§ *(9.40.) THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE,) Kent, Dartford
I do not think it would be fair to accept these sparsely filled Benches as indicating the interest which this Parliament during the last six years has taken in elementary and higher education. It is well known to all of us that 1356 there is a certain period in the history of all hon. Members when they are subjected to a kind of chronic complaint, which takes the form of the education of their constituents. The vast majority of hon. Members have been inoculated with this election virus lately, and this furnishes sufficient excuse for the state of these Benches. The other day I was challenged as to whether I was or was not prepared to make any statement with regard to the Education Estimates, and in redemption of a promise I then gave I now propose to make a few remarks; and it would be unfair alike to this House and the constituencies, and the taxpayers of this country, considering the very large sum which we are now called upon to pay on behalf of education, if these Votes this year were allowed, on account of the approaching Dissolution, to pass sub silentio and without any explanation of the position in which we stand to-day as compared with the position, from an educational point of view, of six or seven years ago. I propose, therefore, to give to the House some statistics with reference to what has been done in the last educational year, and at a later period I will deal with the current financial year, and with the position in which we stand generally with regard to the question of education. First of all, the sum granted in the financial year 1891–2 was £4,725,357. The sum actually expended was considerably less; it was £4,659,269, leaving a balance in favour of the Exchequer of £66,088. The sum allotted for annual grants to day and evening scholars was £3,539,183, and the sum actually expended was £3,498,078. The grant for day scholars was 18s. 5d. per head, or one penny less than the estimate; the result being an increase of fourpence as compared with 1890–1, when the grant was paid partly under the old Code of 1889 and partly under the new Code of 1890. The surplus in the annual grant above the sum voted was owing, in the first place, to the average attendance having increased at a somewhat lower rate than we estimated; and, in the second place, to the fact that the payment under the Act of 1891 for free grants was not equal to the sum that we estimated. The 1357 payments made under that Act for a portion of the financial year were £775,222, or £31,000 less than the estimate, which was framed, of course, on data which was very difficult to arrive at with any degree of certainty. So much for last year from a monetary aspect. Coming to the Estimates for 1892–3, which will obviously be more interesting to the House and to those outside who take an interest in education, these Estimates of course include the payment of the fee grant under the Act of last year, and provide for no less a sum than £5,946,213, a sum of nearly six millions, which shows an increase of no less than £1,220,856 over the Estimate of the previous financial year. That increase is mainly due to the payment for fee grants under the new Act, which amounted to £1,111,275. I was challenged the other day to give some statistics with reference to the working of the new Act. That Act came into operation on the 1st September last, and we find that out of 19,600 schools in England and Wales, only 165 have declined to accept it, and it is estimated that out of the total mentioned fourteen thousand or fifteen thousand schools are to-day absolutely free. The number, of course, it is difficult to accurately ascertain, and will be difficult until we have arrived at the end of the school year in August next. Since the Act came into operation the Department have also sanctioned an increase of fees in the case of thirty-one schools under Section 4 (11) of the Act of last year, and have refused in nineteen cases similar applications. The remainder of the increase in the Estimate is owing to £90,163 extra for grants for day and evening scholars, and also £6,700 for annual grants to training colleges, which are mostly day training colleges. The increase for day scholars owing to the advance of one penny per head has now reached eighteen shillings and sevenpence per head, and there is an estimated increase of 73,000 in the average attendance of scholars. During the year which concluded on the 31st August the increase in the average attendance was at a much slower rate than we anticipated—only at the rate of one per cent., or thirty-two thousand scholars; but for the present year the increase is 1358 estimated at 2.2 per cent. On the subject of the Free Education Act I should like to say one or two words with regard to the challenge thrown out to me the other evening as to what has been the immediate result of the Act. The Act has not been in operation many months, but I think it is important that the House should know, and that those who have paid so heavily out of their pockets should know also, that so far as has been ascertained this Act has been in all its operations a most conspicuous success. The returns from our inpectors show this, and we took particular pains to ascertain from all our inspectors the immediate operation of the Act. The result of our inquiries points to the fact that during the first two months of the operation of this Act there was a great influx of children in our schools; and, therefore, I ask the House to understand that the estimate of 2.2 per cent. does not nearly represent what we estimate to be the increased attendance under the new Act. As hon. Members will observe, this is only an estimate and not a calculation under the Act. The school year varies in different schools, and therefore in a vast number we shall only pay on the results of the new Act for a portion of the financial year, varying from seven to eleven months. Therefore it is only in the 1893–4 Estimates that we shall be able to see the full results of the increased attendance under the Act. I do not think there is much reason for regret that our inspectors have noticed that the large increase in the attendance is amongst infants, for all those who are acquainted with school management are aware that if you once get a child into the school it is not difficult to retain it there. It is therefore a very hopeful sign as regards the future attendance in our schools if we can get the infants who will subsequently go on to the higher standards. Some of our inspectors estimate the increase in the attendance at five per cent., and some as high as eight per cent. There is also a considerable increase noticeable amongst the older scholars, and in one respect especially we find that the new Act has worked admirably as regards attendance. Under the old system, where the scholars paid their fees on Monday 1359 morning, if they missed on Monday they generally missed school for the whole week, whereas under the new Act a child may miss on Monday and perhaps on Tuesday, but still attend on the succeeding days, and thereby we find a serious advantage gained as regards attendance. With respect to the work of inspection, the schools inspected by the Department last year numbered 19,508, an increase of eighty-nine. The scholars on the registers numbered 4,824,000, or 20,000 more than in 1890. The average number in attendance was 3,750,000, or 32,000 more than in the previous year. I think the statistics I have given will prove conclusively that the operation of the new Code has been eminently successful, and I need hardly allude to the increase in the grant per child to show what results the new Code has borne. I need not remind hon. Members of the changes embodied in the new Code—the examinations by sample instead of by individual examination, the freedom of classification of scholars and the substitution of principal, and organisation and discipline grants for fixed and merit grants and those upon individual examination. The average rate of the grant per child in infant schools was 15s. 5d., as compared with 15s. 3d. in the previous year, thus showing a steady increase in the grant. The average rate for the older scholars is 18s. 11½d. as against 18s. 7¼d. in the previous year. To this we must add also the grants to pupil teachers for schools in small districts, and the allowance for half-time scholars; and the net result per head for all scholars is 18s. 4d. as compared with 17s. 10¾d. in the previous year. This shows conclusively that it is only for the Department to secure that the sum paid is adequately earned, and it is clear that the new Code is doing a great work in furthering the cause of education in our elementary schools. As regards the financial results of these vast changes the schools must have largely benefited, for a grant of 1d. per head per child represents £16,000; therefore the increase which I have already noted is really not far short of £100,000 per year. I have now nearly done with statistics. With regard to the state- 1360 ment that I have usually made with respect to the progress of the children in standards, now that the examination is made chiefly by sample, I have no statement of the kind to make this evening. Another important matter I should like to allude to is the steady increase in class and extra subjects going on in our schools. As has been frequently stated in the course of the Education Debates, what we are endeavouring to do is to give a more practical and more useful education to our children: that our education should be less essentially bookish, and that we should not turn out these children overcrammed with learning exclusively, but endeavour to give them an education which will make them practical and useful subjects of the Queen in whatever part of the country they may be employed. Therefore it is satisfactory to note that there is a steady increase in the number of schools teaching class subjects. We find that 16,149 departments have been examined in two class subjects and 4,413 in one class subject. With respect to the teaching of cookery to girls, which I think is a most important part of their education, I may state that the number of girls qualified in 1886 for the grant was 24,500 in the elementary schools. In the year with which I have been dealing, 1891, the number was 68,291, which shows a very extraordinary and steady increase in the numbers. But in spite of the figures which I have given to the House, I must say we have arrived only on the threshold, as it were, of the result of the changes which I expect will be produced in our educational system. But before I leave these statistics there is one point of vital importance which I ought to allude to, and that is that whatever future changes may be made we should keep steadily before our eyes the question of securing at all hazards the attendance of children in our schools. Considering the large sum now charged to the taxpayers for the education of these children, I think it is of the utmost importance that every effort should be made to see that we get as much as we can in the way of attendance for the money that we spend. For myself, it may be that I am prejudiced, or it may 1361 be that I am taking a sanguine view of the increase of the attendance; but if I am disappointed it will be for the House at some future date to look after the large gaps now existing between the accommodation provided for children and the children who enter the schools; and, in the meantime, it will be for us to bring proper pressure to bear on Local Authorities, with a view of improving the attendance. Before I leave statistics I should like to say one word with regard to the Science and Art Department and its incidental reference to technical education. There has been a steady increase in the good work done in this Department. In the year 1890–1 the number of papers worked in science was 179,549, and the next year showed an increase of 20 per cent., the papers in 1891–2 being 214,603. In art during the same period, 1890–1, the number of papers worked was 107,438, and here again there is an increase of 15 per cent., the number for 1891–2 being 123,708. These figures I have given show that not only is elementary education pure and simple advancing by considerable strides, but that throughout the whole country, so far as England, Wales, and Scotland are concerned, a similar success is attending the operations of the Science and Art Department. I should like to say a few words with reference to the position of education generally, and especially with reference to what we have been doing to improve the education of the children in the elementary schools. One word with reference to the Free Education Act. I see an hon. Member opposite who made a very fair demand of me the other night as to whether I had any evidence that I was not taking an over-sanguine view of the Act when I said that, so far as I could discern, the first result of it was to increase the attendance steadily, and that it was teaching thrift to the children. As regards the attendance, I need hardly say that I am content to point to the fact that we are estimating for an increase of attendance during the current year of 2.2 per cent.; but that only represents a portion of the true attendance, because it is only an estimate, and in the case of many 1362 schools will deal with only a portion of the year. As far as I can gather from the Inspectors and observations I have made myself, I believe that the Act will result in a very large increase of attendance in the elementary schools. Several hon. Friends of mine in the Debates on the Act prophesied very evil things of education and the future effect of the Act. I should like to assure them and the House, and I have offered sufficient proof, that those predictions have been falsified so far as we can discern at present. It is a curious point that, so far as this Act is concerned, there has been only one complaint to the Department with regard to it, and it occurred in this way. In the first three or four months of the working of the Act there was an enormous increase in the attendance in elementary schools—itself a very satisfactory indication of the success of the Act—and what happened was this. The Department believed, and, I think, rightly believed, that in assessing the grant they should deal with the attendance of the whole year. In consequence of that considerable complaint has been raised in several schools, especially in Lancashire, that they were assessed for the whole year instead of for the three or four months only. It is important to notice that the only complaint arose in consequence of the immediate enormous increase in attendance. I should like to say a word in reference to the thrift, to which I alluded the other night. In these days we hear a great deal about the so-called pauper question, about workhouses; and schemes for old age pensions are promulgated. I am one of those who think that the right way to deal with that difficulty is to go to the root of the matter and inculcate thrift among the children of the country while we have them in our schools. It was with that view—finding how well the Act was working—that I thought it a fair and right opportunity for the Department to issue a Circular to all schools in the country pointing out how easily a penny bank system might be adopted, and our Circular was seconded by one from the Post Office of a like description. I will tell the House what has been the experience of a few months in reference to thrift. I have 1363 had a Return carefully prepared for me in the Post Office, dealing with equal periods before and since the Act came into operation. It shows that the new penny banks opened in 1890–1 were 230; during the same period of 1891–2 that number has risen to 2,806, representing an increase of no less than 1,120 per cent. The deposit books supplied for the use of penny bank depositors in 1890–1 were 151,500, and in 1891–2 they had increased to 610,050, an increase of 302 per cent. This is not all. By the co-operation of the Post Office we find that in connection with the schools there has been brought into operation a stamp deposit slip scheme, and no less than 1,350 of our schools had adopted that scheme up to the 1st May. There have been supplied 386,000 stamp deposit slips, representing 275,000 new accounts, for a sum of £13,750. That represents the success of five months only; and as the number of schools is increasing at an enormous rate, it is estimated that by the end of the year 1,200,000 slips will be sent in, representing over £60,000. I may be told that that is a very small sum considering the vast amount of the reduction of fees, but I venture to assure the House that it is no light matter as regards its influence on the future thriftiness of the people of this country. If we can popularise thrift by bringing the children to practise it under the guidance of their parents in connection with the elementary schools we shall have made a vast stride in regard to the comfort, happiness, and well-being of our people, and we shall get into the banks the pennies which might otherwise be spent in the public-house. There is one incidental advantage of this Act to which I should like to allude; it is this, and I regret that we have not had time to pass a short Act in reference to the matter. We find that a large number of funds have been freed by the Act which were previously applied by schemes under the Endowed Schools Acts in providing free places. It is held that these sums which have been freed can still be used for educational purposes; they might be utilised in freeing the evening schools and classes in the locality, or in providing prizes and awards for proficiency, or in 1364 establishing scholarships to retain children at school who have reached the standard of exemption. I should like to say a word or two about popular control over voluntary schools. It is a very thorny matter, and I shall say very few words about it. I am glad to find that parental control is spreading largely in our voluntary schools. I know personally many cases in which the parents have been invited by the managers to select a certain number of themselves to assist in the management. I have always been in favour of this addition to the managers. I know that many hon. Members opposite are anxious for the control of the ratepayers; but it has often been urged—and cannot be too often urged—that the control of the ratepayers means the annihilation of the voluntary system. That is a question on which we are here as supporters of the voluntary system, and we will fight it to the death. I shall be interested to know how far hon. Members opposite will place in the forefront of their election addresses this question of the ratepayers' control of voluntary schools. One of the greatest luxuries, from an electioneering point of view, would be their taking such a course as would enable us to show the country how many millions, in a capital sum, it would involve, and how many millions a year the annual charge on the country would be. It has been often urged that by the fee-grant we should pour money into the laps of the managers of voluntary schools without obtaining adequate results. I think the figures I have given will show that as far as education is concerned there has been an improvement all down the line. Since the Act of last year and the new Code we find that voluntary contributions have been steadily increasing, and that meets the allegation that we are paying the taxpayers' money to save the pockets of those who voluntarily contributed. The voluntary contributions have increased by no less than £21,000. Further than that, the reductions under the unfortunate 17s. 6d. limit have diminished, which shows that subscriptions have been raised to meet the increased sum earned by the schools. Out of the £39,000 1365 odd which has been usually deducted under the limit, we must take off no less than £4,700. Putting these two sums together I think we have a good and healthy augury, not only for the future of our voluntary schools, but for the future of our whole educational system. Another point of great value is the large increase in the number of scholars examined in specific and extra subjects. In 1890 the increase was only 5,830, or 8 per cent.; whereas in 1891, though the new Code had only just come into operation, that number was more than doubled, and the increase reached 11,476, or 14 per cent. I should now like to say a word or two with reference to teaching. With all these changes in our educational system, one of the first and most prominent reforms which we urged as necessary was the improvement of our teaching staff, and the securing of a good staff of teachers in our schools. I am not here to say for a moment that in every school there is a satisfactory staff, but there is a steady improvement from day to day. I would also remind the House that one of the most difficult reforms we proposed to carry out by the new Code was to secure the real efficiency of our teachers by weeding out from the pupil teachers the more inefficient at an early stage, and so giving them a chance of taking up some other mode of life. No less a number have been weeded out than 1,479. I have heard from time to time that there is a dearth of assistant teachers. It is impossible to carry out large changes of this kind without friction or difficulties here and there, but I think it will be found that this is only a temporary difficulty, and that before many months are over it will have disappeared. With regard to the schools warned for inefficiency, 115 have been so warned, and it may be thought that is a small number considering the number of schools which receive grants. But the system we have adopted under the new Code is something of this kind: besides these 115 schools, a large number have been informally warned. We thought it better to give informal warnings in the first year before proceeding to give formal warning in the second year, and suspend the 1366 grant in the third year. I should like to quote several of the inspectors' reports with regard to the improvement under the new Code. Mr. Routledge says—Since the introduction of the last Code I have spent a considerably larger number of hours in school than I ever did before.That is an important point, as it points to those unexpected visits which are so valuable. Mr. Brodie, another inspector, says—I have no hesitation in saying that the Code of 1890 has produced a most salutary effect all round on children, teachers, managers, and inspectors. The abolishing of the fallacious percentage system alone is an immense benefit. While the teacher is not so hard pressed to produce a maximum of minimum results, he is much more at liberty as regards methods, choice of subjects, and classification.Mr. Barry, another inspector, says—Certain advantages of the new Code have been well explained by Mr. Brodie. Other advantages are freedom of classification, which, as far as I have observed, has not been abused—the fact that now the mass of the grant is fixed, and does not fluctuate with the varying results of inspection, thus giving a certain amount of financial stability to all schools of fair efficiency.I may point out that an incidental result of the managers knowing what their income was likely to be has been the increase of subscriptions. Mr. Barry also says—The financial results of the Code of 1890 in the Bath district is that 203 departments, or 79 per cent. of the total number, have received larger grants than they did in the previous year.Mr. Coward, another inspector, says—If the nation compels its children to go to school, it incurs the responsibility of seeing that they are provided with accommodation in which their health can be maintained in vigour. The new Code has in this matter taken great strides ahead.With regard to classification, he says—The new principle of complete freedom within very moderate and reasonable limits enables the teacher to consider the scholar's interest as the main motive of his classification. It enables him to weigh fully his health, physical and mental development, and other circumstances before determining his place in the school. My own experience in the Manchester district, with its 100,000 children, enables me to say confidently that it has been used, on the whole, moderately and wisely; and the experience of my colleagues agrees with mine.1367 So much for the reports of the inspectors as regards the new Code. Now I should like to pass to the question of drawing in our elementary schools, with regard to which extraordinary strides have been taken. I may remind the House that we are asking under the Science and Art Department Estimate for an increased sum of £48,050 in connection with drawing in elementary schools. In 1881 the number of schools examined in drawing was 5,907; in 1891 it was 6,210; but in 1892, under the new Code, it had increased to 18,693, out of a total of 19,600 schools. I think it is now admitted that pen and pencil should go together in our schools, and one of the first objects of our system is to train hand and eye together. Considering the great interest in technical education, it must be admitted that drawing lies at the root of all progress, and it is a matter of congratulation that we have practically secured the teaching of drawing in our elementary schools. Questions have been raised with regard to the older teachers in our schools and the position they hold, and I have to-day answered a question on the subject. There seems to be some impression abroad among teachers that we intend to bear hardly on some of our older teachers who are not able at once to teach drawing. I may take this opportunity of saying that we are so satisfied with the splendid results we have already achieved that there is no intention on the part of the Department to bear hardly on these teachers. Provided steps are being taken to teach it, we shall be satisfied to wait for results. In the evening school system, however, lies the largest field for educational reform. We must all ask ourselves, What becomes evening after evening of the great mass of our youth in London and other large towns? The question has often been referred to before in this House, and it should be a matter of great concern to us to endeavour to bridge over the hideous gap between the passing of the fifth standard at eleven years of age and the time when the youth is able to take up some useful employment. That is the problem we have been trying to solve during the last six years. We have 1368 made some strides in the right direction, and we have adopted reforms and changes which will secure what we want in course of time. In 1880 the average attendance in evening schools was 46,069; in 1885 it had dwindled to 24,233; in 1886 it was 26,089; but in 1891 we had precisely doubled those figures—they had reached 51,974. That is good, so far as it goes, but I believe we are only at the beginning of the change we shall achieve by having freed the curriculum of our evening schools. It is observable that since we have provided that any child who has passed standard five may learn any subject, we have found a considerable increase in the attendance. We have also had a large increase in the number of those who have taken extra subjects—in 1890 only 15,000 were examined in extra subjects; in 1891 the number was 27,546, an increase of 83 per cent. But we hope we have taken the best step of all in connection with the evening schools by publishing and circulating an Evening Continuation School Code. That has not been issued many weeks, but hon. Members will observe that it gives far greater facilities for evening schools, and has a syllabus large enough and wide enough to suit the exigencies of any body of managers and any teacher. We believe by the adoption of this Code we shall be able to secure the attendance of a satisfactory number of pupils. I should like to say a few words with reference to the working of our schools hitherto under the Technical Education Act of 1890. With regard to the important subject of technical education, a Return obtained in another place shows that in a great number of cases the County Councils in England and Wales have applied the whole of their share of the residue under the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act, 1890, to technical education; and only in four instances, in England, has the money been applied solely in aid of the rates; while in some instances the grant has been supplemented out of the rates. Well, so far as it goes, that is eminently satisfactory, as it shows that this new system of technical education has been spread like network throughout the whole of our counties in England and Wales. But I think I would be doing 1369 wrong if I were to pretend that I am perfectly satisfied with the actual education given and with the present adoption of the Act. I am nothing of the kind. In many cases I believe our County Councils have had the greatest difficulty in knowing what to do with this sum which was allocated to them for technical education. This is not to be wondered at. In the great industrial centres, in Lancashire and Yorkshire and elsewhere, they have splendid practical institutions in which technical education has been carried on for years; but there is no doubt that in many places in the rest of England it has been a new thing altogether; and it is not to be wondered at that in some cases the County Councils have gone astray in the application of this fund. If I might urge one thing of the greatest importance it is this—that there is no use in spending this money on lectures, going around from place to place to different halls and institutions, unless you have antecedently, or accompanying the lectures, provided practical teaching. Therefore, I would urge this at all events: that this money had better be spent for some other purpose than spent upon lectures. I think what we ought to supply first is practical teaching, and then, after practical teaching has been provided, lectures may be supplied with the greatest success. Having said so much, this criticism as to the application of this Customs Fund to technical education leads me to consider another topic upon which I should like to touch, and it is a very important one. It brings to view one thing which demands very serious consideration, and it is this: Considering all that has been done during the past six years for our elementary system of education, not only as regards the sums which we have spent, but the large alterations which we have made in regard to our whole system of teaching, I think it would be well if we were to leave our elementary education alone, so as to test the reform we have made thoroughly, and allow our elementary system to fructify as it stands; and if we were to turn our attention to what I consider a subject of the greatest importance to all of us, and 1370 that is to endeavour, as speedily as possible, to fill up the gap which now exists between our elementary system of education and our University education by establishing a proper system of secondary education. In urging this at the very end of a Parliament, it may be said that I am recanting what I urged some years ago at an earlier period of this Parliament with reference to secondary education; but whether I am recanting the opinion which I expressed before on this subject or not is a very small matter indeed. What is a matter of importance is that those of us in this House who have been at work on this great question for six years past are not afraid to say what they think would be best for the educational future of the country. That, after all, is the important matter. I hope the new Parliament, when it is elected, will consider how best to bring into focus and to co-ordinate all these scattered efforts and place them all under one Department, which shall be responsible for the whole of our educational system; and, in considering how best that can be done, will frame some scheme to utilise the great endowments which we have in this country. Wales out of her poverty has set a great example. Wales out of her poverty came to Parliament, said her endowments were few, and asked for assistance in establishing a system of secondary education. Parliament came to the rescue, and very late one night some years ago passed a scheme of secondary education for Wales. From all I can gather from all parties in Wales, both from those who are engaged in working it and from those who are reaping benefits from it, that Act has been already, and will be in the future, of enormous benefit to Wales. Well, having tested it in Wales, why should not richer England diffuse the benefit of her rich endowments for the cause of secondary education? I should like to read one short paragraph from the Report of the Charity Commissioners, in which they state what they think ought to be done. The Charity Commissioners say:—In our dealings with the County Councils with regard to moneys placed at their disposal for educational purposes under the Local 1371 Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act, 1890 (53 and 54 Vic., c. 60), we are still checked by our inability (except in Wales and Monmouthshire) to treat as permanent endowment any yearly sum which a County Council may be disposed to devote for education under a scheme of our Board. We suggested in our last Report that legislation on this point would be advantageous. In the meantime, all we can do in such cases is to arrange the scheme on the presumption that the County Council grant will be continued, and to leave the contingency of its withdrawal to be dealt with, if it should occur, as and when occasion arises. But we have felt ourselves justified in basing our action on the assumption that the deliberate intentions of a County Council in regard to a continuing educational grant will not be suffered to miscarry; and on this view of the matter we have entered readily into a large project promoted jointly by the County Councils of Kent Surrey, and Sussex (East and West), for the establishment of a fully-equipped school and college of agriculture for the benefit of the three counties, the basis of the arrangement being that, while a site and buildings are provided out of an ancient endowment, the entire cost of maintenance is met by funds to be provided by the three Councils. As the law stands, we have no power to clothe the yearly payments from the Councils with a permanent trust for the school and college; and yet without such payments the scheme would be financially impracticable. The scheme can, therefore, be operative only if and so long as the three Councils find the necessary funds. Apart from the project above referred to, the County Council of Surrey have determined to aid the endowments of several grammar schools within their area by yearly grants varying from £150 to £250 a year, conditionally upon the due representation of the Council upon each Governing Body. A draft scheme is now in progress providing for the required enlargement of the several Governing Bodies, and otherwise adapting the schools aided to the requirements of the Council in respect of the provision for scientific and technical instruction.This evidence only shows that, in all parts of England, the people are alive to this great question; and that it is only for Parliament to meet these local efforts by an effort of its own. It seems to me that one of our chief objects, at all events, should be to utilise the endowments wherever they exist. In many cases where there are small endowments but good buildings, it seems to me that the County Councils could apply the sums at their disposal for technical education, either under a scheme or under an Act of Parliament. There is also the great question of the inspection of endowed schools, coupled with the question of the registration of our teachers. These 1372 are all subjects which will have to be dealt with in the near future; and I trust for myself that one of the very first acts of the new Parliament, whatever its complexion may be, when elected, will be to frame some such scheme as I have indicated to make the ladder complete, so as to enable every child in our elementary schools to mount steadily up this ladder, through our secondary system of education, to the very best University education. I have only to apologise to the House for having made this very long call upon its time and patience. I should like also before I sit down to say this: that whatever our future struggle may be or whatever the educational issues may be, or whether it may be my lot to take part in them or not, I shall never forget that during the six years I have undertaken the management of this Department I have met from all quarters of this House, from every section of this House, generous sympathy and consideration, which will live in my memory at least as long as I live. When the new Parliament is elected and the great struggle is over, when the wounded and the dead are carried away and our weapons have been again placed in their sheaths, I trust the new Parliament, like its predecessor, will not be unmindful of this great educational question. I trust that the Members of this House, being steady believers in this question, will act practically upon their belief; and however large this great charge may be which their fellow-countrymen and the taxpayers may have to pay towards the cause of education, surely this great sum ought to represent, after all, the best and safest policy of insurance for the stability of our country and the future happiness and prosperity of our people.
§ *(10.40.) SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
I am sorry there are not more Members present to listen to the statement made by my right hon. Friend. I am sure that those of us who are present, and have heard this interesting and valuable statement, must congratulate ourselves upon the great progress that has been made during the past year. No doubt some had entertained fears that the practical abolition of fees 1373 in our elementary schools would really have the effect of diminishing the attendance; but experience shows that all such fears have been found to be entirely visionary; and I think we may congratulate my right hon. Friend both on the increased attendance which he anticipates on such good grounds, and also on the fact that this very great change has been carried through with remarkably little friction. My right hon. Friend has said that one of the defects of our educational system hitherto was that it has been too bookish, and not sufficiently practical, and I am afraid that is the case still. My right hon. Friend referred to the increase in the number of children who are going in for the special subjects, but I think that those who will look through the figures will agree with me that, although no doubt there has been a considerable increase, still that increase has been rather with reference to the bookish subjects than to the more practical ones to which my right hon. Friend has referred. So far as elementary science in our schools is concerned, last year only between thirty and forty schools presented children for examination on these subjects; and when we consider that there are some twenty thousand schools altogether, I think we must feel that this is a very unsatisfactory position in which to find ourselves. On the other hand, it is no doubt true that science schools in connection with the Science and Art Department are making most satisfactory progress. That is a matter in which we must all rejoice. At the same time I should very much like to see more attention given to that subject in the elementary schools also. As regards evening schools the increase in the attendance during the past year has been very considerable; but at the same time the total number of children in the evening schools is still very small in proportion to the whole of the country, so that I hope my right hon. Friend will continue to direct his attention to that most important part of the subject, and that whoever makes the educational statement next year—whether my right hon. Friend or anyone else—will be able to tell us that the number of children in the even- 1374 ing schools has continued to increase. So far as drawing is concerned, the statement of the Vice President left little to be desired. But the particular point to which I beg to draw my right hon. Friend's attention, especially because he said that we might leave the Code to stand for a time and make no further change as regards our elementary schools, is the exclusion of elementary science to such an extent. I, for one, could not altogether subscribe to that hope so long as I find that elementary science is so much excluded from our schools. I hope my right hon. Friend will direct his attention to that point, which I cannot but think is a very great blot upon our system as it at present stands. Until some change is made in this respect we cannot say that our elementary schools are in a satisfactory position.
§ *(10.50.) SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
I join with the right hon. Baronet who has just sat down in offering my congratulations to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education upon the statement he has made. No doubt I am one of those few who do not always agree with the educational policy of my right hon. Friend. Still, I must admit the general excellence of the educational administration. No doubt there has been a great increase of popularity as well as of efficiency. Our schools are improving all along the line. There has been an increase of the actual attendance and an increase of the average attendance; and the House will know that there is a great difference between these two things. There is also a satisfactory increase in voluntary subscriptions, and also in the numbers of, and the attendance in, evening schools. There is, no doubt, a great improvement also in the teaching of elementary science — I can answer for that at all events within the Metropolitan area. But there is one particular point of the greatest interest to practical educationists, to which I venture to direct the attention of my right hon. Friend. The House is aware of the great interest which parents in the working classes attach to the manner in which their children shall be able to leave school in order to go to work. 1375 Accordingly the existing law prescribes that a child must have passed the fourth standard before it can go to half-time work, and the sixth standard before it is allowed to work full time. It will be observed that the law prescribes that a child must pass these standards; and that means that it must pass them in all the subjects which are included in these two standards. Now, that might have worked extremely well so long as there was a system of individual examination; but other hon. Members and myself impressed upon the Government the importance of modifying the system of individual examination, and in the year 1890 my right hon. Friend was so good as to modify that system. He did not go certainly so far as practical educationists desire, but still he went a considerable length, and in so far has conferred a signal benefit on all those who are interested in the work of education as well as upon the scholars themselves. But now this benefit is seriously threatened, and if a remedy is not applied much of the advantage which my right hon. Friend desires and has actually secured to the cause of education will be lost. Now that the system of individual examination is done away with, we have an examination of the general condition of the schools by Her Majesty's Inspectors, and we have superadded to that what is called "sample examination." A scholar is moved from one standard to another, not upon individual examination but upon a general classification arranged by the master according to the system which I have mentioned. Now, when a working man finds that his child has been promoted from the fourth to the fifth standard, he naturally says, "Why, the child can now work half-time." But not so. There is an objection thereto—namely, that the child has not actually passed; though he has been promoted from the fourth standard to the fifth upon the general system now arranged, he has not technically passed, and therefore cannot go to work. This is becoming a very serious grievance among the parents; and there is but one mode of rectifying it. It is not a question of improving the Code; it is a question of the 1376 law. There are several Acts concerned in this matter which must all be modified or repealed; and this is a matter which can only be dealt with by the Government, and it is worthy of the consideration of my right hon. Friend. I may remind him, as he properly lays so much stress upon attendance, that this would be a means of improving the average attendance — because what form should the remedy take? We shall have to prescribe by the law that the children shall be considered to have passed these standards, and to have been promoted from one standard to another, not upon individual examination, but upon attendance plus the general tests of the inspection. I think everybody concerned in teaching will admit that the true test in these cases is attendance. Here, then, would be a potent motive supplied to every parent to secure the attendance of his child so that it might fulfil the prescribed attendance, and so qualify to obtain that certificate which is necessary in order to enable it to go to work and earn wages. I hope I have not unduly laboured this matter, but I assure the House and the Government that it is one of pressing importance. I should like to say one word about the drawing. I entirely concur with everything which has fallen from my right hon. Friend regarding the importance of this branch of art for practical purposes. Having practised it all my life, I should be the first to magnify its importance; but there is no doubt that in the country a great number of elderly schoolmasters and schoolmistresses are being sorely troubled in this matter because they cannot teach drawing; and all these elderly—I will not say antiquated—schoolmasters and schoolmistresses who cannot teach drawing are exactly the people who ought to be superannuated; and I earnestly hope that this matter of superannuation will be seriously taken up by the next Parliament. Already a full and complete Report by the Committee, mostly experts in education, has been presented to this House, and I earnestly commend it to the consideration of Parliament and of the country. I am sure it is a subject which is regarded with the utmost 1377 anxiety by the 50,000 teachers who are now employed in England and Wales. As regards the evening classes, I was one of those who hoped that once the new Code was liberalised in respect of the evening class schools, and we had a popular curriculum, then all would go well, and our evening classes would advance by leaps and bounds. But such, I grieve to say, is not the case. Of course they are growing; we were increasing gradually before the new Code, and are still increasing, but somehow or other the best intentions of the new Code have not quite answered expectations. We seem to halt somewhat, and I am afraid some other measure will have to be devised. I know this is a subject in which the Member for Flintshire takes the greatest interest, and I hope he will be able to enlighten us upon it this evening; but I am sure we shall have to take some additional step in this behalf. It is absolutely essential, as my right hon. Friend admits, that something further should be done in this respect, and I fear that something in the shape of compulsion will have to be adopted if evening classes are to be rendered efficient. But, on the other hand, if there is to be a disadvantage of that kind, we shall have to offer some corresponding advantage or facility or easement, if I may use that term, which shall reconcile the working classes to any such change. I must express my regret that the Bill for relieving the voluntary schools from rating has somehow fallen through. We had hoped that, if the schools were to be thrown open to political meetings and used for all sorts of electioneering purposes, at all events they might be excused from the payment of rates. That was our hope, and it has been disappointed, and I must express my regret that this measure has fallen through. The right hon. Gentleman properly alluded to the bridging over of the gap—of the interval between our elementary education and our University system. Surely that refers to secondary education. I would remind the House that in this matter 1378 of secondary education a measure for the registration of teachers—a measure which is fraught with the direst consequences both to the qualification and the status of the teachers—has been before the House now for two Sessions. A Select Committee, presided over by my right hon. Friend himself, sat last Session. In accordance with the Report of that Committee, a Bill has been drafted and introduced by me this Session. It was supported by two educational authorities on the other side—the hon. Member for Eccles and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds—and I think it had the approval of the Education Department itself. This has been brought repeatedly before the House, and to my great regret it has been impossible to obtain a Second Reading. I have to thank the House for listening to these practical observations, and to express my thankfulness to the right hon. Gentleman for the statement he has been able to make, and my confidence that it will greatly strengthen the cause of education in the country at large.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.