HC Deb 14 August 1889 vol 339 cc1258-84

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £285,376, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1890, for Public Education in Scotland.


It is now my duty, as briefly as possible, to state to the House the figures belonging to this Estimate, and in doing so it will not be necessary for me to occupy much of the time of the House. The total amount of the Estimate is £575,376, which is only an apparent rise of £7,054 on the amount asked for last year. But it is right to point out that the actual increase is £14,930, the reason being that the drawing grant of £7,500 is withdrawn from the Vote of the Science and Art Department. The main item of increase is in the day and evening schools, namely, £12,161, and the balance of the increase is distributed over smaller miscellaneous items. The Committee will remember that the increase depends on two elements—first, the average number of children in attendance; and, secondly, the amount gained from the scholars. As regards the first item, the numbers estimated for the year are 512,720; last year's estimate, which was not quite realised, being 510,328. Under the second head the grant per scholar is estimated at 19s., which is the same as was paid last year, although the amount estimated for that year was 18s. 11d. This is accidental. The total expenditure on maintenance is £1,100,000, and of the £575,376, £475,000 goes to the maintenance of schools; but the aggregate local contribution is not limited to maintenance. Of the money paid by the rating authorities to the School Boards, amounting to £502,579, one-half is for the cost of providing schools, instalments, and interest upon loans. The total liabilities of this nature on the 15th May, 1889, were £3,125,236. The number of children for whom school accommodation has been provided is 696,528, and that is practically sufficient to meet the educational requirements of the whole of Scotland. The figures show that the progress of education in State-aided schools in Scotland has been satisfactory, and the increased grant is an evidence of this, while there are other circumstances which support an encouraging view. The attendance, no doubt, continues to be very defective in certain districts, and the age at which the higher standards are reached is still unduly late. It must be allowed that the characteristic of school attendance in Scotland is that it does not begin so early as it should. In England the attendance of infants is very much larger than in Scotland, and I suppose it must be recognised as not a pleasant feature, that there is nothing like the desire on the part of parents in Scotland to send very young children to school which seems to prevail in England. The figures, so far, show an unfavourable contrast with England, but they must be checked by the fact that between the ages of 6 and 12, which are the most important years in elementary education, Scotland is not behind England, on the contrary it is slightly ahead of this country. With regard to the-Highlands, there are extra grants this year to the amount of £4,343, and the conditions of the Minute which are necessary for the acquisition of these grants have been fulfilled in 520 out of 671 schools. Under the Minute of the 21st December, 1888, there have been applications from 15 School Boards, of which 13 were admitted and two refused. With regard to secondary schools. 49 schools have been inspected under Section 67 of the Act of 1872. Of these, 21 were higher class public schools, 19 were endowed schools, and nine were voluntary schools. The leaving certificates were fair and uniform. As to the endowed schools, opportunity should be taken to acknowledge the valuable service rendered by the Commissioners, whose office will come to an end on the 31st December, 1889. They have done* a large amount of work since 1882, having prepared as many as 473 schemes, which have been the result of prolonged and intricate energy. Of these, 354 have been approved by the Department; and 323 have received the approval of Her Majesty, 16 being still under consideration. I am not aware that I have anything to add at the present moment, but I shall be glad to answer any questions that may be asked.

MR CALDWELL (St. Rollox, Glasgow)

Many of the Scotch Members who take a strong interest in this question will have been somewhat surprised at the Report that has been issued by the Education Department which deals with progress of education in Scotland since the year 1872. They give the results in a statistical form, and beyond this, they furnish a comparative statement of the results achieved in 1888 as against those of 1872. A tabular statement of this kind enables the public to draw inferences; but the inferences which they are likely to draw from it are exactly the reverse of th8 true state of affairs. They are such as tend most completely to mislead the public, inasmuch as they are likely to create an im- pression which the Education Department must know is inconsistent with the facts. The figures thus put before us state that in 1872 there were 225,000 children in the different schools, and that since that date, and up to 1888, the number increased to 557,191. Then with regard to average attendance, it is stated that in 1872 the average attendance of day scholars was 213,549, and that that number increased in 1888 to 496,139; but the Committee will be surprised to hear that the actual increase, instead of being upwards of 280,000, has only been about 60,000. How, then, does this discrepancy arise? It arises in this way. Comparisons have been made in cases in which the conditions have been utterly unequal. Only a limited number of the schools were inspected in 1872, and the Department compared the schools under inspection in that year with the large number that were under inspection in 1888. But, fortunately, we have the means of checking the figures given in this Report. In 1872 the Scotch Education Board took stock of the existing state of affairs, and they found that there were 546,000 children attending school in that year, when the Education Act came into operation; but only 225,000 were receiving State aid, because it was only a limited number of schools which applied to be on the roll of State-aided schools. Since then the natural increase of population has amounted to about 100,000, and one would have expected that in 1888 the number would have reached 648,000 or 650,000. But what is the fact? At the present moment there are on the Register 641,000 children. About two years ago we had statistics as to all the children who attended the non-State-aided schools, as well as those attending schools that were State-aided, and from them we are able to draw a comparison for ourselves. We find that, taking the State-aided and non-State-aided schools together, there were in 1872, 546,000 children attending school, the total increase in 1888 being only 60,000, and yet the Department goes on year after year presenting to Scotland and to this House a tabulated statement showing that in 1872 there were so many State-aided schools, which at that time really did not represent one-half of the children receiving education in Scotland, and they compare that with the number on the Register now. We are, I think, entitled to complain of the Department issuing a table from which we are supposed to draw reliable inferences, when in reality those inferences are the very reverse of the truth and altogether misleading. But we have fortunately another means of getting at the facts. We find that in 1871, before the Education Act was passed, the Census taken in Scotland showed that there were 542,000 children in receipt of education in that country between the ages of 5 and 15. We know that the natural increase of population was l.065, and that ought to have brought us to this— that there should have been on the register in Scotland to day 642,000 children, all of them in receipt of education. But there are only 700,000 children altogether to deal with in Scotland; and we find that in Scotland, where we spend half a million of the money of the ratepayers and about the same sum in Imperial Grants for educational purposes, we have only an increase of about 60,000 children under education since the year 1872. The result is that by the Education Act we have 35,000 more children under education than if there had been no such Act. We have enacted provisions for Scotland, under which no child below 13 years of age is allowed to work full time in any factory, no matter what standard it has passed. We have also increased the compulsory age in Scotland to 14 years, with the provision that no child who has not passed the Fifth Standard is allowed to work until he has attained the age of 14. Moreover, the compulsory standard in Scotland is the Fifth Standard, whereas in England it is between the Third and the Sixth. Scotland being regarded as so important an educational centre, we should naturally have expected that the number of children attending schools in Scotland would be largely in excess of the number attending schools in England in proportion to the population. But what is the fact? We find that in England there are on the School Register 16.38 of the population, while on the other hand, in Scotland the percentage on the Register is only 16. Again, if we take the average daily attendance, we find that in England, it is 12.7 of the total population, whereas in Scotland it is 12.3; so that, while in Scotland we have a higher standard than England and an increased age, the number of children in school attendance is proportionately less than in England at the present moment. This is a result which cannot be termed very satisfactory. Another point has reference to the school supply. The Scotch Education Department tell us that, in 1882, there was accommodation for 274,000 children. In 1872 the Board of Education took statistics as to the amount of school accommodation in Scotland, and they divided it under three different heads— namely, good, bad, and indifferent. These facts were most carefully tabulated; but we have it represented here by the Department as if the figures only related the amount of accommodation provided in the State-aided schools, whereas it was known there were other schools superior to those on the annual great list which gave accommodation of a kind that could not be impeached. If the Scotch Education Department wished to make a fair comparison they had nothing more to do than to give us the statistics of the Board of Education, which set forth the amount of accommodation existing in 1872, and then to compare that with the accommodation now provided. It is not as if the Scotch Education Department were not aware of this. Their attention has been called to it for years, and the only explanation of their action is that they are wilfully persisting in a wrong system. At the end of their Report they give us a table which is very significant, and shows the fallacious principle on which their statistics are made up. They say that about one seventh of the children in Scotland attend the higher schools in which the payment is paid a week and upwards. Well, the Scotch Department know that that is not true. By a Return issued about a year ago it was shown that the number was not much more than one-half of that. This table brings them to a most extraordinary result. If this table is correct, there is not a single child in Scotland between the ages of 7 and 12 who is not attending school, deducting of course the one-seventh found in the higher schools. That is a most marvellous result. I venture to say it is a result which is unprecedented in any part of the world. But that is not all. To show the perfec- tion with which the Scotch Education Department work their statistics let me also point out that there are on the school registers, 23,885 more children between the ages of 7 and 12 than there are children of such ages in Scotland. The Department have had their attention called to this because they have taken the trouble to calculate the percentage of the children on the school register compared with the children in existence. The Department know quite well that there are not one-seventh of the children between the ages of 7 and 12 in non-State-aided schools. They know that for years past the School Board system has been working down all the private schools, indeed, they themselves have issued a Return showing clearly that there are not more than 70,000 or 80,000 children in non State-aided schools, whereas they represent that there are between 120,000 and 130,000 children in such schools. The Department themselves find great fault with the school attendance, but perhaps, before dealing with the question of school attendance I may refer to that of the school supply. I find that last year the average attendance increased by 4,500, while the school supply was increased by 9,500 places. If one looks-back at the Reports of the Department he finds that, according to the Department, the school supply in Scotland is practically complete. In Scotland the school accommodation is a heavy burden upon the local ratepayers, and in the Highlands especially is the cause of the distress in school matters. We are told that there is in Scotland school accommodation for 687,000, and yet the-average attendance is only 496,000. That is to say, we have accommodation for 200,000 more children than there are in average attendance, and this, too, after we have increased the space requisite to 10 square feet per child. This state of things represents an enormous-waste in the shape of interest on money expended, and is the cause of a considerable amount of hardship throughout Scotland. With regard to school attendance, the Department tell us they calculated there would be 804,625 children on the Register, and 670,000 in average daily attendance. I should like to know how in the world under present conditions, or under any similar conditions, could the Scotch Education Department expect there would be so many as 804,625 on the Register? According to the Education Act, a child is required to pass Standard V. in order to be relieved from school attendance. Standard V. may be passed in six years. That is a well understood fact, because the attendance necessary in order to pass a standard is 125 full-day attendances, or 250 half-day attendances. A standard may be easily passed by a child of ordinary intelligence who makes the attendance I have mentioned. Taking children of from five to 12 years of age, I find that the total number of children in Scotland is 661,000, so that if you put the children in non-State-aided schools at 60,000, you have 600,000 who naturally ought to be at school. If you have your educational system in proper working order in Scotland, the utmost number you should have on the roll in State-aided schools in Scotland would be about 600,000. In order to get the average attendance you would have to make a deduction of about 23 per cent., but we find we are not getting the results we might reasonably expect. In comparing England and Scotland we have to take into consideration the differences between the two countries. The standard of education varies, and, whilst in Scotland the compulsory age has been raised to 14 years, in England it remains at only 13 years. Another important factor in the situation is that in England the schools are limited by the Act of 1870 to elementary education, whilst in Scotland there is no such limit. We might, therefore, reasonably expect that we should have in Scotland a higher percentage of passes in the higher standards. We find, however, that England far surpasses Scotland in this respect. I find that last year the increase in passes in the standards from four upwards amounted in England to 36 per cent, whilst in Scotland the increase was only 17.6 per cent. If England were to adopt the law of Scotland, making Standard V. compulsory, and if it were also to adopt the provision of the Scotch Factory Act that no child shall be allowed to work full time in a factory until it has reached the age of 13, or passed Standard V., it would completely surpass Scotland in the matter of education. There is one curious result to be ascertained from the Returns. For instance, I find that in Standards III. and IV. during the past year there has been an actual deficiency in presentation. The Scotch schools keep back some of the children, whereas the English schools present all they have. During the past year the average attendance in Scotland has increased by 4,500, and yet the number of children presented to the Inspector has decreased by 2,000. If the Scotch teacher is so cautious as to take care that children who are not likely to pass are not presented when the Inspector makes the examination, of course the percentage will go up. During the past year, whilst 14.8 per cent of the population were presented in England, only 14 per cent were presented in Scotland. England presents 90 per cent of her register, and Scotland 77 per cent of her register. Another curious fact is that whilst Standards III. and IV. have increased during the past year, Standards V. and VI. have not increased. It shows that in Scotland you are working down the secondary schools, and the children are being sent into the Board Schools. You consequently have an increase of the passes in the standards above the compulsory standard, owing to the class of children you are getting into the Board Schools. The increase is therefore not one which we should rejoice at. It means that you are reducing the number of private schools in Scotland year by year, and that the children who have been attending private schools are now swelling the numbers of those who are passing out of the compulsory standards. What is more significant still is the fact that when we deal with Standards III. and IV., in which we might expect to find a great improvement as regards the mass of the population, we actually find a decrease this year. This leads one to consider the effect of the action of the Scotch Education Department upon the secondary or private schools in Scotland at the present moment. Those who are interested in private schools denied for a long time that secondary education was on a decline in Scotland, and I remember the right hon. Gentleman who is now Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) bringing forward a whole host of statistics to- show that that was not the case. The Government Department had, however, eventually to confess that secondary education was on the decline in Scotland, and they appointed a Departmental Committee to investigate the subject, with the result that the Committee had to confess that it was on the decline. There can be no doubt that the School Boards have been competing with the secondary schools in such a way as to render it practically impossible that secondary education can exist. Take the case of Glasgow. According to the tables of the Scotch Education Department, we should have expected that one-seventh of the children in Glasgow would have been found in the higher schools, and paying about 9d. per week. There are about 84,000 children in the City of Glasgow, and, therefore, 12,000 ought to be in the higher schools. As a matter of fact, the number is only 3,800, and that number includes about 2,300 who receive their education at the expense of endowments or at the cost of the ratepayers. Therefore, only about 1,500 children are receiving education at the sole expense of the parents, and paying above 9d. per week. Even the 1,500 do not all come from the City of Glasgow, because about half of them are brought in from country districts. I say, then, that the whole of the education in Glasgow is being centred in the School Board, and private enterprise now finds it practically impossible to exist. Some of the private schools have now only a nominal existence, because it is impossible for them to provide satisfactory teachers. The children who are driven out of the private schools are necessarily going into the Board Schools, and have necessarily increased the attendance, and the higher standard passes in those schools. It has been the policy of the Scotch Education Department to kill out the secondary schools. How is it done in Glasgow? In order to get over the objection of parents to allowing their children to attend schools which every other class of children attend, the Glasgow School Board have graded the schools socially. Standards I. to V. are taught at 1d. a week in one school, whilst in another for the same standards, two or three times that amount is charged, and in another, four or five times that amount. The object is to get certain classes of the community in certain schools. The unfortunate result is that the bursaries and scholarships which were intended for the poor are being given to the richer classes. At the same time the secondary schools are going back year after year, and the attendance at the Universities is getting less and less. This is probably a rough but significant way of testing the results of your educational system in Scotland. If your system were on the basis that you are going on improving your elementary education, it would reflect itself in the secondary education, and again in University education. But the reverse is the case, your secondary education and your University education are going down, and as for your elementary system, you are taking children out of it by bringing in secondary education; you are taking from one and putting on to the other, just as you did with your school attendance. There are various means of improving secondary education proposed by the Department. They propose that we shall have secondary schools in Scotland, and how are they to be properly maintained? No doubt theoretically, a man sitting in his office in London and looking at the educational question, and bent on some means of improving secondary education would think "if we get secondary schools with proper appliances and the attendance of children we shall get better results than we can in elementary schools." This may seem so in theory, but then we have to consider the habits of the people and the sparse population in many parts of Scotland. You may have secondary schools here and there, but the problem is how to get the children into them. We have experience of the system of John Knox under which the teacher was a man of education, who looked forward to secondary education as the ultimate end of all his teaching, and it was his greatest ambition to lead his pupils on and send as many as possible to the Universities. The teacher inspired an enthusiasm for secondary education in his scholars. It would be a great mistake to suppose that all you have to do is to open secondary schools, have teachers and appliances, and conclude that parents, knowing the value of secondary education, will send their children there. Nothing of the kind. It will be found, as regards the children who were sent to the Universities in the olden time, that they were picked out as the ablest by the teachers, and their education was worked up to a certain point, because the teacher inspired in his pupils an enthusiasm to go on into higher education. But that is exactly what you are killing in Scotland at the present moment. You may establish well-equipped secondary schools, but the most important element is to get the children into those schools. Let us see how your free education system works in regard to secondary schools. The Lord Advocate admits that secondary schools are badly manned and equipped, and are not in an efficient state, but if the secondary schools find it hard to exist now existence will be doubly hard under the new system. You will widen the gulf between secondary and Board Schools to such an extent that hard as it has been for secondary schools to exist in competition with Board Schools it will become impossible within the next few years. So we have this matter clearly brought out, that the system under which you are proceeding is not a system tending to educational improvement, it is simply a reversal of the system that has made Scotch education what it is, and your new system is practically ruining secondary education and University education. Reference has been made to the examinations going on of secondary schools in Scotland. I admit that the Department must satisfy itself as to the state of these schools, and I have no doubt that all the schools will claim to be inspected, because they know that without it existence would be impossible under present circumstances, that they could not possibly be worse off, and their only hope is that if they submit to inspection they will have some claim for Government assistance. I can quite understand how Scotch teachers recognise their own interest in this way, and place their schools under the inspection of the Department; but I must say I do not view with any great confidence this system of inspection. The result will be that certain educational results will be brought out, and it may seem paradoxical that anyone should say that inspection could possibly do any harm. It will be said inspection may possibly do no good, but it could do no harm. But I apprehend it may do harm, and in this way: the inspection practically fixes the teaching of the whole school, and the teacher has not that free hand which is so essential in a proper educational system, because he will have regard to the important fact that the examination will take place at the end of the y ear, and that he must make his teaching subservient to the passing of his scholars at the end of the year. That will be the result of the Department getting the whole of the education of Scotland into their clutches. [Cries of "Divide!"] I am sorry to try the patience of some hon. Members; but be it remembered that we have not had an opportunity of discussing this Vote for three years, and there are special circumstances that make discussion desirable now. There is another point to mention in regard to school inspection. The Scotch Department have got it into their heads that if they can get hold of a man with an English Degree he must necessarily be a better man for an Inspector than another with a Scotch University degree. It would be interesting to have a Return showing how much stress is laid upon this point, and how often, as between men of equal ability and experience, the English Degree gets the preference. We had an experience of the result in the appointment of an Inspector in Stirlingshire whose want of practical sense and experience to an almost ludicrous extent, University "don" though he was, set the whole district in rebellion. It is pretty generally known that the Scotch Education Department is really a one man department, that the Secretary for Scotland is the Education Department. Though naturally there is a Board of Education, yet in point of fact the members only formally meet and pass such matters as are put before them. This is one reason for the strong feeling that exists in Scotland as to the mismanagement of educational matters, because there is not that free discussion there should be from the presence in the Department of men of independent views in relation to matters in which it cannot be supposed that the Secretary for Scotland is especially interested and specially understands. Nobody supposes that he will go into details sufficiently, and so it is that the man who possesses a certain Degree is marked for promotion as Inspector. Now, I will venture to say that all those who have been through the University know perfectly well how little value should be attached to a Degree. When a man is young he applies himself to working up for the Degree, and when he secures it, that is a mark of his ability then. But the taking of the Degree is no mark of success in later life. The taking of a Degree represents an amount of industry for the time being, but more important are the practical experience and the industry that follow the University life. Yet these are ignored in favour of those men who happened to have secured a Degree, especially an English Degree. There is much complaint on this account among the teaching profession. Therefore, I maintain that this educational report which the Department have issued, instead of being a report calculated to give the public a fair and true knowledge of the progress of education in Scotland, is of a most misleading character. I have endeavoured to point out that the effect of the educational system being pursued in Scotland is killing the secondary schools. I do not intend to divide the Committee, or put any issue before them, but I think it is for the interest of education that these matters should be discussed, and I do not think that Scotch education has ever occupied an undue share of the time of the House.

MR. MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)

I will not imitate the hon. Member in the length of my remarks, for I am well aware there are many Members interested in this subject. The hon. Member has complained of the Scotch Department in London, and be said there are great grievances felt in Scotland in regard to the action of the Department. But I do not agree with him there. I have taken the trouble to sift different allegations made as to mismanagement by the Scotch Education Department, and those who are supposed to be principal actors in the work of the Department, and in almost every case I have found that the Department have taken the greatest trouble to arrive at a right and true understanding of questions before them I have found that good sense has prevailed, and that what has been done by the Department has been done with all the care and discrimination that might be anticipated. The hon. Member has-referred to the appointment of Inspectors, and this is one of the matter I have taken the trouble to inquire into, and the result of my inquiries is that I have found that where they have appointed men with University Degrees the Department have selected the very best men they could find to fill the position of Inspectors. You cannot blame the Department if, in making a selection among men equally qualified, they choose the man with a Degree, passing over others not so distinguished. They have generally taken the best men as Inspectors, though I confess I atone time shared the view of the hon. Member, but inquiry dispelled that impression. I would like to see the Scotch Education Department combined with South Kensington, for I believe that by that arrangement a very large sum of public money would be saved, and education would be advanced, especially technical education. When the working of the Department is blamed it should be remembered that the main lines upon which they work have been laid down by Parliament, and if there is blame it should not fall upon the Department. There is one grievance to which I wish to call the attention of the Lord Advocate—that is the proposal to stop the grant for cookery and drawing unless the two are combined. We cannot expect to have cookery universally taught, whereas it is different in the case of drawing. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will continue the grant for cookery and also a separate grant for drawing. I take it that this is a matter for the Treasury rather than for the right hon. Gentleman, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will use-his influence in this direction with the Treasury. I am sure if he will accede to my suggestion it will have the approval of all School Boards, certainly those in the country districts. I should have liked to have said a word or two upon secondary education, but I will refrain. I will only say that I do not think it is on a satisfactory basis. There is a great want springing up, one that is felt every day, for some place in the country districts to which to send children after the elementary school and before sending them to a University, or to which, even if they do not go to a University, they may be sent to continue their education. Such a school might be established in certain groups of parishes, or in a large parish. There are many parents in the position of land agents, and others, who really want to give their children a better education, but cannot send them far from home because of the expense and difficulty.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

There is a question I should like to ask in reference to Section No. 32 A. I put the question some time ago and I should now like to know what has occurred since. As I understand this Section 32 A, it suspends the 17s. 6d. limit in reference to Highland parishes. In the Code for 1886, by some means Caithness and Sutherland were dropped out and four counties only were exempted. The Secretary for Scotland admitted this was an error, and, with the assent of the House, these grants have been made in the counties I have mentioned until the present year, when, as I understand, the Auditor General has expressed doubts as to the legality of the payments, although made with the assent of the House and of the Treasury. In consequence of the question raised by the Auditor General, the grants have ceased in Caithness and Sutherlandshire, and the schools there, expecting these grants and not getting them, are in rather a bad condition. I should like to know why it is these grants have been stopped, and whether the Treasury will issue a Minute or take means of removing the scruples of the Auditor General, and placing the legality of the payments beyond doubt.

* MR.A. SUTHERLAND (Sutherland)

There is an increase in the Vote of £ 14,554; but I am not going to criticise that. I am sorry I have not the Report of the Educational Department with me, for I intended to make some remarks thereupon; but I may observe generally that I do not attach much importance to the various statistics, though, no doubt, they relate to important matters of administration. I look more at the new departure of the Department in reference to inspection, and I hope that the policy will be in the direction of a relaxation of the rules that are applied to both Inspectors and teachers. I agree that there is great difficulty in carrying these changes out when money grants depend upon the work done in the schools; but I hold that the more we trust to the teachers and Inspectors the more will it to be the interest of education in Scotland. A great deal has been said as to the qualifications of the Inspectorate. I have no doubt that some years ago preference was given to candidates from the English Universities, and that it was a great grievance amongst teachers of experience and high qualification that they should be subject to inspection by men of this kind. The complaint was made that the Inspectorships were not open to teachers with the necessary experience and qualifications, but I understand that to a considerable extent this grievance has been removed. The complaints one used to hear are now not so frequent. I consider that the educational policy which should obtain in Scotland, necessitates the appointment of Inspectors from amongst the body of teachers, in whom the public generally have the greatest confidence. I hope and trust that the future policy of the Scottish Education Department, will be to throw more responsibility on the Inspectors, and not to tie them down in such a way as to make them, mere machines. I am sorry I do not notice on the part of the Education; Department any tendency to make a new departure in this regard. I had hoped, further, that the Department would have indicated some policy in regard to doing away altogether with denominational training colleges. I do not say that, they are not performing their work in a very efficient manner. Efficiency is not the question, but I think that something ought to be done in the direction of nationalising the training colleges, as at present a great waste of money is involved in the maintenance of so many institutions for the training of teachers. The number of denominational schools might also be reduced with advantage, having regard to the costly public, machinery for education existing everywhere in Scotland. It is a source of satisfaction to me to see that these schools are diminishing in number to some extent, but I should like to see a greater diminution, but I think the Department might offer inducements in that direction. These schools should be under the School Boards. As to secondary education, I am not aware that anything can be done to advance it by trying to engraft it on primary education. It is, to my mind, a matter that deserves a distinct policy of its own. Moreover, I think it should be dealt with without delay, and I hope, therefore, that it will be one of the matters which the Education Department will now take into consideration. As to one of the points brought under the notice of the Committee by the hon. Member for Caithness, I am bound to say it took me very much by surprise. It astonished me very much to hear that the County of Sutherland, as well as Caithness, was excepted from the grant which the Education Department took such credit to itself for having obtained for the assistance of the Highlands. I cannot approve of the policy of the Department in the matter, neither can I approve of their action in treating Lewis exceptionally. The control of the Schools there is taken out of the hands of the elected Board, for what reason I cannot conceive. The Department may say that, considering that they are making extra grants, they ought to have extra control, but I cannot see the justice of the demand, and am clearly of opinion that the Local Authorities should have the same control as here to fore. On the whole I must say I regard the Report of the Education Department as satisfactory on all points, except the one to which I have referred. On the whole, I see no reason for anything but congratulation.


I rise to move the reduction of one item, namely, the grant for Denominational Training Colleges, but before proceeding to deal with that subject, I should like to make a passing allusion to one or two points mentioned by previous speakers. With reference to the reflections that have been made on the Scotch Education Department, I desire to enter my protest against the entire system of the management of that Department. I do not believe that the people of Scotland will long submit to a system whereby the control of one of the most important interests in Scotland is practically in the hands of a few professionals who live and move and have their being in London. I object to the State subvention which is the basis of the Report before us. The system of giving grants out of the Imperial Exchequer to Local Boards misleads the people, who think they get their education paid for, whereas it is like taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another. That delusion is the only ground on which the present system rests. I do not believe education in Scotland will be satisfactory so long as it is managed by a body of professionals in London. With regard to the specific complaint that has been brought forward in reference to the appointment of Inspectors, I can only say that the matter is the subject of general complaint in Scotland. I do not know whether, as has been stated, the matter has mended in any degree of late. I do not know why it is that persons with English University Degrees are selected for the office of Inspector. The mere fact of a person possessing a Degree— even a London Degree—is not a disqualication, but I want to know why such persons should be selected in preference to teachers of high standing in Scotland? Surely men who have risen by sheer merit to prominent positions in the teaching profession in their own country have a right to aspire to those positions, and are the persons best qualified to fill them in the interest of education. I cannot for the life of me see how the Government can justify the appointment to the position of Inspectors of young English graduates who come to their work in a state of abject ignorance of its practical necessities. I do not think matters have in any way mended in this respect. My information is to the contrary. I am not aware that any single master has yet been appointed Chief Inspector, although one or two may have been given the post of Sub-Inspector. I think if the appointments of Inspectors were to be examined into we should be able to trace them distinctly to University influence other than Scotch. I now beg to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £28,706, the amount of the grant for training colleges. The Debate has come upon us by surprise, and the result is that we are compelled to discuss this important matter in an empty House.

MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

On a point of order, and in order that we may not be shut out from discussing the question of Inspectors, I beg to move an Amendment to reduce the vote for Sub-inspectors and Inspectors by £100. This raises a question of considerable interest to schoolmasters and School Boards in Scotland, and I believe there exists an almost unanimous opinion in Scotland against the system of taking English graduates as Inspectors of schools, and relegating teachers to the lower ranks of Assistant and Sub-inspectors. Anyone who has experience of the working of our system of inspection knows very well that the distinction between Inspector, and Sub-inspector, and Assistant Inspector, is very hollow— that the only distinction is in the payment they receive and not in the nature of the work they do. It is impossible to grade the work of inspection in such a way as to justify for one single moment the inequality of payment. Therefore, this system of inspection may be looked at from two points of view. From one point of view it is a mode of saving the State expense by substituting inferior for superior Inspectors and giving inadequate salaries instead of adequate salaries; and the other point of view is that the salaries of teachers are low, and, therefore, they can be made assistants without getting as much as they would if they acted in the capacity of Inspectors. We have great complaints made of the present system of inspection. It is notorious that some of the Inspectors make the Assistant Inspectors do the work, and it appears to me that the whole of that system should be swept away. We ought to have only one class of Inspectors, and each Inspector should be put in charge of a district sufficient for him to overlook. I do not say that the salaries of the Chief Inspectors are not too high. Some of them, I think, are decidedly too high, but at any rate the whole principle on which the thing proceeds is ridiculously wrong. So far from experience as a teacher being, as at present, a disqualification for the office of Inspector, I hold that no man ought to be allowed to become an Inspector who has not had some years' experience as an elementary teacher. There can be no doubt that the present system of inspection is open to many objections, principally on account of the want of experience of the gentlemen who are appointed, and who laboriously endeavour, at the expense of the public, to learn the business they ought to have known before their appointment. There are difficulties constantly arising between the teachers and the Inspectors because of the capricious and varying standards the Inspectors adopt. It certainly seems to me, in the interest of the profession of teaching, that promotion to the office of Inspector should be open to all the teachers in Scotland. Every teacher of an elementary school ought, so to speak, to carry the baton of any Inspector in his knapsack. The possibility of rising to that position ought to be before every teacher when he commences his career, because I hold that the difficulty of obtaining the best class of men to become teachers of elementary schools arises from the lack of promotion. It seems to me that to give them this prospect of promotion would be greatly to improve the system of education. For these among other reasons I have moved the reduction of the Vote. I must express my regret that the Government should have taken the Scotch Members unawares by bringing on the Scotch Vote to-day, when we have not the facts, figures, and materials to hand for the discussion. It was a great scandal that the Scotch Votes should be brought on so late as August 14. The mismanagement of our business in this House is rapidly approaching a crisis. These Votes ought to have been taken a long time ago, and not left over to a time when there are not one-sixth of the Scotch Members present.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item C, Salaries of Inspectors, be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Hunter.)

* MR. HOZIER (Lancashire, South)

I am strongly of opinion that schoolmasters should be eligible for promotion to Inspectorships, and should be so promoted as often as possible. Every profession ought, in my opinion, to have its own prizes, and I see no reason for the scholastic profession being an exception. Such a system of promotion would be of direct advantage not only to the profession, but also to the country. There is no doubt that In- spectors who come straight from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have a very curious idea as to what the standards ought to be; and I, for one, most certainly think the Inspectors should be chosen from among those who have experience of teaching.

SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy)

I do not know whether schoolmasters will make the best Inspectors or not, but I am perfectly certain that young graduates do not. They are the out—come of a bad system of education. For many years past I have never met an intelligent, well-educated young friend, without a particular trade or ^profession, who did not want an Inspectorship of schools. In the circumstances, I do hope Her Majesty's Government will hold out some prospect that in future the Inspectors will be men of mature experience.


It is an error to suppose that inexperienced men are appointed to Inspectorships in Scotland. As a matter of fact, no Inspector has recently been appointed who has not had practical experience as a teacher. It is said that it is most desirable that the teachers in public schools should be able to look forward to the position of Inspectors. I would point out that they are in nowise precluded from that office; but it should be understood that no rigid rule is followed by the Department in these appointments, or it would narrow the selection. It is not considered expedient to promote by seniority, but the Department hold a free hand, and no class is excluded from consideration. It is not the fact that the present Inspectors are inexperienced, for there is not one of them who has not been engaged in teaching. With regard to the Sub-inspectors, they do not possess the same powers as the Inspectors, being unable even to make a report without the countenance of the Chief Inspectors. The intermediate grade between the Inspectors and Sub-inspectors was established by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). These Assistant Inspectors are chosen from the certificated teachers, and there is thus communication established between the two bodies—the Inspectors and the teachers.


As an instance of the manner in which the appointments to Inspectorships are made, I would point out as a remarkable fact that two head-masters of a school on the Duke of Richmond's estate were successively appointed to be Inspectors. The selection is based not so much on qualification as upon influence. Though it is true that teachers are appointed to be Assistant Inspectors, there is no movement upwards from the one class to the other. I put a question to the late Lord Advocate on the subject, but all I could get out of the Department was "We are appointing Assistant Inspectors. "I never could learn that anything was being done to enable these men to rise higher. The Department says, "We appoint the best men." We want to ascertain whether there is such a thing as gradations of service. And we are entitled to know whether, when seniority is disregarded, there is any special reason for passing it by. If there be any special reason, then the public will be satisfied. Undoubtedly the onus lies upon the Department to substantiate the usefulness of their appointments. As regards Sub-inspectors, we find that they do the whole work of the Inspectors, except merely signing the documents; and the complaint is that Sub-inspectors are not promoted to Inspectorships. I think the men who have been doing the work should have the chance of promotion, other things being equal, or unless there be special reason to the contrary. I ask the Lord Advocate whether within the last few years any Sub-Inspector has been appointed to an Inspectorship when a vacancy has arisen. When it is found that certain people in some parts of Scotland are appointed through influence, while others who have served for years are passed over, naturally public feeling is aroused in Scotland. I support the Amendment.

* MR. M'DONALD (Ross and Cromarty)

There is one grievance which the people of the Highlands suffer from, and that is the appointment of Inspectors who do not speak Gaelic as well as English. It is impossible that the Inspector who does not know Gaelic can make allowance for children who do not speak English properly. Necessarily there must be deficiencies. Those Inspectors who know Gaelic can make allowances, and I hope in future that the Government will appoint Inspectors who are able to speak Gaelic. I have been a teacher myself in my day, and I have seen that the Inspector who could speak Gaelic was able to get more into sympathy with the children, who got along better with him than could the merely English-speaking Inspector. In reference to the promotion of Sub-inspectors in Scotland, I cannot understand the system at all. Is there any other branch of the Public Service where a man has not the hope of promotion from the lower to the higher ranks? The Sub-inspector in Scotland has no such hope. I join with my hon. Friend in asking whether any Sub-inspector has ever been appointed to an Inspectorship? Perhaps the Lord Advocate will explain. If the Sub-inspectors have not the necessary degree, let the Government tell them so; and if they have the hope of promotion, these men will qualify themselves for it. They could easily come to London to take the necessary degrees. But the Government tell them no such thing. The English M.A. is very much more thought of, and young men are appointed to the Inspectorships over the heads of men of 20 years' experience. I know one of the ablest men in the Sub-inspectorate of Scotland, who has been passed over in this way; all the life is taken out of him; he has to do the work of the Chief Inspector, who gets most part of the pay.


I should like to take note of the fact that in this discussion there has been an absolutely unanimous expression of opinion on the part of Scotch Members on this great education question. The principle of that unanimity—I am quoting almost the words of the hon. Member (Mr. Hozier), whose speech I was delighted to hear—is that the Inspectorships should be regarded as the prizes of the profession of the elementary teachers of Scotland. That is the principle which we are going to assert in this Division. Now, the statement of the Lord Advocate, although to some extent satisfactory, did not meet the principle I have stated. It may be that recent appointments have not been quite so bad, but the Lord Advocate did not assert that these appointments are made from among those who have had experience of teaching in other departments; nor has he given any assurance that the principle will be respected by the Scotch Educational Department in future.


Sir, while I am not prepared to agree with some of the remarks of hon. Members, I deprecate the system which shuts out Assistant Inspectors from rising to higher grades. I also deprecate the system of patronage which has been used in the appointments to higher offices. I know the case of a gentleman, already referred to by the hon. Member (Dr. M'Donald), who has been passed over repeatedly by his juniors who had nothing like his experience and knowledge, and who have given nothing like the useful service which he has rendered. To mark my want of sympathy with such a system I intend to vote with my hon. Friend.


In answer to the hon. Member (Dr. M'Donald), I have to state that there are on the staff of Inspectors five who have been promoted. Another point is of a personal character. Something has been said about the injustice of the appointment of Mr. Stewart by the Duke of Richmond. I find he was appointed solely on his merits, and that he had been 14 years an Inspector before he was promoted.


The right hon. Gentleman has hardly met the main point of the objection. We objected that the class of Assistant Inspectors had salaries which were far too low—beginning at £150, and rising to £300 a year. I find that 42 per cent of the schoolmasters in Scotland have salaries as good as have Assistant Inspectors, and, therefore, there is no promotion. Not only that, but I find that 180 of the teachers in Scotland have salaries above £100, which is the maximum salary of the Sub-inspectors. My objection is that Assistant Inspectors are under-paid and over-worked, and that in point of fact it is a mere subterfuge to pretend that teachers ought to be Inspectors, while you practically deny them the valuable appointments which are given to those who have not their qualifications. I should say that no man ought to be appointed an Inspector or a Sub-inspector who has not been seven years a teacher in an elementary school. From that class, and that class alone, ought Inspectors to be taken; and, moreover, there ought only to be two grades. I think the work is the same in all cases, and the pay ought to be the same.

MR. O'DOHERTY (Donegal, N.)

In Scotland I find they have some £25,000 as pay for 40 or 50 Inspectors, while in Ireland we have 83 Inspectors receiving only £30,000. I sympathise with the Motion of the hon. Gentleman and with his object to make the appointments of Inspectors from the class of persons who have had practical training in teaching.


The Assistant Inspectors who do the work of examining schools begin at £150 a year, and the consequence is that you get young and inexperienced men to review and examine the work of teachers who are receiving double their pay, and who have had 20 years' experience. It is a matter worthy the consideration of the Treasury whether the salaries of these Assistant Inspectors should not be commenced at £200 a year in order that a better and more experienced class of men may be obtained. Their Reports would not display such ignorance as they do at present, and would have more effect on elementary teachers than they now have.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 103; Noes 135.—(Div. List, No. 306.)

Original Question again proposed.

Whereupon Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Edmund Robertson,)—put, and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.