HC Deb 03 February 1891 vol 349 cc1684-715
(8.41.) MR. C. S. PARKER (Perth)

The subject to which I invite the attention of the House is the effect of Government Grants on higher education in Scotland. I think that English Members who follow subjects of the kind may take an interest in it, for this reason——

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,


It is the good fortune of Scotland to possess a national system of education, which, as compared with that in England, comes down from an earlier date—if not from the time of John Knox, but, at all events, in statutory form, from William III. The system is also more comprehensive than in England. It has been the pride of Scotland that the humblest of her population have had the means at home of preparing, in the first place, for the Universities, and afterwards for the learned professions. I do not suppose there is in the world a country which has a larger proportion in the learned professions of those who received their first training at a humble parish school. I ask, then, that the question may be treated from a Scottish point of view. I do not propose that the House should necessarily accept the views of the Scotch Members, because in all educational questions there are principles involved which need mature consideration in consequence of their bearing upon England and Ireland. But I hope those who are going to vote on this question will endeavour to plant themselves in Scotland as regards the facts. I must say that on looking over the annual Reports of the Scotch Education Department I have sometimes wished they gave in a more prominent form the facts relating to higher education. Yet, even as it is, English Members may be surprised to find that, whereas in the English Reports you read of almost nothing but elementary education, in the Scotch Report of last year there are examination papers in high mathematics, Latin, Greek, and modern languages, including Italian and even Anglo-Saxon. But for most of the facts I must ask leave to refer to a Report made two years ago by a Committee, of which I had the honour to be a member, and to express my regret that I have not the support this evening of any of my colleagues. One of them, Mr. Cochran-Patrick, then an earnest advocate of education on the Conservative Benches, is now permanent Secretary of the Scotch Department; another, the hon. and learned Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Finlay), is unfortunately called elsewhere by a political engagement; and a third, Dr. Craik, as Secretary for Education in Scotland, cannot take part in our Debates, and could not sign the recommendations. But for the facts set forth in the Report Dr. Craik as well as the other Members is responsible, and the Resolution I have to propose is taken almost verbatim from recommendations of this Committee, appointed by the Government to advise them on the question of higher education. It may be asked what I include in higher education. I am prepared to give a very broad and simple definition. I do not care whether it be classical, or mathematical, or scientific, technical or practical. I call higher education all that goes beyond the usual standard. I would even measure it by age, and say that by higher education I mean education continued beyond the usual age. The question which is pressing for solution in England arises also in Scotland. It was preached with persistent iteration by the most distinguished man who ever served as an Inspector in the English Education Department, the late Mr. Matthew Arnold. "Organise," said he, "your secondary education." The chief attempt to do so in England is based on the Report of the Schools Inquiry Committee, who, on a survey of England and Wales, came to the conclusion that the safest way to discriminate between the different kinds of education was by the ages at which children would leave school. Elementary education they took as ending at 12, and the third, second, and first grades of secondary education as ending at 14, 16, and 18 years. In Scotland the case is different. The Scotch rarely keep their boys at school beyond the age of 17. Some go to the University before 17, but generally speaking at that age the University training begins. The higher education conducted in the Universities is subsidised by the State to the amount of £42,000 a year, and powers have been given to a University Commission, who, I trust, will take care that the Universities shall not encroach on school life, but shall give up the practice, fast dying out, of taking almost children and teaching them the elements of knowledge. Then, on the other hand, education in the ordinary Scotch schools cannot be regarded as ending at the age of 12. The recognised school age in Scotland is 14, and some stay at school until 15, which leaves only two or three years for secondary education elsewhere than in the ordinary schools. In short, higher education in Scotland is of two kinds. One kind, from the age say of 12 or 13 to 14 or 15, is found in the ordinary schools some of which have higher departments. But those who are to remain till 17 should be sent from the first to the secondary schools proper. In speaking of the education given between 13 and 15, I should like to remind the House that whatever we choose to call legally the school age in Scotland, as a matter of fact, statistics show that there is a falling off of 24 per cent. in the attendance from 12, to 13, and of more than 50 per cent. from 13 to 14. So that practically 12, or perhaps nearly 13, is the age at which, the ordinary education terminates. But provision should be made for the few who remain longer. And first, I desire to say a word upon the country schools, in regard to which opinion in Scotland is very unanimous. As a member of the Committee to which I have referred, I had occasion to examine a good many teachers from the country and, school Inspectors. We found these teachers and Inspectors unanimously of opinion that the country schools should, if possible, have sufficient teaching power to prepare any boys in the neighbourhood who may be thought fit for entrance to the Universities. At present, however, the present staffs of these schools are insufficient for such purpose. In a large number of schools in Scotland—about 1,000—there is only one certificated teacher who is assisted usually by a pupil teacher. We suggested the addition of an assistant teacher, in which case one or other could take charge of the boys in the higher subjects. All the children would be better taught, and the pupil teacher would be relieved of a great deal of pressure. I think pupil teachers are, as a general rule, called upon to do more school work than is good for them. If there were a staff of two competent masters they could relieve the pupil teacher of some school work, and would be better able to carry on his education on the evening. And this is of importance, because from the pupil teachers are drawn most of the future teachers. Again, in the country, as well as in the towns, it is very desirable there should be something in the nature of continuation schools, but it is hopeless to ask a single-handed teacher to do much evening work. It is estimated that each of these 1,000 schools could be provided with an additional master for £60 a year. One-half of that amount might be obtained from local resources, so that a grant of £30,000 a year would provide the schools in the rural parishes of Scotland with an adequate teaching staff. Passing now to towns, the question becomes more complicated. There are private schools in the towns—there is the Edinburgh Academy, for instance—which simply ask to be let alone, and that their competitors shall not be too heavily endowed. The Glasgow Academy and the Kelvinside Academy find themselves hard pressed by the competition of the State-subsidised schools, and it has been suggested that they would be only too happy if the School Board of the city could see their way to take over the whole establishment, employing, of course, as many of the present masters as possible. Next, there are endowed schools. I remember—it is now getting to be an old story—when the endowments for education in Scotland were running in some considerable degree to waste, and one of my earliest speeches in this House was in support of the then Lord Advocate (Lord Moncreiff), to enable a reorganisation of the endowments to be brought about. These are now admirable schools, only too powerful for their rivals in educational labour. This may be said of Gordon's College, in Aberdeen, of which I can speak with some personal knowledge. Gordon's College is an endowed school, with as admirable a plant for science teaching and applied mechanics as any school in the Kingdom. All I would remark in regard to these schools is—it is my opinion, but I am not sure whether I carry my colleagues on the Committee with me—that it is perfectly right to do as the Commissioners did in these endowed schools, to admit others than those who are the objects of the Charity to profit by the excellent education given. But I am inclined to agree with an increasing number of hon. Members who hold that it is hardly fair that parents in general who are well off should obtain for their children such education as they do at some of these endowed schools at the fees they pay. I think the resources of the school would go further, and it would be fair, if you required from well-to-do parents some substantial contribution to the funds of the school, as is the practice in the great English public schools. That would tend to diminish what I admit to be an evil, the rather formidable competition of these endowed schools with private enterprise. I now wish to draw attention to two remaining types of schools, rather sharply contrasted financially, but in all other respects tending to resemble each other. There are, on the one hand, a growing number of schools which conform to all the conditions of the Code, which keep within the conditions of the Code and are able to earn large Government grants, and at the same time have the one object and ambition to develop themselves as secondary schools. I really think it would be rather a revelation to the House if I were to read a prospectus of one of these schools, the Garnet Hill School at Glasgow. This is a grant-aided school. The building is designed as a secondary school, in accordance with modern views and requirements; it has chemical and other laboratories, a lecture room, a large hall to be furnished for art and science classes. English literature, modern languages, classics, mathematics, science, drawing, political economy, logic, and other higher subjects are taught. The full course occupies four years, and qualifies for the Universities or the higher grades of the Civil Service, as well as fulfilling the requirements of the Science and Art Departments; and girls are prepared for the junior and senior University examination. It must be admitted this is a somewhat ambitious institution; but at the same time I am not prepared to say a word against it. When I find such excellent work being done, I do not like to encourage hasty interference. I will just mention one other school of the type, at which recently I was present to give away the prizes. I mean the Harris Academy at Dundee. There I was invited to the class-rooms, not, as is sometimes the case, to ask questions and take a class one's self, which is a favourite resource of those who do not care to teach before the public, but to hear the classes taught, and I thought the method and manner of teaching excellent, comparing well with English public schools. I was shown the music room, where some 200 boys and girls were present, and I was asked which chorus from the "Messiah" I would like to have sung; they were prepared to take any chorus from the "Messiah." And I am told the singing there is better than in any other school in the Kingdom, and perhaps than any school in Europe. There were cookery classes also, where cookery of the national order was taught. I found a "haggis" in preparation, which was, of course, quite proper to be taught in a Scotch school, though it is a dish unknown to most Englishmen, and by them unappreciated. Now, what are the funds of the Harris Academy? Roughly speaking, half the cost of the building came from the endowment of Mr. Harris, but the school draws a considerable sum by Government grants. The sum drawn in a year by this single school is £1,354 direct from the Government, and a larger sum in fees from parents. It is rather remarkable that we should have gone so far in subsidising schools which carry education so high, and it is done, I fear, on a principle that is not very satisfactory; for whereas the real object of the schools is higher education, they earn grants by conforming to every rule laid down by the Department with a view to elementary education. Under considerable difficulties they produce admirable results, but these would be better still if the schools were recognised as secondary schools, and were not under the necessity of keeping up the appearance of primary schools. Then there only remains one other kind of schools, and on behalf of these schools I ask the House to take a favourable view of my Resolution, what are technically called in the Scotch Education Act "higher class schools." That is rather unfortunate nomenclature. The other schools of which I have spoken are called "higher grade schools," but these under the Act are called "higher class schools." They teach very nearly the same subjects, classics, higher mathematics, &c. Yet, though the teaching is nearly the same, they are totally differently treated in matters of finance. At first the higher class schools got nothing in the way of help from the public except what already belonged to them, some share in the funds which handed down by tradition for education, became a legal claim upon Town Councils. The Education Act of 1872 gave them nothing beyond. They did not come upon the School Fund until some years later. Power was then given to the School Boards to spend on these high schools more freely, and in Edinburgh and Glasgow at least £400 a year is paid to the high schools; besides which there is a liberal expenditure in both cities in the way of keeping up buildings. But although this in Glasgow has worked admirably, and in Edinburgh fairly well under the School Board, and although it works after a sort in such a city as Aberdeen, if you look at the Grammar Schools there, it is in a position that compares very unfavourably with their rival Gordon's College. The question is whether it is fair to bring these schools under School Boards and under the supervision of State Inspectors, and at the same time to let them draw no funds whatever from a central source. What is the nature of the Resolution with which I propose to conclude? We ask the Education Department to consider the desirability of extending grants to these secondary schools, believing that the effect would be greatly to popularise them. Of course, good teaching cannot be had without payment of good stipends to masters, and these schools find themselves in a position where their only resource is to charge high fees, and so become less popular. They have no alternative but to impose high fees; and this, of course, they find it difficult to do where they have admirable endowed schools competing against them at very low fees. To the credit of their teachers, they mostly prefer, instead of falling into the position of higher class schools, to place themselves in a position to attract a large number of pupils by low fees. I couple the recommendation of grants in their favour with another recommendation, namely, that a certain number of free places should be thrown open for competition among children of grant-aided primary schools. In some foreign countries there are 10 per cent. of free places in such schools, and this greatly stimulates industry in other schools, bringing out the pick of the boys for higher education, and it would be a great benefit also to the high schools. They are poorly endowed, they are under public management, and they get very little from the rates. One reason is because the area of the rate is narrower than the area from which the children come, and I hope under County Government we shall have that reformed. Then they get nothing from the Government, and that is what I wish to remedy by this Resolution. I had a hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have been present this evening, and possibly he may be here before the discussion closes. He is a member of the Committee of the Council for Education for Scotland, and I should have been glad of the opportunity of appealing to him personally on the financial question. What I would say to him, and what I now say to the Lord Advocate, is this: In my humble opinion, money bestowed in this way would be an excellent investment. I am prepared to maintain that money thus paid for higher education would not only benefit those who attend the schools, but the standard would be raised throughout the country. There is more to be said for such investment than for money devoted to perpetually building new ironclads, or even to the magazine rifle. The second thing I wanted to represent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer is this: There is, we hope, going to be a great opportunity this Session. I am one of those who always wish well to the progress of business, and I wish especially that the Government may succeed in carrying a measure for free or assisted education in England. If they obtain assisted education in England on anything like the same scale as was given to Scotland, I suppose it is well understood they cannot take the funds from the rates, or money on its way to the rates, but will have to go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for it. Well, then, I think Scotch Members will have something to say. We are very willing that the money should come from the Exchequer; but if England is going to take the cost from that source, then Scotland may fairly claim a further sum, perhaps as large as that which she has already obtained. I do not take it for granted that it is all to be spent in education. I should like to see it so expended, but it is to the credit of the ratepayers that they forewent their claims to relief in favour of education; and they may now put those claims forward. But besides £30,000 wanted, as I have shown, to strengthen the staff of county schools, at least a similar sum might be wisely spent in aid to secondary schools. The reason why there are no more of them is because the State is so much more ready to subsidise what are called the higher grade schools. School Boards say, although these are not what we want, let us have the schools that draw the Government grant rather than those that do not. The distinction is one that, I say, should not be maintained. I should be ruled out of order if I moved a direct money Resolution, but all we wish to do is to place on record what we believe to be the desire of Scotland in this direction. When money becomes available—and there is every prospect of it becoming available—I ask the Government to take a friendly view of the Resolution I now move.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the better organisation in Scotland of Higher Education, it is desirable that there should be Grants in aid of it, not only as at present, to the Universities and to Primary Schools, but also (as recommended by a Departmental Committee in 1888) to the Public Secondary Schools, on condition of their general efficiency, and of free places being reserved in them for competition among children from the grant-aided Primary Schools."—(Mr. C. S. Parker.)

(9.22.) MR. J. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)

I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer were here, not that I feel that the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland do not fully represent the Government, but I hope we may find that in urging our views upon them, we are pressing upon an open door; and I know the difficulty is one with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is concerned, and I believe if he were here he would find the same view expressed by Members from Scotland of all shades of opinion, that if money is forthcoming for Scotland, a fair slice of it should be devoted towards developing secondary education. The interest in this matter is general in Scotland, it is not confined to the few. I do not know that I can put the case clearer than by quoting the words used by Mr. Forster, when opening a higher grade school at Govan:— No class pays in taxes and rates so large a proportion out of income as the lower section of the middle class, and the higher section of the artisan class. They pay rates for the education of their fellow citizens, and they say we have a right to get a return for our rates by at least some amount of benefit in the education of our children, and they have such a right most undoubtedly. After the speech of my hon. Friend I need not go into the question at large, and I will only take one part of it. There is at present a very considerable amount of the secondary education which exists in Scotland, taught in the higher grades of the grant earning schools, schools open to everyone; and in these a vast deal of work in higher education is now, and always has been done. It is an old Scotch tradition; and a combination of elementary and higher education has always existed, and the only serious fault found with the Education Act of 1872, is that it tended to discourage a large amount of higher education that could be got from the grant-earning schools. That is an old Scotch principle, and it seems to me that it is a principle we ought not to desire to dispute, our aim should not be to get rid of it. If you had a clear field for educationists, you might wish to make secondary education independent from the beginning, but that you have not got. You have got the schools as they exist doing good work, and to destroy them to gratify any theoretical educational principles would, it seems to me, lead to very great mischief. My hon. Friend has quoted the prospectus of the Garnet Hill school, but he did not quote the judgment of the Committee on this school, which was very favourable indeed as to teaching, and the progress of the boys in the school. In the opinion of the Committee, the attainments of the pupils were not quite up to those of the academies and high schools, but they came very near indeed. It is said the clever boys ought to be taken away from the grant-earning schools, and sent to the secondary schools, but that is not a policy you can fit in with the existing system pursued by schoolmasters in Scotland. To take these boys away would discourage the masters from carrying their teaching beyond the standards. They would not have the same keenness in their desire to help on boys who wish to go outside the standard. The secondary schools are very much handicapped by these higher grade grant-earning schools as they are called. It is not fair that a cheaper education should be given in these schools to those children whose parents are well able to pay a fair price for the better class of education they wish their children to have. If you are prepared to devote something to the further development of secondary education, the policy should be to give grants in aid to schools where secondary education comes in by some method that will not limit you to particular schools, but will enable good teaching to be acknowledged, and to receive grants wherever you may find it. It is a very unsatisfactory state of things in these higher grade schools that they are driven to resort, I might almost say, to subterfuges to bring themselves under the terms of the Code with power to earn grants, while at the same time they have a very strong and most laudable ambition to compete in their teaching with secondary schools. The present system severely handicaps the schools that are not grant-earning, and rivalry is difficult; but if you can extend the terms of the grant beyond its present limitation, then you will find the higher grade schools quite prepared to meet you. It is, no doubt, true that it would be more satisfactory for them not to have to be striving to have to keep themselves under the terms of the Code. But you would have them coming outside and proclaiming themselves as what they are—secondary schools. You might have either the higher departments of the school declaring themselves secondary schools, while the lower departments remained under the Code as at present, or you might have the whole school developing into a secondary school. That would be a matter of convenience depending, probably, upon the terms in which you give your grant to the school. At any rate, you would have the schools boldly declaring what they are, and not calling themselves less—not professing to be elementary, while they really give a considerable amount of secondary education. Let there be a grant in aid to schools that give secondary education. Let that grant depend upon the general efficiency of the schools, and also on local contributions from whatever source they may come. It seems to me that you ought not by any Government grant to put a school at all in the position of being independent of local contributions, but that you ought to recognise all local contributions equally, whether those contributions come from endowments, rates, or fees. I think also that in secondary schools, assisted by the Treasury, you should secure that which has been the charter of Scotland in this matter, namely, that the poorest and the wealthy alike shall obtain a fair share of education. In these schools you ought to have some system, either by bursaries or free places in schools, by which you will enable the son of a poor man, without putting himself on a false footing, to get the same education as the son of his more wealthy neighbour. You have that system in many of the public schools—at Winchester and Eton—where a boy on the foundation, does not feel himself in a worse position than the son of the man who pays four or five times as much for the education. That system should be adopted in Scotland, and the Government should make it a condition in spending the money of the nation on secondary schools. In this way, I submit, you would be extending and developing the policy of education laid down in the Preamble of the Act of 1872, which says that it is desirable to amend and extend the provisions of the law of Scotland on the subject of education, so as to make efficient education available to the whole people of Scotland. It is not only to those who desire elementary education that the system of national education has always been extended. It is for the whole people of Scotland—to give to every clever boy, whoever may be his father, the opportunity of obtaining at the least expense the best education that Scotland can give.

(10.36.) MR. DONALD CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)

I think we are indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Perth for bringing this matter before the House. I have no doubt that; among the various, legislative problems of interest with reference to Scotland which await the consideration of Parliament, there is none more important than that of secondary education. I am sure the Government will be fortunate—whether the present Government or its successor—to whose lot it falls to take this matter in hand and carry it through on right and successful lines. I may perhaps be allowed to advert for a moment to the way in which the subject presents itself to the University Commission of which I am a member. I say, and I do not think I should be disavowed by any of my Colleagues, that it is not possible to place University education itself on a right footing unless secondary education is properly organised as a part of the general system. Coming to the Motion before the House, I should be content with the affirmation of the principle that the organisation of secondary education. ought to be the concern of the State. In saying that I think I go a little short of the terms of the Motion. My hon. Friend has adverted very skilfully to some of the practical difficulties and problems which meet the Legislature in working this matter out. He has pointed out how the higher graded schools in a particular part of Scotland, which form a subject of burning controversy there, while they are doing excellent work, find themselves somewhat in a false position. If the scheme he proposes were carried out they would be apparently relieved from that position, and would be placed definitely and frankly in the position of secondary schools. Again, the higher class schools, which are specially noticed by the Education Act of 1872, are in a somewhat difficult and starved situation at present. This also, he argues, would be remedied, if we adopted the principle of subsidising secondary schools. But though he has thus given reasons of no little weight for adopting that course, I should be content with something short of it—with the affirmation of the principle that secondary education was to be a part of the national system. I would work that out a little further in this way. I think that one of the most important remarks that my hon. Friend made was that the area of rating for the support of secondary schools is at present insufficient. You have got no authority in Scotland at present to manage the higher schools any more than the lower schools, except the School Board, and the area of the jurisdiction of the School Board is too limited for the support of the higher class schools; and, accordingly, what I would ask the Government to keep in view is the idea that the county is the proper area of rating, and that the County Council is the body to which the administration of the secondary schools should be entrusted. The education would not always be the same. In the industrial districts of a county no doubt great weight would be given to technical education. In other parts of the same county agricultural education—which I suppose also comes under the head of technical—would receive great attention, and it seems to me that you would not easily find a better body for the administration of these schools than the County Councils. As to the best way of dealing with any aid from public funds, it seems to me that the best course to adopt might be not to make it a grant payable under the control of the Education Department, as in the case of elementary schools, but to deal with it in the same way as was done in the case of the Spirit Duties. The Spirit Tax was given to the Local Authorities, with power to apply it to technical education if they thought proper. That is one way that might be tried—I do not say it would be the best way—to give the money to the counties and let them apply it for secondary education in whatever way they may think wise. But my only object in rising was to join my hon. Friend in urging on the Government the extreme importance of this question of the organisation of secondary education in Scotland, and the desirability of giving it equal prominence and equal recognition with elementary and University education.

(9.47.) MR.J. A. CAMPBELL (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)

I agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken, that the House is under an obligation to the hon. Member for Perth for introducing this matter. There is no doubt the subject of secondary education is one that attracts much attention in Scotland, and with regard to which the intervention of the Government is very desirable. University education has been dealt with, and primary education also; we are still without anything like a proper treatment of the equally important subject of secondary education. The higher grade schools established at present under the Education Act are doing useful work in this department of education, but they place those higher class schools which do not receive State aid in a very unfortunate position, inasmuch as these are left without the assistance which their rivals enjoy. It is extremely desirable that something should be done to remove this inequality, and at the same time to improve the general organisation of higher education. I would point out that the improvement of secondary education has already been taken in hand by the Government, although it has not been thoroughly dealt with. In the Report of the Scottish Education Department there is a chapter dealing with secondary education. The Department has organised a system of inspecting and examining secondary schools, not only those under the Department officially, because under the management of School Boards, but other secondary schools also, which are willing to place themselves under the Department for the purpose of being inspected. That of itself is a considerable step in the way of dealing with secondary education—and a very useful work it is that the Department does. In addition, the Government has of late years introduced a system of leaving certificates, which has reference to the study of the higher subjects. In this way the Department is already committed to having some care of secondary education. What I believe the hon. Member for Perth desires is that the work should be more completely carried out, and that some positive encouragement be given to it by assistance from Imperial funds. How this assistance should be given and applied is a detail on which I would not venture to speak. I think we may hope that there will be money available for a purpose of this kind. In the meantime, I think it is enough for us to express an earnest trust that the Government will take this subject into consideration, and propose something effectual for the improvement of secondary education in Scotland. I hope, however, that this will be done in such a way as not to interfere with the responsibilities of parents who are able and willing to pay for the education of their children; that it will not be a wasteful system of giving cheap education to those who are quite willing and able to pay higher fees; and that the grant shall not be given so as to stand in the way of private benefactions. I believe some assistance in the way of a money grant to secondary education may be given in such a way as to encourage, and not to supersede, private benefactions. We may have further private endowments, and I believe these would be encouraged rather than hindered by some tangible expression of the interest the Government takes in this department of education. I thank the hon. Gentleman opposite for introducing the subject, and I trust we shall have such a reply from the Lord Advocate as will satisfy us that we have the sympathy of the Education Department and the Government in the object we have in view.

(9.53.) MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)

I join with those who have gone before me in expressing our indebtedness to the hon. Member for Perth for bringing this subject under the consideration of the House. No one who has given the most superficial attention to education in Scotland can be unobservant of the present difficulties between primary and University education. Speaking on behalf of a county, I may say that the difficulties which exist there far exceed those in Scottish cities with respect to secondary education. In the cities there are the old high schools, participating more or less in the corporate endowments instituted generations ago. They have also very large private benefactions for higher grade education. I would take the liberty also of thanking the Member for the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen, as one of the Endowed Schools Commissioners, for the great assistance Scotland has received from them in the diverting the money of those endowments, which have heretofore been too contracted in their administration, to the general purposes of higher grade education within the reach of the poor. But I must join issue with the hon. Member for the Universities, and with some of those who have already spoken, as to the desideratum that they are continually harping upon with regard to getting those who are in better circumstances to pay for their education. We have a national system of education or we have not. If we have a national system upon a fair basis, then, I maintain, it is our own fault if we do not make the wealthier classes pay their fair share by regulating the incidence of taxation. But the difficulty, in my opinion, can be much better met—by taking such sum of money as we have in endowments and otherwise, and giving them to competition, in such a way that the scholars attending the poorer schools may gain their education on their merits. I was rather surprised that the hon. Member for Perth did not devote a little more attention to the present machinery which we have for higher grade education. I do hope that the counties and the cities, which are counties in themselves, will so apply the £40,000 which they at present have within their reach, as to show that Scotland is all alive to the interests of higher grade education. I should deplore it exceedingly were our counties not to take up this subject, and so apply the money as to demonstrate to the House that we are anxious and ready for a much larger amount of attention to be bestowed on higher grade schools. But let me put before the Lord Advocate one difficulty which exists in the system as outlined in the Motion before the House. A difficulty is felt in Scotland among poor parents in maintaining their children, anxious for higher education, away from home; and I therefore advocate the establishment in the counties of Scotland of a more comprehensive system than the present School Board. There are some School Boards in the counties where there is only one school. However excellent that school may be there will not be many poor parents who will be able to take advantage of it. We should, therefore, have these higher grade schools in at least five mile areas. I agree most heartily with the hon. Member for Lanark in saying that an affirmation of the principle in this House is all that we desire at present. I have no doubt if the principle is affirmed the people of Scotland will find a means of working it out, and let me press on the Lord Advocate this further consideration. We are paying now a large sum for elementary education, and the children are leaving school at an early age, in consequence of the excellence of the education they are receiving. It is no uncommon thing for boys and girls of 11 and 12 to pass the compulsory standards, and to go into service. From 12 to 20 these children are absolutely without education, and the result is that the elementary education they have acquired is absolutely lost. It should not be forgotten that we do not hesitate to vote large sums for the Scotch Universities in aid of the education the sons of noblemen and other persons of means, and this being so, why should we allow the higher grade schools to remain unsupported by grants from the State? I hope we are approaching a period when the present distinctions as the standards will be done away with, and there will be no difference in regard to the grants made, as between the 5th and 6th or any other standards, so that every child may be enabled to receive such an education as will enable it to compete with those who are, both on the Continent and elsewhere, favoured by the strong efforts now being made in aid of technical and higher education.

(10.1.) MR. M. STEWART (Kirkcudbright)

The question before the House is one in which I have taken the greatest interest for the last 20 years. Living in a somewhat remote part of the country, I find that the greatest difficulty exists on the part of the farmers and other comparatively well to do people in regard to sending their children to better schools, than the ordinary parochial schools. After these children have finished their education up to the 6th Standard, they require something higher to fit them for going out into the world, and the consequence is that many of them leave their homes at an early age, and have to be boarded out in some neighbouring town for the purpose of attending better schools, at the cost of a good deal of expense and self-denial to their parents. It occurs to me that the proper thing to do would be in every large parish to have at least one school set apart for the purposes of secondary education in that particular district. I cannot but think that it would be a very desirable thing if the Department could see its way to giving a Parliamentary grant to schools of that kind, if they are found to fulfil all the requirements of good secondary schools. I can hardly agree, however, with the last speaker, as to the necessity of doing away with all class distinctions, because in the existing state of things they cannot be avoided. There may be something very grand, and very Scotch, and very patriotic in the idea that the sons of the poor man and the nobleman should be educated together; but we know that that is not what actually goes on in the different communities with which we are acquainted, and I think we must be content to take the 19th century as it is, and endeavour to develop our views of education in accordance with existing circumstances. At the same time, it seems to me that in regard to certain points we are practically unanimous, although I fear that in asking the House to sanction this Resolution we are practically putting the cart before the horse. We must catch our hare before we cook it, and at present we have no money to do what is proposed. If we had the means, then no doubt it would be right and fitting that such a Resolution as this should be brought forward. If there were a sufficient amount of money at their disposal, I am quite sure that no Government would be inclined to resist such a proposal, no matter from which side of the House it came. As it is, I should hope that my hon. Friends opposite will be satisfied with the discussion they have elicited; there is practically no opposition to the principle of the Motion, inasmuch as we are all of us anxious to benefit our country in every possible way, especially in regard to the secondary education given in our schools. It has been suggested that certain grants from the Excise, which are given to the County Councils, should be utilised for the purposes of education, but it is also felt that the ratepayers are quite as deserving of consideration as the educationalists. No doubt when Government are in a position to make the grants required for the purposes of this Motion, they will be desirous of meeting my hon. Friends opposite, if not in the exact manner they desire, at any rate in a way that will greatly assist the object they have so much in view.

(10.6.) MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

I do not think any apology is needed for my interposition in this discussion, because these educational questions discussed by Scotch Members are of great interest to the English Members as well as to the English taxpayers. What Scotland does today in the education question England will do, not perhaps to-morrow, but at any rate the day after to-morrow. We hope that in these discussions we shall learn a good deal from the results of Scotch experience, and thus be enabled to improve our education in England. I am sorry that the Vice President of the Council only looked in for a few minutes and then went away, because I think it would have been a liberal education to the right hon. Gentleman had he stayed to hear the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Perth (Mr. C. Parker) and the Debate which has followed. In Scotland there have been very large advances in the matter of higher education, and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mr. Crawford) that if Her Majesty's Government are prepared to accept the principle of this Motion and ready to give a grant in favour of secondary education when they are enabled to do so, that will satisfy the reasonable views of the House. I fail to see how any Member of the Government or of the House can refuse to accept the principle that the time has arrived when State aid ought to be given to our secondary and higher schools. We have State aid for the elementary schools and State aid for our Universities, and why the intermediate stage of national education should be altogether neglected, I am totally unable to conceive, especially when we consider the very growing demand that exists throughout the Kingdom for improvment in our national education. We have of late years done much to place elementary education on a sounder and better basis, and we have a strong demand, not only for an increase in the age at which the children now leave school, but also for raising the standard of examination, for the abolition of the school fees, for the improvement of the examinations in the schools, and the enlargement of the general curriculum. It has been well said that we ought to have a ladder rising from the gutter to the Universities, and we have such a ladder planted at the present moment, but some of the rungs are unfortunately either missing or in an unsound condition. It is that part of the ladder which we ought to strengthen, because we are desirous of establishing a national system of education in order to enable the rising citizens of this country to compete with their foreign rivals. Anyone who has at all studied the competition which is taking place between ourselves and the great nations of France and Germany, will have perceived that while we have been neglecting the secondary system of education, those two commercial rivals have been doing more and more year by year to strengthen and increase that part of their national educational system. What we want is to give an opportunity to the children of the working classes, I will not say to work their way up in the social scale, but to acquire such an education that they will be the better able to compete with the keen rivalry which, is going on abroad. My hon. Friend has taken objection to the proposal that some of the places in these secondary schools should be free in the grant, and has maintained that there ought to be no distinctions as between class and class. Although I agree with him on this point, I think that, at the same time, we must be content to move step by step; and we can hardly at the present moment expect the Government to accept all at once a system of free secondary education in addition to a free system of elementary education. What we should insist on as a principle is, that in regard to these secondary schools to be assisted by Government grants, the fees ought to be uniform, and that there should be no distinctions of class and class. But there might also be local contributions from which a certain number of free places might be obtained, together with a number of scholarships for the children of the elementary schools. The present system is full of anomalies, and has the effect of discouraging the system of secondary schools. It encourages, in fact, a sort of hybrid schools to compete with the real secondary schools. I agree with the hon. Member who has said that if you have a system of secondary schools with Government assistance, they ought not to be semi-elementary and semi-secondary, but a system wholly secondary kept in touch by means of free places with the elementary schools. I trust that the Government will accept the principle of State aid to secondary schools, so that before many years are over we may have a complete national system of education, reaching from our elementary schools to our Universities.


Sir, the hon. Member has certainly adopted a reasonable and considerate time in bringing the subject forward. It is fortunate that there is no conflict of opinions upon it among any of the sections of the House. Indeed, in all quarters there has been a very full and direct recognition of the importance of secondary education, and of the need of the State adopting some practical means of advancing its interests. The Debate has also revealed one common ground, and that is that it is impossible to separate secondary education from its near relation to the general system of national education. It forms in itself a most attractive subject of disquisition and discussion, but it can only adequately and satisfactorily be treated when it is regarded as correlated with primary education on the one hand, and to a certain extent with the universities on the other. Viewed in that light it is not unimportant to observe how much may be and has been done in the furtherance of secondary education by the improvement of primary education. Undoubtedly useful secondary education can only be realised if you have a sound system of primary education, and I do not think there can be two opinions as to the efficacy and the earnestness of the means that have been adopted to improve the primary education of Scotland. Parliament has shown its anxiety on the subject by legislation in the past two years. In the technique of education also there have been changes, which have met with universal acceptance, and which have rendered more elastic the training schools, and afforded an encouragement and stimulant to the energies of teachers which formerly were entirely wanting. The latest development in reference to that part of the subject is to be found in the change, recently suggested, in the certificates given to pupils in primary schools. I have no doubt that will have the effect of rendering more solid and satisfactory the connection which ought to exist between the primary and secondary schools. My point is, that we must, in the first place, ensure solid primary education as conducting to secondary education; and we must also ensure a due relation between the primary and secondary schools. I am very far from saying that these indirect methods of advancing secondary education are all that are available at present. On the contrary we have, at all events, two methods of encouraging secondary teaching, which are appropriated by two different sets of societies in Scotland. The House will remember that there have been special grants to schools which, owing to their isolated geographical position, stand in disadvantageous circumstances. A grant has been given, in order to add to the staff of the schools in remote districts where they were unable to give higher education without disparagement to the primary work. I think something has been already done in the way of improving the organization of the existing secondary schools, following the lines which the hon. Member for Perth approves. There is a system of State inspection, and it is satisfactory to know that that has not been imposed on reluctant schools; on the contrary, it has been welcomed by those who desire the attestations and the imprimatur which inspection gives. There is also a certificate which performs an exceedingly useful and somewhat novel function in education. These are steps in the direction of the improvements which the hon. Member suggests. On the question of State aid, it is fortunately unnecessary that I should exercise more than the due amount of reserve. I confess I have little to add to what my predecessors have said on the subject. It is at all events a matter, I will not say certain, but, at all events, in immediate prospect, that further money may be available for education in Scotland. The event is not distant in which more means may be at the disposal of the Government and Parliament to enter upon a well considered measure of secondary education; and I am not transcending the language of this Bench during the last Session of Parliament when I make this statement. It may be satisfactory to hon. Members that I should repeat and emphasise the statements made by those who have preceded me here. The House, however, must consider that prospect with that due amount of caution and reserve which must be shown by those who do not know at present the exact amount of money. It is on grounds of that kind that I think the hon. Member for Perth, as a man of good sense, will see that it is impossible for the Government to accept his Motion. I am certain that the House will accept the declaration, which I have less made than repeated as representing the Government, and that it will not be at all appropriate to press a Motion of this kind to a Division. The subject is one upon which there is general agreement—that is to say, that public money may well be spent upon secondary education, and some effective means may be adopted for carrying out that general desire. On the other hand, the best mode of applying the money must be determined with reference to the amount available; and it is also a subject on which the most mature consideration is not thrown away. I want to add another word, which I hope will be accepted with the frankness with which it is spoken. We have not abstained from coming to close quarters with this question. We have had the subject under direct and anxious consideration; and plans are under the consideration of the Government, from which in due time we shall be able to make a selection. We have been anxious to utilise the time available between the earlier period when this money came to be a matter of prospect and the time when we would have to deal effectively and decisively with the question. The Government has invited and received suggestions, and I am not rash in saying that when the proper time comes we shall be able to bring forward plans which, at all events, are definite and intelligible. I hope the Government will accept the view which I have stated; it is one which is not characterised by inertness or indecision. The problem is one which requires to be looked at from several points of view. How are we going to do it, and upon what principle? We have three classes of schools teaching secondary education in Scotland. We have public schools, endowed schools, and voluntary schools, each of which require separate consideration and treatment, and in each case there is an equity which must be carefully attended to. There is another main objection which the House would desire to have carefully in view. It is most desirable that we should not make the giving of public money the means of losing instead of conserving other resources which are at present applied to secondary education. Probably, unless the matter is very carefully attended to, and with a nice appreciation of the risks to be run, the grant of public money to secondary schools might tend to the subtraction from the aggregate resources of schools, taken as a whole, by dissipating contributions which at present are willingly rendered, and which might less readily come in if the grants were to be indiscriminate. That is a subject which will require very full development. I am suggesting rather than stating the difficulties, and I do this for the purpose of assuring the House that the subject is under the anxious consideration of the Government, in order that they may make no loss to the cause we all have at heart—that is to add to, instead of diminish or impair, the resources of secondary education throughout the country. I do not doubt, when the time comes, Parliament will be able to accomplish the objects we have in view. There are, as I take it, two main objects which have to be attended to in regard to these secondary schools. One is to increase the general efficiency of secondary education throughout the country. The contribution of the State ought to be so given as to raise the standard and increase the efficiency of the teaching given to all pupils who attend school. Then there is another object which is dear to the hearts of those interested in the subject, and that is that children, whose parents are not in a position to send them to the secondary schools, but who have the qualities and inclination which would enable them to profit by that education, should have the opportunity of going there. Those are two subjects which, when considered closely, are entirely separate in this sense, that we may attain the one and not the other, and the great thing is to accomplish both. The hon. Member for North-East Lanarkshire, in his very valuable contribution to the Debate, has referred to the area and management of those schools. That is one of the particulars of the scheme which requires attention. I do not need to remind the hon. Member of the exceeding difficulty of introducing the kind of management he suggests, inasmuch as it will to a certain extent involve a dislocation of the present administration of public money and local administration. I do not pronounce at all emphatically upon the part of the Government upon that subject. That is a subject upon which it is necessary to exercise an amount of reserve. I hope I have made it manifest if I say, as I now do, that the Government cannot accept the Resolution, that I do so in no spirit of antagonism to the general object the hon. Member has in view, or to the general principles which have found acceptance among hon. Members.

(10.35.) MR. W. A. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

I am certain the statement made will be received by Scottish Members with the greatest satisfaction, because the main interest attaching to the Motion was connected with the grant which we hope will come to Scotland shortly. I believe the almost universal feeling in Scotland is that any money we may get for educational purposes shall be first applied in aid of secondary education. I think the hon. Member may rest satisfied with the position in which the question has been left by the right hon. Gentleman. In dealing with this question of intermediate or secondary education, I hope the Government will do so in a bold, thorough and liberal spirit. The bolder and more ambitious the scheme, the more satisfaction it will give in Scotland. I may also remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the funds of the Universities of Scotland are far short of what is required for the development of modern science. I hope that this requirement will be kept in mind, and that the Government will not hesitate to move a very considerable increase in the grant to the Scotch Universities.

(10.37.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I do not think that Members in any part of the House who are interested in this question will find anything to complain of in the tone or terms used by the Lord Advocate. He has shown he is aware of the great interest Scottish Members take in this question, and has assured us that the Government are desirous of meeting our views. He sees no difficulty in accepting the proposition that secondary education is a proper matter for Government aid; the only question is whether the hon. Member for Perth, to whom we are much indebted for having brought on this opportune and valuable Debate, shall rest satisfied with what has been said, or whether he desires to have put upon the Journals of the House the assertion that this is a proper matter for Government aid. I hope, when the fund becomes available, secondary education will be one of the first objects which will attract the Government's attention. I do not suppose the Government would object to the Motion if it were modified so as to convey very little more than the Lord Advocate himself has said. The right hon. Gentleman has said that this is a matter not free from difficulty. While sympathising with the Motion, I find difficulty in adopting its details. It is not the case that all over Scotland secondary education is defective. It is not so in large towns like Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Aberdeen. In the larger cities there are some very efficient elementary schools; but it is in the smaller burghs where it is defective, the Grammar Schools in some of them being in a very unsatisfactory condition. In the rural districts, also, the new education system has changed and lowered the character of the parish schools. The superior element has been withdrawn from them, and therefore we have not only to revivify and improve secondary education in the smaller towns, but, in the rural districts, to bring back the parish schools to the position which they held 50 years ago, and, in many of them, to introduce what may be called a secondary department. We want in Scotland that the rural schools shall be able in the future, as in the past, to send pupils direct to the Universities. When I was a student at Glasgow University there were in the classes many young men who worked at their trades during the long Summer vacation, and were yet among the leading students. They had had no education but that of the parish school. As to the propositions of my hon. Friend the Member for Perth, I must say they seem to me to go a little beyond the evidence which he has adduced on behalf of them. I understand my hon. Friend to mean by a Government grant a grant awarded in something like the same way in which Government grants are awarded now to elementary schools, except that he desires it to be on the principle of general efficiency, and not of payment by results. I understand that he does not propose there shall be anything like payment by results in the case of individual scholars. I am not sure we are prepared at once, on the first blush of the matter, to go quite so far in putting our secondary education under the control of the Government. I quite admit that the system of leaving certificates, which the Scottish Education Department introduced, has so far worked very well, and that the secondary schoolmasters themselves seem to be prepared to admit somewhat more interference on the part of the State Authority, provided it is accompanied by a grant. We know, however, that State interference has a habit of growing, and there are examples in other countries in which the principle of State interference has been carried so far that it has tended to produce rather dreary monotony and uniformity. I think we ought to pause before entering on the course which my hon. Friend seems to recommend. It is quite true we cannot expect the State to give money except upon the condition of having some guarantee that efficiency is maintained; but I hope that when consideration is given to the matter, the Government, while recognising the right to be satisfied that the schools maintain their proper standard, will contrive to associate some independent element with them, and will not put them under Government control, in the same sense in which the elementary school now is. I hope also the Government will bear in mind, in considering this question, that it is not simply a question of extending education or of cheapening it. It is more a question of improving the quality of education. On the whole, we have in Scotland now an adequate provision of school accommodation, and if we have not an adequate staff it is, after all, not so much in the matter of numbers as in the high qualities of education that improvement is needed. Under the present system there has, perhaps, been some decline in the quality of the school teachers, and I believe that now there is not so large a pro- portion of teachers in elementary schools who have been through a University course. I hope, therefore, that in the plans which the Government are framing, a very important part will be allotted to improving the position and education of the schoolmaster—to seeing that not only his special training, but his general education will be well cared for and secured. As to the question of free places, I should be a little unwilling to assent to the proposition that free places must necessarily be given by competition. I believe that the result of experiments, particularly in London, as regards the carrying out of the instruction of the better boys in secondary schools, has not so far borne quite as good fruit as we expected from them. I do not do more, however, than throw out such a question for the consideration of the Government. At present, in our elementary schools, even in London, where teachers are perhaps above the average, the system is somewhat mechanical. Looking at the fact as it stands now, it is rash to conclude that the best way in which we can provide a ladder from the poorer to the higher class of education is by the application of the competitive system. I think we shall all feel that this Debate has had a valuable result in the way of preparing us for the scheme which is to be put forward at a later period. I hope the Government will bear in mind there is an absolute consensus of opinion among Scottish Members as to the need of applying money to the aid of secondary education, and there is also an equally general desire that this shall be done in a broad and liberal spirit, and that we should feel that the old connection between the elementary schools and the University, which has been the honour of Scotland, now requires nothing more than the fuller and better development of secondary schools to make it complete, and in order to give to Scottish education that one touch of perfectness which is all that is required.

(10.54.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

I wish to express my satisfaction that the Member for Perth has brought this subject before the House. I think Scotland, as compared with other countries, is deficient in the matter of secondary education. We have good primary education, and we believe we have a good University education. In some of the larger towns we have efficient secondary schools; but it is undoubtedly the fact that throughout Scotland there are few of the secondary schools on what may be termed a satisfactory foundation. In the burgh which I represent there is, according to the limited means at its disposal, a tolerably efficient Grammar School, but it is not such a school as such an important place ought to have. I think it is an entirely reasonable demand that some assistance should be given by the Government, and I am very glad to hear we have a reasonable hope of soon obtaining it. I confess I was a little disappointed with my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, as to a certain extent he threw a little cold water on some of the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Perth. In my opinion, it is rather dangerous to put too much secondary education into the primary schools. It is apt to take away the energy of the teachers from the proper function of teaching primary education. I am inclined to think that good secondary education is so little developed among the ordinary schoolmasters, that if we give secondary education in the primary schools we shall be apt to get old-fashioned dominie education instead of the more modern education which is required for the industrial and commercial interests of the country. No doubt it is the case that in special places in the Highlands it is desirable to select centres where schools shall give secondary education; but I am inclined to think that instead of two grades of education we should have three, and should confine our primary schools to a thorough and good primary education, and have a system of secondary schools at considerable centres. The Member for Aberdeen is jealous of too much interference which might follow Government grants. I confess there might be too much of that interference; but, on the other hand, we may have too little of it, especially with the condition of things existing in this country. There is nobody so Conservative as are schoolmasters, and at the great public schools in this country there is a great deal too much in their hands, and the schools are managed too much for their benefit. Now, desiring to improve the character of secondary education as we do, I am not at all jealous of a good deal of Government interference in the Department referred to. I am entirely of the view of the hon. Member for Perth, that it is desirable we should have Government assistance, and that that Government assistance should be accompanied by inspection and direction, so that we may reform and improve the character of our secondary education.

(10.59.) MR. C. S. PARKER

I only wish to say with regard to the Lord Advocate's speech that I fully admit its satisfactory tone. I can congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the almost revolutionary change which was made in the Code last year. I admit that the system of inspection which has been organised for higher schools is welcome to those who have it, and envied by those who have it not. As regards prospects of further progress, I think this Debate has been valuable. I agree with the remarks made from two sources, that it might be well to distribute grants through County Authorities instead of directly from the State. I should be willing to revise the terms of the Motion, but perhaps the better course would be to ask leave to withdraw it, and leave the matter in the hands of the Department. My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy has referred to the unsatisfactory state of secondary schools in some of the smaller burghs. I trust the Government will turn their attention to such schools, and that they will also give consideration to the very important question of the establishment of continuation schools both in town and country.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.