HC Deb 06 June 1912 vol 39 cc309-77

"That a sum, not exceeding £9,254,765, 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, 1913, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various Establishments connected therewith, including sundry Grants-in-Aid." [Note.—£5,250,000 has been voted on account.]

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. J. A. Pease)

In submitting to the Committee for the first time the Education Estimates for England and Wales, which amount to £14,500,000, I am conscious that a very heavy responsibility rests upon me personally, and with eight months of service in that Department, I realise the difficulties are considerable that beset anyone who attempts those duties, and I also realise that the duties are multifarious and of a very serious character. My task certainly is not made easier by the continuation of the denominational religious controversy which still exists throughout England and Wales, and which I think interferes with the progress of education as well as prevents the harmony and unity of effort which ought to exist in this country in the promotion of a national educational system. No apology, I think, is needed by me for the amount of money I am asking the Committee to vote. If there is one great service in this country in which money can be profitably invested I believe it is in education. I have no desire to occupy the time of the Committee very long this afternoon or to deprive hon. Members of the opportunity of criticising, or, in my view, doing what is very much better, of making suggestions for my consideration, but I do feel that it is due to the Committee that some statement should be made by the Government in regard to the steps they propose to take to meet the various problems which arise, and of stating their policy and of recording the additional progress which has been made in the country.

In my judgment the House of Commons has passed a large number of measures which give a good deal of ground for unrest among the local education authorities in this country. I have not myself been a manager of several voluntary schools for many years, and I have not been a member of a county education committee for a large number of years, without realising the point of view looked at by the representatives of the ratepayers and the local education authorities of this country, and when we pass measures such as those relating to the Provision of Meals, Medical Inspection, Choice of Employment, Medical Treatment, and when we also pass a Bill, as I hope we may, for dealing with the Mentally Defective, and when at the same time the Board of Education is constantly raising the educational standard, I recognise that we are placing increased financial obligations upon the local educational authority, and I certainly look forward to the day when the Committee which is now investigating the incidents of taxation and rates may report with a view perhaps to mitigating to a large extent the great burdens which fall upon many classes of the ratepayers and taxpayers in this country. Perhaps I may be allowed to point out that of the Grant-earning schools of this country and the schools which are inspected by His Majesty's inspectors, that we have 20,757 elementary schools with about 5,500,000 children in average attendance. We have in the 982 secondary schools which are inspected 170,769 pupils; we have in our 84 Training colleges something like 12,850 students, and we have in our various technical classes throughout the country about 829.780 pupils. There are also 22 universities, colleges and institutions which receive a Grant out of money which it is in my power to distribute. The Vote also covers expenditure in connection with our science and art colleges and our own science and art museums. We have, in addition, the medical branch, the legal branch, and the inspectorate, and we have a very large staff consisting of some 2,140 persons in the service of the Board of Education. Of the £14,500,000, something like £13,750,000 is distributed in Grants in one form or another; £159,000 is paid in pensions to elementary certificated teachers, and from the balance, £585,000, maintain our museums and pay the salaries and wages of the staff, and carry on the whole administrative work of the Board.

4.0 P.M.

I think it may be convenient to the Committee if I first take up the elementary side and explain what we are doing in connection with elementary education. During the year there has been an increase of council schools to the number of 193. There has been a decrease of 115 voluntary schools, and 59 voluntary schools have been transferred to the control of the councils. I am glad to say that last year the attendance of the children of this country in our elementary schools alone has approximately been 90 per cent. of the children upon the school register. This is a new record of regularity of attendance. The children under five years of age have been reduced by 31,533, and I suppose, having regard to the many duties placed upon the education authorities, that they doubt whether the expense and trouble involved in connection with the teaching of children under five years of age is hardly commensurate with the amount of education they are able to give them. The children over the age of twelve have also decreased by 8,118. That is not necessarily to be taken as a real decrease in the number of children receiving education, as undoubtedly a greater number of children are now being taken from the elementary schools and go forward to the secondary schools of the country. Between the ages of five and twelve there is an increase in the average attendance of 32,169. We have approximately 111,000 certificated teachers trained and untrained. One of our main difficulties at the present time is a threatened shortage of teachers. The figures have recently been prominently before the country, and I do not propose to dwell upon them more than to say that their importance ought to be somewhat discounted by the fact that whilst there has been a large reduction in the number of teachers entering for the Preliminary Certificate Examinations, that reduction may be partially accounted for by the fact that there has also been a large number obtaining entrance into the training colleges through the Oxford and Cambridge local examinations instead of by obtaining the Preliminary Examination pass. It is not true to say that it is within the power of the Board of Education accurately to adjust the supply of school teachers to the demand. We are unable to forecast how many are likely to enter or how many may leave the service of the country after they have entered the profession, and we have no knowledge how many who have left may return into the profession. Undoubtedly there is not an inconsiderable number who return into the service from time to time after they have left.

I suppose it will not be suggested by anyone here to-day that we ought to allow more candidates to enter the profession by lowering the standard of qualification required. Such a step would be a retrograde policy and one which certainly cannot be supported by the present Board. We are, however, very anxious to stimulate recruiting in the profession, and I have listened to deputations, been in consultation with very many authorities, and officers have been taking evidence in connection with this subject. The subject is not one upon which you can generalise because there is often a surplus of one kind of teacher when there is a lack of another kind. In urban districts there may be a surplus while there may be a deficiency in rural districts, and individuals are very apt to get into a panic if for a few weeks a certain number of certificated teachers are unable to find vacancies. On the other hand, if there is no stock and advertisements are put into the newspapers by the local education authorities, asking for teachers, and there are no responses, again the local authorities equally get into a panic. One of the problems, no doubt, is how to attract the candidates for the profession. Obviously an increase of salaries is the best way of doing this. That, however, does not rest with the Board of Education so long as the schools are efficiently carried on, because the payment of the salaries and the arrangement of the salaries rests entirely with the local education authority. One thing we can do, and we are about to do it, and that is to make the service more attractive by increasing the pensions of the certificated elementary school teachers. I stood almost aghast when I realised what the position was when I came to my present position. The average salary of an elementary school teacher was £145 for men and £99 for women, and the maximum pension which anyone could receive at the present time under the existing system is £59 for men and £40 14s. for women, whilst the average pension payable last year was only £38 for men and £29 for women.

I have had consultation with my colleagues at the Treasury on this matter to see whether I can secure an increase of the Pension Vote. On this question the Board of Education has been insistent, and I am very glad that we have not only been able to secure a Grant from the Treasury, which will double the present pension of elementary school teachers in regard to the payment from the State, but we shall also be able to increase the disablement allowance from £l to 30s. in the case of men and from 13s. 4d. to £l for women. I have had placed at my disposal by the Treasury a sum equivalent to a perpetual annuity of £200,000. Whether out of this sum any further benefits can be provided in addition to those which I have already mentioned I cannot say, but I propose to refer the matter to a Departmental Committee which I am about to appoint to look into this question. It is due, I think, to the teachers, who devote the whole of their lives, as a great number of them do, to the public service and to whom we look for the moulding of the minds, the intellect, the character, and the physical growth of the future race of this country, that we should make the service as attractive as we possibly can. The duties of a schoolmaster or a schoolmistress are arduous, exhausting, and monotonous, and require long training. They have to possess special qualities, such as patience, and also that very valuable quality in connection with children, a personal magnetism for the child. In proportion as we are generous I think we shall attract the best teachers in the country into the profession, and in proportion as we are parsimonious we shall fail to secure the best results.

There is one other matter in connection with the elementary side, which is a real departure, I ought to mention to the Committee. In my view the ideal system of issuing money for work done in the schools of this country is not to base it upon average attendance, but upon the value of the work performed. I am starting an experiment this year, which I hope may be successful. I have taken the special subjects, handicraft, gardening for boys, and domestic subjects for girls, cookery, laundry work, and household management, and I am proposing this year to give to all the large authorities who have hitherto earned a Grant of £1,000 in these subjects a block Grant, provided they do similar work this year to that which they have performed in the past year. They will receive certainly no less than they have received in the past year, and in all probability they will receive a substantial sum more if they do further work than they have already performed. It may interest the House to know that in connection with these subjects of the county authorities, fifty-nine out of the sixty-two are now giving instruction in these special subjects. In connection with cooking there are 335,568 girl students. There are 121,727 girl students learning laundry work, and 25,083 learning housewifery work, and 7,289 are taking the combined subjects. There is a steady increase in the number of these school courses. The number in cookery has increased from 635 to 670, laundry work has increased from 50 to 89, and housewifery from 6 to 24. In school gardens there has been a steady development in teaching the children what I may call petty agriculture, and there has been a considerable increase—from 1,872 courses last year to 2,270 courses in the present year.

I hope that my experiment in connection with the block Grant may prove successful. It will, I believe, diminish to a large extent the amount of correspondence that may be required with the local education authorities, because they will not always be having to go to the Board of Education in connection with small points, which require a great deal of correspondence and clerical work, and it will ease very materially the amount of work of the Board of Education as well as an connection with the carrying on of all these domestic and special subjects, which I believe are of great utility to the children in our elementary schools.

I propose this year to place a new code on the Table of the House. The changes are not very great, but we shall omit a certain number of obsolete provisions. We shall insert the block Grant provision, and we propose some other changes, all in the direction of giving increased latitude to the local education authority and showing that we have increased confidence in the work which they perform. The variations which we propose will be to enable them to consult with the inspectors on the spot in order to avoid a great number of unnecessary references to headquarters, such as those which occur in connection with small alterations to premises. In such cases the inspectors and the managers will meet and agree upon any small alterations of premises which now have to come to London for the assent of the Board. Again, when it is proposed that children should take excursions to places of historical or other interest in the country, or to inspect field work, instead of applying to the Board of Education all that it will be necessary to do will be for an arrangement to be made with the inspector, and if he approves of that work it can be undertaken.

With regard to school playgrounds, a Committee was appointed some months ago to look into the question to meet, as far as possible, the views of the local education authority, so that we should not ask for unreasonable accommodation for playgrounds when it is difficult to obtain them. That Committee is looking into the question, and I believe it is very nearly ready to report.

With regard to the choice of employment, an Act has recently passed enabling authorities to set up committees to arrange for the choice of employment of children when they leave school. Under that measure forty schemes have been submitted for the approval of the Board. We have already passed twenty-seven, and I believe within the next fortnight four or five others will be approved. The amount at our disposal is only £10,000, but I hope it will not be many years before the Board of Education may obtain a further sum to extend that very useful work.

I want for a moment to touch upon the medical branch, which, I think, is one of peculiar interest. The number of meals given to school children in the country throughout the past year was 16,872,997. In London 9,138,755 meals were given to the children attending the schools. The cost of the food was £89,609, and the other cost in connection with the provision of these meals was £63,959, making a total of £153,568, and voluntary contributions of £1,370 only were recovered from the parents. Sir George Newman's report, I think, has been read by a great number of Members in this House, and has as well interested a great number of people outside. I do not propose to deal with many matters to which the report relates, but I may remind the Committee what was the result of the medical inspection of the children. It showed that 10 per cent. of the children in attendance at our elementary schools were defective in eyesight, 4 per cent. were defective in hearing, about 7 per cent. suffered from adenoids or enlarged tonsils, 40 per cent. were suffering from decayed teeth, 35 per cent. were verminous, and 1 per cent. were tuberculous, and between 1 and 2 per cent. had heart disease. I am glad to say the local education authorities have already been doing a good deal to try and deal with the ailments of these children. Seventy-eight authorities have established nurses, seventy-two authorities are practically giving free spectacles to the children who require them, children are treated by twenty-two authorities in hospitals, and forty-eight authorities have-already established clinics. I have secured from the Treasury a Grant this year of £60,000 to help and encourage the local education authorities in treating these ailments, and I believe that amount will have to be extended in the years to come. The House has so far been kindly disposed in not criticising me too much in regard to the regulations which I have circulated in connection with the distribution of this £60,000. It is the first year we have had at our disposal any Grant to help the local education authorities in treating children for their ailments. I have indicated in those regulations, and by replies to questions in this House, that as a general standard we hope to be able to pay pound for pound in connection with the work done, but during the first year we desire a certain amount of latitude to be given by the House, because we are not quite sure how much work may be undertaken during the current year by the local education authorities, and we shall have to do the best we can with the £60,000 at our disposal.

I may perhaps be allowed to say one word in connection with the care committees. A large number of care committees have been established throughout the country to look after the children and to act as go-betweens between the local education authorities and the parents and to try and assist children who have to be operated upon or who require attention. There are in London in connection with this work 990 committees, and there are 6,500 individuals who are already sacrificing a great deal of their time in voluntarily undertaking this work on behalf of the elementary school children in London. They are doing excellent work, and I think we are fortunate in having in our country so many people ready to come forward and do this kind of work. More strength to their elbow.

I should like to say one or two words with regard to the mentally defective. There are 48,000 mentally defective children of school age, and of those we believe that about 32,000 are educable. Of the 32,000 that are educable, about half can be treated in special schools, and be taught to maintain themselves and become satisfactory excellent citizens. If they are not treated in special schools, they may degenerate and become, as they do now, to some extent, wasters. They may tend to become criminals and help to fill our gaols, or they may tend to become imbeciles and help to fill our asylums, or they may tend to become paupers and help to fill our workhouses. Therefore, from a national investment point of view, it is of importance that everyone should do their best to try and see that special schools are created in this country with a view of educating all the children who are apparently mentally defective but who are educable. One-third of these children, I say, can be taught to maintain themselves, one-third can be taught to maintain themselves partly, while one-third are uneducable and will have to be under the supervision of the authority that is about to be set up for the mentally defective by the Bill which I trust may before many weeks be passed through Parliament, I admit in connection with this matter that more money ought to be given by the State, and I am glad to say that at the present time the Government are considering how they can encourage local education authorities to build special schools in order to look after the educable mentally defective children. There is one other subject in connection with Elementary Schools which I know interests many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, and that is the question connected with the differentiation of teachers' salaries in Wales. Perhaps I may be allowed to express my own gratitude for the way in which the Opposition have allowed me to have a more or less free hand during the past few weeks in endeavouring to secure an increase of salary for the teachers in certain voluntary schools in Wales. In March last, when this question was raised on the Vote on Account, I informed the House that my attention had been called to twelve cases in which complaint had been made by the managers of the differentiation of salaries paid to the teachers by the local education authorities in their voluntary schools. Since then, I am glad to say, in ten out of those twelve cases matters have been settled. There are still two cases outstanding of that group of twelve, but since March my attention has been called to five other cases. At the present moment one is settled. I am in negotiation with the various authorities concerned in the other four cases, and I expect a settlement will at any rate be arranged very shortly in three out of those four cases, so that after the next few days I trust there will really be only three cases in which no permanent arrangement of a satisfactory character has been arrived at between the local education authorities and the managers. I therefore propose, as I indicated in March last, to appoint some one to go down to the places concerned and hold immediately a public inquiry. I have asked Mr. Robert Younger, K.C., whether he would undertake this duty. He has consented, and I am now about to frame the reference. I trust the result of his inquiry will be to bring to an end those unfortunate differences which have arisen and which have caused us a good deal of anxiety.


May I ask whether the inquiry will be limited to the question of salaries alone?


I have not definitely settled the terms of reference, but I shall no doubt be very largely guided by the terms of reference arranged in connections with the Swansea case. I might say the two cases which are going to be inquired into by Mr. Robert Younger are the Caerphilly case and a case in Anglesey at Menai Bridge.

We are satisfied with the progress which has been made in connection with our secondary education system. It is not perhaps all we want, but, at any rate, a great number of gaps are gradually being filled up in the country. The Act of 1902 certainly left a big gap between the elementary schools and the secondary schools. That gap, to a certain extent, has been filled up by the forty-seven higher elementary schools which have been established, by a certain number of central schools which take what we may call the top classes from a group of schools in the vicinity, and by what we may call the higher tops to elementary schools, which do a certain amount of the work required to co-ordinate and systematise the elementary and secondary schools. One of our first objects is to try and widen the character of our secondary schools and to give them an increased bias of a commercial, industrial, and agricultural tendency, according to the needs of the various localities. Another of the objects we have in connection with our secondary schools is to try and extend the number of years of school life. Unless we can extend the number of years of school life we cannot, of course, secure a satisfactory scope of work done in these secondary schools. During the last three years we have been inspecting a large number of these schools, and we are inspecting about 200 schools every year. We are doing something to promote the teaching of modern languages. We are behindhand, as compared with some of our competitors on the Continent, in the teaching of foreign languages, and we are doing what we can to encourage the better teaching of them in our secondary schools, and I am very glad to be able to report considerable improvement in that respect. We are also interchanging with France and Prussia a certain number of student teachers so that we get the benefit of the teachers from those countries, while some of our teachers go over to Germany and France and acquire better linguistic knowledge by teaching in those countries. We are also indebted to a certain extent to a trust, of which Lord Shuttleworth is chairman, for being able to encourage certain masters in secondary schools having their expenses paid for visiting other secondary schools and thereby getting a wider experience in the work of their profession.

The Consultative Committee, over which Mr. Acland presides, has reported during the year with regard to the examinations in secondary schools. We are in substantial agreement with most of the principles that Committee has laid down, and I am hoping to invite the leading English Universities to confer with the Board of Education with a view to meeting some of the most practical suggestions. The financial aspects of the proposals are of the most difficult nature, but, unfortunately, the Committee did not see their way to deal very fully with the problem. The Committee is now engaged in doing what it can to help us by taking evidence with a view to reporting the best means of promoting practical work, and we are asking them to report how it should be encouraged and developed in secondary schools.

In regard to pensions for old age I have had several interviews with representatives of the secondary school teachers, and we have together secured from the Treasury a promise of a substantial Grant to enable those teachers in secondary schools which are receiving a Government Grant to receive a contribution towards an old age pension. The scheme is not sufficiently developed for me to be able to say exactly what will be the lines of the scheme, but generally speaking the sum given will be more or less equivalent to the Grant now given to the certificated teachers in elementary schools. I should like now to say one or two words in connection with our training colleges. We have introduced a four years' course—a voluntary system. We have found in practice that a three years' course, in which students are not only expected to take their degree, but also to learn how to teach, is an inadequate period for the work which we are expecting them to undertake, and if they can add another year on to their period of residence and attendance in a training college they will be free from that strain and pressure which have broken down many students. Sir Alfred Dale, addressing a meeting the other day, approved the proposal, and said:— It would ensure solid and sound work without undue strain or pressure, and he welcomed the proposal. In order to make the proposal as attractive as we can we have done two things. We have abolished the obligation on the part of the student, who enters a training college for four years, to pay fees out of his personal allowance, and we pay them from the State. The net result to the men and women attending these training colleges will be, if they are resident at a hostel, that men, instead of receiving £30 a year net, will now receive £35 for each of the four years, and women, instead of receiving £15 net, will receive in future £25 per year for the four years. There are two other alterations which we are making. We are reducing the number of subjects which we are encouraging to be taught in the training colleges with a view to trying to prevent that strain and pressure of which complaint has been made. We find that more attention has to be paid to professional subjects, including hygiene and physical training. But students have already acquired in secondary schools a knowledge of certain subjects before they enter the training colleges. And we do not put such pressure upon the principals and the managers of training colleges that some of the ordinary school subjects should be taught so extensively as they have been in the past. Another alteration of which we have approved is to encourage the experiment by means of which students can go into training colleges at different periods of the year, so that instead of all leaving at one particular time after having completed their course, they will leave at different periods, and there will be less likelihood of many remaining for a few months unemployed.

In connection with the technical branch we believe that the old examinations, both in science and in art, in the lower stages have done their work, and we have issued two circulars, one numbered 776 on science and one numbered 786 in art. For these two circulars we have been somewhat criticised, and I have realised that whenever an alteration is made, and especially one which is going to effect some saving, you must expect criticism from some quarters. But I am quite sure the abolition of these examinations in the lower stages, both in science and art, is progressive. Instead of scholars and students being worked up to a pitch for a particular examination they are taught on freer lines, and the educational result is very much more valuable. If I take Circular 776, which has been so much criticised, by abolishing a system which is but a relic of "payment by results," we are going to save a sum in the aggregate of something over £7,000, and the greater part of the sum is going to be distributed in connection with helping better inspection of these technical classes. Grouped courses will be more established, and they will be closely related to industries in the various localities. We do not want students during their earlier stages of technical education to feel that they are bound by syllabuses and examinations. We wish the local education authorities not only to have permission, but to be encouraged to reduce the number of examinations. If they want examinations they can hold them themselves, but we believe that better education can be given if no resort is made to the lower grade examinations. The higher stage examinations will still be continued. We do not suggest that even these are a necessity, but we propose to hold them. We do not want a student any longer to go before an employer and say, "Here is a certificate for this, that, or the other." We think that the certificate will be of very much greater value if the student goes to an employer and says, "I have been attending the whole course for a series of years," whether it is in connection with engineering, buildings, or textile manufactures, or whatever the subject may be, "I have completed it satisfactorily. The certificate is signed by the principal of the college, and it is also endorsed by the Board of Education." I believe that certificate will be of very much greater value than the great number of certificates which now lie in the drawers of many principals and are never demanded by the students themselves even after they have passed examinations. By this policy we hope to arouse an increased interest among the employers of the country. We want them to do more with their employés, to form committees to work with the local education authority, and to establish technical classes connected with engineering, building, and textile manufactures.

In the art circular also there has been a misunderstanding in some quarters. It has been assumed that our object has been to exclude from the teaching and study of art all except those who have been through the secondary schools. That is not what we say in our circular. Hitherto the system to a large extent has been meaningless. One student may have taken up drawing in a cursory way, another etching, another painting, and so on. Now the system will be laid out with the view of training for art in a comprehensive scheme, and these certificates will be evidence of real proficiency in art, and competency in designing for a particular industry, or of capacity to teach. We believe that, in connection with the qualifications of the teacher, it is necessary for the teacher of art not only to have natural talent in connection with his art, but also to possess a certain amount of general education, and we lay down the principle that the amount of general education known should be at least of the standard which is given in our secondary schools. For example, a student only wastes his time if he endeavours to teach an art class in advanced work unless he has at any rate some little knowledge of the literature and history of the art subject which he is teaching. With regard to inspectors, we have been obliged, owing to these alterations, to consider the increase of their number. The increase has been twelve during the past year, and I have now got power from the Treasury to further increase the number. We have appointed special expert inspectors, for the first time, who have expert knowledge of economics, engineering, building, and other subjects, instead of having the general knowledge which is possessed by most of our other inspectors. The work connected with women in this country has been steadily increasing, not only in connection with our training colleges, but in connection with those domestic subjects to which I have already referred. I believe that for this work we require a large increase in the number of our women inspectors, who have hitherto been overworked. As vacancies occur among our male inspectors, I propose to fill up the next few places by appointing an additional number of women. During last year we only had twenty-eight women inspectors, although half the population of this country, or rather more, are females, and we have had something like 370 men inspectors. I propose in the next few months to bring up the number of women inspectors from twenty-eight to forty-one.

Perhaps I may say one word with regard to what I believe to be the great blot on the whole of our educational system in this country—that is the lack of continuity in the education of children after they leave our elementary schools. The number of children who are at school between the ages of twelve and thirteen is about 593,000; between the ages of thirteen and fourteen, 384,000; between fourteen and fifteen they suddenly drop down to 36,000, and, of course, after fifteen there are none in any of our elementary schools except in the few higher elementary schools. As a consequence, a great number of these children—a very able writer in the "Yorkshire Post" gave the figure the other day as six out of seven— never continue their education again in this country. At any rate, the proportion of individuals who are only educated up to the age of fourteen is excessive, and enormous sums of this country's money are being wasted because we have no proper system of continuing the education of our young people. There are three directions in which I think work can be done. Of course, in connection with our evening technical schools we do work now of a very satisfactory character, and of an increasingly satisfactory character, but what we want employers to do is to make it a condition of employment, wherever it is possible, that those young people whom they employ, who leave school at the age of fourteen, shall on one or two afternoons or mornings in each week be compelled to attend some higher technical class or some trade class. There are some employers who are doing it in this country. The North-Eastern Railway Company are doing it to a certain extent. They send some of their young people to the Armstrong College at Newcastle, and they not only pay their fees but also their wages while they are attending technical classes. I instance that as a case in point, and hold it up as an example which many others might follow with advantage to the community. At present we have only thirty-two day or evening trade schools in this country, with only 2,813 students attending them. The experience connected with these schools is surprisingly satisfactory. Before these students have completed their full course they are snapped up, and a great attempt is made to take these children away before they have completed their two years' course in these trade schools. I would like to urge all those who desire to take these children into their works that at any rate they should leave them at their trade school until they have completed their full two years' course. The last few months are the most important in connection with the teaching of trade classes, and it is most valuable not only to the individuals themselves, that they should complete their full course in these trade classes, but it is equally important to the employer in whose works they are going to be employed.

I should like also in connection with continuation work to pay a tribute to the excellent work being done by the Workers' Educational Association in London. The number of tutorial classes has grown from 2 to 8, 35, 70, and now there are 100 of them. The Universities are being brought into contact with the progressive working men specially in London, who undertake to go through a full three years' course. The work which is being done in connection with that organisation is of the very highest value.

I come to practically the last branch I wish to deal with, that is the University work. The University work is to-day becoming of increasing interest to the whole community. The Universities are becoming more open to the humbler classes than ever they were before. There is one very great advantage in connection with the University work, which is that it is outside the sphere of both religious and political polemics. We have at our disposal £42,000, which we are distributing among twenty-two institutions. £12,000 of that money is new money, and this money is given to colleges, hospitals, and other University institutions, such as do medical and technical work of a high character. We nave also at our disposal for distribution a sum of £150,000 which is now being distributed on the recommendation of the Committee presided over by Sir William M'Cormick. The Committee have allocated this money, and I have accepted the recommendations of the Committee. The Committee visited the whole of the Universities in the country, except Nottingham, and upon that they had a very full report of the inspection of the work which is being done in Nottingham. In connection with this University work I should like to say how much the public are indebted to certain individuals who have endowed the Universities. We are hoping that we may receive more of these endowments, because they are very badly needed in many of the Universities in this country. It is only fair to note the generosity recently exhibited in connection with the London University. The sums given have been very large. We have had £100,000 given for Bedford College; £100,000 for domestic science at King's College for Women; £60,000 for new chemical laboratories, £30,000 for a school of architecture, and £11,000 has been left by wills for scholarships at University College. It may interest the Committee to know that the average income from endowments of these various Universities is 15 per cent., from the State 28.5 per cent., and from fees 32 per cent. The Board of Education are very anxious that scholarships should not be established out of the fees which are paid by the poorer classes of the community. Where scholarships are established, they ought to be paid for out of the endowments kindly provided by individuals. With regard to Wales, the University of Wales continues for the next five years to receive the £31,000 which was promised to them, and in connection with the medical department of University College, Cardiff, £1,500 was definitely allocated to that college two years ago, and it will be still continued. May I refer to a subject upon which there is a Bill at present before the House? It is a Bill which really carries out the result of administrative work. I refer to the London Institution Transfer Bill. An arrangement has been made to enable that institution to be transferred for the purpose of a School of Oriental languages. I am told that unless we are able quickly to pass that measure into law the financial position will become worse and difficulties may occur, while at the present moment all the parties have agreed upon the terms upon which this institution may be handed over for the purpose of teaching Oriental languages. In connection with that, money has been secured from the Treasury which will compensate, to a certain extent, individuals who have now got an interest in the London Institution.

5.0 P.M.

I must say one or two words in connection with our Science and Art Museums. I hope a start may be made with the new Science Museum this year. The Committee over which Sir Hugh Bell presided has made recommendations, and I believe that their report has been printed and is in the hands of Members. I think we may congratulate everybody concerned that we have been able to come to a satisfactory arrangement as to the site, and with regard to the transfer of the Geological Museum in Jermyn Street, which will be a connecting link between the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. As one of the results of the erection of that building, the work of solar observation will be transferred on the recommendation of the Committee to Cambridge, and not to the Surrey Hills which was the alternative site. The Committee, by three to one recommended that the University of Cambridge was the better place for the Observatory to go to rather than to the Surrey Hills. No doubt the Surrey Hills would have been nearer the sun, and clearer observations of the sun could be obtained there, but at the same time it would be away from the individuals who want to acquire knowledge in connection with solar observations. As to the Victoria and Albert Museum, we have systematised our inventories and verified the whole of the articles in the museum. We have received a large number of gifts for which we are very grateful to the individuals who gave them. I may mention Mr. Fitzhenry, Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence, Sir William Agnew, among others. We have purchased various articles with an expenditure of £13,600 out of our own funds, including an early fourteenth-century carved sandstone figure of the "Virgin and Child," from Ecouen, and a very valuable Elizabethan tapestry. I am glad to say that Their Majesties have continued to take such considerable interest in the Victoria and Albert Museum that we have received a special loan in connection with their recent Indian visit, and I hope that the public will take an opportunity of inspecting these very interesting records of the Coronation visit to India. We have saved something like £5,000 by alterations in the warding of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and we have more individuals now watching over the exhibits than ever before. I believe that all necessary provision has been made for the safeguarding of these treasures. May I in passing allude to a criticism in the public Press a few months ago in connection with the withdrawal of his loan collection by Mr. Pierpont Morgan, it was given out that, owing to certain treatment he had received, Mr. Morgan had withdrawn some articles. That was really not the fact at all. He proposed to withdraw many of the articles which had been lent to the museum merely with a view to escaping the Death Duties on such of the collection as might remain in this country at the time of his death. But to show that he bore no ill-will to the museum authorities I may inform the Committee that we received at the time other articles on loan from him, including a very valuable bronze statue by Benevenuto Cellini.

The Board, I think, is entitled to take some credit for the re-establishment of the Teachers' Registration Council. It was desired that the teachers should be enabled to arrange their own organisation unfettered by the Board of Education. It was also essential the Register should be established on a firm financial footing. We have obtained from the Treasury a sum amounting to about £10,000, to repay fees paid for Registration on the old Register, £2,800 still remain in hand. We have also obtained a loan from the Treasury to cover a total expenditure of £9,000 in three years to enable this Teachers' Council to be put on a really satisfactory financial basis. One of the great advantages of this council will be, from my point of view, that we should be able from time to time, when we want, to consult the representatives of the teaching profession in this country upon matters on which change is proposed or has been made; we shall be able to work in touch with the teachers, and the establishment of this Registration Council will remove, I hope for all time, any possibility of a recurrence of some of those misunderstandings which have in the past unfortunately taken place. If we can work in touch with the teachers through the Registration Council, as I believe we can, I think we ought also to work in closer touch with the representatives of the local education authorities. Those authorities have many organisations at the present time in connection with their educational work. There is the Association of Directors and Secretaries, there is the County Councils Association, and we have also the Municipal Corporations Association, the Association of Education Committees, and the London County Council Education Committee. I desire that we should be able to ascertain the views of all these organisations, and to have them embodied, as far as possible, in one representative committee of an advisory character which would be able from time to time to meet the Board of Education, and thus prevent misunderstandings, between the Board and the local education authorities. I have communicated with these organisations, and I see that they are about to summon a meeting of representatives, which, I trust, will bring about the formation of a body able to place at our disposal the collective experience of Local Education Authorities and which we shall be able to consult. In this way I hope to prevent any feeling that the Board of Education is holding at arm's length the local education authorities, and I hope that, as a result, the hostile criticisms which have obtained in the past will be replaced by good will, and there will be a great addition to the progressive forces of this country in the matter of education.

Finally, I should like to pay a tribute to the staff of the Board of Education. Never has a President of the Board had a more loyal, more able, or more zealous staff to work with, and I may say that it is the privilege both of my hon. Friend and myself to work with individual members of the Board. They show that they are anxious to do all they can, not to raise points of hostile criticism in connection with any communication that they receive from the country, but to help the local educational authorities and the educational experts in the country in every possible way, and to co-operate with local educationalists in the interests of a cause which they all have at heart.


I think we may congratulate the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down on the very full, clear, practical, and, on the whole, satisfactory account which he has given of the educational progress of the country during the past year. I am glad to observe that he has returned to the practice broken into on one or two occasions in late years, by which the President of the Board or the representative of the Educational Department in this House gives as full a statement as possible of the work of the Department, a statement which has been extremely useful, not only to the House but to the country. I am also glad I shall have little or nothing to say on a topic which has occupied us very frequently in past years, and that is the religious difficulty. I wish to be quite frank with the right hon. Gentleman, and I will tell him that, so long as the regulations for secondary schools remain as they are we shall continue to contend that public money is not being rightly used for the furtherance of a particular form of religious teaching while other forms of religious teaching are unfairly dealt with. As regards individual matters which come before the right hon. Gentleman, so far as our experience of the last eight months has gone, we feel convinced that he will approach any difficulties that may arise in respect of voluntary schools in a judicial spirit, and that he will not put undue pressure on the local authorities in an effort to obtain from them what the King's Bench Division, the Court of Appeal, and the House of Lords have stated in turn to be so obviously their right that the matter ought never to have been brought before a Court of Law at all. We hope that will never occur under the administration of the right hon. Gentleman.

I will touch briefly on three or four matters which have arisen in the course of these proceedings. I am glad that the Code is to reappear, because it tells us the policy for the year of the Education Department in regard to elementary schools, it informs us what is to be the curriculum for the children, and what are the qualifications to be required of the teachers. For several years past all we have had has been a White Paper merely mentioning briefly alterations in a Code presented to us some years ago, and I am very glad indeed that the right hon. Gentleman is returning to the former custom of presenting the Code. I am also very glad to hear that the register of teachers is to be revived. It has been long felt that not merely for the convenience of teachers, but of those in search of teachers, it was desirable to have it, and it is also felt that the existence of the register acted as an impulse to teachers in the matter of secondary education, because immediately it was dropped the number of teachers who offered themselves for secondary training decreased. I am therefore glad it is now to be revived. With regard to the pensions of teachers, my only regret is that teachers who earned pensions on the old scale are not to come in for the increased pension which their more fortunate successors will receive. They have spent their lives in the service of the children of the country, and I very much regret that they are not going to benefit by the greater liberality which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is extending to their successors. I should like to say a few words with regard to the system of rewards and punishments. Of course, the Board of Education has power to deprive schools of a proportion of the Grants, and, no doubt, that will work as an excellent supplement to the broader rule regarding the grant for average attendance. I think we must feel glad that the candidates are now to come out of the training colleges at different times of the year, instead of all at once. It was a source of difficulty to the younger teacher, who, having spent a good deal of time and money in preparation for the teaching profession, found that owing to the fact all the candidates for teachers' places came out of the training colleges at the same time, he had to wait some months before he had an opportunity of entering into the active duties of his profession. Anyone who has had experience of administration in education matters knows how valuable the work of women inspectors is, and I am therefore very glad to know that their number is to be increased.

The President gave us some very interesting facts about medical inspection. Medical inspection was a necessary consequence of our compulsory system of elementary education, and the value of it must be evident to all who take an interest in educational problems. There is a further question with respect to the position of the local education authority whose duty it is not merely to carry out medical inspection, but to make arrangements for children who are found to require special medical care. This work has rapidly passed into the nature of a moral obligation, and it is, I think, construed by many local authorities as a duty. As a matter of fact as the right hon. Gentleman has told us, many of these authorities have set up clinical departments in the schools in order to carry out the results of the medical inspection. This raises a number of questions, and I hope the Board of Education will not in the present state of our knowledge press upon local education authorities one scheme rather than another. I think it was in the report for last year that the medical inspector referred to what is being done by the local education authority for London, which, I believe endeavours to work with the hospitals and other voluntary agencies through which it can obtain by arrangement the necessary medical service and carry out the work of medical inspection. I think the report of the medical officer of the Board was to the effect that the task which lay before that authority was one of unexampled difficulty, and that at that time it had not had a fair trial. I think it would be very unfortunate if any cut and dried method in dealing with this question were insisted upon by the Board, and if any local authority which is honestly endeavouring to discharge the heavy responsibility laid upon it by the Act were not allowed to try more than one experiment in the matter with the view of obtaining the best and most economical mode of dealing with this important question.

I pass to the question of the secondary schools. I notice from the report that the number eligible for Grants has increased, and that generally as to the secondary schools over which the Board of Education exercises the influence which is due to the making of the Grant the Board on the whole are satisfied with their condition. No doubt the report tells us that the period of time during which a boy or girl remains at a secondary school is not as yet sufficient to give him or her the benefit which we expect from a secondary school. I hope that the Board, so far as it lies in their power, will continue to press for a longer term, that a secondary school which receives a Grant from the Board will not be regarded as a mere finishing establishment to which a child can go for a year or eighteen months from an elementary school, and that the Board will insist, so far as they can, that a preper term of secondary education will be required, so that a child will get the benefit which we believe is to be derived from secondary education. There is another point in the report of the Board on which I should like to touch. It is not a popular subject, and I do not hope that it well excite any great sympathy—I mean the encouragement given to the study of Greek. I notice that a certain number of schools, mostly endowed schools, do encourage the study of Greek. A few municipal schools do so also. I heard not long ago with some satisfaction that the number of municipal schools which require the study of Latin is on the increase. I know that many of the schools cannot afford to teach Greek—that is to say they cannot afford the expense of a man who has knowledge of the subject. The report of the Board states, as if it were a matter of pride, that in those schools in which Greek had been taught it had been done on the payment of an additional fee, and that the additional fee was done away with, so that anyone might learn Greek as part of the ordinary school course. I should think the result of that would be that the study of Greek would be almost discontinued, for, having regard to the small incomes of teachers in our secondary schools, and the miserable insufficiency of the staff in these schools, it is very likely that they would not be able to have a man to teach Greek. I think it would have been very much better to have allowed the fee to remain, and to have provided that, in the case of a boy who could not afford to pay, the fee should be remitted or advanced, rather than that over the larger area, where it is absolutely necessary boys and girls should learn Greek, they should be excluded from the study of the finest literature any country ever produced.

I come now to a point on which the President of the Board of Education dealt with some feeling, namely, the want of continuity in our education. The elementary school curriculum is a matter on which the Board may dwell with some pride. The secondary school curriculum in a somewhat lower key may also be looked upon with satisfaction; but then there is a gap between the two. What is to happen with respect to children who have not the time to go to our secondary schools? What are the resources available for them? There are the higher elementary schools. I regret to find that the number of these schools satisfying the conditions which are required is not large. Some of these schools had to be discontinued because they were not discharging the duties they were intended to perform. On the whole the higher elementary schools have not been the success which at one time I hoped they would be. The object of the higher elementary schools was primarily to supplement the elementary schools in the case of boys or girls who could not afford the time to attend the secondary schools. The higher elementary school was to carry on on a somewhat higher plane the work of the elementary school, the course of training corresponding to the conditions of the area in which the school was in order that a boy or girl should have the chance of carrying out the literary side of his or her education, and giving some practical instruction in work which would be useful on leaving school. That was the object for which the higher elementary school was brought into existence in 1905, and I am sorry to hear that the element of continuity which was then contemplated does not seem to prosper under existing conditions.

What resources are there besides the higher elementary schools? There are continuation classes, but what are the conditions of these classes as a whole? They do not play a very large part in the Report of the Board. I find that the number of those who attended continuation classes has slightly increased. In the Report of 1909–10 there were 750,000, roughly speaking, in attendance, while in the following year there were 16,000 more. I find from a note that one-third of the number are over twenty-one. That means that there is a long gap between the time of leaving the elementary school and the period when young people go to the continuation classes, and whereas, in the urban areas it is fifty-four, in the rural areas it is forty-five. That shows that there is a problem here which must press upon the heads of the Department. We want the education of the children to be continued, whatever views may be held about the advantages or disadvantages of the half-time system. We heard the views of hon. Members expressed on that question in the very interesting Debate which took place a few weeks ago in this House. Nobody wishes that a child's education should be impaired by the half-time system, or that its education should be limited to the age of thirteen or fourteen. There are some difficult questions in this connection which cannot be answered in one way. You have to consider what the aim of the child is on leaving school, what he ought to learn in continuation classes beyond what he already knows, and, incidentally, what the parent wishes him to do. These are questions which cannot be answered by any rough-and-ready method of simply raising the school age. If you merely arbitrarily raise the school age, you may make a boy remain longer at school than he wants to stay, and when you turn him away from school you may not have any employment for him when he is ready for work. In the urban districts I understand that employers are giving their minds to this question, and taking care that the young people in their employ do for a certain number of hours in the week devote themselves to the continuation of their education. But what is the fate of children in the rural areas? It seems to me that a boy's education there is sometimes really more suited for a clerk than for one who is to work on the land. I have heard advocated an extension of the school age to fifteen or sixteen. Is the education under the curriculum the sort of education to fit a boy, or to incline a boy, to work on a farm? I confess I am sceptical as to whether nature study and lessons in gardening give a boy the habitude to work on the land. I should be glad if the Board of Education would turn their attention seriously to this question, and ask whether a child in a rural area might not leave school earlier on two conditions, one being that the work to which he is sent is really serious work, which will fit him for his future sphere in life, and not merely for, as was described in the Report of the Departmental Committee that reported on half-time, the perfunctory performance of manual labour, and the other being his attendance at a continuation school.

Those two conditions, I think, would be essential in any scheme of rural education which would tend to keep people on the land and give them an intelligent interest in life after leaving school, in following out the career of an agricultural labourer or a small holder or a small farmer. I would urge the President of the Board of Education to turn his attention very seriously to this matter, because it seems to me that there is a very large number of children in the country upon whose education the country is spending a very large sum for which it is not getting any adequate return. In reference to the various Grants which are made for university purposes, I am glad to know that it is the Education Department and not the Treasury which is now making them, and I would ask the President to consider whether the Grant which is made to King's College is adequate for the work which that college has to do. My hon. Friend the Member for London University (Sir Philip Magnus) is more fitted to deal with this subject than I am, but it has been represented to me, and I think with some force, that that college is doing work which would entitle it to a larger Grant, and doing it under considerable difficulties, as the site is cramped, and the college has to occupy some buildings at a rent of £3,000 a year. The fact that the site is in many respects convenient for those who attend the college should not be set against this claim, but should rather be regarded as a matter which entitles the college to further assistance under this Grant. Another point that should be considered is the necessity of a higher rate of pay for the staff in order to retain good teachers.

I now come to a point to which I refer with some reluctance) and that is the relationship of the President of the staff, which the right hon. Gentleman said just now was so admirable in its administration of the education of the country. At the beginning of the right hon. Gentleman's tenure of office a change took place, and a new permanent secretary, whose appointment, I think, is a matter for congratulation, succeeded to the office lately held by Sir Robert Morant. The result of that was that the post of principal assistant secretary for elementary education became vacant. There were working under the late permanent secretary more than one gentleman of long experience in that particular branch of the work, a branch of work which needs special knowledge and special experience, and they were passed over for a gentleman whose capacity is undoubted, of which I have had both useful and pleasant evidence, but who was a junior and had no special experience in that particular branch of the work. The senior assistant secretary in consequence resigned his office, having had twenty-one years of service. I call attention, as I have said, with reluctance to this matter, because these gentlemen are well known to me personally. I have worked with them with the greatest satisfaction, and I have the highest opinion of the capacity of both of them to do any work which they undertake to do.

But I would like to call attention to the fact that the rewards offered to our permanent Civil servants are not very great. The work which they have to do is of the highest importance to the country. The qualifications which they bring to bear on that work are so good as or, I suppose, better than those of the Civil Servants of any country in the world. "We get practically the best men available for very difficult work, for which very little outward reward is given, and if there is any idea that in the making of appointments or promotions men are passed over who should not be passed over I think the service will suffer. It is specially desirable in the case of the particular Department over which the President now presides that it should not suffer in consequence of any suggestion that officers are promoted without due regard to the claims of persons of long experience. Last year we were surprised, I think the whole House was startled, by the way in which the then President of the Board of Education (Mr. Runciman) threw over the report of his chief inspector and announced that that did not represent the policy of the Board. That was, I think, a departure from the relations in which the President should stand to his staff, and I confess that I listened to the speech then delivered with great pain and with a feeling that the relations of the Civil servants themselves and their political chief could not continue on those lines. That happened last year, and now this year, when we have the suggestion that in the same Department officers and promotions are dealt with capriciously and without due regard to experience and long service and the undoubted claims of officers of the Board, I should be afraid that the Department might get a bad name in the Civil Service and that the admirable work which has hitherto assisted the political representatives of the Department may no longer be forthcoming; and no one would regret more than I that the Department, with which I was for some time connected and of which I have the most agreeable recollections, should suffer in that way.


I will not follow the right hon. Baronet in the polemical opening of his speech nor in his critical ending. I will speak from the point of view of one who tries to take some small part in the local administration on one or two matters which appear to be of practical moment. I thank the President for the tone of his speech and the clear evidence that it shows of educational progress, and I thank him especially for his very kindly reference to local education authorities and the perfectly clear way in which he showed that he looks upon them as colleagues rather than as persons who are to be told what they are to do, and who are to be treated as people with whom cordial relations are not permanently possible. My first remark is with regard to the system of Grants generally to local education authorities. I think that of late years, and under both Governments, there has been too much of a tendency to use the machinery of the block Grant and the general Grant to put pressure upon the local education authority which may have done badly in one particular direction, but done particularly well in others. I confess that I should like to see a greater segregation of Grants, so that, for instance, if there was a case of a county or town having fallen short, say, in its evening classes, but doing particularly well in the ordinary elementary schools, any reduction of Grant should be restricted to that department of effort in which they have failed, and it should be perfectly clear that where they have done well they are given the maximum support which the central authority can give. I think that that would intensify educational interest, and might be developed much more than at the present time. I am sure that the Committee heard with great pleasure the suggestion of the President with regard to small structural alterations and small local details being settled by the managers and an inspector instead of taking up invaluable time at Whitehall. Of course, it often happens that you have to deal not only with managers but with local education authorities who have an inspector of their own. But I welcome any Ministerial utterance which tends to give greater freedom of action to local authorities and greater quickness and decision without increased expense in the innumerable small details which have to be settled, and without taking a very long time to settle.

I will give one illustration, which is not without what I might almost call a humorous aspect. Last year it chanced that in the county of Northampton it was desirable to have a room in a small town to set apart for instruction in handicraft laundry work and cookery. There was a provided elementary school and there was a secondary school and an evening continuation class. Accordingly this scheme, extremely modest in extent, but with its varying aspects according to these great divisions of education, had no doubt to be considered by some important person in each of these divisions of the Education Department. The room had to be used no doubt by the children in the elementary day school, which was its principal use, and also by the children of the secondary school and by the pupils in the evening continuation school, some of whom would be full-grown adults. The result of extreme attention to infinitesimal detail in this case was that although plans were submitted on the 20th November, nothing more was heard until the 7th March, when a considerable part of the year had gone by. Then, when everything was approved of, it was ordered that the number of adults using this room was to be limited. The result is that you have eighteen benches, and when the children, who either attend the elementary school or the secondary school, are using the room all eighteen are allowed to be used. But when the adults are there only sixteen can be taken in. What difference it would make to an adult, whose thinking requirements are greater than those of a child, that there should be two vacant benches in a room it is difficult to see. I quote this as an instance of what happens not in any critical spirit of the Board, with the praise of whose officers I would like to associate myself, to the full as one who has often had the pleasure of getting advice from them, but, as an illustration of how very much simpler it would be where a room is mainly used for one purpose that the whole matter should be settled promptly by a representative of the Board, without going into all the different sub-departments at great expenditure of time and without any really satisfactory conclusion.

I may give another illustration. There is a small special Grant of not more than £15 given to schools in very thinly populated districts. In one of these districts, also in the county of Northampton, it happened that one mistress resigned and left at the end of the school year. Her successor was not appointed until after the holidays. Inasmuch as during five weeks of the year there was not the complete staff, although during those five weeks there was no school going on, there was a deduction of the Grant actually made by the Board in respect of that period. I think these are admirable from the point of view of the great and well-known form of mental power which can deal with the infinitely little as well as the infinitely great, and I am quite sure that the remarks of the President of the Board of Education this afternoon as to giving greater freedom of action by relieving the Board itself of the decision of small matters like these will be welcomed by Members of the Committee. There are two other matters of great importance. One is the problem referred to both by the President and the right hon. Baronet, namely, the problem of what you are to do with the enormous number of children who leave the voluntary school and who never find their way to the secondary school. I am sure the Committee has heard to-day, as Members have heard before, and "with no less anxiety, that there are only some forty-seven higher elementary schools. I am certainly not going back into the controversies of past years. I am not here today to criticise the Act of 1902. Everybody knows that before the Act of 1902 there was in all the best Board Schools of the country a great deal of valuable information given to children older than we find even now in the schools, either council or non-provided, throughout the country.

I have always supported, and will continue to support to the utmost of my ability, the widest extension of the scholarship system in secondary schools, and while I hope that the 25 per cent. minimum will never be reduced, but will be increased, I am confident no system of scholarships, in anything like our present financial circumstances, will ever be able to secure to children of the artisan classes all the facilities for education above the mere elementary which they ought to have, not only in their own interests, but in the interests of the country itself. I think it is much to be regretted that the higher elementary schools are not more numerous and not more successful. I do not propose to go into details on this point; I do not propose, indeed, to analyse or criticise the various conditions which determine the character of those schools; but I do ask my right hon. Friend most earnestly to look into this particular problem to sec whether the conditions cannot be improved in the great urban districts of the country, such as in Lancashire, in Yorkshire, and in London—to see whether something cannot be done to have schools of this higher type, though they will, of course, be open to the criticism of thorough-going educationists that you are not keeping the lad or girl for a long enough period to give full secondary education; but it is true in education, as in many things, that half a loaf is better than no bread, and even inadequate food if wholesome, will stimulate the appetite, rather than give satiety, and I am confident these schools, if well arranged, will stimulate the demand for higher secondary education, and give more popular support to what might be done in this House in the future by any party to enlarge the sphere of secondary education and increase the number who will benefit by it.

The other point is with regard to a matter which was omitted by the President of the Board of Education, perhaps perforce omitted on an occasion of this kind, though it is one which every local administrator must from time to time speak about, and that is the great necessity of our having local grants for building new council schools and towards paying off the loans on existing, council schools. Anyone who has had to take part in the decisions of the local education authorities—where it is perfectly clear that a new council school must-be put up—well knows the difficulties that every administrator has to face. We are beset very properly by the desires and fears of the ratepayers. We are bound if we can to provide education, particularly, as often happens, when alternative forms of elementary education have failed and cannot be continued. Even where there is no controversy or divergency as to the type of school, the provision of a new council school, on which the whole of the education authority are agreed as being necessary, is cramped and hindered by the weak financial position of the local education authorities all over the country. Building Grants for the purpose are eminently necessary. Whether they can be provided in their fulness under the existing law is a matter on which a divergence of opinion exists, and one into which I will not enter.

I do urge upon my right hon. Friend that this is the line on which educational progress should go. I know not whether he is meditating another Education Bill. If he is, I offer him my most heartfelt sympathy. I do say—and I think hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree with us on this side of the House—that all the difficulties we experience proceed from the real facts of life, and the real conscientious opinion on both sides. It is because of the good contained in the views held on both sides that difficulties are experienced when it becomes necessary, from time to time, to deal with the problem from the point of view of the ratepayer, of the administrator, and of the educationist by getting further resources from the State to promote the cause of education That is the policy which I respectfully urge upon my right hon. Friend, and having urged that upon him, I end by thanking him for his speech, and saying that the discussion this afternoon will, I am certain, show Members in all parts of the House that we are alike agreed in trying to make the education of our country as valuable in many ways as possible.


I think all Members of the Committee will agree with the last speaker that our thanks are due to the President of the Board of Education for the extremely lucid and full statement which he has given with regard to the existing conditions and prospects of education in all its branches. The area of the subjects which he has covered is so vast that any friendly critic can only hope to deal with one or two of the matters to which he has referred. I cannot help thinking that every critic of the Board of Education ought to be a friendly critic, particularly having regard to the vital matters with which the Board of Education has to deal. The work of the Board should be considered as something altogether outside party politics. The President of the Board of Education rightly suggested that instead of criticising its work, one ought to try and make suggestions, and I hope I will be able to make one or two suggestions which may not be altogether without value to the Board of Education. I should like to join in what the President said in regard to the ability of the permanent staff of the Board. It falls to my lot to have frequent communication with members of the Board of Education, and I can certainly speak to their ability and to the persevering efforts they make in order to do all they possibly can to advance the cause of the different branches of education in which they are concerned. At the same time, there is just one criticism, as regards the work of the Board, which I should like to offer, and that is that the Board, instead of leading opinion too often follows, and at a very long interval, the trend of public opinion, with the result that when they introduce changes, as they frequently do, and as the President informs us they propose to do in the near future, those changes are often somewhat out of harmony with what the existing conditions require.

I propose to make a few remarks on that all-important branch of education to which the President of the Board of Education referred—I mean our elementary education, because, after all, that is the most important part of the work with which the Board of Education has to deal. Upon its success depends the future of the great mass of citizens of this country. For many years—I think I might say for almost thirty years—I have been endeavouring to urge upon the Board of Education the great importance of giving, instruction in our schools of a thoroughly practical kind, and to do so not only by making some form of handicraft an essential part of the instruction in our schools, but by teaching subjects in the schools directly through the medium of the senses, so that our children may not only be passive listeners, but feel that they are taking active part in the instruction which is going forward. From the Report recently published by the Board, it appears that in 1891, the number of schools in which some form of handicraft was taught was 145. Twenty years afterwards, in 1910, that number had increased to 4,264; but, from the statement of the President made this afternoon, it would appear that there are at present 20,757 public elementary schools, so that even now some form of handicraft is taught in not more than 20 per cent. of the schools of the country. In their last Report the Board said:— The need for some form of training in handicraft as part of elementary instruction for boys, was pressed upon the Government in the first report of the Royal Commission on technical education in the year 1882. I was a member of that Commission, and, as a member, I visited all the principal schools in nearly every part of Europe. At that time I was very much struck with, the remarkable results of the introduction; of manual training into the boys' schools, in France. That training, it seemed tome, made the French artisans pre-eminent among the workmen of Europe for their initiative, their alertness, their resourcefulness, and for their inventive power. I may say, incidentally, that my acquaintance with French schools since then has-shown me the mistake of trying to Germanise our system of education. I bay that not only of our elementary schools, which I believe are better than the German schools, but also with regard to the teaching of science in the universities and the higher technical schools. Professor Huxley, I noticed, in a book I was reading only yesterday, speaking of the influence of German men of Science, said:— In those constructive processes on which everything most valuable in science depends, the French are their superiors, and the English also. 6.0 P.M.

I do not agree with those who attempt in this country to cry up everything German, and to Germanise if possible the whole system of our education. It was in 1882 that the Government was pressed, as they themselves state, to introduce some form of handicraft into our elementary schools, yet it was nine years after that, in 1891, that in 145 schools only was handicraft instruction given. Yesterday I came across a letter which illustrates still further what I have been saying as the only criticism I make on the Board. The letter was written to me in the year 1901 by one of the secretaries of the Board of Education, and in it he says:— The point you raise as to the examinations in elementary science is a, very important one, especially in view of the fact that the Board is seeking to discontinue all such examinations. What the point was I forget now. That was ten years ago, and we have just heard that only last year the Board came to the conclusion to give up their elementary examinations in science. I quite recognise that the Board are right to take time to consider suggestions which are made to them, but still I think it is almost the duty of the Board to endeavour to lead public opinion rather than to follow it at so long a distance. What, I would ask, is the position of handicraft in our schools at the present time? The President of the Board has spoken very encouragingly as regards the larger amount of instruction given in these various subjects. The report to which I have referred states the number of boys earning Grants increased from 81,292 in 1899 to 187,111 in 1910—that is a very satisfactory increase in ten years. The question I would like to ask the President of the Board is why should those boys be "earning a grant" for handicraft instruction? Why should handicraft at the present moment be regarded as a special grant-earning subject in our schools. Why is it that after twenty years of trial, when it is recognised that the instruction is of the greatest possible value, handicraft is not yet made part of the regular curriculum given in our schools? Surely the time has come when the payment of Grants for special subjects ought to be entirely discontinued. It is nothing more than a relic of the antiquated system of payment by results. What, I venture to think, the Board ought to do is to indicate what should be, within general limits, the curriculum of the elementary school, and to give block Grants to the school, provided all the subjects of instruction are properly taught.

To regard handicraft as a special grant-earning subject after thirty years of experience in the teaching of that subject appears to me to show an utter misconception of the place it should occupy in our elementary schools. I venture to say that elementary education will continue to be founded on wrong principles until some kind of constructive work is regarded as an essential part of the curriculum of every elementary school. The Board themselves state in their Report that, as the result of experiments in the teaching of handicraft, it is shown that the children "evinced a keener and more intelligent interest in their school work, and generally were more alert and were more resourceful." They go on to state that "handicraft as a subject or as a method," clearly recognising that it should be both, "appears now to be firmly established as an integral part of the curriculum in a large number of schools." If it is so recognised as an integral part of the curriculum, why is it that the Board do not themselves so regard it, treating it in the same way exactly as they treat reading, writing, or arithmetic? But according to the report of the Board, handicraft "is, however, still comparatively a new subject." It is a little remarkable, after thirty years' experience, to speak of handicraft as a comparatively new subject. If it be a new subject, whose fault is it? Surely it must be the fault of the Board of Education for not having given that encouragement to the teaching of the subject which I venture to think it was their duty to do. I perfectly agree with the Board that in the teaching of the subject the greatest possible latitude should be given to the teachers, and that the teaching should be different in our urban and our rural schools, and that even in each of those two types of schools the teaching should be varied according to the different districts and according to the surroundings of the school and the requirements of the locality. So far I also agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford that far less is being done for our rural than for our urban districts. I think that some form of manual instruction is even more important in our rural than in our urban districts, but I will not pursue that matter because I know that the hon. Member for Wiltshire desires to speak on it.

I have noticed that after many years, the Board have recognised as an educational axiom that the teaching in girls' schools should be different from the teaching in boys' schools. To have stated that fact twenty years ago would have given rise to considerable opposition. At present, in our elementary and secondary schools the Board correctly recognise that the kind of handicraft or manual teaching to be given to girls should certainly be differentiated from that given to boys. I am not going to dwell on the extreme importance of giving children in our elementary and secondary schools adequate instruction in domestic subjects—in all matters relating to cleanliness of the home and of the person, to the principles of clothing and to plain cooking. In my opinion, the three C's, cleanliness, clothing, and cooking, are quite as important as the three R's. I may be told that there is some financial difficulty in making handicraft instruction an essential part of the curriculum. The reason likely to be assigned is that the teaching of any form of handicraft is expensive, more expensive even than the teaching of Greek. This is so, and I am quite certain our local authorities cannot bear the burden of increased expenditure. Therefore whilst I sincerely hope that a larger number of schools will be provided with the means of giving handicraft instruction, the additional expense ought certainly to come from the Exchequer and not from the local rates. I earnestly trust that before next year's Estimates are presented to this House, some form of handicraft will be included in the new Code which is about to be issued as a part of the instruction which is essential and indispensable in every public elementary school.

Closely connected with this matter and with the other matters to which my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford has referred is the question of the school-leaving age. I may say at once that, personally, I am desirous of seeing the school-leaving age raised. I think this reform is far more important than the proposal to enforce attendance at evening schools. I object, if it can be avoided, to all forms of compulsion. It is necessary, I admit, that there should be compulsory education in our day schools, but if we can possibly avoid compelling young persons to go into evening schools I should like to endeavour to do so. Compulsion is the last measure to which we should resort. I am inclined to believe that children would be glad to remain longer in the elementary schools if the instruction were made more interesting than it is at present, and, moreover, parents would have less objection to requiring their children to remain longer in the schools if they were more convinced than they are at present, that the education provided in the school would be subsequently useful to them in the work in which they have to engage. Reference has been made to a Bill that was introduced into this House this Session to amend the laws relating to school attendance. That Bill has passed its Second Reading, and is now being considered in a Committee of this House. The effect of that Bill, if passed, will certainly be to lengthen school life and to abolish half-time. I should like to say I approve of both proposals, provided that the instruction given in our schools is based upon sound principles. In the interesting discussion to which my right hon. Friend referred, which took place on the Second Reading of this Bill, it was pointed out—


Is it in order to discuss Bills before the House and answer discussions on the Second Reading of those Bills?


I did not gather that the hon. Member was doing that.


I did.


I do not think that is the kind of remark an hon. Member ought to make to the Chair.


It was not intended and I beg to withdraw it at once.


In that discussion on the Second Reading of that Bill it was pointed out that the practical training that is given in the factory, in the field, or in the workshop had a very stimulating effect on the children, producing self-reliance, quickening their observations, and making them better fitted for after life. I believe that is true, but it was also shown that the removal of those children from school at an early age in order that they might obtain half-time work in the factory or elsewhere was injurious in its effects. In that I also agree. It was said, and said correctly, that the atmosphere of the factory certainly did not tend to improve the moral character of the children, and moreover it was pointed out that unless half-timers are educated in special schools the discipline of ordinary schools would be interfered with by removing; the children for a half-day during certain days in the week. What is the solution of this difficulty? What we want to do is to unite the advantages of the half-timer with longer school attendance. I think this can be effected by a rearrangement of the curriculum in our elementary schools, so that half the time is devoted to ordinary school instruction and the other half to those practical exercises to which I have referred. There would be no difficulty whatever in adopting such a course. Handicraft exercises, elementary science, and physical training ought to occupy fully half of the child's time at school, and the rest of the time should be devoted to ordinary school subjects. For this purpose it is necessary that the leaving age should be raised, and I am strongly in favour of that being done. If this course were adopted we should have all the advantages which in the discussion to which I have referred were pointed out as appertaining to the kind of training obtained in the factory, together with the advantages of school life. I think that the Board of Education might carefully consider a proposal to lengthen the school life and at the same time to introduce a larger amount of practical instruction. It is quite possible that fewer subjects would have to be taught, but that would be no great disadvantage. What we want is a few subjects taught well, rather than a large number of subjects taught badly or imperfectly. It is very important in elementary as in other branches of education to remember the educational axiom—non multa, sed multum.

One other subject to which I wish to refer is the importance of linking up elementary and secondary education. This has been attempted by the regulation, introduced by the present Home Secretary when President of the Board of Education, requiring a school receiving full Grants to admit 25 per cent. of children from elementary schools. I have always criticised that regulation as a crude, imperfect, and unscientific means of effecting an object which we all have in view. It is shown to have failed by the very fact that the Board of Education themselves have had to introduce a number of exceptions. During the past year they lessened the number of entrants from elementary schools in 103 cases. I have always opposed that regulation, and experience confirms my opposition. I yield to no one, in this House or out of it, in my desire to see full opportunities afforded to every child in the Kingdom to develop all his faculties to the highest level of educational efficiency. At the same time, I do not consider that this is the best means of achieving that object. The Grant paid to a secondary school ought not to depend on any such artificial condition as the number of admissions from public elementary schools. On the whole, I would prefer to give effect to the ideal of the Labour party, and to free our State-aided secondary schools, provided they afforded a suitable after training to our elementary school children. For that reason I am in full agreement with the last two speakers as to the great advantage of encouraging the formation of a larger number of schools having such a curriculum as the higher elementary schools had a few years ago. That would be a form of secondary education of which in any circumstances a large number of children from the elementary schools would be glad to avail themselves. At the present moment there are before Parliament many Bills introduced by private Members dealing with some of the subjects to which reference has been made in this Debate. Some of those Bills overlap, and the Clauses of one Bill are inconsistent with Clauses of another. I think that the whole question of the linking up of elementary and secondary education should be considered either by the Consultative Committee or by some Commission or other Committee. The matter should not be left in the hands of private Members, but, the Government themselves should bring in a comprehensive measure dealing with the whole of this important subject. That is a suggestion which I hope the President of the Board of Education will carefully consider.

Reference has already been made to the small amount of Grant given by the Board of Education to King's College. Of the total increased amount of £50,000, much less is given to the College than the education which it is now providing would justify. Only £2,000 has been given to King's College, whereas £4,500 has been given to University College. As an old student of University College I should be very glad indeed if £10,000 had been given. At the same time, I fully recognise that the work now being done by King's College is nearly if not quite equal to that of University College. There seems to be no reason whatever for this disproportion in the allocation of the £50,000 with which the Board of Education have to deal. King's College is suffering from the fact that it has removed its school; it has also given up its Civil Service classes, which brought in a large amount of income. The consequence is that whilst its work is extending in every direction, and the number of students from the college who take their degrees at the university is every year increasing, the amount of Grant given by the Board of Education is quite disproportionate to the large amount of educational work which the college is doing. I am not certain whether the President of the Board of Education has any fund out of which he can increase this Grant. If not, I sincerely hope that he will bear in mind the claims of King's College when he has to consider the allocation of the Grants next year.


In reference to the speech to which we have just listened, a comparison based on the number of schools in which manual training is given is a little misleading, because many of these schools serve as centres to which the children from neighbouring schools are sent. I think my hon. Friend has quite underrated the amount of practical work that is being carried on. He has also, in the latter part of his remarks, somewhat overrated the relative necessity of manual training in the schools. All the children in the elementary schools will not take up manual occupations, and, having regard to the comparatively small number of years that a child spends at school, and the five or five and a half hours in the school day, to give one-half of the day to the subjects to which the hon. Member has referred would require the addition of another year to the school life, which I think would be too large a demand to make, but without it the hon. Member would be unable to provide the requisite commercial training to send out the necessary number of clerks and office boys able to spell correctly and to work sums rapidly. Manual training is not the only subject; there are a number of necessary subjects to be taught in the schools. The hon. Member's speech as a whole was so admirable that it is with all deference I put forward these remarks in the way of criticism. I should like to congratulate the President of the Board of Education on the matter and manner of the speech with which he opened the Debate. That speech, though long, was not tedious; it was full of interest from beginning to end, and was an admirable example of what a speech by the President of the Board of Education ought to be. The right hon. Gentleman has not been long at the Board of Education, but he has done very well there already. He does not flash with the brilliancy or assume the degree of omniscience that some of his predecessors have done, but he has brought to a very difficult situation and to the heated condition of affairs at the Board of Education undoubted powers of—I ought not to say appeasement, but for the moment I cannot think of a better word—which have produced throughout the country generally among educational authorities, schools and teachers, a better condition of things than has existed for many years past.

The right hon. Gentleman has shown by his speech that he proposes to carry that policy further. He has referred to a council of teachers, and announced his intention of bringing before that council for consideration, consultation and advice, questions on which the Board may require assistance of that kind. He has also announced a totally new departure in the endeavour to set up a consultative committee of members or representatives of educational authorities. I remember that six months ago not only were the teachers on their part complaining of the absence of any proper method of consultation, but the local education authorities were complaining that they were not taken into consultation; they were anxious to constitute a committee of the kind suggested, and to force upon the Board, if it were still unwilling, their opinion and advice. Fortunately for the state of education of the country generally, the President of the Board has taken the step which he has now announced. With regard to the superannuation of teachers, both in elementary and in secondary schools, I wish to thank the right hon. Gentleman and the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the grant of money and the honest endeavours they have made to bring about some improvement in the too meagre superannuation allowance in the one case, and to give some allowance where before it was totally absent in the other. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that he proposes to set up a Committee to settle certain details in regard to the Grants which are to be added to the expenditure by the Board on the superannuation of teachers in public elementary schools. May I take it that I am right in assuming that certain points of detail will be referred to this Departmental Committee? I understand the Committee will consider whether this total sum of £200,000 is to be spent all in one year, or spread over ten or twenty years, and whether at the end of the stated period it is possible the money may or may not be all spent, and as to "whether it will provide the benefits which the right hon. Gentleman announced to-day? Will it also consider the question of an increased rate per £ per year paid by the State in superannuation in respect to every year that the teacher has served in the school, and also an increasing rate of disablement allowance in the case of the teacher breaking down, and not being able to continue because of severe and continued ill-health? I understand that the Committee is to consider and to find out actuarially whether the amount at their disposal will enable the benefits to be conferred on the teachers as a whole, and, if so, what those benefits should be?

I trust the right hon. Gentleman will keep before him the case of the oldest teachers in the country, the men and women who began to teach as pupil teachers or assistant teachers, some of them as far back as 1847, and who, in entering the profession between 1847 and 1861, established thereby the right to the only kind of pension then in existence, which at the age of sixty-five meant £20, £25, or £30 per year. Some hundreds of these old men and women are still living on as best they can on this pittance. They were teachers in this country at a time when teaching was worse paid than ever since. They "were teachers at a period when it was the most difficult kind of work possible, because of the indiscipline and general ignorance of the whole population. They were badly paid. They were retired upon these pittances. I should like to know if this Committee will take their case into consideration, and will say that out of this £200,000 they will put aside a few pounds more per year to be added to the pensions of the old woman of eighty who is living upon a pension of £20, or the old man of seventy who is living upon a pension of £25?

The next case in point of urgency is that of those teachers retired upon a pension under the existing Act. My right hon. Friend referred to the maximum possible under the existing Act as being £59 in the case of a man and £40 in the case of a woman. He did not tell the Committee—I know he did not mean to keep it from the Committee, but I think it ought to be explained—that out of these sums of £59 and £40 often at least two-thirds, if not three-fourths, is drawn from the accrued value of the contributions made year by year by the teachers themselves. Will the State contribute a little more generously in the average case, and will those teachers, who have retired, or may retire, the day before the date of the new Bill becoming an Act thereby by the mere lapse of a day, or a week, or a quarter, cut out of the benefits of the augumented pension? The third case I would plead for as a subject for consideration by this Departmental Committee is that of the teachers who did not accept the Act in 1889, are now outside it altogether, and have no right or claim whatever to any pension from the State; yet they are still teaching in the schools upon exactly the same footing as those teachers in the same schools who will receive the benefit of the improved superannuation. Can something be done to admit these teachers to the benefits of the Act? There was some question raised by a deputation to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the methods whereby teachers might retire at an earlier age than sixty-five, not being broken down in health, but retiring as they were very weary, and not quite able to carry on the work much longer. I hope that matter will come before the Departmental Committee.

In full confidence that the Committee will do its work well, and that the whole of these matters will receive their sympathetic consideration, I leave the matter there for the present, and pass on to a point of criticism, the only one I wish to raise. The President of the Board of Education referred to Circular 786. He said it had been misunderstood. Circular 786 has reference to schools of art and teachers in schools of art. I agree with, with him that it must have been very gravely misunderstood, for it does not appear that the interpretation put upon it by the Board of Education is the interpretation that is put upon it by the schools of art and those interested in the country. There are many points that I might dwell upon in that circular, but I will take only two. The circular refers to scholars or students, then to pupil teachers in the schools of art. As I read it, it says with regard to both of the classes that henceforward a secondary education or the general education given preliminarily in a. secondary school up to the age of sixteen will be required. That is to say, that not only those who wish to be pupil teachers, school teachers, or school masters, or school mistresses, shall have to have a good general education up to the age of sixteen as a preliminary to their education in art—a thing to which I take no exception whatever—but that it shall be required from the boys and girls leaving the elementary schools and going into the schools of art. It also is to be required in the case of the boy or girl in the public elementary school, who, leaving that school at the age of fourteen and having displayed distinct artistic capacity, wishes to go into the school of art as they have done in the past, and are doing at the present time, and who will not be able to go in for these excellent examinations to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I certainly approve, so far as I can judge, of the change in the whole system of examination, but I should like to have from my right hon. Friend two assurances.

The first is that the circular will not be so used, and is not intended to be so used, as to prevent the boy or girl exhibiting special artistic capacity, the young apprentice to a bookbinder, the young brass-worker, the young silverplate worker, at the age of fifteen going to a school of art and having the full benefit of the teaching of that school, simply because he or she has not been to a secondary school up to the age of sixteen. My right hon. Friend will, I believe, give me that assurance. I cannot agree that the apprentice teachers in the Schools of Art should be required to go through some regular course of continued secondary education, or obtain its equivalent in some other way. I want to be quite sure that the circular will not be applied to those already in the school. As the circular is worded it appears that from 1st January, 1913, the change shall take place, irrespective of its retrospective action upon pupil teachers already in the schools. That would be most unfair. I hope before the Debate closes the Committee may receive the assurance that this retrospective action upon the young teachers will not take place, and that there will be nothing to prevent the young artisan of thirteen or fourteen, in a craft where artistic training is required, taking the full benefit in future as he has done in the past of the Schools of Art throughout the country. That is all the criticism I have to make, all the fault I have to find. A contrast, I may observe to what has been, the case in former years.


In the observations I desire to address to the Committee I can compress my observations into a few moments, and direct them to one particular case, that of St. Joseph's Roman Catholic schools, Nymphsfield, Gloucester. The President dealt with the facts of the case. They are very simple, and can be briefly stated. In 1900 there was only one school in this particular village, and that school was an Anglican voluntary school. The heads of the school agreed to transform it into a council school. This school apparently did not fulfil all the educational demands of the village, and there was a request made to a Catholic lady, Miss Leigh—she did not approach those concerned—but she was approached by the inspector of schools, and urged to establish a school for the children who did not desire to go to the council school. At first she was rather reluctant to undertake the duty, because she did not think she would be able to find sufficient scholars for such a school. After making inquiries, however, she found she could get a sufficient number of scholars to attend the school, and on 29th October, 1900, the school was opened. The school proved efficient almost immediately, and ever since it has been honoured every year in succession by extremely favourable reports from the inspector of schools. Nobody, in fact, denies the thorough efficiency of the school.

In this school at the present moment there are the majority of the children of the village. It is some testimony, not merely to the educational efficiency of the school, but to the kindly, generous, and tolerant spirit in which it is conducted, that a certain proportion of the children in the school are Nonconformist children. The council school, although it is a council school, is largely under the control of members of the Church of England, and its entire attendance consists of children of Church of England parents. Nonconformist parents apparently have preferred to send their children to the Catholic school. At the present time, I believe, the school has in it something approaching seventy children. Some half of these, if not a larger proportion, are Catholic children belonging to the locality. There are, in addition, a number of boarded-out children. The majority of the population of the village are Catholics, according to the latest returns that can be got from attendance at religious services. I believe these facts will not be disputed. Ninety Catholics are found on Sunday to be at Mass, thirty people are to be found at the Church service, and twenty-six at the chapel, so that a majority of the children of the village of school age attending school are Catholic and a majority of the population of the village belong to the same denomination as the school. The school has now been in existence for ten or eleven years. It has maintained that high character to which I have already referred all through that period, and it desires, of course, to be put into the same position as the other voluntary schools of the country and to get support from the State. I am unable to say on what ground that support can be refused, and that is also the opinion of the local education committee. They have more than once, I believe, declared their readiness to offer no opposition whatever towards the recognition of this school by the Department. The only body that stands in the way is the County Council of Gloucestershire. So far as the President of the Board of Education is concerned, it is in justice to the temperate spirit in him which is recognised in all parts of the House as to the way in which the right hon. Gentleman has conducted his Department that I venture to think he would not stand in the way of the recognition of this school.

I am not able to penetrate the reasons which have influenced the action of the county council. I am all the more surprised because I understand the majority of the county council are Churchmen, and of course see eye to eye in many respects with the community to which this school belongs on the question of the recognition of voluntary schools. I should hope there will be an expresseion of opinion in various parts of the House in favour of the recognition of this school, and I urge upon the President of the Board of Education to use the powers at his disposal for the recognition of this school even if the county council does, as I hope it will not, persist in its opposition. I urge that for this reason. In all the Debates we have had upon the schools' question, hot and fierce as they were, I think we have all agreed upon the principle that in regard to certain districts in the country where parties are divided there should be the power of appeal to the Department, because we are all of the conviction that a public Department trying to carry out education as best it can will be free from those local jealousies and bitternesses which are such an obstruction towards the friendly conduct of education in the country, and I think that if we could get an appeal to the Department it would be a safeguard against the oppression of minorities, Catholic, Anglican, and Nonconformist. I may not say it would be an adequate safeguard, but certainly it will be a very good form of appeal. This is one of the cases where the President of the Board of Education might justify the hopes placed in his Department by seeing justice done.


I am sorry to take up the time of the Committee upon an occasion like this, when so many hon. Members wish to speak and when the time at our disposal is so short. The matter to which I direct attention is a small one, but there is a very large principle involved, and as I have failed so far to induce the Board of Education to deal with this matter in the spirit in which I think they ought, I feel bound to bring it before the Committee. It is the case of the education of a boarded-out child. I think I shall be right in saying that hon. Members, on whatever side they sit, are agreed that children who come under the Poor Law should be boarded out, and I think I am also stating what is common ground when I say that the first function of the Board of Education is to see that that education is provided, and consequently to see that that provision is made use of. In the present instance I shall have to show the Committee that the Board of Education, far from seeing that education is given to boarded-out children, has adopted a principle which absolutely excludes certain boarded-out children from being educated at all. There are several cases in point, but I only mean to deal with one, because it is connected with the constituency I represent. It is the case of the Newhaven Board of Guardians, who boarded out a child in the county of Hampshire under the local education authority.

This child attended a school in the Southampton educational authorities' area. In August last a demand was received by the Newhaven guardians for the payment of school fees. The Newhaven guardians made inquiries, and they found that the East Sussex County Council, in whose area they are, did not charge school fees for children boarded out in Sussex, and it seemed to them hardly fair, seeing they paid their contribution towards children boarded out in their area for years, that they should pay a contribution for children boarded out by them in the Southampton area, and they declined. A correspondence ensued between the Newhaven Board of Guardians and the County of Hampshire Local Education Authority, and the Board of Education. Here is a letter from the Board of Education to the Newhaven guardians:— Sir,—In reply to your letter of the 31st ultimo, I have written to say that although Section 2 of the Elementary Education Act of 1900 does not make a contribution by the guardians obligatory in respect of the education of Poor Law children in public elementary schools, it was expressly intended to meet this case for the provision of public elementary school accommodation, which would impose a burden upon the area in which the child is boarded out. The Board therefore think it reasonable for the local education authority to refuse admission to its school unless the guardians are prepared to fall in with the provisions of the Section. There was no extra expense in this case upon the Southampton education authority, because there was ample room at the school. The child was already attending there, no extra teachers were required, and indeed so far as the Southampton education authority was concerned, this child was a source of profit, because he helped to earn the grant without any extra cost, and had brought a sum of between £12 and £14 a year, all of it money spent locally into that district, therefore I do not think the Southampton authority have any grievance so far as this child is concerned. The Board of Education by their action eventually excluded this child from the school, and have continued to do so up to the present time. This child is receiving no education at all; he is excluded from the school and is left to play about or get into mischief or do anything he likes in the neighbourhood in which he resides. It places this boarded-out child in a very invidious position when he is not allowed to go to the public elementary school. It is not as if the Board of Education always took up this attitude in regard to boarded-out children. I happen to be in possession of a letter written from the Board of Education in 1897, at a time when the public elementary schools were paid for very largely by private individuals. I have their letter written in regard to a certain Church school where the managers were finding accommodation and education for boarded-out children. What did the Board of Education then write?— Reverend Sir,—Referring to your letter I am directed to state that my lords recognise no distinction between children boarded out and other children in the place, so long as the children are resident in the district where the public elementary school is provided. If the Board of Education felt it necessary to force the Church authorities to provide for these children at that time, and to find accommodation for boarded-out children, on what ground does it now exclude such a child when there is ample accommodation, and when it is paid for by the public authority? I think I am entitled to press for an answer on this matter, because it affects not only this one case: there is another case where similar action has been taken in regard to the same Southampton area. The child is now nine years of age, and for the last seven years has been residing in the Hampshire Union, and now he is to be forbidden any education at all, and kept out of it by the Board of Education until the guardians either like to pay or remove the child. We all know what the feelings of the local boards are, and we know they do not like to be treated unjustly, and if the Board of Education think it is not fair that a child boarded out should receive free education let them lay down a definite rule. Let them insist upon all boards of guardians paying for boarded-out children or say, "We will not enforce that rule, and if the local education authorities do not charge in one case they shall not charge in another." It is very undesirable that this present system, by which it is obligatory and not compulsory, should continue. Let the Board of Education settle it one way or another. There is nothing in the Act of 1890 which says that the foster-parents should be deprived of the right of having the child educated, and I think the Board of Education would be carrying out their duties much more in accordance with the manner in which they should if they first gave consideration to the child and insisted that it should have education, instead of taking the extreme and most disgraceful step of excluding the child from education and taking no steps to see that the child should get education anywhere else. While this conflict was going on during the last six months I approached the President of the Local Government Board and he sent down an inspector, who has now arranged with the Newhaven guardians to take away the child and send him to the training ship in order to end this squabble I do not see any excuse why the Board of Education should have forced this child away from the school and placed him in a most invidious position for the last six months and jeopardised his future. I hope the President of the Board of Education will assure the Committee that he is going to put an end to this system, and if he feels that boarded-out children should be paid for that he will take steps to make it universal and not exercise the discretionary power vested in him to refuse education to a particular child.

7.0 P.M.


I should like to join with hon. Members who have preceded me in congratulating the President of the Board of Education upon the very able statement which he has made, and the manner in which he proposes to manage his Government Department in co-operation with the local authorities. I know that they are anticipating a much more pleasant time under his jurisdiction than they have had in the past, and they certainly reciprocate his very kind feelings in regard to future work. I should like to refer to the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Sir W. Anson), in which he regretted that higher elementary schools were not more numerous in the country at the present time. I think we all regret that such schools are not more numerous than they are, but I think we can trace the decline of higher elementary schools— or what we used to call higher grade schools—to the Cockerton Judgment, when we had a large number of first-class higher grade schools in existence which the Cockerton Judgment destroyed. Local authorities erected schools at very great cost. In my own town we erected a school at a cost of over £22,000, and this was converted into a purely elementary school at great cost to the local authority. It is since that date that the decline in the number of higher elementary schools has taken place. That, I think, is a very serious drawback.

Another drawback is that the quality of education given in the higher elementary schools is almost equivalent, although I do not say equal, to the education given now in our public secondary schools, but the difference between the Grants and the cost of conducting a higher elementary school is so great that with rates increasing as they are local authorities hesitate to erect or to start any further higher elementary schools. I think that is a serious drawback. We are now establishing, under the Act of 1902, a system of secondary schools in most of the progressive counties. For instance, in the county of Durham we have now sixteen of what we call Division I. schools under the control of the higher education committee. These sixteen schools are financed by the county council. When the Act of 1902 came into operation in 1904 there was not a single one of these schools in existence, and, therefore, you had the local authorities hesitating to erect higher elementary schools in addition to the secondary schools which they have been compelled to erect. Where they are permitted they charge fees and they are practically compelled to charge them. In addition to that they obtain a Grant of £5 per head per scholar as against a Grant of 30s. before in the higher elementary schools, and 45s. for the second year, rising to 60s. in the third year. I would like to make two suggestions here. I am at one with the right hon. Member for the Oxford University in thinking that we ought to link up now that we have a large addition of boys and girls from the elementary schools going into the secondary schools. We ought to have something to link up with these children better than we have at the present time. I think the higher elementary schools, more especially in our large industrial centres, ought to be encouraged, and I should like to see a much higher Grant by the Department towards these schools. I think they ought to start with £3 at least for the first year, and that would encourage local authorities, and it would pay something towards the establishment of the more costly schools.

My second suggestion is this. In many places there is not the facility for erecting a higher elementary school. I should like to see the Board of Education encouraging upper standard schools, grouping schools or districts together, and having an upper standard school for the advanced scholars so that they can be prepared for our secondary schools. There, again, that requires very expensive teachers and better equipped schools, and I would suggest that the Board of Education should take that factor into consideration, because in the county I live in there are some districts where we have started an upper standard school with that object in view, so that the boys and girls could go from the elementary school to be trained in an upper standard school, and then go on to the secondary school. I offer those suggestions to the President of the Board of Trade, because I think, from my practical experience in regard to the working of elementary schools and secondary schools, they would certainly be a great advantage to education.

I intended to call attention to two subjects. The first was raised by the President of the Board of Education, and it relates to the possible shortage of teachers. This is going to be a very serious master, and in a few years we shall have a great dearth of teachers. That is quite evident, because the local education authorities are becoming alarmed. We consider that the present system for the entrance of candidates for pupil teachers has broken down. We are strongly of that opinion. The system has broken down because the Board of Education a few years ago acted rather prematurely in abolishing the pupil teacher centres. I think that was a very great error, because they made it a condition that a child or an applicant should have had two years in a secondary school. In a county like ours, when the Act came into operation in 1904, we had not 1 per cent. of our population in secondary schools—in fact, we had no such schools except of a semi-private nature. Everybody knows it takes a considerable amount of time to start secondary schools. You have your scheme to adopt, schools to erect, difficulties with the Board of Education, and after that it takes a few years before you can get your system into operation. In the county in which I live we have sixteen secondary schools, and we are spending this year £83,000 upon higher education. That is a very large sum of money, but we feel that the system of exacting two years' residence or a term of two years in those secondary schools precedent to an applicant becoming a pupil teacher or candidate militates against candidates applying. Let me give the figures so far as my own county is concerned, because I think they are illustrative of all parts of the country. It is estimated that we have a wastage of 390 teachers. In 1907 we had 470 candidates, and that was before the pupil teacher centres were abolished. Then we had 470 candidates for pupil teacherships, and that number fell in 1908 to 416, and in 1902 we had only 142 applicants. Therefore the number has dropped from 470 to 142. That is a very serious deduction, and when we have to supply a wastage of 390 teachers the Committee will see that in a county like ours we are bound to have a very great shortage of teachers.

I understand that the Board of Education have appointed a Committee to investigate this matter, and it is certainly very urgent. We suggest that the pupil teacher centres should be re-established, and they should be attached either to the secondary school or to the advanced upper standard school where secondary schools do not exist. I think that where you have the pupil teachers specially trained in a separate department it is a great advantage to the pupil teachers, and certainly it is a greater advantage to the candidates to come forward. The next point I wish to call attention to is local expenditure on education. I am not a person who believes in Grants-in-Aid, because I think it is a system which leads to very great extravagance. I have held that view for many years, and I am bound to say I have come to the conclusion that it is quite impossible now for education authorities to go on with the vast expenditure they have to incur under the Act of 1902. I have heard speeches from the other side over and over again charging this Government with placing upon the local education authorities increased expenditure by medical examination and such things. I may tell the House that that is a mere flea-bite in comparison with what we have to spend. I am going to give as an instance my own county because I want to give a practical illustration. I have had the figures taken out and I want to show what happens not only in the case of counties, but in the case of borough councils, and what they have to suffer under the Act of 1902. Out of £486,000 expenditure in 1912 we are only spending £3,700 upon medical examination. Anyone will see at once that that is a mere flea-bite in comparison with the great cost of education. Perhaps this statement will surprise the right hon. Gentlemen the Member for Oxford University, because when I quoted the figures before I think he was alarmed. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for the Act of 1902, or whether he was in charge of the Education Department, because I was not in the House at the time. That Act has really created a revolution in this country.


And a very good one.


Although I am a pronounced Nonconformist, I admit that this Act has done a great deal of good, Why-do I say it has done a great good? This Act, when it is worked in the sense it ought to be worked, has created a revolution. It may startle the House when I tell it that we have increased the accommodation in the county of Durham by 74,896 places. There was in the county schools in 1904 accommodation for 41,706 children. That has grown till last year there was accommodation for 116,602. That is a tremendous total, and it has really settled the educational controversy, because if you can turn our children into the public schools the education question is solved. How has this taken place? We have had 101 Church of England or non-provided schools transferred to the local authorities, and I may say that to my own knowledge the President of the Board of Education—I mean Lord Londonderry—has transferred one himself. When the local authorities served him with a notice to improve a school he possessed outside Durham he, as a wise man, transferred that school to the local authority, and we have built a splendid school in its stead. There were in the non-provided schools when we took them over in 1904 accommodation for 89,561 places. That was reduced last year to 44,653. In other words, there was a transfer of 44,908 places from the non-provided to the provided schools. That is an enormous turnover. In addition to that, we have had an increase in the population, and we have had to make provision for that to the extent of something like 29,988 places, which makes the 74,896 new places which the council have provided. In other words, the council now is in possession of 234 schools, whereas when the Act came into operation they were only in possession of ninety-six. We have not had a single complaint from a single parent in the county with regard to those transfers, and, not only have we not had any complaints, but we have been congratulated everywhere upon the schools.

It is unfair and extremely hard that the local ratepayers in a county like Durham—I am only giving this as a practical illustration—should be called upon to bear the whole of this cost, because we cannot help it. A large number of these schools were in a very disgraceful state, and, when the large colliery owners and the other people who were in possession of them found they had to pay the education rate in addition to keeping up their schools and improving them from a sanitary point of view, they came to the conclusion it was much better for them to transfer the responsibility for them to the county council. The result has been that up to the present time we have had to spend £756,788 upon our voluntary schools. That is a very large sum. We have spent upon secondary schools £150,000 and upon the training college £2,725, making altogether a total of £911,000; and we have commitments up to the present time of £392,000, including £40,000, our share of the training college. We shall therefore in the course of the next year or two have spent no less than £1,304,000 upon new schools. I say that it is a very serious charge to make upon the ratepayers. The President of the Board of Education knows the county of Durham. He lives in the county, and he was a member of our county council. I want to point out to him the seriousness of this to the ratepayers. It has come to this: We cannot go on unless we get some assistance from the Government. There is a charge of £75,910 a year for interest and repayment of loans. That is made up of a charge of £42,000 on the county council, and one of £33,000 on the separate areas under Section 18 of the Act of 1902, which permits the county council to charge separate areas to the extent of 50 per cent. The result is that some of these areas have a rate of no less than 10¾d. in the £. That is a very serious charge in addition to the rate of 1s. 4d. in the £.

Let me point out another feature of this expenditure. While the Act of 1902 compelled a local authority to pay the teachers without having full control over them, there was no provision made for any additional Grant to the local authorities towards that cost. When we took over the schools in 1904 we had to level up the salaries of the whole of the teachers in the non-provided schools. They were paid 11s. per head less than the teachers in the old board schools. In 1906 we spent £212,000 upon teachers' salaries. In 1912 that was increased to £321,000, an increase in six years of no less than £109,000. In 1906, two years after the Act was brought into operation, the cost amounted to 39s. 7d. per scholar, and in 1912 it had increased to 51s. 3d. per scholar, or an increase of 11s. 8d. per scholar, showing that we had made a great advance in levelling up the salaries of our teachers. The cost of the maintenance of the schools has increased 3s. 7d. per scholar, and the loans have increased 4s. 7d. per scholar. In 1906 the Grants from the Government amounted to £203,000, or at the rate of 38s. per scholar. That had increased in 1912 to £257,000, or 41s. per scholar, an increase of 3s. per scholar. In 1906 we spent from the rates £83,000, and in 1912 that had increased to £208,000, or an increase of £125,000 against an increase of £54,000 from the State. That is a very serious charge. While the rate per scholar from the Government only increased by 3s., the increase from the rates amounted to 17s. 7d. per head.

This increase is going on at the rate of £15,000 per year. It is bound to go on, and, with this increased cost, it is quite impossible in my opinion for the local authorities to undertake this vast expenditure of money without they obtain some additional Grant from the State. I wish to make a suggestion to the President of the Board of Education and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I think it is a practical one. It is that we should have some assistance in the form of a building Grant. Where local authorities are compelled to build largely to make provision for increasing population and to replace transferred schools which are in bad condition and have to be pulled down, I think the Government ought to give them increased Grants. I was very pleased to-day to read an article in the "Westminster Gazette" upon this very point. The writer suggests that to solve this great difficulty the Government ought to come to the rescue of the local authorities by giving them a building Grant. This would encourage them to go on building better schools. There is continuous grumbling by local ratepayers. In some of our towns the education rate is working to 1s. 10d. and 2s. in the £, and it will soon be above 2s. I regard this as being a very serious matter, and I hope the President of the Board of Education, now he is installed in his office, will, with his practical knowledge of the working of our local authorities and his sympathy for them, take the facts I have given him into consideration, and I trust, if not this year, then next year, the Government will bring in some scheme which will alleviate to some extent the sufferings of our local ratepayers.


I remember that during this Debate last year one of the features which came most prominently to the front was the serious controversy that had arisen between the Board of Education and local authorities in the country. I am glad to think that, during the time the present President of the Board of Education has been in office this difficulty has, to a great extent been allayed. I am sure it is a matter of the greatest satisfaction to those who are engaged in the local administration of education to know how close and sympathetic an interest the right hon. Gentleman is taking in their daily work. Perhaps he will pardon me if I mention a single example. I understand that during the last few weeks he has been devoting much of his fully-occupied time to visiting many of the schools and educational establishments in the county of London. It is a matter of great satisfaction, both to members of the London education committee and to the officials who are engaged in the administration of education in London to know that the right hon. Gentleman is taking so close an interest in their work. The remarks I intend to make will be much more in the nature of suggestions than of hostile criticism. The hon. Member who has just spoken referred to the great difficulties which arise in connection with the cost of education in its various branches. He alluded to the cost in the county of Durham. Let me supplement what he said with one or two examples taken from the county of London. In various directions London feels aggrieved at the amount of assistance it is receiving from the National Exchequer. Some years ago a Grant was offered under certain conditions to what were known as necessitous school areas. It may seem to be a curious state of affairs when I tell the Committee that, for one reason or another, the county of London has been reduced to the condition of a necessitous school area—a most curious basis to take for your Exchequer Grant. But when once you take it, it seems to be particularly unfair, as soon as you have a great local authority like the county of London eligible for such a Grant, to say that you will not give it to any new area, however necessitous, if it has not received such a Grant in the past.

The President of the Board, in his interesting statement, alluded to the necessity for doing more for mentally and physically defective children. Under the Defective and Epileptic Education Act of 1893 the county of London has been taking action in the direction of providing school accommodation both for cripples and for mental defectives. I understand that at the present moment half the accommodation provided for these children is provided in the county of London, and, in view of that fact, it seems hard upon London that it should not be receiving its proper share of the Grant. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the figures he will find that the actual Grant falls considerably short of the 50 per cent. to which, in my opinion, the county of London is entitled. I need not allude to many other difficulties that face great urban areas like London. Let me only say this. One of the difficulties of London is to find sites for new schools or to enlarge the sites of old schools, and the fact that London has very often to spend £20,000, £30,000, or even £40,000 on a particular site for a new school should, I think, induce the authorities at Whitehall to deal with it more liberally in the matter of financial Grants. We certainly have a very strong claim for more favourable treatment than we have received in the past.

Last year, in the course of a somewhat bitter controversy, the Board of Education fined the county of London £10,000 for what they said was a refusal to carry out certain regulations in the Code. I understand that an arrangement has been come to under which, in the course of a number of years—I believe it is fifteen years—the county of London will spend not less than a capital sum of £5,000,000 in putting its classrooms into the condition desired by the Board of Education. In view of that fact I think it is exceedingly hard, when you have shown that London is anxious to do not only what is necessary, but to set an example to the other great local authorities, that it should still be insisted that this very unjust fine, as we consider it, should be enforced. The President also alluded to the excellent work that is being done in our trade schools—work which he described in this sentence:— The experience connected with these schools is surprisingly satisfactory. I am sure that anyone who has had practical experience of the working of these schools and classes in great areas like London will agree with every word that the right hon. Gentleman said. But let me impress upon the Committee the fact that these classes are extremely expensive. Let me give one example to show what the best trade classes that are now held in London are costing. They are the classes in the girls' trade schools. At the present moment the London ratepayers are finding £11,996 for these particular classes, while the Board of Education, which expresses its satisfaction at the conspicuous success of the classes, is only finding a sum of £2,237. In other words the National Exchequer is only encouraging this most excellent industrial training to the extent of 18.6 per cent. of the entire cost. In view of that fact the Committee will, I am sure, agree with me when I say it is extremely difficult to extend these expensive classes in the way we should desire if we do not receive more generous Grants from the National Exchequer.

Then the President also alluded to what is a very real difficulty the local education authorities have to face, and that is the possibility of a dearth of teachers in the course of the next few years. It has been suggested that the solution of this difficulty is to be found in the payment of better salaries to teachers by the local authorities. To a great extent I agree, and I am glad to think that, at any rate in London, the salaries of teachers have been very considerably raised during the last five or six years. But that is not the only difficulty. In spite of the fact that in London we have, on the one hand, raised the salaries, and, on the other hand, have provided for an extensive system of superannuation, to the extent of not less than £45,000 a year, the number of candidates for the teaching profession in the London, training colleges has fallen off to a remarkable extent. I find, for instance, that while in the year 1908–1909 there were 1,171 candidates for the teaching profession from the various London colleges, at the present moment there are only 435. Now I believe that, in the course of the next few years, we shall require more, rather than less trained teachers. Figures of this kind seem to point in the direction of there being a very real shortage when the increased demand arises. I hope, therefore, that the President of the Board of Education will take an early opportunity of consulting the new body which I am glad to think he is about to set up— a body of representatives of the various local educational organisations, with a view to coming to some conclusion, first, as to what should be the policy of the Board with reference to the qualifications and number of teachers during the next few years; and, secondly, what the various local authorities can be reasonably called upon to supply. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to the question of the universities. I am glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for London University has put in a claim for an increased Grant to King's College. That seems to me to be a demand with a very good foundation, for I find, in looking at the statistics regarding the Board of Education Grants for university education in England and Wales, that the percentage of the National Grant to London represents only 30 per cent. of the entire cost of universities in England and Wales. I do not grudge Wales the 53 per cent. which it receives, but what is fair in the case of Wales is also fair, surely, in the case of England generally and particularly in the case of London.

There is one special example I would like to bring to the notice of the President of the Board, and that is the example of the Imperial College of Science and Technology. It seems to me that there is here a magnificent opportunity of doing some extremely useful work to assist university education in the capital of the Empire. I believe that that institution, which should hold a unique place amongst the educational institutions in this country, demands something like £100,000 a year if it is to be made as successful as everyone desires it to be. A Grant of £20,000 a year from the Board of Education seems to be scarcely adequate for such a great and excellent institution. I am aware that during the past two or three years the Board has thought that the county council should do more than it has done for that institution, but I desire to remind the Committee that a great institution of that kind is really national rather than local. That can be proved by examining the origin of the students who are now following courses in it. In view of that fact it is for the Board to show the way, and then for the local education authority to supplement, so far as it is able, the generous treatment which I hope the Board will give to it in future.

There is only one other subject with which I desire to trouble the Committee. I hope they will bear with me while I allude to it, for no detailed allusion has yet been made to it. I refer to the question of medical treatment. During the last two or three years hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have been pressing the Board of Education to make a Grant towards medical inspection and medical treatment. I am very glad to think that the time has come when they are prepared to make such a Grant. I am glad that is so both from the point of view of the local education authorities, who urgently need the money, and also from the point of view of the Board of Education itself, for it has seemed to me inevitable that if the Board of Education had refused to make a financial Grant it would have lost all control over what will be in the future one of the most important branches of public work in our educational system. But when I come to the conditions under which the Grant is going to be made, I think there is some ground for apprehension. In the first place, I do not think that £60,000, which works out at about £200 for each local education authority, will be adequate. I was glad to hear the President state that he looked forward to the Grant being increased in the future. In the second place, I am not quite sure that the Regulations may not be used for imposing upon local education authorities one uniform system of medical treatment. That is a very important point for this Committee to consider. I have read the various reports of the Board's medical officer, and I have also followed the correspondence that has been going on between the Board and the London County Council, and I own that I have come to the conclusion that what the officials of the Board and the President of the Board seem to desire is, that a uniform system of what are known as school clinics should be set up in London and in other parts of the country. I am quite aware that many sentences might be quoted both from the medical officer's reports and from the President's own speeches to show that they are anxious that attention should be paid to the existing provision, but if I mistake not their general trend, it is in the direction of setting up a uniform system of school clinics everywhere. That would be a matter of very great regret.

I take the case of London. In London you have a whole variety of agencies, institutions, hospitals, dispensaries, nursing associations, and charitable institutions, and a large body of leisured voluntary workers, all capable of assisting most materially the work of medical treatment. It would be a very unfortunate thing in two directions if this voluntary work was regarded askance and a system of school clinics was imposed upon the county of London when you have this whole variety and network of other agencies already in existence. I said it would be a drawback in two directions. Let me explain to the Committee what I mean. I believe that one of the causes which have led to the comparative failure in certain directions of the Education Act, 1870, has been that you have failed to excite the interest of the parents in the education of their children. I believe that if you remove yet another branch of educational work from the purview of the parents to the purview of specialists and officials, you will accentuate that failure. I am quite aware that in every area you must have a large number of specialists and officials, that you must have in a matter such as medical treatment, provision, where no other such provision exists, under the control and supervision of the local authority, but side by side with that I am most anxious that you should continue to have medical treatment not only in school clinics, but also in the homes and rooms of the parents of the children who need to be treated. I believe it will very often come about that, although such kind of treatment may be more expensive, both in time and money, you will be conferring a much more lasting benefit upon the parent and upon the child by sending a nurse or doctor to the parent's own home, where the influence of the doctor or the nurse will be not restricted to the one particular child, but reflected upon the whole family and the whole surroundings of the household.

In another direction I believe it would be most unfortunate if any uniform system of school clinics were imposed upon education areas. I believe that one of the great dangers of the future is that you will have two classes; you will have a class, or caste, of officials growing greater every year, and you will have the general body of the public. If you insist upon a uniform system of school clinics you will be putting the whole of the medical treatment into the hands of official specialists. It therefore seems to me that the kind of experiment which the London County Council have initiated of leaving medical treatment, where there is no other provision, in the hands of the general practitioners of the neighbourhood in what are known as Medical Treatment Centres, deserves very great encouragement, for thereby you bring into this magnificent work not only the official specialist but the general practitioner acquainted with all the local characteristics, both of the neighbourhood and of his patients in that particular neighbourhood. I hope that when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board comes to reply in this Debate this evening, he will be able to reassure those of us who are anxious that no voluntary agency, where it is efficient, should be excluded from this very necessary work. What the Board should consider in making their Grants is not the particular locality in which medical treatment may be given, but simply and solely the efficiency of the particular kind of treatment. I think it is most important, when you have got a whole variety of agencies and institutions capable of doing magnificent work, that you should not put your forces on parallel lines, where they will never meet, still less should you put them on black and white squares, where they will simply checkmate each other. I am very much afraid that if any exclusive system, such as I have suggested, is imposed, you will be excluding from this excellent work the whole variety of bodies, and people, and institutions, who might assist you in a most efficient and excellent way. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to reassure us on that point, and I hope he will have some comfort to offer us upon the various financial details which I have ventured to place before the Committee.


I am not rising in order to try to bring the Debate to a conclusion, as I understand there will be a considerable opportunity after the private Bill has been disposed of for other Members to address the Committee, but as several questions have been raised, and hon. Members may wish for an answer at the present time, I am going to reply to one or two of them. I think, perhaps, the most interesting subject raised this afternoon was that to which the hon. Member for the London University (Sir P. Magnus) paid a good deal of attention. That was the practical character of our education. I should like quite definitely to say that the thing which the Board of Education is attending to at the present time is attempting to make our education more practical than it has been in the past. We all admit that there has been too much literary education, and we should all like it to be of a more practical character. But you cannot change it in a day. You must get teachers who can alter the methods of their teaching, and school buildings which will allow of any new methods which you want to introduce. That is perhaps especially true of manual work, to which the hon. Member devoted some of his attention. He objected to a special Grant being given for manual work. I do not think the Board of Education would defend that as a permanent system at all, but as it stands I think it must be admitted to be an inducement to local authorities to give manual instruction. The alternative is, of course, to make manual instruction compulsory, and that is what is asked for, but we cannot make manual instruction compulsory where we have not got the buildings, and we cannot in a day require all schools or all sets of schools to provide buildings in which manual instruction can be given. If you take the rural districts of this country, what a tremendous outcry there would be if we were to demand that every school should give manual instruction, which would imply, in a great number of cases, building an additional schoolroom in which it could be carried on.


In rural schools agricultural teaching would take the place of manual instruction.

8.0 P.M.


As far as the rural schools are concerned we are trying to do that. I have no doubt that the Board of Education will make all these things more a requirement in the curriculum, but we must watch our opportunity. We cannot force the pace beyond a certain point. I would also point out, and I think this is really a most important thing, that gradually a new spirit is coming over the teaching of the country and that the teachers, largely owing to the greater freedom with which they are now treated, largely owing to their own better opportunities of education, and largely owing to the general change in public opinion, and to suggestion from within and from without, are rapidly altering the method of their education. You have only to look at any given subject now and you find in many schools a practical turn is given to a subject which, if taught in the older method, is purely literary and dull. What we want in the schools is not necessarily manual training or technical training. What we want is a spirit in the training which will enlighten the children and make their minds brisk and excite their interest in education. Teachers all over the country now are becoming more and more interested in the experiment, one might almost say carried to an excessive degree in certain places, of making education of interest. The Montesoro system in Rome is being talked about in the teaching world, as is also the village in Sussex to which Mr. Holmes referred in "What is and what might be." It is this new spirit which is permeating the teaching world which is above all going to make a difference in the education of the country. That is the practical direction in which we want our education improved, and I can assure the House that the Board of Education will, in every way it can, encourage practical subjects to be mixed up with the more literary subjects which are now required.

I must pass away from a general topic of that sort to one or two particular questions which have been raised. The right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Anson) and the hon. Gentleman (Sir Philip Magnus) both spoke about the Grant to King's College, and considered that it was inadequate. I am afraid it is practically impossible to discuss such a matter as that in detail. My right hon. Friend has considered the thing carefully, but he has felt himself bound to accept the recommendation of Sir William McCormack's Committee which was appointed to inquire into matters of detail of this kind, and I think the House will really agree that he was practically bound to follow their advice. I understand that King's College has been treated, not only with fairness, but with generosity by the standard on which the Committee were acting, and I do not really know whether, if there were any revision made of the sum, King's College would come off better or worse. With regard to the question of medical treatment to which the hon. Member (Mr. Hoare) referred, I can only assure him that what the Board of Education is considering is not uniformity. That is the last thing we want. What we want is effectiveness. More especially if a public Grant is given in connection with medical treatment, we of course feel bound to convince ourselves that the most effective way of dealing with the children who require medical treatment has been adopted by the different authorities. We have no preconceived opinion finally in favour of any particular form of treatment, and the question will be considered on that basis. Of course if we come to the conclusion that clinics are best, there is no doubt about it the Board of Education will largely encourage that system of treating children, but they are not binding themselves to give any decision in the case of any particular authority. A question was raised by the hon. Member (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) with regard to the Roman Catholic school at Nymphsfield. My right hon. Friend has decided to send down an officer of the Board to make inquiries with regard to the position there. That will probably be a sufficient answer.

A question was raised by the hon. Member (Mr. Rupert Gwynne) with regard to a single child that has been excluded from a school by the Southampton education authority. The child was boarded out in the district by the Newhaven guardians, who refused to pay for its education. The hon. Member spoke as if the Board of Education were responsible for getting the child educated. The truth is there was a quarrel between the two education authorities as to whether the Southampton education authority ought to educate the child for nothing or whether the guardians should pay. My right hon. Friend did what he could to induce the local education authority to accept the child, but when on a matter of principle, and not because they did not want to educate the child, the local education authority said they were not bound to and they were afraid of a large number of guardians' children being dumped upon them, I think the Committee will feel that my right hon. Friend was justified in not taking the extremely strong step, which was always left to him, of fining the local education authority for not educating the child. Considering that the Poor Law guardians were bound by the Poor Law order somehow or other to get the child educated, it would have been a very strong measure to bring his full forces to bear upon one local education authority because the other local authority would not take other action. The thing has now been happily settled, and the child has been taken away and sent to a training ship.

The subject of the superannuation of teachers was raised by the hon. Member (Sir J. Yoxall). He was very anxious that the case of old teachers who are only getting code pensions and also teachers who have not come into the superannuation scheme should be considered. My right hon. Friend, when he appoints the Departmental Committee, will ask it to consider whether the money will be sufficient to meet any or all of these classes. It is impossible, I think, for him to say more at present. With regard to Circular 786, in the first place I believe the Art Teachers' Association approved of that circular. It was not done in the dark. The matter was very carefully considered, and was submitted to the very full consideration of specialists and others interested, but I think the interpretation which has been placed upon it is wrong, and I should like to reassure my hon. Friend with regard to it. In the first place, the circular certainly does not prevent any artistic boy or girl from going to any school of art. It is not intended, and it does not, and I do not think it can be read as doing that. It refers to those who are entering the teaching profession. It is true that it applies to those who are already in a school and going in for the profession, but as early as 1910 the Board of Education made it quite clear that a good general education—a definite standard of good general education—would be required of those who were going to become art teachers. Passing through a secondary school is not necessary but a reasonable standard of education is required. It is just as necessary for art teachers, as for any other type of teachers, and I do not think this requirement will operate in any way unfairly upon those who are going into that part of the profession.


It is the pupils I am anxious about, those who are leaving the elementary schools and going to the school of art.


I have said they are not affected; they can go into the school. The only persons for whom the standard of secondary education, or its equivalent are required, are those who are going into the teaching profession. They cannot become teachers unless they have a decently high standard of general education. I think I have answered all the particular questions which have been put to me. The one general question of education finance it is impossible to answer in a few moments. The Board of Education, of all the Departments, is most anxious to get money, and will do its best to get it.


The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trevelyan) said it was impossible for the Board of Education to do very much in the direction of woodwork and manual instruction because it entails the building of additional rooms in every school throughout the country where such instruction is not being given at present. I think in saying that he forgot the instruction which is given in many schools at present and which entails no extra building; whatever, but can be given upon the ordinary school desks in the ordinary schoolroom. I was glad to hear what the President said as to the attitude of the Board towards this kind of instruction throughout the country, and especially in the rural districts, because it is well known by all those who have anything to do with education that in the past there has been a great deal of instruction given in the rural schools which was of very little advantage indeed to the children who received it. It is perfectly true that a new feeling has come over the teachers in the school. That has been brought about by the new type of inspector whom we have had for the last three or four years. During the time I have had to do with education in the county in which I live, we have had no fewer than three inspectors in a very short time, but each one of them has been full of this new spirit.

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.