responsible for any interruptions.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
He is not responsible for interruptions, but he is responsible for his words, and when he speaks of the Education Department he must remember that the chief of the Department is responsible for all the other officials, and I trust that the Vice President, when he rises to speak, will give the noble Lord a piece of his mind for the attack he has made on the permanent officials, because I hold it to be the duty of every chief not to allow his subordinates to be attacked. Did the noble Lord ever bear imputations of this kind made from this side of the House? So long as I was at the Education Department I always received the strongest public testimony from the heads of the Church to which the noble Lord belongs, from the late and the present Archbishop of Canterbury, from most of the Bishops, that I held the balance equal, and tried to administer the law as I found it; and I believe every Minister will endeavour to do that. The hon. Member for Oxford University admitted that the defeat of the Code and of the technical education scheme was entirely due to the apprehension that the voluntary schools would suffer. Thus, after three years and three Bills—after the passionate appeal made two years ago in Manchester by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the Government would not allow the Irish to obstruct their good intentions with respect to technical education—the House has not been given a chance during all this time to vote on the question of technical education. The noble Lord and his friends speak a good deal about religious education. But I believe that when they speak of religious education they mean sectarian education. They believe that there is no religious education unless it is associated with dogma. ["Hear, hear," from the Ministerial Benches.] I am sorry to hear that cheer from the Benches opposite. I should like to ask the noble Lord if he has ever been in a London Board School? Has the noble Lord ever attended at the opening of a London Board School or at the hours 414 when religious instruction is given? Has he seen the syllabus of religious teaching? I believe that there is more and better religious teaching to-day than at any time during this century. The noble Lord talked about a "religious England," and said we were possibly in the way of having an "irreligious England;" but he forgets that, whereas a century ago, Joseph Lancaster began to teach children for 5s. a year, to read and spell texts; now there are 4,600,000 children under instruction, and almost every child receiving good, solid religious education. A clergyman of the Church of England, a member of the School Board, and Chairman of the Religious Instruction Committee, wrote me a letter stating that the religious instruction of the School Board in London is at least equal to, and in most cases better, than the religious instruction of the voluntary schools; and I know that is so, not only in London, but throughout the country. There are in proportion to the population 40 per cent more in Sunday-schools than there were in 1851, and the number on the register is 5,200,000, or 500,000 more than on the register of day schools. What, then, does the noble Lord mean by talking as if the religious element was entirely monopolised by that side of the House, and we were advocates of irreligious instruction? There is no justification for any statement of that kind. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on what I may call the ordinary statement of automatic progress in the numbers under education in our elementary schools. So far as numbers are concerned, nothing could be more satisfactory. In 1870 the number in average attendance was 1,160,000, in 1876, under the Act of Lord Sandown, it rose to about 2,200,000, in 1880 it was nearly 3,000,000, and it is now 3,800,000. During the past 19 years what has been, going forward in regard to education? First, we have brought the children into the schools, and then we have given them a minimum of instruction; but I have no hesitation in saying, after the Report of the Royal Commission, we are in the presence of a state of things which demands a new departure. It is impossible, in the existing state of things, to continue the present moral and pecuniary waste. A few weeks ago attention was called by the Bishop of 415 Lichfield to the great blot upon the Education Acts that children are leaving school at earlier ages every year. The reason is that the children are better taught, and every year they pass through their standards earlier. In Standard II. last year there were 561,000 children, in Standard III. 561,537, in Standard IV. the number fell to 481,000, in Standard V. to 309,000, and in Standard VI. 4here were only 129,000 children. In more than half the rural parishes in England the standard of exemption is Standard IV., the children are passing from school at 10 years of age, and very soon they will have an opportunity of forgetting all they have learned at school. We are spending between seven and eight millions a year on elementary education. So few children reach the upper standards, in consequence of the early age at which they pass the standard of exemption, that they lose in a few years all they have learned at school. A great many of them do not work; if they did they might become half-timers. The Chairman of the Birmingham School Board, in his address on last year's work, said that the parents were powerless to enforce their own wish, and there being no law to touch them these lads are a law to themselves; they will neither earn or learn, but loaf. That is a state of things which certainly urgently demands a remedy. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford says we I have no standard of what elementary education ought to be, and that we seem to be adding first one subject and then another which was not in contemplation when the Education Act was passed. I have not time now to quote Mr. Forster's speeches, but I may point out that in opening several of the higher elementary schools he said that it was always contemplated that this education should be equal with any in Europe. Will the hon. Member for Oxford University consult the authority of his own Commission, which was sent on the Continent to consider the question of the elementary education of Europe? Mr. Alfred Arnold, the best authority we have, in his Report, which is one of the most important documents in relation to elementary education ever submitted to this House, says—The release of a child from school at 10 or 11 because he could pass the Fifth Standard would be thought in Germany absurd and most injurious.416 I am afraid the noble Lord opposite is not acquainted with that Report. The right hon. Gentleman's Code was in many respects an advance, and I very much regret its withdrawal. I do not complain of the right hon. Gentleman, but I think he has been badly treated at the hands of his chiefs. I know the trouble it involves to prepare a New Code, and make it fair all round, and I say that to prepare one and place it on the Table of the House, and let it lie there for six months to be shot at by all who misunderstand or misrepresent it, and never to give it one moment's chance of discussion, is to afford very scurvy treatment to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council. I have often been disposed rather to commisserate with the right hon. Gentleman than to blame him. I have regarded him more with sorrow than with anger for all the miserable shortcomings of the Education Department during the past three years.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
I hope the right hon. Gentleman who is cheering that statement, the President of the Local Government Board, will take his full share of the blame. The Vice President of the Council is not a Cabinet Minister, and any Minister who is without a seat in the Cabinet has but a very poor chance of obtaining the consideration of any important subject it is his lot to bring before the House. I hope and trust the day is not far distant when we shall deal not only with questions of administration, but with the more important question which was before the House five or six years ago, and in favour of which a Committee reported unanimously—namely, the establishment of a Minister of Education. Until you have such a Minister you will never have your work properly performed— the Vice President of the Council will never be able to exercise proper influence over Her Majesty's Government. What I want to say with regard to the Code is this, that do what you will, shuffle the cards as you may, you cannot by any system of administration remedy the great defects which are now too apparent in the Educational system. It is not possible by means of a Code to lengthen the school life of a child which has been stereotyped by our low standards. The majority and the minority of the Education Commission were 417 agreed that you must raise the standard -of age and also the minimum standard for half-time and full-time examinations. I think they recommended that we should place England on the same footing as Scotland in that respect. The Third and Fifth Standards should be the minimum in England as in Scotland, otherwise we are wasting money in a lavish and almost profligate manner. Because £8,000,000 a year spent in elementary education when more than half the children do not complete their education is simply robbery of the taxpayer. Now, there was some question raised as to the progress made in certain subjects which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President said affect domestic happiness. Cookery and domestic economy are two of these subjects and they require little or no apparatus. But where are they taught? I put the question to the noble Lord. The teaching does not take place in the voluntary schools. Of 42,000 children who received grants in cookery during the past year 35,000 were taught in Board Schools, and only 5,318 in the National Schools of the Church of England to which Church the vast majority of the voluntary schools belong. "What is the reason of this?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
But the noble Lord insists that the voluntary schools shall have the same means to enable them to teach technical education as the School Board schools. The voluntary schools have the same grants for teaching cookery as the School Board schools have; and because they will not teach it or cannot teach it are they to remain as dogs in the manger, refusing to Allow it to be taught to any one else? Are we to wait fur technical education for our children until such time as the voluntary schools can share the rates with the Board Schools, and that will be doomsday or never? Take the question of domestic economy. The number of girls taught domestic economy last year was 14,840. I want to show that the voluntary schools are trying to cover too large an area; they are taking too much on their shoulders in the determination not to let the School Boards come in, and so the education of the country is being starved. I can point to towns where there is no Board School, and where, depend upon it, it is a great misfortune 418 for the towns, as they are where, while education ranks lowest and is poorest, the highest fees are paid—in some cases actually double what are charged in School Board towns. The hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham (Sir R. Temple) talked about the extravagance of the London School Board, both in the case of the last Board and the present one. Well, the hon. Baronet had a majority on his side at both Boards— how is it he did not manage to keep down the extravagance? The fact is the education of the London School Board is too good to be much cheaper than it is, and the hon. Member in his heart of hearts knows it. There are voluntary schools that give as good instruction, but it costs just as much. It is useless to say that the voluntary schools cost less than the Board Schools. I am grateful for what the voluntary schools have done, and have no desire to see them injured where they do their work as well as the Board Schools, but I say they cannot survive unless they do that. We have no right to maintain inferior schools and force the children to attend them, without choice to the parents, and waste the school life of the children, which must happen if they have not good instruction. A strong appeal was made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton) on the question of inspection, and he spoke of the Inspector as the great terror of the school. Well, some of the mare not only a terror to the school, but a terror to the Department. But how does this come about? Why, by the exercise of political patronage, and putting men into the Inspection Department because they were the sons or relatives of this man or that. When you get the men there they do not turn out to be what is wanted. During six years something like 80 University men were appointed, and many of them were wholly unfit forthework—men who had no sympathy with child life, no desire to study their duties—in fact, no desire to do anything but receive their salaries. Well, we had to put an end to that. A Return before the House shows that between 1880 and 1889 only two Inspectors were appointed who were members of Universities, and one of them was a Welsh-speaking Inspector who was wanted in Wales. We improved the position of the teachers and promoted them to these 419 positions, and they have done their work much better than the late Inspectors; in fact, so much better that £12,000 a year is already being saved, and that will amount to £20,000 four or five years hence. I cannot agree with what has been said in favour of the New Code. It has been stated that it will abolish payment by results. In my opinion, it does not touch them. It simply is a system of larger merit grants—namely, 12s. 6d., 14s., and 15s. 6d. for three classes of schools, and three merit grants, arrived at, not by individual examination of every child, but of a proportion of the children, on whom an average will be struck. As to the question of day training colleges, I would point out that some of the best teachers in Great Britain are trained in day training colleges. In Scotland teachers are trained in day training colleges. The consequence is that in Scotland they have a higher class of teachers than in England. I do hope that in England we shall soon get day training colleges. I want to impress on the House that the Government have had the question of education before them for three years, and that they have done practically nothing. Whatever progress has been made has been the automatic progress of the old Code. The First Lord of the Treasury a year ago made a promise in regard to secondary schools; but nothing has yet been done in that matter. The Government have before them the Reports of three Royal Commissions— that on technical education, that on elementary education, and that on the teaching of the deaf and dumb, the Reports of which are all awaiting legislation—and they have given a sound promise that the system of educational endowments prevailing in Scotland shall be adopted here. Scotland is in an exceptional position as compared with England in this respect. It has better schools and higher standards, and is, moreover, receiving grants from the Government for secondary education. How long shall we be before we overtake Scotland? At the earliest opportunity next Session I intend to give the House the opportunity of testing its opinion as to whether we shall not make a new advance; for I think the time has come for a new departure. We can only make this by legislation, and in legis- 420 lating we must raise the standard and the age, and so extend the School Boards as to make them obligatory all over the country. The speech of the hon. Member for King's County, made on behalf of a very important educational body, shows that they are wearied of the burdens and contentions of the present system and are prepared for a compromise by which they may place themselves under representative management and adopt a better system. Surely the Church will not stand in the way, and certainly the Nonconformists ought not. As to technical education I sincerely trust that even this Session the Government may see their way to help us in getting some scheme that will end the bitter controversy of the last few years. It has been no fault of ours, for we have tried what we could to introduce it; and I earnestly trust that the Government may at least do something before another Session.
§ MR. H. GARDNER (Saffron Walden)
I have an important Amendment on the Paper which I am anxious to bring before the House, but at this hour I will not enter upon it so as to prevent the right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Hart Dyke) addressing the House, and, therefore, will postpone it to the Report.
§ * SIR W. HART DYKE
There are only a few minutes left to me to reply to the many points that have been raised in this very interesting discussion. Some of my hon. Friends appear to fear that the proposals of the Government would seriously increase the charges upon voluntary schools. With regard to school accommodation, a pledge has already been given which I think ought to allay this apprehension; and as to the school staff I have had a list of schools made out and have found that in very few instances indeed of voluntary schools does the present staff appear to be inadequate. With respect to what had been said about injustice being done to voluntary schools, I can only say that during the time I have been at the-Education Office I have never been able to point to one single case where I had a shadow of a suspicion that injustice was being done. I could point to instances when I have gone into cases of voluntary schools and done them more than justice. It is too late now to go into other questions, but in conclusion I promise that before making 421 any new proposals I will fully take into consideration all the suggestions which have been made in the present Debate.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Would it not be desirable that the memorials sent to the Department in respect to the Code from all the different bodies should be printed for the information of the House?
§ MR. CONWAY (Leitrim, N.)
With regard to payment by results I should like to offer some remarks on the Report; I should also wish to make some observations as to the grievances of the teachers in regard to the Inspectors. May I now ask whether the Government intend to promote a national providence scheme for the benefit of the teachers?
§ Resolution to be reported to-morrow.
§ MR. DE LISLE (Loughborough)
Will the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord promise that before the new Code is introduced he will afford the House ample opportunity for discussing the last Report of the Royal Commission on Education? Otherwise some of us will feel compelled to obstruct in every way the passing of the new measure into law.
§ * THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH, Strand, Westminster)
The Report of the Vote will be put down for to-morrow. I cannot undertake at this advanced period of the Session to give a day when the Report of the Commission on Education shall be considered.
Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.