§ [CLASS 4, VOTE 1.]
§ [The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley) in the Chair.]
§ Considered in Committee.
§ (IN THE COMMITTEE.)
§ BOARD OF EDUCATION.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £8,664,677, 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, 1911, 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."—[NOTE.—£5,400,000 has been voted on account.]
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Runciman)
In rising to introduce the Board of Education 387 estimates, I ask the leave of the Committee to make a statement on the working of the Board, covering, I fear, a very large area, and I shall require to detain them for some little time, if I am to give even a superficial account of the services performed by the Board and that come under their guidance. Our services now cover not only 20,000 elementary schools and many hundreds of secondary schools, but technical schools, and technical classes, schools of art, museums, cookery centres, rural and agricultural classes, medical inspection, physical training, some sides of university work, training colleges, and many other departments of educational machinery. Some of these services are not always supposed to come within our province. There are others which certainly appear to have a more near relation to the Board of Trade that are still under my Department. I refer to the Geological Survey Committee, and one or two similar services. Let me first refer to the amount of attention which is now being given to the museums which are under the administration of our Board. Since the opening of the new Victoria and Albert Museum, the increase in the number of visitors to it has been most remarkable. During the last twelve months over 1,000,000 visitors passed through its gates. It has enjoyed a degree of public attention far exceeding hat which it ever knew in the old premises, and I am glad to think that not only has it a good reputation in England, but its reputation as a great industrial and art museum has spread all through the Continent. I heard with no little degree of pride some great authorities on art and industrial museums say that the art museum now at South Kensington is the finest in Europe.
The India Museum has been rearranged during the past few months, and what is known as the Cross Gallery, previously kept for Eastern exhibits, is now being used for a portion of the India collection, which is now set out with greater effect than ever before. It must not, however, be supposed that the whole of our India collection is under one roof; it is scattered under several. The collection brought home by Lord Curzon is at Bethnal Green, and a small portion of the India collection is at Kew, but the main part is at South Kensington. I regret we are not yet in a position to house the whole of that collection in one museum. The Science Museum which, as everyone knows, is more or less 388 structurally of a temporary kind, is likely to be rebuilt in the near future. I have had the satisfaction of receiving authority within the last few days to state that the fifty-one Commissioners are now prepared to make a Grant from their funds of £100,000 towards the cost of building the new Museum, the Treasury to provide the rest which is necessary. None of these museums could exist on their present footing were it not for the fact of the generous donations made in the past, and I would not like to allow the present occasion to pass without making public reference to the amazingly valuable bequest of Mr. George Salting, who died last year.
Mr. Salting has left to us the finest collection in the world, not only concerned with pottery and the allied arts, but covering a large range of artistic objects, a few of which will go to the British Museum, and some to the National Gallery, but the bulk of them will come to us. I think we ought in the most public way possible express our gratitude to Mr. George Salting for the generosity he showed to the Museum for a long time. One of our best friends, Mr. FitzHenry, a great friend of Mr. Salting, still lives, and he never allows a year to pass without adding to the number of his gifts. Anyone who goes to the Architectural Gallery in the Museum will see some of the best sites occupied by some of the great gifts collected by him abroad and now safely housed by us.
We have a very valuable loan collection, the largest part of which is lent by Mr. P[...]erpont Morgan. I need hardly say that gifts are more appreciated by us than loans, but we are glad even to have the loans of valuable objects of art. Then closely allied to our museums are the technical schools and classes which are conducted in conjunction with the science museums and sometimes in conjunction with our art collection. Very often they are purely technical or even trade classes. During the past year the number of those who have at tended these classes has gone up considerably. During the year 1908–9 there were over 300,000 persons attending these classes between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, and I draw the attention of the Committee to one remarkable fact, and it is that this large number of young persons between the ages of thirteen and seventeen do not and cannot represent the full value that these classes are enabled to assure. Out of the 307,000, only 246,000 attend for the minimum number of times necessary to enable Grants 389 to be paid upon them. It must be remembered that this minimum of attendance is very far below the standard of regularity which ought to be obtained in order to secure the educational results.
It is necessary in order to secure that the funds spent on evening classes and evening schools should be spent to the test advantage that we should insist upon greater regularity on the part of the students. That is one of the reforms we look forward to in the future. The work done in these classes covers a vast range of subjects, and we are not prepared to exclude any subject provided it comes properly within the category of the classes. Any reasonable subject of real educational value may count for the purposes of the Grant. A great deal of the work is of the greatest value. I recently visited a technical class at Burnley, and I not only found there that students were taught to use their hands and eyes to good effect, but I found there some of the best pure science classes in the United Kingdom, and out of seven scholarships granted in the United Kingdom, no less than four were won by that school. The work done in these classes must, however, very largely depend upon the amount of time expended by the student in his daily avocation. It is impossible that a student who commences work at six o'clock in the morning, and with short intervals for breakfast and dinner, only leaves off at 5.30, should have the energy to take full advantage of the evening classes thus provided. Granting that they gave six evening hours a week, which, indeed, is a standing allowance, it is placing a strain on some students far beyond what they can bear. I have recently heard of some young students in Leeds who have broken down under the strain of doing their daily work and of attending evening classes. If they had lived in Middlesbrough, Manchester, Horwich, Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, or Swindon, they would have been able to attend these classes during the day by the permission of their employers, and, I would add, by the encouragement of their employers. That is a matter which, I trust, will commend itself, not only to those who control our great railway companies, but also to small as well as large employers throughout the United Kingdom. The improvement required there must of necessity come from the largest employers first. I think a word of credit is due to the Admiralty, because they have led the way in this matter. As early 390 even as 1843 they allowed some of their young persons who work in their dockyards and works to attend technical classes during their work hours. Some of the railway companies are also taking up this subject with a degree of enthusiasm which does them every credit. Recently the Great Northern Railway Company, who have a very large number of boys in their employ in London, have been insisting that in every case their boys should attend some classes, and many of these classes during their work hours. That example may well be followed in other parts of the country. Only by following it shall we be able to get into our schools boys between the ages of thirteen and seventeen in such a way as to enable them to take full advantage of the facilities there offered. Scotland, as usual, is leading the way in this matter, and the Act for Scotland passed two years ago, I hope, will be followed by an Act equally applicable to England, providing that attendance at continuation classes shall up to seventeen years of age be compulsory. Of course, it must be on a small scale, and it must be done with moderation and with consideration for local needs and trades, but within those limits it is possible to work just as well in England as in Scotland.
The adult artisan is taking advantage more and more of these evening classes. What I most find fault with in the evening classes that are provided is that the adult artisan is not given a large range of opportunity of taking general as distinct from vocational instruction. This is one of the greatest needs of adult artisans. Those who have had any experience of the adult schools of the Quakers, now organised for a long period of time with great success, know that the demand in those schools is not for higher education, but for very elementary education, education provided even in the lowest standards of the elementary schools. In the Quaker schools, north and south, you find men of thirty and forty relearning the arithmetic which they ought to know, reading in the most elementary form, and even learning to spell, not for the first time, but for the second time in their lives. It is this gap between the first instruction and the first desire for instruction, which comes much later in life, which has somehow or other to be filled. There is a great demand for this, I believe, among the adult population, and it is to be seen most strongly in the remarkable success of the Workers' Education Association, a success brought about 391 by the enthusiasm of an excellent central committee, an excellent secretary, and the generous assistance given by the universities and university men. Their organised three years' course of history and mechanics has been attended by large numbers of artisans all over the United Kingdom. That work is good in its way, but it cannot cover all that is necessary in the way of a general education either for old or for young, and one of the best signs of the time has been in the spread of secondary schools. Last year we heard at some length of many of the changes which have taken place in the number, organisation, and teaching of secondary schools. This year I have to report to the Committee that our secondary school branch now covers the sum of £610,000. There are 950 schools receiving Grants, a rise of 100 schools in the course of the last two years. There are about 10,000 teachers in those secondary schools, and their qualifications are better than they were. There are over 158,000 pupils at present in attendance. Over 50,000 are free-place elementary school pupils, of whom 15,000 have entered under this regulation during the present year. This is a great improvement in range over the state of things four or five years ago.
One of the most remarkable movements has been in the length of the school life. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir William Anson) last year drew attention to the shortening of school life in one of our great municipalities where the secondary schools were somewhat of the nature of a higher elementary schools, very largely because the pupils did not stay long enough at the schools. He drew special attention to the state of the Bradford schools, and I should like to say equally publicly that Bradford has turned over a new leaf and they are exerting all the influence they can, both on parents and pupils, to increase the length of time pupils spend in their schools. We have had to use very much the same kind of pressure in other instances. We have had to warn thirty-five schools that the length of time the pupils spend in the schools is too short and that we shall have to remove them from the Grant list unless they reach a reasonable standard. Governors all over the country appear to be co-operating with us in that object. Not only are they doing that, but in many schools they are requiring undertakings from the scholars that they will stay out the full time of their secondary school career. Furthermore, they are re- 392 modelling their scholarship scheme in such a way as to get pupils earlier into the secondary schools, and they are discouraging the very bad system of what is known as "a year's finishing," which is really throwing away the time that is spent in the secondary school. There has been a great improvement in the elasticity of the curriculum of these schools. The limits must of necessity be generous. They must not be unduly specialised, and they must not be defective in essentials; but within those limits we are prepared to encourage differentiation of type, and we have been doing so as far as we possibly could.
The Board does encourage experiments, and it is very glad to have any experiments brought to its notice. We are likely to publish very shortly the Reports of two experiments of great value. One is on the new oral method of teaching Latin, and the other is on the method of organising school holidays of town children under conditions of home life, including the study of botany, geology, and the literary and historical associations in country districts. This is not aided by any Grant at the present time, but we are watching the experiment this year, and, if we can, we shall give money to it. There has been an increase in the interchange of teachers from abroad. Twenty-two schools have taken advantage of the arrangements made with the French and Prussian Governments to send over teachers here in exchange for teachers we send over to France and Germany. I believe there will be more next year. All this goes to broaden the interest in these schools. There has been co-operation with specialists, like the English Association, the Mathematical Association, the History Association, and so forth. Last of all the new developments is the associating with the governing bodies of these schools of old boys and girls who have passed through them. That provides not only the governing body with some means of getting into touch with the actual district and scholars, but it strengthens the local interest which ought to obtain in all secondary schools throughout the country. The spread of this system, on the other hand, has not been altogether without danger. There has been too great a desire to have quantity at the expense of quality, and many schools which are elementary have been trying to get into the secondary branch without raising their standard to the secondary level. There has 393 been too much jealousy between elementary and secondary teachers who are connected with these schools. Their interests are not antagonistic; they are really not two services, but one.
There has been in the curriculum a tendency far too much to over-theorise. Every now and again the educational world has some current idol. A few years ago they were all for scientific education; now they talk about nothing but practical education. Nothing would receive our approval in the secondary schools which does not provide a well-balanced curriculum. It very often happens that a well-balanced curriculum merely means teaching a large number of subjects ineffectively. There is undoubtedly great restlessness with regard to the curriculum of these schools. No sooner has a new educational scheme been started than someone wishes to take it up to see how the plant is getting on. Everyone wishes to see our Code and Regulations re-modelled every half-year. If we took a quarter of the advice tendered to us we should have to remodel our Regulations once a year. I am so firmly convinced of the undesirability of such frequent changes that I have not altered the Regulations. The same applies to the elementary schools, and for the first time in the history of education there is no new Code this year. We are going on this year on last year's Code.
I should like to refer to the position of the headmasters in secondary schools. I fear they are too much under the control of officials. As I have stated publicly elsewhere, if there is one thing in the organisation of education of localities which seems a serious danger, it is the over-control of officials. In secondary schools this is particularly harmful. The head master ought to he properly consulted in the management of his school, and he should have immediate access to the governing body of that school. The appointment of assistants ought never to take place without consultation with him. The governing body on that subject ought only to act after full consultation with the head master. He ought to be the responsible executive officer, through whom and after consultation with whom the responsible authority act. I do not believe for a moment this undermines popular control. I believe it is very much better than bureaucratic control. The governing bodies themselves ought to have control of the secondary schools, and I do invite 394 them to get into closer touch with the head masters. In urging this we are really fighting the battle of the teaching profession. If this right of direct access to the governing bodies is not granted, and, indeed, if it is not demanded by the local authorities themselves, it will mean that men of character and education and wide experience will be driven away from the secondary schools. That would be most lamentable, and not to the best advantage of this great service.
I would like to draw attention to the development of the secondary system in Wales. I will not go over the whole range of the Welsh secondary school system. It is well known in this House, but, as one of the outcomes of the enthusiasm of the Welsh for secondary education, there has been an expression of enthusiasm in the higher branches of education. This year, only some twenty-one years after the passing of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, marks the opening of the new buildings of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire at Cardiff, the erection of the magnificent pile of buildings for the sister college for North Wales at Bangor, a start made with the erection of permanent buildings for the National Library of Wales at Aberystwith, and the decision to erect two new training colleges at Barry and Caerleon—a very fine achievement for a small Principality in the course of a single year.
I now turn to the subject of the elementary schools. There are some 20,000 of these. They vary enormously in their quality, the range of subjects they cover, the kind of children they have to educate, and the kind of teachers who man them. All the improvements which have been made during the last few years cannot be catalogued without touching on almost every item in their curriculum. But in drawing, nature study, gardening, handwork, and domestic subjects for girls, cookery, laundry, needlework, and so forth, in practical arithmetic, that is to say, associating arithmetic with the actual things of life, and not merely producing arithmetical conundrums, in original composition, in observation lessons, physical exercises, dramatisation, with the object of vitalising history, and in the general lessening of formal teaching, my inspectors report that there has been improvement all round. That is largely due to the quality of our teaching staff. The proportion of trained to untrained teachers has gone up, and the proportion 395 of certificated teachers to uncertificated has steadily risen. Large classes are becoming smaller, and some local authorities have taken to heart the agitation of last year, and have already turned over a new leaf. In Newcastle, for instance, where a year ago they had over 330 classes, with over sixty pupils in each, they now have not one single class of that number. The same is true of many large towns all over the country. Then there has been an improvement in the number of cookery centres. I take the case of the county of Essex. Essex is not usually supposed to be in the vanguard of educational reform—
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
So far as cookery centres are concerned it is. I find that in five years the number of cookery centres has gone up—I am sure this will give satisfaction to the right hon. Gentleman—from fifteen to 244. Their handicraft rooms have increased from one to sixty-one. But all this work is not without its defects as well as its good qualities, and from the reports of my inspectors all over the country I find one outstanding defect so far as teaching is concerned, and that is that the teachers far too much lecture children without instructing them. They do not give them a chance to use their brains. There are, of course, many most excellent examples to the contrary, but the golden rule of some teachers is that you should never let a child do for himself what the teacher can do for him. I can only say that where that rule exists the school is not doing its best work. The result is that in many schools the standards have been packed together at the top of the school. I now criticise this purely from the point of view of organisation. If you are going to lay down as your rule that a child can only get the full benefit out of an elementary school provided it is lectured, it is obvious that the organisation of the school will always aim at having as large an audience for the lecturer as possible. And when you get to Standards V., VI., and VII. in a large number of schools all over the country—no part of the country is altogether free from this—V., VI., and VII. are lumped together, because there you must have a larger number of children than each standard contains to make it worth while to have a teacher for them. One outcome 396 of that grouping of V., VI., and VII. has been that the last year, and sometimes the last two years, of a child's life in that school have been thrown away. The dull ones have not been raised, and it has been a waste of time, and certainly it has bred in many of those children a distaste for education. If a child's mental faculties and initiative are not brought out while it is at school, certainly the teachers at their school have not done their work well. The teachers who have tried the alternative policy quite boldly, intelligently, and systematically have achieved the most surprising results. I should like to commend especially the county of Westmoreland.
In Westmoreland they have gone about their business with great energy. One of the things they have done there to the advantage of the children in the schools is that they have encouraged them to read. They have not merely regarded a book as a thing for the teacher to use, or to place before the pupil for a certain number of minutes in a day, but they have a box sent round of suitable children's books, which are in the nature of a circulating library, and the inspector for Westmoreland tells me that the reading and composition in Westmoreland are some of the very best in the country. I take another good case, that of a poor Roman Catholic school in Liverpool—St. Peter's. There they have shown how far this can be carried. The children are systematically taught how to study. The inspector reports—Then the teachers give them as much direction and guidance as they consider necessary, and they leave the children to do all that is really essential for themselves. The fact that the children are allowed to energise freely and work out their own salvation, especially in reading, is bringing real happiness into their lives. They love the school and stay at it as long as they can. Their parents are becoming keenly interested in it, while in spite of the fact that the population of the neighbourhood is decreasing, the number on the books has increased by forty during the past year.I put that down entirely to the more liberal policy pursued by the teachers of that school. I think it is necessary to encourage the trying of experiments in elementary schools—to encourage them, because in giving freedom to the teacher you give freedom to the pupils. And then in the act of emerging from the beaten track the teacher must of necessity take the pupils with him. Directly the teachers leave the beaten track they find it necessary in some degree to allow the children to order their own going. Where they do that, no doubt the children, without being in the least uncomplimentary to the teachers, do undoubtedly benefit. 397 Every experiment of importance has taken the form of emancipating the children, and one of these, to which I wish to draw the attention of the House, is in a rural area. Schools which are conducted amid rural surroundings may have a rural development in the school. They may be conducted with a definite rural bias, or they may be specialised rural schools. The ruralising of education is by no means a difficult matter. There is no reason in the world why all the equipment that surrounds a rural school should not be used for the purposes of education. The playground, the fields, a haystack, a cowhouse—all these things may be used as exercises in arithmetic and mensuration. The parish church, or any old buildings in the neighbourhood, can be used for the purpose of illustrating history. The natural environment of the school will enable them to make explorations into nature study. The physiographical environment, roads, railways, woods, heaths, meadows, the industries, the rocks and the soil, can all be used as starting points in geography, and I am sure the lion. Gentlemen opposite would agree that in no way can you start more profitably in teaching geography than by starting in the immediate neighbourhood of the child's own home and school.
I take one of the best cases which has come under my notice. I hold it up as an example to other parts of the country. I hope the other 19,000 which I do not mention will not be jealous. It is a school in Cheshire, at Leaman's Moss. There are 200 boys on the register. They have five forms. They have a headmaster, three trained certificated teachers, and one uncertificated. The school, as some hon. Members know, lies on the outskirts of Altrincham. Although it is in the county it is so near the town that it can be attended by the town children. What is its scheme? It provides for the ordinary subjects and in addition it has organised beekeeping, wood-work, gardening, and practical nature study. Metal-work and glass-work have just been introduced. Mathematics are conducted on the basis I have just described and wood-work has expanded out of the region of mere play into things of utility. Drawing includes simple sketching out of doors. Elementary science includes mechanics and physics, with experimental work, and they themselves make the material for the experiments. Gardening is correlated with 398 arithmetic and with English, for they have to write an account of all they have done, with nature study and with what is known as hand and eye work. Beekeeping is taught to all the boys. They regard it as very great fun and fourteen of them are known as "beekeepers." Seed-testing is also conducted under the same rules. When my inspector first drew my attention to this, he said that he found in the workshop there was a garden frame being made. They were finishing off the garden gate. One scholar had been making a model of a weighbridge out of his own head. A good deal of attention was paid to nature study and drawing, and the school garden was planned by themselves; it contained a number of beehives. There was every kind of experimental work and the boys were co-operating in making a wind-pump from their own design, pumping water out of their own well. This is a really intelligent school, and what is remarkable in it is that in the ordinary dry subjects, the A B C of elementary school work, the children are more efficient than in any of the surrounding schools. I thought the headmaster had done good work there. I thought he had done such good work that I might as well have him on my staff, and I appointed him two months ago. The managers of the school, I believe, disapprove of the appointment, but I am going to use him, as soon as he has learned the ordinary routine of his work, to act as a missionary and to carry out in other parts of the country the results of his own experiment.
Agricultural and rural work is done not only in the elementary schools—it is done in our secondary schools as well as in technical schools. The agricultural work conducted under the Board in the West Riding has resulted in a great spread of agricultural education in the evening schools. At Bedford they have an excellent farm school. In Wiltshire they have an itinerant instructor, or more than one, in manual farm processes. In Lindsey, one of the greatest of the agricultural areas, they have agricultural scholarships which carry their scholars right up to our universities. In Nottinghamshire they train elementary school teachers in rural subjects. All this is good work, and is the growth of the last few years. But it is impossible that it should go on and be well done unless our instructors are paid good salaries. At present, I am sorry to say, I find the best of the agricultural instructors, trained in the agricultural department at Cambridge, instead of finding 399 employment under our own county councils go out to the Colonies. I wish the Colonies well, but I should wish first of all that our own counties should get the benefit of their services. But we cannot retain them in this country unless we are prepared to pay them a living wage. Then there have been agricultural institutes put up here and there. All these are receiving the Board's assistance. In the counties, in respect of which what is called the Block Grant was not paid, the number of schools and classes recognised by the Board in which agricultural subjects were taught was 429 in 1908–9. It is more than that now. That was a rise from 300 only three years previously. In the counties in respect of which the Block Grant was paid the number of centres recognised by the Board in which agricultural subjects were taught rose from little or nothing in 1906 to about 190 in 1910. All this means that there has been a great growth in the desire to reorganise and to use such agricultural educational opportunities as can be offered by the local authorities. One of the most remarkable rises has, however, been in the number of school gardens. In 1904–5 there were only about 500 elementary schools earning the special Grant for gardening. I think there were about 8,000 scholars at that time. At the present moment there are over 1,900 schools earning a Grant for this purpose, and over 28,000 scholars are to be found taking advantage of these gardening classes. The rural courses in secondary schools have also been much improved. I hope sooner or later the disadvantage under which the rural areas have laboured, in not having the education of their districts brought into close relation with the main industry of their districts, will be a fault in our educational system which will have passed away.
Let me say a word or two on the subjects of medical inspection of school-children. Medical inspection has not been fully organised in this country for a very long time, but every one of the local authorities has now undertaken that work, and already over 1,500,000 children have been examined. One thousand medical officers have been appointed, of whom seventy are women, and there are now no less than 300 school nurses. It follows of necessity that where you have medical inspection carried out on such a large scale as this, and carried out, I believe, on the whole, efficiently, there must be something in the 400 nature of treatment to follow. All cases are, I believe, first of all sent to a private medical practitioner, and the procedure is something like this. The local education authority, being responsible for providing the inspection, appoints a school medical officer. That officer reports his findings to the local education authority. The report is confidential. The local authority communicates these findings, also confidentially to the parents. It is then the duty of the parents to obtain the necessary treatment. That is the normal course, but there are large numbers of parents who are neglectful or unwilling to fulfil their duty, or they may be unable often to provide the necessary treatment. Those cases are met in a variety of ways. Up to the present month I find that some authorities have been paying for nursing assistance out of the education rate, which they are quite entitled to do. Sixty-five authorities have done this; thirty-three of them are paying for spectacles out of the rates; fifteen of them are contributing to hospitals out of the rates, and ten of them have established school clinics. Besides that, I think I ought to add that many private agencies and many hospitals have been lending their aid in this good work. That means not only that the lives of these children will be made happier, but that they will grow up much more efficient human beings, and the work done in the school in respect of them will certainly not be thrown away.
On another side of their physical condition I have to report that great developments have taken place in the matter of physical exercises. Two years ago some members of my Board embarked on devising a general physical exercise syllabus, largely on the Swedish system. That syllabus has met with great acceptance, and 92,000 copies of it have been sold. It would be impossible to carry on the physical exercise work in all the schools under the local education authorities unless the teachers were prepared to play a part in it, and in the training colleges no less than 4,700 students have passed the examination in physical exercise since Christmas of last year. That means that those teachers who go up from the training colleges will not be specialised physical exercise teachers, but it will be part of their ordinary work. It has been suggested by Lord Curzon and Lord Roberts recently that such physical degeneration of the people as exists might be arrested by universal military service. I am not 401 going to embark on that very large subject, except to say that universal service could not meet this great problem. Military service can only benefit selected men. Those who are least physically fit, those who most require physical exercises, would be debarred from the very training and opportunity that would be provided under a military system, and, moreover, military service does not include women and girls and can be in no way a substitute for physical exercise. And it can only include those who are comparatively grown-up. What we want to-day is to get hold of the children as early as possible and enable them not only to develop their muscles when grown up, but to grow up well. The Board look upon this new work as a national service, both from the point of view of discipline as well as of physique. There are two other similar subjects to which I must refer. One is the teaching of what is known in education jargon as "mother-craft"—the care of babies—and the other is the teaching of temperance. Last year I suggested there might be more classes for the former purpose. Some experiments have been successfully made in South Wales, and many authorities in other parts of the country have been making similar experiments. They are being carefully watched by the Board with a view of discovering how the subject can best be dealt with. The temperance syllabus has been largely used by local authorities all over the country: 33,000 copies have been sold already. That is one way of measuring the extent to which it has met with the approval of local authorities. Upwards of 200 education authorities have arranged for the definite teaching of temperance on the lines of the syllabus. I hope that will bear good fruit as time goes on.
Now I turn to the subject of training colleges. The training colleges in this country have gone up in number during the last few years, and the number of teachers whom they have turned out has also increased. The supply of teachers is a serious problem, which we are watching with great care. Let me point out that the main growth in the provision of training colleges has come from local education authorities themselves. It is true they have been encouraged to provide training colleges, and they have taken up the work with considerable enthusiasm. The universities have also lent a hand, and the modern universities are doing good work in training a large number of our teachers at the present time. I need not revert to 402 the religious differences which have been associated with training colleges in the past except to point out that now there is an enormous number of places which are entirely free from tests, and that the number of places now reserved in Church of England, Roman Catholic, and Wesleyan colleges is at the figure of 2,436. Nothing like the number of 50 per cent. has ever entered these colleges, but well over 10 per cent. have done so. It shows that it does relieve the grievance to some extent, and does so without damaging the denominational character of the colleges concerned. The total number of places in denominational colleges is 4,800, and half of them are now free, and they have been made free without having altered the denominational character of the colleges.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Can the right hon. Gentleman state the number of places which are undenominational places?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The number of undenominational places, apart from the 2,436 in undenominational colleges, is something over 7,000, making altogether something like 10,000 places free from tests. I know how far the religious controversy is likely to interest the House; I shall therefor drop it at once. We have not only had more training colleges, but we have had better colleges. One danger in the past has been of past students becoming tutors in those colleges, with the result that the outlook was narrowed. That has to some extent passed away. Many of the teachers and tutors and lecturers are coming from other spheres—secondary schools and the universities. All that is for good. There are still some defects which I hope will be remedied as time goes on. The new local education authorities are drawing far too much from their own districts. Far be it from me to decry local patriotism. One of the great glories of the towns in the North is that local patriotism has done more good for their institutions than almost any other feeling. But local patriotism can be carried to the point of local conceit. That is one of the dangers of drawing altogether from one district only for a training college. An exchange can be arranged, and I hope will he arranged. Then practising schools ought to be provided all round the training colleges, and those schools ought to have thoroughly able teachers in them. It is not fair to the training college students that they should be asked to practise in schools where second-rate teachers are carrying on teaching. The local authorities would be well- 403 advised to have specially able teachers in those practising schools. If there are not good practising schools, it is very much like having engineering colleges without good workshops. More time will have to be devoted in the future in the training colleges to the art of teaching, to specialising. They should not merely exist for the general education of their students, but really in order that the students may be fitted for teaching afterwards. It is a great mistake to believe that anyone can teach without having that art conveyed to them somehow or another. They are likely to fall into grave mistakes unless they have that tuition. There might be, and I hope there will be, in the future more interchange between the rural authorities and the rural schools and the training colleges. I do not know how it is to be done at present, but there ought to be some way of giving training college students a definite rural bias, so that in those particular schools which I described a little earlier, where everything is translated into rural language, the students should be specially fitted for doing that work. Two years ago I offered Grants for an extra year if any students willing to stay on to obtain horticultural, agricultural, or some other like instruction—something closely in touch with the tastes and principles of rural schools and rural teachers. I suggested that that should be done at the Swanley College. I am sorry to say that not one single person has applied for it. We shall have to find out how it is that teachers are carefully avoiding the specialised instruction, or giving a rural bias to their training. If that offer is not availed of in the future. I will not say that I will withdraw it, but I must modify it. It shows how difficult it is for a teacher to devote part of his time to purely rural training. Perhaps it is rather due to a mistaken ambition on the part of many teachers to go as soon as possible into the towns.
I find that a number of the training college students who are living at home are suffering from the same kind of strain as falls to the lot of the young workman who goes to evening classes. That is also a matter which must come up for our consideration in the near future. Some of them have not only to do their work in the college, but very often have to do home work. I recently had brought to my attention by one of my inspectors cases which are examples of this. The 404 first is of a girl whose parents are both dead. The home is kept by an aged grandmother, who is bedridden. There are four brothers. The home is in a depressing street in London. The girl has to do a good deal of the housework. It is certainly impossible for her to get good value out of the training college. The second case is a girl who is an only daughter, and whose father died recently. For weeks before that event her time was chiefly spent in the sickroom. It is quite clear she could not do good work in the training college. This is a matter of urgency, and some steps should be taken to give intending students and their parents some idea of the calls made upon their time and upon their physical and mental energy before they enter on a training course. The question of oversupply is one of the most difficult with which I have had to deal, for the simple reason that no one can prophesy what will be the demand for teachers four or five years hence, how far there may be a leakage out of the profession, or how far the local authorities may he prepared to get rid of the worse equipped of their teachers, and to substitute for them trained certificated teachers. The oversupply at the present moment may be attributed, to a certain extent, to the fact that many of those out of employment have been warned off; they have been told they ought not to accept a certain kind of appointment because it is below their dignity. You cannot blame the Board of Education for that.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I cannot say by whom, but I do know that the hon. Member himself is responsible for the issue of a Circular warning parents to have nothing to do with the teaching profession, because that profession is already overstocked. I have to find fault with the issue of that Circular. It contained inaccurate and misleading statements, and it may do a great deal of harm to the teaching profession if it is allowed to go uncontradicted.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I said they were warned off appointments. They were not prepared to take appointments open to them, and for that you cannot blame the 405 Board of Education. Some of them, for instance, will not go away from the immediate district of their homes. The oversupply which is stated to exist at the present time cannot be proved. Furthermore, I have gone the right way, I believe, towards avoiding this over-supply, as last year I provided that more trained certificated teachers should be employed. A very large number of them have already been absorbed. The proper way of keeping down the over-supply of teachers is not to warn young girls and boys out of the profession; it is to prevent the lower grades of the profession being overstocked. My hon. Friend knows perfectly well that that is the policy I intend to pursue, and I hope that those with whom he acts will refrain from inaccurate statements on the subject in the future. The proper way of preventing the overstocking of the profession is to put a brake on the supply of untrained teachers. I do not intend to cut down the number of training colleges. They speak of the two years at college as a grievance; the complaint is that after two years in college they cannot get trained teachers' posts, but I would point out that if they had not been given that training in the colleges, they would not have been able to get the posts they now crave for, and that they have got the training at the cost of the State which renders them eligible for them.
Another very difficult topic is that of the Teachers' Register. I have been catechised over and over again from that side of the House and this on that topic. Long and difficult negotiations have been in progress for several years past. One Committee sat on the subject and failed; they could not say that they had arrived at an agreement with all branches of the teaching profession. Another Committee has been recently sitting to try and solve this knotty problem. I understand that they had their conference, and that they succeeded in coming not to an agreement, but to something approaching an agreement. Unfortunately, after the conference was over, one very large organisation, namely, that of the technical teachers, with whom the hon. Gentleman opposite is not altogether unconnected, said they thought that the representation of their class of teachers was quite inadequate. I presume, therefore, they do not regard the scheme as satisfactory. That is the sort of trouble which has arisen over and over again, and I see no way out 406 of the difficulty except that, having arrived at something in the nature of an agreement, not, perhaps, a complete agreement—I should test the basis on which it has been reached—I should ascertain if it is really a complete agreement of all portions of the teaching profession, and that the scheme put to me provides for the various classes of teachers appointing their own representatives. I suggest that they should send to me the names of those whom they care to appoint, and, having done that, if I can find that an agreement has really been reached, I am prepared to recommend the issue of an Order in Council. But I must be satisfied that an agreement has been reached. That I venture to suggest is a perfectly fair offer and one which, I hope, the hon. Gentleman opposite will do his best to put through.
I want to refer to another question—the connection of the Board with the universities and university colleges. The amount of money now spent by university colleges in receipt of the Treasury Grant conies to considerably over half a million of money—£587,469. Of this large sum no less than 32 per cent. is derived from the fees of students, 14 per cent. from endowments, 15 per cent. from local authorities, and 27 per cent. from the Exchequer. In the case of the Welsh university colleges, the total income is £50,626, of which 32 per cent. comes from the students, 7 per cent. from endowments, 8 per cent. from local authorities, and 39 per cent. from the Exchequer. Of this large sum of money, £121,000 was paid by the Board of Education very largely in respect of services rendered, and also largely for the teaching of technical subjects. University colleges have been doing well in England and Wales for many years past. In reviewing that side of the work, I should like to point out that a large number of the students who enter university colleges, or universities, study one particular technical subject without completing the whole course. That is a great pity; it is a great loss both to the colleges and to the students, and we are considering what steps we can take to discourage this partial and spasmodic attendance. No doubt in some cases students in the technical departments of university institutions suffer from the incompleteness of their previous general education, and that to some extent rather vitiates the work they do in the university college. This is particularly true of the great work now done by the engineering classes. Another side of their 407 work will have to be considered during the next year or two, and that is their relation to technical schools and the polytechnics. The relationship between the technical departments of universities and the technical institutions and polytechnics is a matter of supreme importance both to the universities and to the institutions. I hope that sooner or later the large sums of money now being spent on technical education may by these means be expended to the very best advantage.
I have covered a very large range of subjects, and I have studiously avoided referring to the really interesting side of educational discussion. I can only sum up by saying that the great sums of money now spent on education in this country and the vast range of subjects must be my justification for thus reviewing the work of what I believe to be one of the greatest Departments of the State. In Grants and rates we spend in England and Wales alone—leaving out Ireland and Scotland—about £28,500,000 sterling every year. From other sources, such as endowments and school fees and other expenditure mainly among the more expensive schools in the country, a further £8,000,000 or £10,000,000 is spent. The Estimates on these points vary, but quite certainly in this country something like £37,000,000 sterling is annually spent in England and Wales on education, higher and lower, for our people. There has been a great increase in our Grant, and I may announce for the satisfaction of my hon. Friends who represent necessitous districts that we intend to increase the amount of money placed at the disposal of those districts in the coming year. There has been a great increase in the Grant, because of the normal increase of our child population. There are now 7,000,000 children on the rolls, and something like 3,000,000 of parents are being served in this way. I venture to say that in view of the magnitude of the responsibility undertaken by the authorities and the duties thrust upon the Board of Education there is no nobler service in all our Imperial organisation than that which is to be found in the sphere of education.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
The right hon. Gentleman need make no apology for the length of the very interesting statement he has made. A very great deal of it we can view with unqualified satisfaction. I was particularly glad to hear what he said about technical institutions and the in- 408 creasing interest which employers are taking in the work of those whom they employ under these institutions. I am very glad also that the Board have given public recognition to the work of the Workers' Educational Association. I have known something of that work in its relation to my own university at Oxford. We have been very much interested in it, and we are well aware of the energy, enthusiasm, and wisdom with which that work is being carried on I may also express my gratification with the right hon. Gentleman's references to the work of the secondary schools. When I was connected with the Beard I fully recognised the desirability of keeping the secondary schools within a proper compass, and I am very glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman takes a severe view of the elementary school which parades as a secondary school. There used to be a constant difficulty in that matter, partly owing to the inexperience of the local authorities and partly owing to the ambition of the teacher, by some slight addition to or alteration of names, to induce those attending what were practically elementary schools to believe that they were receiving the benefits of secondary education. I am glad to hear that the Board of Education is alive to that risk, and I hope it may not very much longer continue. I was also glad to hear that the Board insists on the freedom and independence of the headmasters of their secondary schools. It used to be a constant difficulty to induce local authorities to believe that, unless they reposed their confidence in their headmasters, unless they appointed such a governing body as would interest itself continuously in the affairs of the school, and unless they gave their headmasters certain liberty of action and free access to that governing body, they would not be well served, but would drive out of the teacher's profession men who would be useful members of it. I am very glad to find that that difficulty is being realised by the local authorities, as it has always been realised by the Board of Education, and I hope it may soon be altogether ended. I regret, as some of my hon. Friends regret, that the teachers' register is still in the future. I cannot help thinking, though I am fully alive to the difficulty which attends the making up of a register, that if the Board of Education had really set itself to bring the various parties together we should have had by 409 this time a scheme for the register. I recognise the difficulties, but I do not admit that they are insuperable or that they may not be overcome with the goodwill of the Board of Education.
With regard to university colleges, I am aware that a large Grant is made both by the Board of Education and the Treasury. I am glad to note that the Treasury work in with the Board of Education. There is always a risk that with independent action there would be overlapping in the use of the two Grants, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) when Chancellor of the Exchequer was always careful to keep himself in communication with the Board of Education before he made his Grant. I hope that practice continues, but really it would be more satisfactory to my mind if the whole matter were placed in the hands of the Board of Education. The right hon. Gentleman has told us many things which are satisfactory about elementary schools. We heard how rural teaching had developed, and we listened with admiration to the description of the Cheshire school, in which satisfactory education was given, and the children were profiting in all directions by the activity of their teacher. But it must be borne in mind that an immense variety of topics are now being thrust into our elementary education. We have not merely a great variety of curriculum and special subjects, very properly introduced into the teaching of the children, we have also the question of feeding the children, and also that very important question of medical inspection. The Board of Education has been very active, as we were made aware two months ago, in pressing upon local authorities and managers of schools the necessity of the constant survey of their buildings with a view to keeping them regularly up to the mark. I do not wish to recur to the subject, with which he dealt at some length some months ago, but I would remind the right hon. Gentleman first of all that he is imposing a very heavy expenditure upon local authorities, and the constant recurrence and the constant addition of expenditure which local authorities feel to be a burden may in the long run have a serious effect upon their energy and their enthusiasm in the cause of education.
I would ask the Board's attention to the question of administrative work, because I think it is a matter to which the Board should give heed. This administrative work falls very heavily upon the 410 head teachers, and there are schools, say of 100 children, in which the head teacher has not only to attend to all the administrative details—the feeding, the medical inspection, the register, and the like—and to organise the proper conduct of the classes, but also to teach a class. I do not wish to urge that additional expense should be incurred unless it is impossible to help it, but it is quite plain that the quality of the teaching in the school must suffer if the head teacher is overborne with administrative work in addition to teaching work. I have seen schools where that took place, and I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to it. It is a question which should be taken up by the managers of elementary schools. I should also like to ask if the Board of Education reminds managers from time to time that they are responsible in respect of their schools, that they are under a statutory obligation to meet once every three months, and that they have a great opportunity of assisting the teachers and getting to know the homes from which the children come if they only care to make use of it. With regard to the training colleges, there is a curious contradiction in the Report of the Board of Education and the present facts of the case which I have. I dare say it can be accounted for. The Report speaks of an expected shortage in the teaching profession, but at present the figures which I have, and upon which I think I can rely, point to this, that last July 4,836 trained teachers left colleges. Formerly they were taken up as soon as they left the colleges.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
Quite so, sometimes before they left; but last year, in 1909, out of that 4,836 who left the colleges at the end of July, in October 1,500 were out of employment A certain number were employed as uncertificated, or as temporary teachers. I believe that 300 are still unemployed, and some have gone into other professions. There are now clearly more teachers than are wanted, and the Board anticipates a further reduction of pupil teachers who will want places in training colleges. Does not that point out that the number of places in training colleges for the supply of teachers is in excess of the demand, in which case the training colleges are turning out too many, and where there is an anticipated shortage 411 in the supply of pupil teachers to go into training colleges the colleges will not be able to fill them? Training colleges are being built very rapidly in spite of this excessive supply over demand. The Board assists, by a contribution of 75 per cent. of the cost, local authorities to build training colleges, and £100,000 is allocated this year to such colleges. We have found training colleges are being run up in various local areas into the character of which I think the Board should inquire. We find also that pupil teachers' centres which are no longer required are being turned into day training colleges, and the day training colleges are no longer required to be connected either with the university or the university college, and I should like to ask whether the Board does inquire into the character of the buildings used for these purposes, and also as to whether they are wanted. For instance, at the training colleges recently created at Bolton and Manchester, I believe the buildings are so used.
I should be glad if the Board would inquire into the matter, because when one recollects that the day training college is no longer required to be connected with the university or the university college, it means that the Board has given up what used to be a very prominent feature of the training college system—some effort to give to the teacher in the course of his training some sense of corporate life. If he went to a residential college he got that without question. If he went to a college connected with a university college or university, he was brought into contact with bodies who might convey that feeling of corporate life; but he simply goes now to a lodging in the town and goes to the training college for instruction. I do not think that is the best way in which young people at that time of life should be prepared for the teaching profession. I should like also to say a word of the effect upon the teachers of this rapid increase of training colleges. Local authorities are justly proud of their own educational appliances, and now what happens? The local education authority first of all sends its children who are going into the teaching profession from their elementary school to their own secondary school, where they are prepared for that profession. They are sent from the local authority's secondary school to the local authority's training college, and then the local authority in appointing to teacherships 412 within its area is disposed to give the preference to the teachers from its own training colleges. Therefore, the teacher moves in this narrow circle—from the elementary school to the secondary school from the secondary school to the training college, from the training college back to the elementary school, possibly within the compass of one urban area. One cannot think that that gives to the teacher that variety of experience and breadth of view which we desire the teachers in our elementary schools to possess.
The various ways in which the local authorities handle this matter bear hardly upon the teachers. There is a serious complaint from the students of the training colleges in London at this moment. The London local education authority, very properly, are, I believe, desirous of drawing their teachers from all quarters, and have announced that they will not take more than a certain number of teachers from out of their own training colleges. They are turning out a very large number of teachers from their training colleges, but a great many of those teachers find that they will get no employment in London, and owing to this extreme patriotism—carried, I think, to an extent disastrous to the interests of education by many local authorities elsewhere—the London student finds that he can get no employment in his own district, and is looked upon askance if he tries to get employment elsewhere. I think this a matter to which the attention of the Board should be turned. It is bad for the teacher to be kept always within a narrow area, and hard upon him if he is excluded by the extreme patriotism of some areas from employment, while his own district cannot find, or is not willing to find, a use for him there. Having regard to the fact that there is an excess of supply over demand, is it necessary, in regard to denominational colleges, to impose severe regulations which might, if they were carried into their full effect, entirely alter the character of the colleges? Is it necessary to continue them when you have this abundance of effort by the local authority in the constitution of training colleges of their own? I ask that, and also ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has considered this possible result of the multiplication of training colleges set up by local authorities—a result which might mean the destruction of the religious teaching in elementary schools? I know that the right hon. Gentleman 413 attaches great importance to religious teaching. In a section of his Bill of 1908 a special time was to be set apart by Statute in the school hours of every school which was devoted to religious education. In his training college Regulations of last year he has alluded to the importance of the teacher having learned how to give religious instruction. It is still set forth in the prefatory Memorandum of these Regulations, and it appears in a special chapter of its own among regulations imposing the necessity that every student should be taught to give religious instruction, because, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, not only should religious instruction be given in every school, but every teacher should be taught how to give it. What has happened now? The right hon. Gentleman, I think, was alarmed by some expressions of opinion From the Back Benches behind him, and he withdrew the Regulations. You are driving religious teaching, so far as you can, out of the secondary schools in which the teachers are prepared. You make no provision for the giving of such teaching in the training colleges. You are doing what you can to turn the denominational colleges into undenominational colleges, in which there will be no provision for religious instruction. It seems to me that, although you did desire by Statute to require that this instruction should be given, and although you did desire by your Regulations to necessitate the giving of religious instruction in training colleges, in other directions and by other processes you are doing all you can to secularise our elementary education. I can only say that the inconsistency is somewhat pitiful.
Next, I wish to say something as to the subjects of study in the higher grades of secondary schools. We all want, as the Board also wants, variety, because we have to meet the very various requirements of the youth of the country. I have read the Report and the introduction thereto, from which it appears that the Board desires to liberalise education by unifying the whole of it; but the Board holds that it is contrary to the spirit of democracy that education should be based on a social class system, and the Board thinks that democracy itself is jealous of anything that seems to suggest special treatment of a privileged class. I do not think that in matters of education the Board should occupy itself with political theories. The plain duty of the Board of 414 Education is to try to secure that every boy and girl in the country gets the kind of education which will best fit them for the life he or she has to live. The practical application of these theories about democratic or aristocratic education tends somewhat to narrow the compass of the teaching in our secondary schools. When I was at the Board of Education I pressed with success that there should be introduced into our secondary school regulations a provision that where two languages were taught, Latin should be one, unless good cause was shown to the contrary. At the time I was told that that provision was aristocratic, academic, and reactionary, and that it showed a desire on the part of the Board of Education to keep the children of the working classes out of the secondary schools. In fact, I heard a good deal of very strong language on the subject. But what has been the result? The result is, that not only in the old grammar schools, but in the municipal schools, started and entirely controlled by the municipal authorities, Latin is increasingly taught. I was shown some very remarkable figures from the Board of Education a little time ago, and I confess I felt a certain gratification at the result of what was considered to be my ill-omened attempt to sustain the cause of classical education in the secondary schools.
I should like to say something in favour of the retention of Greek, where the governing body constituted on the representative system which the secondary school regulations require is anxious that Greek should be retained. There, I think, the Board is somewhat influenced by its own unfortunate political theories as to the nature of the education in our secondary schools. There is, at Abingdon, a sixteenth century school which was founded to take the place of the education given before the Reformation—
§ Mr. ARTHUR LYNCH
I beg to call attention to the fact that there are less than forty Members present. I do so, not with the intention of interrupting the hon. Baronet, but because it is disgraceful that there should be less than forty Members present when this important subject is under discussion.
§ [Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present—.]
§ Sir W. ANSON
The Abingdon people contributed to the endowment of a college at Oxford in order that Abingdon boys 415 might have access to the University. Lately the school has had a new scheme. The governing body contains a great majority of representative persons. The governors desired that in that scheme the school should be maintained on the lines which have hitherto obtained; that is, they wanted to secure that the governing body of the school should not, in these days of utilitarianism, exclude the old classical teaching for which the school was originally founded and which secured its ancient connection with the university. The Board replied, "Apart from other considerations"—I do not know what they were—the words are too vague. I should like to know what the considerations were. The Governors, returning to the charge, pointed to their record of 300 years, and asked for some security for the maintenance of their old classical education. But the Board was obdurate. I should like to compare that with the practice which prevails in Scotland. I believe that in every considerable area in Scotland there is a central school in which Greek is taught, and it is not merely taught, but taught as following a very advanced study in Latin. These are secondary schools fed partly from other secondary schools in which the study of the language is not so far advanced. But the theory of the teaching of languages there is that you may learn the languages as a discipline, as teaching you the construction of sentences, thereby so clearing your thought and making you understand the nature of language, or you may carry them on further so as to know something of the history and the literature of the ancient world. I maintain that it is the duty of the Board to see that the population of this country, of whatever class they may be, have in every area access to teaching of this sort. It is idle to say that the teaching of Greek is not democratic. If you want democracy, look at the history of the Republic of Athens. If you want Socialism, study the Republic of Plato. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer wanted an example of a predatory Budget, I would refer him to the fiscal legislation of Solon. I am urging this not against the wishes of a very representative body of Governors, but in support of a body which is as representative as the Board of Education desires to make it.
I should like to ask about these representative governors. Are they in any way representative of the contributories of the 416 school? It appears to me that the Board of Education has imposed requirements upon secondary schools without any relation to the sources from which the money comes for the support of those schools. The schools are supported by endowments, by fees, by rates, and by taxes. The Board of Education requires that the governing body of every school should be largely made up of persons representing the local authorities. Is any inquiry made as to whether those local authorities contribute a single penny in support of the school? If they do not, what business have they on the governing body? The same remark applies to the free-placer. Who, pays for the free-placer? Is he paid for out of the rates? Is he paid for out of the Government Grant? He cannot be, because the existence of the free-placer is a condition precedent to the Government Grant. The policy of the Board of Education, as I understand it, is not to provide scholarships with the money placed at its disposal by the Treasury, but to improve the character of the teaching in the school. Therefore, unless the free-placer is paid for out of the rates, he is paid for either out of the endowments, which were not intended for that purpose, or out of the fees of the other children in the school. I cannot help thinking that the working of this system of free places requires to he very carefully watched. In some places it works exceedingly well; in others it tends to lower the general standard of the school. In any case, I think the Board should be aware of what I am sure does happen, that well-to-do people send their children to elementary schools when they could afford to send them elsewhere in order to obtain free places in secondary schools. Surely it is right that more should be expected of the free-placer than from the fee-paying student. It is not fair to say in the Regulations that no free-placer shall be sent away from a school on any ground which is not a ground for dismissing a fee-paying pupil. The fee-paying pupil pays his way; but the free-placer, like a scholar at a college, is there by favour, and he is bound to live up to the conditions under which he has been appointed.
There is one other point to which I must refer. The Board in its Report states that nearly all the secondary schools which are receiving State aid have been brought to accept the conditions imposed as to denominational religious teaching—that is to say, that last year 725 out of 802 were undenominational or secular—and in a note 417 to the Report it is stated that seventeen more had succumbed to the pressure of the Board of Education. What does that mean? It means a process of successful persecution.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Does the hon. Baronet say that these schools have succumbed to the pressure of the Board of Education? In what way?
§ Sir W. ANSON
A school which is otherwise doing good work cannot get on without the Government Grant, and the Government Grant is forthcoming only on condition that it foregoes the type of religious teaching which it has been accustomed to give. I call that pressure amounting to persecution.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I know the hon. Baronet does not wish to do me an injustice. There is nothing in the Regulation which says they may not have denominational teaching in the school. All it says is that they shall have denominational teaching in the school only if the parents ask for it. That is an entirely different matter.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Sir W. ANSON
I quite agree. That is, the denominational teaching, which was given as a matter of course to any child who wanted it, is done away with. The Board is not satisfied with the imposition of the Conscience Clause, but denominational teaching has to come in as an exotic, at the special request of the parents, and in such a way as to make the boys or girls who receive it feel that they are placed in a special position—a position in which no boy or girl attending one of our schools likes to be placed. It is pressure to drive out a particular sort of teaching, and only to introduce it under certain circumstances. I should like to point out that it is pressure, used by discrimination, which every local authority is by statute forbidden to exercise, that it is pressure employed by a Government Department by the use of public money provided by the taxpayers of all denominations, that it is used in order to drive out of our schools a particular type of religious teaching which is offensive to the political supporters of the right hon. Gentleman.
Having said what I have to say about our elementary education. I will not dwell at any length upon the application of this principle of persecution, or pressure, if the right hon. Gentleman prefers 418 that word, in the elementary schools. My Noble Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Lord Hugh Cecil) and the hon. Member for the Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) will, I believe, bring before the House the cases of the schools in Wales with some of which the House is already familiar. It is impossible to allude to those cases without a burning sense of injustice. We have had before us proposals emanating from a number of good persons of all denominations with regard to efforts towards educational peace. These proposals show a very remarkable desire on the part of persons of various denominations to come to some terms to settle our educational difficulties. The picture which is presented is an agreeable one. It is a sort of golden age in which the Nonconformist lion, instead of roaring after his prey, will lie down beside the denominational lamb, and I suppose they will be led into a land where formularies will cease from troubling and where even Dr. Clifford and the Bishop of Manchester may be at rest. But this pleasing vision is overcast by the gloomy shadow of the Board of Education. I see no object in those efforts at educational peace which must result in legislation, which legislation must be administered by the Board. For the last four years, ever since the present Chief Secretary for Ireland left the Board of Education, one cannot forget that whether the Board has used its power, or abstained from using it, in every case in which a voluntary school was concerned we have had reason to complain that the Department was administered in a way which did not show a judicial spirit. The power of the Department has been exercised in a way unfair and harsh towards the voluntary schools. This shows, to my mind, a steady and settled purpose on the part of the Government to drive out of our educational system a type of religious teaching which is dear to, if not a majority, a very large number of the citizens of this country, and while that temper prevails at the Board of Education, which has to administer the law of the land and declines to administer it in a proper spirit, it is idle to talk of looking forward to educational peace.
§ Sir J. H. YOXALL
The Committee will have gathered from some of the facts and figures mentioned by the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Anson) the cause and origin of the somewhat remarkable attack upon myself, which, with very slight provocation, the right hon. Gentleman thought fit 419 to interpolate into what otherwise was an interesting and useful speech. I do not want to lay too much stress upon the attack, or to treat the matter in the nature of a personal explanation, although I might very well ask leave to do so. But I think that, in fairness to myself, I ought to say something first as to the manner, and then the matter of the references that have been made to myself. As to the manner, I can only explain it by supposing that there was a desire on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to give to the Committee that which is known in the scholastic world as an object-lesson. In the course of his remarks he referred to the practice on the part of some teachers—I believe one class of teachers alone—of lecturing instead of teaching, and he desired to show the Committee how exceedingly improper lecturing was. I will not attempt to enter into controversy with him on that subject. As to the matter of his speech, I will merely remark, and I believe those who have been longer here than either of us will agree with me, that a private Member is placed at some disadvantage through having no immediate opportunity of replying to unworthy attacks. It is all a question as to whether the Board of Education were justified in the prophecy which was made some years ago, and which has been amply proved to be false, and whether they can justify the continuation of the policy based on that prophecy. I maintain that they have thoroughly failed to do so. It is all a question whether the head of the Education Department should now stand up and defend through thick and thin the faults, follies, and incompetency of some of his officers. I say some, for there were only some concerned in this matter. The prophecy made by the Board of Education was that there would be a great shortage of teachers. That has been falsified. The prophecy was repeated last year in the Report of the Board of Education, and it is doubly falsified again. The facts of the case are these: In the year before last there was a considerable surplus of teachers who had been trained in the training colleges and for whom there was no demand. Last year the state of matters became worse, and this year it will be at least as bad as it was last year. The right hon. Gentleman explains and justifies that by such infinitesimal excuses as that some of these teachers have been 420 warned not to go to certain schools. May I ask, Warned by whom? Then came the onslaught on myself, to which the Committee listened. A few days ago some young men approached me on leaving the training colleges maintained by the London County Council. They asked my influence and assistance in making a great public demonstration in respect of the position in which they find themselves at the present moment. More than 900 teachers have been trained, not in the training colleges of the Church of England or other denominations, but in the training colleges of the London County Council alone, and are leaving those colleges this July, at the end of their course, the cost of their training having been paid partly by themselves or their parents and largely by the State, and they desire to obtain employment in the profession which they have chosen, and for which they have been trained at considerable expense, and over 800 cannot obtain employment at all. They came to me and asked if I would join them in making a demonstration. "No," I said, "I have made representations to the head of the Board of Education in this matter, and he has promised an inquiry, and, pending the promised inquiry, I cannot take part in the proceedings you propose." I feel that these young men—and there are young women also—are amply justified in in what they are doing. Most of them are children of poor parents. They are not the sons and daughters of rich people who put their children through a university course extending over six or seven years. The hon. Baronet opposite knows that there was a time when teachers could on leaving the training institutions obtain immediate employment. In those days there was a shortage of competent and trained teachers to meet the demand, but that is not so now. The remedy for the present state of affairs does not lie in the direction indicated by the hon. Baronet. I understand he is in favour of limiting the number of training college places and thereby checking the number who are trained.
§ Sir W. ANSON
I only desire that the Board of Education should revise carefully the conditions of the training colleges and endeavour to establish some relationship between supply and demand.
§ Sir J. H. YOXALL
I should be sorry to misrepresent the hon. Baronet in the least degree. I am not in favour, and the teachers with whom I am associated and 421 for whom I speak are not in favour, of checking the number of training college places. They are anxious, and have been all along, that certain modifications should be made in the training college system; but to pursue the policy of multiplying college places while at the same time increasing the number of teachers who have never been to training colleges at all, is surely madness, and that is the policy of the Board of Education which is defended by the right hon. Gentleman. He has attacked me and also certain persons with whom I have the honour to be associated because we have warned parents in regard to the state of things which exists in the profession which they may desire their children to enter. Most of these parents belong to the working class, and we have warned them of the state of things, knowing that they have not capital to maintain their children in idleness while they are waiting for appointments in the profession. We thought this was a desirable warning to give in order to prevent these people from making a mistake and to lead the Board of Education to rectify the error it has committed.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The hon. Member and his friends, in dealing with this matter, sent out the statement, "Costly training and then no work," as a warning to parents. There are several other inaccuracies which I have already pointed out. Does he justify these statements?
§ Sir J. H. YOXALL
I believe the statements were justified. I will give the case of the teachers trained in the London County Council colleges. There are 900 teachers, of whom 800 have no work to do and have no prospects for months. I understand they will hold a meeting to-night or tomorrow at which the facts will be given. The remedy, as I was trying to explain when I was interrupted by the right hon. Gentleman, is not to narrow the number of places in training colleges or to attack critics who put their finger upon this weak spot. The remedy lies in the Board of Education, as early as may be, and as gradually as is fair, and proper, and practicable, preventing the entrance into the profession as certificated teachers of young men and young women who have not been to a training college. If the Board of Education had, in times past, when they were instituting these training college places, similarly narrowed what is called the acting teachers' list and adjusted more carefully the demand and the supply, this difficulty would never have 422 arisen, and nobody knows that better than the Board of Education and the right hon. Gentleman himself. I beg to pass from this subject, a subject on which I myself this afternoon had not intended to say a word had I not been provoked into so doing. There are other matters. The right hon. Gentleman alluded, towards the end of his speech, in somewhat enigmatic sentences, to further financial aid. He was good enough to tell us that more money would be provided to meet cases of distressed districts. Before the Debate closes I trust that he or his Parliamentary Secretary will inform the Committee in more detail on that point. I beg to point out to him that important and desirable as the additional Grant of £150,000 would be to local authorities in those districts where the educational burden is especially heavy and the education rate is particularly high, that in itself cannot meet the great need.
The right hon. Gentleman painted this afternoon, not without considerable skill and many facts to draw on, a picture of the educational progress throughout the country; but I think he might have indicated a danger, a co-existent risk. It has often been said in this House by Friends of mine on this side of the House, that with the abolition of school boards and the replacing of the old system by a centralised education committee, with no local knowledge, the local interest in the schools of the village, and local feeling and enthusiasm for education would die out. I do not believe it myself. I have never echoed that criticism; but this I do know, that from other causes and in another way local enthusiasm and feeling for education are dying out. It seems to me, owing to the tremendously increasing cost of education in this country and the absence of proportionate increase in the central aid to the cost, that what has happened throughout the country in the rural districts and in the town districts, is that they are in danger of lethargy and of the coma which is produced by the lack of a sufficient supply of blood to the brain. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman was an educational speech. He put forward all sorts of ideas, of which anybody in favour of education cannot but approve. I thought at the same time that even in this House, even on this Committee, among those who listened to him, there would be at least some Members who might say that we are going too far, and that the three R's were sufficient in most cases. Outside this House, in educational 423 districts of consequence, there are great numbers of ratepayers who say, "We are going too far. Let us be as we are." Their saying so is a standing danger. Even the three Rs, because of increased population and the building of schools and the repayment of school-building loans, are causing a mounting up of rates which they cannot sustain. It is an increasing danger that a great number will say that we are going too far.
This very enthusiasm and earnestness and widening development in regard to education, of which the right hon. Gentleman's speech is an example, deepens the danger; and so long as from the centre, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer through the Board of Education, the local authority which is responsible for education cannot get a greater Grant, I say that there is great danger indeed of education becoming comatose. So I would beg the right hon. Gentleman, and the Government whom he represents, to take into consideration more thoroughly than they have done hitherto this need for an increased Government Grant for schools. More money is being found for secondary schools. £102,000 is being provided out of the present Budget. But I beg to point out that the number of children who can attend secondary schools is only a small proportion of the whole. It is on the elementary schools that you must chiefly depend for the progress of education of the whole nation. And as regards the elementary schools, the Board of Education demands have increased while their share in the cost of education have decreased. Not many years ago the proportions of the contribution towards education from the State and from the local authority were respectively 75 per cent. and 35 per cent. Practically three-fourths of the cost of the school were borne by the Exchequer in those days. Now certainly not more than half the cost of the elementary schools, the cost of the schools as a whole, comes from the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about skilled nurses, medical inspection and other admirable things. The cost of all these things is being thrown on the local authorities without a single penny additional being granted for the purpose. The same thing applies to feeding children in schools, and so reform after reform, and development after development, are piled on the back of the ratepayer. On this question of the cost of education I think 424 that the right hon. Gentleman and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would do well if they would devote their minds to seeing what can be done to meet the situation.
I would like to ask the Secretary to the Board of Education whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill this year to do away with, or diminish largely, what is known as the half-time system. The matter has been investigated by a Committee, and in view of the strong finding of that Committee I hope there will be as little delay as possible on the part of the Government in making an effort to reform that system, so harmful to the child, so evil to the schools, and so bad for the cause of the whole nation. There is another point which I wish to raise, though for so doing I may be accused of acting from improper motives; but I will risk that. It is, I should hope, the case that a teacher may take a proper view upon educational questions. Knowledge and information, wisdom and judgment, do not reside entirely in politicians or in Civil servants. That leads me to what I have got to say, that the teachers for whom I plead do, to the best of their ability at any rate, their work in the schools, and do their best for the progress of education; and I would ask what is being done. What steps are being taken in the offices of the Board of Education, after years of delay, to rectify the almost disgraceful ineptitude of the administration of the Teachers' Superannuation Fund, under the Teachers Superannuation Act? Teachers are compelled to pay sums varying from £2 8s. to £3 5s. per year to an annuity fund under an Act which passed this House in 1908. The teacher with £60 a year must pay £2 8s. of it to this annuity fund as a condition of getting something like £16 of £17 a year from the State as a pension at the age of sixty-five. The man with £80 a year must pay £3 5s. to this annuity fund as a condition of getting a State pension of £22 per year at the end of forty-four years' service, at the age of sixty-five. This £2 8s. or £3 5s., if it were invested by the Post Office, or by an insurance company, or by a friendly society in Trustee Stock, would realise an annuity more than equal to what the person receives under the present system. The matter is at present so arranged that only a rate of 2 per cent. interest upon this money is allowed. Nothing is done to improve it. There has been some slight increase in the amount, about ¼ per cent., I know of late, 425 but no steps are taken to give teachers a reasonable, decent, superannuation allowance. Though it is a teacher's plea, made by a teacher, I beg to bring it under the notice of the Board of Education and under the notice of the Committee.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I beg to move, as an Amendment, "That Item A, in respect of the salary of the President of the Board of Education, be reduced by £100."
I regret, after the exceedingly long controversial speech of the President of the Board of Education, in which he outlined, I think, a very remarkable series of years of educational progress, to have to take the discussion back into an old controversial line, in raising the question of the action of the Board of Education in its treatment of elementary schools, elementary Church schools in particular, in Wales. But before I do that I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education if he can hold out any hope in regard to a matter which I raised by question some time ago in this House, namely, the question of altering the Code of the Board of Education with regard to closing certain schools when an infectious epidemic has broken out in a particular department of a school. I brought a case before his notice the other day, that of the Victoria Council Schools in Wrexham, where in the infants' department, which I understand has a separate door, a certain infectious complaint has broken out, and under the advice of the local sanitary authorities they decided that that department should be closed. When they came to examine the Code they found it was impossible to close that department and at the same time maintain the average attendance which would be taken into account for the giving of Grants, and the only way in which they could avoid losing the Grants was by closing the whole school, not merely the department in question. I say that condition does not make for educational efficiency; and by an alteration of Clauses 43 and 44 of the Code, I believe it would be possible to make an allowance to these schools, which might be partially closed owing to the outbreak of an epidemic, without impairing their whole educational efficiency. I desire to come to the case of a school in North Wales which I raised by a question in this House on 23rd June—I refer to the Towyn Church School. It is a very old-established school, and for nearly 200 years it has contributed to the education of the locality at 426 large. From its early history up to the present day it has received at various times private endowments from different charitable individuals. In several instances the endowment was given under a deed stipulating that Church of England teaching should be given in the school. Long before the council school or a Nonconformist school was established in that district, the Towyn Church School afforded educational efficiencies to the whole of the locality, and ever since the council school came into existence It has provided Church of England teaching for the children of those parents who desire that their offspring should receive that teaching. Throughout the history of the school there has been a large Church of England element in Towyn. I do not think anybody will accuse me of being a violent controversialist when I say that in a place like Towyn, where you have a small Church population, that Church population is very keen. In Wales, as everybody knows, Nonconformists are strong, and the members of the Church of England are strong, and both hold their opinions with equal tenacity. Personally, in the case of religion, I believe that is an exceedingly good thing. We have not indifferent, but sincere and active Church people in a place like Towyn. Owing to the circumstances of the locality, the Church of England parents are particularly anxious that they should have their old school, and that Church of England teaching should continue to be given to their children. Following on the action of the Board of Education in removing the school from the Grant list, forty-nine Church of England parents of sixty-six children have drawn up a petition praying that the school shall not be starved out of existence in this way. There are at the present moment on the books of the school sixty-nine Church of England children, and the Church people of the district are supporting a teacher and an assistant teacher out of their private funds. They intend to do so for a year, being determined to get the school back on to the Grant list as soon as possible.
They are willing to fall in with any suggestion in regard to the school, where there have been in attendance more than thirty children anxious for Church of England teaching, and, that being so, under the Act of 1902, I should have thought they would have been absolutely protected. In answer to my question on June 23rd as to the removal of this school from the 427 Grant list, three reasons were given. In the first place the Board of Education said:—For the past two Grant years the average attendance has not been more than twenty; secondly, ample accommodation is provided in other schools of the area; and, thirdly, the closure of the Church school and the transference of other children into the council school will serve the interests of secular education.In regard to the first question as to average attendance, the President of the Board of Education based his argument upon two years' attendance only. He will not look at the past history of this school, and he will not consider its present position. Why, I cannot understand. He said in answer to the question that the average attendance was 57.2. That I should have thought sufficient to keep the school alive. Let us look into the history of this school. We find that the number on its books in regular attendance was in 1901, 86; in 1902, 84; in 1903, 80; in 1904, 71; in 1905, 67; in 1906, 64. Then there comes this undoubtedly sudden drop in the attendance. That sudden temporary drop in the attendance was, as has been confessed by the manager, and by parents in the district, due to the presence of a particular teacher. After he had been there a comparatively short time in January, 1905, and when the attendance was still sixty-seven, this teacher sent in his resignation, and it was accepted by the managers. The local education authority refused to accept the resignation. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] That is what I wish to know from the local education authority. Although the managers of the Towyn school all along expressed a desire that this teacher should be got rid of, nevertheless he remained. The reason why this teacher was distasteful is one which explains the sort of feeling which existed in regard to him. The story had got about—and it is this which I am endeavouring to find out—among the Church parents of the district that this teacher had been summoned to Dolgelly, the county town near by, on a charge of drunkenness. That charge was the subject of a summons, but what has been the result of that summons I have never been able to learn. [AN HON. MEMBER: "What was the date of the summons?"] It was in 1907. From that year the attendance dropped. I should have thought it would have been the very best thing that, under the circumstances, the summons should go on, and that it should come into court. The man, if not convicted, would have been discharged; he would have cleared himself, and the sus- 428 picion in the minds of the Church of England parents would have ceased. But something mysterious happened to that summons, and I am endeavouring to get into communication with the police and other authorities to find out what is going on with regard to it. I should be very glad if the hon. Member for Merionethshire, who lives near Towyn, who knows the full circumstances of the case, and who knows the police who issued the summons, will endeavour to clear up this matter.
The second reason given by the President of the Board of Education for clearing this school off the Grant list was that ample accommodation had been provided in other schools of the neighbourhood. Here comes a rather remarkable sequence of dates and events. The attendance in this Church school was down in 1907 and during 1908 and 1909. In that time nothing was done to remove the school from the Grant list, though for two years the attendance was lamentably low. I do not know what the inspectors' reports were, but nothing was done to remove the school from the list. Why? In the first place apparently, because there was no accommodation for the children in other schools. There was a council school, but it was only just adequate for the accommodation of the other children of the district. Nothing was done in the matter until the Board of Education recently sanctioned the erection of additions to the council school, which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. Trevelyan) said, in reply to my question, had nothing to do with the closing of this Church school. He made the remarkable statement that the enlargements were rendered necessary for the purposes of organisation and of class rooms, and he refused to continue the Grant to the Church school. The answer to the second part of my question, whether the additions had any connection with the closing of the church school, was in the negative. It is a very remarkable fact that the Church school was not removed from the Grant list last year, and that the Board of Education waited and did not say anything about it until the production of this document under the Education Act, 1902, Section 8 (2):—Notice is hereby given in accordance with the provisions of Section 8 of the Education Act …. to enlarge the council school situated in Towyn in the county of Merioneth, by providing additional accommodation for about eighty children.'It seems to me that the action involved in the expenditure of the ratepayers' 429 money on the enlargement of the council school of Towyn is essentially and fundamentally connected with the closing of the Church school, and that the Parliamentary Secretary's answer to me was distinctly evasive. The managers of the Church school of Towy have under consideration the improvement of the premises. For some little time they have has at the bankers £160 for improvements and they are now engaged in building a new classroom. But the enlightening fact in connection with the action of the Board of Education is the time at which they chose to build additions to the council school and the notice that they gave. On 17th April last the teacher, who was thought to be undesirable by the Church of England parents, left. On the 23rd the manager wrote to the Board of Education asking for a new teacher and for continued recognition. They received a post-card acknowledging receipt of their letter, nothing more, and they never got an answer to their communication until 16th June, when they received the following:—
§ "Welsh Department, Board of Education,
§ "Whitehall, S.W.
§ "Merioneth, Towyn, Church of England School.
§ "Dear Sir,
§ "Replying to your letter of the 23rd of April last, I am directed to state that the Board of Education, after careful consideration of the arguments advanced to the local education authority by the managers, have decided that the above-named school is unnecessary."
That is to say, they received no warning before that? And what did that letter mean? It meant that fourteen days from its issue from Whitehall the Grant to this Church of England school ceased. That gave them no time to look round or no time to object, or no time to bring their case properly before the consideration of this House, or of the President of the Board of Education. I have no doubt the president of the Board of Education will say that he sent down an inspector. I should like to know what sort of a report that inspector gave. Did that inspector go down and say that there were forty-nine parents of sixty-six children who wanted Church of England teaching, and who wanted to keep going a school which had been in existence since 1717? The indictment is that a fortnight's notice was given to this school of its removal from the Grant list, whereas you require eighteen months in the case of a voluntary school before you can close the school. The third answer was:—
The closure of the Church school and the transference of the children into the council school in the area will serve the interests of secular education.
§ That question depends largely on the respective merits of those who teach in the two places. But what I ask is: Why should only the interests of secular education be considered, and why should the President of the Board of Education entirely neglect religious education? It may be for the interest of secular education, but does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the most effectual and the most important thing in the whole of education, and the most essential thing for all young people, is to have religious education? That is the essential point. The right hon. Gentleman smiles, and thinks, perhaps, that is not meant. But I know, and can speak of the advantages that a person like myself has had from religious education. I may point to a public school like Eton, where you have chapel every day, and where every day is connected in some way with religion and religious professions. Where there is not such a provision you have a great gap in the educational requirements of every sound citizen of this country. I say that it is the duty, under the Act of 1902, of the President of the Board of Education to take into consideration the religious requirements of the parents, and as to those requirements the Church of England parents consider the religious teaching given in the council school at Towyn to be inadequate. I do not wish to disparage it, and no doubt, for those who like undenominationalism it is perfect. The President, however, did not enlighten the hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Clough) or myself as to whether it was very regular religious instruction that was given. He had no information on the subject. This I do know, that even in the interregnum between 17th April, when the last teacher left the Church school, and July, when the new teacher came, regular Church of England instruction was given in the Towyn Church school. I think I have shown in this case that we have a school which is necessary and desired by the Church people, that it is an old school that it has done good service in the past, and that there is a large number of children who want to attend to-day. We do not ask for unequal treatment, but we ask for equal treatment under the Act of 1902. We say that over thirty children are attending, and will attend this school if you will give us a fair chance and put us back on the Grant list. My last word would be to ask the President of the Board of Education if he will, at an early 431 date, restore the Grant to a school which is much needed and has done service in the past, and will do service to the Church of England in the future.
§ Mr. HAYDN JONES (Merioneth)
I have listened with considerable interest to the speech just delivered, and I must say that of a bad ease the hon. Member has made an excellent defence. I rise now with the view of dealing with questions which are of a non-controversial character, simply quoting facts. I will lay the facts before the Committee, and in this connection may I say that the facts quoted by the hon. Member for Denbigh (Mr. Ormsby Gore) are in no way correct. He started by giving the ancient history of this school. I could also give several vicissitudes through which this school passed, but it is more to the point to come down right on the facts bearing upon the case at issue to-day. On the question of attendance the hon. Member quoted certain figures. Where he got his figures I do not pretend to know. The average attendances since 1900 are as follows: 1900, sixty-nine; 1901, fifty-eight; 1902, sixty-one; 1904, fifty; 1905, fifty; 1906, forty-four; 1907, forty-four; 1909, twenty. Those in no way tally with the hon. Member's figures, but those were the actual figures on which the Grants were made.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I wish to explain that I have evidently given the number of Church of England children on the books of the particular school.
§ Mr. H. JONES
I would rather deal with facts, not what appeared on the books, but what has been the actual average attendance. The Committee will observe that the average attendance fell from sixty-nine in 1900 to twenty in 1909. Why? That is entirely due to the transfer of the children from the Church of England school to the council school. The hon. Member shakes his head, but will he tell me what became of the children?
§ Mr. H. JONES
I will deal with the Noble Lord's question later. Let us come on to 1909. In July, 1909, the average attendance was 15.8; in November, 15.97; in January of the present year, 18; and in March, 18.4. For the eleven months ending 31st March the average was 17.36, or 432 only fifteen for all scholars over five. That brings me to April, and April was a rather important date in the history of this school. For the first fifteen days of April the average attendance in the school was exactly the same as in March. On 17th April the head master leaves without notice, and on the 18th the clergy set to work. They canvassed from door to door in the town, and they succeeded in withdrawing from the council school children who had been in that school for three and four years without any complaint of any kind whatever as to religious education nor as to secular education. Through pressure those clergy withdrew those children.
§ Mr. H. JONES
On the 21st April the local education authorities petitioned the Board of Education to declare that school unnecessary. They did so on the ground that the school was unnecessary. That is proved by the smallness of the numbers attending it. They petitioned also that it would be economical to the rates to do away with it. The grounds upon which the Board of Education have to determine, when there is a dispute, as to whether a school is necessary are set forth in Section 9 of the Act of 1902. First of all, they shall have regard to the interests of secular instruction, and, second, to the wishes of the parents after the education of their children, and, third, to the economy of the rates. Then follows the general proviso that no school with an average attendance as computed by the Board of over thirty shall be declared unnecessary. The hon. Member for Denbigh does not contend that the proviso has been fulfilled, and therefore it is a question only of the ground on which the Board of Education declare the school unnecessary. Let us come to the grounds. In the first place, I may say that the management say nothing about the interests of secular education in their appeal. They did not base their appeal on that. Before I come to the point may I state that the withdrawal of children from the Church of England school did not take place all together, but was a gradual withdrawal. In 1905 fifteen left, in 1906 four left, in 1907 fourteen left, and in 1908 nine left, or a total of forty-two. If I am correctly informed, and I ought to be, for I know the parents of those children and the hon. Member for Denbigh does not, I can assure him that 433 thirty-seven of those children were children of Church of England parents. Among them was the only son of a manager and churchwarden, and that boy has been in the council school for three years.
I am told that the withdrawal of those children was on account of the unpopularity of the teacher. May I point out that the withdrawal of the children commenced before ever that teacher came there. In 1900 there were sixty-nine children there, and in 1901 the number had dropped to fifty-eight. The late head teacher did not come until 1902, but the flow of the children kept on during the whole period from the Church of England school to the council school. With regard to the head teacher I will only say this, that if those complaints are correct the managers themselves had the power to dismiss him. Why did they not do so? It is all very well to say that the local education authorities have refused to accept his resignation. When was that resignation tendered? In 1905. Why? Because the head teacher had accepted another post in Devonport, and wished to leave at a month's notice. The rule of the education committee was perfectly distinct upon that point, "That no head teacher should quit the service of the authority under three months' notice." His resignation was on that account not accepted. I have here a letter signed by the Rev. D. R. Pugh, in which, writing on 13th February, 1905, he says distinctly that the managers of the school withdraw the matter of Mr. Martin's proposed resignation. If there was anything wrong with the moral character of the head teacher, why on earth did they withdraw the resignation? Why did they not protest at that time? They did not do it.
With regard to the wishes of the parents, I say if the parents were allowed to act in accordance with their own convictions and without pressure from anybody, why did they transfer forty-two children who had been at the school for years? There had not been a single complaint lodged with the education authority by the managers or by the parents of the children as to the religious instruction given in the council school. I want to give credit to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Denbigh Boroughs. He does not question the religious syllabus of the council school. We go a little further. We say we have had no intimation of any kind that any parents 434 in the district wished for denominational instruction, and there were at the council school, I assure the hon. Gentleman, over sixty children of Church of England parents. On the 18th the pressure came. Clergymen went from door to door. I ask the hon. Gentleman does he really expect the Committee to believe that the withdrawal of these children would have taken place had it not been for the pressure of these clergymen? I venture to say if it had not been for the house-to-house canvass not one of these children would have left the council school. I myself saw children who have been compelled to leave. They said if they had had their own way they would go back to the council school on the morrow. As for the reason urged for continuing the school, namely, economy of the rates, I want to be quite candid. I do not want to conceal from the Committee a single fact. I believe in taking the Committee into my confidence. I venture to state here that the Board of Education has been pressing the local education authority to enlarge the council school. I will also state that there are notices out setting forth the intention of the local education authority to enlarge that school, and to provide accommodation for eighty additional children. Let me say that this Towyn council school consists of two departments, carried on in two separate buildings almost adjoining, one a mixed school and the other an infant school. At the present time there are two classes from the mixed school receiving instruction in the infant school, so that in that sense there is plenty of accommodation. But I want to be perfectly candid, and I wish to say, taking an interest in education, as I have always done, that it is not desirable that two classes from the mixed school should be educated in the infant school. Therefore I am prepared to argue the case this way—that it is necessary to enlarge the council school at the present time and to provide accommodation for eighty additional children. A provisional tender has been accepted for £1,923. We will assume, for the sake of argument, that it will cost £2,000 to the ratepayers. I do not want to incur the expenditure if it can be avoided, but I want to ask the question, assuming the council school is enlarged, would it be cheaper to maintain another school and the payment of the head teacher and staff of another school? One hundred and five pounds annually will provide the additional accommodation. Would the hon. Gentleman like to carry on a non-provided 435 school with £105? Then what about economy? You cannot argue upon that point at all.
So far back as 1902 the managers mere called upon by the Board of Education to erect an additional classroom. In 1902, before this local education authority—this wicked authority, remember!—came into being the managers of the school were asked to provide, and they agreed to provide, this classroom, and they collected money for that purpose. They had money in hand. When the local education authority, in 1905, asked them to proceed with the matter, what did they do? These people, who are so ready now to provide accommodation for the children of this district, appealed to the Board of Education, though they had the money in hand and though three years previously the inspector had reported on the matter. What further did they do? [An HON. MEMBER: "They are bankrupt now."] Let me tell the Committee another thing. They appealed to the Board of Education, not my right hon. Friend who sits upon the Front Bench at the present time, but the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University (Sir William Anson). The Board decided that that room was necessary. The managers submitted plans; they undertook to erect a classroom during the midsummer holidays of 1905. If my hon. Friend (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) doubts it I will read the letters here. You do not doubt it? In 1905 they undertook to erect a classroom. The Rev. D. R. Pugh, in a letter, said, "We have the money to do it." Not a brick of that classroom has been put up yet! These are the people who said that they were going to save the ratepayers! They have had all these years; they have done nothing. One reason they gave for appealing to the Board of Education was that the smallness of the numbers did not warrant them going on with the work—that there was only fifty in average attendance. It was the smallness of the number that led them not to do the work! That is the case which the hon. Gentleman wishes the Committee to meet by going so far as to reduce the salary of the President of the Education Board by £100 in order to mark their disapprobation of the local authority. I never heard a poorer case. He not only does that, but he wishes to emphasise this fact: "You allowed the school to continue with thirty-one scholars; you allowed it to continue with twenty; now it has nineteen you want to knock it off." If it had been knocked off sooner there 436 would have been an outcry, and it would have been said: "Look at these people, they are almost dying to knock a Church of England school off the list." Nothing of the kind. Religion never came into it. Religion was never considered. It was simply a case of this kind: that in the opinion of the local education authorities the school had proved itself to be unnecessary. The withdrawal by the parents themselves of their children had proved to the local education authorities that this school was unnecessary. It was on the ground of economy, and also on the ground of the secular education of the children. Will the hon. Gentleman contend that in a small school, and with a, small number of children, secular education can be imparted to the children as well as in a large school? We have fought fairly, and we look to the President of the Board of Education to back up the efforts of the local education authority to promote the education of the children. We have put in a syllabus that the hon. Gentleman opposite cannot find fault with. I must say here that I am sorry that he has lent himself to support such a rotten case. It is absolutely unworthy of his dignity. I trust this House will mark its disapprobation of the attempt to bolster up a case of this kind by negativing the Amendment.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
There has been a certain amount of additional light thrown upon this subject by the hon. Gentleman opposite, but it does nothing to drive away the main contention of my hon. Friend the Member for Denbigh Boroughs. Some of the figures which were quoted at the beginning by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down actually corroborate the figures which my hon. Friend has given. They show perfectly plainly that it was after the arrival of this unpopular teacher that the decline in the numbers began to take place. I do not think my hon. Friend mentioned in his speech another fact which had a good deal to do with the additional decline in the numbers in the later years—that is to say, in 1907—and that was the refusal of the local education authority to continue an assistant teacher in the school.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
The number the hon. Gentleman himself gave was forty-four. This was immediately after the assistant teacher had been taken away. Very naturally, if there was only one teacher in the school, the hon. Gentleman knows 437 perfectly well that you cannot keep up the infant department as well as the senior department. The contention he has not met in any way at all is our contention that the education authority had perpetually and consistently oppressed that particular Church school. Would the hon. Gentleman kindly tell me if in 1902 rate aid was given to that school in the same way as it was given to the council school by the local education authority? I understand that it was withheld, and it was only after legal measures were taken that the money was secured. It was not likely to induce much confidence among the managers as to the advisability of spending money upon the school when the local authority showed their determination to do all they could to treat it unfairly. It is said that we never complained, that religion never came into the matter. We complain that religion ought to have come into the matter, and must have come in if the law had been observed according to the Act of 1902. The hon. Gentleman suggests that the children were compelled and parents were compelled, against their wishes and against the children's wishes, to leave the council school and go back to the Church school. That return to the Church school coincides with the departure of the unpopular teacher. I do not believe for one moment that the parents of children in Towyn are so mean-spirited as to be compelled to do anything that they do not think will be best for their children's welfare and their children's interests. But the complaints that I have to make against the local education authority are not only of systematic oppression of this school, but their action when this question came up. When this teacher went away on 17th April the local education authority refused to be responsible for any of the expenditure of that school although it was still on the Grant list of the Board of Education. What right, I should like to know, had they to refuse to do their duty to the school which was still recognised and continued to be recognised lip to the end of June by the Board of Education? I think the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for the Board of Education, or it may have been the right hon. Gentleman himself, said when that question was raised in this House that that money would be refunded out of the usual sources. It would be rather interesting to know what the usual sources are. I suppose the usual source in this case is the Merioneth education authority, and that the Defaulters Act or some 438 pressure will be put on in order to make them do their duty, and to make them pay the money that they owe under the law. With regard to the Board of Education, Section 9 has already been quoted, and the right hon. Gentleman himself said in this House that he had considered all the circumstances. But I ask him whether he seriously did consider the circumstances as required by this Section, and whether he seriously considered the wishes of the parents as to the education of their children? I understand that two inspectors went down after the crisis in April arose, and it would be very interesting if he would tell us what the reports of these two inspectors were, and if he would kindly tell us whether the inspectors visited the parents and what steps they took to ascertain what the feelings and the wishes of the parents were. I did not gather whether the parents were visited by these inspectors or not, or whether any efforts were made to ascertain their wishes. There is, indeed, a petition signed by the parents in favour of allowing their children to remain at the school; but that ought to have been one of the first considerations of the inspectors of the Board. At the end of the Section we are told that the school for the time being recognised as a public elementary school is a school in which the average attendance is computed by the Board of Education at not less than thirty.
At the time these inspectors went down, that is, from 1st May to the end of June, the average attendance was fifty or thereabouts. The inspectors knew that, and was it not their duty to compute the attendance at the actual time? Are they allowed to take any year they choose in the past history of the school and base their arguments upon the attendance in any year which suits their purpose? I do not think they have absolutely any power to give different decisions upon two points that may arise in regard to similar accommodation. They must go by the attendance at the time being in interpreting this Section. I think that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong when he said there was plenty of accommodation in the council school. That cannot have been so, because at that very time notice was given for the enlargement of the school, and the Under-Secretary told us that that enlargement was for the purposes of organisation. Surely if a school required to be enlarged for the purposes of organisation, it cannot be at that moment capable of accepting a number of children 439 from another school. It is perfectly clear that at that moment, at any rate, there was no further accommodation in the council school.
I want to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, and I think he will agree that there probably has been a mistake made in this case; and I believe from the inclination he has shown he may be willing to take the first opportunity, if the managers enlarge and restore their school, to allow them to return to the Grant list. I beg him to do that, because since he has been at the Education Department he has certainly shown a marked desire for conciliation. And I do not believe he would have departed from those lines on this ocasion if he had gone more thoroughly into the question, rather than trusting the head of the Welsh Department, whose introduction into the Education Office took place at the time of the greatest intolerance and bigotry, and at a time when we were told that the sword was to be substituted for the olive branch. I think the right hon. Gentleman fell into the error of relying too much upon the opinion of persons such as the head of the Welsh Department at that time. I hope that, unfortunate as the circumstances are, he will, at any rate, use his sense of fair play in making it easy for this school to return to the Grant list. Surely hon. Gentlemen who sit for Welsh constituencies must have some feelings of compunction in their breasts when they know that a few years ago we in this House voted £100,000 of the ratepayers' money in order that there should be no single school area, and in order that there should be two types of schools in every one area—they must have some compunction now in using the ratepayers' money in order to stifle that system, and to impose only one school where two now exist. It is absolutely hypocrisy to pretend you want two types of schools, and to act in a manner like that, and I rely upon the right hon. Gentleman to see that justice is done this case. It is most important at this moment that the Board of Education should regain their reputation for justice. The right hon. Gentleman, if I may be allowed to say so, has done a good deal to restore the Board of Education to that position. He did me the honour to ask me to sit upon a Committee, which is sitting now, in regard to small endowments. In order to get any good result the only chance 440 is for the trustees of small endowments to feel confidence in the head of the Board of Education. Does anybody think that action like that which we are just now discussing is going to produce any feeling of confidence in anyone interested in Church schools?
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
Hon. Gentlemen opposite deserve, I think, some sympathy inasmuch as they have rushed into this case, and they have met with the difficulties which ordinary people do meet with, and have got their information from prejudiced individuals. They are further to be sympathised with because the case happens to be a Welsh case. I can quite understand how hon. Members opposite would have got a palpitation of the heart immediately that they heard of something happening to a Church school in Wales. But I put it to the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University whether it is not most unfortunate that at the present time such a miserable case as this is dragged out, and for this reason. It happens at a time like the present when the Welsh education authorities are getting into a very conciliatory mood, and putting their conciliation in practice.
There are several cases that have occurred of late where the Welsh education authorities said the revolt policy fulfilled its purpose of entering a very practical and substantial protest against what the Welsh regarded as the injustice of the Act of 1902, and the revolt policy of refusing the rates to a few small and isolated Roman Catholic and voluntary schools has fulfilled its purpose, and it is unfair and unreasonable to drag it out over and over again, to the detriment of the education of the children and to the detriment of the comfort and status of the teachers as well. Many of our educational authorities did take a firm and formidable stand in connection with the revolt, but now they have taken over and put on the rates schools that they refused to recognise before. Therefore, it is most unfortunate that this apple of discord should be thrown into the midst of us once again, and especially in regard to such a miserable case as this. Surely it is obvious, from the figures given by the hon. Member for Merionethshire, who is a member of the committee of the education authority, that this school extinguished itself by a very natural process. He gave figures showing how year by year the attendance went down until it got to fifteen or seventeen children.
441 The hon. Member who has just spoken seemed to impeach the attitude of the educational authorities, and attributed to them motives of revenge, and so forth. But I would draw his attention to one feature: that the education authority has regard to something which is not in the Act of 1902. They had regard to a provision which existed previous to the Act of 1902—that is Article 80 of the Code, which says that a school would not be recognised unless it had during the preceding twelve months an average attendance of not less than thirty children. It is perfectly true that, technically and strictly, acording to the Act of 1902, you can recognise a school which has an attendance of less than thirty children; but surely everyone interested will agree that if a school falls below the average of thirty it ought to be set aside. I think the hon. Member for Merionethshire made it perfectly clear that for years the attendance at this school has fallen from fifteen to seventeen. And I am perfectly sure when the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford gets rid of the bee that may be humming because it is a Welsh school, he will agree to the proposition that on purely educational grounds it is fatal to go on spending public money on the maintenance of a school with only fifteen or seventeen children. The question is whether the Board of Education will reconsider the matter when they have gathered the sheep, first having given the reawakened shepherd an opportunity of going from door to door. I protest against the raising of this particular case at a time when we hoped that we were getting away from those religious difficulties which have done so much to the detriment of education. And since this case is one that deals with a single school only, I think it is to be deplored that the few hours granted out of the whole twelve months for dealing with the education of the country should be confined to the question of the education of fifteen children down in a little town in Wales. Therefore, I may be allowed to pass away from this subject to say a few words upon general matter.
The President of the Board of Education, in his very interesting and admirable speech, which struck a note of hope for the children of this country and for the development of education generally, made a few remarks that I wish to punctuate. He made a few observations of the methods on which schools were being conducted at the present time in a manner which I did not like. He spoke, and quite rightly, about the necessity of teachers 442 not lecturing children, and of endeavouring to bring out the natural capacity of the children, giving them a chance to work out their own salvation. All these are admirable educational sentiments which the teachers when they leave college, like missionaries, try to accomplish. But it is the Board of Education and its inspector and the administration that make it impossible and are going to destroy it unless there is a change in the administration and methods and policy. Let me describe what happens in the ordinary school of the present time. There is the class teacher, who has to spend many hours upon Saturdays, and sometimes upon Sundays, preparing a record in which the teacher has to enter systematically the work of the children, and has to make out details with regard to form, method, and rule in a special fashion, according to the principle of a London firm from whom the book may have been bought. The teacher has, with these prepared diagrams and methods of giving lessons, to confine himself more or less to the secret record book rather than to proceed upon methods according to the circumstances of the time which are valuable to the children in front of him. The teacher has to compile this record book for every half-hour of every day. He has to conduct examinations on poor little mites every month. Of course, the headmaster when he comes round has to survey all these things and make up summaries, and impose another examination upon the little trembling children. He has to make another collection of figures, forms, and statistics, and if the President of the Board of Education could go round the country on an ordinary day in the week he would find the headmaster in his room in the bulk of the schools in the country doing the work of an office boy, spending most of his time, trained as he has been at the expense of the State, and receiving a salary of £300 or £400 a year, filling figures into columns, and getting out statistics. The inspector of the local authority then comes round and takes voluminous notes. He takes them to the education offices; and we have to employ there a lot more clerks. Then there is the Government inspector, the originator of it all, and he with his pencil and book makes voluminous notes. There are scores of inspectors receiving £800 a year who spend the bulk of their time simply sitting at the desk filling up forms and schedules for the Board of Education. The system is reaching such a pitch that the time is 443 coming very soon when, unless it is done away with, it will absolutely destroy individuality and all that makes for good in education.
We have been pleading for increased grants to education and talking about the needs for this that and the other. I suggest the Board of Education can very wall economise in connection with this question of administration. Members will be surprised and perhaps they will hardly believe me, but I have been careful to add up the figures, and very nearly £2,500,000 a year is being spent on this administration, and hardly any of it reaches the child at all. There are £2,500,000 a year spent on forms and papers and on clerks and fiddlers who do not come into contact at all with the education of the children. Take that particular form of expenditure which has to do with securing the attendance of the children. I suggest the right hon. Gentleman ought to bring about a reform there and reduce the expenditure, which might be done with very beneficial results. The authorities in England for securing school attendance alone now spend £276,861 a year. It is spent, simply in order to bring the children to school, on school attendance officers, and their clerks and their forms. In Wales we spend £22,000 a year. It has to be done by the local authorities, because of this system of paying Grants according to the average attendance. A local authority knows if its average attendance falls by a few points it means an enormous loss of money in Grants, and they feel they must keep school attendance officers to screw up the average attendance. We do not proceed on that system for children for higher education, who are much more irregular in their attendance, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that if he would free the Grant system of elementary schools from this average attendance there would not be very much loss in the attendance of the children. The habit of going to school has got established with our people, and children are getting to like school because of the new methods of instruction which the right hon. Gentleman has so eloquently described. It is the teacher, after all, who really secures attendance. I do not want to say anything in disparagement of the school attendance officers, but their post is one not very necessary at all. This system of making Grants according to the average attendance makes the thing rigid and 444 cast-iron. If a teacher sees a little girl in a nervous state who certainly ought to be sent home, she dare not do it owing to the results that would follow upon the drop in average attendance. A little more elasticity in that direction would be beneficial to the children. This expenditure of £2,500,000 a year on administration means, in many places, a rate of 1½d.
There are some very interesting comparisons. The City of Liverpool spends £13,000 a year on the enforcement of school attendance, and £19,000 a year on general administration, whereas Manchester spends £8,000 on school attendance compared with £19,000 on general administration. Why should Liverpool have to spend £13,000 compared with £19,000, and Manchester only £8,000 compared with £19,000? The administrative county of Lancashire spends only £5,000 on school attendance compared with £19,000 on general administration, whereas the West Riding of Yorkshire spends £6,000 compared with £30,000. This irregularity shows there must be a waste of money in some places. There are one or two other points of irregularity in the present system as between the Board of Education and the local authorities. Take the question of the rates, and Wales as an example. Llanelly has a rate of 21.6d. in the £, Merthyr 20.5d., Aberdare 21.2d., Mountain Ash 22.4d., Cardiff 14d., Montgomery 9.2d., Radnorshire 3.4d. For education Radnorshire gets £7,284 from grants and contributes only £2,401 from the rates. You are, of course, in Radnorshire encouraging educational inefficiency, because anybody who has been to a political meeting in the rural parts of Wales and has seen, as I have, the water coming down the walls of schools which are mere hovels, will quite understand why the rent is only 3.4d. There is another irregularity as to what the authorities are doing for the provision of teachers, which I think the President of the Board of Education ought to meet at once. It is no answer to say it is met entirely by the new bursary system. These figures relate to the time before the bursary system became effective. Anglesey does not now train any pupil teachers for an average attendance of 7,925, Brecknockshire trains forty-four for an average attendance of 9,050, Cardiganshire nine for 8,542, Denbigh 107 for 20,176, Glamorganshire 608, Cardiff 140 for 29,207, Merthyr seventy-seven for 12,909, Swansea 104 for 17,713, and Merionethshire six for 7,634. Some authorities go to the expense of educating the future 445 teachers, and other authorities do nothing at all. Thus, one might go on giving illustrations of the irregularities of the present system of the Board of Education in connection with various things. It is in things material and external where the central organisation might bring about unity with advantage and economy. Take the question of buildings and the amount of money which is wasted by experiments by various authorities. Why should there not be standard plans, and why should not the Board of Education take over the cost of building altogether. It would be very much better if instead of giving necessitous Grants the Board of Education took over the provision of new buildings. We should then get buildings of a uniform standard with certain economy. The Board is interfering with very essential elements in education, with its very soul, in a way that is very undesirable and leaves the local authorities in things external, where unity would be advantageous, to blunder along in that way.
The Report of the Secondary Branch of the Board of Education has these very ominous words on page 45:—The entire lack of organisation commented on by the Royal Commission has now given place temporarily to a state of things in which there is a risk of organisation swallowing up everything else, of means being made into an end, and of the education, for the sake of which the whole system exists, being subordinated to matters of less importance such as inquiries into the particular conditions under which it is given or its value as a source of reports and statistics. It is a risk which the Board are specially watching at the present time.That is the secondary side, and from his speech I am hopeful that the President of the Board of Education is distinctly watching that particular development. Take a summary of some notes in this month's number of the "Journal of Education" regarding the evils which they say come from too much dominance of the central concern and of its branches and organisation:—(1) A sub-conscious feeling that one must always be teaching.If there were time I could explain how it is, so long as the inspector's report is the criterion for his promotion, the teacher has this sub-conscious feeling.(2) In girls' schools we have had the lecture lesson worked to death, and the consequent appalling waste of time copying out notes.(3) The master uneasy in boys' school lest the inspector should come in and find the boys working whilst he is merely looking on.(4) Breakdown among women teachers.(5) Epidemic of breakdown on the part of headmasters.(6) There is a distinct danger and one which it behoves the Board and the local committees to consider lest the scholar and the man of ideas should be frightened away from our secondary schools.446 There is a point about the way teaching is adversely affected by examinations in the secondary schools. If that is true of the green tree, what can be said of the tree long since dry? You have rigid examination upon rigid examination, report upon report, schedule upon schedule, and gaffer working on the heels of gaffer week by week, and you have the thing intensified to an outrageous degree. You have little children, as I found a little girl the other day in a town that has a reputation for its institutions, taking home a note from the head teacher informing the mother that the child must not be taken away for any Easter holidays, but must work at home five hours a day. Otherwise, she will have to be taken out of the class which is competing for scholarships in a secondary school. Take the system of intensive inbreeding to which the President of the Board of Education referred. During the past few years I have looked on with more than ordinary pain whilst young girls who have gone into the teaching profession have been in the training college eight or nine months, and have then come home to die. In one year two girls out of six, in another year one girl out of seven, and in a third year three out of fifteen, who went away to college, came home, having been done to death by the system which prevails at the present time and by this nervous anxiety which is created by the officialism of the Board of Education. Unless the President brings his ideals into practice very soon, this inbreeding that he has referred to is going to be very detrimental. I ask the hon. Member for Oxford University to contemplate what it is going to mean when the syllabus of the Board of Education is universal all over the land, when all the teachers have to conform to a particular method of instruction, and have to treat the children as though they were simply items in a great military battalion. It will mean something similar to what happened in the mediæval organisation of the Roman Church, when the organisation grew so strong that the centre was able to dominate everything; there was for a period stagnation in the whole intellect of Europe, and all Europe sank together. That is what will happen with the education of our children. It is high time that this should be recognised, that the local authority should be given much more freedom, and that they should be allowed to develop their experiments on various lines. I believe that out of this two and a half million which is being spent largely on 447 what I call interference in administration, one and a half millions might very well be withdrawn, and education, so far from suffering, would benefit in a very great degree.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I agree with what the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Edgar Jones) said at the end of his speech, though not quite in the sense in which he meant it. I think there is a danger of a spirit growing up amongst the teachers not dissimilar from the spirit of the mediæval precedent to which he referred, and that teacher-craft may at some time be found as great an evil as priest-craft was 300 years ago. But I do not at all agree that the grievance to which my hon. Friend the Member for Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) called attention was unworthy of the consideration of this Committee, or that the time of the Committee would be better spent in discussing the details of school management. The House of Commons is a place of criticism and controversy; it is not a place for enabling Members of Parliament to instruct the Government about details of educational administration. This House is never so well employed as when it is calling attention to particular cases of injustice, whether they happen to individuals or in schools. The hon. Member for Merionethshire made a defence of the Merionethshire local authority, but his defence suffered from the fundamental defect that it was altogether or almost entirely irrelevant. His defence practically consisted in saying that the managers were in some respects very much to blame. I think they were to blame in more respcts than one, but that is not the point. The question is not whether the managers were to blame, but whether the local authorities and the Board of Education, in supporting the local authority, were not seriously to blame. The issue is perfectly plain and simple. The question is merely, Was the school unnecessary, having regard to the statutory requirement, that the wishes and the religious convictions of the parents are to receive attention? What is the answer made to that? That the school had been for two or three years in an unsatisfactory condition, and that the attendance fell to a low point. My hon. Friend had anticipated that answer, and had explained why the attendance had fallen. The hon. Member for Merionethshire did not dispute that the master was an unsatisfactory master, or that the attendance 448 fell because of the unsatisfactory master. I should like to ask why, being so well acquainted with the case, knowing all about the man, knowing what the parents were thinking, knowing what was going on in the school, knowing, it is said, that the man had actually been summoned for drunkenness—
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
But the summons had been issued. If the hon. Member for Merionethshire knew that it had been issued, why did he not tell the local education authority, and why were steps not taken to remove a master who was manifestly unfit for his work? I am far from saying that the managers were free from blame. I think they were to blame. The point is that, knowing all these things, the local education authority did nothing, or, at any rate, the hon. Member for Merionethshire, who must have known all these things, did nothing, but allowed the school to remain in its inefficient state, and the attendance fell very low. Why did he do all this? Why did not the local education authority issue a warning? Why did they not remonstrate with the school, as they had a statutory right and even a statutory duty to do? Why did not the Board of Education intervene? The suggestion is that the school was allowed to he in this state because the local education authority wished to destroy it. That the managers were weak and foolish is perfectly true. That they ought not to have played into the hands of such a nefarious game I grant. But that does not remove the grave discredit from the local education authority or from the Board of Education for supporting the local authority.
How stands the case? The local education authority, having neglected its duty of remonstrating with the managers and keeping the school up to the point, suddenly ask that the school may be declared an unnecessary school. The teacher goes almost at the same time, and the school at once begins to recover. The Board of Education made no attempt to find out whether the low level of attendance was not due to the accidental circumstances of the inefficient teacher. Without making 449 any real effort to satisfy themselves whether the parents did or did not wish the school to be continued, the Board at a fortnight's notice requires the school to be closed. When the right hon. Gentleman is asked whether he will not postpone the enforcement of the order, so that the claims of the parents may be carefully heard, he refuses. When he is asked to postpone it in order that the matter may be discussed in this House he refuses. What is this but persecution? Was there ever an attempt more plainly unfair and unjust to injure a school which gave religious teaching with which hon. Members opposite are not in sympathy, and with which the President of the Board of Education himself is not in sympathy, for no other reason than that the religious teaching is out of favour with the other side of the House? I think the President ought to issue in future a circular stating that the text "Do unto others as you would be done by" must no longer be taught under the Cowper-Temple clause, as it has become the text of a particular denomination, and is not in the Bible of the Merionethshire local education authority. Have we not heard time after time of the grievance of the single school area? The right hon. Gentleman is creating a single school area. Was there ever such insincerity, such a want of charity in educational religious matters? Here is a case which goes to the very root of the efforts for conciliation which are often being made. Everyone knows that the most difficult of all the problems in connection with religious education is precisely this of the school area where there is only one type of school. Every one on the Church side has been anxious to remove that grievance. It has been brought before us over and over again. Only the other day there was a discussion in the Representative Church Council, and a resolution was unanimously agreed to that facilities ought to be given to Nonconformist parents who wished different teaching in those areas. Yet, when we are endeavouring to meet the Nonconformist grievance in that way, the Merionethshire local education authority and the President of the Board of Education are putting their heads together to destroy a Church school in which almost all the parents declare they want religious education for their children. Is that fair dealing? Is it consistent with the elements of either sincerity or charity, having regard to the course of the controversies which have taken place up to now? My hon. Friend 450 said that the President of the Board of Education was anxious to act in a conciliatory way. I am willing to believe it. I know that Ministers are often ministerially responsible for that for which they are not ethically responsible. It may well be that the real blame lies elsewhere than on the right hon. Gentleman. I know nothing about that. He is the head of a Department which during the last few years has incurred the stain of persecution against religious opinions which are unpopular with the majority of this House. The reputation of the Department was already smirched, but I say that the episode of the Towyn Church school will smirch it more deeply still.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I think I should briefly reply on the case of Towyn school. It is really a matter of small importance.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Perhaps the Noble Lord will allow me to make my speech myself. I am quite prepared to be just to him and to those with whom he acts, but I am not prepared to go outside the law for the Church school managers at Towyn or anywhere else. The Noble Lord suggests that I have been guilty of insincerity, that I have shown an absence of charity, that I have made no inquiries into this case, and that I refused to reconsider it when it was put to me. What is this, he says, but persecution? The Noble Lord appears to know very little about the history of this school. No official of my Department is responsible for this matter; I am responsible for it. It is absolutely unfair to suggest, as the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Bridge-man) did, that the whole blame of a case like this should be put on the Welsh Department. If the head of the Welsh Department has been guilty of arriving at a wrong decision, I have a right to overrule that decision. If he has arrived at a just decision, I have a right to upset even that. The responsibility ultimately hes with me, and no one else can be blamed for the decision which has been arrived at. The Noble Lord appears to think that the school is necessary, because suddenly there is a rise in the average attendance. How does the Noble Lord interpret the words in Section 9 of the Act of 1902: "A school shall not be considered unnecessary in which the number of scholars in average attendance, as computed by the 451 Board of Education, is not less than thirty"? How does he arrive at that? Are you suddenly to take the month of May, 1910, as the means of computing the average attendance? Never in the whole administration of the Board of Education has any Government, either Liberal or Conservative, computed average attendance in that way. Am I to make a new departure because the Noble Lord is angry at the treatment of a Church school? The average attendance, as computed by the Board of Education, has always been the average attendance of the last Grant year. When the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University (Sir W. Anson) represented the Board of Education in this House that is the way he computed it, and I adopted his system. I have made no new departure. I asked, "What has been the average attendance at this school?" They said, "It has been seventeen in the last Grant year." It is very remarkable that it jumped up in the month of May; but am I to discard altogether the last twelve months in order to please the Noble Lord? I cannot play ducks and drakes with the administration of my Department like that.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL rose—
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The Noble Lord says that I have been guilty of insincerity. What is the insincerity? The insincerity of carrying out the law. The Act of 1902 was not an Act for which I was responsible, but while I have been at the Board of Education I have administered it fairly, and the Noble Lord cannot bring against me any charge of ever having administered it unfairly.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The hon. and learned Member must know that the Swansea case is still sub judice. I am quite prepared to admit that he is a better authority on these matters than the House of Lords, but until the House of Lords have delivered their decision on the case I refuse to discuss it in this House.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON made a remark which was inaudible to the Official Reporter.452
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I have administered the Act fairly, and the hon. and learned Gentleman has no right to make any such statement. He knows that the matter is sub judice, and anyone in his profession ought to know perfectly well that the point of law has not yet been decided. The Noble Lord asks where is there a case in which there has been such insincerity. I find that the history of this school, in the records of the Board long before I went to the Department, was no credit to the managers. Again and again they were told that they must provide better accommodation. I noticed that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Denbigh District (Mr. W. Ormsby-Gore) said, in the course of his quite fair speech, that no warning had been given to the managers of the Church school. But he is quite mistaken. Warning was given. At the end of 1904 the Church school managers were warned that the Grant would be withheld if necessary improvements were not carried out, and most of them have not yet been carried out. But altogether on other grounds I believe it would have been possible to have closed this school. What I marvel at is the forbearance of the Board of Education, not the fact that it has acted after a long period of dilatory neglect on the part of the Church school managers. The hon. Gentleman also said, "Why is there this large increase in the accommodation of the county council school?" The reason is that the council school happens to be one of the most efficient schools in the locality, and there is an intention of making it a practising school for the College of Aberystwith. That is the reason why this school is going to be enlarged. I sent my inspectors down there, and they reported it is the most successful school in Towyn and one of the most efficient in Wales. Then I think the hon. Gentleman also asked why, if the small attendance was a reason for closing this school, was not this action taken before? Why did we not move in the matter before? When an appeal was made to me I at once stated that I would look into the case. I have looked into it as well as I could with all the information I have had at my hand. I got information from my inspectors, and I saw the records of the average attendance. The hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Bridgeman) asked me whether I considered the wishes of the parents, the economy of the rates, and the interest of secondary instruction. I tell him that I considered 453 all those points. With regard to secondary instruction, you have here one of the best schools of Wales almost side by side with a tiny school in which you cannot possibly have the requisite number of teachers. Certainly in regard to secondary instruction the large school is to be preferred to the smaller. Then it is quite clear that for the economy of the rates you should not have this little school in existence. Then there comes the very important point, the wishes of the parents. What steps have I taken to ascertain the wishes of the parents? I saw that these parents would not send their children to this school. That is ten times better than getting petitions which can be signed anyhow.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The managers could have got another. What we have to look at is the average attendance in the school. The attendance dropped year after year until it was only seventeen in the year 1909–10. That is the best test of the wishes of the parents. The Noble Lord asks, "What is the remedy?" The remedy is that which I described to the hon. Member for Denbigh District (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) the other day. The procedure is perfectly clear; it is within the four corners of the Act of Parliament. I am not going to do anything to subvert the principles of that Act by administration. I would gladly upset it if I could by legislation, but whilst I have been at the Board of Education I have administered it fairly, and so long as I am there I will continue to administer it fairly.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
I notice that the right hon. Gentleman, in his most interesting speech this afternoon, omitted to refer to a point about which I wish to make a few remarks. It is a point that we in the rural districts especially have great regard to at the present time—the heavy incidence of educational rates upon the counties owing to the increased demand of the educational authorities. As I was coming down to the House this afternoon I received a letter from my county council, signed by the chairman and also by the head of the education authority, asking me to bring this matter before the House. I think I may speak for all the other counties, as well as Essex, in support of the plea for increased Exchequer Grants to meet increased expenditure forced on us by legislation or by the action of the Board 454 of Education. This is no new point. It has been raised several times in this House, and, therefore, I was rather disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman did not refer to it in his speech. He did allude to one question, namely, the salaries of the teachers. The salaries of the teachers have been largely raised, but further increases in the rates to provide for education will, I am afraid, in the case of the counties, meet with considerable opposition. The Association of Education Committees has furnished Members of this House with a very concise Paper containing all the reasons why we think we are entitled to a further increase of the Exchequer Grant. If the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education will look at that Paper he will see there are eight cases mentioned of largely increased expenditures forced upon the education authorities of the counties in connection with such matters as the bringing of non-provided schools into line with provided schools, the provision of secondary and other higher education, and the feeding of school children. The return shows that the proportion of expenditure on elementary education borne by Government Grants was only 61 per cent, from 1892 to 1902, whilst in 1908–9 it had sunk to 49.7. The Grants for the year ending March, 1907, were nearly £11,000,000. The Grants for the year ending 1909 were about £10,700,000. We have this position, that the expenditure has increased by £750,000, whilst the income has been decreased by £250,000, so that the local authorities are £1,000,000 worse off than they were two years ago.
That has been brought very forcibly to the notice of the authorities on many occasions. The last occasion was on 18th March, 1909, when a deputation organised by the London County Council waited on the Prime Minister, who, in his answer, said that "he did not remember ever to have found himself confronted with a deputation more numerous, more weighty in its representative character, and more entitled, in the nature of the claim which it was bringing forward, at any rate, to sympathetic consideration." That, from the Prime Minister, was a very strong expression of opinion, and we had all hoped that we might have heard from the President of the Board of Education that there is some prospect of an increase of the Grant being made to assist the local authorities in their endeavours to carry on the education of the young in a satisfactory way. I am quite sure the right hon. 455 Gentleman himself will admit that the local authorities have done their best in every instance to assist education. They have not starved the teachers and they have endeavoured to adopt every new recommendation that has been brought before them. But the very fact that the rates of the rural districts are increasing in undue proportion for these objects is really highly detrimental to the cause of education generally and also to the teachers, who may often be underpaid. I am certain the right hon. Gentleman now responsible for the Education Department feels that this increasing burden ought to he relieved by Exchequer Grants. I should like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the information he has given as to his attempt to solve the question of the registry of teachers. I do not like to commit myself by saying that what he has said will be equally satisfactory to those on whose behalf I ask the question, but, for my own part, I think it is a highly satisfactory start, and if the authorities will forward a good list of names to the right hon. Gentleman I should think a very satisfactory beginning of the register would be made.
A third point to which I wish to refer is of a more technical nature, and one with which I am personally, perhaps, more concerned. For the last ten years I have been chairman of the governors of a large and ancient grammar school, assisted by a board of managers with whom I have been able to work and act freely and well. We have always endeavoured when we have accepted the Grant from the education authorities honestly and fairly to carry out all the wishes of the Department. The point to which I wish to refer is the rigid application of the Departmental rule of 25 per cent. of free places in the schools accepting the Government Grant. The number as laid down by the education authorities is 25 per cent. of the total number of pupils admitted during the previous year. With the object of the authority we are all in sympathy. That object is that a promising pupil at an elementary school should be able, at practically no expense to himself, to continue his education and gradually to be led up to a university career. I am quite sure that everyone interested in education must be in thorough sympathy with that idea, but it is with the way it is carried out that I have some fault to find.
456 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.