§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £9,480,621, 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, 1915, 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.]
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
I make this Motion in order to afford an opportunity of discussion to a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House who, I understand, are very desirous of bringing forward certain questions in regard to the Administration of the Board of Education. I must express my regret that not more than three hours and twenty minutes will be available for a discussion of the important question of education in this country, towards which so many millions of money are to be devoted. I regret this all the more, having regard to the fact that we are not to have the benefit of 1206 that introductory speech which the present President of the Board of Education has always made when introducing the Estimates, and in which he has given us a very full survey of the condition of education in this country at the present time, and the progress that has been made during the past year. I regret it the more because we understood two years ago that a comprehensive measure of educational reform was to be introduced into this House, and I had hoped, and I have no doubt many of my hon. Friends also hoped, that the President of the Board of Education on this occasion would have been able to give us some idea of the principal provisions of that measure, although it may not be introduced this Session. It was even more necessary that he should do so considering the statements which have been made on various platforms, if not by himself, certainly by one of his colleagues, as to the grave defects of our present system of education, and as to the methods proposed to remedy those defects.
The President himself, together with the Permanent Secretary, has lately visited Germany with a view to inquire into some of the details connected with elementary education in that country, and I think he will be the first to state that the condition of elementary education in this country is not so bad as has been represented, certainly by one of his colleagues. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman will not be able to give us an account of his visit to Germany which we are all very anxious to hear. I think the President of the Board of Education will be ready to support me when I say that I believe, on the whole, elementary education in this country is more advanced than in Germany, although not so advanced as in some parts of France. As regards practical instruction it is only in recent years that the Germans have introduced any practical instruction at all into their schools. Not long ago the idea of putting up workshops in connection with their elementary schools would have been absolutely ridiculed by German educationists, but recently when they came over here and saw what we had done they went back and wisely imitated us in that respect. It is so often stated that Germany is in advance of this country that I think it is as well to say something in favour of the educational system here. Our elementary education is fairly good, but it is certainly susceptible of improvement in certain directions.
1207 Here I desire to call attention to a matter to which I have referred to on more than one occasion, but it is only by reiteration and insisting upon a subject that we can get anything done. The point I wish to refer to is the inadequate and insufficient encouragement which is still given to practical instruction in our elementary schools. I am very glad to learn that the Board of Education are proposing to encourage manual training in our training colleges. That is a very wise step on their part, because unless our teachers are conversant with the methods of manual teaching the good results which we expect to derive from that method of instruction are not likely to be realised. I may add that in France every instructor in an elementary school is obliged to go through a course of manual training, and I hope that before long our training colleges will give that instruction which is so indispensable to successful teaching. I notice from, the Board's Report that during the Session 1912–13, in seventy-one areas in England no provision whatever was made for instruction in any branch, of handicraft. It is true that the number of scholars has increased from 241,733 in 1910–11 to 259,393 in the years 1911–12. But this is a very small proportion of the 6,000,000 pupils who are being educated in our public schools. If, in addition to handicraft in all its various forms we include domestic subjects and gardening, which is taught in some of our schools, the total number of children who are receiving manual instruction of any kind at the present moment does not exceed 800,000. That is to some extent, but not wholly, the fault of the Board of Education, and it is for that reason that I refer to this subject now. Handicraft teaching, which, in the opinion of all recognised authorities in this country is of the greatest possible value, and is of equal importance with what we generally understand as the three R's, is still regarded by the Board of Education as a special or extra subject, and is not placed in the same position as the ordinary subjects in the code. Notwithstanding certain questions which I have recently addressed to the President of the Board of Education the manual training teacher, however well trained he may be, and although he may devote the whole of his time to this kind of teaching, is placed in an inferior position to other teachers, and is not enabled at the present moment to come within any State supported scheme of superannuation.
1208 I hope that these matters will be considered very carefully, so that handicrafts may be made an essential and obligatory part of our elementary education.
Another point I wish to refer to is one of the most important questions which are now under the consideration of this country, and that is the question of the education of children between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. We have heard a great deal about the waste of money and effort in consequence of the fact that such large numbers of children leave our elementary schools and go into different occupations, some of them blind alley occupations, in which they forget a great deal of what they have learned, and when they require to receive more advanced instruction in some of our science or technical classes they are wholly unfit to take advantage of the instruction that is there provided for them. Now this great waste of money on teaching, and its results has generally been recognised, but I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman what he has done to remedy this defect. Private Members, with more zeal sometimes than knowledge of the difficulties connected with this subject, have introduced Bills into this House, and some of their suggestions have been of so extravagant a character that they could not possibly receive the support of this House. The question I have referred to is to my mind one of the most serious that the Board of Education have to consider, and so far they have left it largely to private members, instead of doing what I cannot help thinking is essentially their duty—that is, preparing a scheme and backing it up by Government support. Much has been said of the necessity of compelling young persons to attend evening continuation classes, but those who make these suggestions too often fail to realise the very great difficulties which are in the way of compelling young persons between the age of fourteen and seventeen to attend classes of this kind. I wish to take this opportunity of placing before the Board of Education through the President some of the questions which I cannot help thinking the Board should consider before asking the local authorities to compel young people to attend classes of this kind. In the first place, it is the duty of the Board of Education to indicate what should be the kind of instruction given to the children who are expected to attend these classes. I have not seen that question dealt with in any of the Bills that have been brought 1209 before Parliament, and I am not aware that the Board of Education has yet considered it. If you are to compel children to attend continuation classes you must first settle what sort of instruction you are going to give them, because it is absolutely essential that the instruction should be practical, or otherwise, whether you compel them or not, they will derive very little benefit from the teaching that is given. Therefore, the kind of instruction given seems to me the first matter that ought to engage the attention of the Board. Having decided that, the Board might recommend the local authorities to adopt some approved scheme. At the same time the greatest possible liberty and freedom of action ought to be left to the local authorities, who are in many cases far more competent than the Board of Education to indicate the nature of the instruction to be given. Then it has to be settled whether these continuation classes should be held in the day or in the evening. We have heard from nearly all quarters that evening continuation classes in this country for children between these ages are a failure, and I am inclined to agree. I do not think that it is reasonable to ask young people between thirteen and seventeen to attend evening classes after their day's work is over. You are asking of them a great deal more than they can do, and, if you were to attempt to compel them to do so, you would be compelling them at the risk of their own health and physical development. Therefore, if the evening classes are a failure, as has been stated on numerous occasions, it is for the Board of Education to see in what way they can induce children to attend classes during the daytime, and for that reason it is most important that they should put themselves in communication with employers of labour, because it is only by an arrangement with employers of labour that we can induce them to allow their employés to attend classes in the daytime, and at the same time, we hope, not take away from them any of the wages which they earn. That is another question which I think should be considered.
There is something else. Can we say at the present time that there exist buildings in which these day classes can be held? I am not aware of any. You could not expect day classes to be held in the ordinary elementary schools. You would require separate buildings in which the classes could be held. It appears to me 1210 that all those who have made wild statements about compelling children at the present time to attend day continuation classes have failed to consider some of the most important questions which have to be solved before any such scheme can be brought into general operation. At the present time one does not know what the instruction is to be, and in what buildings that instruction is to be given. Another important question is who are to-be responsible, if children are to be compelled to attend these classes, for such compulsory attendance, and, I would say further, under what Department of State? It would be very difficult to compel parents to send their children to school and to fine them if they failed to do so; and it would be equally difficult to compel children to attend and punish them if they did not do so. It has not yet been settled under what Department of State these continuation schools should be held. It may not be generally known that in Germany, and I believe also in France, these continuation schools are held under the Board of Trade and not under the Board of Education. The reason assigned is that the instruction should be of a practical character, adapted to the occupations in which the children are to be engaged, and it is thought that the Board of Trade is better qualified than the Board of Education to deal with trade instruction as distinguished from academic education. As I have stated, the evil is recognised, and the question is, What remedy should be provided?
I would ask the Board, in taking this matter into their grave consideration, not to be influenced to too great an extent by what they see being done in Germany with regard to these schools. We have heard a great deal about the system of continuation schools in Germany, and particular notice has been made in this House of the schools which are established in Munich. We have not heard from the President of the Board of Education and the Permanent Secretary what is their opinion of the schools which have been established in Munich. I think anyone who has made himself acquainted with the continuation classes in that city will certainly recognise that they cannot be very well initiated in this country. We have to recognise that the whole conditions of industry are different here from what they are in other countries, and nothing is more unwise 1211 than to attempt to transplant from any foreign country a system of education which is found to be attended with good results there. I was very surprised to find that so great an authority as Lord Haldane has spoken in the most favourable terms of the system of schools existing in Germany, and particularly in Munich. He went so far to say that this country is in grave peril of losing its commercial position in consequence of our not having schools of the same kind. He said, in a speech made not long ago:—The British workman finishes his education at thirteen. In many parts of the Continent their training was now going on to sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen, not a training merely in general education, but in the chief points of the calling which the workman was going to exercise in the future. We should have to face that in six or seven years from now.We have had to face that for the last twenty years, and I do not hesitate to say that the system of training in connection with the workman's trade does not stop in this country at the age of thirteen, or at the age of eighteen. It goes on to the age of twenty-one or even later. There is no country in Europe in which the facilities offered to a workman to continue his education in connection with his trade are equal to those that can be obtained in this country. I hope for that reason that we shall not hear much more about the continuation schools in Munich. I have looked into this matter and have found that in these schools, instruction is provided for chimney-sweeps, for stokers, for printers, for hairdressers, and for butchers. I find that for every twenty-five apprentices in the city of Munich a separate trade school is started. The schools are held in the day time, and the hours of attendance are about six or eight in the week. There are about fifty different trade schools in the city of Munich. We want in this country to establish continuation schools for children when they leave the elementary schools, and before they enter any economic occupation. These schools, on the contrary, are for those who are already apprentices, and who have found useful employment. It is to the advantage of employers that they should have the opportunity of sending their apprentices to a school where they will learn the details of their trade, which it is the duty of the employers to teach them. Compulsion is not necessary, because, of course, the employers are only too glad to have the opportunity of sending their apprentices there.
§ Mr. ROWNTREE
May I ask whether some of the children do not go straight from the elementary schools into these other schools?
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
Very few of them. Of course, both in Germany and in France there are higher schools into which many of the children are drafted. That is particularly the case in France. Of course, these continuation schools, either in this country or in any other country, are only intended for those who are unable to attend higher elementary or secondary schools. One is glad to note that a much larger percentage of the children in this country have the advantage of secondary education now, and I should be very glad if we could see further encouragement given to those central schools, or higher elementary schools, which are included in our national system of education, but which for one reason or another do not appear to have been so successful as we might wish to have seen them. I suggest, therefore, that before attempting to introduce compulsion for children of the ages to which I have referred, in place of the voluntary efforts which are already being made, we should settle those matters to which I have drawn the attention of the Committee. Personally, I do not think that any course would be better than that the Board of Education should at an early period appoint a Departmental Committee consisting of representives of local education authorities, of employers, and of other persons engaged in education, to consider the various important questions which I have ventured to bring under the notice of the House.
§ Sir JAMES YOXALL
The speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down contained some very valuable suggestions and some wise criticisms, not only upon existing conditions in our elementary educational system and continuation system, but also upon some of the remedies which are brought to us by enthusiastic persons from abroad. I would, if I might go so far, point out to my hon. Friend that perhaps he himself may have appeared to lay a little too much stress upon the importance of what is called manual training in our elementary schools. I agree that for a very large number of children, perhaps the majority, at our public elementary schools, manual training is a thing to be afforded and encouraged, but I would also point out that there are in every school a 1213 considerable number of children who are fitted for other than manual occupations, and I would therefore plead that the balance of instruction between scientific and literary, and manual and practical, that which will fit children not only to make a living, but also to live, should be maintained as far as possible. I also agree with my hon. Friend in what he said as to recent efforts by private Members to affect the conditions and by-laws with regard to the age of school attendance. Again and again in recent years we have had introduced in this House by private Member's Bills of too large a scope for a private Member's Bill, proposing changes, alterations, and amendments of too drastic a nature for the private Member or the promoters of a private Member's Bill to hope to carry through this House. I agree also that the efforts of private Members having failed, the onus of some effort in this direction lies more strongly on the Board of Education, and putting these together with the suggestions which the hon. Member has put forward that we should have legislation to secure something like compulsory attendance at continuation schools—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is now dealing with a question of legislation. He must confine himself to the administration of the Education Board under the existing Statute law.
§ Sir J. YOXALL
I was going to suggest, In face of proposals of the kind to which allusion has been made, it would be well for the Board of Education to devote itself to extending and improving the system in ordinary elementary schools, and to making better provision for continuation education than now exists. One essential way of improving your system of elementary education is, of course, to provide more money for the purpose from central sources. We have had during the last few months from the right hon. Gentleman very valuable statements as to what the Board of Education intend to do upon this point. We understand they propose to take the earliest opportunity for so changing the arrangement of Grants to public elementary schools as to encourage, by further monetary aid, those local educational authorities who do their duty in this respect very well, and to penalise to some extent those who do not do their duty very well, and also by general provisions to secure an improvement in the work done in public elementary schools. 1214 If there can be added to that some administrative provision with regard to existing by-laws, giving power to the Board of Education to do away with such by-laws as permit of irregular and interrupted attendance at school; if, for example, the half-time system of attendance in Yorkshire and Lancashire could be abrogated; and if the local authorities' by-laws regarding the optional leaving of school earlier than the statutory age could be modified and discouraged, these things, together with an improved system of Grants, and a more complete system of attendance at public elementary schools would go far to prepare children, while in these schools, for continuing their education after they have passed the school age, and might help to make them more anxious to go on voluntarily with their education after leaving school. These are points to which, no doubt, my right hon. Friend has already directed his attention, but I should like to impress upon him that he cannot too soon or too forcibly endeavour to bring them about.
There are questions with regard to the money already promised by the Board of Education to what are known as necessitous school areas. I have no doubt my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Sir Henry Hibbert) will deal with this subject in his speech, but I am anxious that the city I have the honour of representing in this House should, to as large an extent as possible, receive aid out of this Grant, and we shall be glad to hear from the President of the Board of Education what are the proposals he intends to put forward and, if possible, what are the amounts which may be granted to new participants. There is a question with regard to certain schools in London at the present moment to which I wish to draw attention. Inquiries have been made in the London county area as to the structural conditions of many of the schools. A number have been scheduled in three classes, according to the defects in their structure and the need for improvements in the buildings and playgrounds, as well as the necessity for lighting the rooms. I am very far from saying that that action of the Board of Education is not entirely justified, and ought not to have been carried out. As far as I am concerned, I am not particularly interested in the aspect of the question which affects the denominational teaching in many of these schools; but I do wish to draw the attention of the Board of Trade to the fact that by these 1215 schedules and by the administration of the board which is to arise under Schedule A and the recommendations for improvements, the position of many teachers in these schools may be seriously affected. These teachers have served efficiently for many years in circumstances, to say the least, of much discouragement, and now they find themselves in danger of losing their posts altogether, and of not being able to obtain similar positions elsewhere. The closing of these schools may be a very serious thing for some of these teachers, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to keep that in view, and to do anything he possibly can for them whenever occasion may arise.
Reference was made by the hon. and learned Member for the University of London to the fact that teachers of manual training in the public elementary schools are excluded at present from any system of State superannuation which is extended to other teachers. He might have added that the teachers of domestic subjects, which are of the greatest possible advantage to the girls, are likewise excluded. These teachers are often very highly qualified, particularly those in domestic subjects, who have to pass through along and expensive training in schools especially established for that purpose, and who are now doing most excellent work. The system of instruction in manual and domestic subjects is of comparatively recent establishment when compared with the teaching in public elementary schools, but surely the time has now arrived when the Board of Education should take into consideration provisions for extending to these teachers the advantages in regard to providing for old age which are accorded to the other teachers. I understand a Report has been presented to the Board of Education by a Committee which examined the question of the Superannuation of Teachers in Secondary and Technical Schools and Colleges, and I am told also that the recommendations of that Committee would enable those teachers who instruct in manual and domestic subjects in secondary schools to enter into the prospective scheme of superannuation. But that would not make provision for teachers of these subjects in the ordinary elementary schools. I am glad to gather from the Estimates for next year that a sum of money is being provided for the purpose of financing this system for the superannuation of teachers in secondary 1216 and technical schools, and I hope that when the Board of Education are perfecting their plans for this purpose they will take into consideration, so far as they possibly can, the cases of the teachers to whom I have just alluded, and I also trust they will take into consideration another very important suggestion, namely, that the service given originally in public elementary schools by teachers now engaged in secondary schools shall count for purposes of superannuation. That is a detail of great importance which I do not hesitate to draw to the careful attention of my right hon. Friend.
I hope I may be permitted to say, with regard to the general administration of the schools by the Board of Education, the inspection of the schools and the oversight and care of the Board of Education in respect to the schools as a whole, that it is not easy to discover an opportunity for finding much fault. That may be a negative way of stating the matter, but in the past so much fault has been found and so many occasions for finding fault have existed that to comment on the absence of the need to find fault is a compliment. I desire to tender to my right hon. Friend and his officers the thanks of many people in this country who feel that they have now at the head of the Board of Education sympathetic and understanding persons, who are as anxious as anybody possibly can be to help the schools financially more than has been the case in the past, and to give as much help as they possibly can to the local authorities and the teachers as well. But there is one Department of the Board of Education which I must exempt from these remarks. I cannot say that in my own opinion or in the opinion of a great number of persons connected with the art schools of this country, whether they are managers or teachers of those schools, that the work done in the technical branch of the Board of Education is carried out in an efficient or sympathetic way. I have alluded to the desire of the President of the Board of Education to supply more of the sinews of war to the elementary schools, but I find that in the cases of fifty or sixty of the art schools in this country, the sinews of war, hitherto too scantily supplied, have been diminished. A Grant based upon attendance, upon an elaborate system of registration, and possibly in respect of students who are occupied in working during the daytime and are expected to attend the art schools in the evening is not, perhaps, the best form of 1217 Grant, but when a Grant based on the attendances of people who are busy all day long is reduced because of a technical failure to complete the number of attendances, though nearly that number has been attained and very good work has been done by the student—when the Grant is reduced and the school weakened, it cannot be said that the Board of Education in that department of its operations is doing what it certainly ought to do and what it can do for the encouragement of the teaching in these schools.
Art teaching could be made a most valuable form of manual training. It might become in this country what it is in France, a most valuable source of national revenue, wide employment, and national wealth. If in this country we had a department administered, as the technical branch ought to be administered, with sympathy and knowledge—as you find in other countries, notably in France—then many of the complaints made against the work done in art schools would pass away, and in the arts and crafts of this country—the higher forms of manual work especially, and of design and artistic craftsmanship—the effects would soon be seen. One result would be a very considerable expansion of the exports from this country of artistic products made by the workmen trained and encouraged in that way. So far as I have been able to observe, the Board of Education, advised as they are by an honorary Committee, whose services are lavishly rendered although their advice has not always been of the most valuable kind, have in one way or another during the past three years, by regulation and by other administration, exercised a depressing effect upon the art schools of the country. The right hon. Gentleman himself for the first time on the part of a President of the Board of Education recognised the work done in these art schools by permitting an exhibition of the work to take place in a room in the Victoria and Albert Museum. That in itself has done something to honour and uplift the work; but when by a change in the system of examination and by various regulations which, so far as I am able to judge, are based upon no cogent or intelligent view of the duties and work of a Department which has to deal with art schools in this country, Grants are reduced, ex-elementary school children are prevented from going to the schools, the number of students is not in- 1218 creased but reduced, and the teachers in those schools—excellent men and women as many of them are—are discouraged and depressed, it is high time my Tight hon. Friend should devote his personal attention to this matter and discover for himself whether or not in that Department of his Board the operations are conducted with the same degree of intelligence and sympathy as they are in the other Departments.
It is with some regret that I venture to offer these criticisms, because in most respects the direct reverse is to be said. I feel so strongly upon this matter that I venture to say that unless some change in the administration of the Board with regard to its work takes place before very long, then all the good art work which has been done in this country since the days of the Prince Consort will have to be set at nought and undone. There is a parallel case in the exceedingly official administration in connection with the Victoria and Albert Museum. I see opposite an hon. Member who is interested in the formation of a Parliamentary Committee to deal with the subject of art. It is not too soon that such a Committee should be formed. If such a Committee had been in existence, perhaps the outrage recently committed at the Victoria and Albert Museum would never have taken place. What has happened there within the last two years? It is an action worthy of the Vandals. The Ceramic Gallery, which was in its day and time a very considerable advance in art feeling in this country, and which is historically connected with the development of art at South Kensington and the art schools of this country, has been pulled to pieces, much of the fine work destroyed, and all to satisfy the architectural Puritanism of some members of the Advisory Committee at the Board of Education. It, is most deplorable that this should be. Attention has been drawn to it again and again in the Press, but apparently no effect whatever has been produced on the Board of Education. It may be that persons outside, distinguished artists, public men interested in art, the trustees of the National Gallery and of the British Museum and others, who protested in the Press and elsewhere, are all wrong, and that the Board of Education and its officers, are perfectly right upon this matter. If that is the case we shall hear from the President of the Board later on on what grounds this action has been taken in regard to the Victoria and Albert 1219 Museum, the Ceramic Gallery and so forth, and the paintings upon the walls and windows. I understand the windows have not only to be pulled out, but broken to pieces—at any rate they have disappeared. I hope we shall hear from him on what grounds that has taken place, and in what way he justifies the action of the technical branch of his Board which reduces Grants to schools of art when they need more money, which reduces the supply of students in the schools of art, and which upsets the managers and the governors of the schools, and the teachers.
§ Sir HENRY HIBBERT
In view of the statement of the President of the Board of Education, and also of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that a largely increased Grant is being given for education next year, I do not intend to say much about the elementary side of education, but I should like to make a few remarks on necessitous school areas. The President of the Board of Education, speaking on the Finance Bill on 23rd June, said:—The £515,000 could be properly divided into two amounts, £438,000 for necessitous areas, and £77,000 for the provision of meals, which would meet about half the cost of providing the meals incurred by local education authorities during the year. Of that £438,000 for the necessitous areas, approximately £75,000 would be distributed amongst fifty-seven necessitous areas, who already are expending £350,000 of the necessitous areas Grants, and that and the other £175,000. would be in addition to the £350,000 These thirty-four authorities have not shared with the fifty-seven authorities, although their education rate has been over Is. 6d. in the £, and therefore it is proposed to distribute the amount of the excess over Is.60d. in the £ among these thirty-four areas previously omitted.What I want to know here is why should this £438,000, so far as necessitous school areas within county council areas are concerned, not be shared by them. The Act of 1902 gave local education authorities power to charge from one-half to three-quarters of the cost of buildings, and I contend that the Board of Education have no right whatever to penalise those local education authorities who have taken advantage of the Clause which I have mentioned. Take my own area, for instance. We have taken advantage of that Clause to this extent: We have provided, or arranged to provide, places, by building new schools, for 35,874 children at an expenditure of £534,652, and we have never hesitated since the appointed day to build a school where a school was required, or where the inhabitants of the parish interested could tell us that a fair proportion of children would attend that school. What is the 1220 position in the counties? I represent the Education Committee of the County Councils' Association, who feel very deeply on this question, who have debated it on numerous occasions, and have made representations to the Board of Education on it, but without result so far. In England there are 250,000 areas in the counties where the rate is from Is. 6d. to 2s. 9d. in the £. In Wales there are 186 areas where the rate is from Is. 6d. to 2s. 7½d. in the £, and yet with the exception of Anglesey and Glamorgan, not one among these areas will, at any rate as far as we can gather, receive any assistance as a necessitous area from the Board of Education. I take it that all counties which pay taxation to a central authority, say, like the Board of Education, expect to get something of their expenditure in taxes back again. The assessable value of the counties of England and Wales, not including London, is £71,000,000 out of £199,000,000–35 per cent. of the whole. I am not speaking for my own country, because we have had hitherto only two of these necessitous areas, though several other areas will soon fall under the same category. I am pleading for the county councils generally. But in my own county we pay 1–25th of the whole taxation of the country and we get nothing at all back, not even in the two areas we have which are necessitous school areas. The question, I know, is an exceedingly difficult one. It bristles with problems which are both financial and religious, and I therefore contend that if any departure is made from the Act of 1902, it ought to be incorporated in a new Education Bill. I am far from believing, although my own county imposed three-fourths of the cost of a new school on the parish served, that that is the proper amount. I think it is too much. I think one-fourth would be quite sufficient. But at the same time I am firmly convinced that in the interests of economy, and no less the interests of education, you must have some charge, or you will be compelled to build schools almost at everyone's back door.
The next questions I wish to deal with are in regard to secondary education. The President of the Board stated on 23rd June that the success of a nation undoubtedly depends upon the extent to which the population has been educated and trained. I think every Member of the House will agree with that statement. We have also heard that the Chancellor of the 1221 Exchequer has promised an additional Grant of £560,000, £395,000 of which next year is for secondary as distinct from technical education. I contend that even with these Grants the amount is absolutely inadequate. Up to 1902, little had been done at all for secondary education. What is being done to-day? My expenditure out of the rates for 1912–13 amounted to £117,500 for higher education. What share did the Government pay of that? I find that the total expenditure of the Lancashire Education Committee on higher education is £231,887. The Government Grant amounts to a little over £79,500, and it represents 34.3 per cent. of the total cost; the rates provide £117,440, which represents 50.6 per cent. of the cost, while the fees themselves amount to £34,768, or 15 per cent. of the cost. I contend that at least one-half of the cost of secondary education, particularly in a county area where it is extremely difficult to administer, should be borne by the Board of Education. On 23rd June the President of the Board of Education said that:—Some authorities have thought it necessary to establish secondary schools, but other authorities pass by-laws which tend to restrict the age and encourage children to leave school at an early age.While that may be the case with some few authorities, and I have no doubt it is, I think the right hon. Gentleman himself supplied the answer to it when he said that it was no doubt caused by pressure from the ratepayers and ratepayers' associations. If this is so, and if education is essential to the national prosperity, then I agree with the Kempe Committee that there should be a distinction between the richer and the poorer areas, and between areas which spend much and areas which spend little upon education. I sincerely hope that in this respect the new Government Grants for secondary education next year will be Grants in relief of already existing taxation and not, as they have been hitherto, Grants to encourage you to spend a larger amount of money in order to earn them.
In my county we attach great importance to secondary education. We wish that every child, boy or girl, in the county shall have the advantage of an education which will enable him to get on in life, and in order to do that we have authorised a minimum fee in all our secondary schools of three guineas per annum. We endeavour to induce children to come from the elementary school into the secondary school before twelve years of age. The result of these low fees is that each child we educate 1222 in a secondary school costs £8, after allowing for the Government Grant. We go a little further. Formerly the Board gave local science and art Grants of £4, £7, and £10 for the first, second, and third years respectively for each free place made available in a science or art school. Now these Grants have been withdrawn, and as a condition of earning the higher Grants of the Board we are compelled to give 25 per cent. of free places. Our position is financially worse. I do not wish the House to misunderstand me for a single moment, I attach the greatest importance to the provision of free places, but I do think that when the Government insisted on 25 per cent. of free places being given in secondary schools, a Grant commensurate with the loss incurred by the education authority should have been given to that authority.
There is another thing in connection with this subject. In addition to the loss of £8, we pay the travelling expenses of those who live far from a secondary school, and in many cases we pay a maintenance allowance. Possibly everybody in the House looks upon Lancashire as a commercial county pure and simple, and it will probably surprise hon. Members when I tell them that, in addition to being a commercial county, we are the second dairy county in the country. We have to bring children long distances, in order that they may enjoy the advantage of a good secondary education. In many cases the distance is too far for the children to get home again at night without an enormous amount of trouble, and a great amount spent in railway fares. Therefore, in those cases, we pay maintenance allowance for the children, and all this adds to the enormous cost of secondary education, which, we contend, should be met to a larger extent than at present from the taxes, instead of from the rates. Eighty-seven per cent. of the children in our secondary day schools are from the elementary day schools, and nearly 35 per cent. of the places in our schools are free. If you come to the fifth and sixth forms, you will find that 57 per cent. of the fees are remitted.
Another cause of expenditure is the necessity of getting good teachers and paying them well. You cannot pay the price for a secondary school teacher which that teacher deserves, after the high and expensive education which he or she has had, if you have to pay the amount entirely out of rates. The taxes must 1223 come to our assistance. There is another point which I mentioned last year when I spoke with reference to a revision of the Board's Grants to secondary schools. At present no Grants are payable by the Board of Education in respect of pupils under ten years of age attending secondary schools, whereas, in respect of children between five and ten attending public elementary schools, Grants varying from £2 to, in our case, £2 1s. 4¾d., may be obtained. Further, no Grants are payable by the Board for children between ten and twelve, unless they have been previously in attendance at a public elementary school, whereas a Grant averaging £2 1s. 4d. would have to be paid in respect of such children if they were in attendance at a public elementary school. In connection with that, when presiding over the Committee of the County Councils Association last week, I received the following letter from Cheshire County Council:—The attention of the Cheshire Education Authority has been called by the governing body of the county secondary school, Crewe, to the working of the above article as affecting the Government Grant. In the particulars of the Board of Education Grant for lust year is the following: 'Grant under Article 36 (a), twenty-seven pupils at £2=£54.' The head master reported that of these twenty-seven pupils seventeen had been receiving instruction during the school year in the same form with those over twelve years of age, and for whom the Board of Education paid a Grant of £5 per head. It was considered that in cases where pupils under twelve years of age are taught in the same form as pupils over twelve, it is a hardship that a smaller Grant should be allowed towards their education, because the cost of educating such pupils is not less than that of educating pupils over twelve years of age; further, that pupils under twelve are frequently the brightest in the class.I think we are all agreed, at all events those who follow education matters very closely will agree, that it is absolutely essential that if a child is to reap the full advantage of secondary education, he or she must enter a secondary school not a day later than twelve years of age. Therefore it seems only reasonable to expect that a Grant should be made in respect of any child at a secondary school, irrespective of age, provided that that child would be eligible for a Grant in an elementary day school. There is no reason why the Grant to children under twelve should be lower than the Grant for children over twelve. I made a remark similar to this when speaking on the Estimates last year, and the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Goldstone) said in reply that he hoped the President of the Board of Education would not take too serious notice of the 1224 suggestion which I made that he should give the maximum Grant of £5 per pupil payable in respect of children under twelve in secondary schools. Then he went on to say:—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 elementary schools.I do not at all agree with that opinion. It is not, at any rate, a course which would be followed by my Committee. In furtherance of that opinion I may tell the House that in September, 1911, we built a large secondary school at Eccles, a non-county borough in Lancashire, with accommodation for 391 pupils. The schools cost us £16,643, and it is now considered too small. It was built in 1911. My committee did not at once say, "We are going to refuse some of the children who come to this school because they are children from an elementary day school or children who crowd out other children who would pay fees." Without a moment's hesitation we said we would enlarge the school, and so I am inclined to believe would all education authorities who have the interests of their pupils at heart. I wish to go on now to the higher technical side of education We all attach an enormous amount of importance to technical education. Both hon. Gentlemen who preceded me have spoken of its desirability. I notice that in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in Committee on the Financial Statement, he spoke as follows:—The other Grants are for technical, secondary, and higher education, to make it more accessible to the masses of the children, to extend its sphere of influence where children show any aptitude to take advantage of it.Then he went on to say:—We compare very unfavourably with Germany and the United States of America in this respect—very unfavourably. There there is adequate provision for technical training, secondary and higher training for every child who shows any especial gift for taking advantage of it, and I consider that this fact is a greater menace to our trade than any arrangement of tariffs would be.9.0 P.M.
In spite of that, and without wishing to weary the Committee with statistics, I can only say that while the trade of this country has increased enormously in the last ten years, the trade of Germany has increased to a very much larger extent, and that whereas in 1903 Germany was only £44,000,000 behind us in our exports of produce and manufactures, in 1913 she was only £29,000,000 behind us. And I certainly do assume the mantle of a 1225 prophet and tell the House that before ten years have elapsed the exports of the produce and manufactures of Germany will be the largest of any country in the world. I attribute that, in a very large measure, to the technical and scientific training which her sons receive. Legislation has greatly aided technical education in this country. The passing of the Technical Instruction Acts has been of inestimable value to us, supplemented by the Education Act of 1902, which undoubtedly has been a source of part of the immense prosperity we have enjoyed in recent years. Of course a very great deal depends upon the energy and perseverance of our people. So far as technical education is concerned, it is answerable to a very considerable extent for the very large expansion of our trade—in Lancashire at any rate. I can say, again in consequence of burning the midnight oil on the part of these students, that to-day at least 50 per cent. of the looms in Lancashire are owned by men who a very few years ago were operatives, and that the commercial predominance of Lancashire and Yorkshire is maintained by the constant flow of men from the operative classes. A question was asked some time ago as to whether no children went direct from the elementary day school to the evening continuation school. In my county, taking the county as a whole, non-county boroughs, urban and rural districts, at least 32 per cent. go direct from the elementary day-school to the evening continuation school. It was also stated that you could not expect boys, after a hard day's work, to go to an evening continuation school. I have always contended that there should be some sorting age, when the wheat should be sorted from the tares, and I am very much inclined to believe that, not by adopting a scheme of compulsory evening continuation schools, but by endeavouring to persuade the children themselves, and bringing a little influence to bear on the parents, you get by voluntary methods into your evening continuation schools exactly the class of boys and girls upon whom it is in the interests of the nation to spend money.
The Grant which we are going to receive in aid of technical instruction is a small one. I would like the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Education, to recognise that the technical schools, particularly the higher technical 1226 schools in this country, are doing a national work, and that we are educating in the higher branches of education a large number of students who will spread all over the British Dominions. I remember very well a case in point of a poor boy, who was a collier in Wigan, a boy with an enormous amount of grit. He attended the evening classes in a mining school after working in the pits the usual time, and he is now one of His Majesty's Inspectors of Mines in India. I could give numberless examples of a similar kind. At the ordinary school-leaving age education is only just begun, and if an adequate return is to be expected from primary education, education must be carried forward. The right hon. Gentleman promises £100,000 out of the £560,000. The higher technical institutions in this country are small in number. The equipment of many of them is absolutely inadequate. The teaching staff consists of highly trained full-time masters. We cannot afford it out of the rates. Two or three years ago I was told by a very great authority that there are more day students in the technical school or college at Charlottenburg than there were in the whole United Kingdom. I regret it, and incidentally it is to the disadvantage of the trade and commerce of this country. We must not lose sight of the fact that the higher technical school is to all intents and purposes the artisans' university. Why cannot we have from the Board of Education Grants similar to those which they gave to Scotland? I have been making a comparison, and I find that the English Grants are for a minimum of fourteen hours per student, and the Grants in Scotland are for a minimum of ten hours per student. Why is there this difference? Take the rates of Grants under 2 Chapter 2 of the Regulations, I find that in England—this is for literary and commercial subjects—the Grants are from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d., or specially from 5s. to 8s. In Scotland the amount is 5s. 10d. in the first year, 10s. in the second year, 15s. in the third year, and 25s. in the fourth and succeeding years. Why cannot we have the same Grant?
Take division 2 (art), and division 3 (science). In art the Grant in this country is 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d., and in special cases up to 15s. In Scotland they are the same as in literary and commercial subjects, from 5s. 10d. up to 25s. in the fourth and succeeding years. In science, in England, the Grant is 2s. 6d. to 15s.; in Scotland, 1227 8s. 4d. in the first year, 13s. 4d. in the second, 20s. in the third, and 35s. in the fourth and succeeding years. In England the amount of the Grant payable bears definite relation to any institution's expenditure. In Scotland, so long as the Grant is earned, it would be paid up to the maximum of three-fourths of what is termed "approved expenditure" of the institution. How does that work out? Take two schools in England and Scotland where the approved expenditure is the same, £5,600. In the case of Scotland, if the Grant is earned, three-fourths of the approved expenditure would be paid (£4,200), leaving a balance of £1,400 to be met by the authority. In England the Grant earned would be £3,000, leaving a balance of £2,600 to be met by the authority. Why this difference between England and Scotland? You may say this would lead to extravagant expenditure. That is not the case in Scotland, because they are not an extravagant nation. Further than that, the Board is quite well able to pick out cases of extravagance. I am rather inclined to believe that the Board themselves are inclined to consider this matter, because I find in Circular 795, 6th June, 1912, the following:—The Board desire to give notice that it proposes under the terms of Article 15 to call annually for a full account of income and expenditure in more important schools aided under the Regulations for technical schools. It is desired that accounts of this kind, compiled on a uniform basis, should be available in order that the Board may have accurate knowledge of the cost of technical education of the more advanced types.Then it goes on to say:—It is especially necessary to obtain such information in view of the possibility that the cost of maintenance may at some date become an element in the assessment of Grant for the more important schools.I hope that the day is not very far distant when the Board of Education will put us on exactly the same financial footing as they do Scotland. There is one other item of which I wish to speak, and that is with regard to internal and external examinations. This is a serious question. While I agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite in his eulogy of the Board of Education and its staff, from whom I have received the greatest kindness, courtesy, and consideration, I am, as he was, forced to make this exception. There is a serious tendency at the present time on the part of the Board of Education to override by means of regulations the powers of the local education authorities as vested in them by Act of Parliament with respect to higher education 1228 Unfortunately, this is not confined to the Board of Education, but is a common complaint with respect to other Government Departments. I dare say you may have noticed in the papers that the Urban District Councils' Association met in London quite recently, and a resolution was passed calling attention to the powers which the various Government Departments ascribed to themselves which are not sanctioned by Acts of Parliament. The lever which is used in all cases is the conditions which are attached to Grants made by the various Departments. Dealing with the question of education the Act of 1902, Part II., Section 2, Subsection (1), states:—The local education authority shall consider the educational needs of their area, and take such steps as seem to them desirable, after consultation with the Board of Education, to supply or aid the supply of education other than elementary, and to promote the general co-ordination of all forms of education.This is a great charter of liberty given to local education authorities, and it was intended by the framers of that Act to be a charter of liberty. The local education authorities are only asked to consult with the Board of Education, and then they may take such steps as seem to them desirable. The point I wish to make is illustrated by the recent action of the Board of Education with respect to internal examination in evening technical schools. The Board of Education in the Regulations state that they are prepared to endorse the certificates of students, provided those certificates are awarded on the results of internal examination at the end of the five years' course conducted by the teacher assisted by an external assessor. The local education authorities of Lancashire and Cheshire are not in favour of such a scheme. We have acted for a great many years under a union known as the Union of Lancashire and Cheshire Institutes. The union has been in existence for something like seventy-five years, and marches with the times. On the council of that union you will find representatives of all the education authorities of Lancashire and Cheshire. In addition to that, there is an Advisory Committee of teachers with which the council consult not only as to the syllabus which is framed, but, after the result of the examination is known, in order that the council may determine whether the syllabus has been such as to suit the capabilities of the students and the needs and necessities of the district. The idea of the Board of Education to substitute internal for external 1229 examinations called for a deputation from this union, which met the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education. Their plea to the President was that it—should be permitted that the various authorities within the area of operation of the union's work should, if they so desire, adopt external examinations, and that the results of those external examinations, combined with the record of the students' work throughout the session, should be accepted by the Board of Education as sufficient evidence for endorsement.The Regulations of the Board of Education are so framed that the opinions of the local education authorities, who have power given to them by this Section of the Act of 1902, are ignored. I think I may safely say that they have not received that consideration which I think they ought to have had. I submit that their powers under the Act have been overruled, and also the fundamental principle that the Regulations of any Government Department should be so framed as to comply with the Acts of Parliament. In this case local education authorities should have the option of stating whether they desire external tests or not, and if they deliberately choose external examinations, the Board of Education should not refuse to accept them as evidence of efficiency. In the face of this it is passing strange that whilst one branch of the Board of Education, the secondary branch, is going in for external examinations, another branch of the Board, the technical branch, is doing all they possibly can to get rid, of them. Let me read some of the conditions of this circular, and then you can form your own opinion of them. It is desired in Circular 776, in the first place, that the teachers shall frame their own schemes of work; secondly, that they shall draw their own syllabus; thirdly, that they shall conduct their own examination; and, fourthly, to issue their own certificates in the final year of the course, the examination to be conducted by the teacher in conjunction with an external assessor. The Board consider such an arrangement is sufficient to maintain the standard of efficiency. I should like to appeal to the Members of the House who have sat for examination in any profession, or in anything calling for examination, whether that examination would be considered satisfactory if they were examined and the certificate given to them by the very men who taught them? We have the greatest confidence in my county, as I think you may have all over the country, in the bona fides of your teachers, but at the same time you have 1230 got to consider that the teachers are your paid officials, and that you must have some outside appraisement of the work which they do. I do contend that this setting up of an internal examination in the face of the work which this Lancashire and Cheshire Union of Institutes has done, and in face of the work which the City Guilds of London Institute has done—and I gather that is also threatened—warrants the grave consideration of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
I am sorry time does not permit dealing with the many very valuable points dealt with by the last speaker pithily and with expert knowledge, which he possesses in an eminent degree. I thought until the last five or six minutes of his speech that it would only have been necessary for me to express the hope that if his side ever gets into power he would be the President of the Board, but during those last minutes I got very alarmed and I decided I could not express that hope. If there were time I would like to discuss in detail the attitude the hon. Gentleman has taken up, and that apparently his committee in Lancashire has taken up, in regard to this very excellent change on the part of the Board of Education in regard to the dealing with students and teachers, and their work and their education generally. I will only say this to the hon. Gentleman and to those who think like him, that we are pre-eminently the country wedded to a system of external examination. We have held on to it when all the enlightened educationists of the world have long ago abandoned it. In the universities they would regard such a suggestion as he has made with horror, and the suggestion that any kind of person who will have no association with the students can impose the final tests and the tests on all occasions. It is wholly necessary that we should apply the same broad, sane ideas in education—
§ Sir H. HIBBERT
I think it is an admitted fact that the examinations at Oxford and Cambridge are practically external examinations, and that no teacher of the students would be allowed to sit on the examining body which sets up the syllabus for the examination.
§ Mr. E. JONES
My point is that the gentlemen who conduct the examinations and who are associated with the general drafting of the syllabus are not 1231 external individuals who have nothing to do with the district. I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that there should be an appraisement of the work, that it should be frequent and exhaustive and detailed, but that can be better done by inspection of a thorough and proper kind than can ever be done by promiscuous tests. An occasional written test, for which pupils are worked up, is not, after all, a proper appraisement of the work that has been done, either from the point of view of the teacher who has been responsible or the point of view of the teacher. If time permitted I would like to discuss in detail why I think the Board of Education has been excellently advised in this matter, and that I welcome the movement very much indeed. It is an old controversy that goes down to the very roots of the meaning of education and its purpose, and therefore cannot be disposed of in a few minutes. Before going to the general aspects, I want to put forward a plea to the President over a matter that has happened in Wales. The hon. Member (Sir H. Hibbert) spoke with legitimate pride of the work of the Lancashire County Council in the realm of secondary education. If he will permit me to say so, I think Lancashire has a good deal to do yet before it will have done what my little country of Wales has done in the last few years in secondary education. I believe the hon. Member knows that we do not spend £3 per head upon scholars and come here complaining that it is too much to spend, but that we spend four, five, six, and in some places seven times that out of our local means upon cur scholars and pupils in various parts of Wales. It is a great system of secondary education, which up till recently has been the admiration of all educationists from America and from the Continent, as well as from this country.
This system was in the hands of a Central Welsh Board, the first Board of a National character set up in Wales, and more or less representative and democratic in its institution. That body for many years did very admirable work, until falling, as I am afraid the Lancashire Education Committee is beginning to do, into the trap of its own efficiency, it began to regard papers and certificates as more than the real sinews of character and culture, and degenerated in the last few years. Subject to that criticism of the last few years we do in Wales owe a great 1232 debt to this Central Welsh Board which, out of nothing, built up this big framework of secondary education throughout the whole of the land; particularly in the poorer rural districts and out-of-the-way parts of the country. Recently certain officials, and such an accident can happen to the best conducted authority in any part of the land, have been found guilty of very, very serious defalcations in their offices, and there have been very painful disclosures in the Assize Courts, and a situation has arisen with which, of course, the President of the Board of Education is bound to deal. I want to ask the President to be careful, and I want to utter a word of warning as well as a word of appeal with regard to this matter, which is vital and serious to the whole Welsh people. Since this Central Welsh Board was constituted by Act of Parliament, a Welsh Department of the Board of Education has been set up. As was natural—I do not complain of it at all—this Department immediately had to endeavour to get all the ropes into its own hands. Bit by bit it had to get hold of the work, and in doing so the Department necessarily came into conflict with the officials and others of the Central Welsh Board. For several years it looked as though a very nasty fracas was going to take place between the two authorities; but, owing to the great tact, statesmanship, and skill of the officials at the head of the Welsh Department, they managed to come to some kind of working agreement with the Central Welsh Board, and they have, during the last year or two, succeeded in making an arrangement which does not give rise to much overlapping. The Welsh Department has been very beneficial to the Board. We are indebted to them for their criticism of the action of the Board in the over-emphasis upon papers, certificates, and all the miserable things that signify very little in the real education and its effective culture of the mind and character of the pupil. The Board of Education, through its Welsh Department, tried successfully to alter the point of view, and necessarily came into keen conflict with all the aspirations and work of the Central Welsh Board.
Now that this occurrence has happened in the financial department of the Central Welsh Board, there is a danger that the President may be led by his officials to pounce upon the Central Welsh Board and take action which may mean its destruction. This is the warning I want to give: The President must remember that this 1233 Board, in spite of the sad occurrences of the past few weeks—which hurt the Welsh people more than anybody else, and which the Welsh people will take good care to deal with in their own way, thoroughly and drastically, through their representatives—is a national body, democratic in its origin, and representative of all the authorities and educational institutions in Wales, and that any attempt to destroy it because of this accident, or to supplant it, will lead to an uprising amongst the Welsh people which I would be the last man to wish to bring about his head. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, whether it is not possible to appoint some kind of Committee altogether outside the Department or the Central Welsh Board, to go into the whole question of the relations between the Central Welsh Board and the Department itself to try and delimit the work, and to consider how far the constitution of the Central Welsh Board is to be altered before he brings in his Bill. I think he will need Parliamentary power to alter that constitution, and I should like him to have the advice of such a Committee before he does it in the forthcoming Education Bill. In regard to the general aspects of the questions raised to-night, I was distressed to find that the hon. Member who spoke last did not follow the hon. Member who opened the Debate in a wise and sane balance as to the technical and continuation education of this country. I was really surprised to find the hon. Member, who knows so much about the question, after the remarks of the hon. Member for the I niversity of London, still giving expression to the exploded fallacy that Germany has a much more magnificent system of evening continuation and technical schools than we have. It has nothing of the kind. The hon. Member for the University of London was quite correct. It is true that Germany has its Charlottenberg, but it is a mistake to suppose that that is a school for artisans from top to bottom.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
The hon. Member rather gave that impression, because immediately after speaking about Charlot-tenberg as the grand ideal, he spoke about artisans and technical schools. I accept his correction. I thought it necessary that that should be pointed out. There are schools in Lancashire and Yorkshire—in Manchester and Bradford—which, for efficiency and adaptability to the needs of this 1234 country, are superior to anything that can be found in Germany or anywhere else. We have a system of continuation and technical schools, higher ordinary technical schools and trade schools, and so far as the system goes it is superior to anything in Germany from the elementary schools-to the top. The only difficulty is that we have not the same number of students availing themselves of the opportunities for instruction in these schools that they have in Germany. The hon. Member for the University of London put his finger upon the one weakness. The thing to-which we in this country have to address our attention is not in the higher technical ranges, but in that dangerous period when boys are just leaving the elementary schools. That is where the great lapse is with us. Until we can solve that problem—and I would join with the hon. Member for the City of London in pressing the Government to set to work to solve it—we shall go on wasting valuable money which is needed for this great work of education. Whatever your system, whatever your school, you have to base it all on the education of the children of the common people. While I join with everybody in commendation of the advances which have been made, of the excellent schools in the towns and now spread over great parts of such counties as Lancashire and others where they have enlightened education authorities, it is still true, and we must give expression to the fact, that we have what I would' call slum schools—not schools in slums, but schools which are only fit to be described as slums in themselves—in-sanitary, dripping with water, ill-equipped, no pictures, no brightness from top to bottom, with books worm-eaten and germ-filled, and unfit to be put into the hands of children.
We have hundreds of these schools still left up and down the land. In London, in every big city, in counties, whether Lancashire or elsewhere, there are these dens and hovels which ought to be a disgrace to an enlightened nation, and are certainly not places to which delicate children should be sent. I trust that the President of the Board, irrespective of the protests of urban councils, many of whom are sinners in this respect will keep up his pressure in this matter, and see that the children have proper schools to sit in, and proper equipment for their education. But supposing you get rid of all these bad buildings, and have equipment and 1235 apparatus of the finest kind, you have still to remember that the teacher is the crux of the whole question of education. The President of the Board has been questioned several times, both by myself and other Members, as to what is being done in regard to the supply of teachers. Up to a few years ago it looked as if we were gradually arriving at the time when all the children in the land from the infant schools would be in the hands of properly trained and competent teachers. During the last few years the tide has set back, and the dearth of teachers has become so serious that very soon authorities will be at their wit's end to comply with the Regulations of the Board of Education. The President in reply to my question said, "Oh, this is a matter for the local authorities." If it had been left to the local authorities ten years ago, they would have kept the supply, but it was the interference of the Board of Education, the putting of the screw upon the local authorities by the Board, that created the situation in which we now are. Since then the Board of Education have forced a new policy upon the authorities. They have been following that for years. Since it is the Board of Education that has done this, it is the Board of Education that ought to get the local authorities out of the muddle. It is useless, therefore, for the President to come down here week after week, and to say that the tide is going out more and more, and going dangerously out, and in effect that he is a mere piece of driftwood on this tide and it is for the local authorities to bring the tide back again. I can assure the President from what I know of the local authorities that they will not cope with it. The President knows very well that his training colleges in London, for instance, this year cannot fill their seats with students. They cannot get sufficient students to occupy their places. It is but a few years ago that we could not get training colleges sufficient. You could not get colleges for 40 per cent. of those who applied to get in. To-day you have training colleges begging for pupils.
Unless the President and his officials of the Board of Education know some scheme by which they are going to deal with this shortage of teachers it is evident that some kind of Commission or Committee should be appointed to go into it to aid the President and the local authorities to try and find out whether or 1236 not a solution cannot be found. I want to ask the President to try and get the facts. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that he is not in possession of the facts of what is going on in the schools, and I will tell him why. The existing inspectors in many districts are gentlemen who were directly responsible for forcing the local authorities from the position they occupied in regard to this training of teachers up to ten years ago. The same inspectors are there to-day. They see that instead of an overwhelming number of candidates for the profession the colleges are begging for candidates and cannot find them. Those same inspectors, therefore, naturally do not put the President in possession of the full and alarming nature of the change that has taken place. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that these men do not know what is going on with many of the local authorities to-day. There is a shortage of teachers. Inspectors do not know all, and therefore the President does not know. Those concerned take care that a certain number of qualified teachers are in the particular school ready by the time the inspector turns up. Immediately the inspector's visit has taken place those qualified teachers are shifted to other schools where the inspector will go in turn. I know a district where that has happened, where the inspector will go in his turn; in the meantime the supplementary teachers who have no qualification, some of whom are married, and should not—
§ Mr. E. JONES
No, I cannot give publicity to it for obvious reasons, because somebody would be persecuted.
§ Mr. E. JONES
Why should people be persecuted for giving information to the President of the Board? I was simply pressing upon the President that he ought to 1237 make these inquiries, and make quite certain that the schools are staffed according to the figures given to him. I simply wanted to point out to the House that it is no use the President of the Board saying that the supply of teachers is going down. That shortage will increase more and more. It is no use for the President to say, "I can do nothing; I can only wring my hands, and appeal to the local authorities whose scheme ten years ago I destroyed"—that is the Board—and not, of course, the right hon. Gentleman, but one of his predecessors. It is no use the President simply wringing his hands and say he will do nothing. The schools will one of these days be so tremendously understaffed—many of them are now—that the staffs will be much less qualified even than a few years ago. It is so serious a matter that I feel that I must press upon the President to try and see whether he cannot have some kind of conference with the local authorities to try to do something, and at once, in this matter.
§ Mr. HOARE
Anyone who reads the many Reports of the Board of Education, and who follows the speeches of successive Presidents on this Vote year by year, would imagine that our system of national education at the present time was perfect. What is the actual fact? From the President of the British Association to employers and workmen, and men and women of all classes, the criticism is urged that the results of our present system are quite inadequate when they are compared with the £30,000,000 of public money that we are now spending upon it. What can you expect, what do you expect, when you start with 300,000 children in your elementary schools, who, according to the medical officer of the Board of Education, are underfed? What can you expect when 600,000 of them suffer from illness and infantile complaints? What further can you expect when no less than 500,000 are employed out of school hours, some of them a very long time, when obviously they cannot take full advantage of the teaching that is given them in the schools? Only the other day I read a report which was made to the York Education Committee. In it a case was quoted of a small boy of twelve who was working for no less than forty hours a week outside the hours of class at school. How can you expect good results if there are children in that case, children in great numbers both in the town 1238 and country schools? Further, what can you expect when three-quarters of the children in the elementary schools end their education at the age of thirteen, and something like half of them then drift into blind-alley employment?
Lastly, what can you expect when there is no system of continuation classes for boys and girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen? In London only in the last few weeks we have had a remarkable instance of the absence of continuation teaching for London boys. Great efforts have been made to make the voluntary continuation classes popular in London. What do we find? We find that while 123,000 boys, between the age of fourteen and eighteen are in permanent employment in London, only 5,510 are attending evening schools. In face of all this, what have the Board of Education been doing? It would not be in order for me to allude to the promises which have been held out in the last few years of educational reform, but it is in order to say that the postponement of the Education Bill has complicated to a very great degree these problems of educational administration. It is also in order to say that if the President of the Board of Education had given greater support to the Bill which was introduced by the hon. Member for Carlisle with reference to the employment and attendance of school children, many of these problems would be far easier of solution than they are at the present moment. It seems to me that the greatest muddle which is to be laid at the door of the Board of Education is the muddle with reference to the supply and training of teachers. As the last hon. Gentleman who spoke said, it is upon the teacher that all these problems really depend. It is useless to attempt to introduce manual training into the school; it is useless to attempt to reduce the number of the classes if you have not a supply of adequately trained teachers.
What is the present state of affairs? At the present moment we are no longer threatened, but we are actually faced with a dearth of teachers. This fact is, in my opinion, not a little due to the haphazard policy which the Board of Education have adopted in this connection. Let me give two or three examples. In 1906 the Board of Education embarked upon a policy of building municipal training colleges. Since then they have made Grants of no less than £500,000 to the local authorities for the building of these colleges, 1239 and since that time the places in these colleges has been increased by the number of 4,000. That is all very well but it is not very much good if you have not got the students to fill these places, and I am informed at the present moment that there is scarcely a college in the whole of the country that is not threatened with many empty places when the term begins in September next. I am informed that the London County Council are actually contemplating the closing of one of their colleges for the reason that there are no students with which to fill the places. Secondly, I think the Board of Education are to blame for having very suddenly revolutionised the training of students. I am quite aware that under the old pupil-teaching system there were several grave drawbacks. At the same time the fact of suddenly insisting upon the adoption of what is known as the Bursary system—that is a training in secondary schools—has meant as its direct result the stopping of the supply of students, particularly in the rural districts.
§ Mr. HOARE
It must stand to reason that in country districts where there is no secondary school accommodation available it is difficult, and in many cases impossible for the country child to go through the Bursary system, and as a result to become a teacher. And lastly, I think the Board of Education are to blame for not having adopted any consistent policy. They have issued regulations with reference to the training that they require of teachers, and having issued them they have withdrawn them. The result has been to introduce a feeling of uncertainty which I believe has made many young men and women disinclined to enter the profession. The result of all this is that the young men and women entering the profession in 1913–14 were only 4,486, whereas in 1906 the number of those entering the teaching profession was not less than 11,018. It will, therefore, be seen that just at the very moment when we want more, and not fewer, teachers to carry out the requirements we all desire in the schools, the number of those entering the teaching profession has diminished by considerably more than a half, and those leaving the training colleges this term number, as the President of the Board of Education told me two days ago, only 5,300, whereas the vacancies 1240 in the teaching profession at the same moment amount to 7,000. I think these facts shows how serious is the problem with which those engaged in the administration of public education are faced at the present moment. I do not think that in the last two or three years the Board of Education has given sufficient thought to this very grave state of affairs. Now what is to be done I In the time at my disposal I can only pass hurriedly over two or three suggestions that I desire to make. I have already alluded to the need of the Board of Education adopting some consistent policy.
I agree fully with what the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Edgar Jones) said as to the desirability of some general inquiry as to what is the demand for teachers over the whole country at the present moment. But I think the President of the Board of Education might take one or two other kinds of action as well. I think he might give greater encouragement to the various schemes drawn up by the local authorities. In the last Annual Report of the Board the hope was held out that the Board would give encouragement to schemes other than the bursary system and other than the pupil-teacher system. I cannot make out that up to the present moment the Board have done very much in that direction. Four authorities have made application for Grants under this head, and at the present moment none of them have received any financial assistance. I hope in the course of next year that we shall see a considerable development in this respect. I think also the President of the Board of Education could make the teaching profession more attractive in rural districts if he gave encouragement towards the provision of housing accommodation for the teachers in rural schools. I have had several cases brought to my notice in which it has been found exceedingly difficult for teachers to obtain suitable accommodation in country villages. I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he might do worse than offer local authorities Grants for the building of suitable accommodation for teachers in country schools. It seems to me that if the right hon. Gentleman gives Grants for the building of training colleges he might equally give Grants for the building of teachers' houses.
I think further he should do more towards helping local authorities to meet the growing expenditure which has been forced upon them by teachers' salaries. 1241 At the present moment almost four-fifths of the expense of elementary education goes in teachers' salaries. I do not criticise that for a moment, because it is in the order of things, but I would suggest, although it cannot be an ideal form of Grant, that the best way to raise teachers' salaries, which is very much needed in many country districts, would be to offer a direct Grant towards the cost of those salaries. That again would not be out of keeping with the general policy of the Board which gives Grants from £38 to £53 towards students before they become teachers. I cannot see why if you give Grants in one case you should not also give Grants to these people when they have passed through their training and have become certified teachers.
In this connection I desire to make an appeal to the President of the Board of Education with reference to those older teachers, who, I understand, do not come under the superannuation scheme which has recently been adopted by the Departmental Committee of the Board. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to bring what are known as the pre-1912 teachers within the benefits of that scheme. I pass from that to the only other subject which I wish to bring to the notice of the Committee. It seems to me that the Board of Education have given too little attention to the training and the supply of teachers. On the other hand, I think they are giving too much attention to the question of bricks and mortar. [An HON. MEMBER: "No, no!"] I take, as an example the case of the non-provided schools in the county of London. In April of this year the local authorities and the correspondents of the non-provided schools in London were amazed to receive a circular from the Board of Education making many extensive demands for structural alterations. In this circular no fewer than 150 non-provided schools, or about one-third of the non-provided schools in London, were included. These schools are not only Church of England schools, but include Roman Catholic schools and Jewish schools. We are as anxious as anyone that the non-provided schools in London and elsewhere should be in every way upon as high a standard as the provided schools. But it seems to me that the demands which the Board of Education made were in certain respects unreasonable and unnecessary. 1242 Does this Committee realise the real state of affairs? Since 1902 a sum of about £750,000 has, I understand, been spent upon bringing the non-provided schools of London up to the standard required by the Board of Education and the London County Council. By a great effort and by the generosity of voluntary subscribers this work has been done. In carrying it out the managers of the non-provided schools were certainly under the impression that they would be left to themselves for a considerable period, and both the Board of Education and the London County Council were under some obligation to them. They sanctioned the plans and the expenditure, and on the strength of this understanding many schools have spent large sums of money. I have here a number of cases in which the managers of these schools have spent thousands of pounds, and by doing so they have obtained the sanction and the recognition of the public authorities. I have one case in which no less than £15,000 was spent upon a school with the express sanction of the Permanent Secretary of the Board of Education. I have thirty-seven other cases of schools upon which no less than £71,500 have been spent under similar conditions.
What would the closing of these schools mean? It would mean, first of all, that to provide accommodation for the 50,000 children in them the ratepayers of London would have to find a sum of no less than £1,500,000. More than that, it would mean that a great reform which the London County Council has recently adopted for the reduction of the size of classes to forty in the case of ordinary children, and forty-eight in the case of infants during the next fifteen years, would be brought to a standstill. The London County Council under this arrangement are already finding 80,000 new school places, and it must be obvious, if they were required to find 50,000 further places, that the scheme could not be carried out. Again, if these schools were closed a large number of teachers would be displaced, and many of them, owing to their age, would find it extremely difficult to obtain fresh employment. It is worth noting in this connection that the London Teachers' Association have realised the gravity of this point, and have passed a resolution protesting against the action of the Board. Further, if these schools were closed, a great hardship would be inflicted upon many parents in London who prefer denominational schools. And what useful purpose would 1243 be served at all? If it could be urged that these schools were turning out children worse taught and of worse character than the children turned out by the provided schools, then I should say that the President of the Board of Education was amply justified in taking what action against them he thought fit; but can he say that in any way the children that are turned out by these 150 schools that he has scheduled are inferior to the children turned out by any 150 other schools, provided or non-provided, in the whole of the county of London?
I, therefore, hope that, in view of the facts, the President of the Board of Education will be in his action both discriminating and sympathetic. Let him realise that we are most anxious to have the best schools possible. We want extensive playgrounds just as much as anyone else, but let him remember that in a crowded area, a crowded city like London, there are often great and sometimes insuperable difficulties in obtaining playground space. First of all, the non-provided schools have no powers of compulsory purchase. I have at my disposal cases in which the managers of non-provided schools have been anxious to obtain increased playground space, but, owing to the absence of the compulsory power of purchase they have been unable to obtain it. Let him also realise the great cost that in many cases this would impose upon the school. I am informed that to obtain playground space in London costs six times as much as it does in any of the other great towns of the country. Let him further realise that, although it may be difficult in some cases to obtain increased playground space, there may be other ways of providing space for the playing of the children in the schools. For instance, it may be possible to make use of play rooms in the schools, and, more important than that, it is possible in many cases in London to make much greater use than is being made at the present time of the public parks. It has often seemed to me that the public parks in London are to a great extent wasted. It would be much better for the children and for everybody concerned, if, instead of playing in the necessarily confined space of an asphalt playground, they could play regular games in the public parks. This is not a party question at all. I understand that many of those engaged in the administration of education 1244 in London on all sides of politics agree with much I have said. I have alluded to the resolution which was passed by the London Teachers' Association on the subject in February last. I cannot, I think, do better than read from it a short passage in conclusion. It is as follows:—That this meeting of teachers in London of non-provided schools, whilst expressing its approval of the progressive improvements of the structural condition of non-provided school premises, is of opinion that, having regard to the complete and exhaustive survey of non-provided school buildings undertaken by the London County Council subsequent to 1st May, 1904, a period of rest, consolidation, and development should' now be assured to such schools.I hope that when the President of the Board of Education comes to reply he will be able to give us some reassurance upon this very serious problem.
§ Lord N. CRICHTON-STUART
I would like to draw the attention of the Committee for a few moments to the Dowlais Roman Catholic School case, which has been causing a great deal of anxiety in South Wales during the last few months. I think it would be perfectly sufficient if I merely put one or two questions to the right hon. Gentleman, as I think he is aware of most of the facts of the case. I would like to ask him whether he and the Board of Education entirely agree with Section 49 of the Report of Mr. Barker, the gentleman who went down to hold an inquiry into the whole of the case. I would like him to understand that throughout the whole of this matter I wish to keep separate and apart the two parts of the subject. There is first the question of the charges against the head mistress, which, I understand, is sub judice at the present moment, and there is the question of the dismissal of the eighteen teachers, which I think may very properly be brought up for discussion. The point on the question of the eighteen teachers is really and truly whether he, as President of the Board of Education, if he is in agreement with the whole of Section 49 of Mr. Barker's report, is also in agreement with the local education authority, who will not only pay these teachers' salaries, but the whole of their salaries, especially having in view the fact that the local education authority, although it has not paid the whole of these teachers their salaries, has already deducted from those salaries superannuation money. The third and last question I have to ask is, whether the right hon Gentleman agrees with Mr. Barker's report? As that report stated that these teachers were illegally dismissed 1245 by the local education authority, will he cause that authority to do its proper work in its proper sphere? In view of the fact that for three months the children have not been able to attend this school—
§ Lord N. CRICHTON-STUART
If the Board of Education had held the inquiry earlier that strike would not have proceeded. In view of the fact that there is no complaint whatever against any of the eighteen teachers, will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether the school can be as efficiently carried on, in view of the work which it has to carry out, if the teachers, who are supposed to be at work in it, have been illegally dismissed by the local education authority?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Pease)
I should like, before I deal with the various questions which have been raised, to pay two tributes. The first will be to the memory of Sir William Anson, a prominent figure in these Debates for many years, whose death the whole House and country deplore. Not only have Members of the Opposition suffered a great personal loss, but I can assure them that many of Sir William Anson's political opponents regarded him with feelings akin to friendship, and I am quite sure that he endeared himself not only to political friends but to many in every quarter of this House, and the House misses him now, and education, that great cause, misses his very valuable and devoted support. I should like, if I may, to pay a tribute to the work of the staff of my own Board, because I believe never, in the history of the Board, has the work been more strenuous, more arduous, or more efficiently performed in the various departments of the Board. Long hours have been the rule rather than the exception, and I think the way in which the work has been done during the past year reflects great credit on every individual member of the staff.
I have listened with great interest to the various speeches which have been made this evening, and, while I propose to deal with most of the points, I must compress my remarks, as far as I am able, because I desire to give the Rouse and the country some statistical information which, I think, may be of interest on the present occasion. It will therefore be necessary for me to compress my remarks into the smallest possible space, even in connection with the various subjects which have 1246 been touched upon. The Noble Lord who last spoke referred to the Dowlais, case, and asked me two or three questions. I may tell him that the Board have considered Mr. Barker's report, and have decided that they cannot overrule the local education authority in refusing to dismiss, the head teacher; secondly, that they have decided that the local education authority did not legally dismiss certain assistant teachers. They therefore at the present time regarded the local education authority as the authority which should pay the whole of the teachers' salaries which they claim The authority, I understand, have taken counsel's opinion and are now considering that opinion. Until I hear further from them, I do not feel that I am justified in saying anything in regard to the action we, as a Board, shall take. I agree-with the Noble Lord that the other question connected with the charges made-against one of the teachers is a matter which is sub judice, and that is also a subject with which I cannot deal at the present moment.
The hon. Member for West Nottingham (Sir J. H. Yoxall) spoke in appreciative terms of some of the work connected with the Board. He also made some suggestions, which I shall bear in mind, in connection with the superannuation scheme for secondary school teachers. I can assure him that the subject-matter of the transition of elementary school teachers into secondary schools, and of secondary school teachers where the Government pay the Grants into elementary schools, will receive very careful consideration in connection with the scheme that is under our consideration. The hon. Member alluded to another topic in connection with the reforms which have been? undertaken in connection with the art classes in the country. I know of no more difficult or thorny subject than a question-connected with art. Opinions differ so-much as to what is good art and what is bad art, and even in connection with the way in which students and pupils ought to be trained in art, that it is very difficult for a person who is not an expert to venture to pronounce any opinion on any of these subjects.
But I want to say this of the-head of the Department, who was somewhat adversely criticised, that I know-no man in the public service who has worked more whole-heartedly in the interests of the teachers, to secure for them liberty of action in the way they 1247 should teach, so that they should teach subjects in a way most calculated to do good, to have regard to the ability of the students and also to the local circumstances, than the head of the Department who was adversely criticised by the hon Member for West Nottingham. He has acted from the first whole-heartedly, with a view to doing his utmost to avoid waste in every branch of technical education. He has saved the country a good deal of money in some directions, but whatever he has saved he has seen that it has been spent with great advantage in other directions. The very fact that he has secured the placing of £638,000, in connection with the work of his Department on the Estimates for this year as compared with £614,000, shows that at any rate he has not been backward in urging the Board to come to his assistance with increased State money, in order to promote technical education, and I am quite sure, when we get the further assistance which we hope to get very shortly, there will be another very great development and a step forward in the branch over which he presides. The other matter for which I was criticised was in connection with the removal of some columns in the Victoria and Albert Museum. These were quite out of keeping with all the exhibits which were intended to be placed in that particular gallery. Most people did not consider that they were very beautiful. If anybody desires that they should be preserved I can assure the hon. Member that similar columns are preserved in the refreshment rooms underneath that particular gallery, and there is no intention whatever to destroy those columns, and they can be seen there for many years to come. In regard to the windows that he so much admires, they are preserved at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and anyone who desires to see those works of art will have the opportunity of seeing them whenever he so desires.
Then I come to the very interesting speech delivered by the hon. Gentleman (Sir Henry Hibbert). He asked me one or two questions in regard to the distribution of the Necessitous Areas Grant. Lancashire worked out a scheme of their own by which they find that if a large number of parishes which have very high education Grants are taken separately, they would obtain a greater sum of money than they would under the proposals which have 1248 been put forward by the Board. The Board have looked at this question from a broad point of view, and are doing their utmost to distribute the £438,000 in the fairest way between local education authority and local education authority, and we have not departed from the principle which has been in operation during the last three or four years of giving the Necessitous Areas Grant to a local education authority and not to individual parishes which may exist in certain communities. So far as we are able to ascertain the figures, we believe about £498,000 will be distributed to the old participants, and about £290,000 to the thirty-four new participants, but these figures are subject to correction, as we have not yet received the full figures from the various local education authorities. The hon. Member then proceeded to deal with secondary schools, and to urge that-more generous treatment should be given to them by the State. I can assure him that we are proposing to give much more generous treatment to secondary schools, and also to the technical schools, as soon as we receive the necessary moneys voted by Parliament which were foreshadowed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Speech.
The hon. Gentleman sat down after alluding to the subject-matter of the Union of Lancashire and Cheshire Institute. I am sorry he thought it was necessary to refer to this matter, because in a recent interview with some of my staff I was under the impression that we had very nearly come to an agreement in regard to the course which should be pursued. At the Board of Education we feel that we are justified in inquiring into the whole question of procedure when it is necessary for us as a Board to endorse any certificate, and in connection with their work we recognise that Lancashire and Cheshire have been pioneers in technical instruction, and that great respect is due to these authorities who have united in order to secure the greater proficiency and efficiency of the technical education in those two counties. At the same time, we hold to our opinion that external examinations are not in every case necessary in connection with technical instruction. External examinations are all very well in connection with entrances into the great professions, but we believe that when the work is done by students it is well that the opinions of the teachers who are brought 1249 into contact with the students from day to day and have better knowledge of their progress and the value of their work should also weigh in connection with certificates which may be issued from time to time as the result of work being done in these technical schools, and it is only because the union of Lancashire and Cheshire did not appear to us to pay reasonable regard to teachers' opinions that we had some little difference, which I believe to a very large extent has been met, or is in prospect of being met, by the two bodies. I am only too anxious to work smoothly with these counties, because I do recognise the great amount of work which they have done in the past, which they are doing, and which, I am sure, they will do in the future.
I should like before I deal with the shortage of teachers to say a word or two in connection with the medical branch, because, after all, I regard the health and physical condition of children as an essential preliminary to their education. The mind of a child must, to a very large extent, depend upon the condition of its body, and it is most essential that we should have regard to the health of the child in our elementary school. We try to secure that every child who enters our schools shall be healthy, and that youths of both sexes shall be turned out from our schools not only in a fit state themselves, but that they shall know how to preserve their own health, and in turn become the parents of a healthy race in the future. I am glad to say that 317 local education authorities are now inspecting not only the entrants and the leavers, but are often inspecting the special children, that is to say, the children who are suffering from some ailment, and who are marked out for special examination. In addition to that we have 120 authorities inspecting the children between the period when they come into school and when they leave school. We have 1,097 medical officers engaged in connection with these services. These include 84 women and 300 specialists for the treatment of eyes, ears, and teeth. In connection with teeth I may say that we find half of the children who are in the schools are in want of dental treatment, and I should like to throw out the suggestion to local education authorities that, wherever they find children's teeth not being attended to at home through neglect of the tooth brush, they should take precautions themselves to attend to this matter in the 1250 schools of the country. The septic condition of the teeth too frequently leads to the various maladies from which children suffer, and I believe that more regular attention to teeth by parents and local authorities would be money very well spent. In connection with the medical service, two years ago we were spending £47,000 of State money. Last year we spent £130,000, and this year we have on our Estimate £175,000. There are 125 authorities who are employing school nurses at present; 48 are undertaking the X-ray treatment of ringworm; 115 authorities have established their own school clinics or treatment centres; and 300 hospitals are being used for the treatment of infantile complaints. We have in the country 369 special schools for epileptics, mentally defective, physically defective, deaf and dumb, and blind, providing accommodation for 27,000 children. I am very glad that I have been able to secure increased Grants for all these kinds of schools. They are expensive to equip, and the fact that we have been able this year to increase the Grants, which were four to five guineas, up to £12 and £13 for residential day schools, is, I think, a matter for self-gratulation on the part of the House of Commons.
Then I come to another subject which I think is one of the utmost importance. It is the provision of adequate open-air school accommodation for the children who are ailing, debilitated, anæmic, and tubercular. We have only in the whole country at the present moment 945 places in open-air schools. My medical advisers tell me that half a million children in this country are in actual need of open-air treatment. At the present moment we have twelve schools for tuberculous children, and Grants have been given to these schools, which enable not only the capital expenditure of £90 to be given, or three-fifths of the capital expenditure, but enable the schools to be given £3 per head more for day pupils than we can give to the physically defective schools, that is to say a Grant of £9, and we are able to give to residential schools of this character £20, or £8 more than we give for the physically defective schools. In this way we trust the education authorities will respond to the needs and will be encouraged to make the necessary provision for these ailing children. The hon. Member for Chelsea alluded to the number of children who are inadequately fed, and quoted the number as 600,000. Provision is made for 350,000, 1251 and there is a supplementary Grant of £77,000, by which we shall, we hope, be able to continue that work of well doing, giving half the cost to the local education authorities, and we trust that this will encourage them to make provision for all the children who are suffering from malnutrition. I do not think that there is any greater tragedy than to see a child sent to school and expected to learn when that child is not properly or decently fed, and we feel that these contributions will lead the education authorities to make good the deficiences of the past.
With regard to physical training I am glad to say that it is now accepted as part of the curriculum in all our schools, and has become an integral part of the work in our eighty-six training colleges. There is certainly need for an increase of teachers' classes in connection with physical training, but whatever our shortcomings I am satisfied that we are behind no other nation in the world in regard to the provision which is made in our schools in connection with physical exercise. There is another branch of what I may call medical work carried on in our schools form others. During the last three or four years we have been taking stock of schools for mothers which have existed. There are about 200 of these schools at the present time; thirty-three of them have been receiving Grants under our technical regulations But I believe that with the approval of the Treasury, which we have got, for the distribution of Grants of £5,000 during the coming year in promotion of the work done by these schools, we shall give a fresh impetus to the work which will add a great deal to the knowledge and improvement of infant feeding, infant care and infant health. I hope that this work which has been done under our auspices, may grow and develop rapidly every year, because I am satisfied that not only can we look after the health of the children while they are in our schools, but that we shall see that they are properly nourished and looked after during the period before which they come into our schools, so that the money spent on their education will not be wasted as soon as they are sent to school.
Then I come to the somewhat controversial subject of bricks and mortar. Whenever I allude to criticisms of building, even if I try to exert the utmost tact, my suggestions always seem to be taken in a somewhat prerogative way. 1252 The Board have recently issued a revised edition of building Regulations. We have consulted with the education authorities and teachers as to designs which allow better lighting and better ventilation, of course prescribing the minimum dimensions. We are bound to see that public money is not wasted, and that reasonable economy is exercised; we are bound to discourage extravagance whenever and wherever we can. We proposed the new block Grants under which two-fifths of the loan charges for building will be provided by the State. I believe that this will do a great deal to remove the friction and difficulties which have hitherto prevented the local authorities in every district doing their duty in connection with providing adequate and sufficient accommodation. With regard to playgrounds, I should like to tell the hon. Member for Chelsea that I have endeavoured to deal with this matter in a practical and business way. There is a tendency for the population to draw away from the centre of our towns, and I believe that for the existing population remaining it is very difficult to find adequate playgrounds for the schools. The Board must have liberty to exercise a discretion in regard to accepting playgrounds reasonably adequate and of convenient position in relation to the school. But while we will do anything that can be done to provide adequate playgrounds—and I do not think that the authorities and managers have any great apprehension at this particular moment—I want the hon. Member for Chelsea and his Friends to understand that, so far as I can speak for the Board now and in the future, I cannot promise prolonged life to those who are not prepared to do something to provide the necessary grounds for recreation in connection with the elementary schools of the country. We regard outdoor recreation as being essential to education in those schools, and, whilst we are not prepared to make any unreasonable demand upon the school managers, we shall look at every one of these cases on its merits and do our best to stimulate the authorities to do everything possible in the direction I have indicated. It will interest the House to know that we are now about to restore in some new form the Epidemic Grant which was dropped a few years ago, and which has been asked for very frequently again by the local education authorities, and in the next year's Estimates I hope to include a sum of £50,000, which will encourage and assist the local 1253 education authorities to deal thoroughly and comprehensively in elementary schools with epidemics as they arise. I am about to issue additional regulations, so that the authorities may be able to consider any proposals in connection with the distribution of the Grant. I now come to the very important question of the quality of the teaching. Some complaint is made that the quality of the teaching is less thorough than it used to be. If the object is to awaken the child's intelligence and to arouse his interest, you will tend to assign a lower place to mere mechanical perfection. I am unable to find any evidence of wholesale deterioration in the teaching of the three R's.
I received from all quarters evidence that the children are more alert, more responsive, and, above all, happier in their school life than they were. We have revolutionised in many directions the way subjects are being taught. History is being taught in quite a different way. Recently we revised the chapter on geography, and for most valuable help in this matter we are indebted to suggestions by the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Mackinder), Dr. Scott Keltie, and others. Many suggestions are made, and if I accepted all the suggestions which the critics regard as indispensable, it would be an impossible task for the teachers, and if I omitted all the subjects which are thought to be superfluous the children would be taught nothing in the schools. I try to adopt the happy medium and leave the authorities every latitude as to the subjects they teach, and at the same time indicate what we normally expect in the different schools. I will just say in regard to the higher grade schools some experiments have recently been made in some of the counties in connection with this class of school, and they seem to be a real necessity. I can assure the hon. Member for London University (Sir P. Magnus) that they are an unqualified success. As to the supply of teachers, the wastage is about 7,000 per year in our elementary schools. In this figure no allowance is made for any improvement in the teaching staff. We ought to have entrants into the profession of something like 0,000 to allow for leakage. In 1912–13 the entry was 4,325, and there are signs that it will be still further increased this year. The Board has been in consultation with authorities and experts in order to ascertain the causes of the decline, and to see what remedies could be devised. 1254 The causes at work are complex, and a complete solution can only be found by making the profession more attractive as a career both in status and in salary.
The Board have issued a Return showing the remarkable variation in the salaries paid in various parts of the country. The head teacher of a county school is often paid less than the assistant teacher in a town. Good trade has created a larger number of attractive openings in business. Many of the local education authorities have been improving their scales of salaries, but this improvement must become more general if the profession is to attract into it a sufficient number of recruits. It is not merely a question or solely one of raising salaries. Women teachers find it very difficult to find lodgings in many parts of the country. I feel that a comfortable hostel for teachers would be one of the best means of attracting women into the Board's service. Under the new proposals two-fifths of the building charges will be found by the State. A large number of schools at the present time have no room whatsoever where a teacher can take any rest or eat a meal. Another reason is the arduous character of the work which is often placed upon a teacher, especially a young female teacher, when she first goes into an elementary school. The result is that she discourages from entering the profession friends and others who might otherwise do so. If there were a fairer distribution of the work in the school she would probably form a very different opinion of the profession when she entered upon the work for which she had been trained. We have revived the pupil-teacher system in rural districts, but we have done it in a very different way from that which formerly existed. The old pupil-teacher system failed because it was frequently the hopeless case of a tired teacher instructing a tired pupil. This will mow be avoided, because the pupil-teacher will not be allowed to count on the staff, and he may not teach more than half-time. We propose to give Grants increased from £20 to £42 for pupils living outside the range of secondary schools; the pupils will be taught partly by head teachers and partly by subsidiary central classes. There are other matters connected with this question to which time will mot permit me to refer.
In regard to supplementary teachers, there has been in the last four years a 1255 decline of 4,000, but we still have 13,000 unqualified teachers left in the schools. The Board propose not to allow even the appointment of these supplementary teachers in urban schools, while in rural schools new appointments will be limited to infant classes and the lowest class of older children in a small school. In regard to the leaving age, out of the 600,000 children who leave our elementary schools each year, 35,000 are half-timers, 13,000 leave under the age of thirteen, 176,000 leave at the age of thirteen—on their birthday or thereabouts, 336,000 leave during the age of thirteen, and only 40,000 remain after the age of fourteen. The fact that 176,000 leave at the age of thirteen shows what an enormous proportion leave the very first moment they have an opportunity of doing so. Although they are to a large extent more alert than they used to be, yet they have just reached the age when they are capable of understanding the reasons and principles of what they are learning and how to apply their knowledge. Recollect that if children do not learn by fourteen to use their fingers, their fingers become thumbs. How much can be done to teach children if they are kept at school may be seen by a visit to a London County Council Central School by anyone who takes an interest in the subject. The greatest blot on our system is that the great mass of our elementary schools have to submit to losing large numbers of their scholars just when a good teacher could do most for their mental, moral, and physical development. We have a continuation system which is purely voluntary and almost exclusively connected with evening teaching. I want to do justice to evening schools, but I would point out that in regard to the proportion of students under eighteen in attendance at evening schools, only 5 per cent. between fourteen and eighteen are estimated to be still in attendance at elementary schools, secondary schools, and other places of full-time education. Of the 2,391,000 left available for evening schools, only 14 per cent., or 334,000, are in nominal attendance during a single year. The percentage of pupils who begin at the beginning of the course and go on continuously is only fifty-three, and while the aggregate student hours that can be worked by juvenile students is 287,000,000, the actual is 18,500,000.
§ Mr. PEASE
The only remedy is by legislation. I have no power to compel authorities or parents, and I can only make representations to the authorities and parents, and urge the latter to keep their children at school. I do all I can to encourage employers to meet the necessities of the case by freeing their children during the daytime for educational purposes. The general body of employers are willing enough to fall in line if the same requirements were made on everybody. German employers themselves recognise that the education their lads get is of advantage to the firms, and a real asset, and no employer desires to go back to the old system. My time is about finished, and therefore I cannot deal with matters that I should like to deal with; but I should like in conclusion to say that there are many defects in our system of education which can only be remedied by attention of the law. These include a compulsory continuation system and the abolition of the religious difficulty that exists in our elementary school. So far as I can judge, apart from the great defect to which I have alluded, with the additional monetary help that the education authorities are about to receive from the Exchequer, there is no reason for us to believe as a nation that we have not got very much to learn from other countries. Our prosperity, from an educational point of view, is, I think, assured, also our future as a nation if we will only put our house in order.
It being Eleven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Resolutions to be reported to-morrow (Wednesday); Committee also report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.