§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £808,828, be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will came in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1904, for Public Education in Scotland, and for Science and Art in Scotland, including a Grant in Aid."
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. A. GRAHAM MURRAY,) Buteshire
said the work of the year had been more than usually interesting. The normal increase in the Vote would have been £45,116. The actual increase was £151,116, but that was owing to the New Aid Grant. The chief items in the normal estimate were £16,262 extra for grants to day schools, £11,500 for continuation classes, and nearly £7,000 for fee grants. There was also an increase of £5,400 for grants to necessitous School Boards. The sum in sub-head N. of £2,000 for agricultural education had been absorbed and put under the general sub-head. That was so far as the institutions benefited, a great advantage, because in former years agricul- 1326 tural colleges were kept to a fixed grant of £2,000; but they would now find their grants expanding according to the fulfilment of the conditions of the Continuation Code, just like any other institution. To explain the increase of this year from £45,116 to £151,116, the Committee would see that the general aid grant was £106,000. That represented the money which the Government thought it right to give to Scotland in respect of moneys that had been given to England under the English Education Bill. It was, however, for a half year, but England only had a half year in this Estimate. The way in which the proportions were calculated was according to the population of the one country to the other, and no doubt that was a fair way of calculation. Under the recent Education Act, there was for the first time a direct Imperial contribution to local resources for education in every part of England, and as that was paid out of Imperial taxation it was obvious that Scotland had to be treated in the same way. They took the proportion that the English population bore to Scotland, and, subtracting the grants under the Act of 1897, they arrived at the sum to be given to Scotland.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)
asked whether the proportion was 80 to 11, the figures with which they had been familiar in the past.
§ MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
said they were for all practical purposes almost identical. In 1897, when the necessitous schools and the voluntary schools got aid grants, the extra contribution was made to Scotland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time promised that a certain 12s. grant in the matter of the fee grant should be maintained at 12s. although the direct payment to Scotland was only 10s. But they had never needed to call upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer for any cash under these grants. The bargain made with the Treasury was that they should take this £106,000 and divide it by the number of children in average attendance, the result being that whereas they got the amount given based upon the proportion of the population, at the same time they kept to themselves for all future time the advantage of working up the average attendance. As that swelled, so would their grant swell.
1327 In school attendance and school staff there had been satisfactory increases. The increased attendance was largely due to the effect of the Act of 1901, under which the school age was considerably raised. The number of scholars on the register had increased from 767,000 in 1901 to 768,000 in 1902. But those figures did not represent the full measure of the improvement. The average attendance would supply a much more crucial figure. In 1901 the number was 636,000 against 646,000 in 1902, so that while the names on the register had increased by only 1,000 on 767,000, the average attendance had increased by 10,000 on 636,000. Moreover, the increase was entirely amongst the older scholars. The scholars under the age of seven years had actually decreased, between the ages of seven and ten there had been a slight increase, but the chief increase had been between ten and fourteen. This increase in the number of scholars had been met by an increased and more efficient teaching staff. There were 246 fewer pupil teachers; the uncertificated teachers were practically stationary; but the certificated teachers had increased by 256. The number of students in training, which had rapidly increased in recent years, had still further increased from 1,492 to 1,532. The classes in special subjects for teachers—such as drawing, elementary science, nature knowledge, and so forth—had been a great success. In the year ended March 31, 1902, there were 130 such courses, with an attendance of 5,000 teachers, and 169 new courses had since been established. In fact the development had been extraordinarily rapid. A peculiar interest attached to the figures in connection with the Continuation Class Code, because, although it was not a new policy, this was the first time the Committee had had a complete year under review. In this matter he might say in passing that the permanent officials had made one of the most accurate estimates ever framed. The expenses under the Code were estimated at £95,100. There were concerned 774 different continuation classes, 78,000 students, four central institutions with 10,000 students, and forty-eight science schools with 4,000 students; and 1328 the actual expenditure amounted to £95,139, or £39 more than the estimate. He did not think that anything in the way of an estimate had ever been done better than that. Grants had also been paid to three navigation schools with 264 students, and to three agricultural colleges with between 400 and 500 students. Of the total number of students dealt with under the Continuation Class Code, no fewer than 26,929 were in the county of Lanark, but it was a matter of regret that in some of the outlying districts the number was very few.
It might interest the Committee to know which of the subjects were most largely taken up. Arithmetic came first, with 10,611 students; then shorthand with 9,744; needlework followed with 9,717; while book-keeping had 7,832. These classes were not necessarily conducted by certificated teachers, but might be taught by any approved person, whose qualifications had to be sufficiently attested, and whose knowledge of special subjects had to be not merely theoretical but practical. In the matter of secondary education, it was not necessary to explain in detail the different sources of supply Under the Act of 1890, by which County Councils were given money which they could apply either to the relief of rates or to secondary education, the grant from the Treasury was £79,000 as against £87,000 in the previous year, and the grants in relief of rates and for education were reduced in about the same proportion, giving £56,000 for education as compared with £62,000 in the previous year. Of that £56,000 about £13,000 was handed over to be dealt with by the secondary education committees in the counties. Then there was an education grant of £60,000 under the Act of 1892. That was assigned according to schemes drawn up by the education committees of the several counties and approved by the Department. Lastly, under the Agricultural and Local Taxation Rating Act, 1898, a total amount of £37,688 was distributed by the Department among the various secondary schools not in receipt of block grants, an additional amount being given in proportion to average attendance and the amount of burden borne by the local rates, while 1329 a part of the money was reserved for aid to central institutions of more than local importance.
The sum of £106,000 had to be distributed by Minute. It was given in the form of a general aid grant, and could be distributed only by Minute in the same way as money under the general Education Acts; in other words, the Minute was merely a sort of addition to the Code. That Minute was placed on the Table of the House just before the Whitsuntide recess in order that the necessary month should not elapse before there was an opportunity for discussion. The idea was to give a certain measure of endowment to schools in sparsely populated districts, to assist them in having an adequate teaching staff, and a bonus of £20, £30, or £40, was given to the smaller schools for providing an extra teacher or teachers. It was impossible to say exactly how much would be required under that head, because it would not be known until 31st December next how many schools had come into line to earn the grant. Two points, however, were certain; first, that any school which came in would still be burdened locally with at least one-fourth of the expense of the extra teacher or teachers, so that the money would not be given without corresponding local effort; and secondly, that so far as this scheme was concerned the idea of the Department was that the sum should not exceed £25,000. The rest was distributed over the various schools in the country.
§ MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
said he understood that was so. He was not quite certain, but he would let the hon. Member know. Hon. Members would see that in spending this money under the Minute it would be right probably not to try any more ambitious proposals, but just to give it to all the schools carrying on the work of primary education. It was in strict accordance with what had been done in England, so far as it was a subvention from Imperial sources for education. This was necessarily only a temporary arrangement, and they could not, of course, have 1330 diverted this money by Minute except for purposes of primary education. He very much doubted whether there would be any great wish to do otherwise, but they need not trouble their heads about that because he supposed it was common ground for agreement on both sides that the time was very near when they would have another Scotch Education Bill—he hoped they were on the very eve of it—and given that Bill, it was quite certain that the whole resources of education would be in the melting-pot and that the Houses of Parliament would do what they pleased with them. The arrangement proposed under the Minute would, he believed, be found to be not only just but popular.
The general policy this year would be very interesting. Two things had brought matters to a point. First there had been the effect of the Act of 1901 in prolonging the school existence, and then there was the fact that owing to the £106,000 they had really more money. With regard to the first fact the Department had been face to face with the settling, so far as it could, of the further development of the general educational policy in Scotland. They had taken a great, and, he thought, crucial step in enlarging the scope of higher instruction in Scotland by adding as auxiliaries of the Universities certain central institutions for advanced instruction in technical subjects, commercial subjects, art, agriculture, and navigation. The institutions he referred to were as follows:—In Glasgow there were the West of Scotland Technical College, the Athenæum Commercial College, the School of Art, and the Agricultural College. In Edinburgh there were the Heriot-Watt College, which was both technical and commercial, the College of Agriculture, and the prospective School of Art. In Dundee there was the Technical Institute, which included both art and commerce. In Aberdeen there were Gordon's College, which was the central institution for technical and commercial subjects. Gray's School of Art, and an Agricultural Department. In Leith there was the School of Navigation. All these were existing with the exception of the prospective School of Art, and he did not mean to say that, owing to what the Department had 1331 done, they had changed their character, but at any rate they were given a great chance, to a great extent, of changing it. They were formerly treated by the Department in precisely the same way as ordinary continuation classes, and the grant from the Department depended upon the number of their elementary students. By this new departure they were really encouraged rather to abandon the prosecution of elementary instruction, to leave that to other agencies, and to develop instruction in special subjects to the highest pitch demanded by the industries and commerce of the districts. All these institutions were entirely under the management of representatives of local bodies, and accordingly they were now perfectly free to develop them upon lines approved of by the managers and local opinion. There were, of course, certain precautions against extravagance, but subject to that it was true to say that the grants would increase automatically with the local expenditure, and accordingly, if the local authorities had sufficient faith in the value of these institutions to adequately support and develop them, that support would find automatically an extra support in the Department as they went along.
It was, of course, to be kept in view that these institutions, if they were ever to attain to their full development and to occupy kindred positions to the positions institutions of the same character occupied abroad, there must be provision made in the primary and secondary schools for suitable preparation to allow pupils to avail themselves of these institutions adequately. Hitherto and in old times probably the only and perfectly legitimate aim of the secondary schools was to prepare for admission to the Universities, but now if this arrangement was to be a success there must be a further aim super-added viz., in certain cases not to prepare for the University but for technical instruction in the various classes of institutions. Accordingly there had been instituted by the Department special commercial and technical certificates to encourage such preparation in secondary schools as was fit for introduction into these institutions. It was similar when they came to the higher departments in the primary schools. There again in old times their 1332 only idea was to prepare for the Universities. Of course, the very last thing that the Department wished to do was in any way to discourage that. They would be very sorry indeed if those who would naturally go to the Universities should be hampered in the preliminary training which they had been used to get and which they still thought should be fostered and encouraged. At the same time that ought not to be the only position in which a student should find himself. They were not only giving these institutions an opportunity to develop themselves, but they would now have pupils remaining at the primary schools for some time after the time when, under ordinary conditions, they could obtain a merit certificate, and the question of course was: What were they to do? With a view to that certain supplementary courses had been established. His noble friend at the head of the Department made a speech at Leith in February in which he not ambiguously sketched out the development that his policy was to take. Following upon that, circular 374 was sent out, and the greatest pains were taken that it should be most widely disseminated; and this again was followed by the introduction in the Code of the changes that were there sketched. It pointed out that while it was absolutely desirable that boys going to the Universities should have proper training, as they had had previously, yet they must not sacrifice the whole of the children for one or two advanced boys. Therefore it devoted itself to the discussion of the problem, what should they do with the children who were kept at school under the Act of 1901 after they had come to the end of the whole of their school curriculum, and who at the same time were not, as a matter of fact, going to the Universities. What they thought was that it would be unfortunate if a boy had to go over the work he had been doing before. At the same time none knew better than those interested in education that when children went away from school very young they forgot what they had learned, and the object of the view put forward in this circular was that, instead of being given entirely new work they should rather be instructed from what might 1333 be called the applied point of view, and shown in a practical way the actual uses in the ordinary processes of life of what they had learned.
If the boys were going to take up a University course, or some other class of training, there were special curricula to fit them for the walks in which they were entering. Upon that he desired to read somebody else's testimony and not that of the Education Department. There was a Report issued from the Merchants' Hall, Edinburgh, dated 11th June, 1903, in which attention was called to the fact that, since the issue in 1900 of the Report of a Joint Committee representing the Edinburgh Merchant Company and the Chambers of Commerce of Edinburgh and Leith, the Act of 1901 had extended the compulsory age to fourteen. Then the Report proceeded in the following terms:—The period dating back to the Report has also been marked by many signs of activity on the part of the Scotch Education Department. Their Lordships have been devoting much attention to the subject of commercial education, and their zeal and interest are shown by changes made or foreshadowed in connection with their schemes for the award of group certificates, with the object of marking in a definite manner the stage of education reached by a pupil on leaving school. The certificates referred to are—(1) the Merit, (2) the Intermediate, (3) the Commercial, and (4) the Leaving. A few words of explanation may be given in regard to each for your guidance in selecting candidates for apprenticeships in your business.(1) The Merit Certificate is granted for proficiency in the three elementary subjects—reading, writing, and arithmetic. A pupil may pass the qualifying examination for it as soon after he reaches twelve as he has attained the necessary proficiency. He must, however, continue at school until, as above mentioned, he has attained the age of fourteen. After passing the examination he may enter on a commercial course, and on leaving school he will obtain a Merit Certificate, which will specify the date that he passed the examination, and the value put upon his attainments in the subsequent commercial course, so far as these admit of specific mention.(2) The Intermediate Certificate is primarily intended for pupils who are taking secondary subjects, but do not remain long enough at school to reach the standard of the Leaving Certificate proper. The minimum age at which the Intermediate Certificate may be obtained is fifteen. It indicates that the holder has been receiving higher instruction at a recognised school for not less than two years, and that he has reached a certain degree of attainment in the following range of subjects—viz., English, arithmetic, and elementary 1334 mathematics, two languages other than English, or one language with science and drawing. One of the subjects must be passed on the higher grade or standard; the rest may be on the lower grade.(3) The Commercial Certificate which the Department propose to institute should be specially welcomed by business men. It is intended to restrict it to pupils of not less than sixteen years of age, who, generally speaking, have satisfied the requirements of the Intermediate Certificate, and have subsequently studied at least one complete year in a special commercial course. In this course it is proposed that the principal subject of instruction should be a modern language other than English, with, in addition, commercial arithmetic, book-keeping, shorthand, and commercial history and geography.(4) The Leaving Certificate.—This certificate is designed to mark the completion of a full course of secondary education, and is only granted to applicants who have been receiving higher instruction at a recognised school for not less than four years. It is not attainable by boys of less age than seventeen, and indicates primarily ripeness for University studies.Therefore, they were bound to look at the whole matter, because the two things, although in one sense having nothing to do with each other, were yet linked together in a general scheme. The leaving certificate took with it at least one of the ancient languages. He would remind the Committee that unless a student had one ancient language the University would not take him. If he wished commercial or technical instruction then he could either content himself with the intermediate certificate or take a full commercial certificate, and in either of these cases he could go on to the higher and specialised institutions which he had mentioned. He hoped the Committee would recognise that in these matters the Department had made an effort to meet the requirements of the case, but, of course, it was not claimed for one moment that there was finality in the arrangement. It was at any rate a well thought out and co-ordinated scheme of education, and he hoped that in any larger scheme which might be brought out under enactment, or otherwise, it would at least not be necessary to retrace the steps which had already been taken. He ought to mention one subject which was worthy of notice. If hon. Members would look at Section 11 of the Report they would see that a great deal had been done in connection with the Museum in Edinburgh. It had been in 1335 many ways improved and greater advantage had been taken of it for the purposes to which it ought to be applied. In connection with this matter he would point out, what was not generally known, that at the Museum they had now the headquarters of the Department in Edinburgh. The members of the Department and the Secretary himself hoped to be more frequently there in the future than in the past, and they looked to that office as the natural meeting place between them and persons in Scotland who were interested in these matters, and who had not the opportunity of meeting them in London.
The only other matter to which he desired to refer was one which did not bear directly on the Estimates, but was connected with the work of the Department. He could not sit down without saying a word upon the very valuable Report obtained this year from the Commission on Physical Training. He did not know how far that Report was familiar to hon. Members. If it was not, he could only commend it to them as exceedingly interesting reading. He thought it really opened up a new vista in regard to this and other aspects of school life. The statistics given in the Report were not only very interesting, but in some respects startling. They touched not only the question of town and country life, but they touched very directly certain aspects of the housing problem. So far as the schools were concerned he thought they indicated a new avenue of usefulness connected with the medical inspection of children. The Report showed the importance of medical inspection in connection with the question of physical development. Of course the various recommendations contained in the Report were naturally engaging the very serious attention of the Department. Hon. Members were probably aware that in the meantime the Department had not been idle, because at this very moment there was a Joint Committee sitting, composed of representatives of the Scotch Department and the English Department, with the view of framing some sort of model scheme for physical training in the various schools. The whole subject was replete with interest, and, if the Scotch Estimates were dreary, he thought he could do nothing better 1336 than assure hon. Members that they would find the reading of the Report a very profitable occupation.
§ *MR. THOMAS SHAW
said that he had the greatest pleasure in assenting upon the last point made by his right hon. and learned friend, and part; also, from the merits of the recommendations of the Commissioners. There was one feature with regard to the Report on Physical Training which was well worthy of notice, and that was the despatch with which the proceedings of the Commission had been carried out. The thanks of that House were due to the noble Chairman and to the members of the Commission for the rapidity with which they had presented their Report. He hoped his right hon. and learned friend had not thought it out of place when he asked whether the circular numbered 374 had been sent to Members of Parliament. He complained last year of the manner in which information upon matters relating to Scotch education was communicated, and he thought he had almost extracted a promise from the Government that there should be some sort of improvement in that matter on the part of the Scotch Education Department. At present they had to go through a labyrinth of Minutes and counter Minutes. Minutes were issued, and they were followed after a certain interval by fresh Minutes which not only added important substantive information, but repealed preceding Minutes. In these circumstances it was altogether out of the question that Members of Parliament should be left to wade through these Minutes which deleted here and added there. They ought to be saved that labour by the Department addressing itself to the issue of a single volume which would make clear the position of matters to those interested in Scotch education. He was very glad indeed to tender his cordial thanks to his right hon. and learned friend for the speech he had made. He was also glad that the proceedings on the Scotch education debate had begun by what was in the nature of a Budget statement upon which they might go. He said that with all the more frankness because—he was sure he was expressing the feelings of every Scotch 1337 Member—they might look now upon the Minute of the 28th May as of a merely temporary character. It appeared to him that if it had been other than temporary it would have involved principles of the most dangerous character on the administration of the equivalent grant. Even as a temporary arrangement for one year it was a most unfortunate step to take—to fling this money at the heads of the school managers in Scotland and tell them to do what they liked with it. They would regard it as manna descending from heaven, as gold coming, not from local resources, but from the Imperial Exchequer, and they would simply use it for the relief of the rates, and education would not be benefited to the extent of one penny.
His right hon. and learned friend had presented a very interesting contrast between the situation in Scotland educationally this year with that of last year. This Minute, involving on the one hand the distribution of over £200,000, and on the other the anticipation that there might be radical changes in the school system of Scotland in a very short time, induced him to ask the House to take a wider survey of the exact situation at this stage. They had now had thirty years experience of popular education in Scotland, and before this Minute came into operation they were entitled to ask whether the results of the system instituted in 1872 were not such as to justify the approval of the whole country. He confessed that if it were not that human nature was so constituted that, unless a subject was a matter of contention, the interest in that subject dwindled down, the figures presented would be of the greatest interest. He wished it to appear in the records of Parliament that this was how the matter stood as between 1872 and 1902. In thirty years this was the change which had come over the face of Scotland educationally. They must remember that there had been an increase of the population in that country during that time. In 1872 the population numbered 3,395,802, and in 1902 it had risen to 4,521,192, or an increase of over 30 per cent. Tested by that rise what had happened in the educational system of their country? During that time, 1338 leading up to the Minute now under consideration, what had been the increase in the school accommodation? In 1872 there was accommodation for 281,688 scholars; and in 1902 it had risen to 916,000, or an increase in thirty years, not of 30 per cent. as in population, but of no less than 230 per cent. The average attendance, he admitted, was, as the Lord Advocate had said, a better test than school accommodation. It was, in 1872, 213,000, and in 1901 it had risen to 642,000 scholars—an increase of about 200 per cent. Now, people in high quarters sometimes told them that they must not ascribe too much to the School Board system in Scotland, for it was the successor of a long anterior and popular system; but he was contrasting exactly the situation in which they found themselves with a modern popular and representative system as compared with the old system of heritors' management anterior to 1872.
There was another feature which he wished to deal with, and that was as to the teaching profession. Here he might say that, even contrasted with England, the figures of Scotch progress were striking in the highest degree. The number of assistant teachers, pupil teachers, and King's scholars, taken together, seemed not to have increased in any higher ratio than the population; but when they came to what all would admit was the best guarantee for efficient instruction, the number of certificated teachers, the figures were most remarkable and would be gratifying to any educational institute in the world. In 1872 the number of certificated teachers was 2,566; in 1902 it had risen to 11,524, being an increase of no less than 350 per cent. He was bound to say that when one looked at these figures, and thought of how Scotland was situated as to vast distances—a slender population with great difficulties in many districts of communication of one part with another—one could not but be gratified that the tradition of Scottish education had not only remained at its old height but had increased in such a manner as he had described. The increase in the number of certificated teachers in Scotland would favourably compare, and that in a striking degree, with that in England. He now came to the question of how the teachers had been financed under popular government. Their position was, on 1339 the whole, gratifying; because in 1872 the average salary of a schoolmaster, whether principal or assistant, was £101 6s. 7d., and it had risen during the thirty years to £146 0s. 11d. The average salary of a school mistress was, in 1872, £55 14s. 2d., and was now £72 6s. 3d. In fact, the salaries of the school masters, school mistresses, and assistants had increased by no less than 45 per cent. during that period. Might he just review these figures in brief? While the population of Scotland in thirty years had increased 30 per cent., the salaries of the teachers had increased 45 per cent., the school accommodation had increased by 230 per cent., the school attendance by 200 per cent., and the number of certificated teachers in actual employment in Scotland by 350 per cent. He held that that was a situation which ought to stand on their records as one with which the Scotch Members were highly gratified, and one which enabled them to say that the School Board system of Scotland—a system of representative and popular management by those who were intimately acquainted with the wants of the various localities—had been amply justified by results. During these thirty years they had had in every locality in Scotland a class of men brought up on this matter of education. He said so in view of many debates in the House. He did not think that the benefit to a country like Scotland could be overestimated, that in every part of it, from the Shetland Islands to the Solway Firth, they could pick out men who, from long experience, had been inured and trained in this good work of education. These men had been friends of education and had vastly improved it. Thanks to the Scotch Education Department, he believed that, on the whole, the people of Scotland were highly satisfied with their educational system.
The ground of primary education had been entirely covered, and in these circumstances all he had said, or was permitted to say, was that he should look with the greatest dislike and disrelish upon any proposal to radically alter a system under which Scotland had so infinitely benefited. As to the Scotch Office he had no fear. He had no fear of his noble friend who was at the head of the Scotch Office. But there were two things which he did not like which 1340 were suggested by this Minute of 28th May. His noble friend was a member of a Government the record of whose achievements in education was one which no Scotsman liked. As to the result with regard to primary education, the ground had been covered; but with regard to secondary education, it was there, and there alone, that there was any confusion or need for specific assistance from the Department. All misapprehension should be removed from the public mind on that subject. In certain quarters the fallacy seemed to have been propagated, by some curious process, that secondary and technical education was the work of the County Councils, and that primary education was the work of the School Boards. That was an utter delusion. The School Boards of Scotland had taken up the honoured system which permitted them to handle not only primary but secondary education; and, to put it in a word, the Cockerton judgment would have been absolutely impossible in Scotland. No Scotch Judge would have been asked to settle the problem of when a child was not a child. That had been done year after year by the School Board with the approval of the Scotch Education Department and of the people of Scotland under the existing statute for the last thirty years. The finance of the matter illustrated that very clearly. There was directly paid to the School Boards of Scotland the sum of £800,000 per annum. There was indirectly paid through the County Council and the Borough Committees the sum of £139,000. That indirect payment filtered through the county bodies, which mainly controlled Scottish technical education only in the sense of being the paymasters through whom the funds from the Exchequer reached the managing bodies and the School Boards. So far as he had been able to judge Scottish opinion on education, the one note of dissatisfaction with regard to the financing of secondary education was that the County and Borough Councils, which received money to the amount of £79,000 this year, did not hand it all over for educational purposes, but abstracted, so to speak, £23,000 for the relief of the rates. That was a matter against which Scottish Members had protested year after year. They wanted education to get the benefit of this grant; and they wanted the power now exercised by the 1341 local authorities in the manner he had mentioned stopped. It was the old story of taking a body, which was not ad hoc but had general wants, and entrusting it with money which was ad hoc. In such cases it would always be found that in the process of transmission something was retained by the local authorities, with the result that the funds for education were to that extent depleted. In the latest Blue-book it was stated that the total amount of the residue grant was £79,000, of which only £56,000 was allocated for the purpose of technical education. Not only had the local authorities power to impound a portion of the amount, but they had power to impound the whole of it. That was a system which he did not think would receive sympathy in any quarter of the House. If a fund was to be devoted to education it should be spent on education, and the local authorities should not be in a position in which they could, as a matter of right, impound part or the whole of the fund for local purposes of their own, and to that extent deplete the educational exchequer.
§ *MR. THOMAS SHAW
said he admitted that. The other sum was a sum of £60,000 which had been dealt with specifically by Parliament, and must be expended on education. What they wanted, in short, was to have one fund under the same fixed rule as the other, and make the whole amount available for education. With regard to the Minute it affected a sum of £212,000 per annum. He thought some of them could look back with not a little gratification upon the battle they had fought in past years with regard to the money due to Scotland for educational purposes. Year after year they had fought the question as a question of the right of Scotland, whether by equivalent grant, or by other means, to get adequate treatment relative to the amount spent in England on education. In an interesting debate on that subject on the 10th May, 1901, he himself took a prominent part in urging on the House to consider the question from the point of view of the rights of Scotland educationally, in view of the large grants given to education in England. Many of them thought 1342 that the then Chancellor of the Exchequer was a man of hard heart with regard to Scotland; but the right hon. Gentleman was defended by the Lord Advocate, and the Scottish Members struggled in vain. He was not now speaking by way of complaint. He was speaking in terms of extreme gratification, because the arguments they had used year after year had, like water dropping on a rock, at last worn away the obstacles against which they had to contend. He himself on that occasion said—How was the argument that they were entitled to that large sum met. It was met by the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the effect that first of all the equivalent grant would disappear, and that Scotland need look no more for aid under that head.His right hon. friend answered him on that occasion as follows—It was said that the proper way was to make an arithmetical calculation and to give eleven-eighteenths of the amount given to England to Scotland. It was said that there were precedents for this; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer never admitted the principle of this claim, holding, on the contrary, that the principle of the equivalent grant in the matter of education was perfectly absurd.What was "absurd" then was now seen to be sound sense. They had now got an equivalent in the sense that they received an amount in proportion to the population of Scotland as compared with the population of England. They had struggled for years for that; and he sincerely congratulated the Government, or rather the Scotch Department, on having been able to obtain from the present Chancellor of the Exchequer an arrangement which unfortunately they had failed for so many years to accomplish. Under that Minute Scotland was to have £212,000 per annum. The amount this year which was to be devoted to remedying the understaffed condition of the smaller schools (an object with which he sympathised) was to be trifling. His right hon. friend, with all the official information at his command, estimated it at only £25,000. Whatever other hon. Members might think, he was entirely in favour of the provision in the Minute for increasing the staffs of small schools in remote localities so as to enable them to furnish proper education irrespective of their distance from well equipped centres. But when he came to the second head of the Minute they were 1343 indeed in a very serious position. They found that a substantial balance, amounting to nearly £200,000, was to be distributed to School Boards and school managers in respect of day schools under their management which were on the list of schools conditionally entitled to share in the Parliamentary grant for education. Why should any of this money go to school managers of voluntary schools? They got very special treatment only a few years ago; and at the present moment they were enjoying the preferential treatment of a capitation grant of 3s. per scholar. In the second place, why should the Minute propose a limit as to the day schools? He should have thought that one of the very best things that School Boards could do would be to encourage the system of evening continuation schools. Perhaps there might be an explanation on that head; if so, he should be glad to hear it. He should have thought that the best way of proceeding would have been to hold the balance of the fund for a year until it could be distributed under a settled and fixed scheme. If it once got into the clutches, so to speak, of the local authorities, he feared there would be very considerable grumbling when they changed to another form of distribution. The education of Scotland ought to be protected by this Minute in so far as the distribution of that sum was concerned; and he hoped that a statement would go forth as the deliverance of the Government that this was a temporary arrangement only, and that in future local taxes would not be relieved from a fund which should be devoted to education. Otherwise, they would hereafter be met by grumbling and statements that they were dislocating local finance.
He regretted that, even with the information available, the Government did not treat more specifically the whole system of technical and secondary education in Scotland. They wanted a further allowance in the shape of distance grants. Under the county schemes they had a most admirable system of distance grants under which pupils from remote districts went to various centres, and, with the assistance of those grants, were encouraged to pursue the higher branches of education. He had hoped that such a scheme would be extended and enforced under the new Minute. 1344 They wanted a grant for secondary and technical education. They wanted evening schools and advanced classes on special subjects more particularly noticed in the educational Minutes. The time had come also when they ought to make large allowances for the purpose of building and properly equipping technical schools in Scotland. In many parts these were urgently needed, but the local authorities were debarred from establishing them owing to the enormous cost of equipping and establishing them. Specific grants for this purpose appeared for some reason to have ceased in 1886, and consequently the local authorities had been in the habit of borrowing, and had incurred a large indebtedness, and the fear of that operation not unnaturally deterred them from undertaking this necessary preliminary of a sound modern system of technical education. Galashiels might in all probability have had most excellent technical schools if it had not had to face such an expenditure and borrow money for them. One excellent public-spirited citizen would have given the ground for them, but the capital sum required for buildings and equipment could not be faced. He hoped the House would assist the Department by some expression of opinion in favour of the resumption of a capital grant, because since 1886 it was quite clear that the general opinion in Scotland was that a further improvement and development in the direction of technical education was most desirable. This was not a local matter. It was a national matter for Scotland. He had an instance in his mind which would illustrate that and give it point and luminosity. One of his most sagacious friends, a manufacturer, destined his three sons for his own business. He had them well trained in this country in the primary stages of education, but when he had to train them for his business, according to his ideas of what was best in the commercial and manufacturing world, what had he to do? He sent his eldest son to Crefeld, near Dusseldorf, to one of the best technical schools in Europe, to learn weaving; he sent his second son to Zimbach, in Saxony, to learn hosiery knitting; and his third to Verviers, in Belgium, to learn what was best in wool 1345 and yarn spinning. In order that his sons should be technically trained in his own trade in Scotland they had to be sent out of Scotland. He cited the case to show that a great deal had yet to be done in the direction of technical education for Scotland, and he hoped no Government would be content to have for Scotland anything but the best the world could produce in the way of education. He looked forward to the time when, instead of our sending our children to other countries of Europe to be educated, the people of Europe and America would send their children to us to obtain the most advanced forms of technical instruction,
§ *MR. SHAW-STEWART (Renfrewshire, E.)
said he desired to dwell for a few moments on the Report of the Royal Commission on Physical Training, of which he had been a member. Physical exercises might be divided into two branches: the first physical exercises in the school, and the second games and recreation outside. The second part would depend on local and voluntary effort, but with regard to the provision for physical exercises in the school they would be glad to hear a little more with regard to the skilled Committtee now sitting, and they desired to be assured that the Department would see that the "Model Course" that the "skilled" Committee would draw up should be circulated throughout the country. But physical training could not be extended in all kinds of Schools without some carefully organised system of feeding the children. They could not call upon the pupils of the schools to undergo a systematic and increased course of physical training without being assured that they were sufficiently nourished to benefit by such training. It was a difficult problem, because in any provision that was made for the feeding of the children they must be careful not to interfere with parental responsibility. Much had been done by voluntary and charitable effort, but they ought not to depend on such chances. An authority should provide the mid-day meal, healthful and sufficient, to be paid for in fees by the parents of the children to be benefited. He hoped before the debate concluded many voices would be raised in favour 1346 of that recommendation. But granted they had a perfected system of physical exercises, and legislation for the regular and good feeding of the children, the evidence and the Report called loudly for a system of medical inspection. The Commission specially examined 1,200 children, from which examination various serious facts were adduced. Those facts were full of warning, but, on the other hand, if proper steps were taken to carry out the recommendations of the Report, the situation was full of hope. The Commission proposed that the medical officers of counties and boroughs should be appointed as consulting officers to the school authorities, their remuneration being paid out of Imperial funds to the extent of, say, £100 a year each, the amount varying according to the population and area. That also would require legislation. It was further proposed that district medical officers should be appointed to visit and report on the condition of the schools, to report on the condition of the pupils, and to certify as to infectious illness, such officers working with and being paid by the school authorities, helped perhaps by grants-in-aid. There should also be sub-inspectors.
reminded the hon. Member that matters requiring special legislation could not be discussed on the Estimates.
§ *MR. SHAW-STEWART
remarked that he had come to the last of the points requiring special legislation, but there were one or two matters of importance which were purely Departmental. If there was to be a thorough and universal system of physical training it had been abundantly proved that that training could best be given by the teachers themselves. But in order that the teachers should be able to give the instruction efficiently, it was necessary that they should be properly trained, and it was hoped that the Department would in future require that all teachers should go through a course of, and obtain a certificate for, physical training before they were admitted as teachers in any school. It was also recommended that there should be appointed by and attached to the Department, a special physical training inspection staff who, 1347 by scientific advice, would be able practically to aid the Department in setting up this national system of physical training. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to assure the Committee that such a staff would be appointed.
§ MR. DOUGLAS
said that one reason why no sensational interest attached to Scotch education debates was that the Scotch Members held the simple creed that they believed in the Education Department. There were no public servants more efficient or devoted than the permanent officials of that Department. He desired, however, to call attention to a certain weakness in the administrative work of the office arising from the inadequacy of the consultation with Scotch opinion. One or two matters had come before the Committee in the course of the sitting which suggested that advantage might well be taken of a more organised system of consulting educational opinion in Scotland. There was, for instance, Circular 340, dealing with the subject of languages. It was of vital importance that nothing should be done which would in any way reduce the functions which secondary education discharged in leading up to the University, and providing for the tests which the University properly imposed. On the other hand, it was undeniable that a most undesirable feeling had been created that less importance attached to modern languages than to Latin, and the whole teaching profession of Scotland was united in condemning the particular methods by which the object in view had been sought. There was no lack of desire to make secondary education an effective avenue to the University, but it was desired that modern languages should continue to hold a place in the public estimation which would render them attractive subjects of study. Much difficulty in this matter might have been averted had there been full and deliberate consultation beforehand with persons interested in teaching. There was also Circular 374, with the object of which he deeply sympathised. No doubt the Department was placed in considerable difficulty when, by legislation favoured by the Government, but 1348 initiated by a private Member, a large number of children were put in to position which, for the time being, was absolutely paradoxical, and had to be dealt with. While he hoped that nothing would be done to delay the progress of the secondary education of those who were going to take the full course, it was obvious that the great majority of children between the ages of twelve and fourteen could not be asked to lose in useless studies one and a-half years of their time in the interests of the comparatively small number who were able to take secondary instruction. On the other hand, the circular and the code, excellent as their objects were, had been so devised that there was great difficulty in carrying them out. In this instance, it was clear that there had not been adequate consultation beforehand with those who were responsible for the conduct of the work and knew the conditions under which it had to be carried on.
Nobody was better able to speak on School Board administration in Scotland than Miss Flora Stephenson, Chairman of the Edinburgh School Board, and she had said that—Recently there had come into the Department a spirit of change, which manifested itself in the issue of circulars in such bewildering number that it was difficult for ordinary mortals like School Board members and teachers to keep pace with the new regulations. Each circular modified or explained the one that had gone before. She suggested very humbly that 'My Lords' should give the School Board time to carry out one set of regulations and see how it worked before they overturned it by another.That was surely a very simple demand. Miss Stephenson also expressed regret that—The Department had ceased to communicate to the Board the full reports of the inspectors, which were of enormous help in enabling the Board to judge of the efficiency of each department of their schools.Those statements, with the other circumstances to which he had referred, suggested a want of close and constant consultation between the Education Department and the local administrators. Yet another illustration was to be found in the Minute of 28th May, dealing with the general grant in aid. As to the grants to small schools, he hoped there would be little difference of opinion 1349 All would approve of the intention of bringing the small schools up to a proper level of efficiency, and every inducement should be offered to that end. He thought it was most unfortunate that pupil teachers should be employed in those small schools. It was unfortunate both for the pupils and the teachers, because they were not really receiving the kind of training and preparation which would be given them in large schools. Then there was the question of the position of the small schools which came below the level at which two masters could be employed. In the Highlands there was a strong case for considering whether further advantages could not be given to small schools. He thought it should be the object of the Committee to do all that was possible to advance education in a part of the country which he thought was not inferior to any other part of Scotland for obtaining good educational results. They might do something in the way of providing means of transport to schools which were farther away.
With reference to the second part of this grant he found himself in full accord with his hon. friend the Member for Hawick Burghs. He thought this was a most unfortunate disposition of the money, and some other way out of the difficulty ought to have been found. In view of the prospect of a very much overdue reconstitution of educational work in Scotland he thought this was particularly unfortunate. He trusted that by what the right hon. Gentleman had said he meant that this money would not be permanently earmarked for elementary education, but that it would be used to the utmost educational benefit for all purposes. The right hon. Gentleman said he believed this to be a very popular distribution of the money, but he had heard that it was most popular amongst those who cared least for education. He thought that after full consultation had been held with the people of Scotland, who knew most about educational administration, it would be found that this was not the direction in which they thought the money could best be disposed of even for a time. He was glad to hear that the Scottish Education Department had taken to itself a local habitation in Scotland. They all agreed 1350 that the more of this work they could find it possible to do in Scotland the better Scotch opinion would be pleased and the better would Scotch interests be served. He welcomed this departure and hoped a considerable advance might be made in this respect. He also approved of the purpose for which this partial removal had taken place, which was the intention of holding closer and fuller consultation with the persons he had named. He hoped that Scotch educational opinion might in the future, as in the past, be allowed to express itself clearly. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman upon the gratifying statement he had made.
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
said he should not be so rash as to plunge into a general discussion on the Scotch Estimates. He had always been accustomed to look at education in Scotland with a considerable degree of admiration, because in Scotland the Education Acts appeared to have worked so smoothly, and so much satisfactory progress appeared to have been made. He was particularly struck with the statement about the number of certified teachers engaged in education as compared with the other teachers. The matter he wished to call attention to was one which concerned English schools just as much as Scottish schools, although the facts related entirely to Scottish children, and, perhaps, he would not be in order in dealing with this subject upon the English Estimates. What he wanted to call attention to was the enormous waste of public money spent upon education when the children were not fit to receive the instruction which was provided for them at so much cost. There was little use in Parliament and School Boards providing money for education unless they got into the schools children who were physically fit to receive instruction, and who could give some satisfactory return for the money expended upon them.
As regarded Scottish children a lurid light had been thrown upon the condition of affairs by the report of the Royal Commission on Physical Education in Scotland, and it was to that matter he wished to draw attention. That Commission came to the very wise conclusion in the early part of 1351 its inquiry, that before it could make any recommendations to Parliament as to the instruction to be given in Scottish schools it was necessary to make some investigation in regard to the physical condition of the children. After examining the various districts and the available information they appointed a small Sub-Commission, consisting of two very eminent doctors, Dr. Mackenzie and Professor Matthew Hay. This Sub-Commission was entrusted with the duty of taking a sample of Scottish children and reporting as to the nature of that sample. They addressed themselves with extreme ability to their task, and he recommended hon. Members who had not already done so to read their report. They arranged to take a sample of children from 600 schools in Aberdeen, 300 boys and a similar number of girls. They also took the same number in Edinburgh and submitted the children to a careful examination. They took these samples with very great care out of the Board Schools in various parts of those towns, so many from each, and they took them by lot or chance so as to get a fair sample of Edinburgh and Aberdeen children. The Commission seemed to have come to the conclusion that Aberdeen children were a fair sample of the children of the rural parts and the smaller and healthier towns of Scotland, and that the Edinburgh children were a fair sample of Glasgow, Dundee, and Edinburgh children. But the Edinburgh children were not entirely satisfactory. In Aberdeen, for instance, they found in poor health 5 per cent. of the whole number examined. In Edinburgh, however, the total in poor health was 19.17, or nearly one in five of the number examined. In the case of the Aberdeen children those suffering from bad nourishment totalled 9 per cent., whilst in the case of Edinburgh no less than 29.83 were suffering from insufficient nourishment. They found 8.8 per cent. of the children in Aberdeen, and 12.33 per cent. in Edinburgh suffering from mental dullness. There was one particular school in Edinburgh which they carefully examined. It was North Canongate Board School. It was the poorest of all those they examined, and he should certainly say that it was exactly the same kind of school as was to be found in the East End of London, in Ber- 1352 mondsey, or in the poor parts south of the Thames. They were struck by the extraordinary thinness of body and generally underfed condition of the boys. He was told that people who had seen London children were struck in exactly the same way. It was found that of 150 children in North Canongate school who were examined there were no less than 115 who lived in houses of not more than two rooms. Thirty lived in one-room houses, and eighty-five in two-room houses.
In the general Report upon this school the medical examiners said—A large minority, if not the majority, of the North Canongate school children are habitually underfed and underclothed.Of the children examined they found 38 per cent. were suffering more or less from insufficient nutrition. What an awful idea it was that in so many of these schools a large minority, if not a majority, of the children were habitually underfed and underclothed. How was it possible to raise an Imperial race if that was the general character of the children in a large number of our schools. The medical men made this very important recommendation, which he wished earnestly to press upon the Committee—Physical exercise unsupported by adequate food and adequate clothing must result in early physiological exhaustion and infirmity.If the children in the schools were inadequately fed and clothed, and were unfit for physical instruction, they were still more unfit for mental instruction. They found with regard to eyesight that of the children in Edinburgh schools no less than 31.57 per cent. had defective eyes which often interfered with their school work. If these children were not attended to they would grow up and be defective workmen and citizens. There were 42 per cent. of these children with defective hearing which interfered with their efficiency in the school. Altogether they found that no less than 70 per cent. of the children examined in Edinburgh were suffering from some kind of disease or other. The medical gentlemen made this observation—Even if we assume that half the diseases found were such as not themselves to interfere with school efficiency—and this is much too 1353 large an assumption since any affection of ear, or throat, or heart, or lung, tends to interfere with efficiency all through the daily life—we should still have some 35 per cent., that is 10,500 children (among the 30,000) with some affection demanding more or less attention.That would give the Committee a very good idea of what was to be found in these reports, and he commended them to everybody's attention. They shocked him when he read them. He thought they were the most appalling he had ever read, and if anything like that state of things existed in the great schools in England, then the condition of our children was rotten, and ought to have the immediate attention of everyone who desired to see this country great and prosperous.
As to the remedy, let him impress upon the Committee a recommendation which was made by the Royal Commission on this point. The hon. Baronet who spoke earlier in the debate had referred to it in his speech. It seemed to him that the first thing they had to do to correct this state of things in the schools, was to find out the facts. Why should it not be a part of the duty of every teacher to make a sort of inspection of the children in the school every day. The teacher would be able to pick out any serious case of disease, or any serious defect in hearing or eyesight, or anything which was calculated to interfere with the school work of the children. They would be able to detect anything like over-work, and also if the children were too tired to do their school work. Why should not the teachers, who were called upon to make all sorts of ridiculous returns, which were of no use to anybody, make this inspection? Besides that, there ought to be at the public expense in every one of our schools a periodical medical examination of the children. There were charitable societies which sent nurses round some of the schools, but it ought not to be left to a charitable society or a local authority. It should be prescribed by Imperial authority that the children in all schools should have the required periodical medical examination. Some children who were found to be suffering from deafness and phthisis were undergoing severe physical exercises even in the best Edinburgh schools which were examined. If there was a daily examination by the teacher he would be able to find out the worst cases, and if there was 1354 a medical examination periodically, they should then know what the condition of the children was. He would state what appeared to him to be the duty of the State in the way of providing properly for the children. Of all things required by a young child, the most important was not food, but fresh air. Children required very little food provided that they had fresh air. What was the state of ventilation in the schools? Anybody who had visited the schools to any great extent, as he had done when he was an official connected with the Board of Education, knew that the air in the schools was a great deal fouler than outside, and wholly unfit for children to breathe. Attention was called to this by the Royal Commission, which said that special attention should be paid to the too frequent neglect of the proper ventilation of schools. Most elaborate rules were laid down about the building of schools, and every possible provision made for ventilation, but all these rules were of no use unless the teachers and managers kept this ventilation in proper operation. He knew that very often the ventilation was stopped by the teachers because the school was too cold. Although cold was less deleterious than foul air, it was more unpleasant. He was afraid that some of the inspectors were chilly old gentlemen, and that they did not attend as they ought to do to the question of ventilation of schools.
Some years ago there was a scientific inquiry into the condition of schools conducted by Dr. Bayley, of Owen's College, Manchester. He examined four schools in Manchester, and one higher grade school in Salford. He classed the schools in regard to ventilation into five classes, according to the degree of foul air and smell in the various schools. There were none in the first or second class; there were only two in the third class, and the class-rooms in the fourth were reported to have "air very oppressive, giving rise to headache." Three schools were distinctly worse, "the odour, in the class-rooms especially, simply unbearable." The evidence was still more precise in regard to defective ventilation. The air in the schools was tested for carbonic acid gas. The standard accepted in hospitals was that if there were more than six parts in 10,000 of carbonic acid 1355 gas, the air was adjudged polluted. There was not one of these schools which was within the unpolluted zone; the owest school had seven parts, and in the class-rooms ten parts in 10,000, and the highest had no less than 12.8 parts, and 14.5 parts in 10,000 in the class-rooms. The schools were also tested for micro-organisms, and, whereas pure mountain air was quite free from micro-organisms and Paris streets contained 25 per cubic foot, it was found in the Granby Row School, Salford, that in the infant school there were 213, in the boys' school 236, and in the girls' school 286 micro-organisms per cubic foot.
§ MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us how many micro-organisms per cubic foot are found in the House of Commons?
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said he did not know. He thought the Committee would agree that fresh air was a necessity of life, and it ought to be supplied in the schools. Then the Committee would agree also that at all hazards the children must be fed before they were taught. If they were not fed, as Dr. Mackenzie said, they were not only doing no good by their education, but actually injuring the child. The teacher knew as well as possible which children came to school without having had their breakfast. How were the children to be fed? There were charitable agencies which fed as many children as their means permitted. He had been very much amused once when, after one of his speeches in the House in regard to the necessity of feeding the children, a lady interested in one of these charitable societies wrote to the Duke of Devonshire complaining that his speech was calculated to injure her charitable society. He did not want to say one word against these charitable societies; let these agencies feed the children if they could, but if they could not, the State must see that the children were fed. That was the fundamental fact on which all administration and practice should go. He did not want to undervalue parental responsibility. By all means let them make the parent responsible; there was no reason why the cost of feeding the children should not 1356 be exacted from the parent. There were two classes of parents who sent their children to school unfed. One was the careless parent; the mother was drunk, perhaps, the night before, and would not get up to give the child breakfast. Such parents ought to be dealt with very sternly and punished, and if examples were made of some of the worst cases, the carelessness would probably diminish. The other class of parents could not feed their children because they were poor and had not the means to give them food, and these ought to be dealt with with great tenderness. He did not himself object to the State feeding those children; but at any rate they could be referred to the relieving officers under the Poor Law. The advice he gave applied to England and Wales as much as to Scotland.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said that they had had a very interesting statement about the progress of Scotch education from the Lord Advocate, supplemented by another interesting statement by his hon. and learned friend the Member for Hawick Burghs, covering the last thirty years, and followed up by an extremely interesting speech by the right hon. Member for Cambridge University, in which he had brought his large English experience to bear on the question of education in Scotland. The question of physical culture and training was of no less importance to England than to Scotland, and he believed that the facts which had been disclosed by the Royal Commission in regard to Edinburgh showed a state of things no worse than that which prevailed in the densely-populated cities of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the Midlands. He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University that it was idle to attempt to give mental training to children imperfectly fed. Children whose nutrition was in an imperfect state were incapable of receiving instruction profitably, but their brain power was actually made worse, so that in time, instead of contributing anything to society, they became a charge upon it. And no class was more prone to intemperate habits than those people who were imperfectly nourished and had 1357 weak brains. In Scotland this was really a growing evil. He had no doubt that the conditions in the lower parts of Edinburgh and Glasgow were worse forty years ago than now, but in Scotland the city population was increasing at an enormously more rapid ratio than the country population. The rural population of Scotland was diminishing, not only in the Highlands, where there had been enormous clearances of the people to make great deer forests, but in many of the agricultural districts. By far the largest part of the growth of population in Scotland was developed in the county of Lanark and in the neighbourhood of Glasgow. The question of the condition of the city children attained greater importance every year, as the city populations increased. He asked the Lord Advocate whether the Scottish Education Department would take steps to carry out some of the recommendations of the Royal Commission. Some of these recommendations might require legislation. But the Department could produce circulars and Minutes, and he hoped their untiring energy in that respect might be applied to the endeavour to carry out those recommendations which did not require legislation, such as the appointment of committees on physical training on each School Board.
With regard to the Equivalent Grant, for years past they had been in a difficulty owing to their not having in any clear and compendious form a statement of the public documents and instructions under which these grants were administered. He hoped the Scottish Office would issue a concise statement on this matter. Not one member of the Committee besides the Lord Advocate, excluding, of course, his hon. friend the Member for Mid Lanark, carried all the details in his mind, and it would be a great help to weaker spirits if they had the details provided for them. He believed his hon. friend the Member for Mid Lanark was prepared to argue that Scotland was not receiving as much as it was entitled to; but he would not forestall the exhaustive statement which he was sure the Committee would have from his hon. friend. With reference to the question of supplementary courses, the Code contained a new provision on that subject. That provision had excited a great deal of criticism, and even some alarm in Scotland. The 1358 best evidence of the alarm it had excited was to be found in the fact that the Permanent Secretary to the Scotch Board of Education went to Scotland and made a speech in defence of the scheme. They had all read that speech with much interest; and they had also read some of the criticisms passed on the scheme. He did not think that the scheme deserved all the severe criticism bestowed upon it. He thought the prolongation of school life did furnish a reason for some additional courses, in order to fill up the time during which children were kept at school. But there was a tendency to induce specialisation at an early age. Speaking broadly, more could be accomplished with the minds of children by giving them general education up to the age of thirteen or fourteen years than by giving them technical education. There was a dangerous tendency in that direction. He was far from saying that the system could not be worked in such a way as to avoid that evil. He hoped that the Department would take care to work it in that sense; for it was susceptible of that evil, and it was susceptible of discouraging general education in the interests of secondary and higher grade education; very little was done for the children by introducing them to special work for which their age and attainments did not fit them. Their experience was that it was better to give general education to children, and that more would be gained in the long run by doing that than by carrying them at once into what was to be the business work of their lives.
There had been some discussion with reference to the Minute of the 28th of May last, which was issued by the Scotch Education Department. That Minute was really very important, more important than would appear from what the Lord Advocate had said. The right hon. Gentleman said it was only a temporary measure, but it was a temporary measure which might tend to make itself permanent. It consisted of two parts. The first part alluded to certain sums of money for schools in thinly peopled districts where the numbers were small, and where the average rendered it difficult to maintain adequate staffs of competent teachers. The total sum to be expended was very much less than half the sum of £212,000 to be expended under the Minute. He understood that only about 1359 £50,000 per annum was to be devoted to that purpose. That left a sum of £162,000 to be expended under the second part of the Minute. The second part of the Minute was really a gift in aid of rates. It was simply taking money allocated to Scotland as the equivalent to what had been given for education in England and expending it in aid of the rates. Money was to be spent to relieve ratepayers which otherwise would be spent on the schools. Of course there was a precedent for that in the grant of 1890. As his hon. friend had said, the bulk of the Scottish Members had never ceased to protest against the practice of allowing this educational money to be spent in the relief of rates. The gain to the small ratepayer was hardly appreciable, but the loss to the community was considerable, because the schools were not able to provide the education which they ought to provide. In the case of the English Bill of last year, they succeeded in carrying a provision, by which money which had hitherto been given in aid of the rates was hereafter to be entirely given for the purposes of education. That was forced on the Government by discussion in this House, and ultimately passed with general consent, because it was felt it would be a great educational gain. They should like to do that in Scotland also, and take the whole of the money under the Act of 1890 and apply it to educational purposes. [Mr. A. GRAHAM MURRAY: Hear, hear!] He had the consent of the Lord Advocate himself. Why, therefore, should they take the new educational fund and apply it in aid of the rates? If they now wished to withdraw from such an application a fund which was unfortunately liable to be diverted to the rates, how much more should they endeavour to have the new fund devoted to education. [Mr. A. GRAHAM MURRAY said the arrangement was only temporary.] The Lord Advocate said that the arrangement was only temporary, but there was an old proverb about taking butter out of a dog's mouth. If the money were given to the ratepayers now, it would be more difficult to withdraw it and apply it to education later, than would otherwise be the case. He thought the Education Department would have 1360 been better advised if they had allotted the money in almost any other way. He was aware that it could not be accumulated, but it might be allotted in respect of work done to the satisfaction of the Scotch Education Department. He thought they had a real reason to complain that money which in England was given to education should in Scotland be diverted from that purpose. If the money was to go to any educational purpose, it should be spent in some way which would secure benefit to the schools and the children. It might be expended in giving better staffs, or giving additional subsidies, or in some way or another which would be a benefit to the education of the country. It might be said that it was only a question of one year, but the Committee should remember that although the Lord Advocate spoke hopefully of an Education Bill for Scotland next year—it was a hope they had conceived for many years, and which had been as long delayed—who could tell what they might be engaged in discussing next session, when new questions of great gravity were being raised. He did not wish to acquiesce in anything which was wrong now in the hope that it might be set right next year. He should be glad to know if there was any possibility of having the second part of the Minute altered, and the money devoted to real educational benefits.
With regard to the future, he would only say that the statement they had from the Lord Advocate was a very satisfactory testimony to the working of the Scottish system. The light hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University spoke of the pleasure with which he listened to debates on Scottish education. The right hon. Gentleman was an educationalist, but he doubted whether many other English Members experienced any such pleasure. The right hon. Gentleman might, however, have complimented them on the concord which attended their debates on education, and on the absence of that religious difficulty which gave animation to English debates on education. From that source of friction they hoped to be free; and reviewing the progress of education in Scotland, they might feel that with regard to the progress made in the past, both before 1361 and after the Act of 1872, it was an indication that there were two lines on which they should proceed if they wanted to keep the education of the country abreast with the times. The first was to follow the lines on which they had hitherto worked, and make education in Scotland everywhere popular, and everywhere under popular control. The other was to associate Scottish education, as much as possible, with the general interests of the Scottish people, and he thought that that might well be increased by associating it more with Scotland itself. He listened to what the Lord Advocate said as to the intention of the Scotch Education Department to do more and more of its work in Edinburgh, and to give the people of Scotland a more ample opportunity of knowing what was being done. If the Lord Advocate could see his way to form, as could be done by Minute, something in the nature of a consulting body representing Scottish opinion, which would be a means of communication between Scottish opinion generally and the Department, which would focus Scottish opinion and give an opportunity to those who followed the progress of Scottish education of bringing their views to bear on the Department, he thought the right hon. Gentleman would be doing something for which Scotland would be grateful, and from which they might expect still further progress. He thought if education in Scotland had been kept in advance of education in other parts of the United Kingdom, it was very largely because they had the element of popular control; and he felt sure that in any measure which might hereafter be submitted to Parliament the feeling of Scotland in that respect would be fully recognised.
§ SIR CHARLES RENSHAW (Renfrewshire, W.)
congratulated the Lord Advocate on the statement he had been able to submit with regard to Scottish education. He confessed he shared the views of the hon. Member for the Border Burghs with regard to the Minutes issued, and he would suggest that they wanted the two additional circulars from the Scottish Education Department to which the hon. Member referred. The condition of the Scottish Education Department was at the present time alarmingly complex and difficult for anyone who desired to 1362 find out the funds available, and the Minutes that had to be studied made the difficulty almost insuperable. He hoped next year they might have legislation to place Scottish education in a more satisfactory condition than it was at present. With regard to the money coming to Scotland under the Equivalent Grant, and to the course to be taken with regard to the appropriation of it under the peculiar circumstances of the moment, and the prospect of further legislation, he hoped it would be understood that the fact that this money was now to be used to some extent in the relief of rates would not militate against its being used for other purposes when the Bill to be brought in was made an Act. One of the difficulties which presented themselves on the occasion of the passing of the last Education Act for Scotland was the consideration of the rates, and he hoped steps would be taken in the promised measure to avoid a similar difficulty cropping up. He approached the question of foreign language education dealt with in the circular issued in January last year (No. 340) not from an educational point of view but that of an employer of labour, and he regarded that circular as one of the most mischievous and unfortunate circulars ever issued by the Department. Having regard to the work that was going on and to the immense importance to Scotland as an industrial country that they should have an increasing number of young men thoroughly educated in German and French, the slight that had been put on those languages by that circular was most undesirable. The reason for issuing the circular was to him inconceivable. He did not believe they would get a more accomplished German and French scholar because he was taught a smattering of Latin. He strongly pressed the Education Department to give greater facilities for the learning of French and German than were given at the present time.
With reference to the remarks made by the hon. Member for the Border Burghs as to the county authorities being only authorities to receive this money, the hon. Member would find, if he were a member of a county authority, that the work devolved on them, not only in regard to the inception of schemes but also in seeing them 1363 carried out, was very heavy indeed. They owed a debt of gratitude to the county authorities of Scotland for the way in which they had carried out these duties. He was surprised at the hon. Member complaining of the amount of money to be spent under the second provision of the Minute of 11th May, in aid of voluntary schools. If the money was public money given to Scotland as an equivalent to the money taken by England last year to relieve the rates of the great expense involved by the Education Act, surely it was right the Roman Catholics and others associated with the public school work in Scotland should take their share. He certainly did not think it was right that they should be excluded from participating in this money. It was a very strange thing to him that when so large a sum as £212,000 was for the first time to be expended on education in Scotland, no legislation should be necessary. He did not think that was a desirable state of things. The House ought to have a stronger hand than they had, in one afternoon of this kind on the discussion of the Estimates, over these matters.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
said it was quite obvious that if the highly trained mind of the talented head of the Edinburgh School Board was not able to assimilate the documents issued by the Scottish Board of Education, there was no chance of such simple persons as himself doing so. He thought a digestible extract should be made of all these Minutes and circulars, so that they might be understood by all. He was in rather an unfortunate position, because, although he was largely in agreement with the Lord Advocate, he could not help thinking that the Government had burnt their fingers quite enough over Education Bills in other parts of the world, to make it desirable not to continue that disagreeable process with so thorny a subject and so thorny a people as the Scotch. A most excellent document, entitled "Suggestions for Supplementary Courses," with every word of which he agreed, set forth the methods pursued by the Scotch Education Department in filling up the educational hiatus between the ages of twelve and fourteen. 1364 He was rather in favour of specialisation, and had never been able to see why certain specialised subjects should not have as high an educative value as some of the vaguer subjects of education. Surely a study of botany, chemistry, or natural history was as informing to the mind as a course of reading in Aristotle or Horace? What schoolboys resented more than anything else was being compelled to go through courses which would have no bearing whatever on their after life. They desired to get to close quarters with something which would be of practical benefit to them, and he did not blame them. He was glad to see that the document to which he referred laid down a series of suggestions in the direction of giving a certain amount of practical training to lads between twelve and fourteen. There had been some talk about the constitution in Edinburgh of a new Board for educational purposes. He was not at all in favour of Boards in Edinburgh; his inclination was to the abolition rather than the creation of such bodies. The Board of Supervision had gone into the limbo of all absurd and useless things, and a Committee was at present trying to discover the benefits which were being derived from the Board of Manufactures. Boards were usually constituted by the appointment of the Lord Provost, the Lord of Session, a couple of bailiffs, and one or two of the miscellaneous people who were always hanging about Edinburgh looking for a job. Meetings were then held at stated intervals or otherwise; the ornamental men did no work, and the duties fell into the hands of the more or less competent, but generally incompetent, people not altogether unconnected with Parliament House in Edinburgh. It would be extremely inconvenient to run down to Edinburgh to get work done. It was much better to go to Dover House and see Sir Henry Craik, who was always extremely obliging and courteous, and who, if he could not do what was desired, wrote most plausible letters with which Members could usually satisfy their constituents. Moreover there were two appeals—to Lord Balfour of Burleigh and the Lord Advocate—and altogether questions affecting the Department could be effectually dealt 1365 with. Therefore, unless good reason could be shown, they had better go on as they were doing.
As to physical training, he considered the Commission had presented an epoch-making report. The results of the investigation and examination which had been made demanded the most serious consideration. The physical quality of the people was rapidly deteriorating. The Inspector-General of Recruiting had declared that out of 12,000 recruits examined by him 31 per cent. were rejected for physical defects—400 for defective sight, 600 for being under height, 600 for being under weight. That showed that the physical quality of the nation was deteriorating, and unless something were done we should not be able, in time of need, to meet our foes in the field as well as we used to do. In the examination of school children, there were found numbers of cases of eye, ear, throat, and heart disease, and tuberculosis. As to the under-feeding, that was not a new question, as some years ago Sir James Crichton Browne instituted a series of investigations in connection with the London Board schools, and found that a very large proportion of the scholars attended school having had no breakfast. He recollected the way in which the personal work of this gentleman was received by the House. This gentleman's Report laid down the fact that a great proportion of the children were underfed. He was told that the children who were well fed did their work very much better and were much brighter. The question of housing was also very important. He did not think that the young men at the universities got enough physical training. The curriculum was so full that there was not time between one class and another to take the necessary exercise. There was not nearly sufficient physical training at the Universities, and in the schools they wanted more fresh air. If people had good fresh air they wanted less food. They heard a good deal about the schoolmaster being the proper person to carry on physical training. He would point out, however, that under-fed children could not stand much physical training as well as their mental work. In London, where they had Sandow exercises for the children, they contracted heart disease under the strain of that particular work. He would like to 1366 say that it was with great satisfaction that he heard the decision of the Education Department that they intended establishing a Departmental Committee to draw up the rules and regulations under which physical training should be carried on. He hoped they would also have a medical examination of the schools, which he thought was very much required. The London School Board employed a highly-qualified medical man to go round the schools to see that they were kept in a proper sanitary condition, and properly ventilated. He thought in Scotland that the medical officer of health for the district would be the proper man to do this duty, and they might pay him an additional £100 a year. He congratulated the Lord Advocate upon the speech he had just delivered, and he also wished to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University upon his admirable speech, for by that speech he had rendered an enormous service to this important question.
§ SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbrightshire)
said that after all the best security that the children were well looked after was to be found in the schoolmaster himself. Whatever rules and regulations they might lay down in regard to the health of the children, the whole question depended very largely upon the schoolmaster. Some schoolmasters cared very little for the health of the children, and were more anxious that they should do well at examinations. He had had some experience in these matters, and he had been told that he was the oldest chairman of School Boards in Scotland. In his own parish he had always taken an active interest in the rural schools, and also in the work of the large School Board of which he was a member. Some fault had been found with the Minute of the 28th May, and he should like to know why that money should not be used to assist the rates. In the country they had a very heavy rate to pay for education, and they spared no expense, and they did everything they could to make the schools efficient. Nevertheless there was always something fresh to be done, and surely they would be justified in using a portion of the money in lessening the rate. In his part of the country there was a very industrious, well-informed, and well-educated class 1367 of persons working as shepherds. Those men had constantly to leave good situations, where they had been for many years, in order to go into the villages to get their children properly educated. Could no funds be found to enable them to send their children to villages where there were better schools? They did not object to walk five or six miles, but some of them were twelve or thirteen miles away from such schools. Men who had devoted their whole lives to shepherding could not easily find new occupations, and to shift with all their families into some wretched two-roomed house in a village was very hard upon them. He should like some information collected from the School Board, or any other source, as to the number of people in this particular position in their respective parishes. In that way the Government would obtain some idea of the number of families who desired assistance, and also the number of children who ought to be educated, and who were receiving a very scanty training at the present moment. A complaint had been made that the Board of Education was not always accessible, but he had not heard that complaint before. He had always found, in his own experience, that questions connected with Scotch education were always willingly and readily answered. He did not know what was looming in the future, but although the House might be tired of educational matters, he thought they would have an Education Bill for Scotland next session. He had no objection to School Boards, and he did not think they could do better than establish them in their large parishes, but when he found that the same persons were members of the School Board, the Parish Council and the County Council, then he began to ask why they should have three separate elections to elect them. In a good many cases they were practically the same men, and generally they were the best men the ratepayers could find. This happened in a great number of rural parishes in Scotland. One difficulty in continuing the present School Board system was that there was no appeal for the teachers. At the present time when teachers were wronged there was no appeal, and he thought there should 1368 be somebody to whom an appeal could be made. He joined in the congratulations offered to the Lord Advocate in regard to the satisfactory policy which the Government had adopted in regard to education in Scotland.
§ *MR. BLACK (Banffshire)
thought it was to be regretted that the hon. Member for Kirkcudbright had not joined in the almost univeral expression of opinion from both sides of the House in appealing to the Lord Advocate with reference to the Minute of 28th May, and more particularly with reference to the proposal to devote this very large sum in relief of rates and voluntary subscriptions, instead of increasing efficiency in education. He reminded the Committee that the sum at stake was a very large one. It was almost as much as the sum involved in what had been a great bone of contention in Scotland for the last fifty years, namely, the application of the teinds to the payment of Ministers in Scotland. The whole of the teinds represented £240,000 and here they were dealing with a sum nearly as great. Before many years were passed, probably next year, the whole question of education in Scotland would be in the melting-pot, and it would be the duty of the Government then in office to deal with it. It was of the utmost importance that a sum so large, and sufficient for the purpose of freeing education from the bottom of the ladder to the top, should be applied ad interim in such a way as not to make it difficult to apply the funds for secondary education and in increasing efficiency. It was true this Minute was only temporary in its application, but what was temporary really tended to become permanent if it were repeated year after year, and the net consequence of the Minute was to make it difficult for any Government which had to deal comprehensively with the subject of education to carry out any comprehensive scheme for secondary education because they would be met with the necessity of imposing an additional rate after the ratepayers had tasted blood in the shape of a remission to the extent of a fourth or a fifth of what they already paid. The Minute seemed to be worse in regard to the voluntary schools. If the Minute 1369 is as stated by the Lord Advocate temporary and is afterwards withdrawn, these voluntary schools would be in a very evil case, because in the meantime the springs of voluntary subscription would have dried up, but if it were permanent they were going to give to these voluntary schools the whole sum required for their maintenance without imposing any condition as to their control, and they would find great difficulty in asking these voluntary schools to submit themselves to appropriate control. There was a great deal to be done in this country in regard to technical education, and it would be a very proper application of this grant to make it applicable to the founding of technical schools throughout Scotland in suitable centres. Germany retained her supremacy not on account of protection, but on account of technical education, and if we were to retain our supremacy we must follow the same line. Referring to the very defective teaching of history in Scotch schools, the hon. Member said that the Treaty of Union provided that the kingdoms joined together be known by the common name of Great Britain. In Scotch schools they found continually that the books used were books which referred, not to Great Britain but to only one part of the kingdom. In "The Britannia History Readers, Book II.," used in the Glasgow High School, treating of the period of George III., and therefore after the Union, they found the following sentences:—Soon afterwards Spain joined in the war against England, chiefly because she wanted to get back Gibraltar. England was in very great danger. The French and Spanish fleets sailed up and down the Channel, and there was no English fleet strong enough to fight them. Before long England was also at war with Holland.He might multiply instances indefinitely, but it was sufficient to say this was quite a common habit, and a very objectionable habit. The remedy was twofold. The Board of Education employed inspectors, and if the Board of Education indicated to these inspectors that this misuse of terms would be treated as any other inaccuracy in history, that might have a material effect on the teachers of history. The other remedy was in the Leaving Certificate Examination. He was told 1370 that out of twenty-two questions in history set in the examination with regard to a period before the Union, only one related to Scotch history. It would be very appropriate in Scotland, at all events, that a large proportion should be devoted to that important department of history.
§ SIR J. STIRLING-MAXWELL (Glasgow, College)
said he would like to join in the appeal to the Government to take steps at once to carry out the recommendations of Lord Mansfield's Commission, and especially the recommendation with regard to the medical examination of children. He urged that steps should be taken in that direction, not next year, or next month, or next week, but to-morrow morning. He also desired to call the attention of the Government to the Report of the Committee that inquired into the question of Forestry. The work of that Committee, which was appointed by the Board of Agriculture, might not seem germane to the question they were now discussing, but the Report of the Committee referred to the importance of furthering education in regard to this very important industry. Though the Agricultural Department was active, he could not help feeling that this was a purely educational matter, and that there would be much better hope of seeing something done if the alertness and power of initiative which the Education Department had shown in regard to so many subjects were applied also to this.
§ *MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
said the Lord Advocate, in his most interesting statement indicating that so many things had been done, that so many things were being done, and that very shortly there was every reason to hope other things would be dealt with, showed that they were living at a time of extraordinary educational interest. He earnestly joined in the hope already expressed that another year would not go by without the Government being able to bring in the too-long-delayed Bill to co-ordinate education in Scotland. So much had been done lately through the acts of the Department, that the hon. Member for West Renfrewshire seemed to think 1371 that they had almost superseded Acts of Parliament. The educational policy had to a great extent altered, and would in future be still further altered, without adequately coming under the review of Parliament, and, according to a great authority at the Table, one of the main functions of Parliament was to maintain the efficiency of the public Departments. He failed to see how there was any representative control over the education policy of Scotland. That was to a large extent based on the Code, and memoranda upon Minutes and upon circulars. It was entirely against the spirit of the Constitution that Parliament should have so little control over so important a matter as the policy of education in Scotland. Under the present system, it could hardly be said that they were living under representative control. He expressed gratitude for what had been done through the agency of the Department in regard to the Report of the Royal Commission on physical education. He thought that the Department could help the School Boards by making known the best system of ventilation in schools. That had not been neglected by the teachers, many of whom were keen for ventilation, which was, in some cases, deplorable, especially in the landward schools. The real difficulty was to get a cheap and efficient system both of ventilation and sanitation. He believed that a good sanitary inspector of the class of a first-class clerk of works would be infinitely more useful than the ordinary inspector of schools, whose time was taken up with the literary condition of the schools. As to cooking, what was wanted was a shed and the necessary apparatus. The recommendations of the Commission on Physical Training were admirable, and he congratulated the members of the Commission on what they had done, in the public interest, in the preparation of their Report. He believed that the Swedish model was the best. In the Folkschule, the instruction was given by the teachers, but in the secondary schools the training was given by drill instructors, out-of-doors in summer and indoors in winter. Provision should be made for the training of the teachers in physical drill, but until that had been done it would be of advantage to have pro- 1372 fessional instructors in schools and training colleges.
He shared the dislike expressed by hon. Members as to the distribution of so large a sum of money in the way of relief of rates. That was a very unhappy prelude to the proposed scheme of co-ordination of education in Scotland promised for next year. The money might have been set aside to spend on technical buildings and other necessary educational works. The proposed provision of grants to small schools to increase their staff was much needed in some of the sparsely populated districts, but, at the same time, that, in some cases, would prejudice the question of the suggested new system of control of education. He was sure that a great many of these side schools had been erected only through the jealousies of the different parishes. There was not a sufficiently strong educational authority to properly distribute the schools throughout the country side. The parish area was not a good one, educationally speaking. It should be much larger. The ad hoc election of the education authority was in consonance with the popular desire in Scotland, and it would work well if there were larger areas. If there was a difficulty about popular representation it would be got rid of by the payment of the travelling expenses of the members of the School Boards; and he was in favour of the system carried out in America and in Massachusetts of conveying free the children from the outlying districts to central schools, instead of maintaining inefficient side schools. He was in favour of specialising the education of children. But to do so between twelve and a half and fourteen years of age was to specialise in primary education, and it was unfortunate that that specialisation should have been made without taking the judgment of Parliament. He strongly urged that some means should be found by which, when action was taken by the Department in such directions, Parliament should be consulted. He welcomed the concession that had been made that the Education Department should be more fully represented than it had been in Edinburgh. He thought that the Department had been out of touch with Parliament on the one side, and with the public opinion of 1373 Scotland on the other. "My Lords" of the Education Department in London could not, from the nature of their position, be interested in the proceedings of the Department. It was impossible for the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary and the other official members of the Board to make an effective Board of Control. Such a Board should be composed of the best educational talent of Scotland, sitting in Edinburgh, to direct the educational policy of Scotland. He could not agree with his hon. friend the Member for West Aberdeen that this was a case for letting well alone. It was, he acknowledged, difficult to criticise, on occasion, a Department so much of whose work one approved, without being able to present under the rules of debate an alternative policy; but he believed that there was a case for some great change in the direction of controlling the educational administration of Scotland effectively by Parliament. He agreed with the saying of an authority not unfriendly to the Department, that—The Scottish people, through their fit representatives, should have more power of initiation and more right of control in regard to their own education.That was the object to which they should aim; the institution of a Board of Control in Edinburgh, without which there would be very little control either here or elsewhere over the bureaucracy at Dover House.
§ MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)
said he would not have ventured to intervene in the debate had he not been one of the witnesses before the Royal Commission on Physical Training. In his opinion, that Commission did not receive all the consideration it deserved. The result of its investigations had been so startling that he ventured to express the hope that the Lord Advocate would not lose sight of its recommendations. He wished to refer to the urgency of carrying out certain of those recommendations, such as the medical inspection of school children, with a view to ascertaining whether or not the race was degenerating, and degenerating quickly, especially in the towns. Many of the witnesses urged most strongly on the Commission that if this country was to maintain its Army and Navy, and in 1374 fact if the Empire was to be maintained at all, it was absolutely essential that the children should be trained in the schools. The Committee was unanimous that some change was essential; but its recommendations were met with the appaling answer that a large proportion of the children were so hungry that they could not possibly benefit by physical training or mental training either. There was a recommendation in the Report that parents who did not feed their children should either be charged a fee, or should apply to the Poor Law; and he would respectfully suggest to the Lord Advocate that that was a matter which he should urge by every means in his power. It was certain that if they wished to maintain the Army and Navy they should train the children in the schools, and it was equally certain that if they trained them they would have to feed them also. Who believed it possible that in one of the greatest cities in the kingdom one-third of the children attending the primary schools were so hungry that it was impossible to train them. That was a state of affairs that was a disgrace to civilisation. He would urge his right hon. friend not to lose sight of this matter, which was one of profound importance.
§ *MR. CROMBIE (Kincardineshire)
said be desired to associate himself with the remarks which had been made by several hon. Gentlemen about the plethora of circulars and Minutes issued by the Department. He wished to make a suggestion about the circulars, many of which were of great importance. Formerly they were simply a sort of explanation of the Code; now they were oftentimes very controversial and of enormous importance, and sometimes almost a Code in themselves, as for instance Circular 374. The Lord Advocate said that he sent copies of those circulars far and wide to almost every person in Scotland interested in education; but he had entirely forgotten the Scottish Members. The reason given for that by the Lord Advocate was that he was afraid they might be thrown into the waste-paper basket. He did not think, however, there was any danger of the circulars being mistaken for one of the many 1375 appeals which hon. Gentlemen received recommending a certain vintage or offering financial assistance. He did not suggest that the Department should send a circular to every Scottish Member; but he suggested that the circulars should be put down on the pink Paper, in order that any hon. Member interested might get them with his Parliamentary papers. He wished to refer to one or two questions connected with the Department. The Department issued a certificate for dynamics, but it was provided that the student should, at the same time, pass an examination in mathematics. It was perfectly right that the student should have a knowledge of mathematics; but the Department said that, even if the student previously passed in mathematics and had a certificate, he should pass in that subject again when being examined in dynamics. The explanation given was that the rule had been adopted in order to cheek cramming for a special subject, and that experience had confirmed the expediency of the rule. He admitted that dynamics was a subject that could be crammed; but unless a student had learned mathematics first, he could not get up dynamics. If the Department said that the student should pass in mathematics before being examined for dynamics, that would be reasonable; but it was not reasonable to ask a student to present himself in both subjects at the same time.
With reference to Circular 374, the Department now issued leaving certificates for groups of subjects. One of the groups was English, mathematics, French, and German. That was precisely the education which a man wanting an efficient clerk of about seventeen years of age would desire; but the Department refused to grant a certificate for any group which included two modern languages unless Latin were also included. The explanation given was that the leaving certificate was to show ripeness for a University career. He did not want to interfere with that; but the vast number of young men who obtained leaving certificates had no intention whatever of going to a University; and yet, because a few might want to go to a University, all the others 1376 were refused certificates for French and German unless they knew Latin also. Another answer was that there was an intermediate certificate and a commercial certificate, but those were inferior certificates and were given to boys of fifteen or sixteen, and it was adding insult to injury to tell a lad of seventeen that he should have to take an inferior certificate. Another circular was issued, Circular 375, which he welcomed as a sign of repentance on the part of the Department. That circular stated that the desired certificate would be given to certain pupils in certain schools if they enjoyed the good graces of the inspectors. Why should the Department consider individual cases, and say that individuals in certain schools would be allowed to pass certain examinations while others would not. The real reason for this regulation was that the Department believed that Latin should be learned first, in order that modern languages might be properly learned. That reminded him of the old doctors who argued that it did not matter whether they killed or cured a patient, as long as they treated him according to the pharmacopœia. As a matter of fact, in many places in Scotland, French was taught first and then Latin. In Germany the principle was to teach the modern languages first and the ancient languages afterwards. The idea of the leaving certificate was borrowed from Germany; but in Germany it was given to three classes of schools, including schools in which Latin was not taught at all. There might be something to be said for making Latin compulsory in the Universities, but it was monstrous that boys of seventeen who had finished their education should not be given a certificate for French and German simply because they had not taken Latin also. There were hourly protests against the ignorance of the British in modern languages, and the Scottish Education Department were greatly responsible for that ignorance, owing to steps they had taken in issuing this objectionable circular. He hoped the Lord Advocate would be able to assure them that it should be withdrawn.
*MR. HUNTER CRAIG (Lanarkshire, Govan)
said he thoroughly dissented from the proposition of the hon. Member for Kirkcudbrightshire, that 1377 the School Boards should be abolished and their duties should be relegated to the Parish Councils, for the reason that the boundaries of the parish and county were accidental boundaries, whilst the educational system of Scotland was arranged in populous areas. In some cases such a course would necessitate there being two schools where one was all that was necessary owing to the present School Board areas being in two parishes. He thought the Committee were greatly indebted to the right hon. Member for the Cambridge University for his able contribution to the debate, and hoped that what the right hon. Member had said would be widely circulated throughout the country, and that thereby attention would be called to the underfed and unhealthy condition of the children who attended the schools, which was cause for serious alarm and consideration. It was lamentable to think their physical condition was so wretched. The right hon. Gentleman had given them a summary of statistics from the Report of the Committee on Physical Training, and proceeded there-from to suggest a remedy; but he had expected from him and others first to deal with the cause, but this not having been touched, he ventured to say that the major cause of so many unfed children was the drunken habits of their parents. He hoped the information elicited in this debate would be of value to the Committee now sitting upstairs on the Scottish Licensing Bill, in strengthening the Bill, seeing that the welfare of the children depended on greater restrictions in the sale of intoxicating liquor. £180,000,000 annually was spent on intoxicating liquor, and it was mainly spent by the working classes—estimated at £120,000,000. So long as the money was diverted from the purchase of food for the purposes of drink, so long would they have degenerate children in the schools. Until that evil was remedied he hoped something would be done to take care of the children by making some provision for them in the way of feeding them, when they came long distances. It was most cruel to think that these poor children should only get two substantial meals a day, one in the morning and one when they got home at night.
§ *MR. JOHN DEWAR (Inverness)
rose to draw special attention to the schools in the Highland counties, and to suggest to the Lord Advocate that the special circumstances required exceptional treatment. The Minute to which so much criticism had been directed that afternoon did not treat these schools very fairly, inasmuch as it only proposed to give the grant to schools where there were two certificated teachers. That was no doubt to induce the schools to appoint more certificated teachers, but in many cases in the Highland schools two certificated teachers were not necessary One certificated teacher with, in some cases, one or two pupil teachers performed all the duties required. The proposed grant of £40 per school did not cover the whole expense of a new certificated teacher, and he might point out that, inasmuch as the rates in the Highland districts ran from 8s. to 13s. in the £, their resources for this purpose were practically exhausted. Another thing which affected the Highlands especially was the fact that the parents lived in many cases a long way from the school. He knew of a case where a deerstalker lived eighteen miles from the nearest school, and he was prosecuted for not sending his children to school, but he had a very small salary and he could not afford to board his children near the school, and although the authorities had every desire to assist him they had no power.
§ And, it being half-past Seven of the Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee Report Progress; to sit again this evening.