§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £6,648,792, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1910, for the salaries and expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various establishments connected therewith, including grants for the building of new public elementary schools and sundry grants in aid."
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Runciman)
In rising to open the discussion on the Education Estimates of the year, I may draw attention to the fact that, owing to the peculiar Parliamentary situation of the last three Sessions, there has been no full discussion of the whole education work undertaken by the Board of Education. The interest of the House has been diverted rather from the subject of education to the religious controversy by which that question has been surrounded, but the amount of interest taken in education in this country cannot be well gauged by the interest taken in the subject in this House. To begin with, the Board of Education is now one of the greatest of the spending Departments, and a rough estimate of the amount of public money spent on public education in this country shows that we have cognisance of an expenditure of something like £28,000,000 on elementary, secondary, and higher education, and, over and above that, of a sum of probably £8,000,000 to £10,000,000 spent by other authorities and other persons. These Estimates affect no less than 3,000,000 parents and about 6,000,000 children. The improvement which has been made in the elementary education system during the last five years has been mainly machinery improvement rather than improvement in the curriculum. The secondary and technical branches of the work, which were formerly under the control of South Kensington, are now treated as two different departments. In the old days technical education was too technicalised and too little in touch with the practical affairs, necessities, and actual circumstances of life. It has been the 2307 objector the Board of Education, therefore, to generalise secondary education, and, so far as it comes under the control of the Board, to make technical education more practical, and to have a closer bearing on the duties likely to be performed by the young men and women who pass through these classes. The improvement has been led, as might have been expected, in the North of England, where classes have been definitely graded. In some of the great towns in the north the improvements made there are likely to have a very direct bearing on the great local industries as time goes on. The attempt to grade classes has been done with the object of providing three sets of pupils passing from the elementary and other schools. There is, first of all, the set of pupils leaving school at 13 or 14 years of age who have completely finished their day-school career, and who, whatever education they receive after that, are bound, in the circumstances of their working life, to take it in evening classes. There is the second set who leave the secondary school at the age of 16, spending a longer period of their school life in day-schools, and are able to take advantage of technical classes later on with an entirely different equipment. They are, indeed, on a different plane from those attending the evening classes on continuation work. Then, last of all, we have to provide for a third category, namely, those who are going to pass through a university course, and are able to devote time to day-work up to the ages of 19 or 20.
The urban problem differs somewhat from the rural problem. Both of these questions have been faced in the last 12 months with increased vigour, and, I hope, increased intelligence. Certainly the inspectors who have been working in the technical branch have devoted to their work not only the enthusiasm which has marked them throughout their career, but a closer degree of knowledge of the necessities of the industries in the localities in which they work than has ever been brought before to bear upon their duties. In the urban areas not only have we provided for men, but we have specialised classes for women, and I hope that in the next two or three years it will become apparent that the classes for women are well worthy of the attention of working women in the great towns of the South of England as well as in the North of England. In agriculture we have not been able to make great progress, but there is one remarkable fact which is worth 2308 mentioning, namely, that garden classes in elementary schools have been enormously on the increase, and I believe that during the last few years we have trebled the number of these classes which are now carried on in these schools. There has been considerable development—and I can assure the Committee that there will be more in future—in technical classes which can be attended by those who intend to enter on an agricultural career—young farmers and young labourers who at the present time have to spend long and laborious days in the fields or farm houses, but who are prepared to devote one or two evenings a week to the specialised training which can be provided in our technical classes. The cumulative effect of all this technical training on the young men and women of our country must show itself sooner or later. Certainly we are touching the problem of the unemployable, if only to a small extent, yet with increasing vigour every year. The great employers have been giving considerable help in many parts of the country to those who organise the technical schools. Messenger boys for instance are induced more and more to take advantage of the classes in the evening. Some great employers like the General Post Office not only give direct inducement to their messenger boys, but put a certain amount of pressure on them to take advantage of our classes, and many employers all over the country have made it a condition of service in their works or their great business establishments that the boys should attend a certain number of classes every week, and apprentices in works have also been able to take advantage of the facilities offered to them. Many employers, especially in the north of England, are allowing their young workmen time off during working hours so that they can attend these day classes conducted in the great technical institutions of our great towns. The inspectors of the Board are not only taking a keen interest in the curriculum, but they are also acting as missionaries in what is one of the most useful forms of educational work initiated during the last few years.
Turning to the second category of schools I cannot help expressing satisfaction, and even more, hope. The secondary schools of England and Wales have shown a most marked improvement both in numbers and character during the last few years. Progress has been noted 2309 in several directions. First of all the number of schools aided by grants and the number of pupils attending those schools have gone up year by year since 1902. The 272 secondary schools of that year have increased to no fewer than 800, and even since 1905–6 the increase has been at the same rate. I think in 1905–6 there were only about 600 secondary schools in this country. Now there are over 800. About 60 new secondary schools are being added every school year, and the number of pupils is increasing to an even greater extent. The increase during the years 1902–5 was about 6,000 per annum, and the increase now has risen to over 10,000 per annum. So that the total number of pupils in secondary schools is now over 134,000, or very nearly 135,000. The grant which has been given to secondary schools has of course increased very considerably. It is impossible to expect the local authorities to spend much of their money on the expenses of secondary schools unless they receive a larger measure of State aid. The grant has gone up during the seven years from 1902 to the present time from £129,000 per annum to over half a million; and this great increase in pupils, in the amount of money spent on the schools, and in the number of schools in the country has been marked at the same time by a raising of the standard of the teachers employed in those schools, by an increase ill the length of school life of the pupils who attend those schools, and by an incalculable improvement in the curriculum and the efficiency of those schools. I think we may look back with satisfaction on the increase of the secondary schools over which we have control. But there are secondary schools towards which we make no grants, and which also have come under the supervision of the Board of Education. They are now inspected as well as recognised for efficiency by the Board, and I am sure that the visits of the Board's inspectors to these schools have been of the greatest benefit not only to the schools but to the teachers who are brought into contact with the inspectors and get the benefit of the experience which they have gained in other schools.
The increasing accessibility of secondary secondary schools of England and Wales being taken advantage of to a great extent, on which I will say a word later on. But the importance of the increase is all the more marked when one considers the immense number of girls who now pass 2310 through these secondary schools. That is a change altogether modern, and it is marked not only in the schools which coma under our supervision, but also in the higher branches of education. The education of women is being encouraged to a greater extent every year. The number of girls who pass from these schools has increased even at a more rapid rate than the number of boys. The average increase in the last four years with the boys has been somewhere in the region of 4,000, and the average increase with the girls has been somewhere in the region of 6,000. This is, of course, to some extent due to purely professional reasons. It is due to the fact that a larger number of women are employed in the elementary and secondary schools of this country than of men, and also to the fact that there is an increased belief in education for girls; there is less pressure on girls to be withdrawn from schools in order to embark on a wage-earning career. The Board have now under consideration plans for giving more practical value to the secondary education of girls, especially in the domestic arts, the art of household management. There has also been a considerable incentive given to these secondary schools by the fact that the Board now encourages, and to some extent requires the passage of young teachers through the secondary schools before they embark on a training college career, before they start their teaching career in the elementary schools. But combined with all these, there have been other causes which have certainly affected for the better secondary schools of which we take cognisance. The bulk of the State-aided schools, about 712 out of 798, are now entirely free from denominational restrictions. They are under effective public control, and are open without payment of fee to a proportion of working-class children. It is true that there are still about 80 which do not receive the higher grants which these conditions carry with them. They are still on the lower scale, but that is due to their failing to meet one or more of these conditions, and that particularly applies to many of the Catholic schools of the country. The religious question has in very few cases outside the Catholic schools created any serious predicament. Already nearly all the Catholic schools themselves have been able to comply with the conditions laid down in the regulations, and are now in receipt of the full grant of £5 per child.
2311 The preliminary education of elementary school teachers, in so far as it is touched by the secondary schools, is a matter of direct concern to the Board which controls so many of the elementary schools of this country. The old-fashioned pupil teacher is now rapidly disappearing. He is practically extinct, and I think we have reason to be grateful for the fact that his career is closed. It was impossible to expect the pupil teacher, devoting half his time to teaching and half his time to being taught, and taught moreover by teachers who were themselves overworked, to do anything like good work during his training college career. The modern pupil teacher is of an entirely different kind. He shares the secondary school life of the children who are destined for other professions, and it is hoped that in that manner it broadens the interests of the young teacher's work. He is a whole-time pupil until 16 and a half-time pupil until 18, and if, as is likely enough, he becomes a bursar instead of a pupil teacher, his education is uninterrupted until 17 years of age. He is then free to begin to learn the mere technique of his profession with his examinations, fortunately for him, well behind.
These bursars are drawn from every grade of society. I would like to assure some of my hon. Friends who sit on either side of the House that the bursar system, so far from having excluded the children of the working classes from the teaching profession, has apparently encouraged them to enter it in larger numbers, and by far away the largest proportion of young bursars are drawn from artisan families. Very large numbers of them are drawn from labourers' families.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Yes; some of them from the families of agricultural labourers. I am going to touch upon the question of agricultural labourers presently. I think that the value of these bursars in close contact with the secondary schools cannot be over-rated. I am sorry to say that the number during the past twelve months does not appear to have increased as rapidly as one might have hoped. I think probably that is due to the fact that there is a mistaken idea that the teaching profession is completely overcrowded, and likely to remain overcrowded. I am quite well aware that there are at the present 2312 moment a large number of teachers out of work, just as other people are out of work. But I believe that some changes we have set on foot during the last twelve months will fully absorb this surplus, and it is certainly my desire that the teaching profession shall not be placed in the position of having to walk the streets, unable, from their training and position, to take up any other profession, and yet at the same time not able to devote themselves to the service of the State. I think probably next year, or the year after, changes will be seen with respect to the unemployed teachers; and the smaller classes for which we are providing, and the higher qualifications which we believe to be necessary, will mean the fuller employment by the local authorities of these very teachers. I trust, therefore, that the mistaken idea that there is not a chance of getting work after having passed through the training college course will rapidly disappear.
Again, the advantage of the time spent in secondary schools is certainly much greater if the intending teachers enter it at an earlier age. Many of them enter at 14, but at the age of 12 the pupil can certainly take much fuller advantage of the facilities offered to them. The desire to use these secondary schools has tended to a certain extent to exclude children in the remoter rural areas from entering the profession, and the difficulty is one which the Board are considering as closely as they can in order to see whether it can be overcome. It certainly would do the teaching profession no good if those who wish to enter it from the rural area had any unfortunate difficulties placed in their way. Some of the best members of the teaching profession at the present time have been drawn from the small villages of this country. Then we have done what we can to improve the curriculum of the secondary schools. That curriculum used to be too scientific—a fact, I think, which was almost entirely brought about by the artificial way in which grants from South Kensington were distributed. The curriculum in the secondary schools has been made much more elastic; it has been freed from rather hide-bound technical limitations, and as far as can be seen it is all over the country proceeding on a broader and better basis. The advantage which has been taken by the working-classes of the opportunity to place their children in these schools may well be considered by this House. In the year 1907 my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty 2313 (Mr. McKenna) practically set free a large number of places all over the country. In that year no less than 27,000 working-class children took advantage of the privilege then offered. That number went up to 33,000 in the next year, and this year the number is very nearly 42,000. Every one of those children obtains a secondary education free of cost to themselves. It does show to some extent a degree of sacrifice on the part of their parents, many of their children having been allowed to remain not less than two years. There is always a tendency on the part of parents to get their children to work earlier than is good for them from an educational point of view, but the parents of these children have definitely sacrificed three or four years in order that they might continue to attend the secondary schools.
I believe that the provision of secondary school places has to some extent placed a burden on secondary schools in the country. Accordingly the proportion of only 25 per cent, will not be the measure of the proportion of free-place children in these schools after three or four years have passed away. But we have made up for the heavy expenditure by giving very much larger grants than we have ever before offered. I could not see my way at the present moment to in any way modify the conditions under which they enter. The only thing which might be kept in mind by those who control these schools, as well as by the parents, is that the free-place child and the fee-paying child should be exactly on the same basis not only in regard to the teaching which is given, but also in regard to the conditions under which they are taught. It is just as bad for the school as for the child if the latter has to go on receiving secondary tuition for which it is not fitted, whether it be a free-place child or a fee-paying child. I hope, therefore, that those who control the schools will endeavour to bring home to the parents that it is of no use their children attending secondary schools unless they are able to take advantage of the education which is there given. The last difficulty to which I would like to allude in regard to secondary schools is the fact that the school life of the secondary scholars is much too short. It begins too late and it ends too soon. I know that this is a commonplace of prize-day speeches, but it is none the less perfectly true, and it is borne in upon the Board of Education with every month that passes. We are now endeavouring by all the means 2314 at our disposal to induce the parents to send their children earlier, and to a certain extent we are bringing pressure to bear on the local authorities to carry that inducement into the homes of poor children. Many of the local authorities have done much to secure to longer school life by requiring guarantees from the parents for the continuance of their children's attendance throughout the full course. That is all to the good. They have also provided for the linking up of the schools. This, I think, has a direct bearing upon the technical classes by linking up the schools more closely with local industries and with the opportunities for further education after the secondary school life is over. I would like to say one word on the subject of full inspection, which has been undertaken by the Board's inspectors during the last three years. Full inspections were undertaken by the Board's inspectors to give guidance, warning, and advice, as well as encouragement, to the teachers and governors of these schools. These full inspections have resulted in a thorough survey of the whole life work of the schools from top to bottom. It was rather a long process, and could only be undertaken by the best inspectors in the employ of the Board. During the last three years we have conducted no less than 932 full inspections. It is not necessary, I believe, to make an inspection of secondary schools' with the same regularity as in the case of elementary schools, for the simple reason that the generations do not pass through so quickly, nor do the conditions vary so rapidly. But those inspections are bound to have done an incalculable amount of good to the schools which have been inspected, and many of the schools which have not received a penny of grants from us have welcomed the visits of our inspectors for these reasons.
I turn to the very much larger subject of elementary education, larger in the sense that it covers more pupils, more schools, and more teachers. One of the first changes which has been made during the past two years is that the Board has pushed on more rapidly with the reassessment of school accommodation in existing schools. Nothing can be worse for the health of the children, especially in large schools, than to be crowded together in rooms too small for them to breathe in, with nothing like enough space for them to work in, and with no adequate cubic area from which to draw air. Although many parts of the country have been 2315 assessed we have accelerated this pace, so that at the end of 1909 the reassessment of the whole of the schools of this country will be in a fair way to completion. This has resulted in some places in the necessity for the erection of new schools, a necessity which, I need hardly say, I do not regret. Then we have also had a review of unsatisfactory school premises. In the presence of my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary for the War Office, it is pleasing to remind the recollection that in 1893 his father, whose name is closely associated, as it deserves to be, with the educational progress of this country, issued a very large number of warnings as to the unsatisfactory condition of school premises. I think, during the short time that he was in office he issued no less than one-third of the warnings that were issued for a period of about 10 years. Those warnings were quite justified on the authority of many Gentlemen both in this House and in the other House who were connected with voluntary schools in this country, against which the warnings were thought to be aimed. They have been forced to confess that the warnings were justified and that the reflections had not been unjust, having regard to the purpose for which the Department was set up.
After 1902 many local authorities spent large sums of money on the improvement of school premises. It was necessary they should do so. I think their money on the whole has been well spent, but even at the present time there are over 970 in England and Wales which are under condemnation either absolutely or conditionally. I think the local authorities might well set about putting these premises in good order as soon as possible, and as well as the local authorities, trustees who are responsible for the denominational schools. We find that there are something over 2,000 more which are seriously unsatisfactory. That is to say, that out of something like 20,000 in England and Wales over 3,000 are not in good satisfactory sanitary condition. We cannot allow that to go on. Those schools must be put in good order, and in many parts of the country the progress which has been made has been altogether too slow. We trust, therefore, there will be no attempt in this House from either side to delay the process. The next important matter, which we hope has also received the assent of nearly every Member of this House, is that with regard to staffing. Since 1898 the staffing scale has remained practically 2316 unaltered in every elementary school. It was never a good staffing scale, but it certainly had become quite obsolete. There was a large number of abuses, and especially a number of unqualified and untrained teachers receiving employment in many great areas. They were known as supplementary teachers. I think they were once described by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland as having no qualification for a position in these schools except that they were 18 and declared they were vaccinated. Some of them did good work. We are not prepared to say deliberately that none of them can be employed anywhere. It was impossible to say they were of the same staff value as certified and trained teachers. It has been, and is, our deliberate policy to reduce the supplementary teachers of the elementary schools of this country.
At the same time, it is a matter of the utmost importance to reduce the size of the classes in the elementary schools. It is shocking to think that in one of the greatest cities in the north of England there are no less than 330 classes with over 60 pupils on the roll. Everyone who-knows the inside of an elementary school knows that it is almost impossible for the teacher to give his best work to over 60 pupils at a time. The whole secret of good teaching is certainly individual attention. It is absurd to believe that the attention of the teacher must be taken up most of the time with the discipline of 60, and perhaps sometimes 70, children, which alone would absorb the whole of the attention. Everyone sees great classes in great London and provincial schools, and the thing which always appears marvellous is how such good order is preserved. It is a very difficult thing to keep 10 children in order, but to keep 70 in perfect order and at the same time conduct the teaching which must be carried on in the various classes in the schools is one of the feats of which the elementary school teachers may well be proud. Some of them have been asked to do too much. I have here two samples. One in the Midlands, and one further north. In Derby we have in one case 84 babies, as they are called, packed in desks for 50. The whole of those were under an uncertificated teacher. In an urban district in the further north we find 89 infants in the charge of one uncertificated teacher. That is a waste of public money as well as being a waste of human material. Those large classes we believe must be reduced, and I feel anyone who takes a great interest in the education 2317 of the children in the elementary schools has long ago come to the conclusion that we cannot allow large classes to be under the control of uncertificated teachers, not only without detriment to the children, but as well with great loss to the local authorities.
The whole of the Opposition to Circular 709, I believe, has come from those who do not wish to spend more local money on our schools. My hon. Friend the Member for West Cambridgeshire (Mr. E. S. Montagu) has been tireless in his applications to me for some way out of that difficulty. Agricultural Members on both sides of the House have made representations equally strong. Their feeling I believe to be that they would be very glad indeed to raise the standard of the school, reduce the classes, and employ better teachers, provided the State made large contribution towards the cost. I should be one of the last to say that I thought the State was making sufficient contribution towards the cost of elementary education, but to give a grant in respect of this reform would be deliberately unjust to the best authorities, for remember that the standard which I have set up is not a fantastic standard evolved out of my head or created by educational enthusiasts, but it is a standard which is surpassed by many of the educational authorities in this country. To make a grant in respect of a reform to level up the worst authorities to the best would be deliberately giving a bonus to the authorities which had remained in arrear on the educational programme for the last few years. That could not be done. The good authorities have set an excellent example, and in particular I may name the county authorities of Wales. They set an excellent example, and previous to the circular they realised that they must have the best teacher and the smallest number in the classes if the schools were to be worth the enthusiasm expended on them. In Wales, I believe, there is only one, or there may possibly be two, counties which fall below this standard. I have been told by the Chairman of the Education Committee in each of those cases that they are prepared themselves, although they look for Exchequer assistance sooner or later, to embark on the extra cost of those reforms without delaying them any longer. I do not know whether it is fair to ask the English counties to follow suit, but I can only say it is my desire to obtain as quickly as possible a large amount of State assistance, not for this particular reform, but for the whole 2318 services of elementary education. We have had sent in to us during the last-few months only 41 official estimates from various authorities concerned. Twenty-seven of those have come from counties out of 63, 11 have come from county boroughs out of 74, and only three have come from boroughs or urban districts out of about 190. I think we may, therefore, take it that those who have not sent in estimates either do not make any serious complaint against the reforms which we have initiated or will not be put to extra expense by those reforms. We have made a careful examination of all the estimates sent in up to the present time. I find in the case of the counties the cost works out in terms of rate more heavily than in the case of county boroughs or urban districts. The heaviest amount will be borne by the county of East Suffolk. Other counties rate down to the fraction of a penny, but in East Suffolk these reforms work out at about a penny rate. Devon worked out, as far as we could tell, at 39 of a penny. This may be a heavy burden for the county ratepayers to bear, but I can only tell them, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told them, that if our financial proposals go through there will be set free next year a very large sum for the assistance of local authorities, whether in education or other services has not yet been decided. But whether that assistance is for education or other services, I take it, it makes no difference to the county ratepayer.
A change has also been made in respect of the grants which are to be given to schools which take in only children under five. For many years past it has been the custom in many schools in this country to hurry children into the higher division of the elementary school, and they have had a direct financial inducement to do so. Under our old scale we deliberately gave 5s per child more for children in the upper classes of the schools than we gave in the infant division of the school. That meant that a very large number of children were put into the upper classes, and that their time was wasted in those upper classes. A proposal which was made, I think it was in 1905, to alter this state of things broke down owing to the opposition of a few local educational authorities. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir William Anson) probably knows more of that than I do. This year we have made a revision which will cost none of the local authorities anything whatever. We have decided that we will reduce the old grants, the ordinary grant 2319 from the price at which it now stands, to a flat rate of 21s. 4d. for children over five years of age. That is to say, there will be no distinction made between infants and older children; therefore the financial inducement to rush children up to a higher class will be withdrawn. In order to do that without incurring further cost we have reduced the grant for children under five to 13s. 4d. I should be only too glad, for social reasons, to have children under five in crêches controlled by our municipalities. Without doubt children under five in school had their time wasted. It was not the best place for them; they were really better off in their own home or in the open air. They were crowded together, and seated in desks none too hygienic, and had to maintain an uprightness which certainly is not natural to a child under five. I do not withdraw from the position of the Consultative Committee of the Board of Education that provision ought to be made in some way or another for children under five, but until the local authorities can embark on the heavy expense of municipal créches I think we may well say, although there may be some necessity for occasionally putting them into the elementary school, we ought not to offer any financial inducement to the local authorities to do so. The change in this grant will throw an additional burden on the Exchequer, and that, I am sorry to say, is the only extra money I have been able to extract from the Exchequer during the past 12 months.
We have also had the staff of our Board at work on three important syllabuses. First of all, I think I might mention the temperance syllabus, which we have issued comparatively recently. We found that in many of the elementary schools in the country the teaching of temperance was done by amateur and peripatetic teachers, who, in many cases, were not well equipped for the work they did, and, quite possibly, in some cases, did harm as well as good. We are very grateful to them for taking up this work at all, but we believe that by compiling a modern syllabus, which has been done by two of the best medical officers the Board of Education have ever had, namely, Dr. Newman and Miss Campbell, we will be able to show the lines on which the teaching of temperance can be better done. That syllabus, I hope, will be largely taken advantage of by local authorities, and, I trust, will have in the future a direct bearing on the moral character of the children who pass through the schools. Our medical officers, Dr. 2320 Newman and Miss Campbell, have also been at work on a physical exercises syllabus, which we hope shortly to issue. They have also taken in hand a syllabus for use in schools by girls—first of all, girls from the age of 7 to 11, then girls from 11 to 14—on the simple and homely subject of the care of babies.
I would like to say a word on the subject of medical inspection. Before the Act was passed two years ago there were less than a dozen authorities who did anything in the nature of medical inspection. Now the whole of the 328 authorities have made a beginning with this excellent work. They are taking it up with considerable enthusiasm and success. I am assured from all parts of the country that the old opposition to medical inspection has rapidly broken down, and we hope sooner or later that the work done in these schools, supplemented, as it will be in many districts, by medical treatment, will have a marked effect on the physical qualifications of the pupils. There are many sides of medical inspection work which might be dealt with in greater detail, but I do not propose to say anything further on the subject at the present moment.
I will now refer to training colleges, and the part which has been played by training colleges in providing openings in this great public service for men of all denominations or of no denomination. It has long been one of the blots on our educational system that a monopoly, or practically a monopoly, of training colleges was in the hands of one denomination. The denominational training college has undoubtedly done fine service in the past, but it has placed great obstacles in the way of Nonconformists who wished to enter the teaching profession. The number of training colleges was too small, and in 1904, I think, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir W. Anson) was responsible for first offering a grant of 25 per cent, towards the building of local authority training colleges. We have increased that grant to 75 per cent. We are now prepared to give 75 per cent, of expenditure, which is not excessive, to local authorities who themselves put up undenominational training colleges, and great advantage has been taken by local authorities of that offer. Already in various parts of the country some of the best buildings that teachers have ever passed through have been erected by local authorities, and many more are in process of construction. The total number of places in these colleges is likely to increase. There are already 2321 sanctioned, beyond those in existence, no less than sixteen hundred places in colleges to be erected by local authorities. Denominational colleges at the present time—Church of England, Roman Catholic, and Wesleyan training colleges—educate well over four thousand three hundred pupils; local authority colleges educate and train well over three thousand; undenominational-colleges which are not local authority colleges or university colleges train over eight hundred; and university colleges train over three thousand. The total number of places in day training colleges is now six thousand five hundred, nearly all free from denominational tests, and in residential colleges it is about 5,400. In other words, apart altogether from the arrangement and compromise arrived at last year with the denominational colleges, well over half the places in the training colleges of this country are free from denominational control. Last year an arrangement was arrived at by the Bishop of St. Albans and myself to set free one-half of the places in the denominational training colleges for those who are not members of the denomination to which the college belongs. We were surely entitled to make that condition when we knew that we were paying no less than nine-tenths of the upkeep of those training colleges. That arrangement has been confirmed again this year. I should like to say publicly to the Committee that a grave mistake has been made by Mr. Graham Wallas, who has written to some extent on this subject, when he states that the 50 per cent, arrangement made last year has been whittled down this year. Exactly the same condition applies this year as applied last year. The 50 per cent. of places are absolutely free from denominational tests this year as they were last year, and they are so stated to be in the Regulations that have been circulated. That is to say, out of a total of nearly 12,000 places in our training colleges, we have secured that 9,500 shall be open to all candidates, irrespective of denominational considerations; and in the future no new training college can be established unless it is quite free from these restrictions. Then we have also encouraged, as far as we could, the erection of hostels in connection with our day training colleges. When so many young teachers are passing through the day training colleges it is not for their good, if they are not living at home or with guardians, that they should be in lodgings at that early and critical time of their lives. At the present time the 2322 number of hostels, although quite inadequate for the work, is well over a score; and we are doing all we can to secure that all women students in particular should reside in hostels rather than be in lodgings while they are in day training colleges.
I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham (Sir J. Yoxall) will have been glad to notice that teachers who pass through training colleges have had a much easier curriculum devised for them. I do not mean easier in respect of the subjects they have to cover, for certainly they are required to do their work now more thoroughly than ever before; but the mere artificial work of passing examinations has been reduced to a minimum. In the old days a candidate was required to pass an examination for admission as a pupil teacher; then there was another examination at the end of each year of his pupil teachership; and then another at the end of each year of his training college course. He lived in a whirlpool of examinations; he was no sooner out of the orbit of one than he was in the orbit of another. Those have now been replaced by two simple examinations, not six or seven, or eight or nine, as in the old days—one examination at the end of the secondary school period, and another at the end of the training college course. I believe that that works thoroughly well, and I am assured, by those who have a closer technical knowledge on the subject of the training of teachers than I have, that good results are being obtained under these conditions with far less strain on the teachers who pass through training colleges. We have done something towards improving the conditions under which they obtained practice in teaching. We have added hygiene to the list of subjects in which they must qualify, and a new syllabus in hygiene is now required to be included in the curriculum of every training college, except only in the case of students who are taking degree courses. The pressure on these students is so great that I do not see how we can add to their burden; but the Board has under consideration means whereby this and other subjects shall not be omitted from their training career. We have also provided that they shall have a course in the teaching of physical exercises, so that that teaching in our elementary schools may in the future be much better done than in the past, and done, moreover, on scientific principles. The preparation for the work 2323 of teaching domestic subjects, such as cookery, laundry work, and housewifery, requires far too long to be included in the ordinary course for women students. Much has already been done for them, and it is hoped young teachers will be encouraged to pass through some separate training schools which are being encouraged in various parts of the country. We provide a special grant for this purpose, and we trust that that special grant will lead to larger numbers of teachers qualifying in these subjects.
Now I come back to the subject which alone excites a large assembly in this House, namely, the subject of religion. I ventured on an experiment this year which has not met with support, either in this House or outside, except from a very small number of people. I must say I think it necessary that something should have been done, and ought still to be done, in the direction I have outlined, even although it has not met with general approval. I quite recognise that it is very difficult to fly in the face of public opinion, and I am not prepared to add to the trouble which already surrounds my office if I can avoid it. We provided in our regulations for Bible instruction being given in training colleges, including two sets of colleges —denominational colleges first, and undenominational training colleges. Something like it is already given in the denominational colleges. We have no official knowledge of the tuition given under this head there; it is said to be good, and I am prepared to accept that assurance. Of the undenominational colleges, already several give simple Bible instruction, and they have always done so. I am not relying only on the one example of Borough-road, probably the best known training college in the country, and Stockwell, which is more or less associated with it; but I might quote the local authority training college run by Swansea. Swansea, with all its faults, has included this subject in the curriculum of its students, and London University even, in the Goldsmith's College, the largest training college in the country, has deliberately adopted this experiment during the last few years. The new local authority colleges and the university day colleges, however, do not give tuition in the teaching of this subject. It is possible under the law, and it is also possible under the very elastic limit which I have provided under the charters of the universities. My own personal view is well known. I believe that if Cowper-Temple 2324 duties are to be undertaken by teachers they can be better undertaken if the teachers are prepared for them. Whatever is worth teaching at all is worth teaching well. But the strong dislike which has been expressed of this regulation is, I believe, not to the tuition itself, but to its being forced on the local authorities. There may be much to be said for that. I am anxious to secure the co-operation of the universities, and the expressions of opinion which I have had from them recently lead me to believe that if we press on with this regulation that close co-operation and sympathy which I wish to encourage may be impeded. If they are uneasy, I wish to run no risk in that direction. Secondly, I say quite frankly that many of my own political Friends, whose views in the main I share, heartily dislike this regulation. I think they are unnecessarily nervous, but I wish to avoid adding to the area of religious controversy. The attention which has been given to this small matter—really a minor matter—compared with the very weighty, expensive, and valuable reforms of the last few years is an example of the ease with which a religious row can swallow up every other subject. These practical difficulties, small as they may be, are magnified by sentimental anxieties. I have therefore decided not to put the regulations into operation. The religious controversy is dormant, but it is still dominant. The dual system is still the source of our educational disorganisation, of incessant friction, expense, and jealousy. I do not know that we are likely to pass out of that unfortunate atmosphere. I make no prophecy, but there is only one way out of it, and that is the way that leads to absolute religious equality, and which frees the State from all denominational responsibilities.
One word on the subject of museums. The country knows that the art museum at South Kensington has been extended at very great cost. Something like half a million of money has been spent in the erection of this building. Now people are beginning to realise that our collection of art objects is the finest not only in. Europe, but in the world. I am glad to think that since the opening of that building that the number of people who have visited it has been enormously on the increase. But we have still nothing but an old temporary building, in which our valuable science collection is housed. I hope it may be possible in the near future to give that great collection a better building in which to be exhibited, and to give those who lend 2325 and give to that museum some security that the objects which they give will be well preserved and well exhibited. I do not apologise to the House, although I may have detained hon. Members for a long time, for dwelling upon these matters, for I think that it is necessary that we should occasionally take stock of our educational progress. We are securing now better teachers for our pupils, smaller classes for the pupils; the extension of tuition in moral subjects like temperance is greater every year. Domestic training is being made more real and is likely to have a greater effect on the girls that pass through our schools. Physical training will affect boys and girls alike. Handicapped as we are by the heavy cost of this development, I believe we are still making substantial progress. We may still devote some part of our time, and a very large part of our money, to the schools in which no less than 6,000,000 of our children are constantly being educated; for therein is decided, not only the fact of individual happiness, but the fate of the nation itself.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the very full, clear, and interesting statement which he has put before us. It needed no apology for his making such a statement, and I am glad that he has returned to what was the invariable practice until four years ago—that the representative of the Board of Education or the Education Department in this House, when he asks for millions of money, should tell the House what is his policy, what he has been doing, and what it is proposed to do in the future. I am. glad the right hon. Gentleman has reverted to a salutary practice, which I hope henceforth will not be departed from. The right hon. Gentleman has made a conciliatory speech upon religious subjects. He has touched upon them lightly, and I do not wish to touch upon them at any length. He has recounted to us the reasons why in this, what I believe would be a very salutary provision in his training college regulations, he has taken the action he has. I am sorry to find that his view that those who will be expected to give religious teaching, denominational or undenominational, should learn how to teach before giving it, has not proved acceptable to a large number of the supporters who sit behind him, and that his action in this matter is a reversion to the historical parallel of the Duke of York, who marched 10,000 men up to the top of 2326 the hill and then marched them back again.
I do not wish, however, to dwell in a discussion which is mainly educational on matters of religious controversy. But I do-not wish the right hon. Gentleman to think that, although we fully recognise the conciliatory character of the administration of his Department, we have nothing to complain of, as there are cases of oppression in Wales and the West Riding of Yorkshire. There is the case of the school at Penmacho, in which the local authority has differentiated most unfairly, to the educational disadvantage of the school, between that school and other schools in charge of the council. There is a secondary school at Dewsbury in the West Riding, where the local authority, in clear defiance of section 4 of the Act of 1902, has insisted upon an alteration in the religious syllabus of the school. I am sorry to find that the Board of Education have not insisted upon the observance of the law, and that the governing body of the school have been compelled, from pecuniary reasons, to alter their scheme. There are these and other cases in which we feel that the Board of Education has not used the powers at his disposal to insist upon the observance of the law.
But I should like to dwell upon the more purely educational side of the matter. The right hon. Gentleman spoke with satisfaction of the increase in the number of secondary schools now receiving grants from the Department. I rejoice with him that that number has increased, but when we consider the great number of new schools which have sprung up, and in receipt of assistance from the Department, it is fair to ask: Do these represent a genuine addition to the secondary education of the country? The Board of Education Regulations on secondary schools set up—and very properly—a high ideal of what a secondary school ought to be. Such a school ought to give an education beginning at an age not exceeding 12 and carried through progressive courses of instruction up to and beyond 16. Now, this is the general expression of the opinion of the Board. Of course, in respect of the assistance from the Board, the amounts vary very considerably, for the schools themselves vary infinitely in type. But I wish to allude to cases which have been prominently before the public. There is the case of Bradford. That municipality has been very active in educational matters. It is a borough where the 2327 arrangements for feeding necessitous children were carried into effect more judiciously than any other town that I can discover. The Board of Education suggest, or intimate, that the boys and girls who go to secondary schools at the age of 12, or, under special circumstances, at the age of 10, should remain there until they are 16. Now at Bradford the average age of commencing is 10; the children sometimes go when they are nine. They leave the school at or before they are 14. In 1908, 840 children left the municipal schools, of whom COO were under 14. That is not due to any heavy requirements in the way of expense, because 53 per cent, paid no fees at all. In the municipal schools there are nearly 1,600 scholarships; 226 allowances were given to children who only stayed two years, and 25 to children who took a four years' course, or a course ranging from three to four years. That is the case of the municipal schools of Bradford, in contrast to the grammar school, and which, according to the inspector, was doing excellent work.
The municipality has been extremely liberal in providing secondary education for the children in the town. But though that education is free, it is evident that the parents attach very little value to it, or they would make some sacrifice to retain their children in the schools for a longer period than 14. Not merely is it not valued by the parents, but, according to the report of the inspector, it is not very valuable to the children under the circumstances under which it is given. The inspector says that the pupils get more harm than good. They are spoilt as artisans and not educated into anything else: a good workman becomes an inferior clerk. This, then, is the result, disastrous result, of the heavy expenditure, liberal treatment, and great effort on the part of the municipality. What is the cause of this? It is due partly to the indifference of the parents to the education of their children. They are unwilling to make the sacrifices involved in keeping their children at school after the age of 14. There is another cause of failure. The Board has laid down very expressly their notion as to what a governing body should be. They desire, although the Regulations require that the governing body of a school that is earning a grant should contain a very large number of representatives of local institutions, that the govern- 2328 ing body should be so constituted as to be able to give full time and attention to the school. They have prepared an instrument of government which, I believe, it is open to any school to adopt. In the case of Bradford the school inspector describes the government as wasteful and bureaucratic. I think it may well be regarded as both. The school is governed not by the local authority as a whole, but in some respects by the staffing committee of the local authority, and in some respects by the school sites committee of the local authority. It means, in effect, that the government of the school is really in the hands of the organising secretary —of an official of the municipality. What the inspector says is that the school would gain enormously by close contact with educated people, really concerned with the personal side of education, who would take an individual pleasure, pride and interest in the working and progress of the institution. The reason that I press this is—it is a very old story so far as my recollection goes—the local authorities decline to create a governing body which can give undivided attention to the school on the ground that their system of government by the municipality elected by the people is the more democratic system. Is it really democratic to so constitute a governing body that it will waste the peoples money and spoil the education of the children? Truly it is better to forego some of the verbal characteristics of the democratic body and to provide such a government for the schools as will ensure that the money of the people is properly spent. The Board of Education has this matter very largely in their hands. It can now make much larger grants than it did in former days. I sincerely hope the Board will take it in hand, not only the case of Bradford but in other schools where what I must describe as a false conception of democratic government is allowed to militate against the proper conduct of the schools and the proper education of the children.
Are these really secondary schools in the full sense of the word? The history of them is that there were higher-grade elementary schools, but since the Act of 1902 they have been converted by the local authorities into secondary schools, and they are taught, I take it, by teachers who have the training of elementary teachers. The teacher is no longer confined to the elementary school, but is allowed also to teach in our secondary schools. That means that the teacher will press for pro- 2329 motion to the higher-grade schools from the elementary schools. When we are told that by interfering with these matters we are depriving the working classes of the privileges of secondary school teaching, I answer we are doing nothing of the kind. What we are doing is, we are really preventing a fraud from being put upon the people by allowing them to be invited to come into schools which are masquerading as secondary schools. I confess I regret this change in the ambition of the elementary teacher—this desire to teach in secondary schools. The position of an elementary teacher in a town is one of the highest responsibility and importance. I hardly know anyone, except the manager of a factory or a great employer of labour, or a minister of religion, who has such a wide opportunity of bringing good to his fellow-creatures, and who so largely influences his whole surroundings, as the elementary teacher in a great centre; and this social ambition to move from the range of the elementary teacher to that of secondary teacher is due to misconception on the part of the teacher and on the part of the whole teaching body. I regret this, because I think it is mistaken ambition on the part of the teacher and on the part of the whole teaching body. I regret it also because it shows a tendency to ignore distinction which we were at some pains to create between the elementary and secondary school. When the child passes from one school to another, it is desirable he should pass into a different educational environment, and learn something better and higher and in a different way. This change in the ambition of the teacher of the elementary school of going to secondary schools which are not really secondary schools is a misfortune, and I think it is an unfortunate thing that in the endeavour to popularise secondary education he should do something which is calculated to lower its standard. There is another effect which I think the right hon. gentleman should consider. There are certain regulations for the teacher and there are very high standards of attainments for the teachers of secondary schools. But what is the good of a high standard for teachers of secondary schools when the man or woman who has gone through the training for an elementary school can come and occupy the position of a teacher in a secondary school? What is the good of having a different standard for the two when the same people can do for both? There is this further objection. There is no doubt great truth in the prefatory 2330 memorandum which appears in some of the secondary schools. It is very true that it is desirable that the teachers in secondary schools should be trained to their work, but what inducement do you offer? You let in men trained as elementary teachers, and there is no obligation on the part of the schools to employ specially trained teachers. The Board does nothing to prevent untrained teachers from being employed, and the only inducement offered to the trained teacher was the appearance upon the register, and the register has now been done away with, and no new one is substituted.
I do not wish to dwell upon that now except for one thing. The register was done away with under a Bill of administrative provisions which was described as an agreed Bill. The First Lord of the-Admiralty who was then at the Board of Education went so far in the discussion on the second reading as to say that it was not only an agreed Bill, but that he would strike out any clause which I wished to have struck out. I suggested one or two clauses, but if I had had any idea that the register contemplated in the Administration Provisions Bill was not going to be given effect to, and that suggestions were to be made to every class and body of teachers that they should come in and demand representation upon the Registration Council seeing that it was obvious that in this way you were reducing the whole thing to a nullity, then I am bound to say I should have taken a very different view of the clauses which I should have wished to have exercised from the Bill. I should like, before passing altogether from that, just to allude to what the right hon. Gentleman said about inspection. I think the right hon. Gentleman said that inspection should be to the advantage of the schools, and not with a view to obtaining any control over the working and the government of the schools. There is no doubt at this moment some anxiety on the part of a large number of schools, an anxiety which prevents them from offering themselves for this inspection. But it is not altogether unjustified by the attitude of the Board in the past, and if the right hon. gentleman can give us some assurance that inspection does not involve control over the working of the schools, I am sure many schools would offer themselves, and I think it is desirable that they should offer themselves, for inspection to the Board. 2331 The right hon. Gentleman then passed on to the subject of elementary education. He spoke of the improved accommodation and improved staffing of the elementary schools and of the change in the mode of grants which I rejoice to see is now being carried into effect. That change is, I believe, identical with the change brought into shape when I was in office, but which for financial reasons was stopped by the present Chief Secretary for Ireland. With regard to the exclusion of children under five, I recollect receiving a deputation from a number of distinguished ladies on this particular subject, and I was informed that infants will not get on for long together without being allowed to roll upon the floor, and it was a matter which I did not venture to dispute, although I thought that if all the infants rolled at once it would be subversive to school discipline. As regards staffing and accommodation, I thing nobody can possibly dispute the fact that these changes tend to ensure that both should be adequate. In the matter of accommodation, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether in rural schools it is necessary to be so insistent in this matter as in town schools. It must be borne in mind that this bears more heavily upon rural schools. The rural schools are smaller, and therefore more costly to maintain in proportion to their numbers; and teachers are less easily procurable. We have had within the last 24 hours a most interesting report upon continuation classes, and this bears very considerably upon the position of rural schools. I confess that at the present moment I am not sufficiently informed in regard to this report as I could wish, but I think it contains a very great deal which will need the careful attention of the Board. I have looked chiefly at the part which concerns rural schools, and I notice with some regret that the Committee were not at all disposed to allow them to recognise, as regards school attendance, any difference in the limit of age in respect of rural schools. There is no doubt that the whole system of our education has a tendency to bind children to town life rather than to country life. They say:—There is a belief that village boys who stay long at school get a distaste for the country, and take the first opportunity of migrating to the town. Such apprehensions are no doubt to some extent justified, and the result is a national loss that cannot be regarded with equanimity.There is also a Report of the Board of Agriculture from which, I think, it is quite 2332 clear that the Board is not as willing as it should be to recognise the work of the Board of Education in this direction. I think it was recognised both by the report of this Committee, as well as by the Committee upon continuation schools, that our rural education does not tend to keep the children on the land. It is said that this can be got over by a change of curriculum, but I doubt this. Gardening is an industry which keeps children in the open air, and so is bee-keeping. Another topic recommended is rural hygiene, and I notice that commercial correspondence is also on the list of subjects. It is idel, however, to contend that these things will teach the boys to follow the plough or mind sheep, or do the many things that only use and habitude formed in early life can teach. These subjects do not develop those tastes which would dispose the boys to follow the profession of an agricultural labourer. The school age in towns should be kept up partly for the sake of the children's health, partly because if you follow most carefully the career of the children who leave school in towns you find that they often go into temporary employment in which they are not wanted after the age of 17, and then they have to begin life afresh. In the country a boy who goes on to the land generally stops there, and therefore the reasons which point to the raising of the school age in the towns are not reasons which apply to the country. There are reasons in the country for terminating the school age at an earlier period which need the very careful consideration of the Board of Education. The Report to which I have alluded instances the case of Switzerland in which the school age is higher, but there I notice this significant sentence:—The whole school is closed during the busy agricultural months.So that while agriculture is going on the children are employed in it, and when it stops they go to school. Now that is a different system to what exists here. I do think it would be to the advantage of our rural schools if you had some control over the children which would set them free to work on the land if the boys were inclined to that sort of work. I think we might get this control by adopting this method of continuation classes, which seems to me to be a matter of the utmost importance, and one which should be considered by the Board of Education. We have had this matter before us year after year. I think the difficulties may be got over, 2333 and it is quite possible that these classes could be established without any compulsion at all. It is really vital to our educational system that the teaching which the children have received should not break off short when they leave school, and it can only be kept on through the instrumentality of these continuation classes. The only exception in which this education is at present continued is where the boys are under the influence of an employer who sends them to the various technical institutes which are to be found in the towns but not in the country. I hope the President of the Board of Education will take this Report into his very serious consideration. I feel sure that having regard to all the right hon. Gentleman has told us today of the working of our education machinery we are progressing. I listened to his speech with feelings of satisfaction and hope. I set aside all those contentions which during the last few years have divided us, and on purely educational lines I think the Department are working on right lines subject to those criticisms which I have ventured to make. We always look forward with interest to the speech of a Minister who, while he is at the head of the Education Department, has the control of a family circle which represents the next generation. It is a large family and a very interesting one, and I think the right hon. Gentleman has shown that he is fully alive to his responsibilities.
§ Sir GEORGE WHITE
We have all listened with the greatest interest to the statement which has been made by the President of the Board of Education. The whole of the details which he presented so graphically to the Committee show quite plainly that the Board of Education in the various phases of its work is doing an extremely large amount of good service for the advancement of education throughout the land. I think my right hon. Friend will be ready to bear testimony to this, that those of us, or the great bulk of us, who felt it necessary to make criticisms upon a certain Regulation issued by the Board of Education are in the main men who are practically and actively engaged in educational work. If we did venture to make criticisms upon that Regulation it was because we thought it was unnecessary, and we feared that the introduction of such regulation? would retard rather than advance the interests of education. I do not propose to enlarge upon that side of our discussion to-day, because in the most frank way, and for the best possible 2334 reasons, my right hon. Friend has withdrawn this circular. I shall, however, say a word or two upon it before I sit down in order to justify the position which we took up in regard to it. I assure my right hon. Friend that we are much more interested in all that shows advancement in educational work than we are in bringing forward anything that may cause a religious squabble. I have had to wait upon the light hon. Gentleman in my representative capacity more than once in regard to that circular in order to point out from a financial point of view the large additional expense it would cause in some quarters, but I have always taken care to emphasise my entire belief in the educational qualities of that circular, the necessity for its introduction, and the value of the educational results which it was bound to bring out. The enlargement of the area of accommodation which the Board of Education is attempting to carry throughout all the schools by providing 10 square feet per child is an improvement which has very long been needed in many of our schools. Again, the size of the classes which the right hon. Gentleman has also referred to is a very great educational improvement. In many of the large towns the result has not been very serious, because they have endeavoured to work up to that standard for a very long time past. At the same time, it has been my duty to point out, and I emphasise it again to-day, that there is some danger when these progressive educational requirements are put forward which entail large expense upon the localities, that the general educational result will not be exactly what the Board of Education desire and are aiming at, because with the heavy burden put upon the rates naturally the education authorities look about to see if there is at hand some other mode of cutting down their expenditure to meet the new requirements of the Board. With that qualification I can give the most unqualified approval to the action taken by the Board of Education. I should also like to follow the hon. Member for Oxford (Sir W. Anson) in what he said with regard to the Report of the Consultative Committee. I was here till nine o'clock this morning, and I have not had time to do more than run over some of its leading features, but I am quite sure, from the active interest which he takes in all social questions, and especially in those which are immediately affected by education, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Runciman) will find great scope for action in his study of that Report, and I hope also 2335 we shall find legislation initiated by it. I have to do with some large bodies of young men in night schools, and I realise constantly the enormous waste of money and effort which results from the failure of our elementary education to work any permanent influence upon the lives of a great many young men. I constantly come across cases of young men of 18 and 19 who attended elementary schools until they were 13 or 14, and who can scarcely write, and in many instances who cannot write at all, because they have never had any occasion to take up a pen from the time they leave school until, as I have more than once told them, they begin courting and want to write a love letter, and they find they are unable to do so. The fact is practically the whole of their instruction in the elementary school is lost because they leave school before they realise the value of the instruction given them. They have the tools put in their hands, but they have not been induced to use them for their own self-improvement.
I have no hesitation in saying I strongly advocate a system of compulsion being introduced in regard to continuation schools. I think it will have to apply both to employers and the young people of the country alike. Employers must be prepared to give some opportunity to the young people to attend these evening schools. They cannot expect them to closely attend all day long, eight, nine, or ten hours to their work in the factory or business, and then take up study or self-education in the evening. The difficulty can only be met by some concessions on the part of the employers to enable the young people to continue their education. In my judgment it is the most important field open to the Board of Education; it is a field in which they can do the greatest possible service to the nation, and I am sure there is much suggested in the Report which will attract the attention and the energies of my right hon. Friend and those who work with him at the Board of Education. Personally, I look forward with great anticipations to many good results coming from that Report. Speaking from my own personal experience, I am not quite sure whether we are even keeping up the age to which our boys and girls should continue in our elementary schools. There is certainly a falling off in the number of those passing from the elementary into the secondary schools. I have endeavoured in the past few days to trace the reasons for that falling off under my own 2336 educational authority, and I attribute it largely to the conviction mentioned by my right hon. Friend that the teaching profession is overcrowded. A very considerable number of instances came under the observation of my own committee where parents believed the teaching profession, was overcrowded, and did not care to risk their boys and girls going to a secondary school for a four years' course, as they would have done, to be trained for elementary teachers, because they did not see any prospect of their being employed when their secondary education was terminated.
I am very glad my right hon. Friend has made the statement he has in regard to this matter. I feel it will go abroad and encourage parents not to take such a gloomy view of the prospects of their boys and girls getting into this noble profession. I am only going to say one or two words in regard to the regulations which have been withdrawn. I am quite sure my right hon. Friend will believe me when I say that it relieves my mind very much indeed not to have to criticise these regulations in the way I might have had to do had they been continued. I will give just briefly, however, the reasons that moved many of us to feel this was in a sense an innovation which could bring nothing but trouble even to my right hon. Friend. I confess I have cast about for reasons that should have induced him to take this step, for I know both he and his predecessors have been troubled enough with the religious difficulty. We look upon this, first of all, as an attempt to force the hand of the education authorities throughout the country by a power which does not exist in regard to the elementary schools themselves. The Act of 1870, so far as the elementary schools are concerned, made it no part of the duty of the inspector to inquire into any instruction in a religious subject. It made the grant quite independent of these things, and we could not see why it should be introduced for the first time as a compulsory matter for the college authorities. I know the simple, and what appears to be the all-sufficient, answer is that in the bulk of the denominational schools Cowper-Temple teaching is carried on, and why should you not fit the teachers to give this instruction. I submit, however, that the art of teaching is given to all teachers; they are instructed in the art of teaching, and I do not understand why there should be any peculiar art required to teach the history of Joseph from the Bible any more than to teach the life 2337 of Julius Caesar. If it is simply a question of training the teachers in ability to give this instruction, it seems to me they have that training already; but, if it is for anything more than that, then it trenches upon matters of conscience, which I think are very dangerous, and far better left alone. Then there is the danger to the teacher himself. The teacher would have placed upon his certificate the fact that he had gone through this instruction in Bible teaching or religious instruction, and I would point out that these terms are used interchangeably, although they may mean two very different things. But what about the teacher who had not undergone this training'? You would be placing that teacher at a great disadvantage. You would make him liable to be misunderstood and he would rest under a sort of ban in the eyes of a great number of people. The regulations therefore would have raised a disqualification which we did not think was just or right to the teacher.
The simple fact is the undenominational teaching which has gone on in a very large number of our schools ever since the Act of 1870 has been carried on in a very satisfactory way, and I do not think hon. Members opposite who are interested in denominational and Bible teaching, as I myself am interested in the teaching of the Bible in our schools, will contend that the denominational teachers who have had special denominational instruction in the colleges have taught the simple Bible instruction of the Cowper-Temple clause any more efficiently than those who have not undergone that instruction. I have never met in my long experience any difficulty in regard to this matter, or anything which has impressed upon me in any form or shape the fact that teachers should have been trained by special religious instruction in these denominational colleges to give that Cowper-Temple teaching which is necessary and suitable to the capacity of the child. Then, finally, I come to the question of the position of the great university colleges in regard to these regulations. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that there are more than 3,000 people now being trained in these colleges. At present they are not required to give this teaching. There is nothing, however, to prevent them giving it if they like. Our point is, they should not be obliged to provide the teaching in the colleges any more than the local authorities should be compelled to provide it in 2338 the schools. I am glad to know my right hon. Friend admits there would in all probability have been a difficulty which would have been a source of injury to the cause of education. I venture to assure him and the Committee that our only interest in this matter was not to raise up a fresh educational difficulty but to endeavour to prevent one arising. We believe fresh difficulty would have been caused if these Regulations had been pressed.
The statement the right hon. Gentleman has made has been most interesting, and, I think, from an educational point of view, most satisfactory. There is one other observation I desire to make, and that is in regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for Oxford upon the position of our secondary schools. I confess, as a school board chairman and one interested from the first in higher education, that I could not follow his reasoning in regard to the position of higher-grade and secondary schools. The higher-grade school provides a very good secondary education apart from the classical side, and I do not think we need in our ordinary secondary municipal schools to deal to a large extent with the classics. In all centres of population we have our grammar schools, which deal with the classical side of education, but so far as ordinary secondary education is concerned our municipal secondary schools are equal to other schools of like standing. I had the honour recently of calling the attention of my committee to the fact that four of our pupils had gone from the secondary schools direct to the Universities of either Oxford or Cambridge.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
I never suggested that classical learning should be introduced into the secondary schools.
§ Sir GEORGE WHITE
I am aware the hon. Gentleman did not suggest it, but otherwise he failed to show what is the main difference between his idea of the secondary schools and the majority of the municipal secondary schools. I am quite sure the great bulk of these municipal secondary schools are giving as good an education as the ordinary secondary schools, so far as it is suited to the capacity and the prospects of the boys and girls who attend them. I hope, therefore, there will be no attempt to convert these schools into a type which will take them out of the line they are intended to provide for. Many of their headmasters are men of university standing, and I think many of them have had even a better training, so far as mere teaching goes, than some of 2339 the secondary masters; but there is room for both these types of school, and I am very glad, and I am sure the Committee will be pleased, with the account my right hon. Friend has been able to give us of the progress of secondary education. I hope he will foster it on lines which will keep it popular and make it serviceable for the boys and girls, who mainly come from elementary schools, and who otherwise would not be able to get that secondary education which they will find so valuable in after life.
§ Sir FRANCIS POWELL
I should like to take this opportunity, having been chairman of the committee of what is now known as the Victoria and Albert Museum, to congratulate the House and the right hon. Gentleman upon the opening of that Museum, which was a most auspicious event. The ceremony was the more interesting, and the more encouraging, because we have reason to hope, from the reception given by the President of the Board of Education to the deputation, headed by Lord Curzon, that the Indian collection will not be broken up. We are all indebted to Lord Curzon for the able and convincing statement he made in connection with this matter. I also wish to acknowledge the action of the Government in regard to the conduct of this Debate. I am sure all friends of education will agree that the practice which has obtained in the last few years of conducting this Debate in a fragmentary manner—to use a schoolboy's phrase, in snippets—has not been to the advantage of our cause. It is far better the Government should have an opportunity of making a full statement of their policy, and that the House should have an equally full opportunity of discussing the Government statement. I hope I may be permitted, as hon. treasurer of Leeds University, to express my regret that Lord Ripon is no longer with us as our Chancellor. We are under great obligations to him for long-continued service, for his advice when advice was required, and for energetic action when movement was called for by the circumstances of the hour. I observe that Leeds University is one of the institutions which is to get a Government grant. I regret the grant is so small. I hope that in future years it will be considerably augmented. In recent years a Report has been issued regarding these Treasury grants, but I hope that they will be much larger than recom- 2340 mended in that Report. I think there is too much tendency to restrict the liberty of the governing bodies of these institutions. If these great universities are to do their work, they must have full liberty and every opportunity for development, according to the necessities of the day and the circumstances of the case. It must always be remembered that they are universities, and not large schools; and unless the governing bodies are determined to maintain a high position, I fear the work of these provincial institutions will be in vain. I desire to say a few words on the subject of day training colleges. We ought to be careful to avoid the danger of an undue multiplication and unwarrantable extension of these colleges. No doubt, in years gone by, there has been a scarcity of accommodation which has proved a great educational defect; but I hope we shall not go to the other extreme. The tendency of each local authority is to look too much to its own dignity and its own importance; and a result of the present want of co-ordination may be that we shall find in a few years we are burdened with colleges beyond the necessities of the case. Every excess is injurious to the cause of education, because it involves money outlay, and I am confident that in the future the question of money will become most grave and serious; and there will not be that tendency to liberality and generosity which has been displayed in days gone by.
Then I come to the regulations with regard to secondary schools—with reference to the 25 per cent. and the restrictions in regard to religious education. I think they are almost impossible of application in our residential schools. I am connected with the governing bodies of two large such schools, and we find it impracticable to adapt our system to the present regulations. I hope these restrictions will be either removed or modified. The issue, in my judgment, in the ordinary way of new schemes for schools by the Charity Commission, is a matter also requiring attention. According to the evidence before the Committee which considered this subject, the schemes were seldom instituted on the initiative of the Department. They were framed at the request of the localities, and I believe that movement on the part of localities is better than initiative on the part of the Central Department. Several of these schemes came under my observation. There is in them too great a tendency towards uniformity. More freedom is necessary in our educational institutions. In the old schemes, there was 2341 usually a clause defining the object and scope of the scheme and the purposes of the endowment; that secured variety, it also secured adaptation to the wants of the place, because these schemes were made after a full consideration of local requirements. With the permission of the Committee I desire to add a few words affecting day schools. There can be no doubt there is a feeling in the public mind that the teaching given in these schools -does not sufficiently prepare the young people for their after pursuits in life. I saw among the papers recently published one dealing with the training of teachers in domestic subjects. That is a step in the right direction. It will do much to make the schools more popular, and it will bring the teaching given in them more on the lines which, I venture to suggest, are a proper preparation for the future. But it is not only future life that ought to be regarded in our elementary day schools. If the scholar is eventually to pass to a higher place in the scale of society, it is in the early stage there must be some change made in the education of the boy or girl. That was clearly pointed out in the Report of Mr. Bryce's Committee, which, I regret to say, has been too soon forgotten, and the teaching of which has been far too much neglected. As regards the number of teachers in these day schools, I have nothing to add except to make the remark that I have seen in Wurtemburg, in Bavaria, and in other places on the Continent school classes very much larger than are usual here. I found 60 was a common number, and 80 a not uncommon number. It we quote Germany freely in one direction, I think we should also be at liberty to quote it with equal freedom in another. We ought to congratulate ourselves upon the success of recent legislation with regard to the provision of meals for children, and with reference to the attention paid to their health. I have had some particular information on this subject, and I am sure that anyone who took part in the Debates and urged forward these reforms cannot be otherwise than greatly satisfied with the result of their labours, and with the great pains taken by the local authority to put this legislation into force. I come next to Chapter 10. I believe the words have been struck out, but I hope the spirit of them will never depart. I trust the time will never come when anything is done to impair the efficiency of Biblical teaching in our elementary schools. In 2342 my judgment, the need for that teaching does not diminish; it increases as the temptations to which our young people are exposed multiply. Their difficulties become more abundant, and I am quite sure if they are to leave our schools so impressed by the teaching therein that they gather from it inspiration of an elevating character, and find everything which leads to purity, to virtue, then that education cannot have been in vain. There is no doubt, and I am speaking from experience, that the working people of this country, as regards religion and as regards everything else, desire a real and solid education. They wish for information and they wish for truths, and that information cannot be communicated to them, and those truths cannot be enunciated, unless by a teacher who is thoroughly instructed in those subjects. I am not referring for the moment to the religious side of the question, but I am referring to this solely in regard to the education of the teachers who have to communicate this knowledge, so that they should themselves be well informed and well instructed in that which they have to teach and apply the art of teaching to, including the subject matter to which I am referring, and which I believe to be one of the most important subjects that can engage the attention of our fellow countrymen, be they young or be they old, be they rich or be they poor.
§ Mr. JOHN MASSIE
I would join in congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on the deep and varied interest of his statement and on the chronicle of educational progress which he has been able to put before us. I would congratulate myself also, if I may, that it is not my duty to-day to plead with him for the withdrawal of those instructions—those Regulations to which so much exception has been taken. Their withdrawal will be a gratification, not only to Nonconformists but, with them, to all other classes of educationalists. We have never questioned the motives of the right hon. Gentleman in proposing those Regulations—his motives have been entirely praiseworthy and transparently sincere. We will bear with gentle resignation his mild strictures upon our nervousness and sentimentality. We are only too glad that the menace to educational peace and contentment has been removed from the scene. But the Regulations to which I have referred did not exhaust my object in venturing to intervene to-day, and I hope that the Committee will not think it 2343 unimportant or useless if I spend a few minutes in drawing attention to an aspect of the educational situation which does not leap to the eyes of the public, and perhaps does not leap to the eyes of some members of this House. It is only in elementary education, only in that sphere, that there are statutory enactments which impose conditions of grant. There is another sphere—the sphere of education other than elementary—in which there are no statutory conditions. Acts of Parliament, judgments in the courts, the provisions of the Board of Education, have severally in their own way tended to widen that area, which is free from statutory conditions, and that area has largely encroached on the area of elementary education. It has, indeed, in many cases become a substitute for it without these statutory conditions. It is under regulations, not under statutes. There is no statutory law which enforces public control or religious liberty, and gradually, as I have said, the statutory region has been lessened.
May I illustrate what I mean? Under the Act of 1870 there was care for pupils from infancy up to the age of 18 and in evening schools beyond. The Act of 1902 excluded from the elementary area—and that is from the statutory area—evening schools, pupil teachers' centres, higher-grade schools, the various institutions and departments connected with science-these were all thrust out of the area of elementary education, and so outside the area of statutory enactment. Then, as regards the change in the age of leaving, the Cockerton judgment reduced that age to between 16 and 17; the Act of 1902 reduced it to between 15 and 16. The secondary regulations of the Board of Education have suggested, first, 14 years of age as the age for secondary education, then 12, and then 10. This year it suggests no limit downwards; it says that the age for secondary education may go down, and does go down, very much below the age of 12. Créches, nursery schools, sanctioned by the Act of 1870, were soon disallowed by the auditor, three being fixed as the lowest age. Now the Board of Education seems to be trying to raise that age to five, and there are public demands to place it at seven. Thus a large number of the children of this nation are being elbowed outside the statutory protection under the Act of 1870. They are being pushed into regions other than elementary education, where they are 2344 under Board regulations and prefatory memoranda. May I point out what is lost in this way? There is no statutory enactment imposing the duty of providing accommodation; there is no statutory mandate enacting that public control shall be a condition of grant; there is no statutory conscience clause; there is no statutory Cowper-Temple clause; there is no statute imposing that there shall be a third of the governors representative; there is no statute enjoining an audit of accounts of aided schools, or surcharge upon the aided schools; there is no statutory Kenyon-Slaney clause giving laymen and clergymen the same power together in regard to religious teaching; and there is no statute limiting the fees that may be charged at secondary schools. According to the Act of 1870 that limit was 9d. a week.
Thus I think I have shown that there is. a wide area outside statutory law, under regulations entirely—regulations which may be changed from year to year, and which are at the pleasure of a bureau. They are not brought before Parliament, and they are apt to slip through, by being merely laid upon the Table. So that the region of secondary education is not a ladder, so far as I have described it, between elementary education and the university. It is rather coming to be another ladder, a complete ladder, side by side with the elementary education ladder and going beyond it, upwards; a ladder from infancy to the age of 18, outside statutory law, which imposes conditions of grant, leaving these conditions to the discretion of the Board of Education. This may be called elasticity, but it might also be called bureaucracy. Certainly it is true that educational details must and should be left to the Executive, the Board of Education, but the great principles which regulate the education of the country should not be left to the Board, but should be enforced by statutes. There is one lamentable consequence of this parallel ladder, the elementary ladder not being followed by the secondary ladder. The secondary ladder stands side by side and it tends to generate class distinction between elementary education and secondary education. The old Scottish practice, whereby the laird's son and the farmer's son, and even the labourer's son, learnt their lessons in the same classroom, is on the way to get out of sight when elementary and secondary education are, so to speak, in water-tight compartments. Let me ask, How 2345 many secondary schools have within their walls scholars representing 25 per cent. of free places? I daresay it would be unwise to insist on that in connection with certain schools, but I would ask, How far is the regulation generally obeyed? Then, again, in these secondary schools, which receive public grants, how general it is for a majority of representative governors to be on the governing body? As to this class distinction, which I am sorry to think has grown up, I hope the Committee will allow me to quote a short passage from a journal, which is by no means a party journal, and represents no party in this House or outside it, except the educational party. I mean the "Journal of. Education." It says:—The Board of Education has been accused by some of its opponents of adopting a democratic policy by declining to admit the necessities of social grades in the country, but ill the last edition (dated July. 1909) of the regulations for secondary schools, social distinction is definitely implied. We read that the education of the secondary schools may be advantageously begun at an age much below twelve, and, in fact, by means of Kindergartens and preparatory departments is often made to cover education from its earliest stages. From this dictum we may gather that secondary education is not that which comes between primary and university, but is a grade to itself, covering the whole childhood to the university age. Of course, this is in accord with common usage, but it undoubtedly stamps secondary education as a privilege of those classes of the community which are rich enough to forgo the use of the public elementary schools. The genuine democrat insists that secondary education is the stage that follows primary education. The law has stepped in to prevent primary schools from continuing to invade the preserves of secondary schools. It does not seem apparent why the law should not also forbid secondary schools to poach on the grounds of primary schools. If secondary schools were forbidden to take pupils under twelve years of age, we should, at least, have a logical scheme.One word as to the public funds which are being used in this region other than that of elementary education, the funds which are being used for grants at the discretion of the Board of Education. Let us see what public money is involved. The grants in 1903–4 were £964,000, in 1907–8 they had risen to £1,618,000, and the estimates before us for 1909–10 give the grants as £1,916,372. These grants are concerned with secondary schools, pupil teachers' centres, training colleges, and the various institutions teaching science. If you add to these the grants to the universities, the whisky money, the rates for secondary education outside statutory conditions, you will find that something not much short of £4,500,000 annually is at the discretion of the Board of Education, not under statute, but under regulations which may slip though by being put on the Table, or may be granted in Estimates perhaps in one sitting. What solid statutory guarantee have we for efficiency, and what statutory 2346 guarantee have we for the principle of public control or religious liberty? I am not finding fault here with the regulations of the Board of Education, but I am saying that they are not statutory, and therefore not permanent. I am very much afraid that the trouble which has come to us in elementary education is also brewing for us in secondary education—trouble from vested interests, from the religious difficulty, from the lack of public control, and from the waste of public money—and I cannot help feeling that it is time the House and the country should know all the circumstances of this case. But it is rather hard to get a certain class of information which used to be at our disposal. If you want to know the changes in the code it is of no use now to look, as you used to be able successfully to look, for the tabulated list at the end of the code, which still is found in the Scottish code. Then, again, in secondary education there is a prefatory memorandum, of which, of course, the writers for the Press take advantage, but the prefatory memorandum to the regulations does not necessarily include all the changes which occur in the regulations, and one has known, as in the present instance, of cases when the prefatory memorandum was somewhat inconsistent with the regulations in the body of the code.
But my chief point is that statistics that used to be available now cease to be available. They are not published, because they are not collected by the Board. Questions are asked in the House, and the President is quite innocently unable to answer them. I have myself asked a question of the President of the Board of Education, in answer to which he has been obliged to say that there are no statistics available at the Board. I have not asked very recondite questions, but questions have been asked of this nature: Can he give the number of parishes in which Church schools only are available, and in which the school authorities have arranged facilities for Nonconformist parents to have their children taught their own faith? There were no such statistics. Another question asked was what was the total amount expended by managers of denominational schools during the past three years from subscriptions and sources other than rates and taxes? There were no such statistics available. It is very advisable in connection with the controversy about the admission of children under five to have statistics of children at each year of school age. These were possible to be obtained once. You 2347 cannot obtain them now. The statistics given are aggregates from 3 to 5, from 5 to 7, from 7 to 12, and from 12 to 15, and the statistics in reference to the several ages from 12 to 15 are very important in investigating the ages and the number of children leaving school early. In reference to staffing, we used to be able to compare the quality of the staffing in council and voluntary schools, particularly in Anglican and Catholic schools, how many certificated teachers there were, how many uncertificated, and what were their respective salaries. But no such statistics can now be obtained. Then, as to public control, It is very interesting to know whether that is more efficient than private or denominational control. We used to be able to compare the particular advantages or disadvantages of both systems, but now there are no statistics which enable one to draw comparisons between council schools and voluntary schools as to the provision for cooking and gardening and other subjects, as to pupil teachers' training, as to the quality of the staffing, as to the numbers in attendance, and as to the grants, whether they are higher or lower. No longer are there separate statistics for us to use in investigation and comparison of these matters; you merely get an aggregate number in reference to the district. Then, lastly, in reference to religious statistics, we used to be able to know how many children there were in Anglician schools and in Catholic schools, and other schools of the kind in the respective areas. Now you only get aggregate statistics of the whole of the voluntary schools. But surely it is important to know how many Protestant children in any particular district are being driven to Catholic schools, and how many Nonconformists, especially in Wales, are being driven to Church schools. Why should not these statistics be continued? Why should such things be covered up? Is it to avoid odious comparisons? Is it in the interests of any particular kind of school? I cannot in my heart hold the President personally responsible for these matters. He cannot keep an eye on everything. He would need the eyes of an Argus to keep an eye on everything. Yet it is only to him that I can appeal on an occasion like this, and I take the liberty of drawing his attention and the attention of the House to the growing dangers to which I have referred. I think they have long called for public statement.
§ Mr. S. H. BUTCHER
I think the President of the Board of Education had good reason for feeling pride in the record of educational success which he has been able to tell us of, and of the intellectual movement which exists all over the country in the schools, and in an increasing degree I believe in the local authorities themselves. So far as I can form an opinion, I think that, in respect of those matters which he dealt with in his speech, he has carried out a wisely progressive policy. In one matter I deplore the change which has come over him in the last few hours. There, in my judgment, his policy was too-progressive and too educational for the bulk of its followers. The proposed Regulation, which has now been dropped, would have made it obligatory upon all training colleges to give a course of training in religious instruction to those who intended being teachers. But it would not have made it obligatory on the teachers to attend any course of religious instruction. That was entirely optional as regards them, and, moreover, the Regulations would not directly or indirectly have required them to give any profession of faith. It would not have imposed upon them any test, direct or indirect. All it would have done would be to require that in those who are now engaged in religious education there should be a qualification of knowledge. That qualification, I observe, is almost a disqualification in the eyes of some persons. The knowledge that the teacher will acquire in this course of instruction is looked upon with nervous apprehension lest he should get by some indirect method some advantage hereafter in his profession by reason of his knowledge. It seems to me that, from an educational point of view, this is really a deplorable thing. The first argument put forward by the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Sir George White) came practically to this: "What has the State to do with giving, or in this case merely inspecting the means of giving, religious instruction? It is not the State's business, and it is not the business of the Department. Why, therefore, should they be called upon to do it?" Is not the simple answer to that question that the State has delegated to the local authorities the duty of giving religious instruction or not giving it? It has delegated that to their discretion. The local authorities have almost over the whole of England resolved to give that instruction and the provision which is to be knocked out would merely recognise the existing 2349 state of things. It would have been the natural sequel to the action of the local authorities themselves. We were told by the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk that we must not force the hands of the local authorities, but if the local authorities think that the children should receive simple Bible instruction, is it unreasonable that the State should say, as the natural and logical consequence of their action, that we require that the teachers who are to give the instruction should know their subject?
The next argument used was that the teacher's certificate would put him at an advantage compared with those who do not attend the instruction. I do feel that you can be too nervous in your apprehension that there may be some interference with religious liberty. I understand the line of those who say that there should be no religious instruction given at all. That is perfectly intelligible, but I do not understand this other argument. It is really unintelligible to say that religious instruction should be given, but given under conditions that the ignorance of the teacher is almost a necessary result. It should be remembered that in recent years the proportion of teachers who are instructed in religious knowledge is growing constantly less, and I think it was a statesmanlike and right proposal to ensure that those teachers should themselves be taught beforehand. The hon. Member for North-West Norfolk argued that they have already learned the art of teaching, and that that art is one and indivisible. In other words, if a teacher is taught how to teach, he is able on that abstract knowledge of the art to know, on the one hand, how to teach mathematics, and, on the other hand, French, the Bible, or any subject. That is not so. There are different methods, and a man who has learned to teach mathematics may know nothing at all about teaching the Scriptures. What is more, the training of a teacher is only one part of the thing. You want some knowledge as well as some training. You cannot teach a subject in the abstract. You want some knowledge of it, and it is that knowledge which seems to me so requisite in the case of a religious teacher. I would ask why there should be one department only in which ignorance is recognised as equivalent to knowledge? Is it because that it is a less important department of the education of the young? Nobody on the other side would say that. Is it because the subject of religious or 2350 Biblical instruction is so easy that anybody can teach without either knowledge or training? It is, I believe, very deeply in the minds of some people that the Bible is so simple that everything in it is so easy that you require no knowledge or training to teach it. I think that is the very reverse of the truth. There is hardly any subject so difficult to teach well and intelligently as elementary instruction in the Bible.
I have so far been speaking of the training of teachers in religious instruction. I pass to the larger question of the training of teachers and the means by which the Department proposes to encourage that which they themselves admit is one of the most important parts of their duty. It has already been alluded to by the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University, but I must go into a little more detail about the teachers' register. It is a question which directly affects a very large number of teachers in the country. It affects also everyone who intends to become a teacher. What has been done? There was a teachers' register which was abolished in 1908. The old register was by the admission of everybody based on unsatisfactory principles. It was proposed in the Education Bill of 1908 to abolish that register. That proposal met with great opposition. Then in the administrative provisions of the Bill of 1907 a clause was inserted providing for a new register to be framed by Order in Council. The clause which was inserted was the result of rather long and careful negotiations between the representatives of all branches of education, elementary, secondary, and so on, and between Members on both sides of the House. It was inserted in the Bill after consultation with the Board of Education. What happened next? Ever since that was carried in 1907 there has been a long and acute correspondence carried on with the Board of Education, and the whole controversy has turned on the meaning of the words in the clause which provides that the new Registration Council which was to be entrusted with the duty of making a register should be representative of the teaching profession.
Let me put as shortly as I can what has happened. A body of men and women delegated from 12 educational associations drew up a scheme, which was submitted to the Board for the formation of this new council. They provided for the representation on the council of all grades of education, primary, secondary, and tech- 2351 nical, that there should be men and women and that there should be head teachers and assistant teachers. They interpreted the words I have read to mean that the council should be representative of the teaching profession as a whole, but that they did not mean that there should be direct representatives of every group and every section of teachers, and of the teachers of every possible subject. It was on that point that this futile correspondence has turned. I do not say that the scheme was perfect, nor did those who framed it say that it was perfect. They admitted that it might be modified in many respects. But the Board's criticism of the scheme was that there was a large number of teachers of various special subjects, and groups of teachers who had received no direct representation at all on the new council. It was stated that claims had come in from teachers of art, music, handicrafts, and cookery, from kindergarten teachers, teachers of the deaf and dumb, teachers of physical instruction, shorthand, gymnastics, and book-keeping, that their own particular society or subject should be represented on the council. These, what I can only call trivial and obstructive objections, were pressed by the Board of Education upon those delegates who had framed the scheme. The framers of the scheme thought that all they could do was to take names out of the teaching profession and form a body which should be broadly representative of the whole. They did not wish to keep out of their rights the teachers of the various subjects, but they said they must ignore cross divisions and form the scheme on main lines, otherwise they would get a perfectly unworkable body. By way of providing for the case of those omitted, they pointed out that there were two provisions in their scheme which would have served their purpose. On the one hand, there were nominees of the Crown on the body they proposed to constitute, and there were also to be co-opted members. Therefore they said: "Let the Order in Council, if you like, require that there should be sub-committees appointed, and that there should be consultations with experts as to how the council may look after the interest of all those teachers in the minor groups." From March to December, 1908, this correspondence went forward. It was finally given up in despair, and the Board, I am sorry to say, quite unlike the ordinary character of the President of the Board, showed really a mastery of dilatory tactics 2352 which would have done credit to one of the local authorities in trying to evade the orders of the Board itself. I think their correspondence was quite unworthy of a great Department, and I do honestly say that anybody who looks into these objections cannot but feel that they were trivial, and that any body of men who wanted bonâ fide to work out the duties of the council would have found these objections simply vanish before them. The thing now stands indefinitely hung up, and in the last letter which the Board wrote to the chairman of that body they speak of the clause which was put into the Bill of 1907 really as leaving the door open to the possibility of there being at some future time an efficient teachers' register, if and when proposals were made which carry with them the whole teaching profession. The general upshot of it all was that the whole thing was thrown on the teacher. That most important matter on which every educational authority was agreed, that you must have a teachers' register if you were to encourage the training of teachers, is hung up because the conditions which the Board imposed for framing the council were such as to make that council impossible, for two reasons. First of all, the council would be utterly unwieldy from the start, and, secondly, there would be such a disproportionate representation between these minor teachers and the great body of teachers in the country that the council would not represent the profession as a whole. I would appeal strongly to the President of the Board—and I know that I am speaking the mind not of this or that person, but of all the great educational bodies of the country—and I would ask him to take up the matter of the Board and to do what was really imposed on the Board by Act of Parliament. It is not for any outside body to frame an Order in Council. That duty could only be carried out by the Board itself. These men have done their best; they have made suggestions. It is for the Board only to form a scheme and to readjust, as they alone can, the rival claims of these different classes of teachers.
There are two more questions which I wish to touch upon, and as to which questions have been asked already I think in Parliament, and they have been put off for a very long time, though I believe that the President of the Board has been very anxious to solve them. The first question is as to the fees that have already been paid since 1902 when the old 2353 Teachers' Registration Council was formed. These fees were paid by the teachers to get on the register. Repeated questions have been asked in Parliament as to what is to be done with these fees, and what is their amount. We know that the unexpended funds of the total fees paid are about £2,970, and these have been made over by an Order in Council to the Board of Education, I think in 1908; but they are now in the hands of the Board of Education. The teachers say: "Are we to be repaid, or what are you going to do with this money?" The only answer has been: "We cannot do anything with the fees until the Registration Council has been formed," and then, when you say: "Form the Registration Council," the answer is that that cannot be done until the conditions specified have been satisfied. I think we ought to have an answer on this point. The other question with which I am concerned is with reference to certain persons who have been in the public service, and who, I do not think, should on that account receive less consideration. These are three members of the staff of the Teachers' Registration Council who became member of the staff in 1902. That is to say, for nearly six years they were members of the staff. They are the registrar, the chief clerk, and the assistant clerk The two first, the registrar and the chief clerk, when they received their appointments, had no hint whatever that the appointment was to be a temporary one, nor did anybody imagine that it would be temporary. It was thought that the registrar was a permanent registrar, and that the council, whose servants they were, was to be permanent under Act of Parliament; and, what is more, on one or two occasions it was admitted by the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, in reference to the Registration Council, that the actual phrase "permanent employment" was at that time used. There is also the assistant clerk, who was engaged as a temporary clerk. All these men, by this unfortunate series of accidents, were done out of their jobs. Now they know, and I—speaking for them—am aware that they have got no legal claim on the Treasury, and that, strictly speaking, they could be dismissed at pleasure. But I do press it upon the President of the Board that they have a very strong equitable claim, and I would ask him to do one of two things: to get some compensation for them for the loss of their appointments or else to get them some 2354 new appointments in some other Department of the public service. A memorial to that effect has been signed by Members on both sides of the House, and I am sure that the President of the Board will admit that the names of those who signed it were weighty and influential. I am not going into any other of the large range of subjects opened by the President's speech, but I hope that before the Debate is over we may have some answer to these matters which I have mentioned.
§ Sir DAVID BRYNMOR JONES
As one of the Welsh Members, I desire to express my satisfaction with the lucid statement made by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Runciman), and my general concurrence in the administrative policy which it implies is that which the Government has been carrying out. I was specially glad to hear him pay a compliment to the Welsh local authorities with reference to the high standard of staffing arrangements which they maintained. If I have heard him aright, Wales is the place in which the regulations of the Department in regard to staffing are best carried out. As the hon. and learned Baronet the Member of the University of Oxford (Sir Wm. Anson) has made on many occasions very severe strictures on the administration of the Education Act by the local authorities, and in reference to one matter has, I thought, somewhat unnecessarily dragged that matter into discussion this afternoon, I commend to him the statement, which he did not challenge, of my right hon. Friend. It supports absolutely what we have said on this side of the House, and what I have said when I sat on the other side of the House, that whatever animadversions may be made on the policy of the Welsh local authorities in regard to the treatment of voluntary schools, they have so guided their actions that the efficiency of not a single secondary school, of not a single elementary school, has been materially damaged by the action which they have taken. I cannot go into the whole of it to-day, but as far as the staffing arrangements are concerned I commend to the hon. Baronet that part of my right hon. Friend's speech in which he dealt with the conditions of the country in regard to the maintenance of the high standard of staffing. I was also very glad to hear my right hon. Friend as to the withdrawal of the regulations in regard to religious instruction in the training colleges. Personally I cannot say that I took so strong a view in regard to that regulation as has 2355 been expressed by more than one speaker on this side of the House to-day, and in fact I agree with a great deal of what the hon. and learned Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford said in regard to this regulation. It does appear to me that it is advisable, if you are going to give undenominational religious education in any of the public elementary schools, that in the training colleges opportunities should be afforded for the students to be taught how best to carry out the regulations on the subject; but at the same time, while I see no objection whatever to a public authority or a training college seeing that some kind of instruction such as was contemplated by them shall be given, yet there is all the difference in the world between their being allowed to give that instruction in their own way and their being compelled to give it according to the terms of the chapter on religious instruction.
As an illustration of what I mean, the only sentence in my right hon. Friend's speech to which I took exception was that in which he said that Swansea, with all its faults, saw that in its training colleges the religious instruction which is contemplated by this Chapter 10 is given. I should like my right hon. Friend to amend that sentence, and to make it say that Swansea, with all its merits, adds to its other titles to commendation the giving of religious instruction in training colleges. That is the only sentence which I can criticise in my right hon. Friend's otherwise admirable speech. What was done in Swansea does not involve in the least the evils which we are afraid of if this Chapter 10 had been put into force in exactly the form in which it exists. There is all the difference in the world between saying that a local education authority shall provide in its training college a course of training which will prepare students to give such instruction and explanation of the Bible as are suited to the capacities of children and giving them an opportunity of doing so if they like. What the Swansea educational authority, as I understand, objected to in this Chapter 10 was the fact that it was made mandatory, and being made mandatory that gives an inspector of the Board of Education power to go there and see the kind of education that is being given. What the local educational authority wishes, and I believe what all the other educational authorities in Wales wish, is to have as much autonomy as possible in regard to their system. I imagine 2356 if they are left alone things will work very well, and I am perfectly certain whatever good objects my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education may have in introducing this Chapter 10 would be better attained by allowing the Welsh local education authorities freedom of action in this matter, and opportunity of learning from experience the wants from time to time and the general views of the ratepayers whom they represent. In any case, I am very glad that my right hon. Friend saw his way to cancel this Chapter 10. I wish to call his attention to another part of these new regulations in regard to the training of teachers. It is only an illustration of the necessity of transferring as soon as possible the question of Welsh training colleges to the Welsh department. I think I am right—my right hon. Friend will correct me if I am wrong—when I say that at the present moment all matters connected with the Welsh training colleges do not belong to the Welsh branch of his office, but have to come to him through other channels. I should like to take this opportunity of suggesting to him that this is a department of work which might be transferred to the specific Welsh branch of his Department. A very good illustration of the necessity of that is afforded, I think, by the special conditions applicable after the 10th August, 1910, to the students of the training colleges being prepared for the examination forming the recognised stage towards university degrees. The matter is too technical for me to go into in any detail here, but the right hon. Gentleman or any Member of the Committee will see on page 52 that there is a list of examinations given, and that appended to the list, which I think is not new for this year, is a new set of special conditions applicable after 1st August, 1910. I have already told my right hon. Friend that considerable exception is taken to these special conditions, and my impression is that if the gentlemen in the Department who have drawn up this set of conditions had known our regulations for matriculation examinations for the University of Wales, and had been better acquainted with the circumstances of the Principality, they would have modified these special conditions with regard to, at any rate, the Welsh training colleges. I am content for the moment to call my right hon. Friend's attention to the fact that we do take exception to these special conditions, and I would respectfully suggest to him that inquiry should be made 2357 through officials of the University of Wales or the National Colleges, or the Welsh Board, as to whether those conditions ought to be applied to the students of our Welsh training colleges.
§ Lord EDMUND TALBOT
I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
I do so for the purpose of calling attention to the regulations affecting secondary schools, and especially with regard to the way in which they bear on Catholic secondary schools. The right hon. Gentleman, in his statement, expressed satisfaction at the fact that several Catholic secondary schools were earning the grants. Yes; that is so, and so far as it goes it is eminently satisfactory. But our quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman is that he will not allow new Catholic schools to come in to earn those grants. I have the case of a school of this kind in Cheshire, close to Birkenhead, in which during the four years from 1904 to 1908 the sum of £4,500 was spent in building and improvements, and in October last there were more than 114 children in the school. They applied for the grant, and the right hon. Gentleman refused it. I am not complaining. In doing so the right hon. Gentleman doubtless is acting strictly in accordance with the regulations. But our grievance is that these regulations absolutely stop these grants from being earned by any new Catholic school which was not on the grant list before 1907–8. I am quite aware that the right hon. Gentleman himself is not personally responsible for these regulations. He inherited them from his predecessor, who followed more the policy of the sword than of the olive branch. I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman, as he himself will remember, very kindly received a deputation from members of my own communion on this very point; but I am bound to say his kindness ceased with the reception of that deputation, and he was unable to give us any hope at all of any change in this direction. I do sincerely trust that we may have some hope held out to us of a modification of these regulations. I do not want to use strong language, but really it appears to me to be extraordinary tyranny and narrow-minded bigotry that, while these grants may be earned by some of our schools which were efficient previous to 1907–8, no new schools should now be allowed to come within the present regulations to earn these grants. One other point I wish to allude to has reference to the question of the supply of furniture to 2358 non-provided schools. I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman if he will kindly tell us what is the policy of the Board of Education on this matter. There have been several cases lately, notably one of a Catholic school at Liverpool. The local education authority, as I understand, wished to provide this school with furniture. They took the opinion of two eminent counsel, Sir Robert Finlay and Mr. Upjohn, K.C., and these two legal gentlemen gave their opinion that the local education authority were bound to supply this furniture. It is well known that the present Attorney-General gave his opinion, I believe before the present Government came into office, that the managers ought to supply this furniture, and, as far as I can understand, the present Board of Education have relied on the opinion of the-Attorney-General. This is a somewhat more important matter than it looks at first sight, because it not only affects the new schools, but it affects all non-provided' schools which come technically under the heading "New Schools." It is, therefore, a very big question, and what we respectfully ask the right hon. Gentleman to inform us about is this: Is the policy of the Board of Education going to wobble from one side to the other or is it going to be based upon law or on politics? I hope the right hon. Gentleman later on will give us some information on this point. I beg to move.
§ Question proposed, "That the reduced sum of £6,648,692 be granted."
I have been privately asked several questions as to whether the Amendment will impose any restriction upon the discussion. It will not restrict it in any way.
§ Mr. JOHN P. BOLAND
I desire to support the reduction which has been moved by the Noble Lord distinctly with regard to the question of the provision of furniture in Catholic schools. I wish to ask the President of the Board of Education whether he can give me any information with regard to the case of the Catholic school at Mountain Ash. I understand the local education authority has been informed by the Education Department that they are to provide the furniture for the school. I asked a question on this subject two or three weeks ago, and I am still awaiting a reply from the right hon. Gentleman. Possibly he will give me one to-night and so clear up this point, which the Noble Lord justly raised, about the 2359 provision of furniture in these Catholic schools. Before dealing with the question of elementary schools I should like to say that Catholic Members of this House do look upon these regulations for secondary schools with a great deal of disfavour, because, as far as we can see—and the Noble Lord put it quite clearly—if some of these new regulations are carried into force it is impossible for any new Catholic school in future to become entitled to the grant. I think that is an extremely important fact to all the Catholic schools of this country, and also to Anglican schools, but pressing with double effect on our Catholic schools. For the last two or three weeks I have had cause to put to the President of the Board of Education specific questions with regard to the treatment of St. George's Catholic school, Nelson, Lancashire. This has been a burning question in the district for some years past. I have a document here showing how the question arose. In February, 1897, the manager of the school was informed by the Education Board as follows:—I am risked to return the enclosed plan, which is now satisfactory for the accommodation of 180 mixed children and 98 infants.And so the letter goes on. There are two or three other documents which I could read to the House. Briefly, the point at issue is this. The Board of Education try to maintain that this school had been erected and recognised purely as an infant school for 98 children. Our contention is—and we can substantiate it by documents which have been promptly put before the Board of Education—that this school has been recognised not only as one for infants, but also as a mixed school. That has been borne out by the signing of a time-table by His Majesty's inspector in the year 1904, amongst other proofs of our contention—that this school has been recognised all along as a school for mixed children as well as for infants, and it is impossible, in the face of all the evidence, to expect the managers now publicly to make a false statement of the views they hold, and to claim under section 8 of the Act of 1902 to have a new school erected. The matter is not only of importance to the managers, but as well to the children who are at present being educated in this school because our people have never given up the education of the children in spite of the difficulties which are surrounding this matter. The children, I understand, suffer naturally from not 2360 being in a school which is publicly recognised by the education authorities. The local education authority, so far as I am aware, wish to have the question decided in our favour. It is only because the Board of Education, so I am informed, is unwilling to go back upon a previous mistake of its own, and to admit that it has been wrong, that this burning question is still kept alive. I do appeal to the right hon. Gentleman in a case like this, where the local education authority and the managers and the parents are all desirous of having this matter settled, that he should exercise his authority and let the matter be settled once and for all.
Then there is the case of the Catholic school at Nymphsfield in Gloucestershire. I listened to a sentence in the speech, I think, of the hon. Member for Cricklade (Mr. Massie), in which he said he was very anxious to learn the full statistics of the school population of the country as he wished to know in how many cases Protestant children were driven into Catholic schools, and Nonconformist children driven into Anglican schools. As to that point there is this example of Nymphsfield where a considerable number of Protestant children are being "driven" into the Catholic schools. In this little village there is a small council school occupied by about 25 children. The Catholic school has been erected within the last seven or eight years, and there are no less than 60 children now attending it, and amongst those there are some 25 or 30 Protestant children. Although the school is not recognised by the Board of Education, and although they are not driven to go, they go because the children are better taught there than in the council school. If the hon. Gentleman had the statistics giving the number of children attending those schools he would probably be driven to the conclusion, owing to the views he holds, that those 30 Protestant children were being driven into the Catholic school which they are attending because the education is better. In this case which has been brought before the House on several occasions a very serious injustice to my mind is being done, not only to the Catholic parents of the district, but also in the interests of education and to a greater extent in the interests of the boarded-out system of the Poor Law, with which this House is, I believe, thoroughly in favour. In this country village a boarded-out committee 2361 has been established, and some 20 or 30 children drawn from various parts of the country—Lancashire, London, and so on—being children of Catholic parents, are boarded out, and owing to the provision of this Catholic school are able to obtain that education which is so essential.
In spite of the efforts that have been made year by year, showing not only that this school is giving a good education, but is carrying out the wishes of the Poor Law authorities of this country by providing education for boarded-out children, in spite of the fact that this school has grown from 45 to 50, and now to over 50, the Board of Education still refuse to recognise that school, which is unable to earn full grants. We have thus the ridiculous spectacle of this school, with its 60 children, some 30 of whom are Protestant children of the district, and a number of boarded-out children from various counties of England, side by side with a small council school which at present has only some 23 or 25 children, and yet that school is recognised, while the infinitely more efficient Catholic school is not recognised. I do submit to the President of the Board of Education that this question, which has been put before four or five successive Ministers, has reached a point when it should be definitely settled, and that a school which has a good record for educational efficiency, and which was founded as a result of an application by one of the inspectors of the Education Department, that such a school should be supported. I do suggest that the time has come when this Nymphsfield school should be recognised. As regards this question of the Catholic school in Lancashire, into which I have gone at rather full length, it is a typical ease showing the anxiety and the, determination of the Catholic parents of this country in spite of all difficulty and in spite of the opposition they sometimes meet, and unreasonable opposition from the Education Department of this country, to maintain education for their children. This is, I think, a case in which the justice of the claim has been thoroughly made out, and I submit that this is a case where the Board of Education should not insist or. a previous mistake of theirs, which they are unwilling to admit, to refuse to recognise a thoroughly just claim.
§ Mr. RYLAND ADKINS
Before I deal with general matters of principle, I should like to say how cordially I concur with what has fallen from the hon. Baronet the 2362 Member for Oxford University (Sir W. R. Anson) and the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Butcher) with regard to the question of a teachers' register. I desire to associate myself with all that has been said, and I look forward with great interest to some statement to show that this matter is not so bad as it appears to be at the present time. That register ought to have been formed long ago, and the delay is a regrettable public inconvenience. I would like, in the first place, to congratulate my right hon. Friend (Mr. Runciman) not only on his admirable exposition of the policy of his Department, but upon the result which, in many respects, he has attained. With regard to secondary, education, which after all, is a subject of supreme importance, although it does not lend itself to more exciting discussion, I am sure we have all welcomed two important statements he made with regard to it. One was the increase in the number of girls attending, and the other was the increase in the number of those who are fulfilling free places in secondary schools, while I believe all Members of the Committee will be exceedingly glad to hear that the number of those filling free places in secondary schools is now, I think, 42,000, yet, when we recollect what an extraordinary small proportion that is of the masses of the people of this country, we must all feel that secondary education, although it has-progressed during the last year to an appreciable extent, as a national matter it is still in its infancy. Forty-two thousand out of the vast population of this country are not enough, or one-hundredth part enough, to really affect the higher education of the English people generally. There is a great gulf, as has been pointed out by the hon. Member for Cricklade, between the few who have secondary education and the many who cannot. That gulf is not bridged by this number, large as it is. I hope in the next year, and the years afterwards, to hear of the progress of this particular branch at a far greater rate than that which has been evidenced in the year past.
I missed from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman any reference to that intermediate education, if I may so call it, between what is secondary in the fullest sense and that which is elementary. In one passage he referred to the well-known policy of his Board and of many educationalists that the course of secondary education should be at least a four years' 2363 course. We all of us see reasons for that where it is possible, but there are a great many parents in this country who would be able, by making a sacrifice, to allow their children to stay at a higher elementary or higher-grade school for one year or two and who would never be able to let them remain for four years. It depends upon the encouragement and guidance which the Board of Education and the local authorities give to that very large body of people whether the gulf between elementary and secondary education is bridged. While I entirely agree with the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University that it would be most absurd that schools which are really higher-grade schools should masquerade as secondary schools, that is no reason why you should not have higher-grade schools, and to a larger number and under more careful arrangement than you have at the present time. I take this opportunity of calling the attention of the Committee to that gap in the imposing series of facts which my right hon. Friend laid before the Committee, and of expressing the hope that he will use his influence with the Department in seeing that such education is not neglected. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cricklade pointed out, whatever have been the advances in secondary education of late years, there has been a corresponding compression and shrinking in elementary education, and unless that is remedied in the way I have now suggested, we may be losing almost as much in one way as we are gaining in another; the fact being that a much larger number of persons are affected by the restriction of elementary education, which may, in the long run, be of more importance nationally than the greater advantage given to the comparatively few.
With regard to another aspect of secondary education, reference has been made to the question of inspection by the Board of Education. Inspection of secondary schools is, of course, most desirable where secondary schools are receiving public money. It is most desirable that there should be inspection by those who represent the Government and the country. I hops that it may be increasingly possible, as the years go on, to have a considerable proportion of the highly trained gentlemen who are inspectors of secondary schools, those who have already themselves had long experience as teachers and masters in secondary schools, 2364 because in those inspections you want not only the point of view of the Government Department, but you want the knowledge, which can only be attained by personal experience in that kind of education. With regard to public schools that ask for no public money, and are in no way dependent upon any grant from this House, I agree with what has been said by the Member for Oxford University, that we ought to look very carefully at any proposal of the Government Department to inspect schools of that kind. Their independence is a very valuable variety of education. When you have inspection by any Government Department the more energetic and determined that is the more liability there is for it to try and follow up this inspection by interference and by intervention. When you are dealing with schools of this kind, which have no claim on the public purse, their independence ought to be most jealously guarded.
There is then the question, so happily removed from acute controversy this afternoon, of the proposed regulation with regard to training colleges. I have too much regard for the time of the Committee to be tempted into that fascinating field of dialectics upon which the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Butcher) entered when he was arguing with great charm and ingenuity the impossibility of teachers teaching the Bible unless they were trained in a particular way, and the desirability of their training being subjected to State supervision and State regulation. Many of us were strongly opposed to the proposed regulation, although we see that in its favour there are real arguments. In all these educational matters there are genuine arguments on both sides, and it is the weighing of the contending arguments which makes educational matters so difficult. But although there are real arguments in favour of the course my right hon. Friend proposed to take, I do not intend to discuss either those arguments or the weightier arguments which I believe are against it. I take the view that where you have an Act of Parliament like that of 1870, which forbade compulsory religious instruction in any form by the State, although it may be technically correct—there are very grave legal doubts whether the proposed regulation of my right hon. Friend was legal, and even if it was, I am certain it was not, in accord with the spirit of the Act of 1870—a matter so wide-reaching, so highly controversial, and of such doubtful legality, ought to be done, 2365 not by any Department, by by Parliament itself. Therefore, if I approved strongly on its merits my right hon. Friend's proposal, I should certainly oppose on every occasion the first possible precedent for a Government Department straining its authority in this way.
§ Mr. ADKINS
I am sure those who in the future may be Members of this House when the Noble Lord, whose genial interruption we note, may be more able to get his own way in educational matters, will take note of his disclaimer this afternoon of undue departmental activity. He and others who do not share the educational point of view from which I am speaking may agree in being glad that this proposal, although we appreciate the spirit in which it was made, is no longer before the Committee.
There is one other matter to which I desire to refer, namely, the famous circular, No. 709. I am one of those who believe that the contents of that circular are, educationally, of great advantage; and, knowing how many and how powerful are the enemies of education in this country, one is always glad when there is put forward any proposal, from whatever quarter it comes, which is really educational in its character. Therefore I desire to join with other Members in applauding the intention of that circular, and to a very large extent in praising its contents. But it is not enough in this country to make proposals which are educationally good, or even to alter them by means of Government Departments, with the sanction of this House. You must, as far as possible, see that the people who are to carry them out are in the humour to do it as sympathetically as possible, and make sure that you carry public opinion thoroughly with you. I am thankful to remember that my Constituency is one which, before the circular came out, had gone a long way towards arriving at the educational result at which the circular aims. No one who has anything to do with local government —certainly no one connected with such a body as the County Councils Association—can fail to know that in many parts of the country this circular has been received by local authorities and representatives of the ratepayers with anything but gratitude and pleasure. It is by no means the case that it is opposed and regretted merely by people who dislike and wish to limit education. Those of us who are trying to carry out Acts of Parliament dealing with edu- 2366 cation know that our power to carry them out well is seriously crippled if we have public opinion stirred and organised against us. I am exceedingly sorry that it was impossible for the Government, at any rate at the outset, to accompany the issue of that circular with a definite increase of grant to local authorities. I will not take up time by arguing the point upon which my right hon. Friend spoke so dexterously as to whether the particular staffing regulation did or did not deserve a grant specially for it. I do not fully agree with his argument that because Wales and one or two other localities have done nearly all that was asked without any grant, therefore it is not a subject which ought to have a grant for itself. I rather take the view that matters of staffing and the expense of teachers' salaries ought to be paid for partly from the Exchequer and partly from the local rates; and when you have a circular making compulsory that which previously had only been attained here and there, the fact that it was attained here and there—though I am very glad it was so attained, and I hope it will now be attained promptly throughout the country —does not dispose of the argument that there ought to be Government assistance towards raising the standard of elementary education. I may remind my right hon. Friend that the occasion of this circular was one which brings very vividly home to local administrators the financial aspect of the matter. There was a great deputation, representative of all parties and all parts of the country, which put before the Prime Minister the claim of local authorities to have further help from the Exchequer, not because they were doing less or cared less for education, but because Parliament had put upon them valuable and right duties of a new kind involving greatly increased expenditure. That deputation received from the Prime Minister words not without sympathy or without recognition of the equity of their claim; and certainly there was an element of sardonic humour, which some of us had not included in my right hon. Friend's shining qualities, when this circular came out a few days afterwards, practically saying, "Although we sympathise with you, we are sorry we cannot get money for you from the Treasury. But we will not cease to stimulate your educational good works, and here is something more you had better do at once, although it will cost you more." I am not arguing that the circular was bad —I say it was good—or that local authorities ought not to try to carry it out; I am doing what 2367 little I can in the local authority of which I am a member to see that it is carried out; but I say that it puts upon the Government increased responsibility and obligation to see that the Exchequer does assist local authorities as soon as possible and as largely as possible. Knowing as I do my hon. Friend's devotion to educational causes, and that he must recognise that education can only work smoothly where there is no widespread sense of grievance, I am sure that the fact that his circular is welcomed on educational grounds will not make him less anxious to meet us on the financial grounds and to discharge that increased obligation and responsibility. In conclusion, I am sure the Committee will be grateful to my right hon. Friend for the work of his Department during the year. This discussion shows that although there is great difference of opinion on many aspects of education, there is great unanimity in the interest for the cause of national education.
§ Mr. J. G. TALBOT
I wish to associate myself with the spirit of my noble Friend the Member for Sussex (Lord E. Talbot), who asked for that equality of treatment to which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Runciman) referred with so much sympathy. I only wish that that sympathy had developed into action. I thought there was a very pathetic passage towards the close of the right hon. Gentleman's speech when he referred to the somewhat melancholy episode in our educational history which we all recollect, when we plodded through weary days and nights in the grave endeavour to pass an Education Bill. Why did that Bill fail? It failed just because the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues had forgotten the great principle to which he has referred to-day. He said that the only possible way of arriving at an educational settlement is to remember the absolute necessity of maintaining the great principle of equality. I applauded that settlement. It is exactly my view, and I have always tried to act upon it. The right hon. Gentleman will forgive me for saying that amongst the virtues which he possesses, and they are many, there does not appear to be a sufficient amount of that political courage which I think he would find would bring its own reward. There is a somewhat notable example of this want of courage in the conduct of the Government for which he is mainly responsible in regard to training colleges and the religious instruction 2368 in them. It seems to be a remarkable fact that, after the right hon. Gentleman had come to the conclusion, which I suppose he arrived at after due deliberation, that this was a matter on which he ought to insist, so that teachers who are to give this instruction should at least be provided with the means-of giving it—which would seem to be common-sense, but does not commend itself apparently to the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman—no sooner was this document prepared than it was abandoned. That does not show great political courage. But what I complain of even more than of the curious development of the last few days, is the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman and his Department in regard to those questions to which reference has been made this afternoon, and of which we shall doubtless hear more in the course of the Debate. Two schools in Wales have been referred to in regard to which it is really difficult for us to use language consistent with the truth. These are cases in where there can be, I should have thought, no question as to which side the law was on; but, in any ease, there can be no doubt whatever as to the side on which the moral weight ought to be thrown. These are cases in which the supporters and managers of voluntary schools, who have just as much right to their view of elementary education as the supporters of council schools, have put their hands into their own pockets, founded and maintained these schools, and then the schools have been made less efficient than they otherwise would have been by the teachers being rewarded with salaries inferior to those of teachers in the council schools. I am not going into the details of these cases, but the right hon. Gentleman knows-quite well what I have referred to. There is the other case of the Wheelwright Grammar School at Dewsbury, under the supervision of the West Riding authority. This, again, is a case of what seems to me to be intolerable religious tyranny. It ought to have been suppressed at once with a vigorous hand by the right hon. Gentleman if he really believed in the doctrine which he laid down this afternoon that the only way in which to settle the religious controversy is to go the right and obvious path of true religious equality. It is the duty of everyone who occupies the position of the right hon. Gentleman to see that these principles of equality are really carried out. It is idle to lay these great principles down and then not to carry 2369 them into effect. Personally we have the highest respect for the right hon. Gentleman, but how can he expect the supporters of denominational religious education to have confidence in his administration if he will not put into force the law that exists because of pressure outside that he cannot resist. It pains me to see one wanting whose determination I should have thought would have been exercised on the right side when it comes to carrying these principles into effect. May I express my earnest hope that he will reconsider these questions?
§ Sir J. H. YOXALL
The speech of the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon ranged over so wide an area that it is quite impossible to do more than touch upon a few points in a Debate of this kind. He is entitled to express the view that great progress has been made by the Department of Education committed to his charge. There are still defects in the secondary schools, which come under the purview of the Board's regulations; and the same is obviously true with regard to the training colleges. But so far as the elementary schools are concerned, there can be no doubt that the administration of the present system of inspection, of teaching, attendance, etc., are all going in the direction of securing that this country before many years are passed will have system of education such as exists In no other country in the world. What we want is peaceful development, an abstention from party warfare and denominational strife upon every occasion, and a disposition on one side as well as the other to consider the rights of the other. We want peaceful development for the elementary schools. If that be granted I do not doubt that we shall build up in this country a system of elementary schools not inferior to any in Europe or the rest of the world. My right hon. Friend has lately done that which will possibly conduce to that desirable result. What appears to be a minor reform appeared in the new code with regard to grants for the schools over and above that dealt with in circular 709. We have been wasting money all these years, because we have spent not quite sufficient to secure a proper supply of small classes and effective teachers. Fault has been found with the education given to the children in these schools. All these faults and defects have been to the fact that all these years the children have been taught in hordes and herds.
2370 May I, however, venture to put two small points before the President of the Board of Education? The one is similar to that that the inspectors of the secondary schools should be more and more men who have been teachers in those schools, and I want to put forward a smaller plea on behalf of the inspectors of the elementary schools. The right hon. Gentleman has appointed from the exterior (sub-inspectors') staff of the Board of Education one or two to be inspectors of the elementary schools. We ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider a little more favourably those whose long service and high qualifications in many respects make them eminently fitted for the post in preference to some young man fresh from the university who has only been subject to 12 months' experience in one of these schools, and that not for teaching purposes, but in order to qualify himself for the list of applicants for inspectorships. May I also direct the right hon. Gentleman's attention to another class of persons who appear to be in some danger owing to a certain phrase in circular 709? A great number of the teachers referred to have suffered in the past from that very lack of training college accommodation which he has done away with. He told us this afternoon that now there is, or shortly will be, ample training college accommodation for all teachers who wish it. There are thousands of these teachers who did not go to a training college; not they did not wish to, nor that they had not the qualifications. They were Queen's scholars, or, at a later date, King's scholars. But there was a total lack of training college accommodation, and they were shut out by the hundred and the thousand. They had to get their certificates as teachers in some other way. They are called untrained, or, more correctly, non-collegiate teachers. It is an unfortunate phrase that has got into circular 709. It has not been transferred to the code, I understand, and I am quite sure that it is not the wish, or the desire, of the right hon. Gentleman that the phrase should be interpreted as it has been by some local education authorities, that although they may have had experience, and for many years done successful work, these teachers are not to be promoted, or to be regarded for promotion in the future, for it is not the fault of the teachers that there were not sufficient training colleges. Every teacher has been in favour of training colleges for all teachers. The teachers have been in. favour of it for many years. They asked 2371 for it 30 years ago. They made the demand for a supply of undenominational training colleges when the demand was not heard in any other quarter. I do not champion the cause of the untrained man against the trained man, nor do I say that he is as good; but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to do something to remove the impression which now exists that by circular 709 the door has been shut upon a particular class of people —has brought among them a most uneasy state of mind, a hopeless feeling, and also a sensation of being dealt with most unjustly. I think it was an error and a pity that that phrase should appear in the circular, but it does not appear in the code. I think it will be most unfortunate if it did, and I beg my right hon. Friend to consider in what way he can best remove the impression which it has made upon the minds of the teacher.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The hon. Member who has just sat down dealt with a particular aspect of Rule 709, into which I will not follow him. He also made a variety of demands for further expenditure on schools, and he went so far as to say that we have wasted millions because we did not spend a little more. That may be true, but when I hear that kind of argument I naturally feel some distrust. There are always people who think that by spending a little more you would save a great deal of money. Of course, this is a matter more for the Minister to consider than perhaps for a private Member, who necessarily has not got access to all the facts and to all the knowledge. Other parts of the Debate had features of very great interest to me. Two speeches delivered by hon. Members opposite interested me very much, because I began to see in them signs of revolt against bureaucracy upon the other side, which is a very interesting symptom. But I must honestly say it seemed to me to come a little late. I venture to remind those hon. Members that there are two instances of educational policy of this country in the last year or two which I think they might have joined with us in resisting. The Government two years ago, or less, proposed to spend £100,000 on the building of new schools. I never said that that was wrong in itself, but I do say, and I have always said, the method of that proceeding was absolutely indefensible. The hon. Member for Middleton said he was against some particular regulation—Chapter 10 of the Regulations 2372 of the training colleges, because it was an attempt by the Government to do something which was doubtfully legal. The expenditure of £100,000 on buildings was not only doubtfully legal, but it was undoubtedly illegal and was overriding an Act of Parliament, and it was an act done by the Executive of the Ministry of the day without being considered by the House of Commons. It was merely an administrative act. We all know the object was to punish the House of Lords, and, as constantly happens, the result was to punish the House of Commons. It removed from their consideration the whole of the policy of the £100,000, and it prevented proper regulations from being enacted.
There is another matter to which I should like very much to draw the attention of the hon. Member for Cricklade. He is most jealous of the system of legislation by regulation as applied to secondary schools. He said it is going too far, but I do not remember his raising any complaint against the training college regulation, which completely altered the very conditions in which they exist altogether. I do not remember any complaint from hon. Members opposite then. They were perfectly silent, and the hon. Member for Middleton expressed the hope that when the Unionist Government came into power they would not act in the same way. I venture to say that one of the first acts of the Unionist Government will be to reverse this portion of the training college and secondary schools regulations, and I hope that having done that they will do so in a manner that will put it out of the power of any future Government to reimpose them. A great deal has been said about Chapter 10 of the training colleges which the Government first put forward and have now withdrawn. I confess I do not quite understand the attitude of those Nonconformists who have spoken on this matter. They tell the House constantly, and, I am sure, perfectly sincerely, that they regard religious education as the most important part of the educational curriculum; they desire undenominational instruction in the schools. The Government put forward a proposal of training teachers and giving them undenominational instruction, and then they say it is an outrage upon religious liberty not to be tolerated for a moment.
May I draw the attention of hon. Members to the prefatory note in the regulations which, I think, must have escaped their attention. The Government said "They have reason to think that in some 2373 cases the local education authority, who have in the past made provisions for such training in colleges provided by them, have only been prevented from doing so by the difficulty of finding time for a subject forming no part of the officially recognised curriculum." That means that under pressure of other duties the training colleges have not in effect been training the teachers to give religious instruction, and every one knows that is the great danger of the present day. The moment you take these training colleges out of the hands of denominational bodies, and put them into the hands of the State, the immediate result is that not only the teachers but the students themselves are tempted in a way it is impossible to resist not to spend their time on subjects which will bring them no reward at all or advance their professional prospects, and they naturally devote the whole of their attention to those other portions of their training which are really those which will result in pounds, shillings, and pence. That is very serious indeed. I believe myself that unless some vital change is made in the system inaugurated by the note, you will find great masses of teachers sent abroad to the schools with no religious training at all, except what they first derived in their own early school days. Now from that point of view I personally deplore the withdrawal of the chapter in the training colleges regulations. The only thing which consoles me is this: If it had been enacted it would be one more State recognition of the position of Cowper-Temple, and I personally regard that as a thoroughly false theory and false system. I am glad there has been no other recognition of undenominationalism.
What I desire to press upon the attention of the Committee is the essential fallacy of the theory on which undenominationalism rests. The moment you try and teach undenominationalism compulsorily, or make it a definite subject of teaching, you find objection just as great and precisely of the same character as to the teaching of any denominational form of religion. You cannot draw distinction between undenominationalism and denominationalism, and what we have often said turns out to be true, that the moment you proceed in an undenominational direction you go step by step to the abyss of secularism and irreligion. That conclusion, I venture to think, is the necessary result of these rather curious little incidences in the attempt of the Government to save the religious character of undenomina- 2374 tionalism which has been defeated by their too zealous friends. I should like to say one thing, perhaps in some degree, at any rate, contradictory to what I have already stated, that is, that I am very glad to notice what the hon. Member for Nottingham (Sir J. H. Yoxall) has referred to, that there is a decided diminution in the heat of religious temper in the past two months.
I think it is probably true that the passive resisters' movement, for instance, has greatly declined. We hear much less of it, and there are undoubtedly many signs that the religious uncertainty which unhappily prevailed in the last few years is diminishing. My right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Mr. Talbot) pointed out there were still some cases of religious intolerance in Wales. That must be admitted. There is the case of the school in connection with which the local authority has persistently refused to perform its duty in maintaining the school recognised by the Education Department, and when ultimately compelled to pay up the arrears of maintenance they very characteristically docked the amount of what they paid by £100. That is thoroughly characteristic of a particular type of Welsh local authority. They also made a grave distinction between the Brymbo Council school and the Church of England School in the matter of salary. The boys' department in the council school had 97 pupils. The salary of the head teacher was £185, and the total salaries £350. In the Church of England school the boys' department had 116 pupils, nearly 20 more than the council school; yet the salary of the head teacher was only £100, £85 less than the salary of the head teacher in the council school, and the total salaries were £240, also just £85 less than the total salaries of the council school. The other departments are strictly analogous to that, but I trust that even in Wales some idea of religious toleration is gradually coming about.
There are other instances such, for instance, as that in Carnarvonshire, where the council has persistently declined to properly staff the denominational schools. That is curious commentary on what was said by one hon. Member who claimed that Welsh schools were better staffed than the English schools. I believe the claim to be wholly unfounded, and in that particular case it is entirely without foundation. There is one other case to which I should like to draw the attention of the 2375 Committee, and that is the case of the Wheelwright school. It is a curious instance, I think, of religious intolerance. It is a secondary school, which for years and years has been a church school, always carried on in accordance with the tenets of the Church of England. Suddenly the Yorkshire West Hiding Council said they would not give any aid to the school unless it modified its religious action. That is absolutely in the teeth of the legislation which has been passed on the subject. Nothing can be clearer than the Statute which says that no distinction is to be made in aiding schools based upon their religious complexion, yet this county council deliberately threatened to decline to support this school. They appealed to the Education Department, and instead of getting the assistance and advice which they were entitled to have, they were advised to submit, and rather than face the evitable litigation, they did so and abandoned their religious principles in order to get the necessary assistance from the county council. When the right hon. Gentleman's attention was called to this he said it was in process of settlement, and he did not wish to interfere. If you adopted that principle in regard to criminals you would never prosecute a criminal, because he would be excused on the ground that it would be a pity to rake the matter up. I am glad to note that there has been a diminution of religious disputes, and I am anxious that that state of things should continue. I attach nearly as much, in fact quite as much, importance to the settlement of the religious question as any hon. Member of this House. I have always wished for it and worked for it. Perhaps the hon. Member for the Cricklade Division (Mr. Massie) and the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Sir G. White) will forgive me for saying that I think in this matter they are quite hopeless, and I am afraid we shall never agree, because their ideal and conception is quite different from my own in this matter. They would much rather have education free, as they put it, than education religious, and with that I disagree. I think the vital thing in all education is the religious element, and I am convinced that that is what you have got to aim at. I believe that the point of view put forward by my hon. Friends is getting less and less support in the country, and the ultimate issue will be between denominationalism and secular- 2376 ism. I have no doubt that when that does become the issue denominationalism will be the one which will be adopted. I am convinced it will be a denominal settlement, and I am anxious it should give the utmost justice and liberty to all schools of thought. It is only on denominational lines that this question can be settled. I earnestly hope that those who take any interest in this subject will shortly be convinced that that is the true view, and the only view on which peace can be maintained.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. C. P. Trevelyan)
A good many questions have been raised to which, I think, some answer may very well be given at the present stage. I think my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education may congratulate himself upon the absence of any severe criticism of his administration. There has been throughout the discussion, and notably in the remarks of the hon. Member for the Oxford University (Sir W. Anson) and the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Butcher), a recognition of my right hon. Friend's discretion and fairness in dealing with the questions which have come before his Department. The only question of importance on which the administration of the Board of Education has been challenged is the secondary school regulations. I do not think the Committee would wish me to discuss this point at length. Two years ago those regulations were fully discussed during the time of our predecessors, and although to the Noble Lord the Member for Chichester it may seem narrow-minded bigotry on our part to maintain these regulations, I am afraid that on this side of the House we feel that we are doing a service to the future secondary education of England if we do not encourage the establishment of a large dual system of education of that kind. In that connection I think the statement made by the Noble Lord who has just spoken is of very great interest. He has declared it to be the first duty of a Conservative Government when they come into office to reverse the secondary school regulations. I should like to ask the House to consider what that would imply. It would imply denominational education and teaching becoming compulsory in secondary schools, the abolition of the Conscience Clause, the application of tests for teachers and for the governors of schools. It would mean the dismissal in a very large number of schools, where these 2377 new regulations have been perfectly readily accepted even by denominational trustees, of the majority of popular representatives who now have their place on those bodies. That would be a very clear issue, and the Noble Lord may think he would be able to accomplish his object, but I very much doubt if the Debates on the Education estimates in the years following that change would be as peaceable or satisfactory as the Debates are under the present Government. In that connection I should like to point out that while this Government has held that it is not desirable there should be established in our secondary system anything of that kind, and not desiring to put denominational schools on the same basis as council schools, we took good care when these regulations came into force that denominational schools should be given a good chance of maintaining the full grant, and so far from being severe upon them, my right hon. Friend has frequently stretched a point to bring them upon the grant list. Most of the other criticisms made upon our administration has been of a detailed character. The Noble Lord the Member for Chichester (Lord E. Talbot) asked us what our view was with regard to the obligation of managers and local authorities to provide furniture in the case of new voluntary schools. Acting under legal advice we are bound to take a certain view on this point. We are advised that it is the duty of the managers to provide the furniture in case of a new school, and upon that advice we are bound to act. We have consistently since the year 1906 so advised managers and local authorities whenever the question has arisen, and we shall continue to do so in the future.
With regard to the particular case which the Noble Lord raised, I do not quite know what course he wishes us to take. I hear that the Liverpool local authority is thinking of disregarding our advice, and contemplates providing the furniture itself for a new denominational school. We have advised them that in our opinion they are acting contrary to the law. I do not know whether the Noble Lord wishes us to mandamus them for not taking our view, but what will happen in that case is that if they do not take our advice, and if it is the case that the law is what we think it is, they are running the risk of being surcharged, in which case no doubt the question will have to be settled in the courts. I do not think any charge can be brought against our administration in this case for not taking any further action. Another 2378 point was raised by the hon. Member for South Kerry (Mr. J. Boland), which I should have been glad to answer fully, but I see he is not present. In all the cases raised by the hon. Member he asserted that unfair pressure had been put upon Roman Catholic managers, and he said that in two cases we have refused to allow the schools to be recognised and come upon the grant list. In those two cases we have only been following out the action of our predecessors, and we have continually pointed out that we cannot take any further action until they themselves put in a claim and publish a notice asking for a new school, in which case we shall take the whole matter into consideration, and shall decide at our discretion. We are not in any way barring the claim of the managers, and whenever they take the necessary legal steps to ask for our decision we shall give it fairly. With regard to the case in the West Riding of Yorkshire, we have been accused of siding with the West Riding authority. The West Riding authority passed the resolution referred to in 1903, when the Noble Lord's friends were in office. They took no notice of that action in 1905, but they wrote to them objecting in 1905, so that the Noble Lord's own friends did not take the very-drastic action which he hinted we ought to take. I think my right hon. Friend showed a good deal more discretion in this case, because, instead of mandamussing the West Riding authority or taking some desperate course of that kind, he proceeded to see if he could not arrange with the managers to alter their trust deed, so that the matter might be arranged without a quarrel of that kind. Fortunately, the managers accepted this proposal, and, as a matter of fact, I believe that as a result of the change the actual teaching will not be deteriorated, and only a nominal change will occur.
And, it being a Quarter past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.