§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £9,260,311, 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, 1914, 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 accordance with the usual practice, I rise to give some account of the work of the Board of Education during the past year. In as much as the amount of £11,817,000, out of the total sum on the Board of Education Estimates for this year—£14,510,000—relates to elementary education, I propose, with the leave of the Committee, first to address a few remarks in respect of 1388 that branch of the subject. I must admit at the outset that, during the year 1911–12 and during the past year, our Estimates exceeded our actual expenditure—in the previous year by £72,000 and last year by approximately £200,000, and I think it is due to the Committee that some explanation should be given of that miscalculation. Our Estimates are largely based on the annual increase in the average attendance at our schools, and it has been customary each year to anticipate some growth in the child population of the country attending our elementary schools. But last year—1911–12—those who were compelled to attend the school over five years of age increased by only 4,030, while those who are under five decreased by 20,094, a decrease of something like 16,000 children in our schools. The Census of 1911 shows remarkable figures relating to the six-year-old children in that year, and therefore the eight-year-old children of to-day. They were fewer than the children of the year before—that is to say, instead of there being an increase in the population, there has been an actual decrease of children of school age for that particular year of 846. But that is not all; the statistics of the Registrar-General disclose this fact, which is, I think, of great importance from the national standpoint, that the birth rate is steadily going down. Whilst, in 1903, the number of births was 948,000, in the year 1912 they had fallen to 872,000.
§ Mr. PEASE
I am afraid I cannot give the totals. I have only looked into the statistics of infantile mortality and infantile births. There has been a diminution no doubt in the death rate of the country, which is a very material factor in connection with children under one year of age. I may draw the attention of the House to the fact that while infantile mortality in 1911 was 130 per cent., in 1912 it had fallen to 95 per cent., and during last year it was a very satisfactory figure. But in regard to school age, there is no such diminution in the child mortality as would counterbalance the effect of the diminution in the birth rate. The total number, therefore, taking a stationary number for our Estimates for next year, will be based upon the figures on the registers of last year—6,033,914 children. But these Estimates are not only disturbed by the diminution in the birth 1389 rate; they have also been disturbed by the great diminution in the number of children under five years attending our elementary schools. In 1903 there were 613,475 infants between three and five years attending our elementary schools, while in the year 1912 the number had dropped to 332,866, or a diminution of 280,607 young children, a reduction of 45 per cent. in the ten years. There is no doubt a natural disposition, when a smaller Grant is given for children under five and when additional expenditure is placed upon local education authorities which has to be found out of the rates, for more attention to be paid to those who attend schools in the compulsory ages between five and fourteen than to the smaller children. I am also satisfied, from the inquiries I have made, that experience is disclosing the fact that the education which was given in our infant departments in the past has not really been to the best interests of the small children who have attended our infant departments. That is being more and more realised by the various local education authorities in the country.
In 1908 one of my predecessors asked the Consultative Committee to report upon this question, and they reported that if a mother does her duty, if she takes care of her children, if she knows the best way in which to use her narrow means, if she keeps her home clean, if there is a suitable play place for the children, and if the homes are well ventilated and kept decent, there is no better place for these little dots between three and five than under their own mother's care; but that if, on the contrary, the conditions are not satisfactory at home—these children should not be sent to a school where there exists adaptation of discipline and tuition suitable to older children, and should not be subjected to mental pressure or physical discipline—they should be sent to what they call nursery schools, places which should be kept warm, well ventilated, where there would be plenty of freedom of movement for the children, constant change in their occupations and opportunities for sleep; and that the teacher should be very carefully selected to look after these children, and, in addition to the teachers, there should also be attendant nurses. I am glad to say that parents in this country are getting to understand better than they did how to look after their infant children. At the 1390 present moment we have in the country 200 schools for mothers, we have a great number of medical officers who superintend the inspection of the babies, either by weekly or fort-nightly visits, and we have a large number of most excellent workers, trained health visitors, who visit the homes of the people and give advice to the mothers and see that they follow the instruction which they receive through the school as to the way in which the children ought to be cared for in their homes. The point in which the medical department has taken the most interest, and which is their greatest ambition, is to prevent and remedy the physical disability which hampers a child from taking proper advantage of the education which the State gives it.
People are too apt to forget that education in connection with younger children is primarily physical and not intellectual, and that if a child is to be developed into a really good citizen it is essential that every child should enjoy physical training and suitable exercises even during school hours. The object of the education given to the children is to enable them to be turned out from school in a sound physical condition, and to know, when he or she leaves school, how to look after his or her own health in the following years. I believe that under the system of medical inspection which now obtains in this country, and under the medical treatment which every day is being increased in volume, we are going to secure a much healthier race in the future than we have had in the past, and that a great number of these infants who, when they reach the age of sixteen, will come under the insurance funds will not make any claims upon those insurance funds, at any rate before they reach the age of forty, with very large increased benefits to the older people in consequence of the improvement in health. I cannot exaggerate the importance which I attach to the attention which is given to the health of the children during their school life. The conditions in this country are certainly not worse than those in other countries, but still they exhibit a great deal of neglect. As a result of inspection we are able to classify our figures, and the last figures show what a serious amount of illness and trouble there is among the children of this country at the present time when they first enter the schools. Ten per cent. have their eye-sight impaired in some way or other, 5 per 1391 cent. their hearing, 3 per cent. suffer from ear disease, 5 per cent. from adenoids, 50 per cent. from serious decay of their teeth—in many cases it goes up to 80 or 90 per cent. of decay, more or less in degree—tuberculosis 2 per cent., heart disease 2 per cent., and malnutrition 10 per cent. I am glad to say that the authorities who have been comparing their statistics, one year with another, have already exhibited a real improvement in the condition of the children.
The medical officer at Portsmouth informs the Board that the number of those who in 1908 came to school with dirty bodies was 13.8 per cent, last year it was only 3 per cent; those who came to school in a verminous condition in 1908 were actually 43.3 per cent., while to-day it is 13 per cent. The medical officer informs me that as a result of the clinics which has just been established in Portsmouth he believes that the difficulty will be very greatly reduced during the current year. It may also interest the Committee to know, from the statistics we have been able to collect through this inspection, that 1 per cent. of the children are regarded as mentally defective, 12½ per cent. of the children are considered backward, and 3 per cent. are considered to be gifted in an abnormal degree. In our schools we are now employing 700 nurses, and there are 21,000 schools. 943 medical officers are at work in medical service in schools, there are thirty-one authorities which contribute to hospitals, fifty-six have already established school clinics, and there is expenditure on treatment by 229 authorities out of 317. The cost in connection with treatment averages 2d. per child throughout the whole country, and the amount given in support of medical treatment during the financial year ending 31st March last was £50,374. Perhaps I may be allowed to pay a special tribute to the way in which this work has been taken up in London. It has been perhaps the most difficult place in which to organise medical treatment. The removals of the population are enormous in the confines of this great city, but, in spite of that, every effort has been made to follow up the children; arrangements have been carried out at ten hospitals and twenty-three medical treatment centres, and very good work is being done. I have been rather better than my word in regard to the contribution which I gave to London, and we 1392 were able to give them a Grant for the last year of £13,683. In addition to that London receives a Grant of £725 in connection with the open-air schools which have been established by the London County Council, and which are materially beneficial to a certain section of the less robust portion of the school population.
During the year we have made an alteration in our curriculum, and have issued a new code, which will give the teachers a real chance of not only developing their own peculiar and special abilities, but also those of the children. The Board will welcome any well-considered experiments in this direction, having regard to special aptitude and capacity as well as to the surrounding interests in which the schools are placed. I may perhaps be allowed to congratulate Somersetshire, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, and Staffordshire as having already held conferences with the teachers in their districts so as to introduce such subjects as gardening and manual work for boys and domestic subjects for girls, and those subjects are being taught wherever there is an aptitude on the part of the teacher to teach them. We do not propose to compel teachers who have not been trained to teach those subjects, and who take no interest in them, to teach them. We believe this practical education will develop better if it is left to public opinion and to the appreciation which I am quite sure it will bring in its train. In connection with accommodation I have been attacked or rather criticised a good deal by my hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Mr. King) as to the deficiency of accommodation for children over the compulsory school age. I think the hon. Member will find that wherever there has been a case for interference we have been there before him, and that our inspectors do realise at once if the accommodation is not equal to the children in the district. It is, of course, sometimes difficult even for a local education authority to provide adequate accommodation in these cases. There has, perhaps, been a sudden springing up of new industries, and a large increase in population which makes it very difficult for the authorities. Action has been taken by the Board of Education, such as took place in 1908, when the school space was increased from 9 square feet per child to 10 square feet per child. Ample notice was given to the authorities of the intention to require increased accommodation as a result of the increased space required for the children 1393 in average attendance at these schools. Where the accommodation has been deficient we have met the local authorities, and I must say that, speaking generally, we have found the education authorities reasonable and ready to respond to any request we have made upon them in regard to finding increased accommodation. We have agreed with the authorities upon a programme which they have carried out regularly in the spirit in which the arrangement was entered into with them. I do not think the hon. Member need fear in connection with this matter of accommodation that I, or the Board of Education, have been lacking in doing our duty. Wherever we find a case of real neglect, we do make a deduction from the Grant we give to the education authority, and in that way we have been able to put pressure upon them which brought them quickly to the view we desired them to entertain.
May I say one word in regard to the playgrounds. Just before I came to the Board of Education an Advisory Committee was appointed to look into the question of playgrounds. This Committee reported five months ago, and laid down certain definite principles which enabled the Board, and will enable the Board, to maintain a satisfactory space applicable to all ordinary cases. Of course there may be special circumstances which prevent adequate playground space sometimes being afforded to children in old schools, especially in congested districts. But we press upon education authorities to take advantage of any opportunity of anticipating increases in population with a view of securing adequate playgrounds when opportunities occur in connection with schools in any district in the country. Certainly the question of adequate school playgrounds plays an important part in regard to the life of our children. I believe, especially in connection with children who live in slum areas, it is almost essential that they should be able, not only to play in playgrounds, but that they should have games really organised for them, such as cricket and football, in which many practical advantages will accrue to them. May I give one illustration of the way in which limited space even cramps the literary genius or resource of a schoolboy. A schoolboy was recently asked in a school where there was a very confined playground to write an essay on football. The whole essay was as follows: "I like football when I kick the 1394 football and it hits the school windows." There is another item upon which we may congratulate ourselves, and that is the creation of a certain number of what I may call intermediate schools—higher elementary and central schools. Nottinghamshire, Durham, Cheshire have all established within the last year higher elementary schools; and the London County Council has also established central schools with the view of bringing children from the elementary schools at the age of eleven and retaining them until fifteen. These children are specially selected, and the schools are placed upon a rather higher standard of education than the ordinary elementary schools. We have now forty-six of these schools in the country, with over 14,000 scholars on the roll. The instruction which is given in them has a much closer relation to the future work of the scholars than is possible in the ordinary elementary schools, and I think this experiment is very well worth following by other local education authorities. I now come to a question on which I know the Committee will expect me to dwell for a moment, and that is the shortage of teachers, which is a very serious matter in the interests of the future of this country. In 1908–9 the number of pupil teachers and bursars was 8,740. In the year 1912–13 there are at present only 4,329.
§ Mr. PEASE
I have not them by me, but in 1909 we regarded 14,000 as about the gross inflow which ought to be supplied in the whole country, and the very fact that we have only 4,329 pupil teachers and bursars will show the Committee in what a serious position the country is placed at present. A certain number of people have criticised. I think somewhat unfairly, the Board of Education in regard to this matter, and would like to place the responsibility upon the Board. I am not very thin-skinned, but at any rate I wish to say I am quite satisfied in my own mind that local education authorities have no wish that the responsibility for the training of students and supervision of training colleges should be taken over by the Government. The work of providing training colleges has been a work belonging to the education authorities to a very large extent. One hundred and forty authorities have power to erect training colleges and 1395 the Government have given Grants of 75 per cent. to assist them in connection with the erection of these institutions. We do not adopt a bureaucratic method of government in this country, and the responsibility in the main for the recruiting of teachers for our elementary schools, I believe, rests upon the local education authorities. We, at the Board of Education, are only too glad to do everything we can to help them to make suggestions and to give them such assistance as is in our power financially, but there is a great need for some recruiting agency. I believe the schoolmaster is the very best recruiting agent who can be secured for the future teaching of this country. The head schoolmaster in an elementary school gets to know the characteristics of the children and will be able better to find out which of the children are likely to develop into good teachers, whether women or men teachers, than anybody else. There are certain objections in connection with our old pupil teacher system which we do not wish to see repeated, but at the same time I believe a great deal might be done to encourage schoolmasters in bringing forward a certain number of children with a view of their being trained for the teaching profession. We have had a great number of meetings in connection with this subject, and I appointed a Departmental Committee to inquire into it, which reported two or three weeks ago. We have met a large number of representative bodies from local education authorities, and the recommendations of the local authorities really amount to this in connection with the remedy on this subject, that in connection with county districts, where the want of schoolmasters is especially felt, an effort should be made to secure boys and girls who will come forward and go into the teaching profession. It is undoubtedly a fact that those only are willing to stay in the country and those alone really understand the ways and wishes of the people in the country who have been brought up and bred in the country districts. There is a second recommendation, that there ought to be a central class for pupils from surrounding schools to which these children could come, and that these should be gradually trained in the central classes. The head teachers should be adequately remunerated, and we must rely upon them to secure the experiment being carried out. In regard to urban districts the main- 1396 tenance allowance to bursars, in their opinion, does not go far enough. One year does not meet the case. When a parent has to sacrifice a great deal if a child is going into the teaching profession, it is very obvious that a contribution for, say, one year's maintenance is not sufficient, and there should be help given during the period of training in the secondary schools, and they advocate that this money should be given during the whole period of four years in the secondary school. The Board has considered how far they are able to meet the proposals of the local education authorities. I am not to-day justified in saying what proposals I am going to make with the view of helping local education authorities, but I am sanguine that in the course of a few weeks at furthest we shall be able to make some suggestion which will do something to remedy this grievance.
I will just say one word in connection with a matter which has been advocated very strongly by the National Union of Teachers, namely, that uncertificated teachers should be replaced by certificated. We all wish to see the standard of education raised to the utmost practical point in our schools, but certainly I am not convinced at present that such a proposal as they make is really a practical proposal. First of all, there are no certificated teachers to take the place of the uncertificated, and even if there were, the increased cost, which at present, as we are situated, will come out of the rates, would amount to £2,403,000. But I may inform the hon. Member (Sir J. Yoxall) that the number of certificated teachers has been steadily increasing and there are 19,239 more certificated teachers employed in our elementary schools in 1911–12 than there were in 1905–6. The percentage has risen from 58.2 to 63.24, and in the same period the supplementary teachers have fallen by 6,004 and the uncertificated have only increased by 3,714.
There is one other matter in connection with training colleges which I should like to mention, and it is in connection with the great success which has attended our efforts in securing a four years' course. There has been in our training colleges, unfortunately, often too much pressure upon those who are endeavouring to do too much in their two or three years' period of training. If they have not only to secure a university degree, pass examinations and be properly trained to teach in 1397 the schools, four years, of course is really a reasonable period in which to expect all this to be done, and the practice has been adopted in ten institutions of carrying out a four years' course: three years in connection with the work for the degree and in the fourth year preparation for the teaching profession. At the universities of London, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bristol (both men and women), Oxford and in three Welsh colleges this arrangement has been arrived at with the Board and success is attending the efforts which they are now making and I am glad to say that whilst in 1911–12 the course was being taken by 410 students, in this year there are in these colleges at present taking the course, 781 students. We have also introduced an alteration so as to prevent all these training colleges sending out their students at one particular period of the year. It has hitherto been the practice that these training colleges should work with the universities and that the year's period should end in the summer. That means that if there are not sufficient vacancies at the beginning of the autumn term, the students coming out of the colleges have to wait some months before vacancies occur. That has been the experience in the past, and it has had a depressing effect upon the training of teachers. I have now made an arrangement with some of these colleges that they should be able to end their year of training, some at Christmas and some at Easter, so as, as far as possible, to distribute the number of teachers who are trained throughout the whole year, so that they may quickly obtain posts in the schools after they have passed their certificate examination.
May I now say a word in connection with the assistance the House gave me last year in passing the Teachers Superannuation Bill. That Bill has already been greatly appreciated, and the very fact that I know of instances of a male teacher receiving £63, another £61 1s., and another £60 10s., and in the case of three women, £57, £57 12s. 6d., and £55 7s. 4d., as pensions, shows that a very substantial increase in pensions has been acquired by teachers when they leave their profession on arriving at the pension age on what they were able to receive before. I will not say that it is adequate, but at the same time I am quite sure that it will make the teaching profession more attractive than it has hitherto been. A sum equivalent to an annuity of 1398 £200,000 was placed at my disposal for this purpose by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This sum, we believe, will not be entirely absorbed, and we are hoping that the Committee over which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Worcestershire (Mr. J. W. Wilson) presides will report before many weeks are over. We have been hoping for it for sometime past, and I am informed that in connection with the actuarial calculations now being carried out the particulars required by the actuaries have been collected. These have all to be recorded and sifted, and as they have to ascertain the cost of the actuarial scheme, the rate of mortality, the rate of break-down, and a great many other things, I am afraid it may not be possible this Session to introduce the further supplementary Bill in connection with the elementary school teachers which we anticipated at the close of last Session.
There has also been placed at my disposal a sum for the superannuation of secondary and technical teachers. I know that there is a variety of view as to the best scheme which should be adopted in connection with these teachers. Some advocate a flat rate and others advocate a system similar to that which obtains in Scotland whereby the pensions of teachers vary in accordance with the amount of their salaries. All I have to say in connection with that matter is that the limited sum which has been placed at my disposal seemed to compel me to restrict the reference placed before the Committee which I asked to advise me in connection with the distribution of the sum. Whatever that Committee may recommend, and whatever the teachers may say, I will of course pay great attention to the proposals they make, but I must say that any proposals merely protesting against the limitations and against the amount of money I have at my disposal will not in any way be helpful. I am very hopeful that some pension scheme will be established, and that it will be of such a character as will meet the wishes of those specially interested in the subject.
§ Mr. PEASE
No, I am afraid those outside the secondary or technical schools will not be included, but any teacher who is in these schools, I understand, will be included—but not manual teachers in elementary schools who are not certificated or who are coming under the other scheme for certificated teachers.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that £200,000 is the annuity for the elementary teachers. May I ask what is the figure for the secondary schools?
§ Mr. PEASE
I am sorry I have not the figure in my mind, but I will be very glad to give it to the hon. and learned Member. The correspondence took place last year, and the amount has escaped my memory. The new registration council, I am told by the Chairman, has so far been an unqualified success. The hon. Member for the University of London pressed me a short time ago to extend the period within which teachers on the old register in Column B might be able to recover their guineas. Perhaps it may be interesting to know that 1552 of those who contributed their guineas originally have applied for and obtained them, thus getting the benefit of the hon. Member's intervention. There is only one other subject connected with the elementary schools which I should like to allude to. There are many special subjects I should like to refer to, such as gardening, but I will deal with one particular branch in which I have been doing my best to promote an interest. It is in connection with sewing and needlework. I am glad to say that I have been able to increase the women inspectors by eleven individuals. There are now sixteen women inspectors, but there is still room for a good many more, especially as we have 3,500,000 girls in the elementary schools. One great advantage of having 1400 women inspectors is that they are able to help very much in the teaching of dressmaking in our schools. I believe it is essential for the girls of this country, whether they are going into dressmaking trades or not, that they should all understand how to make their own clothes, and we have now a system by which there is opportunity given in nearly all our schools for every girl being encouraged to cut out, fix, make, and keep in repair the ordinary garments used in her own home. So far as possible the garments they use at home are brought into the schools with the view of being repaired, and instead of great attention being paid, as in the past, to the production of particular "specimen" pieces of work, real practical work has been done in the schools, and the girls have been taught how to make their own clothes in a way which they will never forget, and which will be useful to them all their lives.
In regard to inspectors, I have been able to increase the number in connection with some of the branches in the Board of Education, but there is one particular feature to which I think I ought to allude. It is one which has caused a good deal of interest in the country, and that is the creation of a new class of inspectors. There have been hitherto three classes, namely, His Majesty's inspectors, sub-inspectors, and junior inspectors. Sub-inspectors were, I believe, selected almost exclusively from those having experience in elementary schools. The junior inspectors were selected from individuals who had secured university degrees, some of whom had had training in our schools, and others who had not. Many of these junior inspectors certainly anticipated that they would be promoted in due course to positions as His Majesty's inspectors. As a matter of fact, there have not been sufficient vacancies to enable anything like the promotion to be secured by them which they anticipated, and there has been in consequence a certain amount of grumbling and dissatisfaction in the matter of promotion. Instead of having these classes only, I thought it was far better that in connection with any vacancies that occurred there should be established a new class of assistant inspectors; that there should be no attempt to distinguish one class of subordinate inspectors from another; that they should all be in the same social position so far as possible; and that all should have an equal chance, on their merit, of 1401 rising to be His Majesty's inspectors. I propose, in connection with this class, to make the appointments not exclusively from those who have been teachers in our elementary schools, but there are twelve vacancies now existing, and I propose to appoint them exclusively from among elementary certificated head school teachers. [An HON. MEMBER: "Head teachers only?"] Yes, at the present moment. I am not making any comment in regard to the other vacancies. There are only twelve vacancies at the present moment, and, with the view of limiting the number of applications and not disappointing more people than can possibly be avoided, I limited the choice to teachers of a certain age.
The result has been that I have had 1,686 letters of inquiry, which I believe in most cases will be followed by applications. We have between 700 and 800 definite applications at the present time, and I am perfectly sure that among these applications I shall find many most competent, if not the very best, men in the country who are willing to come into the work of the Board as assistant inspectors. There has been a great deal of grumbling—I am not surprised at it—that the Government have allowed education charges to advance by expenditure out of the rates much more rapidly than they have allowed it to be supported out of the public revenues of the country, and in that matter I have a great deal of sympathy with the local authorities. The very fact that the local authorities have been spending these large sums has, I must say, made it much more difficult for me at the Board of Education to place such pressure upon the local authorities as I might in some cases have been inclined to do. The local authorities for the last ten or eleven years have come upon the rates for an increase of something like £15,000,000 a year, whilst the Government have only come forward with an increase of £4,000,000 a year. I admit that there is a very strong claim on the part of the local authorities for further assistance out of Government funds. Perhaps, without being disloyal to the Exchequer or my colleagues at the Treasury, I may say that so long as I am at the Board of Education I shall do my utmost, having regard to other claims that may be made upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to press for such additional Grants in connection with the work of education as it is possible for me to obtain.
1402 May I refer to the Principality of Wales? It may be somewhat difficult to respond always to certain wishes which are expressed, but, at any rate, I hope I, as a Saxon, have in no way offended the susceptibilities of our Cymric fellow citizens. I have endeavoured to recognise that in the administration of education in Wales it is necessary to be sympathetic and responsive to Welsh national needs and Welsh national sentiments. In regard to the Welsh language, we have done what we could to see that it occupies a proper and rightful place in the schools of the country. As an illustration of what we have done, I may mention that in connection with the national festival of St. David's Day we have done what we could to help the people to make the best use of the national festival and to celebrate it in the most useful manner possible. We have issued a circular, of which 3,250 copies have been purchased from the Board by various education authorities in Wales, with a view of enabling them to celebrate the day in a manner which is most suitable to national sentiment. In regard to educational activities, there have been two new training colleges established, one at Barry and another at Caerleon, and there have been enlargements of others at Swansea and Bangor, and permanent buildings for the university colleges at Bangor and Cardiff. There have been habitations reared for the National Library at Aberystwyth and the National Museum at Cardiff, and there has been a most excellent new training college, which holds 610 students, created at Bangor for training students which will shortly be at work. I believe that the Welsh people will try to do something to retain those students for the Principality after they come out. But I must point out that it will be necessary in Wales and England, if you are going to attract teachers to the profession, to do something to raise the salaries, and with respect to these particular 610 students it would be a matter for regret if they and their talents, including their bilingual attainments, were taken out of their own country, and if they were forced, owing to higher salaries elsewhere, to join the teaching profession on this side of the border.
Now a few remarks as to our secondary educational system. We have in our urban districts established a system of secondary schools which, I think, very largely meet the need of our urban population, but owing to the great difficulty and expense of travelling there is, cer- 1403 tainly in rural districts, a deficiency of secondary schools. In 885 secondary schools the number of pupils receiving free tuition last year was 52,583. Of that number 49,120 came on from our elementary schools. Therefore, so far as an educational ladder has been established between the elementary and the secondary schools, it is satisfactory to note that when there are these large numbers of free places in these schools they are taken advantage of by the poorer children in the community, who come forward out of the elementary schools. I am glad to say, speaking generally, that especially in London and the district around London, the effect of these children being in the secondary schools has been of a most satisfactory character. It has raised the whole standard of education, and made the fee-paying children in these schools work in a manner in which they never would have worked but for the competition with these entrants from our elementary schools, and my inspectors tell me that they are more than satisfied with the rule which we have imposed upon the secondary schools, that twenty-five per cent. of the places in these schools should be thrown open to the children coining from our elementary schools. The staffing of the school is not very satisfactory. Comparing these schools with our elementary schools, we find that the number of schoolmasters is only one to every 13.5 in the secondary schools, as compared with one to every 32.5 in the elementary schools. I regret to say that we have not a very satisfactory account of the way in which many of those who are teaching in the secondary schools have been trained. I may refer to an extract from page 77 of the Report of the Education Board, which was issued a few days ago, in which one of our inspectors reports that in some of these schools there are masters whoare graduates with honours of Oxford or Cambridge who have the knowledge but are not able to give effect to it because they have never seriously studied the method of doing so.He goes on to say—The present system allows men to drift along into the teaching profession without any security that they have learned to teach. In one school there was not one master who really knew how to handle a class, and at least in some cases this inefficiency seemed to arise simply from the fact that they had never been taught how to do so.We have 20 secondary training colleges, 11 departments of university colleges, and 9 independent colleges, and the total output of trained teachers from these secondary colleges last year was only 40 1404 men and 195 women. That is an absolutely inadequate output of secondary teachers for the secondary schools which receive Government Grants just now. If I was to dwell upon a number of other so-called secondary schools in this country, I am afraid you would find the position even worse, but at the present moment we have not any accurate knowledge of the kind of education which is given in perhaps 12,000 of the 13,000 or 14,000 so-called secondary schools up and down this country. But I believe it would be found, after investigation, that the majority of the teachers in these schools were no better trained to teach than those taken as a whole in the secondary schools which are now receiving Government Grants. However, that is rather the black side of the picture, and I am bound to admit that there have been great strides forward made in connection with secondary education in this country, and Mr. Gott, than whom there is no better expert in connection with the work of secondary schools, in addressing a meeting of directors and secretaries the other day, used these words:—The wonderful and rapid strides in the type of education given in these schools. Year by year we draw into our secondary schools a better and more highly educated type of both men and women. … The free-placer has set his school a higher standard of work; has produced a greater keenness for knowledge; his presence in the school has, in most cases, had an excellent moral effect.But, after all, what we have got to remember is that at the present moment we have no compulsory system of secondary education in this country. What we have got is purely voluntary work clone by our education authorities. There is no compulsion. There is no law to compel individuals to attend these secondary schools, and no compulsion on education authorities to establish them. The work which has been done has been a voluntary undertaking. It has been what I might call an organic growth arising out of the natural instinct of the English people for local self-government, and what I may call the latent desire, which I believe exists in the whole community, to obtain increased knowledge. The improvement is going steadily forward. The body perhaps may be frail, but it is full of life and sensitive vitality, and contains the principle of growth, and it only wants good feeding to enable it to mature. Good feeding means more money, and if the local education authorities can be assisted with more money 1405 from the Exchequer, I am quite sure they would make very good use of it.
I am not going to occupy your time in dwelling at length on the technical side of the Board of Education work, but I would like to say that in my own view we ought to do a great deal more to establish continuation schools in the day-time. I am not a great believer in continuation schools at night as compared with the work that might be done by continuation schools in the day-time. To expect individuals after a full day's work to go into continuation schools, and be able to get the full benefit of the instruction, is asking the impossible. There is no doubt that the weakest spot in the whole of our educational system is the fact that between the ages of fourteen and seventeen the education of most of our children, after they leave school, is neglected. There are only something like 13 per cent. of the total population of these young persons under seventeen who are in attendance at the continuation schools of this country. I believe that much more can be done in the creation of day trade schools, in which courses of from two to four years would be established. Many of these schools have been provided already, but I am told that many more could be provided with great advantage. At the present moment my inspectors tell me that there is room for, at any rate, twenty more in London, and that in the whole country 150 could very well be placed. Wherever these trade schools have been established it is surprising what a success they have been. Before the children leave these trade schools, whether it is dressmaking or engineering, or in connection with dockyard work, or certain classes in London, where they are taught to be cooks, waiters, or what not, before the period of training ends, they have places vacant for them the moment they get out. Attempts are even made to induce them to leave the trade schools before the expiration of their full period of training, and they obtain good wages the moment they leave these establishments.
The amount of Grant which the Government gave was, to my mind, wholly inadequate. It was only £2 17s., which is very little more per head than for children attending elementary schools, and I have been able to obtain an increased Grant making a total of £5 during the last few weeks in connection with the trade schools on land, and the £2 17s. has been raised to £10 in connection with the trades which are taught upon various 1406 training ships in the ports of this country. Upon the university branch of our work I do not want to dwell, but I would like to express my great gratitude to Sir William McCormick for the way in which he has worked on the Committee in connection with the various universities, to which we now give Grants. The universities receive about £140,000 a year, which has been distributed on the recommendation of Sir William McCormick's Committee. At first these universities were a little shy of any connection with anybody on behalf of the Board of Education. We have no desire whatsoever to interfere with the control and local management of the universities, and we welcome very heartily their co-operation. For instance, recently at Oxford we have been able to make arrangements to help them in their engineering schools. So it is with other institutions—medical institutions and others—which are more and more coming into the work of the Board of Education, and co-operating with that Department. We are not intervening or interfering in any way with them in connection with their own affairs. All we seek to do is to help them in securing an object which is common to both, and we desire to co-operate with them in any way we can without interfering with what are their own domestic concerns. One word and I have done. I must thank publicly the French Government for their great kindness in having lent us for exhibition in the Victoria and Albert Museum certain textile exhibits, including Gobelin tapestries, carpets, and fabrics from the Mobilier National, Paris. They are probably the finest Gobelin tapestries ever produced and collected together. The public of this country appreciated this loan more than I can say, and the very fact that in the months of August, September and October, 221,000 people visited the museum compared with 189,000 in the previous year, showed that this particular action on the part of the French Government was appreciated by the British people. We have acquired a certain number of very valuable purchases for our collection at the Taylor sale, at, I am glad to say, a comparatively reasonable price, while many objects went for prices very much higher than any figure which we could give.
We have established in connection with the Victoria and Albert Museum an Advisory Council, presided over by Lord Reay; and a number of distinguished men 1407 of affairs, collectors, art critics, with Lady Plymouth, Lady Homer, and others, are advising me in the way the collection should be arranged, what we should purchase, and the way in which the various objects can be exhibited to the best advantage. They have already got to work, and I am quite sure their annual report will be of great interest to the public. We have had during the last year 730,000 visitors to the Victoria and Albert Museum, and it has been a great pleasure to me to feel that the wonderful collection there is so much appreciated by our people. The one department with which perhaps I am least satisfied is the College of Art, and that is due mainly to the fact that the work has to be conducted on inadequate premises. I was so much impressed by the fact that when I came to the Board of Education I at once got into communication with the Board of Works and with the Treasury, and we were able to secure an island site, which is on the south side of the Victoria and Albert Museum, at I think the reasonable price of £38,000. That site we propose to utilise this year or next year, for the erection of a building for the Royal College of Arts in which all the various branches of that college may be properly housed. I believe we could then organise the whole of our arts, whether architectural design, painting, etching, or sculpture, in premises which will give a very much better opportunity of their being a credit to the country than is the case at the present time.
I may say that we very much deplore the death of Mr. Pierpont Morgan. He was a great benefactor to our art collections in South Kensington. I also very much deplore the death of Mr. Fitzhenry, a great friend of Mr. George Salting, perhaps the greatest benefactor that the Victoria and Albert Museum ever had. Mr. Fitzhenry was a very generous benefactor, and we are very glad to have many articles, which he collected, in the museum. The Science Museum is about to be built on a site we have obtained in the Exhibition Road. It is proposed to erect the building in three blocks. The foundations of the first block have already been commenced, at any rate the ground is being cleared, and about £110,000 will be spent in the erection of that museum. Sir Hugh Bell, Sir Henry Roscoe, and other distinguished men have kindly undertaken to advise me in connection with the scope of this museum, the organisation of the 1408 collection, the policy to be followed in regard to the acquisition of a museum, and the collection to be placed in the new building, and also as to what would be the relation of the museum to other societies and museums.
In reviewing the work of the past year, I feel that I have only dealt with a certain number of important features amongst the many I might enumerate, but I wish also to say to the House that I do recognise the great indulgence that they have shown to me personally during the last year. There have been many complex matters, very many difficult questions for me to deal with, and anybody who has been at the Board of Education must surely know the complexities and difficulties which may arise in connection with the manifold operations associated with the education of the children and young people of this country. A progressive policy—and education is of no good unless it is progressive, no matter how administered—is bound to arouse criticism and even opposition; but I have been very fortunate in the help which I have received from the local education authorities, and I am glad to be able to announce that all the borough authorities are now formed into an association, and I am going to meet them for the first time, I think, about a month hence. It will be a great satisfaction to me to be able to consult them, as it has been a satisfaction to me to be able to consult the county association from time to time, and I am quite sure that, when the history of the year comes to be written, at any rate it will be said that we at the Board of Education have been wise in taking the local education authorities into our confidence and counsel. The figures and facts which I have placed before the Committee I think will disclose that substantial progress has been made during the past year. I hope the Committee will realise that my friends and I—helped as we have been by the best trained and, I believe, some of the most brilliant intellects in the public service, men who have been no less distinguished by their loyalty to us than others in the service are to other Ministers—have done our best during the past year in the interests of those who are to be the nation of to-morrow.
§ Mr. HOARE
The President of the Board of Education has given a detailed account of a very conscientious year's work, and I am sure that both sides of the Committee can congratulate themselves 1409 upon a year's work, which, generally speaking, has been free from those bitter controversies in which education was involved some two, three, four, or five years ago. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to thank hon. Members for the indulgence which they had shown him in the administration of the work of his Department. If he will allow me to say so, I would add that many of us on this side of the House have been particularly conscious of the great courtesy that he has shown to us when we have had any questions to ask him or any criticisms to make on the Education Department. In the few remarks I desire to address to the Committee I desire to confine myself to two facts which have been in my mind whenever I have been brought into contact with educational administration. On the one hand, you have a machinery which, both for completeness and efficiency, can scarcely be matched in any Department of the State; and, on the other hand, it seems to me you have a great deal of waste in the results obtained. Let me say a word or two about each of these facts. I think, with reference to the first, that anyone who has listened to the speech which the President of the Board of Trade has just delivered will agree with me when I say that the machinery of our educational system of to-day is comprehensive and complete to an extraordinary degree. You have, first of all, the Board of Education itself, with its staff of more than a thousand officials. You have, I think, 300 local education authorities, each with its staff of expert officials, and each served by a great band of conscientious voluntary workers. In addition to that, you have 100,000 teachers in our rate-aided and State-aided schools. And we are all conscious of the splendid work that they have been so long doing in those schools.
What we see is that this machinery has enabled us to bring into school every morning eight out of nine of the six million children of school age, and to make some of them attend so regularly that in London, as no doubt in many places, some spend two, three, and four years at school without missing a single morning or afternoon. If you go a step further you have a system of scholarships now costing the ratepayers of the country the sum of £400,000 a year, and enabling 40,000 children to pass from the elementary school to the secondary school, and from the secondary school to the university. You would have thought that, with this complete and comprehensive machinery, the result would be so satisfac- 1410 tory as to silence any criticism of this educational system. But it is idle to deny that at the present moment there is a very general feeling that a good deal of this money is being, if not entirely wasted, at any rate misspent. That criticism is, sometimes of an ignorant nature, but I believe that if you could analyse it you would agree that there is a certain basis for it, and that if the right hon. Gentleman is going to obtain for his new educational proposals a great body of public opinion to support him, he must do something in his administration to silence criticisms and enlist more public opinion on his side. Let me illustrate what I mean by the case of London. In London at the present moment I think a sum of £6,000,000 a year is being spent from the rates and taxes upon public education, and I do not suppose that even the most bigoted critic of the existing policy at Spring Gardens would deny that, both in its policy and in its methods, the London Education Authority compares favourably with all, or at any rate most, of the great educational authorities of the country. I think that anyone who has been brought into contact with the educational work of London will agree with me when I say that no education authority is better served by its permanent officials. It therefore cannot be urged that in London inadequate results are due to maladministration.
If we wish to assign the causes we must go back further. What is the result of this great expenditure of time and money? Thirty thousand boys leave the schools of London every year, and recent inquiry shows that, even after all this expenditure of time and money, only 28 per cent. of those thirty thousand boys find their work in the skilled trades. No less than 67 per cent. drift into irregular employment, which, as we all know, is very apt to lead in two or three years' time to unemployment. That means a very great waste. A sum estimated at £100 has been spent upon the education of each of those boys, and when we come to think that the only result of that is that 20,000 of those boys drift into unskilled employment, I think we must all agree that there must be some ground for the criticism of our educational system which we so often hear outside. But the full amount cannot be estimated in terms of money at all; it is really a question of human life, and if hon. Members study the findings of the Poor Law Commission, they will find that two out of 1411 three London boys drift into casual employment, which in a very high percentage of cases soon becomes unemployment. I find, for instance, whilst 60 per cent. of certain representative skilled trades are filled by boys from the country, only 30 per cent. are filled by London boys. I find, also, that 70 per cent. of the casual dock labourers in London are London boys, and that no less than 90 per cent. of the inmates of our larger common lodging houses and Salvation Army shelters and Church Army shelters are also London boys. That cannot be put down to bad administration, and it cannot be put down to a niggardly expenditure of public money. It must be due in some respects to our system of education. It is, therefore, the duty of all those who are brought into contact with that system to see how we can remedy its defects, either by administration or by legislation.
Let me suggest one or two ways in which I think an improvement might be made in administration. First of all, there is the waste which is due to ill-health. I quite agree with what the President of the Board said with reference to the various health problems with which the Board has been dealing during the last three years. I do not myself consider that there is any province of our system of public education which is more important than that in which are centred the many questions connected with the health of the children. I am glad to see, so far as I can understand the Estimates, that the Grant for medical treatment is to be increased this year from £60,000 to £80,000, but even so I do not think that it is adequate, and I should like to see a much greater Grant even than the £80,000, which is included in this year's Estimates. Let me give a single example as to a field which has scarcely been touched, and which, I believe, needs the expenditure of public money more than, I think I am correct in saying, any other branch of public work, and that is the education of consumptive children. I believe that the Board of Education might do more in conjunction with the Treasury to encourage, and, if necessary, to insist upon the expert treatment of tuberculous children. At present no less than 1,200 children are being discovered every year by the medical inspection in London to be suffering from tuberculosis. I should very much like to see the President of the Board of Education adopt a vigorous and 1412 progressive policy with reference to this problem. I would like to suggest that he should obtain some of the money which is to be devoted to the building of sanatoria under the Insurance Act for the care of tuberculous children, by the encouragement of open-air schools, and other institutions of the kind. In London, that is in one city alone, the Medical Officer of Health calculates that no less than £1,000,000 has been spent upon tuberculous children during the last ten years, who have died during the years when they had to attend school. Think of the enormous waste that is now going on, and how much of that might be saved by a vigorous policy, directed to stamp out this great evil.
I come to another case of waste. I believe that there is ground for the general sentiment held outside the offices of experts and this Committee, that some of the waste is due to misdirected teaching. I believe, though that criticism often goes too far, that there is some ground for it, and that we are still too much bound up with the antiquated ideas of 1870. Therefore I think that many of us would welcome a great stimulus being given to the encouragement of what is known as manual training in the elementary schools. I was very much interested to hear what the President of the Board said on that subject to-day. After all, what is wanted, is that a girl should be taught not dressmaking so much, as to make a dress; not cookery so much, as to cook a dinner; and I am sure we should welcome any stimulus that he could give to local authorities to bring about a change in the curriculum of the elementary schools, which I am confident is needed at the present moment. It seems to me that much the best way to go to work is to go to the teachers. It is really a problem of teachers, and it therefore is of the utmost importance, as he said, that we should have enough teachers, and that we should also have suitable teachers, and certainly I think that his anxiety as to the number of teachers is by no means ill-founded. If what I am told is correct, in the course of a year or two there will be a deficit of no less than two thousand teachers for staffing our schools. Before you can carry out any reform in the curricula you must certainly have a sufficient number of teachers to man those schools. Further, I do not think that you will get the teaching altered in the way you desire in the elementary schools unless side by side with it you change the course of training which the 1413 teachers receive in the training colleges before they go out to the schools to take up appointments. You will not succeed, it seems to me, however much you change the curricula, if you have teachers trained in the same way as they were in a former generation to do that teaching. Therefore, if a change is to come about in the curricula of the elementary schools, it must be carried out more through the teacher than through any number of codes or regulations or directions, either from the Board of Education or from the local education authorities.
Lastly, it seems to me that there is another field in which a great deal of waste is going on at the present moment, and I would ask the President of the Board most seriously to consider it. It seems to me that at present there are many, too many, officials doing very much the same kind of work in our education areas. The difficulty is that a number of them are subject to different Departments of State and to different local education authorities, and so it comes about that you may very well have the same family being visited at the same time by the relieving officer, the school attendance officer, the sanitary inspector, the health officer, the school nurse, a member of a care committee, and a number of representatives of voluntary and philanthropic associations. I believe this great complexity does lead to a considerable amount of misplaced energy and to waste as its result. I would venture to suggest to the President of the Board that he might summon a conference of the various authorities concerned to see whether they could not reduce the number of this army of officials, for I am quite sure if you could only have a few officials dealing with quite small areas and by that means getting themselves well-known to the families with whom they have to deal, you would get these many problems connected with our educational system much better carried out than they are being carried out at the present moment. I believe that if the administration is really to get its full value it must be supplemented by bigger and wider proposals. This is not the opportunity to discuss what those proposals should be, but I may, in passing, allude to one—the question of money.
The President of the Board of Education expressed his sympathy with the local education authorities in their great and growing expenditure. That is a subject which we have often discussed in this 1414 Committee, and I think that, generally speaking, we are all agreed upon it. I will not say more than that, as far as London is concerned, we believe that we are entitled to a Grant of no less than £500,000 a year more than we now receive from the Imperial Exchequer. I am sure that if we want the education machine to work smoothly, we must not go on indefinitely putting off this question of the relation of the Exchequer to the local authorities, but we must have a general reorganisation of the system at once. I therefore hope that the right hon. Gentleman will act up to his words of sympathy, and that in the next Budget largely increased Grants will be given to the educational authorities who deserve them. No doubt in the course of the next few weeks we shall hear from the right hon. Gentleman the details of the new scheme which he is going to introduce. Many of us on this side will welcome any scheme calculated to make our administration more efficient. If the right hon. Gentleman is to carry out this great scheme he needs to enlist the sympathy of everyone interested in education. I hope, therefore, that when he comes to outline his policy, he will not be diverted into those controversies in which we have been involved in past years, but that he will realise that both in administration and legislation he needs the support of church, chapel, council, and every other kind of organisation at present engaged in the work of education. If he does that, and if he frankly recognises that there are in this country some people who like one kind at school and others another, I feel sure that he will receive from this side, not hostile criticism, but the support to which his proposals will undoubtedly be entitled.
§ Sir HENRY HIBBERT
I approach this question as chairman of the Education Committee of the County Councils Association of England and Wales, an association which represents some 36 per cent. of the assessable value of the country, and educates 40 per cent. of its children. I am going to treat the question purely from the financial point of view, and I say frankly that I am disappointed with the Estimates which have been presented to us. The Members of His Majesty's Government cannot have appreciated the intense feeling which pervades the whole country with regard to the enormous cost of education. I have been returned to this House within the last 1415 month, after a contest which was short, sharp, and decisive. It lasted some eight days, six of which I had to devote to defending my position as chairman of the Lancashire Education Committee. All the additions which have been put on the rates during the last three or four years were supposed to be attributable to the policy that I was following on that committee, and I had to work very hard indeed to secure my election. I mention that simply to show what the feeling is in the country with regard to the enormous increase in the rates. The Executive Committee of the County Councils Association, at their meeting on Wednesday last, passed the following resolution:That this committee (i.) records its sense of the unfairness involved in the administrative policy of the Board of Education with regard to elementary schools since 1903, whereby (a) the standard of building requirements has been advanced, (b) the standard of school staffing has been appreciably raised, and (c) additional duties and obligations have been imposed on local education authorities as regards medical inspection, without corresponding increase in the Imperial contribution in respect thereof; (ii.) urges that the restriction of the Special Aid Grant to autonomous areas and its refusal to rural parishes where the education rate, including special levies, exceeds 1s. 6d. in the £, imposes an unequal and oppressive burden, particularly upon the agricultural industry; and (iii.) urges the necessity of providing adequate relief in the Estimates for the ensuing year, either by a contribution in aid of capital expenditure (past, present, and future), upon school buildings, or by such other means as will lessen a burden which invites daily increasing opposition by ratepayers to all proposals for further advancement and progress in educational work.Dealing with these points seriatim, with regard to the first, that the standard of building requirements has been advanced, I shall draw upon my own experience as chairman of the Lancashire Education Committee. There have been numerous alterations in the plans for schools. Only a very short time ago we had ten schools in course of erection and nearly completed. The plans had been before, and sanctioned by, the Architectural Branch of the Board of Education. Before the schools were actually completed, the number of scholars allowed per class-room was reduced by ten, and in one school containing thirteen class-rooms there was a reduction of accommodation to the extent of 130 children, which at £14 per head, the cost of building the school, represented a loss on capital account on that one school of £1,820. Since then we have had central halls, insulated halls, and all kinds of passages; in fact, I have come to the conclusion that the building of schools is not by any means an exact science. With regard to the second point, that the standard of school staffing has been appre- 1416 ciably raised, I am very glad indeed that that is so. I do not object to that, although it has cost a very large amount of money. It has cost my own committee something like £7,000 per annum adequately to staff the schools according to the Board of Education's requirements. But I do not grudge the spending of the money, because it is spent in the right direction. I think, however, that the Board of Education ought to come to our relief.
With regard to medical inspection I say exactly the same. I do not think that there has ever been placed on the Statute Book an Act of Parliament which is more likely to bring forth good results than the Administrative Provisions Act, 1907. At the time that that Act came into operation we were promised some contribution towards the cost of medical inspection, but from that day until last year we did not receive a single copper, although numerous representations were made to the Medical Department of the Board of Education in respect of that promised assistance. In my own county we started with an expenditure under that head of £2,000 per annum. In 1911–12 it had increased to £6,000. In 1912–13 it was £7,000, and for 1913–14, it is estimated to cost no less than £9,000. If we carry out the requests of the Medical Department of the Board of Education with regard to visiting, after-care, and that kind of thing, our expenditure will undoubtedly be increased by another £4,000 or £5,000 per annum. The cost of medical inspection in England and Wales during the last two recorded years, 1908–9 and 1910–11, shows an increase of £79,197 per annum, whilst the total cost of medical inspection itself in 1910–11 amounted to £186,999. The sole Grant given towards medical inspection is not given towards medical inspection proper, but for visiting the children and attending to them, and it will cost a large amount of money to gain a very small Grant. I therefore say, on behalf of the local education authorities, that with regard to medical inspection a larger Grant should be given.
I come now to the portion of the resolution dealing with the restriction of the Special Aid Grant to autonomous areas and its refusal to rural parishes where the education rate, including special levies, exceeds 1s. 6d. in the £. This resolution was moved by the representative of the Carnarvon County Council, who has furnished me to-day with the following par- 1417 ticulars: Out of seventy-seven parishes in Carnarvonshire twenty-two are rated for educational purposes at over 1s. 6d. in the £, three at over 2s. in the £, and one at 2s. 4d. in the £. Surely this is a case where the restrictions of the Board might be slightly relaxed, because most of these villages are exceedingly poor, and to have to pay an education rate of this description, in addition to all the other rates, means an enormous tax on the people. The third portion of the resolution urges the necessity of providing adequate relief in the Estimates for the ensuing year, either by a contribution in aid of capital expenditure upon school buildings or by such other means as will lessen a burden which invites daily increasing opposition by ratepayers to all proposals for further advancement and progress in educational work. I must apologise for mentioning my own committee so often, but I know it better than any other. The Board of Education compelled us two years ago to enter upon a building programme which will last seven years, under which the annual expenditure will be £55,000, and which, at the end of the seven years, will add to our expenditure for the administration of elementary education £22,000 or £23,000 per annum. With regard to the financial position of the Grant given to county councils in England and Wales, I have here a report taken from the Local Taxation Accounts for 1907–12. I find that whereas, in 1905–6, the Grants from the Exchequer towards the cost of elementary education represented 61.52 per cent. of the expenditure, in 1910–11, the proportion had dropped to 55.83 per cent., while the local expenditure had increased from 38.48 per cent., to 44.17 per cent. In other words, out of a total increased expenditure of £921,508, the Board of Education had only contributed £100,225. If we turn to higher education, the position is even worse. In 1905–6, the proportion of expenditure contributed by the Imperial Exchequer was 55.49 per cent., and in 1911–12, it had decreased to 43.67 per cent., while the expenditure by the local authorities had increased from 44.51 per cent. to 56.33 per cent. Put again into sterling out of an increased expenditure of £451,901 the Imperial Exchequer had only contributed the sum of £50,128. Under these circumstances you cannot be at all surprised if the administration of education is exceedingly difficult. In fact, I often think that my position as chairman of my own large authority is very like the position of the 1418 policeman described in Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance." My lot is not a happy one. All increases of expenditure, whether rightly or wrongly, are put upon the shoulders of the education committee.
We have been promised a new Education Bill. I was hoping that the Treasury might in these Estimates have anticipated the whole or part of the larger amount which it is said may be granted towards the cost of education. What do we find? We find on elementary account there is a decrease of £2,304. First, in the Estimates is the staff, which accounts for an increase of £3,880. The staff of the Board of Education is an excellent one. I know no finer body of men in the public service. I have had the opportunity of judging of their ability, patience and courtesy, because up till last October I was a member of their consultative committee for something like six years. But I do say that they have failed to sense the feeling of the ratepayers. They have sought to make haste too quickly, with the inevitable result that education in many parts of the country have become sadly unpopular. Wherever we go, anyone who has to do with elementary education is asked the question: "How much more are you going to put on the rates? When is tins great extravagance going to cease?" Inspection and examination show an increase of £822. Pensions to teachers—I am glad to say—come in for £18,305. Teachers are undoubtedly one of the hardest working and one of the most conscientious bodies of men and women I know. Unfortunately, owing to the parsimony of the Treasury local authorities are not able to give them the salaries they deserve. Blind, deaf, and defectives, of course, are always a first charge on the country. I see there is an increase here of some £7,000 per annum. With regard to pupil teachers and bursars, I have no remark to make except this: that I think it is a mistake that student teachers do not go to the elementary day school for the whole of the five days, instead of the four. If it is necessary to continue their education, let them do it in the evenings or on Saturdays. To quote the Report of the Board itself on the training of secondary teachers:—I have no hesitation in saying that a year of training, following immediately on an academic course, and without any previous practical experience, is both in general principle and in practice less satisfactory than a course taken in vacation after some years training.1419 With that I thoroughly agree. If it is good for teachers in secondary schools, it is equally good for teachers in the elementary day schools. Further, attendance at the secondary school only one day out of five to a very large extent disorganises that secondary school; therefore, I think it ought to be stopped. Another suggestion I should like to make which, of course, again involves expenditure of money is this: that at the present time the Board give a Grant of £2 to students in secondary day schools under twelve yeras of age. That is contingent upon the individual scholar having spent two years previously in an elementary day school. I do not see any reason why that Grant should not be given to any student under twelve years of age. Further than that, I do not see any reasons why a uniform Grant of £5 should not be given to the student under twelve years of age. Here, again, in the Regulations for Secondary Schools I find the following:—The education of the secondary school may be advantageously begun at an age much below twelve; in fact by means of kindergarten and preparatory departments, it is often made to cover education from its earliest stages.As yet, that is not financially recognised by the Board of Education except, as I have shown, to a very small extent. Various items, such as the annual Grants to elementary schools, special Grants to certain local education authorities, and annual Grants for the training of teachers, building Grants for training colleges and hostels, remain as before; while Grants in lieu of fees are £25,000 less, and aid Grants to local education authorities are £35,000 less. I read in the paper a speech made by Viscount Haldane before the National Union of Teachers on Tuesday, 25th March, in which he said:—We have always gone on the principle of devolution to local authorities of as much of the task of Government as we could, and he hoped we should not depart front that in education. The mode by which they could ensure that being done through the local education authorities was by means of that little understood instrument—the Grant-in-Aid.That is the Grant which the Board of Education are reducing this year by no less than £35,000. I therefore ask the President of the Board of Education whether the Government are ensuring that the Grant-in-Aid shall be better undertood by decreasing it? Further, if it is a question of choosing between devolution and more money, I should say that we want less devolution: we undoubtedly want more money. I want to put the case from a slightly different point of view. I 1420 find that the average cost of educating an elementary school child in our day schools is £4 3s. per head. This is divided almost equally between the Board of Education and ourselves. If you take the average school life of the child at seven years and multiply it by £4 3s., you find that the total cost is £29 1s. per head. I want hon. Members to consider the great loss that is to the county and to the country when these children grow up into men and emigrate. I also want hon. Members to look at it from another point of view, which probably affects county councils more than either county or non-county boroughs—that is, the constant migration from the rural districts to the towns. All this means a loss, as I have shown, taking the average duration of the school life at seven years, of £29 1s. per head.
That is one of the reasons why I think that education ought to be considered more a national question than we do consider it. That brings me to the difference between rates and taxes. I can quite understand the right hon. Gentleman opposite asking me how I reconcile my request for more money from the Exchequer with the remarks I have just made. Well, there is a great deal of difference between rates and taxes. One you feel, while the other, if you do feel it, you do not feel it to the same extent. If you do, you either use naughty words about the Government or you support the party in power because you happen to belong to it. One affects you locally; the other affects you nationally. One part of the country is enthusiastic in the cause of education; another part of the country is indifferent. Yet yon cannot put a ring-fence around each of the local education areas, for you are educating people, as you know, for national use, for national service, for the national well-being. I contend, therefore, that the cost of education is a national one, quite as much as the Army and the Navy. To as large an extent as possible it ought to be economically treated as such. May I point out again that the incidence of the rates is much more burdensome and unfair than the incidence of the taxes. Taxation can be raised from almost uncountable sources. I think right hon. Gentlemen opposite may be considered past-masters at that and therefore the matter may be safely left in their hands.
I should like to say one other word about higher education, and that is in regard to the discontinuance of Article 38. 1421 The change does not make a very great deal of difference, but it is an illustration of some of the Regulations of the Board of Education and the way they work. The Board may pay an additional Grant at the rate of £1 on each pupil for whom Grant is payable. This they have discontinued and in its place have offered to local education authorities a bribe of £1 per head for boys and girls over sixteen years of age who continue their education to eighteen years of age. That is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. But the Board seems to imagine that the small increase in the Grant will, in some mysterious manner, induce children to remain at school longer than they do under ordinary circumstances. The real difficulties in the way of continued attendance at school, at any rate until eighteen years of age, are, in the first place, the comparative failure of the bursar system, and, secondly, a disinclination on the part of parents to allow their children to remain at a secondary school, even with exhibitions. It is rather a valuable illustration of the point I have raised—it is exceedingly singular—that whilst the Board of Education are, as it were, penalising us for not keeping our children at school till sixteen, the Civil Service Commissioners are doing all they can to take our children from us at fifteen. There is a great deal of talk about correlation in education. I only wish it were applied to Government Departments. Dealing with this question of the difficulty of getting children to attend at the secondary school for a longer period than sixteen, I may say that my own committee give a sum of something like £28,000 annually for scholarships and exhibitions. Only £25,000 of that is, as a rule, claimed. Some of these scholarships are of considerable value, and they will pay undoubtedly for the university training of the successful competitors.
In 1911 we had 252 candidates, and in 1912 we had 224. In addition to this we give something like 589 exhibitions. These exhibitions provide free education up to eighteen years of age. They provide travelling expenses in excess of £1; they give £1 per annum to the students for books, and they pay for their games; and in order that the children of poor parents may be able to dress as well as those they may meet in the forms of the secondary day school, £5 is given to third, fourth, fifth, and sixth year students—in other words, as long as they remain at school. Taken in conjunction 1422 with the fact, as I have told the House, that only 3.27 children in the elementary schools are over thirteen years of age, and only 0.29 are fourteen, it seems to me that it is not so much a question of want of opportunity of going forward with their education as a disinclination to take advantage of the opportunities offered. Therefore, I say again, seeing that this action of the Education Board in the withdrawal of Article 38 has penalised the schools of Lancashire to the extent of £1,155 per annum, and in the West Riding of Yorkshire to the extent of £1,244 per annum, it is a step in the wrong direction, and I sincerely hope that the Board of Education gill use their utmost efforts to obtain from the Treasury a larger sum of money than they are obtaining to-day, because I am perfectly convinced in my own mind, as a keen educationist and as one who has spent the best part of his life in trying to improve the education of those in a poorer position than myself, that the parsimony, or comparative parsimony, of the Board of Education or the Treasury in not giving a larger contribution in aid of the rates of this country is having a very detrimental effect upon the course of education.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir JAMES YOXALL
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has spent many years of his life in admirable service in the cause of education in his own county of Lancashire and elsewhere, and I am sure the Committee will join with me in congratulating him upon a speech in which he has brought before the Board of Education matters of great importance, and in which he has expressed so very clearly the necessary demand for further central aid. If there be a danger of legislation in this country retrograding or standing still, the danger lies in the fact that the Board of Education and the National Exchequer have ceased to supply the needs of education for local purposes by giving it a proper stimulus or aid. Stimulus by means of code circulars, inspection, and so forth are amply supplied, but that is not the stimulus that is required. The stimulus required is more central financial aid, and until that is provided for by a Grant from the Treasury we cannot hope for very much more advancement to be made in the cause of education in this country. Something has been said in the course of this 1423 Debate as to education becoming unpopular. I do not think it ever was very popular in England. I think it is no more unpopular now than it used to be. I think it is less unpopular. I do not agree with what the hon. Member has said as to the unpopularity just now aroused. My own view is that it very largely arises from the fact that people are dissatisfied owing to the amount of cost placed upon the rates. Members of education committees are themselves not satisfied and are becoming disheartened. It would be the greatest pity in the world that members of education committees all over the country, who render to the cause of education great services, and have for many years past withstood such unpopularity as is attached to education in this country, should, by the repeated and continued neglect within four, five, six, and seven years, and by repeated breaches of undertakings by Chancellors of the Exchequer belonging to both parties, in the last Government as well as in the present, to give further financial aid to the local authorities, become dissatisfied and less enthusiastic than in the past, and it would be a great blow to the efficiency of education in this country. But when the hon. Member for Chorley went on to refer to the fact that in his own county and elsewhere, full advantage was not taken of the college provided, I think that perhaps there might be another reason than the one he put forward for that state of affairs.
I think I remember some years ago a speech made by the hon. Member for Chorley, in which he referred to the fact that they provided in Lancashire a certain number of what are called "cotton scholarships," I think the number was five, at a cost of £200 each for the purpose of teaching the technical processes of the cotton trade. Young men of twenty or twenty-two years of age, who had obtained these scholarships, when they wished to enter the cotton trade, found that there were no remunerative positions suited to their age and qualification and knowledge open to them. It was found by the education committees that no places whatever were provided for these young men in the cotton trade at salaries at all commensurate to what they might be entitled to demand. I think that at twenty-two years of age, after studying for five years the technical process of cotton manufacture, a young man might reasonably ex- 1424 pect to receive more than 15s. a week to begin with, and I think for young people like that some arrangement must be made by which they can be offered a better salary after a long course of technical education in the industrial processes peculiar to this country than what would be offered them if they went into a workshop or a factory at fifteen years of age. That is one of the causes for a certain amount of unpopularity of the education system of this country, and that is the reason why young people do not generally go to the secondary schools and stay there longer. It is due to the fact that when emerging from school after this training there is no place open for them in the industrial system commensurate to the sacrifices their parents have made in abstaining from availing of the possibility of the few shillings a week which the children would have received if they went to be clerks at fourteen years of age.
We have not yet organised our junior labour bureau system, and employers and manufacturers have not yet so fully recognised that they may at twenty years of age obtain from the schools or colleges the services of highly skilled and educated men, and until that is brought about there will be a lack of willingness on the part of the children in the elementary schools to take full advantage of the ladder or inclined plane which these scholarships provide. I would not have some Members of the Committee think that the cause of this failure to take advantage of the secondary school system and of the scholarships offered is due to lack of ambition on the part of the children in the elementary schools, or lack of encouragement to those children by the teachers, or to want of due preparation in the elementary schools. That is not the case. It is not that the elementary schools in this country do not regard it as a great honour and distinction for the poorer boy or girl to win scholarships in the secondary schools. The same kind of feeling obtains in the secondary schools, where are displayed in golden letters the names of pupils who have won distinction, as prevails in the endowed schools and the grammar schools of the country, and the Committee will see that the real difficulty is the economic and financial side of the matter and our failure to defray the cost of the passage of the child from the elementary to the secondary schools and the technical colleges, and so forth, and the passage from the technical schools to the 1425 universities and into the world of commerce and industry. This deals very largely with the question raised by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education about the supply of teachers. The supply of teachers is not falling off in the elementary schools alone; it is falling off in the secondary schools as well. It is not only the case that parents of children who have gone from the elementary schools to the secondary schools are unwilling to place their children as teachers in the elementary schools professions, but it is because that Oxford and Cambridge Universities organisations for obtaining employment for their graduates are discovering that an increased proportion of their graduates are going to the schools, and it is not to be wondered at.
The other day I found myself among a group of highly educated persons, lecturers and tutors in history in the universities of this country, and most of them, I believe, certainly two-thirds of them, had remuneration so small relatively to their qualifications and experience, and the course of their preparation, as to be absolutely ridiculous. Younger people of that class are discovering that £120 or £130 per annum remuneration for the honour of being a professor or a lecturer in history is not sufficient to compensate for the lack of the amenities and opportunities of life which is the result of insufficiently paid posts. I think it will be found that more and more of the pupils in the secondary schools and technical institutes and colleges will go into commerce and industry in the future than in the past. I am sure that is so with regard to the supply of teachers in the elementary schools. I am sure the case is this, that as you educate a class of people more and more, and as the general standard of living becomes more and more expensive, these positions, which are highly honourable, held by educated people, do not offer to their holders the proper remuneration which enables them to live up to the standard of their class, and therefore these occupations will cease to be popular.
What is the case now with regard to the teachers of the elementary schools? My right hon. Friend told us, this year and last year, that one of the chief causes of falling off was the insufficient pay obtained by the teachers in these schools. This afternoon he referred, as he was entitled to, to the improvement made last year in the pension system for teachers in the public elementary schools, and he cited with pride, as he was entitled to, the fact that 1426 some of those teachers recently retired since August last upon pensions of £60, £67, and in one case £70 per annum. I am not disparaging that or showing any lack of gratitude for the improvement made, but of that total cost the teachers in question, by their annual contributions, pay something like half. It is the case now that under the improved system the total cost to the State of a teacher who retires at sixty-five years of age is £1 per year of service—that is to say, a teacher who enters the training college at twenty-two years of age and worked in the school for forty-three years will receive per year from the State £43. That is the maximum pension. It cannot be said that a pension upon that scale is sufficient to make provision effectively at that end of the journey; but take the other end—the commencing part of it—and remember the very small pay which is received during the first number of years. These teachers have to spend four years in a training college, and after emerging from the college at the age of twenty-two, they find themselves in the position of commanding a salary of £70 or £90 a year, with the prospect of rising to a maximum of £120 for the rest of their lives. Of course, unless you are a head teacher, in a county borough, you may expect to rise to £160, and in the generous Metropolis to a maximum of £200. These are not very attractive salaries to induce people to join the teaching profession, and until they are improved there is bound to be a falling off in the supply of teachers. With regard to the question of money for improving the salary of teachers, it can only be provided from the central Exchequer, and until it is provided there will be more and more of a falling off in the supply. The President of the Board of Education in referring to this matter scarcely expressed the actual facts. The right hon. Gentleman said the National Union of Teachers wished to substitute certificated teachers for uncertificated teachers. May I point out that what is really desired is that a teacher coming out of a training college certificated and trained should not find herself in the position of being unable to obtain a place at a school because those positions are already filled by uncertificated teachers. Last July a certain number of teachers emerged from the training colleges, and although I have not recent figures, I think it is safe to say that six months after that time hundreds of them are still unable to obtain employment. The country has spent a 1427 certain amount of money upon the training of these teachers, and their parents have also spent a large amount of money in providing for those teachers that which the country does not provide. After they emerge from the training colleges they find there is no employment for them and no vacancies in the schools because the scheme of staffing laid down by the Board of Education does not admit more teachers of that class.
The consequence is that the places of these highly qualified teachers are being filled by teachers who have not half the ability and have not passed any of these examinations, which the certificated teacher is obliged to pass. We want that done away with so far as may be and until every fully qualified certificated teacher has been provided with a post the uncertificated teachers should not be allowed to occupy the posts which the certificated teachers ought to be occupying. My right hon. Friend has referred to the improvement with regard to the inspectorate, and again I think he is justified in taking credit to himself and the Department for the change to which he referred. May I point out that the offer he makes to the teacher in the public elementary school who is qualified to become an assistant inspector is that he shall commence at a salary of £200 per annum. That is the salary offered to a highly qualified teacher who has trained for seven years in a training college and has graduated at a university. Surely this parsimony will fail to produce the right effect. I return to the point I started at, and I renew the emphasis I laid on the speech of the hon. Member for Chorley that until the Board of Education are more generous in regard to these Grants further progress in education cannot be made in this country. You want more central money, and this ought to accompany the proposals which the Government have in mind for educational extension and reform. I have read speeches made by Members of the Government in which it has been suggested that by a readjustment of existing Grants more help might be given to the local education authorities. It has been suggested that this is more a matter of manipulation of figures in regard to existing Grants rather than a question of additional Grants. I think it is obvious that however you manipulate the existing amounts the total remains the same. If you really want to carry out 1428 educational reform, you can only do it in one way, and that is by the Government coming forward with a large additional central Grant-in-Aid of local expenditure on education.
Hon. Members who listened to the two last speeches will probably have noticed, as I have noticed, that while the moral drawn by both speakers may be said to be the same, the substance of those speeches and the questions dealt with were very different in the two cases. The hon. Member who has just sat down pleaded, as, indeed, he was amply justified in doing, the case of the teachers. Unquestionably, if we are to estimate the supply of teachers by the market price paid for them, the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Sir James Yoxall) seems to have a good case, because, by the admission of the President of the Board of Education, there has been a falling off in the number of teachers of an alarming character. Although I have no intimate knowledge of this subject except that which is common to anybody who studies these questions at all, if the number of teachers is falling off in this manner then there is plausibility in the contention that they are underpaid. That is the contention of the hon. Member who has just sat down, and if the statement made by the President of the Board of Education is true, the explanation given by the hon. Member for West Nottingham is at least plausible, and, if that be so, I take it there is no remedy for the present condition of things except to raise the salaries of this class in order to obtain the numbers necessary to carry on the national work in which that class is engaged.
Turning from the special case of the teachers to the wider case dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Sir Henry Hibbert) we come to the question of cost. Now I take it that nobody is better qualified upon the subject of the expenditure by local authorities than my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley. Everybody must have welcomed the intervention my hon. Friend made in the Debate to-day because he speaks not with the transitory knowledge of one whose experience in these matters has been obtained by a year or two of work upon a local authority, but he has been, if my memory serves me rightly, the chairman of the Lancashire County 1429 Council ever since the present system of education came into operation. He has had an almost unequalled, and certainly unsurpassed, tenure of office in one of the largest, if not the largest, county authority outside the Metropolis. He speaks, therefore, with an authority to this Committee which probably no one else possesses in the same full measure. He began his speech by explaining the great difficulty he found in fighting a contested election owing to the fact that he and the education committee of the Lancashire County Council were made responsible for all the recent increased expenditure which has in reality been forced upon them by the action of this House and this Government. [An HON. MEMBER: "No, not by this Government."] I hope hon. Members opposite will acquit me of any intention of making a party point, because I was not thinking of that in the least. Undoubtedly the cost of education has gone up in consequence of the action of this House, and undoubtedly the Government have by their recent legislation forced upon the local authorities increased expenditure, and I admit have forced it upon them in a very good cause.
Take the case of medical inspection, which is one of the causes. My own sympathies are entirely in favour of medical inspection. I think many of my hon. Friends agree with me that that is a great reform. I do not comment upon the details, but, broadly speaking, I call that a great reform, and I think it would lead us to an amount of knowledge connected with the health of the rising generation and the way to bring up successive generations which we do not possess at this moment. Therefore, my criticism upon the increased cost of education, so far as that branch of it is concerned, is not hostile except in so far as it bears out my hon. Friend's statement that that charge was forced upon the local authorities by the Government and by this House, which is the statement I have already made. There are really only two questions that arise upon it. The first is, Can we in any way diminish this growing expenditure. Granting that there are lines of advance which are costly and necessary, is any of the cost which the Department and the House have imposed upon the local authorities unnecessary? I confess I am not quite so sure of the answer to the last question as I am about the answer to the first. I am sure some of this expenditure has been of a most useful kind, but is the Committee quite 1430 sure, and is the Education Department quite sure, that in regard to some of the expenditure which they have forced upon the local authorities they have not really been pedantic and too fond of bureaucratic symmetry and too neglectful of the ability of the locality to pay, as well as the needs of the locality? Do not let anybody say that to talk of the ability of the locality to pay is unworthy of an educationist. We must have right and sense in this matter.
What are the principles the Government themselves have laid down in analogous questions? When we were discussing the Home Rule Bill, was not a large part of their contention in connection with the financial arrangements of that measure that, however excellent certain social reforms might be in the case of a wealthy country like Great Britain, they were unsuited and ought not to be forced upon a poor country like Ireland? What is true of a poor country like Ireland is surely true also of a poor country parish, and the way the Department sometimes treats country parishes is surely scarcely fair. The country parish is usually controlled, as education is controlled very often, by people who have no very great knowledge of country necessities. They feel, in any case, that a certain fraction of their population will go to other occupations than agriculture, because agriculture in the nature of the case is limited, and under a given system of agriculture only a given number of people can be occupied. You may improve your system; you may substitute one form of agriculture which requires more labour for one which requires less labour; but, broadly speaking, a given system of agriculture requires and will admit of only a certain number of persons, and in every country in the world it is found, when that number is exceeded, that migration or emigration is a necessity. I do not think that broad proposition can be contested. I hope and believe that there are parts of the country where an intensive system may be substituted for the existing system and where the demand for agricultural labour may be greatly increased, but, however you alter the system, there is a point at which that system will not permit more labour than a certain given amount. Therefore every agricultural district in which the number of births exceed the number of persons required there will necessarily be a certain number of its population migrate when they reach the adult age. There is no escaping from 1431 that in a healthy society, or at any rate in a society where the population increases in the ratio that we have hitherto regarded as normal.
Therefore it irresistibly follows that you throw upon your agricultural parish the cost of educating people who exercise the talents which you have educated in other spheres of life. In addition to that, you very often insist, as I think rather pedantically, on forcing upon agricultural parishes buildings which happen to suit the momentary or passing opinion of the authorities at the Education Office. There is also the chronic injustice of requiring them at their own cost to educate those who are ultimately destined to leave them. I cannot help thinking that something might be done in that matter by a reconsideration of the policy of the Education Department. I confess I had hoped that when great county authorities like that over which my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley has so admirably presided for many years were instituted, their protest would have been strong enough to prevent the excess of system which is the inevitable danger of all central administration. I certainly hope that a great educational authority like that of Lancashire will be able to say to the Education Department, "Do not have these perpetual changes of plans. This idea of a central hall and passages may be suitable for certain districts and areas, but it ought not to be unreasonably forced upon the local authority at the local authority's expense." I hope that kind of protest will meet with an immediate response from the Department.
Do not let the Committee suppose that I intend now or at any time to take up an attitude hostile to the Department. I know them too well. I know the immense ability and devotion and public spirit that Department shows, and I know the extraordinarily good work which they have done and are doing, but a Department cannot help being a Department. It is necessarily subject to the limitations of a Department and to the defects of a Department, and everybody knows what those defects are, and perhaps must be, when they apply too great a uniformity to the rules which they have to lay down. It is perhaps not because they are a Department, but because they are human that the responsible Parliamentary head of the Department is more ready to see somebody else compelled to spend money which 1432 they have to get out of the local ratepayer than he is to spend money which he has to get out of his colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The result of that, I believe, has been very disastrous to the cause of education. The hon. Member who has just sat down observed that education was undoubtedly unpopular in thin country, but it had always been popular, and he did not see that there had been any deterioration in the national character in that respect. I think, if he saw any change at all, that the change he detected was a greater liking for expenditure upon this great subject. I really cannot quite agree. I think there is growing up among the ordinary ratepayers in the country a feeling that they are being handed over, bound hand and foot, to a Department and an authority which has unlimited power of taxing them and of extracting money from their pockets which they have very little power to control, and which uses them as an instrument for carrying out its own policy. It does not consult him really as to what that policy should be. It cannot but have the result that he regards zealous educationists as expensive faddists, and the whole cause of education suffers.
We have recently had an adumbration of a great scheme on which I should like, before I sit down, to ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman. We have had adumbrated a great new scheme of educational reform, which, as I gather, the Lord Chancellor conceives will produce a great flow of popularity in favour of his policy and of his party. I know the Lord Chancellor is a most zealous educationist, and I believe he would sacrifice everything to education. I am not one of those who think this is a Machiavellian device for stimulating the waning popularity of the party of which the Lord Chancellor is an ornament. My belief is exactly the contrary. The idea of stumping the country in favour of adding so much more to the Education Rate is one which will not have the effect of greatly aiding the candidates who, like my hon. Friend who spoke earlier in the Debate, have got to deal with the subject of local education when the time of a contested election comes round. Of course, if the policy of the Government is not merely educational, but also financial, if they are going to apportion more fairly the cost between the Exchequer and the ratepayer of this great National Service, then no doubt that is an instalment of that reform of which we and 1433 hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House have so often spoken, namely, that something effective should be done to lighten the burden now thrown upon the ratepayers for services which are in no sense local, or at least for that portion of the services which cannot properly be described as local. If that is done, I for one should greatly welcome the policy, because, as the House well knows, it is not confined to one side of the House; it has been urged for many years upon successive holders of the office of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Might I ask, as I am on the question of the new scheme, what, apart from the financial question, there is in the present condition of education which leads up to it? The right hon. Gentleman has surveyed, as he was bound on this annual occasion to survey, the present position of education in the country. There were some shadows on the picture which he drew, but, broadly speaking, I think everybody will admit that he spoke in an optimistic tone with regard to education in all its departments, and that he did not suggest anything to show that some great fundamental and radical change should be made in our system. How is it possible for the head of the Education Department of the country to survey all the work of the year and to recommend the Estimates of the next year and yet give no hint of the defects in the existing system which this great new reform is going to remedy? I think the right hon. Gentleman himself will admit that his position this afternoon was a very extraordinary one.
§ Mr. PEASE
I should have been only too glad to point out the defects which require an alteration in law, but, under the rules of procedure in Supply, it would have been absolutely out of order. Therefore, I was very careful not to deal with any subject in connection with my Department, other than those of the administrative work of the year.
The right hon. Gentleman is undoubtedly bound by rules of order not to discuss the Clauses of a Bill, but under no conceivable rules of order was the right hon. Gentleman precluded from saying, "Here are great defects in the system which I am administering, and I shall have to bring in a Bill to put them right." My puzzle is this: I listened with great attention, but I could not detect any paragraph in the right hon. Gentleman's speech which gave the least hint or sug- 1434 gestion that he felt some great reform was required. That is a most extraordinary position for a Minister of Education to take up at the very moment when his colleagues in another place are sketching, in, I admit, a somewhat wavering outline and with no great definiteness of drawing, some gradiose revolution in the system which he is administering. On that he makes really no comment, and as to that we really know nothing whatever except that there is an industrious Committee of the Cabinet now occupied in threshing out the details. I do not know that the position of the Minister for Education was ever an easy one, but I should have thought that it could not be more difficult than that of the right hon. Gentleman who has described to us the work of the Board of Education, past, present, and future, without making the faintest suggestion or reference to those schemes which, day by day, or hour by hour, he is presumably discussing with his colleagues. I suppose the time will come, in a few weeks, when the veil will be lifted, and then we shall know what it is the Government propose.
I am far from being one of those who say that the present system ought not to be criticised. I am not one of those who think that we have no ground, or that the nation has no ground, for saying that we see our way clearly in this matter. Superstitions are very apt to grow around policies which may be adopted, but I should like to hear a really good commentary on our system of competitive examination. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down described the inscriptions of honour put up in the elementary schools recording the names of those who have successfully passed examinations. Ask any parent, from whatever class he may be drawn, who has a son at a secondary school or a university, what he most desires, and the answer will be, "Success in the examination." And so it goes on. I do not deny that in certain respects examinations, and even competitive examinations, are an absolute necessity. But I think we have got into the habit of talking of that which is an unhappy necessity as if it were an admirable institution. Examinations are really most soul-killing institutions. I believe they put the human mind absolutely in a wrong position with regard to knowledge. They are very bad for the teachers and very bad for the taught. You hear it said, "So-and-so's is a most admir- 1435 able school, and he is the best teacher ever known." The question is asked, "On what ground?" And the reply is to the effect that a certain proportion of his scholars get such and such a number of exhibitions, or whatever it may be. That, and that alone, is the test by which we measure the merits of the system, the results upon the child or young man, and the benefit to the country. I believe it to be wholly and utterly wrong from beginning to end. I am quite aware that some of the praisers of the old system say that we got better men in the public service, and here and there, in the old times, when there was not this violent competition. I know they exaggerate greatly, but do not let the Committee believe there is no truth in what they say. There is some truth in it. We do know, and if we take the trouble we shall all know more of the manner in which you sap the vitality of the young and make them so admirably adapted to successfully pass examinations that, when they have passed them, they are successfully adapted to nothing else whatever. I think a critic of the educational system in the old days, who criticised our ordinary method of education in those days, saw the dangers of it, because in those days there was great jealousy. The question was asked is education necessary, and the suggestion was that it did not matter. All that has gone.
We are now spending at a rate far higher than any country in Europe per head of population. We are no doubt lower than America, but the impression on my mind is that our expenditure per head of population is far greater in this country than in any country in Europe. Therefore we are committed, and rightly committed, to great national sacrifices to carry out a great national object. Now is the time when we ought to put aside all fads and superstitions and try to go to the root of the matter in order to see how these vast sums, because vast they are, even compared with our great resources, are well spent, and whether, if new objects are really required, at what cost it is necessary to acquire them. The impatience of the country—and it is a real impatience—at the enormous burden of this taxation, and still more under the enormous burden of the rates, is largely due, not merely to our natural reluctance to put our hands into our pockets and hand over to a public authority a large 1436 portion of our income. It is not merely that; it is that there is a certain amount of doubt whether we get anything for the money, or whether we get enough. Nothing will put that right but a real sifting examination into our fundamental ideas of education. I hope the Committee will not suppose that I know exactly the sort of education which I think should be adopted. I really do not. I could make a very good case against certain forms of education which are greatly in fashion. I will not even mention what they are, but I could make an extremely good case, and one which it would be uncommonly hard to answer.
Yet we have to be careful in dealing with these things. The perennial controversy is between that which is learned because we like learning, and that which is learned in order that we may earn our daily bread, and when education is based on a controversy which never yet has satisfactorily diagnosed the frontier between learning for its own sake and learning for the sake of some technical dexterity, that difficulty will always be presented to us. There is no use in this House running against the determination of the working people of the country to get what they consider a fair return for the labour of their children. I am not arguing that point at all. But do not suppose that you can run up against that kind of feeling with impunity. In districts abroad, where the whole population depends upon agriculture, education is most carefully carried out, and all the arrangements for education are made to suit the fact that the population is a population of small peasant owners, who cannot make their holdings pay unless their children help. If we extend, as I hope we shall extend, the system of small owners in this country, do you suppose they are going to tolerate a plan of education which prevents their children helping them after they have reached an age when they can help them in the necessary operations of agriculture, because the holidays are fixed at a certain time and the seasons do not suit that time. They will not stand it. They will not do it. That is only one illustration. You must consider the earnings of the people. You must make your system as flexible and as convenient as you can make it.
I must not allow myself to wander into these questions. But I do think, now it has become the settled policy of every fraction of every party, that there must be a great national system, it cannot be a 1437 cheap system. It is so firmly established that we can boldly criticise the details of it and try to accommodate it and cheapen it where it can be done without any great loss. I will only appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to do his best to influence the great and able Department of which he is the head, in their dealings with local authorities and especially in their dealings with poor local authorities, to remember that they are poor, and that what is suitable for a rich district is not necessarily suitable for a poor district. As to the absolute rules laid down with regard to central halls, passages, areas, and so on, they may be very good as ideals, which we may gradually hope to approach, but to force them on an unwilling population and on unwilling local authorities is really to do the greatest possible disservice to the great cause of education.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
It is difficult at all times to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, and on the present occasion it is even more so because he comes with the glamour of a welcome to this House in which all sides share. I venture to say the right hon. Gentleman would make out a good case on any side he took and he certainly made out a good case regarding certain matters this afternoon into which I propose to follow him. I will take, first of all, the point he makes with regard to competitive examinations. With his remarks on that particular question I find myself in entire accord. Competitive examinations are great drawbacks to our elementary and secondary schools. But will the right hon. Gentleman remember the cases where the honours board in elementary and secondary schools bear the names of pupils which got there, not so much because of competitive examinations, but because under the most up-to-date authorities the whole school record of the pupil is taken under review whenever a scholarship is awarded. That is particularly true of the Middlesex County Council, whose secretary, Mr. Gott, has been quoted with such excellent effect this afternoon. I am old enough to know the days when competitive examination killed the spirit of education even of our elementary schools; when we were allocated three reading books which we had to go through as many times as possible, and when the pupils were brought under review on one set day in the year, and woe betide the professional record which displayed too many noughts on the blue papers known as the schedules. 1438 Those were the days when it was education in name alone, and the real spirit was missing in the school. Those were the days when the infants in the schools went so thoroughly through their reading books that when the inspector came to test the reading of the class, it is recorded that in one case he found the children of an upper class went along with delightful speed, but when he suggested to one particularly bright child, "Cannot you read it without the book?" He got the reply, "Of course." That was a letter perfect accuracy which, though it received the maximum Grant, had nothing of true education about it. That is the sort of thing we desire to kill. May I follow the right hon. Gentleman with regard to his suggestion that the President should give us some indication of the proposals of the Government, and make a suggestion along the lines followed by the right hon. Gentleman, that what is required is less of new machinery, but more of financial lubricant. There is plenty of machinery. The President might very well concern himself with righting two or three anomalies, particularly in single-school areas, and provide what the local authorities are looking for in fuller measure, that is some of the necessary grease to keep the wheels in easy motion. I follow the right hon. Gentleman again with regard to his pointed allusion to the halls and passages in schools in rural districts. I want here to enter a caveat. The suggestion contained in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was that for rural districts something less good, or something less substantial, will serve than what is suitable or necessary in an urban area. To my mind, that is to fob off the rural child with something which is less effective, less educationally perfect, than what you are going to give to the child in the urban area. I cannot assent for one moment to that doctrine, and I trust the President of the Board will not assent to any such proposition. It is on all fours with the proposals which are made for a differentiated lower leaving age for a rural area as against the age for a town area. The suggestion is made that it is done on the Continent. I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to a country he knows well—the Scotch rural parishes. He will know that the leaving age in Scotch parishes has been fourteen, for years past. The agricultural efficiency reached there is as high as in any county in England, and higher than in counties where the rural wages are low and the rural leaving age is 1439 lower than it is in the agricultural parishes in Scotland. In fact, agriculture cannot thrive on a population which is driven to the fields too early in life. What agriculture needs is a higher leaving age with a thoroughly trained rural population, which will place agriculture where it ought to be, at the head of our industries.
I want to share in the congratulations to the President upon his excellent speech. If anyone has deserved an increment in salary it is the President, but it is one of the anomalies of English education that the President of the Board of Education receives a salary of £2,000 a year, while the President of the Board of Trade receives £5,000 a year. That is very typical of John Bull. The shop counts for more than the school. Although I am a Member of the Select Committee on the Estimates, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to pass without question the raising of the salary of the President of the Board of Education from £2,000 to £5,000, less because I am a believer in high salaries for Cabinet Ministers, but more for the significance of the thing, and in order that we should have education put in the public view on an equal footing with that accorded to trade, the War Department, and the Admiralty. I wish to follow the President in one or two things he has outlined to-day in special regard to secondary education. I think he has reason to congratulate himself on the enormous increase in the number of pupils in our secondary schools during the last few years. We have now something like 155,000 pupils in our State-aided secondary schools, as against something like one-fifth of that number twelve years ago. I want to call the attention of the President to the fact that the number of secondary schools from which he does not demand the 25 per cent. of free places still stands to-day where it stood last year. There are about 123 State-aided secondary schools which, for one reason or another, are allowed to have such regulations in their administration that they do not give that 25 per cent. or free places that is demanded from the majority which receive the maximum Grant per child in such schools. We have bad to-day such admirable testimony to the fact that the children from elementary schools are among the best pupils in secondary schools, and the testimony of the Report of the President of the Board of Education—upon whose excellence I desire to congratulate him—is such that 1440 I think the President might with justice closely scrutinise the reasons advanced on behalf of those schools which grant less than 25 per cent. of free places.
I hope that he will not take too serious notice of the suggestion made in the excellent speech of the hon. Member for Chorley (Sir H. Hibbert) that he should give the maximum Grant of £5 per pupil in respect of children under twelve in secondary schools. If you allow children under that age to come into secondary schools you may very well have places in them absorbed which ought to be reserved for the excellent pupils who are coming from the elementary schools. If you give the maximum Grant for children under twelve, is it not clear that you will give the authorities an additional inducement to open the doors of their preparatory departments to children who are not ready for secondary education at all, which is really to place an additional advantage in the way of those who desire to remove their children from the atmosphere of the elementary school. In my opinion it is to give a bonus to snobbery, and I say quite frankly it is fatal both to the best interests of the elementary schools and fatal to the best interests of the secondary schools, because it fills them with pupils not yet ready to absorb the best the secondary school can give. I want to congratulate the President on the attention which is now being given to the physical needs of the children. We are giving a wider definition to education. It is not now merely a little of the three "Rs" and an extra subject or two; we are now taking the whole of the development of the child under review, and education is being rightly regarded as the development of a child along its moral, spiritual, physical, and mental lines, and the President's excellent speech and report serve to show that the Board of Education is rightly reflecting the public view with regard to education and is showing that it regards the full development of the child as necessary for its full equipment for life.
I desire to call the President's attention to something which, if allowed to develop to any considerable extent, will be fatal, that is the idea that you should give vocational training of any considerable kind in the elementary schools. That is to miss the aim and function of elementary schools. It takes different forms in the mouths of different people. If you address a meeting, as it was my privilege to do, in the South-West of England, you have a 1441 representative of the local industry suggesting that children should be trained and their fingers developed along lines which would make them facile persons for improving the profits of the local mill. That is at the back of the minds of the individuals who say, "Let us have training in the elementary schools which will, when the children leave, make for their easy transfer from the school to the mill." They are going to help a beneficent Providence to fix the vocation for the child when the time comes for the choice to be made. In another quarter it is suggested that the years from twelve to fourteen should be an early apprenticeship to farming. That is the form it takes in connection with the Farmers' Union. With others it is a suggestion that you should teach carpentering as against handicraft; in other words, that you should regard the child as a kind of person who will be a cog in the wheel of industry. The child has an inherent right in itself to be regarded as an end in itself, and not as a means to an end, that end the production of great profits for those who run the industries of this country, whether agricultural or industrial.
This vocational training, which is believed in by some of the right hon. Gentleman's own inspectors, should be regarded with some suspicion when applied to elementary schools. I remember one gentleman, who is not now employed by the Board, who suggested that different classes should be started in the school according to the selected vocations of the children, and that the head teacher should apply himself to the individual training of little groups of would-be carpenters, engineers, postmen and so forth, as though that could be done with advantage in an elementary school. Surely, the object of an elementary school is to give a general literary training, which will afterwards allow vocational work in trade schools to supervene. Elementary schools should not be regarded as an early stage of apprenticeship to any industry. May I refer to a difficulty which has arisen in London and elsewhere which is associated with a great evil, that of attempting to make our classes fit our rooms. The late President of the Board introduced his Circular 709, which provided that classes should not exceed sixty in number. It was an admirable reform. [An HON. MEMBER: "And costly."] Very costly, but very necessary. May I suggest that the proposal of the London education authority to go one better and in a few years to reduce the 1442 numbers in a class to forty is an entirely admirable proposal and might well be emulated in the county of Durham and elsewhere? The point I wish to make is that to keep the numbers at sixty promotions are taking place at an enforced pace, and that children unfit for the class higher are being pressed into it so that the numbers shall be equalised so far as possible. That is to sacrifice educational efficiency on the altar of £ s. d., and that we ought not to tolerate. I should like to touch on one or two more points, one with regard to the supply of teachers. If we are to get an adequate supply of teachers I am quite certain that a worthy past inspector of the Board of Education may well have attention drawn to an admirable report that he wrote for the Board of Education as far back as the year of 1850, and those who desire to make comparisons of the present educational system with the system of years ago might do worse than turn to that old volume of reports, and they would find much interest and profit in reading them. This is what the Rev. W. J. Kennedy, in 1850, said with regard to the possibility of stimulating a proper supply of teachers:—What would contribute perhaps more than anything towards providing a competent body of masters is if there were some prizes in the market for the most deserving amongst them, namely, the appointment of the best masters to sub-inspectorships. It is beyond a doubt the presence of prizes at the Bar and in the Church of England which contributes to form so large and good a supply of able barristers and clergymen.The President of the Board of Education is attempting in small measure to obtain an increased inspectorate by recruiting it from the rank of teachers of elementary schools, but I wish to express my very keen regret that in the appointment of the twelve inspectors which he has in mind he proposes to limit his choice to head teachers. His words to-day will cause profound disappointment to thousands of competent assistant teachers who have worked hard and who have no hope of headships, but who are thoroughly qualified to take charge of the largest school that is available in this land, and yet many of them have deliberately remained in the towns though they could, if they had so minded, have gone to be heads of small rural schools years ago. Many of them hold depress and have qualifications, in teaching ability and the rest, equal to the best in the land, and yet the President proposes to cut this class off from any opportunity of getting one of these very much-desired appointments. It is less the salary which will draw them 1443 than the opportunity for taking a wider view of things, and the opportunity for exercising influence in a wider field of activity. I hope it is not too late for the President to reconsider his decision. Many of these men have already applied to him. Their applications are in his Department now, and therefore he ought not to cut off this golden hope of many of them by giving out his word to-day that their applications are to be thrown into the wastepaper-basket forthwith. It is not much to ask, but it is a great thing to them, and, without a doubt, it will give a stimulus to the whole of the assistant teachers in this country to know that some representatives of their grade are to be included in the numbers of those who are to be assistant inspectors I cannot conclude without joining in the thanks which have been given to the President for his excellent attempts to improve the schools by giving a better outlook to the teaching profession. His Bill of last year for improving the superannuation scheme for teachers will help to solve his difficulty in the matter of the teaching supply. His opening of the inspectorate will further assist it, and my own view is that when he has also added to this a superannuation scheme for teachers in secondary schools he will help to solve the difficulty of obtaining a suitable staff in them; and I hope that, whatever disappointment he feels in presenting his Report to-day, he will not be deterred from going forward with his Friend the Lord Chancellor to give us even better things in the future for the education of our children.
§ Sir PHILIP MAGNUS
I am sure everyone will agree with the hon. Member in his expression of the pleasure which the whole Committee has felt in listening to the inspiring address of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour). The right hon. Gentleman has drawn attention to some of the alleged causes of the unpopularity of education at present and the necessity of suiting the burden of the cost to the ability of different districts to pay. I also think the right hon. Gentleman has lifted the discussion to a higher level than discussions on education generally reach, and I very much regret that I shall have to refer to some of the uninteresting details of education to which the hon. Member has also referred, with whom on all points I cannot say I entirely agree. I think, while we are all grateful to the President for the able resume which he has given us of the 1444 work of the Board for the last twelve months, the interest which usually attaches to his speech on the Estimates is overshadowed, to some extent, by the coming event of the Education Bill, of which we have heard rumours. By means of the speeches made throughout the country by Cabinet Ministers curiosity has been very much aroused, although not satisfied, and endeavours have been made to excite enthusiasm and interest and attention in favour of the proposal made by the Government. I have no objection to what has been done, provided that when the Bill appears, the country suffers no disappointment in consequence of what I cannot help regarding as the somewhat exaggerated statements which have been made by Cabinet Ministers. I agree entirely with what the right hon. Gentleman said when he expressed regret that the President of the Board of Education, who is more cautious than many of his colleagues, has not given us any definite information as to the reform which it is proposed to introduce. I have on more than one occasion deprecated the passing of Education Bills, dealing with various educational problems, such as half-timers, continuation schools, single school areas, etc., by means of measures introduced by private Members, and I have said I consider the Government ought to take upon itself the responsibility of introducing some comprehensive measure dealing with those reforms, which the working of the Education Act of 1902 may have rendered desirable. With reference to the Act of 1902, we have heard many speeches from Members of Parliament, expressing disapproval of that Act, and I was glad to find that Lord Haldane, in the first of his speeches, said:—There could be no doubt as to the success of the Act of 1902, for which I have always had a weak side.That was a very satisfactory statement and I was still more pleased to see the President of the Board of Education stating only a few nights since thatThe Government were not going to pull up by the roots the system established under the Act of 1902.notwithstanding the fact that Lord Crewe who spoke only a few minutes before him, said:—The Education Act of 1902 never wits and never could be of itself the basis of a national system of education.These conflicting utterances of some of our great statesmen would seem to show that, whilst desirous of whetting the country's appetite for important educational 1445 developments, they themselves do not yet know what the provisions of the Bill to be introduced really are, and I think this explains, rather more than any point of Order, why it was that the President of the Board of Education was unable to respond to the invitation of my right hon. Friend, by indicating what may be the provisions of the important measure which he is about to introduce. I believe Members on this side of the House are quite prepared to give a sympathetic consideration, and indeed a cordial support, to any measure of educational reform which, without imposing any religious disabilities, will, under suitable conditions, raise the school-leaving age and will provide further facilities for continuity of education in day or evening schools, and we are all agreed also that where it is possible the size of school classes in elementary schools should be lessened in order that the teacher may be able to give more individual attention to each pupil. I would go further and say we are all agreed that the teaching profession, both as regards elementary and secondary teachers, should be made more attractive than it is at present in order that the great dearth in the number of teachers may no longer continue to exist. We think it necessary that higher salaries should be paid to competent teachers, that whenever it is possible certificated teachers in elementary schools should be substituted for uncertificated teachers, and that adequate superannuation allowances should be provided for all those who have devoted their whole-time service to the State. As regards our assistant teachers in secondary schools, it is a reproach to this country that their salaries should be so much less than they are in Germany. I find that there is only one scale of salaries among local education authorities in this country in which the maximum salary obtainable by assistant teachers in secondary schools for fifteen years' service is £300 per annum. When you glance through the Report of the Board of Education, on which to a large extent the right hon. Gentleman's speech was based, we realise the very great advances which have been made in education since the year 1902, and we, therefore, are less able to understand wherein this great revolutionary scheme of reform is to take place. The Report covers a vast area of ground and it deals with many questions to which the President has referred.
1446 There is one particular subject incidentally touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman, but occupying a larger amount of space in the recently published Report of the Board of Education, to which I desire to refer, and that is the conditions under which pupils are transferred from elementary to secondary schools. It would appear, from statements which have been made by some of our Cabinet Ministers within the last few weeks, that we are far behind other countries in the facilities provided for the passage of a child from an elementary to a secondary school. I think that is not the case. It very much depends on what we mean by a secondary school. Nearly everyone understands what is meant by a primary or elementary school, but there are not so many who could accurately define what we really mean by secondary education or secondary schools. Let us see for a minute how we stand as regards the progress that has been made since 1902.
In the year 1900 about 5,500 pupils front public elementary schools were receiving from public funds, other than endowments, aid towards continuing their education in secondary schools. In 1911–12, the number receiving free education in secondary schools was 49,120. Within ten years, therefore, the number of children receiving free education in secondary schools had increased tenfold. In this number is not included those receiving instruction in central schools and higher elementary schools, the education in which partakes of a secondary character. We have been told that the scholarship "ladder," as it has been called, can no longer be regarded as the proper figure for indicating the means of transfer from the elementary school to the secondary school. I have always thought that secondary was higher than primary, and that a ladder was a convenient instrument for getting from the ground floor to a higher storey. Of course, it must be remembered that mounting a ladder means climbing, and that climbing means effort, pulling oneself up; but in these days the general idea of education is that a child must not be required to put forth too much effort. Children must walk along the "primrose path," and instead of a ladder there must be a broad tesselated avenue along which the child may smoothly and easily pass. A striking contrast to this new theory of education is a statement in this year's Report. After considering the different means by 1447 which a child may be drafted from the elementary school into the secondary school, the Board say:—By general agreement the most satisfactory pupils from the elementary schools are those who obtain scholarships in open competition as distinguished from free places.I am quite in accord with those who think that children should be drafted into the secondary schools on the results of their work during their preceding school years, and on the records which the teachers are able to produce. At the same time it is a remarkable statement, and one that does not altogether accord with that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, and with the views of some hon. Members opposite. I think it is an important remark that should be taken into consideration in deciding as to the means to be adopted in transferring children from the elementary to the secondary schools. There is another question bearing on this of considerable importance, namely, the proper age for transferring a child from an elementary school to a secondary school. That is not by any means settled at the present time. Some say it should be between the ages of eight and ten; others say between ten and twelve, while some consider that it should be later than twelve. I cannot help thinking that this question of the age of transfer depends very much upon another important educational problem which is incidentally referred to in the Report of last year. The Report says:—The influx of an increasing number of scholars, destined in many cases for commercial or industrial callings, has emphasised the need of departing to some extent front the academic bias of the traditional secondary school curriculum, and of giving greater prominence to the work of a practical and vocational character.That statement does not refer to the education in elementary schools being of a vocational character, but it does indicate that the education in the secondary schools should in many cases be of a vocational character, and should not in all cases conform to the old traditional grammar school system. I cannot help thinking that, unless secondary schools can be established in which commercial and industrial subjects are largely substituted for the academic curriculum of the ordinary secondary schools, very little good will result from the transfer of a large number of pupils from the elementary to the secondary schools. I wish to impress upon the President of the Board of 1448 Education that what we want in the reform of our present system of education is the establishment of different types of secondary schools. If we are to have a broad avenue along which the child may pass from the elementary school, it is absolutely necessary that we should have different types of secondary schools into which children may enter. All comparisons, therefore, are incomplete and imperfect between this country and other countries, because certainly in Germany and France these different types of secondary schools already exist, and to my mind it is a mere waste of time, and a waste of public money, to send a large percentage of children from the elementary schools to the ordinary secondary schools which still have the academic bias of the traditional curriculum.
I should like to point out that it is a very great mistake to suppose that sound secondary education cannot be based on a curriculum of practical studies. Nearly every group of subjects well taught by competent teachers may be made the means of providing a liberal education, and what I think our Board would require to do is to encourage to a greater extent than has been done up to the present the formation and establishment of secondary schools, providing practical training and fitting children for commercial and industrial work. If such schools were established, the great difficulty of determining the suitable age at which a child should be transferred from the elementary to the secondary school would be removed, because the elementary school would then give just that kind of preparation which would enable the pupil to profit by the higher instruction in the secondary school. The child might then be retained in the elementary school until he reached the age of fourteen when he would be qualified to enter the special type of secondary school which I have indicated, in which his education might be continued without any break. It is by the better organisation of our secondary schools that we should be able to link up our elementary and secondary schools and break down the barrier which at present exists between these schools. When told that in Germany and France a larger percentage of the children in elementary schools receive secondary education, hon. Members omit to notice that the secondary education in these cases is in science, practical work, and modern languages, and is very different from the ordinary secondary education which is given in our own schools.
1449 I am glad that a beginning has been made in this direction by the Board of Education. The Board move rather slowly, but still it is satisfactory to read in a recently issued report that—an increasing number of schools tend to combine with a course of general education instruction in subjects which have a direct bearing on vocational pursuits—industrial, commercial and rural—adapted to the needs of the locality.I was very glad to learn from the president of the Board of Education that the number of what are called central schools or higher elementary schools, which I think might be regarded as lower technical schools or practical secondary schools, have somewhat increased during last year, but even at the present time it is ridiculously inadequate, when we remember that the total number of these schools does not, I think, exceed forty-nine. I referred last year in discussing the Education Estimates to the necessity of giving still farther practical education even in our elementary schools. When I speak of practical education, I certainly do not mean vocational education. I mean that kind of instruction which forms an excellent educational discipline. The improvement that has taken place during the past year in giving more practical instruction in elementary schools is not very great. I find that out of 5,617,823 children who are at present in our elementary schools—I suppose half of them may be taken as boys—only 281,286 are receiving any kind of practical instruction; that is to say, in our elementary schools which ought to be giving preparation for vocational training there are not more than one in ten who are receiving any kind of manual training. I venture to hope that some improvement may take place in this respect in future years. I do not believe any improvement can take place until the Board insist upon regarding some sort of practical teaching as a necessary part of elementary instruction. I know quite well that must involve larger expenditure, but nearly all the reforms which are contemplated will necessarily involve greater cost, and I agree entirely with every speaker who has preceded me that that cost must come much more largely from the Imperial Exchequer than from the local rates. It was said by Lord Crewe the other night that "the Englishman pays his taxes in sorrow and his rates in anger." To a great extent that is true. It is quite impossible that any of these reforms to which I have referred, and which are really 1450 necessary in order that our system of education may be improved, can be carried into effect unless the President of the Board is prepared, when he introduces his great revolutionary measure, at the same time to state that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is willing to make a much larger Grant out of the Exchequer fund so as to supplement the amount of assistance which is at present given.
§ Mr. JONATHAN SAMUEL
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member (Sir Philip Magnus) in his long dissertation upon secondary schools. There are one or two points in what he stated in connection with secondary schools to which I would like to refer. I understood him to say that he was in favour of what he called a secondary-secondary school. That is to say a secondary school of a lower grade, which would allow the boys and girls of the working classes to be educated with regard to trade subjects.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I did not mention necessarily trade subjects, nor did I refer to trade schools. There is no reason whatever for supposing that secondary education of a practical character is in any way of a lower grade than that of a literary character.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
There is a feeling extant that the secondary education that would fit these boys and girls of the working classes should be of a lower class, differing from that of the grammar schools. If there is any suggestion on the part of the Board of Education to alter the type of secondary education given now in our public secondary schools, which are provided by the public authorities, there will be a very strong opposition to any lowering of the type of education now given in those secondary schools.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I did not suggest any lowering of the type. I suggested a differentiation of the type. There is no necessity for it to be lowered.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
We do not want even a differentiation between the class of education given to all scholars who enter these schools. If there are boys or girls, however poor they may be, who desire to have a classical education they ought to receive that education without any desire to give them a lower type. With regard to higher elementary schools, the hon. Member ought to remember that the destruction of the higher elementary 1451 schools is entirely due to the Cockerton judgment. We had a very large number of these elementary schools in our boroughs before that judgment was given, and many of these schools were practically destroyed and turned into secondary schools, and some of them into elementary schools. I am glad to say that many of our public authorities are re-establishing higher elementary schools, and I hope that they will grow; but the fact that the Cockerton judgment did destroy these higher elementary schools has discouraged very much the local authorities in re-establishing them, because they are uncertain what the next policy may be. It is the same with the manual training. In former years, under the system of the higher elementary schools, manual training was given to a very large extent. That was also destroyed by the Cockerton judgment, and we are only now beginning to re-establish this system of education. One word about the shortage of teachers, which was referred to by the President and also by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Goldstone). I believe that the shortage of teachers is due, to a great extent, to the destruction of the pupil teachers' centres. I think the change in policy of the Board of Education from time to time is very disconcerting to local education authorities. We established a system of pupil teachers' centres where there were very few facilities to transfer the pupil teachers to the secondary schools. Then we had a great change by which all the pupil teachers, or those who were training to become pupil teachers, should enter the secondary schools. Now I am glad to say that the Board of Education in some districts are reverting to the pupil teachers' centres, and I believe that they are, with the consent and on the demand of the local authorities, re-establishing these centres in different places. I would like to congratulate the President of the Board of Education upon his statement. Though I had not the pleasure of hearing the whole of it, there is one aspect of it upon which I think we can all congratulate him: it is that there is quite a different feeling now between the local authority and the Board of Education, and I hope that that spirit will grow. But I was much disappointed not only with the Estimates, but with the statement, because, although the right hon. Gentleman stated that he was still pressing upon the Treasury his desire for further Grants 1452 to local authorities, there was no hope held out of these Grants for the forthcoming year. Any Member looking at the Estimates will find that there actually is a decrease in the Grants in respect of public elementary schools of £14,695, and while there is an enormous increase in the cost of education throughout the country, we find that the Government are actually decreasing the Grants to public elementary schools.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Trevelyan)
The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. There is a reduction, no doubt, in the Estimates, but the reason is owing to an overestimate in previous years. The Grants are under Statute, and therefore we cannot alter them. The reduction is merely because there was an overestimate for previous years, and we wish to make a true Estimate now.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
That may be a reason, but I think there are, as I shall show presently, other reasons why the Grant may not be so big. I think that the Government is in the position of these local authorities; in fact, all public authorities now are in the position that they cannot find money, and the Government is in exactly the same position this year. We are voting something like £43,000,000 more than we did a few years ago, and the Government are bound to find this increase. There is an increase of £27,000,000 in the civil expenditure, and of about £13,000,000 in the naval and military expenditure. None of us object to the expenditure on the civil side, but some of us do object to the increasing expenditure on the naval and military side, and as long as this largely increased expenditure will proceed, I am quite certain that our Government and no other Government can continue to increase the expenditure or increase the taxes with a view of assisting local authorities. Therefore I hope to see the day when we shall have a greatly decreased expenditure on the naval and military service, so that education may have a chance of increased Grants. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) is not here, because I should like to call his attention to one statement which he has made. He seems to attribute the large increase in the cost of education to something which this Government has forced upon the local authority. There I think he is absolutely wrong. The large increase 1453 in the local expenditure is due entirely to the Act of 1902.
I have had the pleasure of being a member of a local education authority ever since that Act came into operation, and anyone who is connected with a local education authority, and has studied the increased expenditure, knows that it is not due to medical examination. That is entirely a fallacy. In the county Durham, in which I live, the increased cost per scholar between the years 1906 and 1912 was 19s. 8d. I am giving this as an illustration. Only 6d. of that increase is due to medical inspection. Eleven shillings is due to increased cost of teachers. We were bound to level up the very large difference between the teachers who were in the old voluntary schools when we became responsible for them and the teachers in the other schools. The loans charges have been increased by 4s. 3d. per scholar. That is entirely due to the very large increase in the cost of new buildings. I should have thought that the Government in any case would have come forward—and, indeed, I think that a few years ago they promised that they would come forward and give a Special Grant to local authorities who were compelled to build new schools for a growing population—and have taken over a very large number of schools which were formerly voluntary. That makes up an increase of 16s. 8d. The increase in administration only amounts to 7d., and the cost of maintenance to 3s. 4d., altogether the great increase in the cost of elementary education is due to three things. First, increased cost of teachers; second, the loans upon new buildings; and third, the increased cost of the maintenance of schools. Therefore it is an entire fallacy for anyone to state that it is due to medical inspection, because out of this total increase of 19s. 8d. per scholar only 6d. is due to what this Government have forced upon the local authority.
How has this large increase been provided? In these six years the Government Grant has increased from 38s. to 41s., an increase of 3s. per scholar, while the charge on the rates has increased from 13s. 7d. to 31s. 3d. per scholar, an increase of 15s. 10d., as against the 3s. increase provided by the State. It is quite impossible for this difference between the local and national expenditure to go on as it is at present, and some local authorities will be compelled to stop providing schools unless they can get some further assistance from the State. There is another reason why I think the increase is due to the Act 1454 of 1902. I know one local authority in my own Constituency whose rate has gone up this year 3d. in the £. That is due entirely to the fact that under Section 10 of the Act of 1902, in reference to what are called the Necessitous Schools Grants, the penny has produced just above the 10s. per scholar. Owing entirely to the fact that it is based upon the county rate basis and not upon the borough basis, the increase in the rate has been 3d. in the £. That should not be. This system of giving this Grant should be altered, and it should be given upon ratings rather than upon this system of whether a penny rate will produce 10s. per scholar or not, because it is not based upon what is the local assessment by the borough authorities but based upon the county assessment, which is quite a different assessment altogether. For that reason alone I think that the Government ought to see that there is a different system of giving Grants to local authorities than under the Section which I have quoted. I was reading the other day of a discussion in an adjoining borough as to the rate, which had reached to no less than 2s. 3d. in the £; in fact, the rate is 2s. 1d. in one of the towns I have the honour to represent, while in another adjoining borough it is 2s. 3d. It is quite impossible for the local authorities to continue this great expenditure without getting further aid from the State. Therefore I join in the appeal which has been made, that the Government should endeavour to obtain larger Grants for the local authorities. I am not altogether a believer in Grants-in-Aid, for I think they very often lead to very great extravagance on the part of the local authorities, but I do think that in our system of education, where the local authorities practically are compelled to go on increasing their burdens by making provision for all kinds of education at the request of the Central Department, there is justifiably a strong demand from the local authorities for increased aid, and I press upon the Board of Education and the Treasury, between them, to consider whether either this year or next they cannot increase, by a few millions at least, the Grants to the local authorities.
I am sure, like every other speaker, I thoroughly re-echo the statement that there is need of further Grants to local authorities, because in every part of the country the education rate at the present time is most onerous. The reason I rise is to draw the attention 1455 of the representatives of the Education Department to Section (a), Clause 3, of the Code. It is rather obscure, but the effect of Order 10 is that no teachers are to be eligible for certain positions except those teachers who have gone through the training college. I think that is a great mistake. In the first place, whether teachers do or do not go through the training college is to a great extent a question of £ s. d. The college fees take up at least one year of the teacher's salary, and he can earn nothing during the time he is going through his period of training. Surely it is a mistake to make it more difficult for members of the working classes to attain the position of head teachers, which is the practical result of Order 10. At the present time, as everybody knows, there is a great dearth of elementary teachers in the country, and, if this Clause of the Code is persisted in, this dearth of elementary school teachers is bound to go on rather than to decrease.
At the present moment there are a good many people who are members of the working classes, but is it likely that in future they will send their children to become teachers if they know that it will be impossible for them to be promoted to the position of head teachers. It is a very debatable point whether they who have gone through the training college or those who have not done so are the most competent teachers. Personally, I have the honour of being a governor of an extremely good training college, and I cannot speak too highly of the work which is done there. But what is really wanted as regards teachers is character — the character of the head teacher which develops the minds of the children in his school, and I submit that if there is anything in the Code which prevents teachers who have character and aptitude for teaching from rising to the position of headmasters, simply and solely because they have not gone through the training college, the Government should alter it. I have drawn attention to this point at the request of certain friends of mine who are much greater experts on the subject of education than I can profess to be, but I do hope the Government will listen to the appeal that I have made on the subject.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I desire to call the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. 1456 Trevelyan) to what I think is the most important subject that emerges both from the Report that has been issued by the Board and from the general educational discussion now proceeding. That question is the relation between elementary and secondary education; for that I think is the urgent problem that has yet to be considered in an adequate and scientific manner. I am very much surprised myself that the introduction of the Code has not been referred to in the course of this Debate. I refer to the reprinted Code which was issued last year, and the introduction to which emphasises what I think is the weakest part of our system of national education—that is, regarding elementary education, not as an education appropriate to a certain age, but as an education appropriate to a certain class or rank in life, and regarding secondary education, not as the education in all its varied forms appropriate to the age reached by children, but appropriate for a certain social rank in life. I have referred, in illustration of this idea upon which our educational system is based, to this introduction to the code, which states that the purpose of a public elementary school among other things is to fit the girls and boys practically as well as intellectually for the work of life—as though it were in itself a complete system for the purpose. Another paragraph states:—It will be of importance for the subsidiary objects of the schools to discover individual children who show promise of exceptional capacity to develop their special gifts, so far as this can be done without sacrificing the interests of the majority of the children, so that they may be qualified to pass at the appropriate age to a secondary school and be able to derive the maximum from the education thereof.It will be clear to the Committee from that extract that what is contemplated is, not the education in our elementary schools as a recognised avenue to an advance to further education in secondary schools, but a system to be regarded, in the vast majority of cases, as complete in itself, with a view to exceptional children climbing what has been called the ladder of the secondary school. I want to put to the Board a different idea, which I am quite sure is before the Board in part, but which has certainly never been acted upon. I want to suggest that we ought to regard the training in elementary schools as merely a preparation for whatever further training of an intellectual, literary, and practical character the pupil is to receive later in life. I think that we want to get rid of the idea that for the great mass of the children of the country it is sufficient 1457 for them to pass through the elementary schools and then to proceed equipped for the work of life. The very report that I have referred to, issued as my hon. Friend says, only two days ago, shows how unrelated the system is, and there is a very able statement in it of the difficulties that are at present encountered. One of those difficulties is very properly referred to in the report, and it is a difficulty that the authorities of the secondary schools find themselves in when the children from elementary schools come to them.
They find that they have left the elementary schools too late, and that they have to spend a large amount of time in making up the lost ground, ground that has been gained by children who entered the secondary schools at an earlier age. Can there be any more eloquent testimony to the entirely unrelated systems of elementary and secondary education? I suggest that one great reform that has to be carried out is that of giving a far greater liberty in arranging the curricula of elementary schools in order that the later education in the secondary school may not be wasted upon the child who has passed through the elementary school. I suggest that the education authorities, especially those education authorities who have within their own borders the charge both of elementary education and of secondary education, should arrange the two systems so that they naturally fit the one into the other. A national system of education means that the elementary schools should be so varied, so good, so efficient, that they become in time the common schools of the nation, in the same way that in some parts of the States of America the common school has been evolved; that these elementary schools should be the normal and appropriate method of taking the children of our nation between certain ages from the elementary schools to pass, without any discrimination of rank, to the secondary schools appropriate to their natural gifts and capacities. That means that we want a great increase, not only in the number, but in the variety of the secondary schools. I suggest that we should do well to regard as secondary education all forms of education, whether technical, vocational, or literary, that are appropriate to the child after leaving the elementary school.
It being a Quarter-past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of 1458 Ways and Means, under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.