HC Deb 15 March 1904 vol 131 cc1212-36

*MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.) moved a Resolution of which he had given notice, declaring that in the opinion of the House the cost of the training of teachers should be charged on the National Exchequer. He said there was no question in connection with education which was more looked to at the present moment than this, or which more required the attention of the Government. He supposed there would be general agreement that there was need for the provision of further facilities for training. It was not necessary for him to weary the House with figures, because those given by the Secretary of the Board of Education in a Paper distributed that morning sufficiently indicated the position. That information shortly came to this, that whereas there were every year between 6,000 and 7,000 persons who qualified for entering the training colleges, less than half could find admission. The pressure on the existing colleges was increasing daily. Although the residential colleges had been enlarged from time to time, they were practically full, and in the opinion of the best judges they could not be indefinitely enlarged without doing considerable damage to the standard of their education. On the other hand, the University colleges had latterly gathered to themselves a large number of teachers in training, and some of the colleges were beginning to be afraid that their non-professional students would be swamped by those who wished to enter their fortresses. Everybody who was conversant with the work of the local education authorities at the present moment knew that the demand for teachers was growing more pressing every day, and that many of them had to take teachers who had no training, to fill posts which ought to be filled by properly trained and qualified teachers. It was most essential in our great system of national education to keep up not only the quantity but the quality of the teachers. It was really bad economy, when spending £14,000,000 or£15,000,000 a year from the rates and taxes on salaries, buildings, apparatus, and the like, in connection with education, not to see that the schools were staffed with a full supply of well-trained teachers in order to secure a proper return for this great expenditure.

Where did the responsibility to remedy the present difficulty primarily reside? He ventured to say that the Government of this country had really never faced this question, and had never recognised the duty laid upon it to take the principal step in supplying the deficiency in this part of our educational system. What was the history of the training of teachers in this country? It was left, up to very recent years, to the generosity of private persons, or to the enterprise of such societies as the National Society and the British Employment Society to establish training colleges. Up to 1860 these societies were largely aided by grants from the National Exchequer for building purposes, but since then he believed that no grants had been given by the State. Some ten or twelve years ago, when his friend Mr. Acland was at the Education Board, there was a new and useful departure whereby day training colleges were established in connection with the Universities, but it was not until yesterday that it was considered the duty of any local authority to establish colleges, or to put any substantial burden on the rates for this national purpose. A clause was inserted in the Education Act of 1902 giving the local education authorities power to train teachers, but it was an optional power, and the question was only discussed then from the denominational point of view. The cost of the training of teachers was now for the first time made a matter of local taxation, instead of a matter of Imperial taxation. In his view the training of teachers was a matter of national concern. He would try to justify that as briefly as he could. As a rule, putting aside a certain number of our large cities, it was impossible to treat the question of the training of teachers as a local question, and that for several reasons. In the first place there were about 130 different local education authorities, and those who had to deal with them knew how difficult it was to get them to agree to combined action for any purpose; and the difficulty would be increased in the matter of the training of teachers as the duty was not obligatory but optional. He did not think his hon. friend the Secretary to the Board would care to undertake the job of forcing the local authorities to do their share of the work in the training of teachers. But if the hon. Gentleman did so another difficulty would arise—a considerable grievance which he might call in classical language "Sic vos, non robis." Those who were conscientious would be training teachers, if they had the money, for other localities to which, possibly by higher salaries or other reasons, teachers would go and leave them in the lurch. They could not localise this work. There were some people who imagined that a teacher could be bound down to serve a long time in a very restricted locality. He ventured to say that if any system of that kind were tried there would be in a short time an agitation from some quarters which would overthrow the system of indentured work. If the country authorities did not do their duty in this matter it would be a misfortune, because there was what he would call excellent raw material in the country districts for the training of teachers, and it was desirable that they should get the country brain as well as the town brain. Lastly, there arose the difficulty of a higher education rate. This training was to be paid for, not out of the ordinary compulsory education rate, but out of another rate, and there were many ratepayers in this country who would hesitate to add to their present assessments a 4d. or a 6d. rate for this purpose. All those difficulties made it clear that little would be done by the local authorities for the training of teachers until the work was made easier for them by the central authority.

Again, the regulations issued by the central authority for the improvement of the training of pupil teachers would, if carried out, be very costly to the local authorities. For instance, it was calculated that the regulations would impose an extra expense of £20,000 a year on the West Riding of Yorkshire. The local authorities were hit by these regulations in several ways. In the first place the restriction in regard to age swept away the monitor and probationer, and created a large number of vacancies which had to be filled by assistants. It was all very well to carry out this improvement in large towns with concentrated populations and good conditions; but it was a very different thing in scattered country districts, where they had to provide new buildings, boarding for many of the students, and travelling expenses as well. These regulations, it was true, were not to come fully into force until next year, but he did not know that that allowed too much time for the arrangements that had to be made. The Department had taken a rather serious step already in prohibiting teachers in voluntary schools from giving instruction; o pupil teachers out of school hours. That was done under cover of preventing what were called extraneous duties, but when that question was discussed in the House extraneous duties were understood to mean such things as playing the organ, or other non-educational duties. Of course the result of the action of the Department was obvious; it meant that educational teaching must only be given in pupilteacher centres which had to be provided by the local authorities. The general outcome of the matter was a three-fold burden on the rates for shortage of teachers, shortage of training colleges, and raising of the standard. It was no wonder that the over-burdened ratepayers cried out, and asked that, if the Government dictated a new policy, they should also pay for it. The County Councils Association passed a strong resolution in regard to the matter the other day; and he had had letters within the last few days from friends who demanded a national rather than a provincial system in order to secure a universal standard-His friend Mr. Acland wrote him recently— We are far behind many other countries in this matter of training, and we shall remain behind unless a wholly new method is adopted. We surfer at present from a policy which has too often existed in this country of mis-spending millions for want of a prudent expenditure of a comparatively small additional sum. At present, only one-fourth of our elementary teachers have been to a training college. As long as this continues, a very large number of the children will seriously suffer. Now as to the Motion which he wished to put before the House. In the first place, it did not propose to relieve private persons but only aimed at recalling the central education authority to some sense of responsibility in this matter; and, in the second place, it did not propose to increase the public burdens further than such an increase was desired by the Education Department. No doubt national expenditure was heavy, but so was local expenditure; and there was no better way of swelling that expenditure than to allow Government Departments to force expenditure on the local authorities. He wished to credit the Government with certain larger grants. There was on the Estimates a sum of £10,500 towards the training of teachers. That was no doubt due to the increase in the number of teachers, and there was also an increase of £750 for hostels. The Government, however, had abolished 75 per cent, almost at the expense of the training schools and did not give a penny more for buildings. It might be said that they were going to give £40,000 more for training colleges, but what was that when a single riding of a county had to expend £20,000 on training colleges. If the regulations were to be carried out, these grants must be largely increased. He could not accept the Amendment of his hon. friend the Member for Camberwell, who proposed that only "the greater part" of the training of teachers should be charged on the national exchequer, because the Government would say that they accepted that at once, because they had already paid the greater part of the cost. He did not wish the present system to continue as it stood; he wished the Government to assume greater responsibility. He had no objection to large towns conducting experiments in regard to education, but there must be proper safeguards against extravagance. In a national matter of this kind the great bulk of the money should be found by the national exchequer, and they could not expect the local authorities to incur unpopularity and odium by raising large additional sums for national, not local, purposes. He begged to move.

*SIR MICHAEL FOSTER (London University)

said that in seconding the Resolution of his right hon. friend, he trusted he should not be weakening the force of his argument if he ventured to make a few observations from quite a different point of view from that taken by the right hon. Member for Somerset. There was a story that a German professor who had come to England for the first time, asked Mr. H. Sidgewick how it was that in this country there was no class of what was called in Germany gelehrte; and the answer was that we had the class but called them prigs. He was free to confess that he had the advantage of drawing the conclusion not only from observation, and also from introspection, that the people whose lives were attached to knowledge exclusively, either in acquiring or distributing it, were subject to the besetting sin of priggishness. It was very important that the teachers should be free from that influence. This was a matter of national importance, because he agreed with his right hon. friend that the elementary teacher belonged to no town, to no country; he belonged to the nation. It was necessary that he or she should not be a mere didactic machine, and that he or she should be trained to be a man or a woman, and he would say a man or woman of the world, so as to train up children to take their place in the world. Now to do that, and to prevent the introduction of priggism, they had to ask themselves what were the circumstances most helpful in producing that characteristic. It was to place a person, while he was being trained within a narrow circle, in the midst of those who were following the same pursuit, who did the same things in the same way, and who: talked of nothing but what was common to them all. He could not help thinking that the clergy of the Church of England had received untold benefit from the fact that, in the majority of cases, they had been brought up at the Universities in the midst of other people, shoulder to shoulder with those who had other objects and other views; and it was his wish that the other clergy of this country, the teachers of the country, should have the same advantage. That was much more likely to be brought about, ho thought, by throwing the cost, or at least the main cost, upon the national exchequer, because then there would be a greater likelihood of teachers taking advantage of the training of the Universities. He could not believe that there was any danger of those centres of learning being swamped by teachers, if they were made, as they should be, available for the training of all careers in life. It was for this, among other reasons, that he seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, in the opinion of this House, the Training of Teachers is a matter of national concern, and the cost of such training, so far as it falls on public funds, should be charged on the national exchequer."—(Mr. Henry Hobhouse.)

DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)

said he was in agreement with the mover, and in particular with the seconder, of the Motion, and they would understand that the Amendment he had on the Paper was not hostile to the Motion just moved. His Amendment was to make the Motion read that the greater part of the cost of the training of teachers should be charged on the national exchequer. His position was chat if they were to provide further facilities for the training of adult teachers, then the State would have to pay the great bulk of the cost. It would be fatal to localise the teachers, who would become, as the hon. Member for the London University said, provincial professional prigs; but a margin of the cost should be left to be paid by the locality. The proposal that the whole cost should be paid by the State was utterly impossible since the Act of 1902. The position had changed since the Act of 1902, which provided that any local authority could on its own initiative build training colleges, and spend money right and left, and then, according to his right hon. friend's Motion, go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and ask him to pay the bill. That was an absolutely impossible proposition. No Chancellor of the Exchequer could, under any circumstances, agree to that suggestion; and, as long as the Act of 1902 gave this free hand to the local authorities, so long must the locality find at least a smaller margin than at present of the cost of the institutions. There was a dearth of training facilities for teachers, and the present authorities could not do all that was required in respect of the training of adult teachers with the present grants from the Exchequer. As a proof of the dearth of present teaching facilities, he would take the result of the King's College Examination for scholarships. Only one in seventy male pupils, and one in a hundred female pupils, succeeded in gaining a scholarship; and the result was that 6,902 young people, having completed their apprenticeship and passed into the first or second class, had a right to complete their preparatory career in a training college. But there were only 2,813 places in these colleges, so that over 4,000 who had the right to a training college training, were unable to obtain it. To call that a provision for the training of teachers was an absolute sham, delusion, and snare. He knew the case of a young man who had taken a very high place in a provincial college, and who applied for admission to the Cheltenham Training College, which was almost entirely supported out of public funds. The answer he received to his application was—"Accept if Churchman, or willing to conform. Wire reply to the Principal of the college." The Motion of his right hon. friend would throw the entire cost of such an institution on the public exchequer. He did not know whether his right hon. friend considered that, or whether he considered that this gentleman ought to be placed in a position of being tempted to conform to the Church of England in order to utilise the scholarship he had earned by the distinguished position he won in the King's Scholarship Examination. With such a large number of successes and such a comparatively small number of places, many of which were set round with denominational tests, it must be clear that there must be greater provision for the training of teachers than there was at present. He thought it was obvious that such a telegram as he had read ought not to have been received as a preliminary to the enjoyment of a King's Scholarship. At any rate that King's scholar ought to have got admission under a conscience clause. But, apart from that, the question was whether the localities could find the money to provide the additional training accommodation that was necessary. He did not think they could. There must be more money from the Exchequer.

He did not think that the Chairman of the Somerset Education Committee treated the local education authorities justly in this matter. He had been profoundly struck by the magnificent efforts made by the local authorities, under very great strain and under great difficulties, in the direction of securing means for the proper training of pupil teachers. He had a complete list of what had been accomplished in this particular direction, and it showed a remarkable desire, in Somerset particularly, by bursaries and other schemes to induce young people to become teachers; and he thought that the work of the local authorities, considering the struggles of the education committees to overtake the serious condition into which the voluntary schools had fallen, showed a most admirable advance. In Manchester they had one of the most remarkable schemes for the training of pupil teachers in this country. But what the local authorities could now do was to tackle the question of the training of adult teachers with the money at present at their disposal. Manchester would during the course of this year open two new colleges, one for men and the other for women. The eastern counties were now in conference with a view to devising a scheme for the opening of a training college for teachers; a training college for teachers would be opened in Hereford in September; Cambridge had also a scheme in hand; and Lancashire and Cheshire were in consultation with reference to the establishment of a training college. But they must have further aid from the State if the thing was to be done properly; and he would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that the local authorities should be given very large aid in regard to the building of new colleges. If the Board could see its way, after consultation with the Treasury, to provide further money for the building of colleges that would be a very considerable advance indeed.

In addition, he would urge that there was a very great shortage as regarded male teachers. They would always be able to get plenty of girls, because the elementary school teaching profession was a first-class opening for any young girl, and the ultimate prospects was quite admirable. Not so, however, for boys. He himself put before the Parliamentary Secretary the other day a letter written by the corresponding manager of an education committee to an applicant for a head-mastership in a public elementary school, in which the applicant was asked if he knew anything of the organ. The letter added that the present master played the organ, and for that and for looking after the lamps he received a small annual payment of £4. That would also be open to his successor; the letter adding that it was a private matter and not a condition of employment. The letter also said that the wife of the present master acted as caretaker. They would have to get away from the idea of treating public elementary school teachers as trimmers of lamps. Of course the teacher's status would be what he himself made it; but if he were to be looked upon in the social fabric as a trimmer of lamps at £4 a year, with his wife as a caretaker, they would not get boys to enter the teaching profession. The boys would enter commercial life instead, and at the end of their careers they would be much more successful than if they had been pupil teachers. He thought that the local authorities themselves should resent that kind of communication and should insist on a different status being given to teachers. Then as to the question of emolument, even teachers had to live. In Somerset, a headmaster, college trained, and a certificated teacher, who was in control of a public elementary school with an attendance between fifty-one and 120 children, received £90 a year, and had the ultimate prospect of looking forward at the end of his career to a magnificent salary of £130 a year. They might spend what money they liked on the training of teachers, but they would not get the best material if at the early stages of their career teachers were placed on a plateau from which they could never rise beyond £3 a week. He would not press that. He had some delicacy in pressing it. He had been an elementary school teacher himself; and, therefore, he felt some difficulty in pressing the claims of his confrères, but he was assured of this, that no matter what facilities they offered, unless the status of the teacher were improved, and unless he were given a salary that would enable him to maintain the dignity which the Secretary to the Board of Education particularly desired to associate with the office of teacher, they would not get the right material for this great work. He agreed that greater facilities were needed; he agreed there was a great shortage; he agreed that the State ought to do more; he agreed that the State might very well find building grants for new colleges; but he entirely disagreed to giving the local authorities the right to open these institutions and then turn to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and ask him to find all the money. It was because of that and because he felt that in spirit he was with the mover of the Motion that he ventured to ask the House to accept the Amendment.

MR. GEORGE WHITE (Norfolk, N.W.)

said he desired to second the Amendment; and he did so not because there was any difference between his hon. friend and the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Motion but because he I thought the Motion should have indicated something in the direction of the Amendment. He was one of those who felt that anything almost that could be done by the national exchequer towards the erection and maintenance of training colleges should be done. At the same time he thought it was most desirable that the local authorities should contribute some small moiety of the expense, in order that any disposition to lavishness might be checked. He did not think anything was more important or more pressing in connection with education at the present moment than the question of additional facilities for the training of teachers. Under the Act of 1870 large provision was made for the extension of elementary education; but no corresponding provision was made for the training of the teachers which that extension required. The Act of 1902 did make some provision, and the Prime Minister anticipated great things from that Act, which had not yet been fulfilled, and consequently very little had been actually accomplished. He admitted, however, that there were movements on the part of the local authorities which had not yet taken effect to any great extent, and he did not anticipate that they would take any great effect in consequence of the enormous expenditure that would be likely to accrue. The position, therefore, was this. There was undoubtedly a scarcity of teachers for elementary schools. Every hon. Member who was concerned with education in any part of the country would know that there was not an adequate supply of trained teachers. In his own county he feared that they had a somewhat unenviable reputation for the employment of Article 68 teachers; but even when the local authorities were desirous of superseding these teachers by superior teachers they could not get them, and the expense on the locality of building and maintaining a training college was one which he thought the local authorities would not like to incur in many instances. His other point was that, even with a group of counties such as East Anglia, they could not locate the teachers, after going to the expense of training them. Other counties might get the advantage of that expense, and, consequently, with the pressure which primary education was now putting on the rates, he was quite sure that very few local authorities would have the spirit, he might almost say the hardihood, to impose on the rates the additional expense of a training college.

Another reason which pressed on him quite as much as the educational reason was that they wanted national training colleges instead of denominational training colleges. If the colleges were built by the Exchequer, and were maintained under the Act of 1902, they would be free, of course, from the tests which so unfortunately hampered the training of teachers in these days. Within the last fortnight in his own constituency a case came to his knowledge similar to the case quoted by his hon. friend. A young girl who won a King's Scholarship was for some reason or other admitted to the Diocesan Training College at Norwich. She remained there a week, and was then dismissed, because she would not conform. The president of the college wrote to a local newspaper a letter in which, after sneering at Nonconformists, he said that he saved the girl from violating her own conscience. The blame in such cases attached to those who tempted young girls to enter chose colleges. Other girls who were inferior to the young girl in question were admitted to the college, and her prospects would suffer because she could not be trained in that college. Therefore, he thought it was desirable that they should receive some assurance from the Secretary to the Board of Education that at least the Board would consider this question as of very pressing importance in the educational interests of the nation. He was quite sure these educational interests would suffer very severely indeed. They were suffering at the present time, they would suffer more severely as interest in education increased, unless adequate provision were made for the training of teachers, and therefore he thought that the greater part of the expense should be a national charge. It would be to the greatest interests of education, and the Secretary to the Board would earn the gratitude of every educationist if he would use his great influence to secure that result.

Amendment proposed— In line 2, to insert after the word 'and' the words' the greater part of.'"—(Dr. Macnamara.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said he thought hon. Members were all agreed that the Education Act had thrown a great burden upon the local educational authorities, not merely in administration, but in finance, and that they had grappled with that burden to the best of their power during the twelve or fifteen months for which the Act had been in operation. But he thought it would be unfortunate if, under the immediate pressure of these new burdens, they were tempted to cast aside responsibilities which they ought to undertake and opportunities which they might be unable to recall, such as the provision of the training of teachers within their area. Everyone admitted that there was a great dearth of training colleges. Hitherto these colleges had been founded by private enterprise in connection with denominations who interested themselves in elementary teaching; and that was the occasion of those denominational tests which hon. Gentlemen opposite regretted, and which he also regretted, because he desired to see opportunities of full training in teaching thrown open to members of all denominations. He regretted that those opportunities were limited, though he could not complain that those who had found the buildings and started the enterprise should require the conditions which had been read out. As regarded these training colleges, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Somerset thought that the Board of Education had imposed new requirements, and that consequently further assistance would be necessary. He admitted that the Board of Education had imposed new requirements with regard to pupil teachers, but as regarded training colleges the matter stood precisely as it was when the Education Act came into force. What were the circumstances, and what was the amount of assistance which the Government gave to training colleges which were founded by local authorities or private enterprise? The Government paid 75 per cent, of the cost of the students, and that sum, paid by the Government, covered the students' instruction and board. There remained the upkeep of the building and the provision of the furniture. He thought he was right in saying that in every residential college the fees and the grant covered the whole expenditure apart from the provision of the fabric. He was not quite sure whether his right, hon. friend really suggested that the whole expenditure should be taken off the hands of the local authorities and be provided by the Government; but he would ask was it desirable to take this responsibility from the local authorities? Was it not desirable that they should have the margin indicated in the Amendment? The county of Hereford had started a training college, which would be thrown open in September, Lancashire and Cheshire were, he believed, combining in the matter of training teachers, and Manchester and the neighbouring towns were entering into a similar combination. He believed, also, that he was right in saying that the counties of Wales, were it not for the unfortunate differences over which the House spent so much time on the previous evening, were ready with a scheme for a joint committee, one of whose duties would be this particular duty of undertaking the training of teachers. It appeared to him to be of the utmost importance that this responsibility should still rest on the local authorities. What was wanted was variety of effort and experiment; and that could only be provided if the various local authorities developed their different views, out of which they might hope to obtain possibly an ideal system, or even more than one ideal system. His right hon. friend had suggested that the Board of Education contemplated forcing the local authorities to provide such colleges.


I asked whether you were prepared to do so.


said the Board of Education was certainly not prepared to do what the law did not justify and what common sense did not suggest; but they were urging the local authorities in every way to interest themselves in this matter by taking stock of the probable requirements of their area in respect of teachers and to prepare for the future by providing for a sufficient number of pupil teachers within their areas. They were also urging them to try to obtain promising boys and girls to enter the teaching profession. Let them use their local influence to induce boys and girls to enter a profession which he was afraid did not at present offer a sufficient inducement to the boys of this country. But turning from the purely educational side of the matter, he would point out that great difficulty might arise if the Resolution were adopted. The education authority must, from year to year, take stock of the requirements as regards teachers within their area, and apart from the automatic increase of the grant which would follow from the payment for the training of teachers, they would be able to come to the Treasury and say, "We want so much accommodation for teachers." It might be impossible to forecast from year to year the demands which might be made on the Treasury for the construction or improvement of buildings if the whole cost of the provision of colleges were thrown on the central Government. Further than that there was the difficulty, of retaining the services of the experienced teacher, by the person who paid for his training. As a matter of fact the Government now paid for the training of the teachers, and all the local authority had to do was to provide the buildings for training purposes. In order to retain the teachers, the local authorities should combine so as to have an area large enough to allow a teacher to move about, and not to spend the whole of his time in one small circle, narrowing himself by constant contact with the same individuals; that at any rate would help to retain them in the teaching profession. Another growing difficulty in the Board of Education was the wastage of teachers whom it was impossible to keep in the teaching profession, although the Exchequer paid for their training. If the local authorities took pains to find among the boys and girls in the combined area children who were likely to remain in the teaching profession and would bind them to remain in a certain area, there would be no hardship on the teacher so bound and no difficulty imposed on the local authority. The difficulty in his opinion was not so great as his right hon. friend suggested. The right hon. Gentleman included the whole pupil teacher system in his desire to throw the burden of payment on the Government.


No, I quoted the regulations to show that they aggravated the difficulty of the whole training question.


said there wag no doubt that the new regulations for pupil teachers had considerably raised the cost of the pupil teacher system. The hon. Member for the University of London had spoken of the danger of the teacher becoming affected with priggism. Well, the idea of these regulations was that the pupil teacher should be compelled to pass a certain portion of his time at a secondary school where he could mix with boys and girls not all entering the same profession, and that would go some way towards diminishing the danger of the evil referred to by his hon. friend. As to the amount of the contribution which would be made by the Board towards the cost of the training of the pupil teacher he might say that, whereas as the regulations now stood the boy or girl at a preparatory class received £2 a year for two years, he would hereafter receive £4 a year for two years. The meaning of a preparatory class extended to a secondary school which was not receiving the A or B grant under the secondary school regulations. The boy or girl at a recognised pupil teacher centre who now received £3 a year would receive £6 a year. In doubling these grants, the Board, it would be seen, were doing something to relieve the local bodies of the charge thrown upon them by the pupil teacher regulations. This pupil teacher question was the main difficulty of their education system, for unless they could prepare the children properly during the period of life between their leaving the elementary school and their entering the training college, they were wasting money at both ends, for if they were unfit to reap the benefit of the training college, when they came out of it they could not repay the country in teaching the enormous sums expended on their education. The problem of the training of pupil teachers was one of the most mportant which could engage local knowledge and interest; and he should be sorry to remove that interest from the local authority by throwing the whole thing into the hands of the Board of Education. He anticipated that his right hon. friend would not be satisfied with what he had said, and he might observe, in the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that this was not a good time for asking for any further contributions from the Treasury; but he could say that some assistance would be given in the matter of building grants. Further than that he could not go. Feeling so strongly as he did, on educational grounds, the extreme undesirability of removing this question from the purview of the local authorities, and taking away from the interest they now had in the training of pupil teachers, he must express his personal intention to vote against the Motion and in favour of the Amendment.


said the discussion in which they were engaged was very typical of the House of Commons. They constantly heard pleas for greater economy, yet that day they had debated several questions, the object of which was to press upon the Government to spend enormously increased sums of money. In the afternoon they had before them a proposal to expend three or four hundred thousand pounds for one purpose only, and now they were inviting Ministers to throw upon Imperial taxation the whole cost of the training of teachers. He must say that, in his opinion, they were running to extreme lengths in this matter, because they were paying the dividends of private education companies. If they went on in this way he feared they would produce a reaction against education itself. He had spent the greater part of his life in the Education Department, and he was somewhat interested and amused to hear his right hon. friend talk about the objection of raising money from the rates because of the unpopularity and odium caused thereby. Why should they, for the simple reason that they feared unpopularity, throw their burden upon that unfortunate person, the Chancellor of the Exchequer? If that right hon. Gentleman really wished to be straightforward, he would tell hon. Members that he would grant their request, but they must be prepared in return to assent to a half-crown income-tax. Let them open their eyes to what their proposals would cost the country. 1c was of no use hon. Gentlemen accusing the Government of being extravagant when every time there was a possibility of spending money they came forward with demands for increased expenditure. The hon. Member for Camberwell had spoken of the teaching profession as a first-rate opening for girls, although he had suggested that it was not quite so good for boys. He ventured to differ from him on that point. But even if it were only a first-rate opening for girls surely it was reasonable that a profession which was becoming an enormous profession should do something for itself and not depend solely on being trained by the State. There were many other professions of great value to the community, such as the medical and the legal, the members of which trained themselves, and he could not see why the profession of teaching should continue to have a sort of eleemosynary system of training. It was time the profession was taught that it was its duty to pay for its own training. As he had previously stated, this debate constituted a typical example of the way in which the House of Commons continually urged increased expenditure, and, directly it was granted, turned round and accused the Government of the day of unduly swelling the Estimates. He protested against this proposed enormous increase of expenditure. He did not wish to say anything against the speech of the Secretary to the Board of Education, but he was bound to confess that to him it appeared to be a trimming sort of speech. The hon. Gentleman said he wished the locality to continue to pay some portion of the cost, but still they were going to throw some of the expense of building on the Government. That was a wobbly sort of idea, and he thought the hon. Gentleman ought to have had the pluck to say that, in the present state of the Exchequer, and in view of the enormous increase of taxation, the time was not ripe for increasing burdens of this sort, but that when it was possible to cut other expenditure down so as to leave a margin he might then perhaps think of trying to meet their views. He was afraid that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be a much older man than he now was before he could find a margin for this purpose. In the name of economy he protested against throwing upon the Imperial Exchequer expenditure which should properly be met either out of local rates or by the individual directly benefited.

MR. CHARLES ALLEN (Gloucestershire, Stroud)

contended that to put sectarian tests on clever young men and women who were willing to serve the State as teachers was grossly unjust, and he ventured to assert that when the Liberal Party came into power it would have to do its best to alter that state of things. He gave two illustrations to bear out his argument. In the first place he pointed out that in the case of Culham College the total amount spent in the year 1901–2 was £5,797 18s. 11d. Of that amount the students of the college provided £1,110; the Government grant amounted to £4,453; the Diocesan Board found £180 only; the voluntary contributions amounted to £53, and 2s. was obtained from other sources. Yet to get into that college the pupils had to pass a religious test-a Church of England test. Then there was the case of the Women's College at Oxford. In the year 1901–2 the students found £510, the Government grant was £1,290, and the Diocesan Board only contributed £117. There, again, they had a religious test.

*SIR W. HART DYKE (Kent, Dartford)

said that although the House generally was in favour of economy there were considerations which should commend the present proposal to their attention. An Act had been passed throwing a heavy burden, both administrative and pecuniary, upon the local authorities. Probably not a single Member supposed that the initial training of pupil teachers would mean an expenditure of £14,000 or £15,000 to any single county; therefore the training question might be said to have been sprung upon the local authorities. Pupil teacher training was the most important part of the training of teachers, for if the supply of pupil teachers was checked die Act would break down. All he pleaded for was that, in view of the extreme importance of the question, and the fact that the matter had been forced upon the local authorities, some relief should be given, especially in the initial stages of the training. He agreed with the hon. Member for North Camber well that a portion of the charge should rest upon the locality, but they ought not to be asked to spend large sums of money unassisted when there was no guarantee that they would reap the result of that expenditure. In the interests of education and of the efficient working of the Act it was essential that some inducement should be offered to local authorities to take up this work. It came under the portion of the Act dealing with higher education, and there would be a great temptation to the local authorities not to administer those provisions of the Act unless some assistance was given to teacher training. A distinction should be drawn between pupil teacher training and training colleges themselves. Once a training college was established he believed that with the Government grant and the fees of students it could, if well administered, be made to pay financially, but the provision of sites and the building of the college was a great obstacle in the way. A sympathetic reply had been given and consideration promised, but what was wanted was a recognition of the principle that, in the present grave position of affairs, something more than sympathy should be given, and that a considerable addition to the help already granted should be made.

*SIR E. DURNING-LAWRENCE (Cornwall, Truro)

said that if any county was endeavouring to carry out the Education Act in an equitable manner it was the County of Cornwall. The county contained a large number of dissenters, and while he had testimony that the Act was being carried out in the most admirable spirit, supporters and opponents alike looked to the Government to ensure that the children who had an aptitude for the teaching profession should be enabled to enter training colleges without having to submit to religious tests. He was pledged to do all he could to secure that the children of dissenters should have the right to be trained in a training college free from such tests, and he hoped the matter would not be lost sight of, as it really demanded the most earnest attention of the Government.

MR. SPEAR (Devonshire, Tavistock)

desired, as a member of an education authority which was making liberal provision for the training of pupil teachers, to support the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Somerset. The Secretary to the Board of Education had made some movement towards meeting the needs of the case, but, having regard to all the circumstances, he had not gone far enough. The requirements as to the non-employment of monitors and so forth, entailed upon the Board the necessity of giving further assistance in the provision of pupil teachers. The uncertainty of retaining pupil teachers when they had been trained would greatly deter local authorities from incurring serious outlay for equipment, and the fact that the teachers would freely pass from one district to another was a reason for a large share of the cost being paid out of Imperial rather than local funds. Education, being a national responsibility, should be paid for by the State. There might be some question as to the application of that principle to current expenditure, but certainly the equipment of teachers for the fulfilment of their duty was a matter of national concern and national responsibility and ought to be paid for by the nation. He desired to ask whether there was anything to prevent teachers, after they had been trained, leaving the teaching profession and entering other occupations; if not, that would be an additional deterrent to local authorities making the necessary outlay. He thought a good case had been made out for further concessions in this matter.

*MR. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W.R., Keighley)

was understood to urge that it would be a mistake to attempt to keep teachers to particular localities; they ought rather to change from district to district, and so come into touch with different descriptions of life and people. Pupil teacher centres, supported by the rates, were doing a good work, and supplying a want which had been long felt by the teaching world. But they were only partly fulfilling a national purpose; a national system of education was desired; and it was only fair that Government assistance should be given to render the efficiency of the teaching more complete. Uniformity, efficiency, and continuity were necessary in the training, so that when a teacher moved from one place to another it would not be necessary to upset the whole curriculum of the schools. There was a danger of officialism becoming too prominent in education; he hoped there would be sufficient interest taken in the question in the country to prevent such a misfortune. The Board of Education appeared hardly to realise the position of some of the county councils. Rightly or wrongly, Parliament had ordered them to take over the work of education, but no provision had been made for seeing that the teachers were properly qualified for their work. He cordially supported the Resolution.

*MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)

expressed satisfaction with the tone of the debate, and said the Secretary to the Board of Education had given them all the encouragement that he could be expected to give. Nobody desired to place unnecessary burdens on the Exchequer, but it was unjust for the State to impose heavy obligations upon the local authorities as they had done in this matter of providing for the training of teachers, and then to refuse to assist them to carry them out. That was his answer to his right hon. friend the Member for Bristol, who complained that too much demand was being made upon the Treasury. That being so, the claim of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ease Somerset was a very fair one. The hon. Member for North Camberwell was largely in agreement, but thought the right hon. Gentleman was going a little too far, and that some margin should be left for the local authority to provide. He entirely agreed with that view, and would suggest that his right hon. friend should accept the Amendment. He presumed the Government would not refuse the Motion as amended, and thus they would have it on record that this matter had a claim upon both rates and taxes. Training colleges in the past had been distinctly established as denominational institutions, and they could not be allowed to pass into the hands of the State without a recognition of chat fact.


said that after the statement of the Government he was prepared to accept the Amendment.

Amendment put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this House, the Training of Teachers is a matter of national concern, and the greater part of the cost of such training, so far as it falls on public funds, should be charged on the National Exchequer.