§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ "That a sum, not exceeding £13,565,780 (including a Supplementary sum of £3,856,000), be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of 1888 payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1918, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various Establishments connected therewith, including sundry Grants-in-Aid."—[NOTE: £5,450,000 has been voted on account.]
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Herbert Fisher)
I must ask a very large measure of indulgence from the Committee, since I so find myself unable to discharge my duty in reference to the Education Estimates within the narrow limits of time appropriate to the first quavering utterances of a new Member. I believe, however, that there is in this House, and not only in this House, but in the country at large, a quickened perception of the true place of education in the scheme of public welfare, and a very earnest resolve to give to our national system, if it can be called national, and if it can be called a system, all the improvements of which it is-capable. Indeed, nothing has been more remarkable than the attention which has recently been paid both in the public Press and on public platforms to the subject of education. One might have imagined that the War would have so occupied and exhausted the mind of the country as to leave room for no other thought. But this has not been the case. The War has had the very opposite effect. Quite naturally, and as it seems to me quite rightly, this great calamity has directed attention to every circumstance which may bear upon national strength and national welfare. It has exhibited the full range of our deficiencies, and it has invited us to take stock of all the available agencies for their improvement.
Another feature of the present situation which cannot fail to impress hon. Members of this House is the remarkable interest which is now exhibited in education, which is evinced in two quarters from which a clear note has not always hitherto been sounded. Trade unions are demanding educational reform. Many of the most enlightened employers and manufacturers are actively promoting it. There is now a prospect new in my experience, and so far as I know new in the experience of this country, of the cooperation of the commercial and industrial interests of this country with the thoughtful energetic portion of the population to secure not only a higher standard of industrial and commercial fitness, 1889 but a higher level of general education. Not less significant is the remarkable consensus of opinion both as to our present needs in the field of education and as to the main lines of educational reform. I will not attempt to disentangle all the threads of thought and feeling which have combined in this movement. Some minds attach importance to education as to the foundation of industrial and military strength. Others are principally affected by the prospect that in the spread of education they may find the resolution of the discords in our industrial life; and I notice this also, that the calamitous destruction of young lives in the present War, lives of the first promise, does impose a solemn obligation on Parliament so to provide for the future that the rising generation, which will be deprived of its natural predestined leaders, may be prepared to furnish an added measure of service to (he community.
I make these preliminary observations because in the Estimates I am submitting to the Committee I am proposing a large increase of expenditure. The sum which the House of Commons will be asked to vote for the service of education in the year 1917–16, being greater by £3,829,048 than the amount voted by Parliament in the year 1916–17, will involve the largest increase, as compared with the Estimates of the preceding year, which is known in the history of the Board. This increase does not appear in the original Estimates, which were printed at the usual time, and have been for some time past in the hands of hon. Members. It appears in the Supplementary Estimate bearing a recent date. Accordingly it will be convenient if I deal first with the Estimates which have been prepared and printed in the ordinary course, and which relate to the normal upkeep, apart from those special developments which will require increased Grants. The Committee will notice that these Estimates provide for an expenditure by the Board of Education in the year 1917–18 amounting to £15,159,780, being less by £26,952 than the amount, voted by Parliament in the year 1916–17. These Estimates are, as they were last year, on a war footing of retrenchment. Last year they were so closely clipped that they showed a reduction of £294,646 on the Estimates of 1915–16, and very little further shrinking is to be expected. Three of the causes which were at work last year to reduce the Estimates did not quite reach their fullest effect then, and are now 1890 responsible for a further reduction. I refer to the departure of military students in the training colleges on military service, the cessation of building operations in connection with these colleges, and the shutting down of evening classes in the lower grades of technical work.
These retrenchments, coupled with further retrenchments in the expenditure upon museums and sundry other similar decreases, amount altogether to £106,599, against which there is a net saving of £78,462. There is an increase of £3,235 under the heading of Administration, sub-head (a); an increase of £28,927 granted to elementary schools, sub-head (c); an increase of £42,800 granted to secondary-schools, sub-head (e); and an increase of £3,500 granted for the Imperial College of Science and Technology under sub-head (g.) I do not think these increases demand any extended observations. The chief part of the increased cost of administration consists of the provision of expenses for certain Committees which have been appointed to report upon questions affecting the future of education, and the remainder relates to the ordinary annual increments to the salaries of the staff. The staff itself is greatly depleted, more depleted than it was last year, and it has been run at a less cost. But our Estimates bear the full value of the salaries of those officers of the Department who have been lent to other Departments, and part of the salaries of those who have gone on military service. While I am on the subject of the staff, I should add that 669 members of the Board's staff have gone on military staff. Of these, forty-two have been killed in action, or have died on active service, and five are reported as missing. In addition to this very considerable contribution to the fighting forces, representing over one-third of the members of the Board's normal male staff, very substantial help has been rendered by the Board of Education to other Departments and special committees, notably the War Office and the Ministry of Munitions. At various times since the beginning of the War no less than 297 members of the Board's staff have been loaned in this way, and at the present moment 159 of the Board's staff are thus on loan. I learn that the services of these officers are greatly appreciated, and I am not surprised to hear it. I know there is a circle of opinion that the 1891 official mind is choked up with the sawdust of rules and regulations, but at any rate that does not apply to officers of the Board of Education, whose abilities and zeal and enthusiasm for educational progress are beyond all praise.
I come now to the second item in the scale of our Estimates. The increase in the expenditure on elementary schools arises partly from the normal growth, in the pensions to teachers, and partly to two developments of great interest and promise—I allude to the provision of new grants for evening play centres, a movement which we all honourably associate with the name of Mrs. Humphry Ward, and to the new provision of grants for the organisation and provision of physical training. I allude to these developments with the greater pleasure in view of the fact that they have received the favourable consideration of my distinguished predecessor, Lord Crewe, who undoubtedly would have carried them out if time had permitted. The increase in the secondary school grants is due to the increase in the number of pupils on whom grants will be paid during the financial year, and it is a matter of no little significance that one of the first desires, and one of the immediate results of the increased prosperity of the working classes during the War, has been an increase in the number of pupils entering our secondary schools and the length of their stay in those schools. I have now mentioned all the ordinary respects in which the Estimates differ from last year, and the net effect is that, after setting off the increases against the decreases, the sum asked for is less by £26,952 than the sum voted last year. But these Estimates do not, and should not, stand alone. The total expenditure of this country on education in England and Wales may seem to be large. Some £16,000,000 are paid out of the taxes, another £17,000,000 out of the rates, perhaps, though it is impossible to make an exact calculation, the sum of £7,000,000 more come out of fees, voluntary contributions, and endowments.
This makes a large sum; it amounts to £40,000,000. But it must be taken in the general context of national expenditure. It is eight times the value of our annual importation of oranges and bananas. It is four times the value of the estimated saving which the country has been able to effect through the partial substitution 1892 of margarine for butter; it is one and one-third times the value of the annual expenditure on tobacco, and it is almost one-fourth the value of the annual expenditure on alcohol. I have cited articles of luxurious expenditure, with respect to which it is always pertinent to ask whether we can afford to spend the money. But when we are considering a form of productive expenditure, which is not only an investment but an insurance, that question cannot stand alone. We must ask a supplementary question. We must ask not only whether we can afford to spend the money, but whether we can afford not to spend the money. And the supplementary question is more important and more searching than the question on the Paper. When I ask the House to commit itself to a large additional expenditure on public education, I may very properly be asked whether the country is getting full value, or at all events good value, for its present expenditure. I confess that the profit to be derived from the system of education cannot be assessed by arithmetic or proved by geometry. Educational advance cannot be measured by the things whiach are taught, but only by the things which are learnt, and the things which are learnt are often quite imponderable and not to be measured by the standard of any definite intellectual acquisition. It is easy for any observer of our social phenomena to pick out a black patch here and there, and to paint a dismal picture of the progress of our civilisation.
But on a comprehensive view, no one can pretend to doubt the very real effect which our system of popular education has had in the improvement of morals, in the refinement of taste, and in the development of the skill, knowledge, and intelligence of our working population. The enormous increase in our population since 1870, when elementary education was introduced, has been accompanied by a marked decrease in crime. Illiteracy has been reduced to comparatively small dimensions. In 1862, 225 married men out of every thousand were unable to sign their name; in 1907 the number had fallen to fourteen—fourteen too many, but still only fourteen. Take another thing. Good books are read in larger numbers and by a wider circle of people; and reports of librarians from districts inhabited by artisans, show me very conclusively that there has been a marked increase in the- demand for treatises upon handicrafts, 1893 upon economical and social problems, and upon the technique of various trades. I should like also to add that the progress has been especially rapid since the Act of 1902. Apprehensions were than entertained that the new administrative machinery, set up by that measure introduced by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Foreign Affairs, might have the effect of sapping the foundations of local interest in education. Whether that has proved to be the case or not—and I imagine that you would get different answers to the question from different parts of the country —there can be no question that the past decade has witnessed a very substantial measure of educational progress. Whatever test you take, there has been a very marked and clear advance.
And if anybody had doubted the value of our elementary schools, that doubt must have been dispelled by the experience of the War. What are the plain facts of the situation? An immense Army has been suddenly formed out of volunteers, and has proved itself in a very short space of time the match at every point for the forces of the first military situation in Europe. It is an Army, let it be observed, mostly recruited from the elementary schools, and I venture to assert that this sudden and brilliant military improvisation could never have been achieved if we had been working upon the basis of a population entirely uneducated.-This wonderful achievement implies trained powers of assimilation, the instructed conscience, the well-directed will, and an instinct for good conduct, and when we consider that the enemy is divided from us by the obstacle of the sea, and that we have had every reasonable security for hearths and home, the great English Crusade is found to imply qualities of imagination and ethical feeling as well. Perhaps the Committee will allow me to cite two pieces of evidence, one from the Army and the other from the Navy, in support of the proposition that the country owes not a little to its public elementary schools in the present strife. Here is an extract from a letter written by an officer in a Lancashire regiment in the year 1915 16:—The second and third-line troops could never have been raised and trained in the time they were but for the public elementary schools. In many cases the first two lines absorbed all the trained material there was and the commanding officers of the third line bad actually to 'make' officers, non-commissioned officers, 1894 and men, the two last almost wholly from the product of the public elementary schools. The instruction o the men was greatly helped by, their intelligence Scouting, outpost work, bombing, trench raiding, etc. require not only native intelligence, but, also the ability to write in plain, unmistakable English a short message, on which much may depend. We had no Army schools for our men, nor any time to spare for instruction even if we had. Consequently we were wholly dependent on what the public elementary schools sent us.Here is the voice of the Navy. The commander of a light cruiser flotilla, manned almost entirely by hastily levied hands from the merchant service, or from ordinary civil employ, writing spontaneously to one of our inspector, says:The way these fellows picked up the job seemed me perfectly marvellous. There is something in you damned board school education after all.Yes, Sir, there is something in the education of our public elementary schools. I have here the records of a coucil school in Northumberland, which sent 263 volunteers to the Army, three of whom hold commissions as captains, eight as lieutenants, twenty-six as second-lieutenants, while twenty-one are midshipmen, two hold military crosses, four have received the military medal, one the D.C.M., another the D.S.O., and several have been mentioned in despatches. This roll of honour is not confined to any one school or any one district. You will find them scattered throughout the length and breadth of the land, and they are worth something to the country, and many argosies of oranges and bananas. I make, then, no apology for our scheme of popular education or for the money which is spent upon it. I am sure that on the whole the country is getting at least as much value for what it spends in the sphere of education as it gets from its expenditure in any other direction. But I do not, of course, say that we could not get more value for our money. Some areas are forward, and other areas are backward. There is still much levelling up to be done, but on the whole I am confident in asking this House to assent to the proposition that the money which has been spent upon national education has not been wasted but has been turned to a useful account. In education almost everything depends upon the personal element. If the teacher is good and is thorough in his work, and if he is fond of children and if he be alert, understanding, sympathetic, firm and yet good-humoured, success is secured. If the teacher is bad the most costly buildings and equipment will not redeem your educational system from failure. I think 1895 we have been, on the whole, remarkably successful in the teachers whom we have obtained for our State-provided and State-aided schools, having regard to the slender remuneration which has been offered to them. There are, of course, varieties. Every teacher is not a paragon. Some have no gift, others little industry, and, like every long-service profession, the teaching profession shelters men who have outlived their zest and appetite for work. But I would ask any Member of this House who has a large familiarity with the working of our public elementary schools—and I know there are many such Members here—to contrast his impression of our teachers to-day with the picture which Macaulay painted in the House of Commons in 1847 of the teachers of that day:The refuse of all other railing, discarded footmen, ruined pedlars, men who cannot work a sum in the rule of three, men who cannot write it common letter without flaws, men who do not know whether the earth is a sphere or a cube, men who do not know whether Jerusalem is in Asia or America".We must take the profession as a whole, and, taking it as a whole, I am struck by the great number of industrious and devoted teachers, men and women, who work in our schools. But the average pay of the teacher is far too low. For a certificated head teacher the average salary is £176, and for a certificated assistant teacher £129, and for an uncertificated assistant teacher £68. Those are the salaries for men. The salaries for women are lower, £126 for a certificated woman teacher, £05 for a certificated woman assistant teacher, £56 for an uncertificated assistant teacher, and £40 for a supplementary teacher. The certificated teacher is a man or a woman who enters the profession after some years of preparation for it. His skill and attainments are severely tested before he is admitted. He does not begin work until he is twenty-one or twenty-two years of age, and yet there were before the outbreak of war 42,200 certificated teachers, male and female, drawing salaries of less than £100, and 26,700 drawing salaries of less than £90 per annum. The case of the uncertificated teachers who are persons with qualifications is even worse. Is it to be wondered at that the profession is held in slight esteem? Is it to be wondered at that teachers in our public elementary schools find it difficult to regard themselves as members of a liberal profession, and that it is becom- 1896 ing more and more difficult to find recruits of the right quality in adequate numbers? The problem of recruitment was already serious before the War, and it will be more serious still unless steps are promptly taken afterwards. It has been calculated that nine thousand entrants are annually required to repair the wastage in our elementary schools, and this upon its present basis of large classes. I do not pin myself to this, but I think it will certainly prove to be an under-estimate, and a very considerable under-estimate, if any real attempt be made, as it must be made, to reduce outclasses after the War and to extend the scope of popular education.
In 1906 the total number of entrants, boys and girls, was 11,901, in 1908 it had fallen to 9,614, in 1910 to 6,185, in 1912 to 5,232. In 1915–16 the number of recognised candidates rose, owing to measures taken by the Board, to 7,047. These figures are eloquent in themselves, but they do not exhaust the situation. We have to remember that for every male entrant into the profession there are from three to five female entrants— in my opinion an excessive proportion— that many new and attractive openings have been unfolded before the eyes of educated women during the War, so that the problem, which was acute already in 1914, will become still more acute in 1920. I have heard it said that teaching is a vocation and that money wage does not matter. It is true that a very large number of men and a still larger number of women do enter the teaching profession actuated by something akin to the missionary spirit, but in a profession numbering 150,000 members you cannot rely upon the missionary spirit alone as a source of recruitment. With all our manifold virtues, we cannot depend upon an annual supply of 9,000 missionaries, content to endure a hard, narrow, and stinted existence for the sheer love of teaching. In every large profession you must rely on economic motives to some extent for your recruits, in the teaching profession less than elsewhere perhaps: but even teachers are human. I do not expect the teaching profession to offer great material rewards—that is impossible; but I do regard it as essential to a good scheme of education that teachers should be re-relieved from perpetual financial anxieties, and that those teachers who marry should be able to look forward to 1897 rearing a family in respectable conditions. An anxious and depressed teacher is a bad teacher; an embittered teacher is a social danger.
The first condition of educational advance is that we should learn to pay our teachers better. If we do not take this step, we shall not be able to keep the profession at its present level in numbers and quality; still less shall we be able to extend its sphere or to deepen its influence, and steps should be taken now if the fruit of the investment is to be reaped after the War. A teacher cannot be educated and trained in the twinkling of an eye, and we must make the profession more attractive now in order that young people may be tempted to enter forthwith on the comparatively long course of education and training which is the necessary preliminary for work in our State-aided and State-provided schools. The most certain way of securing that any extra money available for elementary or secondary education should go into the pockets of the teacher is for the State to pay the teachers direct. I have carefully considered this solution of the problem. It possesses many clear recommendations. If the State were to salary the teachers, inequalities which at present exist between the salary scales in different areas would disappear, there would be a general scheme of increments and of promotion throughout the country, the rural schools would be better served, and the available teaching ability would be distributed by the State in such a way as to secure a degree of equality of opportunity as between urban and rural districts, which, under our present system of decentralisation, it is very difficult to secure. But the establishment of the teaching profession as a branch of the Civil Service would cut at the roots of our local system of education. I do not so much fear the enslavement of the public intellect through a corps of State teachers, because, do what we will, we can never make a German out of an Englishman, let alone out of a Welshman. But I do fear a very great and abrupt decline in the local interest in education if the control of the teaching body, and payment means control, is withdrawn from the local authorities and vested in Whitehall. For this reason I do not propose to recommend this treatment of the problem. I intend to approach 1898 it on other lines. I am going to ask the House to sanction an additional Grant for elementary education of £3,420,000—
§ Mr. FISHER
Framed upon a principle which will give a direct interest to the local authorities to enact liberal salary scales, and I believe that by this plan my object will be attained without any undue invasion of the sphere of local autonomy. One of the advantages incidental to this proposal is that it will readjust the financial relations of the Treasury and of the local authorities, of the taxpayer and of the ratepayer, upon a more equitable basis. It is common knowledge that during the past ten years the proportion of educational expenditure borne by the Treasury has diminished, while the proportion borne by the ratepayer has steadily increased. In 1005–6 the State Grants were to the rates in the following proportions: Grants, 53.9 per cent.; rates, 46.1 per cent. In 1915–16 they stood: Grants, 46.5 per cent.: rates, 53.5 per cent. Thus, in these ten years the relative proportions have been almost exactly exchanged. In the London area the proportion of State contribution has fallen as low as 31 per cent, in 1915–16 of the total expenditure incurred on education by the authority. I do not think you need wonder if the ratepayer—and every countryman of mine, however insensitive upon other matters, upon the subject of the rates becomes as sensitive as a lyric poet—feels that if he is to be invited to bear any further educational burden, a higher contribution should be made by the State. The Committee will remember that the present Prime Minister (as Chancellor at the Exchequer), appointed, in 1912, a Departmental Committee, under the chairmanship of Sir John Kemp, to report on the changes which had taken place in Imperial and local taxation, and to make proposals, and that Committee presented, in 1914, a Report which, if it is not presumption of me to say so, is a model of excellence in its survey of a complicated state of facts and in the skill with which all the relevant considerations were focussed for the purpose of Parliamentary action
I think the hon. and gallant Member has forgotten the usual courtesy expected on these occasions, and I must distinctly ask him to make no more of these interruptions.
§ Commander WEDGWOOD
Mr. Whitley, having been called to order in a most extraordinary way for making interruptions—
§ Mr. FISHER
With certain modifications, I have adopted the recommendations of that Committee as the basis of my present proposals. I will first indicate the respects in which I have followd that Committee, and then those in which I have taken a different turn. First of all, we desire, as the Departmental Committee desired, to find some better principle of partnership between the State and local authorities than that which has hitherto prevailed. We do not admire, nor wish to retain, a system under which a fixed contribution is made by the State to meet a growing burden, but we desire to replace it by a system under which, as the burden increases, so will the State contribution increase. We proposed a formula for automatic expansion of Grant to follow upon and keep pace with expansion of the cost of education. Next we desire, as Sir John Kemp's Committee desired, to make the State contribution dependent, not merely upon the expenditure of each area, but also upon two other factors—the size of the area's educational task, and the ability of the area to discharge this task. We measure that task, as did Sir John Kemp's Committee, by the average number of children in the elementary schools. We measure the ability of the area, again as they did, by the assessable value. The more populous an area is, and the poorer the produce of its rate, the more will it benefit under our proposal. In all these 1900 respects we have merely followed the recommendations of Sir John Kemp's Committee.
I now come to one point in which we have departed from them. In that portion of the Grant which varies with, and expands with, an area's expenditure, they proposed that all expenditure should rank alike, and that the proportion covered by the Grant should be 40 per cent. We propose that all expenditure shall not rank alike. We distinguish between the salaries of teachers and all other expenditure. To the salaries of teachers we shall contribute 60 per cent.; to all other expenditure we shall contribute 20 per cent. Since the salaries of the teachers account for about two-thirds of the whole expenditure it will be seen that we have upon this point amended Sir John Kemp's formula in a sense favourable to the education authorities. I now come to the formula itself. The detailed workings of this will be explained in a White Paper, which I hope will be in the hands of hon. Members to-morrow. There was once a Prince of the North Country who, in circumstances differing from those in which the Committee now finds itself, was compelled to embrace the Dragon, whereupon the creature suddenly divested itself of Its unprepossessing exterior, and assumed the authentic form of a delicious princess. The formula which I wish to impress upon the affections of the Committee is perhaps somewhat forbidding on first appearance, but closer inspection will reveal manifold attractions. I will now introduce it. Thirty-six shillings per child in average attendance, minus the, produce of a 7d. rate, pins three-fifths of the salary expenditure, and plus one-fifth of the other net expenditure. Well, now, if we translate this from arithmetic into English, it means that more Grant will be paid to the poor authority than to the rich authority, more to the generous authority than to the niggardly authority, more to the authority which believes in fish and blood than to the authority which puts its trust in bricks and mortar.
Let me respectfully analyse the formula. We find that it consist of a rate element and of an expenditure element. The point which I wish to impress upon Members of the Committee is that the rate factor in the formula is calculated to produce a very powerful effect. Let me illustrate the point. A 1d. rate taken in relation with the number of children 1901 under education in the public elementary schools works out upon the average over the whole country at something like 3s. per child. There arc, however, some districts so poor that a 1d. rate works out at 2s. per child, while others again are so affluent that it works out at 5s. per child. These figures are not extreme figures. I take them for the purposes of illustration. Under the operation of our formula the poorer of these two contrasted districts, the 2s. district, will get 21s. more for each child in attendance than the richer area. That is a very strong differentiation, but it is justified, not only on grounds of financial equity, but upon the most vital interests of educational progress. I think it is not sufficiently realised—I certainly did not realise it until I was able to take a synoptic view—how very unequal are the educational facilities of this country as between area and area. There are some districts, I might even say there are some counties, which are years behind the more progressive parts of England, so that a child of poor parents who has the misfortune to be educated in these areas or counties has no real chance as compared with the child whoso parents dwell in the area of a progressive authority. Though this neglect is often due to human factors—to landlords, farmers, and others who do not believe in education—yet it is in the main possible to establish a very close co-relation between educational backwardness and a low assessable value. The primary condition of a sound scheme of elementary educational finance, therefore, is to make adequate and ample provision for these financial disparities.
I pass to the second factor of the formula, the factor which is based on expenditure. Here I may be asked why, seeing that the incidence of loan charges is extremely uneven as between authorities, I do not propose that the Treasury contribution to these charges should be higher and the contribution to salaries lower. My answer to that is twofold: first, that the Salary Bill is the great cost factor with which the local education authority has to deal, and it will, therefore, help local authorities more effectually by paying even one-fifth of their salary expenditure than by defraying the loan charges. Secondly, we wish to give a direct encouragement to the improvement of salaries, and to indicate, by the high percentage of the Treasury contribution to be attached to this 1902 item of the account, the great interest which we have in the improvement of the financial position of the teacher.
Although I have for convenience of exposition dealt separately with these two factors, the rate factor and the expenditure factor, yet the formula in its working will be a single whole. Add together 36s. for every child in average attendance, the three-fifths of the expenditure on salaries, and the one-fifth of the rest of the expenditure; deduct from this total the produce of a 7d. rate, and you get the amount of the State contribution to the expenses of ordinary elementary education in an area. If anybody reckons out the cost of applying that formula throughout the country, he will find that it amounts to something more than £15,000,000. We do not propose at the present time to interfere with any of the existing Grants; and we do not intend to add over £15,000,000 of new money to the existing Grants. What we propose is that in all those areas where the existing Grants fall short of the sum which will be reached by our formula to make the supplementary Grant on top of the existing Grants so as to bring them up to the amount ascertained by our formula. The difference between the existing Grants and the total sum reckoned according to the formula is £3,420,000, and that is the amount of the new money for which we are asking in the Supplementary Estimate under Subhead C 8. Furthermore, we impose both a minimum limit and a maximum limit to the total amount of State aid which is payable to an authority. If there is any area—and there will be none this year, there may be one or two next year —where, even after payment of a supplementary Grant, the State contribution will be less than 40 per cent, of the cost of elementary education in that area, we shall be prepared, on one condition, to make up the State contribution to 10 per cent. The condition is that the area shall itself be raising a rate of at least 1s. in the pound. If the area does not make that amount of effort we shall not be concerned to go out of our way to give extra assistance beyond its calculated share of the supplementary Grant. We have a similar proposal as to the maximum limit. So long as an area is raising a rate of at least 1s. in the £ it may receive whatever share of the supplementary Grant it is entitled to under our 1903 formula, but if it is not raising a rate of at least 1s. then we shall not pay a supplementary Grant to it beyond a certain limit. That limit is the amount which would bring the State contribution up to two-thirds of the cost of education in that area. To put it in another way, the State will not in any area bear more than two-thirds of the total cost of education unless the area is itself making a fair effort to bear the burden represented by at least a rate of 1s. in the £. I have now explained the principles upon which we shall distribute the new money for elementary education, and the minimum and maximum limits to be applied to the new money in each area.
I pass on to educational and administrative conditions to be attached to the Grant. In the Regulations we take powers before paying the Grant in any new year to review the provision made for elementary education by the authorities, and to consider its adequacy and efficiency in relation not only to the local needs and circumstances, but also to the development of a satisfactory system of elementary education, including the establishment of the teaching service on a sound basis throughout the country. In particular, we give notice that we intend to have regard, among other things, to the provision made in the area as a whole for the following objects: Firstly, for maintaining an adequate and suitable staff of teachers; secondly, for securing the progress of the older scholars by means of central schools, or otherwise; thirdly, we shall have regard to the provision made in the area as a whole for the teaching of handicraft, cookery, gardening, and other special subjects; and fourthly, to the efficiency with which the law of school attendance is administered. If the Board are not satisfied on any of these points they may, after the first year, withhold or reduce the Grant, and if the amount so withheld or reduced is more than 1s. per unit of average attendance they will present a Report on the subject to both Houses of Parliament.
One other observation may be permitted on the proposed new Grant for elementary education. While we intend to give a direct inducement for the payment of adequate salaries, and while we propose also to attach certain general conditions to the Grant, we do not contemplate any minute interference 1904 with the local authorities. We have not earmarked part of the Grant for this purpose or for that. We feel that the authority which has the responsibility of administering the Education Act in the country should have reasonable latitude as to its expenditure. We do not, therefore, propose to prescribe a definite salary scale for the authorities. But I am greatly dissatisfied with the existing variety of scales, which go far beyond any variety which can properly be considered as reflecting local conditions, and since the principles which should govern salary scales are a matter of some complexity, I am proposing to invite members of the several interests concerned to help me to explore it. There is, however, one exception in this policy of latitude to which I must advert. Our intention is to ask the local education authorities to conform to a schedule of minimum salaries for certificated and uncertificated teachers. I claim, then, for the proposed new Grant for elementary education that it will provide a more equitable adjustment between local and central expenditure, that it will enable better salaries to be paid to the teachers, that its incidence will be equitable as between rich districts and poor districts, and that, being expansive and responsive, it will act as a powerful and perpetual lever for educational reform. I may add that it will place the Board and Parliament in a better position to undertake the very necessary work of consolidating the different Grants for elementary education, and placing the whole finance of elementary education for the first time on a scientific basis.
I next come to the second item in the additional Estimates—the Grant of £433,500 for secondary education. The secondary schools are the key of the situation. Our elementary teachers must be trained in secondary schools; our professional men, our university students, our leaders of industry and commerce, should have, if possible, a full secondary school education. I really regard as one of the weakest points of our education system that so small a proportion of our population proceeds to the secondary school and that so small a proportion of those students who enter a secondary school are able to stay for a full period. If we desire, as I submit we should desire, this secondary education for all boys and girls in this country who are capable of profiting by it we must look far outside the 1905 orbit of our public schools. We must look to the public schools which are aided or provided by public authorities. In these schools the fees are low and there is, thanks to a regulation which we owe to the right hon. Member for North Monmouthshire (Mr. McKenna), a large number of free places reserved for boys and girls who have been in public elementary schools. About 34 per cent, of all the pupils in the secondary schools on the 31st January, 1914, were ex-public elementary scholars holding free places, another 2 per cent, hold scholarships, and 65 per cent, of the pupils had previously attended public elementary schools. I think it will be well to notice that although our highway from the public elementary school to the university still needs considerable improvement it is very much the widest highway of any of the great European countries. But even with low fees and free places it has proved so far impossible to keep the majority of children in school up to the age of sixteen. They are leaving all the time, some at twelve, others at thirteen, others at fourteen and fifteen. The school is like a kaleidoscope, the pieces suddenly changing shape, appearing and disappearing. How can there be any suitable corporate life, any completely effective scheme of instruction under conditions so depressing as those?
There are other palpable defects in our system. The calling of a secondary schoolmaster in a State-aided or State-provided school has yet to be made reasonably attractive to a really able man. At present the secondary school teacher is ill paid. He receives no pension, and yet his is a profession which ought to compete on equal terms for ability with the First Class of the Civil Service. In no advanced country but England will you find so large a proportion of secondary school teachers without a university degree. In no country is the gulf between the career of the secondary school teacher and the career of the university school teacher so clearly marked. Somehow or other we must attract able men into this branch of the profession, and provide them with a sufficient number of pupils able to receive a full secondary school education. The Grant which has been placed upon the Supplementary Estimates will go some way towards remedying these admitted deficiencies. It will enable the secondary school teachers to receive better salaries; it will enable them to contribute to a pension fund; a 1906 part of the money no doubt will be expended in improving equipment. It must also be remembered that while the cost of secondary education has increased, and is still increasing, the scale of the Board's Grants, which was fixed in 1907, has been stationary, so that the increased cost has either fallen upon the rates, or upon the parents, or has not been met at all. This sum, which is assigned in the additional estimates for secondary schools is not like the contribution to elementary education, an area grant. It will be distributed among the secondary schools according to the principle which is already in adoption. There are, as the Committee is aware, some schools which earn a full Grant of £5 per pupil. There are others— forty-eight in England and one in Wales— which earn Grant upon the lower scale, of £2 per pupil. We propose to raise the Grants made to both types of school by £2. We believe that this will be the least invidious way of helping the secondary schools, and, what is more important, the most effective way of securing for the children attending the State-aided secondary schools of the country a better education.
It must not. however, be thought that the secondary schools in this country can be put upon a satisfactory basis merely through the operation of such an additional Grant as I have described. That Grant, indeed, if applied solely to the salaries of the secondary school teachers would raise them by about 14 per cent., and, as I have said, this Grant, when supplemented by a Pension Act for secondary school teachers, the Bill for which I hope shortly to introduce, will provide a very substantial improvement in the teachers' position. The Board have felt for some time past that the provision for the organisation of advanced work in those secondary schools which retain a proportion of pupils up to the age of eighteen is unsatisfactory. We think that further assistance should be given to enable secondary schools to provide advanced courses so planned as to lead up to a standard such as is required for entering upon an Honours course at the university or an institution of university rank. Accordingly, in our new Regulations, we provide that assistance should be given to organised courses of advanced instruction recognised by the Board. To schools establishing such recognised courses we propose to make Grants not exceeding £400; and I think it worth while 1907 to point out that, among the conditions attached to these Grants is a stipulation that the Board must be satisfied that sufficient provision is made in the school for assistance to poor children taking the courses. The provision of these advanced courses will materially improve the highway to the universities, and will enable secondary schools to be classified according to the special provision made either for classical studies, or for the modern humanities or for science, so that there may be in every considerable area an inexpensive secondary school with a large number of free places offering the higher forms of secondary teaching in each of the recognised branches of secondary school education.
We hope also to deal with another grave defect in our present scheme of secondary school life. I allude to the great multiplicity of examinations. I am informed that there are no less than one hundred separate examinations for which boys in a secondary school may, at one time or another, desire to prepare. Every profession frames its own conditions of entrance without much regard to the general educational convenience of the country. I need not dilate upon the evils which ensue from this distracting tangle of examinations. The Board, for some time past, has realised that the problem needs handling, and we have good hopes, with the assistance of the Teachers' Registration Council, and the co-operation, which I am confident we shall obtain, of the professional bodies, of relieving our schools from this incubus. I think the Committee will agree with me that if we are successful in attaining this object, a great measure of educational improvement will be effected at a very small cost.
It has been suggested to me that secondary school education should be free, and the establishment of a system of free secondary education is an ideal with which I have very great sympathy. It may be thought that the simplest way of attaining this object would be to abolish all fees in secondary schools. Well, that would mean that if the schools were to go on even at their present level of efficiency, someone—and I suppose the someone would be the State—would have to find a revenue of about £1,000,000 a year, which would be struck off by this stroke of the pen. I doubt myself whether there are many reforms worth having 1908 which can be achieved by a stroke of the pen, and in the present instance I think that the assumed advantages of this reform would be more than counterbalanced by administrative and educational difficulties. It must be remembered that a great part, and not by any means the least valuable part, of secondary education is supplied by schools provided or completely controlled by local education authorities, and a part by governing bodies which are only loosely connected with them at all, so that the administrative and financial operation of freeing secondary schools would not only be much more complicated than is generally realised, but would certainly raise highly controversial questions.
I am fully aware of the imperfections of the existing system of financing secondary education and I hope to effect a substantial improvement in it, though, as Sir John Kempe's Committee realised, it is not, at present at any rate, susceptible to treatment by a formula analogous to that which I have adopted in the finance of elementary education. I have little doubt that, in spite of the considerable provision of free places and scholarships which is already available, further assistance, both from the central and from the local authority, is required to place the advantages of secondary education within the reach of all children who are able to profit by it. I think we should do well, in the first instance, to concentrate on the organisation of a better system of maintenance allowances, especially in the upper parts of our secondary schools. After all, it is important that in our secondary schools the son of the manufacturer, the son of the foreman, and the son of the workman should be educated side by side. We do not want a caste system in education. We want social fusion, and the best way of securing social fusion in the secondary schools is to have a system under which well-to-do parents contribute their fees, and help to support the school, while the children of poorer parents are assisted, and liberally assisted, by free places and maintenance allowances.
I have now concluded the observations which are directly suggested by the Estimates themselves. I have indicated the scope of the improvements which these additional moneys, should the House think fit to vote them, will enable us to carry out in the sphere of public education. I have shown how we may discard an obsolete system of finance as between 1909 central and local authorities; how we may prepare the way for a consolidation of elementary school Grants; how we may remedy the low and uneven remuneration of the teaching profession in its elementary and secondary branches; and how the secondary schools of this country may be improved by the granting of more liberal salaries to the teachers, by the introduction of a scheme of pensions, by maintenance allowances for the encouragement of more promising pupils, by the development of advanced courses, by a system of classification, and by the delivery of teachers and scholars from the excessive and distracting demands of external examinations. But great as these improvements will be, much more remains to be done if our system is to be made adequate to the future needs of the nation.
I do not propose at this moment—perhaps it would be hardly in order—to invite the House to consider in any detail the plan of educational reform of -which these additional Grants constitute an instalment. What this House and this country are, I believe, really anxious to know is, in the first place, whether the Government is seriously resolved to undertake the solution of the educational, administrative, and financial problems involved in any attempt to remedy these admitted defects; and, in the second place, whether this attempt will be made systematically and comprehensively on a well-considered plan. On the first point, I say with confidence that I have every reason to believe that his Majesty's Government is in earnest in this matter. The mere fact that in the middle of a great War, when the finances of this country are strained to the uttermost, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is willing to find nearly four millions of additional money for the development of public education is, I think, a sufficient indication that the Government mean business. As regards the second point, I can assure the House that all the problems of public education are being considered in relation to one another, and that though in order of time some reforms must necessarily precede others, they are not being dealt with in a fragmentary or opportunist manner. In my opinion the expenditure of the additional money included in the Supplementary Estimate will not return full value unless it is followed up by development in many other directions.
1910 Since I came to the Board of Education I have had the advantage of much consultation with men representing the most diverse interests both educational and industrial, and I do not think I am overconfident in saying that I do see my way clear to a really systematic and many-sided development of the organism of public education. The House will, of course, realise that the Estimates and Supplementary Estimates only provide funds which can be expended in the current financial year. I hope that next year's Estimate may make provision for such future developments as can be made in the ordinary course of administration; but it is also true that for other developments—and those perhaps of the greatest importance—legislation will be necessary. I should not be in order in now referring to the legislative proposals which I hope to have an opportunity of submitting to the House, and it would, I believe, be more convenient that I should reserve for that occasion any attempt to explain the details of my plan. I may, however, be permitted to mention in advance one or two of the main lines upon which I hope to proceed.
I shall not here enlarge upon the problem of the universities, not from any failure to appreciate the urgent need for promoting research and the higher forms of learning in this country, but because it would be more convenient to consider this aspect of the problem in connection with the financial needs of the universities, which will only be fully disclosed at the conclusion of the War. But I may perhaps be permitted to say that no scheme of university development would in my opinion be satisfactory which did not provide and did not make ample provision for the prosecution of free and independent post-graduate research, and also a liberal provision of scholarships to be held at the universities of this country. The object which wo are all striving to attain is very simple. We do not want to waste a single child. We desire that every child in the country should receive the form of education most adapted to fashion its qualities to the highest use. This will mean that every type and grade of school in the country must be properly co-ordinated. It will mean that the county authorities, either separately or combined together in provincial committees should make complete and progressive schemes for education in their respective areas, so that adequate and systematic provision may be made 1911 not only for the elementary but also for technical, commercial, and secondary education of the children in the district. But supposing these estimates are carried, they will carry us some way in this direction, but they will not carry us the whole way. Our estimates introduce the principle of the area grant, and they attach to it general conditions, one of which is the due provision of higher education, but they do not compel local education authorities to make this provision. That will require legislation. We think that the time has now come when the country should no longer be content to leave so important a matter as the co-ordination of all forms of education in a particular area to the discretion of the local authority, and no Education Bill would be really-satisfactory which did not require the committees of the county councils and county boroughs to submit schemes to the Board both for secondary and elementary education. That is one direction in which I look for improvements.
Another question which is to be considered is the development of our country schools. The critics of our rural education have often complained, and with some justice, that the fare provided in our village schools is not altogether suited to the needs of country children. It must of course be remembered that about 75 per cent of the children educated in our village schools ultimately earn their livelihood in the towns, so that a wholly rural education would be even more inappropriate than education which had no rural bias. Still I have always felt that in spite of our recent improvement, and there have been many, we continue to make too little differentiation between our rural and urban education, and I have every hope that, with the co-operation of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Agriculture improvements may be introduced into the education of country children calculated to mould a taste for country life, an interest in all the common sights and scenes of the countryside, and an intelligent use of all its various opportunities.
There is another question. We have made great strides in our educational methods during the last fifteen years, but I think that it is generally admitted that our provision for very young children, as also our provision for the children in the upper standards of elementary schools is not altogether satisfactory, and I propose to invoke the aid of Parliament to em- 1912 power local education authorities to establish nursery schools for children under the age of five, and in course of time I hope that the provision of such institutions will be sufficiently ample to enable us to proceed a step further in the direction of releasing young children from the obligation of attending the formal instruction in a public elementary school. At the other end of the scale a good deal may be done, and should be done, to diversify and improve the work of the upper standards of our elementary schools, and to promote the growth of central schools. In general, it may be assumed that a knowledge of the three R's is satisfactorily rooted and established by the twelfth year, and that during the two final years of school life the diet should be richer and more varied. There should be more handwork for the boys, more housecraft for the girls, and more literary and inspiring education for both. Such improvements, however, require no legislation, and can be effected with a minimum of cost by a better direction of educational effort. It would, however, be necessary so to amend the law of school attendance as to secure that for every boy and girl in the country a full period of school instruction until the fourteenth year.
The changes which I have briefly outlined would give to our present system an elasticity and strength which it does not at present possess, but I have still to touch upon the gravest deficiency in our educational arrangements. I allude to the inadequate provision for the intellectual, moral, and physical discipline of young persons during the period of adolescence. This is no new matter. My predecessor, Mr Joseph Pease, whose pioneer labours in the field of educational reform I wish gratefully and sincerely to acknowledge, made an extended allusion to this subject when introducing the Estimates, and there are some important recommendations contained in the Report of the Departmental Committee presided ever by my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. Herbert Lewis). What, Sir, is our present system? We turn children out into the world at the age of 12, 13, and 14, just at the moment when their powers of intelligent and independent receptivity are first aroused, and their schooling should be beginning to bear fruit. Thenceforward the child is the prey of 1913 accident. It is true that a small minority of the young persons put in an appearance at our evening schools, and though the results obtained from evening schools are well worth having they are not sufficient. The number who benefit is comparatively small, the attendance is spasmodic and irregular, and all experience tends to show that after a hard day's work young people are too fatigued to receive the full measure of advantage from evening classes.
I do not disregard other agencies. There are the Boy Scouts, an invaluable organisation, now comprising 200,000 members. There is the Church Lads Brigade, and there are, of course, girls' and boys' clubs scattered up and down the country, all attempting, within the modest measure of their powers, to cope with this problem. In certain of our great industrial works schools have been established by the intelligent benevolence and self-interest of individual employers. These agencies are all very valuable, and in my eyes they are all the more valuable because they are voluntary, but their operation is partial, and they are not sufficient to fix and secure the best results of elementary training in the great mass of the people.
I do not know whether hon. Members happen to have read a book which appeared some years ago, entitled "Across the Bridges," written by Mr. Paterson. It is a study of life in South London, and it contains a remarkable description of the gradual degeneracy in the mind, character, and taste which comes over the children of South London after the conclusion of their school life. At the opposite end I have been impressed by the fact that boys who have been stirred up at the age of sixteen or seventeen to attend the technological classes attached to our new universities in the North of England have so lost the habit of intellectual activity as to clog and impede the efficient working of the college. May I put the matter in another light? I would submit that the country docs not get full value out of its elementary schools because so much of the training and instruction is subsequently lost; and it does not get full value out of its higher technical institute and agricultural colleges because so many of the students who attend these classes have learnt so little and forgotten so much since their school life came to an abrupt close some years ago.
1914 It is clear that the country must do something to remedy this glaring defect in our educational system. I do not conceal from myself that any scheme of continued education will be exposed to cross-currents of criticism. It will not be easy to establish a system at once sufficiently comprehensive and sufficiently elastic to give the young people of this country what we all desire that they should have without an undue dislocation of our industrial system. Yet this is what must be done if the State is to reap the full measure of advantage which a system of public education can afford. What is it that we desire, in a broad way, for our people? That they should be good citizens, reverent and dutiful, sound in mind and body, skilled in the practice of their several avocations, and capable of turning their leisure to a rational use. And what do we sea? Our standard of physique as a nation is deplorably below the standard which a great people should set before them. Our common taste in amusement, though greatly improved, is still, in the main, rude and uncultured. We have lost, and arc only now slowly beginning to recapture, some of that general taste in music, the most universal of the Arts, which was long ago a special note of our English civilisation, but which now has been banished to the mountains and valleys of Wales. Our aptitude for technological studies is great, but only half developed, and though we are an extremely clever nation when we choose to use our brains, we are only just, beginning to realise that the capital of the country does not consist in cash or paper, but in the brains and bodies of the people. It is time that all this was changed. Economy is in the air. We are told to economise in our expenditure and in our foodstuffs. I suggest that we should economise in the human capital of the country, our most precious possession, which we have too long neglected. I should not recommend any measures which would have the effect of disturbing the labour market during the War. I fully realise the difficulties of agriculture and of industry and am not anxious to perplex the business calculations either of those who employ or of those who are employed, but I hope that Parliament may see its way at an early date to assent to a measure which will give effect to the general principles which I have endeavoured to describe, so that the foundations may be laid for a fabric of national 1915 education worthy of the genius and heroism of our people and a fitting monument of the great impulse which is animating the whole nation during the War.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The cheers to which we have just listened assure me that I shall have the support of the whole Committee in offering to my right hon. Friend the warmest congratulations on the brilliant statement of educational policy which he has just addressed to us. If he will allow me to say so, he has acquired at one jump such an ease of Parliamentary style that anyone who listened to him could not help forgetting that he was addressing the House for the first time. It is ten years since it was my duty to stand at that box and to address the Committee upon the same subject. How happy is my right hon. Friend's lot compared with the one which I then endured. We lived in those days in the midst of a religious controversy. I had to conduct it as my predecessor who sits near me now (Mr. Birrell) had to conduct it, and as his predecessor also had to conduct it, and I am sure they all, as I did, most heartily loathed it. My right hon. Friend happily is now able to make a statement based on purely educational policy, without one single note or thought of religious dispute.
I can only say that it would be impossible at this time to enter into the details of the proposals that be has made, but we shall have an opportunity of examining them more particularly as the major part of his proposals cannot be effected, as I understand them, without a Bill. I should like to say at once, however, that so far as I am concerned I shall give him my most whole-hearted support, first, in his proposal to improve the status of the teacher, next, in his proposal to introduce as I understood it, a system of day continuation classes, and, thirdly, in his proposal to raise the school age, though upon the last point I was not quite clear whether he intended to have a Bill or not.
The War has given the whole nation a clearer and more sympathetic sense of national unity and national responsibility. The fitting equipment of the child for the battle of life is a national concern in the interest not merely of the individual, but also of the State. It requires the expenditure of money, and it requires the placing of confidence in those who have 1916 the control of our educational system. For my part, I shall be quite ready, both to vote for the expenditure of the necessary money and to give full confidence to the right hon. Gentleman in the execution of his policy. He has made a bold attack upon the Treasury, and I congratulate him on having found a sympathetic listener in my right hon. Friend the present Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Bonar Law). It is not long since I myself occupied the same office, and I am happy to remember that whilst I was there I was, at any rate, in part able to give sanction to some of the proposals which have now come before us. I refer more particularly to the Grant in respect of technical instruction. My right hon. Friend says that economy is in the air. There are those who say that it is to be found nowhere else. But for my part I do not look upon the expenditure on education as uneconomical expenditure, and I cannot help thinking that most, if not all, of my hon. Friends who have placed upon the Paper a Resolution calling attention to the need for economy in expenditure will agree with me that these three and a half million pounds represent probably as well-spent money as this House could vote.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I heard for the first time this afternoon the details of my right hon. Friend's formula, but very possibly because of my past experience at the Board I was able to appreciate what that formula means. The additional money is to be spent, as I understand it, in meeting the formula of an area Grant of 36s. per child, minus the product of a 7d. rate, plus 60 per cent, of the salary bill, plus 20 per cent. of the balance of educational expenditure. I thought my right hon. Friend explained very completely what the effect will be, of allocating expenditure in that way. For my own part, I believe it will have a very serious effect in improving the quality of the teaching. I agree with him in believing that there is no way of securing a sound system of education in this country other than by the better recognition of the status of the teacher. The Grant, as he proposes it, has the further effect of distributing the cost of education more evenly as between rich and poor districts.
§ Commander WEDGWOOD
Is my right hon. Friend referring to the revaluations of the country districts which arc not fully assessed?
§ Mr. McKENNA
That would be an addition to the proposal, but it does not affect the result of my right hon. Friend's proposal as it relates to things as they are now. Taking the financial situation as it stands at this moment, the effect of the proposal, as I understand it—I only heard of it for the first time this afternoon—will be to give a larger amount to the poorer districts, which, as a rule, are not only poor in respect of their rateable value, but are rich in respect of the number of their children. Consequently the giving of the Grant of 36s. per child and deducting from it the product of the 7d. rate will give a far larger amount in the case of the poor, much-peopled districts in comparison with the rich and scantily populated areas. I therefore welcome, both on the ground of the distribution of the Grant and the direction which the Grant gives to the educational tendency, most warmly the proposals which my right hon. Friend has made. Of course, we shall have a better opportunity for examining them when we can see them more in detail. I hope I may be allowed to conclude with congratulations to my right hon. Friend upon the statement he has made.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I think I ought to say a word or two to the Committee before the general discussion proceeds. I gathered that in a considerable portion of the latter part of the speech of the Minister for Education he was referring to proposals which can only be carried into effect by legislation. I thought, in all the circumstances, that it would be pedantic for me to interrupt on such an occasion and to in any way minimise the very interesting speech which the Minister for Education was making. But, of course, it is well known that in Committee it is not permissible for us to discuss legislative proposals. The matter having been opened, the Chair is in rather a difficult position. I can only appeal to hon. Members in the discussion which will now take place as far as they possibly can to give as little possible occasion for intervention from the Chair.
§ Mr. LOUGH
On a point of Order. I should like to ask whether the whole amount of the proposed Vote is included 1918 in the Resolution that has been proposed to the Committee, including the £400,000 and more which applies to these now legislative proposals, and if it is not in order for us to pass a Vote in this way that will cover these new proposals?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Are we to understand that we are entitled to discuss on the Vote for Education now the Supplementary Estimate of which the President of the-Board has spoken. In that Supplementary Estimate there is included a sum of £3,400,000 as a Grant for the salaries of elementary teachers and a further Grant of £400,000 for the salaries of secondary school teachers. In these circumstances, is it not necessary to dispense with the ruling of the Chair in order to deal with the subject at all?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Perhaps I had better read the Question again, which will answer the question of the hon. Member. The Question is
"That a sum, not exceeding: £13,565,780 (including a Supplementary sum of £3,856,000), 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, 1918, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education, and for the various Establishments connected therewith, including sundry Grants-in-Aid."
§ Sir PHILIP MAGNUS
I desire to add my congratulations to those that have been offered by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. McKenna) to the President to the Board of Education for his interesting and comprehensive speech in bringing these Estimates before the Committee. Your ruling, Mr. Maclean, makes it a little difficult for those who desire to speak on this subject to limit their observations to certain portions only of the President's address. My right hon. Friend is the seventh President of the Board of Education who has been appointed since January, 1906, when I first entered this House. I am sure I am saying nothing to which any one of his predecessors—one of whom I see opposite at the present moment—will take exception, if I add that he is the first to possess those special and distinct qualifications which should be associated with the responsible position to 1919 which he has been called. What those qualifications are everyone will know who is familiar with his distinguished academic career. I desire, therefore, to congratulate not only him, but also the House of Commons and all who are interested in education, upon his appointment to this office at this critical period in our national history.
The President has asked for a very large additional sum for the purposes of elementary and secondary education. Notwithstanding the enormous cost of the War in which we are engaged, I feel certain that that sum will be freely and gladly granted. The President has lucidly explained the objects for which these sums of money arc to be employed. I desire to refer very briefly to sonic of them, although I am afraid that the decision of the Deputy-Chairman of Committees will necessarily limit what I might have had to say. My purpose in rising on this occasion is by no means to criticise the President's proposals, but rather to emphasise them. If it should seem that I do not speak of the probable results with the same confidence and enthusiasm as the President has spoken of them, I hope the Committee will ascribe the difference to the difference in our ages and to the experience of years as to the vanity of all human anticipations. I am convinced that there is a general agreement at the present time that our educational machinery needs development and, in some directions, to be improved. That is necessary, if only better to adapt it to our present needs, some of which, during the progress of the War, have been brought prominently under our notice. We must not, however, exaggerate our defects. I am glad to say that I have not been among those who on every available occasion have taken pains to compare unfavourably our educational system with that of other countries, and especially with that of Germany. I was very glad to find that the President did not adopt that attitude. The results of our education have certainly not failed us in the hour of our need. The President pointed out that these results could not have been obtained in a people wholly uneducated. I venture to say something more, that these results could not have been obtained in a people that had been ill-educated. I have frequently referred here and elsewhere to some of the distin- 1920 guishing features of our system of education, features that have proved of the greatest possible help to us in this world War. I need scarcely repeat what the President has said, that our boys fighting at the front at the present time, many of whom are fresh from schools and colleges, have shown by their conduct the value of the training they have therein received. They have exhibited qualities of endurance, courage, good behaviour and intelligence, of which this country has reason to be proud. Further, our men of science, trained in our universities and in our technical schools, have proved beyond question their inventive capacity and their ability successfully to grapple with the difficult and special problems that have been submitted to them for solution.
I should like also to be allowed to say a word about the teachers. I find it difficult to speak too highly of their enthusiasm or of the sarifiees which they have made, and are making, in the discharge of the responsible duties connected with their work, for which, as the President, I am glad to say has so well pointed out, they are in many cases wholly inadequately recompensed. It is too often forgotten that sound education is not as much a question of costly buildings, or of expensive equipment, or of staffs of good inspectors or officials, as a question of good teachers. If we arc to have good teachers, they must be well paid; they must be free from pecuniary anxieties, and the profession to which they belong ought to be made more attractive than it is at present. After the War it is quite certain that more teachers will be needed for the better staffing of our schools, and that teachers will be required with new qualifications to discharge new duties, which will demand a long and protracted education. I was very glad to find that the question of the supply of a sufficient number of well-qualified teachers should be regarded by the President as the first charge on the large Votes for which he has asked.
The President referred to a good many other subjects, and I could almost wish that he had been able to devote a larger amount of his interesting speech to the proposals contained in his concluding remarks than he was able to do. I am quite convinced that the time has come when it is essential, in the best interests of the country, and in order that we may raise 1921 the general level of education among all classes of the community, that the leaving age of children from our elementary schools should be raised; and I think I may inform the President that as regards this question, I believe there is at present general agreement. But if the teaching of our schools is to be made of permanent value to the children therein educated, it will not be enough that the school age should be raised; and I consider it essential that it should be raised equally in rural as well as in urban districts. But I say that alone will not be enough, and I am very glad to be referred in the concluding remarks of his address to other means which may have to be adopted, and for which legislation will be necessary. I have frequently pointed out, as the result of my own experience, extending over very many years, that a large proportion of the young people who join our evening technical classes at the age of sixteen or seventeen or later, enter those classes without the necessary preliminary knowledge to enable them to reap the full advantages, of the theoretical and practical teaching which is now so liberally provided. Many have forgotten much of what they have learnt at school, and the highly-qualified teachers appointed to give technological, scientific and trade instruction have very often to repeat the lessons of the elementary school master. Many remedies for this state of things have been suggested and I am sorry to say, nearly all have failed, and I am convinced, therefore, that the only available remedy is the further encouragement of attendance at continuation schools. I had hoped that that might be possible by voluntary effort, but we know our voluntary efforts do not always bring about the results we hope, and I am sure the Food Controller would confirm me in this opinion. I have, therefore, very reluctantly come to the conclusion that other measures will have to be adopted, including some degree of compulsion. I am not going to speak now, because it would be out of place, of the difficulties which will be associated with any scheme of compulsion, however carefully it may be prepared. Those difficulties we shall have to consider when the Bill for bringing in a large system of obligatory continuation schools is before the House. But even if we had a better system of attendance at continuation schools than now exists, still other steps would have to be taken in order that all qualified children should 1922 have an opportunity, which I think they should have, of reaping the full advantages of higher education. We must widen the avenue along which children may pass through all intermediate stages to the university and to the higher technical school It is a mere truism to point out that one of the great assets of any country is the brain power of its citizens, and, fortunately, brain power is not confined to any one particular class. Full opportunities, therefore, should be afforded for the cultivation of any special form of ability wherever it may be found. Of course, the difficulty is to know how to find it.
This brings me to another matter which comes within the range of the subjects which we are now permitted to consider. I am quite certain that if these special abilities are to be discovered among the hundreds of thousands of children in our elementary and other schools, and if we are to select from them those who are qualified to receive a university education and who may gain more than they might lose by such an education—for you must always remember what a distinguished American essayist said, that "one of the benefits of college education is to show a boy its little avail"—then the teacher must be freer to give more personal and individual attention to each one of his pupils than is at present possible. There are other valid reasons why the teacher should be brought into closer relationship with his pupils; and if this personal relationship is to be established it is essential that the size of the classes in our elementary schools should be reduced—in other words, that the number of teachers attached to each separate school must be increased. This, then, is one of the reasons why it is necessary that further funds from the Exchequer should be granted.
There is no doubt that the developments outlined in the earlier part of the President's speech, if in full operation, would demand very large funds from the Exchequer. How much they would demand we do not know, and I here want to make a suggestion to the Board. The statistics furnished by the Board of Education, some of which have been adduced in the President's speech, are necessarily incomplete. They generally leave out of account the number of children who are in attendance at our public, other endowed, our boarding, and our private schools. It would be useful if the Board would make 1923 a thorough survey of the whole field of education, and supply figures showing the number of children in those schools, and also the number of students in our universities, in the medical schools attached to our hospitals, in our higher technical institutions, and in all other institutions which are not State-aided. Not many days ago, before the Recess, I asked for a Return of these figures, and the answer I received was not very satisfactory, because the figures are not at present available, and consequently any statement which could be made as to the proportion of the population receiving some form of secondary or higher education can only be accepted as approximate and conjectural. In this connection I hope that the Board, in its praiseworthy endeavour to bring a larger percentage of our children under the influence of secondary education, will avoid as far as possible the temptation to destroy, or even to reduce, the number of our private schools. They have formed, and I hope they will continue to form, a special feature in our educational system, and I say this not only on account of the urgent necessity of avoiding any superfluous or unnecessary expenditure in the production of new schools, but because I attach great importance to the greater freedom in matters of instruction which can be enjoyed by teachers in those schools compared with what is possible in schools under State control. The President has, perhaps wisely, avoided any reference to this subject, as he knows as well as I do that it is not a wholly tin-controversial question.
There is just one other matter arising out of the President's address on which I want to say a word or two. I do not propose to go into the complicated formula by which the President indicated the relative amount of State aid to local aid provided in various different areas. That is a question which would tax too far my arithmetical or mathematical ability, but it is anticipated that the proportion of State aid to that locally provided out of rates must in many, if not all; areas be somewhat increased. This, I take it, is inevitable. I note that the London County Council has forwarded a claim to 50 per cent. of the total cost of education in its area, and one of the claims of the Educational Workers' Association, whose representatives appeared as a deputation to the President only yesterday, is that 75 per cent. of the total cost of education 1924 should be defrayed by the national Exchequer. Of course, both these formulas are much simpler to understand than that suggested by the President. But this question arises, whether this increase,. whatever it may be, in the ratio of Government to local aid to education will not necessarily be accompanied by a tightening of the control which the State-through the Board, now exercises on the conditions of instruction and teaching in our schools. I am not complaining of any action on the part of the Board, and I was very pleased to see that the President is desirous of leaving the local authorities a considerable amount of freedom. I must own there are occasions —and, one arose not long ago—when I could wish the Board would show a little more independence than it does show. I only desire to point out a danger ahead, which I trust will be avoided. As a rule I hope the Board will see the necessity of giving, not only to local authorities, but also to managers of schools, as much liberty and freedom from external control as is consistent with the general efficiency of the teaching and the suitabillity of the schools to the districts in which they are situated. Such, liberty of action is especially necessary in dealing with technical and commercial education, but I desire, here and now, to put forward a plea on behalf of the teachers in all our schools. I am sure that the President will admit that as the standard of education in our elementary and secondary schools is gradually raised, the teacher should be permitted a larger amount of freedom in the choice of subjects, of methods of instruction, and even in deviating from the prescribed control. I notice that the President stated that increased grants mean increased codes. I have, therefore, thought that I might make this statement in view of the larger-Grants which it is proposed to give for the purpose of education from the Imperial Exchequer.
There are many other matters to which, if time permitted and the Deputy-Chairman of Committees also permitted, I should like to have referred, particularly the questions raised in the concluding part of the interesting and exhaustive speech of my right hon. Friend, but we are told that other opportunities will be-given. I would like, however, to refer to one of those subjects, and that is the importance of further manual and scientific training in all our schools. For more 1925 than thirty years I have persistently urged the necessity of combining practical instruction in science and in hand-work with book-learning in our schools. To the best of my ability I have shown from many points of view the educational advantages, moral, intellectual, and economic of manual training, and now that I can no longer hope to take any active part in the modification of the curricula of our schools, it is a matter to me of great, satisfaction to find in the Final Report of the Departmental Committee on juvenile education, so ably presided over by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, strong evidence of the great value of this branch of education. I will read one or two passages from that Report. On pages 11 and 12 it is stated:—The truth that for many children the best avenue to the mind is through the hands has not yet worked its complete revolution. More manual instruction of various kinds is needed both for boys and girls in every type of school.The Report also says:for all boys, and even girls, the practical use o ools is very important.The Memorandum affixed to that Report, from Sir Christopher Turner, than whom no one is more qualified to speak on agricultural education, says:Children must Arrive at the continuation school with their interest in manual work and nature thoroughly aroused. Manual work for all boys and girls must be developed in all our schools.Authoritative statements like these are very gratifying, and if effect can be given to them, I shall see the full consummation of all my earlier efforts. I would like to conclude by congratulating my right hon. Friend on the valuable proposals which he has outlined, and I feel certain that when the Bill is introduced these proposals will be accepted as an important instalment, with still more to follow, of educational reform, and as a distinct contribution to the solution of the problem of the adaptation of our national system of education to our existing and future needs.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the exhaustive and charming speech which he delivered, a speech at times really human, which is very rare in an educational speech made, in the House of Commons. I can assure him, as one who has heard twenty-three or twenty-four speeches on the subject of education, that I have never seen a bettor House. It was nearly half-full, and those who were present certainly were inter- 1926 ested in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I find myself thoroughly in accord With all the proposals he has made to-day, and I wish they had been made earlier for the benefit of the country. I wish they had been made years ago. The President mentioned the large sum of forty millions of money which has been spent altogether on education. I do not think the country is parsimonious in the money it grants towards education, and certainly it does not grudge these forty millions. Perhaps my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury) will find fault with that statement. The question that the country asks is, "What do we get for the money, and do we get enough of the right stuff for our money?" I have had many years' experience in regard to educational matters. I am now speaking as a humble rural Member and I am thinking entirely of rural education in what I am about to say. I honestly confess that in my belief there is something wrong in our elementary education. It may be the curriculum or it may be the teacher's fault. If—and here I think I am right—often in the rural districts the teacher is at fault in the elementary school, it is hardly to be wondered at. He has been starved literally to the verge of extinction. For years he has had no hope to look forward to, and the marvel to me is that we have been able to find men to take their places in the rural elementary schools at the miserable stipends given. Nothing proves that more than when you look at the difference between the country and the town elementary schools. You get in the town elementary teacher, at all events, some glimpses of hope, some glimpses of humanity, some glimpses of association between the teacher and the class. In the country districts we are often obliged to keep men on either for pity or because we like the man himself or because we know that he will starve if he is driven out. The result is that he is kept long after he is any use, and often at a time when he is doing really more harm than good to the pupils who come under his care.
I confess that the scope of the Estimates which the right hon Gentleman has introduced is smaller than I had hoped. I did hope they would have embraced a wider field. One of the great difficulties, and one of the reasons why our education system is faulty, is because there has been a want of continuity in the policy of the various Boards. I have seen Presidents come and go. There must have been 1927 seven or eight of them, and I think it would be very difficult to find the thin line of continuity running through the policy of these various Presidents. All this discourages the country in many ways. I did hope that the right hon. Gentleman to-day would have found a wider field over which to cast his net. On one point especiaily I am very disappointed. I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman takes more interest in secondary than in primary education, which is only natural. At the same time I am more interested, perhaps, in primary education, being of a more uneducated mind, and because I see more of primary education in our rural schools. I am disappointed in regard to the question of compulsory evening classes. I believe they would have been of the greatest value to boys, especially if the age is raised to fourteen. I know the difficulties, perhaps as well as the President, but they are difficulties that could be overcome. The evening classes come at a time when the boys and the girls are liable to get into mischief outside, when they are playing about or fooling around, and when they might be learning something. Compulsory evening classes would not inflict any hardship, but on the other hand they would have an excellent effect. I know that voluntary effort exists, but it is not sufficient to cope with this matter. In regard to free places in secondary schools, I am happy to say as chairman of one of the big grammar schools of England, the Chig well Grammar School, that we have found free places an unqualified success. I confess that with my reactionary Tory ideas when free places were first proposed—my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury) still suffers from that—I viewed them with considerable disfavour, but we have found great advantage both for those who have the free places and for ourselves. I have nothing but unqualified praise for them. It would be difficult for hon. Members to find fault with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman except that his advances are too small, and the demands that he is making upon the nation's purse and upon legislation are too small. At all events, it is a beginning, and it is a beginning in the right direction. I wish the right hon. Gentleman God-speed in his efforts.
§ Sir J. YOXALL
For many years I, like my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Lockwood) have listened to educational 1928 estimate Debates in this House. I would like to acknowledge the handsome way in which reference has been made to the work of education in the country districts. If the elementary schools in Essex deserve to be found fault with, as many of them do, it is due, I fear, not only to the cause which the hon. and gallant Member mentioned, that is the defective supply of efficient teachers, but it is largely due also to the control which the county council exercises over the education affairs of the county.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
It was not with the teachers so much as the class of teacher and being so underpaid that I found fault.
§ Sir J. YOXALL
The Essex Secondary Education Committee are willing to do something to improve that. But the War cut down the estimates by the county councils in a way I am glad to think this Committee will not cut down the Estimates of the Board to-day. But here is my doubt about the whole situation. I fear very much that efforts will be made by local education authorities, particularly in rural areas, to get out of the duties which are supposed to be imposed upon them by the formula and the proposals of to-day. We have had a most admirable speech, lucid, interesting, informed with all the knowledge necessary for the purpose and imbued with educational enthusiasm, and we are offered for the education of this country a very considerable advance in the money provided, a sum larger, I think, than any advance which has ever been given before. And an elaborate and ingenious formula has been devised to secure that the money shall be spent efficiently and properly upon the objects which the Board of Education has in view. I am sure that the President of the Board, and this Committee too, are anxious that the money shall be spent upon those objects which we all desire to attain, but I am not so sure that the conditions outlined in the President's speech will secure that result in all cases.
I know that the education committees of this country in every case contain some men and women earnest in well-doing in education, some men and women who will carry out their duties to the best of their abilities in spite of every obstacle placed in their path; but I know this also, that there is no education committee in this country, particularly no county education committee, and there is no county council 1929 in this country that has control of the education committees which does not contain a proportion, perhaps a majority—in some cases I am sure a majority, in other cases a large minority—of persons who are not imbued with the desire to bring about educational reform and to carry out improvements. And I am certain that if it be possible for those persons, whether as members of education committees or as members of county councils controlling more or less the education committees, to get hold of in any way whatever some portion of the money which is to be voted by us to-night I hope, with the object which we all desire of increasing the expenditure hitherto made upon education and improving the quality of education, that many of these people will seek in every possible way, by all kinds of adroit devices, to get hold of some of that money and not use is as educational expenditure, but use it for the purpose of reducing the rates. The point which I wish to make is that the President of the Board of Education and my hon. Friend (Mr. Lewis), who for the time being represents him on that bench and the earnest, enthusiastic, and able Board which they represent in this House, should consider whether they are perfectly certain that the safeguards set up by the formula and the Regulations which are to be issued will be adequate for the purposes they have in view. I hesitate, therefore—having these doubts in my mind—to do more than to say that one must carefully consider the White Paper, and one must watch the working out of the new arrangement in actual practice during the present financial year before one can more than express an opinion of general approval and of gratitude to the President and his colleagues for the admirable work which they have done in this matter, for the disposition which they have shown, for the purpose which they have in view, and for the way in which all this has been carried out.
A year ago, on the last occasion when these Estimates were before the House, I stated that the educational system of this country was in ruins. That was true then. It is even more true now. In ruins because of war conditions. I refer more particularly, of course, to the elementary education system—the number of schools closed, the increase in the number of children out of school for agricultural and industrial reasons who ought to be in school, and the decrease by the thousand in the number of teachers. Month after month they have 1930 gone from the schools to military service. Men are going by the hundreds month after month, and women are now going out of the schools to banks, accountants' offices, warehouses, and other places of that kind, to engage in activities in which they were never engaged before but for which their education fits them, and in which they are receiving higher remuneration, often by 50 or 60 per cent., than they would receive in the schools. Training colleges are more and more being closed; the supply of candidates as entrants to the profession is more and more cut off. To that extent the educational system is more and more in ruins than it was twelve months ago. I know that it is nobody s fault. It is not the fault of the Board of Education; it is one of the consequences, one of the circumstances, which have attended this War. I am not finding fault or laying blame, but I simply mention it to show that it was time, and more than time, that the speech and the proposals which we have heard this afternoon should have been before the Committee. It is not too early now to begin to plan for the future, and a plan like that which we have heard this afternoon, with its purpose and its spirit, is the most essential part possibly of that work of national reconstruction which must arise, and the sooner the better, both during and after the War.
Sir SWIRE SMITH
I desire to associate myself with the congratulations which have been offered to the Minister of Education for the very interesting and important speech which he has delivered to us in submitting proposals which, if adopted, will have the very greatest influence in placing our national education on a sounder basis than it has hitherto reached. I also express the satisfaction, which I am sure is shared by the Committee and by the country, that our Education Department is now presided over by a Gentleman of high ideals and great, wide sympathies, and one who has achieved a commanding position as a teacher and as an expert educational organiser. This War has compelled us to realise more than ever we have done before that our position as a nation depends entirely on the efficiency of our men and women, an efficiency the foundation of which must be laid in our schools. But I am afraid that we do not realise the seriousness of the problem that we have to face. We have done great things in the past, but we have 1931 not done by far enough, and it is not a question of waiting until after the War, but in most of the work that we have before us wo may begin to-morrow, and the sooner we begin the better for us all. It is said that something like 600,000 children leave the schools every year, and something like 400,000 of these never enter a school again. And of the 200,000 who do attend evening classes, as we have been told on the highest authority, many attend very irregularly, and we know that most of the time in which they are at school is taken up with making up what they have lost during the interval between leaving the primary school and attending the night school.
I am strongly of opinion that in none of the advanced countries of the world is there such an amount of educational wastage going on as is shown by this country. I have been very much interested to read the Report, which many of you no doubt have seen, of a Departmental Committee on juvenile education in relation to employment after the War. That Committee was presided over by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education. In that Report, which contains evidence from every possible quarter, the Committee recommend a departure which has never been attempted in our educational system—that continuation schools should be established, practically universally, following our elementary schools, and that even these continuation schools should be attended in the day-time. That is a part of the question which, at any rate for a little time we might leave, because it is a question which, as has been explained by the Minister of Education, is bound up with many others, and will require no doubt a great deal of discussion. But the Report is, I think, the most human and the most hopeful document that I have ever seen embodied in the form of a Blue Book. It is a Report full of interest, and I take the liberty of quoting from it one sentence which follows a generous appeal for citizenship, and which says:We have to bring research to beat upon the progress of our manufactures, to overhaul routine, to eliminate waste, to carry our reputation for skilled workmanship and honest and intelligen trafficking into new markets and to maintain it in the old.That is a problem which, as most of us are connected with the industries of the country, we must face, and face with determination. To solve such a problem would enable tens of thousands of boys 1932 and girls to find their own natural bent. It would do more—it would keep thousands of boys and girls out of blind alleys. And I think that it would be the greatest possible safeguard against what we may call, what I may call, the unemployables, but it would also provide for the influx of girls into skilled trades, which I think may become perhaps the biggest social and economic result of the War. We shall not find, I hope in future, that any girls or young women will be prohibited from taking up any employment for which they are physically and intellectually suited, and that they will not be denied payment equal to that of the man for the same quantity and quality of work which they may do.
Our secondary schools, of which we have heard a great deal and of which I hope we shall hear and see very much more done regarding them, were described by Matthew Arnold in his day as "the worst in the world." And they have always lagged behind. But under the system which is being set forward to us by the Minister I am sure that they will take their place in the national system, and will become the connecting link between the elementary schools and the university, preparing the young people, on the one hand, for professional and literary work, and, on the other, for agriculture, industry, manufactures, and commercial pursuits; but I do not want us to wait until after the War before we begin this great and useful work. Anyone who cares to look into the matter would be astonished at the number of boys and girls who pass from the elementary schools to the secondary schools who would very soon climb the ladder, and who would enrich the community more than themselves by the application of their knowledge to the purposes of the State. The national system of education we desire is one that would be sifting through all our schools, giving equality of opportunity to the humblest to rise to the highest stages of education. Such a system would bring us into line with other countries; it would bring the backward districts of this country into line with the best districts; it would bring us into line with the most prominent and most cultured nations of the world. As a nation of skilful traders we all know that we have been relying too much on book knowledge, 1933 and too little on practical experience. I think we cannot do better than take the advice of Emerson, who said:We must take the step from knowing to doing; we must teach the rising generation to do the things well the world wants done.That great idealist, Ruskin, who will not be accused of utilitarianism, foreshadowed a conception of technical education sixty years ago, declaring thatthe training which makes men happiest in them-selves, also makes them most serviceable to others.He also expressed his beliefthat all youths of whatever rank ought to learn some manual trade thoroughly, for it is quite wonderful how a man's views of life are cleared by the attainment of the capacity of doing any one thing well with his hands and arms. At this day the most useful things which boys learn at public schools are rowing, riding, and cricketing. But it is better that Members of Parliament should be able to plough straight and make a horseshoe than feather their oars neatly or point their toes prettily in stirrups.Probably it did not occur to him that all boys and girls are not from public schools. At that time Members of Parliament were not necessarily sent to public schools, and perhaps it did not occur to him that he would live to see men not from public schools, but from the plough, the bench, the mine, chosen to represent their fellow labourers in this House. I do not think he would have been surprised to find many of them who by their knowledge and grasp of affairs have d me credit to this assembly and have adomed the Treasury Bench, to which they have been raised. I wish to express my hearty approval of raising the salaries and recognising the status and true value of teachers to the State. There is no class of public servants more responsible or more deserving, and there are no positions to which more importance can be attached. There has been much talk about speeding up our machinery if we are to hold our position in competition with other nations. I think there is a good deal of necessity to speed up our educational equipment and organisation, applying new impulses not to teachers only, but to the mechanical and scientific equipment of laboratories and workshops. Of all machines, the human machine is the one that pays best for any money and labour that can be spent on its improvement. The British boy is not behind any rival in any scientific or artistic faculty, but it must not be forgotten that he should at least have equal training. We are all aware that we established our supremacy through our inventions and machinery, aided by the skill and industry of our people. Other nations purchased our machinery, and, by reason 1934 of their superior education, some of them used it more effectively than we used it ourselves.
At the end of the Seventies -let me go back to my own experience—chere was such a depression in our exports to foreign markets and such an increase in our imports of foreign manufactures as to cause public attention to be drawn to the matter. Mr. Mundella, the then Minister of Education, and who was very well acquainted with the material progress of Germany, appealed to the Government for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the position of our country commercially and industrially compared with other countries. What happened? The apathy of this country on such a question as this was illustrated by the reply of the Government when appealed to. Their reply was that they could not afford to appoint a Commission, and it was only when Mr. Mundella promised that they would pay their own expenses that a Commission was granted. The leading industries were represented on that Commission, iron, steel, the great textile industries, cotton and wool, chemicals and pottery, and agriculture had a special Commission. It was my privilege to represent wool. My hon. Friend the Member for the University of London represented on that Commission the City and Guilds of London. In those days our educational expenditure was the lowest in Europe, and it ought to have been the highest. The technical Commission made an investigation of our own schools and those of the various advanced countries of Europe and America. They came face to face with all the facts bearing upon production and bearing upon superiority of manufactures, and also upon the great question of the quantity of production. They found that in matters of practical efficiency, in energy, in grit, and fidelity, the workers of this country were second to none, but that in ordinary education and application of scientific principles they were hopelessly behind. While on the Continent, we saw, especially in Germany, magnificent technical schools. In England our employers and employed, our foremen and our workmen connected with our works, could only receive what little education they could get from evening classes at mechanics' institutes— elementary it must have been, of course —and these classes were mainly constituted in the cotton and wool districts of 1935 Lancashire and Yorkshire. All the evidence we obtained in the course of our investigations in every country and in every industry was decisive of this, that we were beaten in brains, in lack of training and cultivation, and nothing else.
I remember that we inspected a chemical laboratory at one of the most ancient universities of Germany—not a modern university—thirty-five years ago, and in that university laboratory we found more students taking the highest courses of chemistry than could be found in all the chemical laboratories of this country put together. In spite of what has been urged to-day by my hon. Friend the Member for the University, that our general education in many respects is equal to that of continental countries, I venture to say that this disparity has continued through all these years, and almost up to the time of the War, and it is probably true that there are more of the highest students in one particular university on the Continent than could be found in the whole of our country, which depends on the manufacture of all those goods which we send into the world. It is because of that condition of things we lost the aniline dye industry, and that we were surpassed in others with the aid of scientific research. I remember that on one occasion the Commissioners asked the cost of a technical school, and the Education Minister said that he did not know the cost and did not care to inquire, for, he added, "England paid for German schools by buying the products of those trained in them." I have often said that we shall continue to pay for foreign schools till we build schools as good in which to prepare students, and make them efficient and well equipped for their part in the competition of the world. Depend upon it, the more we can expend on education, the more we shall reap from the increased value of the commodities that, we make. There is no getting away from that; and, with our great export trade, we have to rely upon our successful competition in every country, and we can only continue to trade by the quality and the cheapness of the articles that we produce, which, of course, entirely depend on the skill and knowledge of our manufacturers and artisans. That is the business test, and educational expenditure is the soundest of investments; it is mixing brains with work in industries such as the aniline dye 1936 industry, chemicals, electrical engineering, and all classes of machinery, and if we are to surpass in those industries, we must learn how to render ourselves efficient in them. We may keep an article out of this country by a tariff, if high enough, but a tariff will not teach us how to make that article, or sell it at a profit.
I may be permitted to say one word about the industry of agriculture, a description of the deficiencies in which has been given by the Minister of Agriculture in England, who said that this country is like a beleagured city. With soil and climate not superior, the Germans, through scientific farming, have nearly doubled the produce of the average 100 acre farm that we produce in this country, according to an inquiry which was instituted by our own Board of Agriculture. I have taken the liberty to go back to my own experience, and I mention these matters because of the danger that lies in our way after the War is-over, of continuing to ignore the lessons of the past. During and after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, our manufacturers, as now, found willing buyers for all the goods they made. Old designs were accepted, and it was not necessary to create new ones. But after the War they still believed that the then existing condition of things would continue, and they ignored the foreign competition that followed. With what result? Many manufacturers were ruined, and thousands of operatives were thrown out of employment. That calamity, owing to ignorance-and apathy of those who were blind to the true conditions that obtained, cannot occur in the same form now, because we are better prepared to meet competition. But even now few appear to know how needful it is that we should safeguard our position by the trained efficiency and vigilance of the people. This country, as we know, has in times of supreme trial often been late, and during the War, time after time, warning was given that delays were leading us into danger, but, as yet, I am happy to say that we have not been too late. This education call by the Minister of Education is still another appeal not to be too late, a call that demands willing and immediate response, and the sooner we take action in the matter, the sooner we shall secure the enduring prosperity and welfare of our people.
§ Sir HENRY HIBBERT
I desire to offer my congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman on his magnificent speech. I thank him on behalf of the county authorities for the additional assistance contained in his proposals. I am only sorry that he did not come to the position earlier, for I think the Board of Education or the Local Government Board or the Cabinet, whichever was responsible, made a very great mistake in cutting down our expenditure during the War. Last year and the year before they took away facilities which were being provided for our students and which would have been of such value after the War. In higher education we reduced our estimate in 1915–16 by £14,935. In the county of Lancashire we had to ask the sanction of the Local Government Board for permission to spend money which we had already spent, and they told us that unless in addition to previous economies we economised further to the extent of one-sixteenth of a penny rate they would refuse that sanction. The result was that we were forced to reduce our Estimates for the year 1916–17 by £16,820, which told, I can assure the Committee, most severely against the efficiency of that which has done so much for Lancashire—I refer to the evening continuation schools and classes. With regard to elementary education, we -were not compelled by any fixing of rate to reduce, but still we were advised that all those rates should be cut down, and the result was that we had to make further economies of £16,800, making a total economy of £41,404. I am delighted, for another reason, that the right hon. Gentleman is President. A great deal has been said this evening about the payment of teachers and there can be no question whatever that if there is any class in the community who ought to have adequate remuneration it is the teacher. My own committee have recognised that, and I think we gave about as liberal a bonus as any other county. But when I tell you that giving the bonus cost my county £49,500, or equal to a rate of 2½d., you will quite understand why as a county administrator I am delighted at the advent of the new President, with that persuasive eloquence which I am sure he must have exercised to induce the Treasury to give so much money. I do not know whether it is in order to discuss now the various questions which have been exciting the attention of educational authorities for 1938 some time past. I mean the raising of the age of exemption to fourteen, the question of whether half-time should be abolished or not, and also whether evening and continuation classes are to be made compulsory. Perhaps, after all that has been said to-day, it might be waste of time to speak about those matters now, particularly as I understand a Bill will be introduced at no very distant date dealing with those very difficult points.
I should, however, like to say something about evening continuation classes. I think my remarks will apply almost as well to Yorkshire as to Lancashire. Lancashire is very greatly interested in this question. My hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Sir S. Smith) has referred to them. They bring within reach of a large class of men, at a time when they badly need it, a system of education which has been very greatly developed under the continuation school code. You can quite understand why we in Lancashire are greatly interested when I tell you that 16 per cent, of the students of evening continuation schools and classes in England and Wales are in Lancashire. I attribute a very great amount of the prosperity of my county to the education given in those evening continuation classes. In fact, I do not hesitate to say that above one-half of the looms in Lancashire are to-day owned by men who either were themselves operatives or whose fathers were, and who have attained to a strong financial position in consequence of the opportunities given to them in evening continuation schools and classes. It is quite a common occurrence now, when on the Manchester Exchange, to be stopped by a young man, who will say, "Do you remember me?" I say "No," and then the young man will say, "Many years ago you gave me a prize for design for weaving cloth at such-and-such a school." Whatever the Board of Education in their wisdom decide to do, I hope they will not, at any rate, do away with the evening continuation schools and classes. The President of the Board said to-day that he thought the constitutions of the children were impaired by working all day and then going to evening continuation schools. I would only remind the House there were a lot of Lancashire mill hands at Gallipoli whose constitutions were certainly not impaired by working all day and then attending evening continuation classes. There is another point which I think is 1939 probably of even greater importance for those boys and girls who attend evening continuation classes. If they did not do so they would be at a loose end and they might be learning something at street corners which it would be infinitely better for them never to have the opportunity -of being taught. Therefore, looking at the matter from both points of view, educational and moral, I do hope the Board of Education will not do anything to injure these evening schools.
The secret of successful education in this country, as has been said over and over again, depends upon better staffing. We want more expert teachers with better salaries and pensions and retiring allowances. It is absurd to expect, particularly in the case of the secondary schools, that men of university education will seek an occupation where the pay is so absolutely inadequate. The President of the Board mentioned, I think, almost every reason which had militated against the success of our educational system but the main one. I consider that the main thing which has militated against the success of secondary education in this country is the apathy of the parents. The last time I spoke in this House was on the Education Estimates, and I then said that education was not popular and to that statement the Under-Secretary of the Board dissented. I repeat it again to-day, probably not so much as it was, but certainly it is still not popular among the people. Although it is perfectly true, as stated by the President, that in spite of the War there have been larger numbers of boys and girls entering the secondary -schools, unfortunately they do not stay long enough. Let me give you an object -lesson. My committee finance thirty-four schools with 8,100 scholars. We have 36 per cent. free places. The President spoke about maintenance allowance. Prior to the War we gave a small maintenance allowance to our free places in the third and fourth and subsequent years if they cared to remain at school, and yet we cannot keep them there. The minimum fee in most of the schools is three guineas per annum, and we offer 520 free places annually, for which last year only 1,850 students competed. Including the non-county boroughs, which are in the administrative county of Lancashire, we have 341,899 children over five years of age. Assuming the school life to he eight years, we have 42.700 leaving 1940 annually, so that only a little over 4 per cent, competed for those free places. Why do they not compete for them? Simply because wages, and this is exactly the same in half-time, are considered of greater importance than education.
At the beginning of the President's speech, he spoke of a national system of education. I should rather gather that he thought we had neither a national nor a system of education. I do not know whether he meant that, but I think he did. Let me tell him, as one who has had a very great amount of experience as an administrator of education, that whatever the system and whatever the policy, unless you get the full weight of the people behind you, you may spend millions and millions and millions more than you do now, and yet never get that education which is necessary for our people if you want to leave the destinies of the country in safe hands. I said a moment ago that we had thirty-four secondary schools; schools which are replete with every modern convenience, and built without regard to cost. Our teachers are efficient and are paid at as high a rate as those of any county in the kingdom probably outside London. What is the result? In only five schools is our school life over three years. In one school the leaving age is over seventeen, in sixteen schools over fifteen, in thirteen schools it is over fourteen. I am sure the President will agree with me when I say that if boys or girls going to a secondary school do not intend to stay the full four years it would have been infinitely better for them to have remained in the elementary school and left at fourteen. There comes in the great waste of money of which the economists complain.
There is one other matter which I would like to bring before the House. The President himself indirectly alluded to it, and that is with regard to science scholarships given by the universities. It seems to me that it is desirable in the interests of science in secondary schools and in the universities that the number of science scholarships offered by Oxford and Cambridge should be considerably increased. I do not know what jurisdiction this House has over Oxford and Cambridge—probably none—but I think it is advisable in the interests of science that we should have some improvement in this matter, and that the basis of the examinations should be broadened by encouraging candidates to take a second subject; in 1941 other words, that it should be made difficult for a candidate to obtain a scholarship if he confined himself to one group of subjects only. What I am saying now does not apply to the provincial universities, that is to say, the universities outside the two older universities, where every facility is given for the study of science. Our schools have suffered from over-specialisation, directly encouraged by university entrance scholarships. I quote from the interim report on scholarships for higher education issued by the Board of Education, and get these facts: that of 286 scholarships offered by the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge 205 were for classics and 81 only were for science. We have heard the admirable maiden speech of my Friend the hon. Member for Keighley (Sir S. Smith), a gentleman who certainly knows what he is talking about, an old educationist, a man who has done yeoman service in the cause of education throughout the length and breadth of this land, and he showed you the enormous importance to the commerce of this country of the teaching of science. If the thing ended there it would not matter very much. I mean to say that it would gradually right itself, but, unfortunately, this penetrates to the large public schools, who give similar scholarships, and in turn it goes down to the preparatory schools, were the curriculum in practically fixed to absorb the plums on the classical side which will be offered by the older universities. In addition to that, I have been told on very good authority indeed that in consequence of this superabundance of classical scholarships many the brightest and most intelligent boys in the secondary and preparatory schools— I am speaking of the large public schools-are induced to go on the classical side, to the great loss by the nation of the scientific ability which those boys might place at its service if they were properly encouraged. I should like to say one other word, because I do not want to be misunderstood, and that is this, that I have no desire whatever to banish the humanities, but I do believe that a man or a woman should be educated for the trade, profession, or occupation he or she intends to follow. I was reading the other day the following:There is a widespread belief that the only humanities are the languages and literature of Greece and Rome. It is therefore curious that those who hold this belief ignore the important position assigned by the Greek philosophers to such sciences as then existed——1942 And then it goes on to say:Surely the humanities must include all the intellectual interests of the healthy mind, but an education that fails to give an important place both to literature and to science is incomplete. Neither the man of letters who has had no training in science nor the man of science who has had no training in literature is entitled to reproach the other for being half educated.I do not think timer words were ever written than those, and I commend them to the attention of the House. I would finish, as the hon. Member for Nottingham said he would finish, by saying that no improvement can be made in the teaching of science and other subjects unless an adequate supply of better trained and better qualified teachers can be attracted into the profession, and that this can only be done by the provision of better salaries and by an adequate national system of pensions
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
I doubt whether in any assembly of educationists there is one better qualified by long administrative experience and sympathetic interest to address the assembly than is the hon. Member for Chorley, who has just sat down. He will perhaps allow me in this House to express on behalf of the teachers of his own county their great appreciation of his very active interest, not only in the schools, but in their professional welfare. I would that many other counties, which could be named here, were as excellently dealt with in the matter of educational provision as is Lancashire. But I venture to join issue with him on the question of evening continuation schools. I know they have done a great work, but I am very doubtful as to whether they should be continued on existing lines. The hon. Member called attention to the magnificent exploits, in which all England glories, of the men from his own county on Gallipoli, and he thought that some of their doings had not been the worse performed, though some of them might have worked all the time in the day and attended evening continuation schools as well. The fraction of young men, even in Lancashire, who attend evening continuation schools is so small that there would be very few on Gallipoli who had undergone the hard experience of a day's toil followed by evening continuation school work. The probability is that their exploits were the greater because they had gone to the open air in the evening rather than that they had attended continuation schools after a day's work in the mill. I would remind the hon. Member that as far back as the days of the Boer 1943 War 50 per cent, of the would-be recruits at Manchester were rejected on physical grounds alone, and I doubt whether any other county could have beaten that record, due, no doubt, to the close work in the mill and perhaps due, too, to their diligence in attempting to do two tasks— the attendance at work and at continuation schools. That is not the way in which the solution will come.
The solution must come, in my view on this question of continuation education, by means of continuation schools held in the hours of daylight, and all the evidence which has been collected confirms me in the view that it would be intolerable for the young people, and that it would be wasteful and ineffective, to attempt to apply compulsion to tired children taught by tired teachers. The Departmental Committee which has recently reported, and of which it was my privilege to be a member, heard a great deal of evidence on this point. The members of that Committee came unanimously to the conclusion that so far as continuation schools are concerned there was only one recommendation they could make, and it was that compulsion should be applied, but that it would not be the right thing to apply it to those who had already spent a full day at work. I want to take this opportunity of expressing my appreciation of the manner in which our chairman—your Parliamentary Secretary, Mr. President— presided over the deliberations of that Committee, and of his courtesy, his ability, and his care for the work of the Committee at times when, if he had considered his own health, he would not have attended. May I at the same time take the opportunity of stating that the chief officials of the Board represented on that Committee, and those responsible for the secretarial work, rendered us magnificent service? The work done by our permanent officials is not always appreciated, and acknowledgment is not always made in this House. My experience on that Committee gave me such an intimate knowledge of the work which was being done that I felt that on the first opportunity that I had in this House I would make this declaration, that for care, for diligence, for willingness to assist in every direction and in the preparation of statistics and long and wonderfully good memoranda, the work of the officials of the Board of Education could not have been improved in any direction.
1944 I want to take up a point, in connection with the continuation schools question, which was made by the hon. Member for Keighley (Sir S. Smith) in his very interesting maiden speech. There, again, we have an educationist fully entitled to be heard in any assembly where education is under discussion. But I rather think the hon. Member, who has a great record in connection with technical education, is apt to place undue emphasis on the necessity for the technical side of the preparation of our youth. That will not be sufficient. I would that he would recall what has been the effect in Germany of this excessive emphasis on technical education. It has made the Germans a skilled people, but it has not improved their hearts. A recent experience which I shared with several Members of this House shows what great technique can do. It gives facility for the destruction of villages in the minimum of time, and it teaches most quickly how to destroy orchards and ruin trees which time does not permit to be cut down. Technique is all very well in its way, but it is not the main objective of education, and we shall fail in our scheme if we place vocational instruction as the goal of our endeavours. It was there that my sympathy with the President was complete, because he seemed to me, in his splendid speech, on which, with the rest of the House, I wish to congratulate him, that he placed the various aspects of education in a proper perspective. There is a place for vocational, technical, and scientific education in our national scheme, but the place for the technical type of education is not, shall I say, the fundamental place. The? great thing to remember is that we are preparing our young people to make the best of their lives. It is that part of life which is a preparation for a livelihood where the technique conies in. There is no incompatibility between full preparation and the full development of the young citizen, and the preparation—not with too great emphasis on it—for the livelihood that he must earn. On the latter it seems to me the hon. Member for Keighley was disposed to go a little astray, and place undue emphasis upon that aspect of educational reform.
I turn to the very interesting speech of the President. Those who hailed his appointment with such great delight will to-morrow read his speech with great satisfaction. They expected great things. They looked on him as one of their own 1945 number who should make good in the position to which he has been raised. The whole teaching profession has taken it as a great compliment that a vice-chancellor of one of our universities should have been taken straight from his work to be made President of the Board of Education. They are looking to him for great things. They feel that he has been given a representative opportunity. They anticipate with some confidence that he will realise the great responsibility which rests upon him. He has shown in his speech that he recognises that education is one of the greatest means of national reconstruction. The War has destroyed much. The War will leave us short of some of the bravest and most promising of the young lives of the country. How important it is, then, that those who are now being equipped in our schools shall be given every opportunity to make the most of the ability with which they have been endowed. It is for us to take great care that no single young citizen is deprived of any opportunity for full and complete development, whether spiritual, moral, or physical. The President in his comprehensive speech embraced all those aspects of development. There was great need that he should, because on the physical side Sir George Newman, his able official who presides over the medical department of the Board, has revealed our shortcoming. I trust the President may see his way clear at an early date to make such changes, by legislation if necessary, that some part of the enormous disability from which young life suffers may be diminished through his administrative action, possibly through legislation he may have to propose.
It seems little short of a grave public scandal that of 6,000,000 children in the elementary schools no less than 900,000 should be reported upon as unclean, that 3,600,000 of the 6,000,000 should be suffering from dental disease, and that there should be a million of those 6,000,000 suffering from malnutrition. In this particular connection, the physical side of education, I hope that the President will see his way clear to make effective the administration of the Employment of Children Act. The scheme of reforms which he has outlined will fall short of full fruition if, while we are raising the school age to fourteen, it does not attend to that matter. I hope provision will be made so that there will be no exemptions for any children whatever 1946 under the age of fourteen. There will be a leakage if it is possible. Children of school age ought not to be employed for the great number of hours which they are now employed. I hope the Employment of Children Act will not be allowed any longer to remain merely a sort of optional Act, but that it will be made compulsory. Then, as to the question of street trading. That requires to be dealt with very thoroughly. The question of the continuation school is a problem that also requires very drastic treatment.
Some figures have recently been provided by the Board in a Return, which Members ought to take an early opportunity of consulting. On reference to it I find that the last census shows that out of 690,732 children of the age of thirteen and below the age of fourteen, 520,437 were under some form of full-time or part-time instruction. The significant fact following on that is this, that of those children there were 144,169 of the age of fourteen—that is to say, that only three children out of every ten are under some form of full-time or part-time instruction at the age of fourteen and before the age of fifteen. There is a still further diminution when the age of fifteen is reached. One hundred and twenty-three thousand five hundred and fifty-two only out of 669,971 of the age of fifteen are under any form of full-time or part-time instruction, or only one out of five. Out of those children who are sixteen 85.44 per cent, are not under any full-time or part-time instruction. The figure is worse at the age of seventeen. I think all educationists are therefore convinced that this problem has to be dealt with, not on voluntary lines; these have failed to produce a satisfactory result. The figures which the- Board have placed at our disposal make it absolutely essential that in our continuation schools system we must apply some form of compulsion for a number of hours per week. I wish to impress upon those in authority that they will do well to present to us a bold scheme. It has been stated from the Front Bench this afternoon that there is a change of opinion in the country. That is quite true. The witnesses who attended before the Departmental Committee, whose Report I have quoted, numbered nearly 100. They were nearly unanimous in telling us that there was a change of opinion amongst the public of this country. You may take it that this change of opinion is found not merely among employers. We had representatives 1947 of the trade unions before us. Both masters and men therefore appeared before us. Representatives of the trade unions, speaking for hundreds of thousands of men, told us that the portion of the country for which they spoke was ripe for a change. In support of this, may I refer the Parliamentary Secretary, who is now in charge on behalf of his colleague, to the programme of education which was recently adopted by the Labour party conference at Manchester? It shows how completely in sympathy with a bold scheme the whole labour world will be, and that the right hon. Gentleman need not expect that a bold scheme will appal those who have authority to speak for labour.
One has only to observe, for example, the scheme of reform of the Workers' Educational Association, which, in fuller elaboration, but confirms the programme set out at the Labour party conference at Manchester. That favours a' complete scheme which suggests a far higher leaving age than the President has indicated this afternoon, and suggests a half-time continuation system under compulsion. As far as the Labour party is concerned, the age of sixteen is favoured. Those who are entitled to speak for labour tell us almost with one voice that labour at least is ripe for great changes in the scheme of national education. Therefore, apart from some few unions, possibly in the textile trades, it is not from labour that opposition may be expected. I venture to suggest that to palter with a scheme and to give us trivial proposals at a time when the nation is suffering enormous losses, and requires the intensive cultivation of young life—in this position to put forward merely a mild scheme—will be to invite failure. The time has come for striking the imagination of our people by bold proposals. Therefore the Government should attempt the minimum represented by the proposals of the Departmental Committee. For myself I desire to go much further than these proposals. They may represent what some would call a working compromise. They do not represent the goal of those for whom I am entiled to speak. Let me beg the right hon. Gentleman in charge (Mr. Lewis) that any persuasive powers he possesses in Government circles should be used in the direction of helping forward proposals which will at least be the minimum of the recommendations of the Committee over which he so well presided.
1948 Before I conclude I desire to thank the President for his handsome acknowledgment of what the schools have done during the course of the War, of the work of the teachers, of what has been done by the boys who are now fighting; the handsome compliment he has paid to those products of elementary schools will be greatly appreciated by those responsible for their training. I desire to say how welcome the proposals of the President will be, so far as they go, on the question of finance. As a matter of fact, if the thing be reduced' to the amounts payable per teacher, the three and a half millions which it is-proposed to allocate as a supplementary Grant to the elementary schools will not be much. It will not, for example, give a minimum bonus to teachers comparable to that which the railwaymen have-secured. The hope of the proposal lies in this, that provision is made for progressive advance. If a scheme be now adopted on the basis of the Kempe Committee's proposals, we may look, as I believe, for progressive addition to teachers' emoluments will do something to solve-the great difficulty of the diminishing supply of entrants to the profession. The whole scheme of improved national education pivots upon the teachers. If additional numbers are not forthcoming our scheme will fail. If, therefore, the Board cannot get from the Treasury the necessary amounts to make it worth while from the material point of view for people to choose teaching as a profession then the most magnificent paper schemes may be put forward, but so far as those schemes-becoming effective or translated into effective action is concerned they will result in failure. I welcome the beginning which has been made. I hope it will be regarded merely as an instalment. I hope we may expect from the Treasury a larger and larger addition to the Estimates as they come along year by year. I hope also that there may be provision for the local authorities to deal handsomely—that also is absolutely necessary—with the teachers they employ.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Colonel Lord HENRY CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
I am afraid I cannot claim to speak, like the hon. Gentleman who has preceded me, as an educationist. I am merely a humble Member of the Tory party interested in social questions, and as such I desire to add my small voice to the 1949 chorus of congratulation which greeted the speech of the President of the Board of Education. It is indeed refreshing to have at last secured an Education Minister who means business, and who brings to his task not only a great knowledge of the subject, but also sympathy. The illustrious general, Sir William Robertson, has said that the great secret of military operations was to do the right thing at the right time. I congratulate the Education Minister on applying that most excellent dictum to the social sphere. I hope he will not think me ungracious or ungrateful for favours to come if I point out that he could not have done very much less, or could not have delayed his proposals any longer. I entirely agreed with my hon. Friend and colleague the Member for West Nottingham (Sir J. Yoxall) that the educational system of this country is in ruins, and if the Education Minister were as indifferent as some of his predecessors in office, or as hostile to education as the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), he could not possibly have delayed in building up that ruin. In fact it is as incumbent on us to build up the ruins of our educational system as it is on the Belgians to build up the ruins that have been made in their country. An allusion has been made to the results of this ruined system, but no allusion has been made to the fact that there are, I believe, at least three million children between the ages of twelve and seventeen years altogether outside the atmosphere of education. So irregular has the attendance become that I read in the educational supplement of the "Times" that in some cities of the North schools are opened every day with some 12,000 to 15,000 who ought to be there away from school. What are the results of this condition? These results may be well summed up in the terms of the Lewis Report. It points out the fact that boys have been allowed to acquire habits of foolish and mischievous extravagance. Even the ordinary discipline of the workshop has given way. Let me bear that out by what I have been told by persons well qualified to speak. I have been informed that the discipline among the boys is so bad that the tendency is to dismiss them from the factories and to employ girls in their place. There even threatens now to be an acute problem of boy unemployment. There is also, of course, the fact that juvenile crime has 1950 gone up by about 40 per cent. The Lewis Report goes on to say that there is a notable deterioration of behaviour and, morality, that gambling has increased, and that the strenuous hours of long labour have overtaxed their strength. So it comes to this, that not only is our present educational system in its defects tending to ruin the character of the juvenile population of this country, but it is also calculated to impair their health. This is not, the time, to my mind, for paying compliments. The time now is for girding up our loins and doing our duty and putting an end to a system which is doing very grave injustice indeed to the child-life of this-country. It is not only doing that, but it is undermining the welfare and the safety of this great country.
Nothing has been more remarkable to-my mind than the indifference which this House has displayed to educational subjects for the last six or seven years, in fact, that negligence and indifference has-lasted ever since 1906. Whether that is due to the fact that there is very little popularity, but a good deal of odium to-be gained by an active educational policy, or whether it is due to the fact that the party in power had an educational Ulster in their midst, in the shape of Lancashire. I do not know, but nothing would have conferred greater benefits on this country than an earlier tackling of this problem. We have had great arguments lately as to whether future development in education should be on the classical or on the-scientific side. I confess that these arguments leave me quite cold. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Essex that what really matters at the present time is an improvement in the education that we-give to the poorest of the poor. I cannot say I am an authority, but I hold the belief that the children of the middle class and of the fairly well-to-do artisan have nothing very much to grumble at in our present educational system. They can proceed to-the secondary schools. But to the-child of the poorly-paid man, earning, say, from a pound to twenty-five-shillings a week, the present educational system of this country is nothing more nor less than a system for manufacturing inefficiency. May I remind the House of that interesting Report of the Consultative Committee? The Consultative Committee found that at a critical period of their life a very large majority of the boys of England and Wales are left 1951 without sufficient guidance, with the result that there is a great waste of early promise, injury to character, lessening of industrial efficiency, and the lowering of the ideals of personal and civic duty. They go on to say that, through lack of guidance and training during lessons, intellectual interests are stifled, worthy ambitions are delayed, and concentration of purpose is impaired. That is a heavy indictment, and the worst of it is that every word of it is true. The children of this country, and particularly the children of the poor, are in a regular vicious circle. A man is poor because his parents have been poor, and his son will be poor because he is poor. Social investigators all agree that there is among a large section of the working classes a rigid caste system. The child of the skilled artisan becomes a skilled artisan; the child of the general labourer, or of the casual labourer, becomes also a general or a casual labourer, and the child of the unemployable is often unemployable. What we have to do is to break down this rigid caste system and this vicious circle, and the only way of doing that is to introduce an educational system designed chiefly to improve the condition of the poorest of the poor.
Lord Haldane, in another place, said that the condition of our secondary education is appalling. What to my mind is a great deal more appalling are the many obstacles, hindrances, and obstructions which the children of this country have to face before they reach manhood. We had the fact alluded to just now that a million children, in Sir George Newman's language, are so physically or mentally defective or diseased as to be utterly unable to derive reasonable benefit from their education. You have also the struggle against the system in Lancashire of part-time, which the Committee has found to be disastrous, not only to the education of the children but to their health. It is a fact that many thousands of children in this country have parents so poor that they are forced to go to work, and are sometimes working as many hours out of school hours as an adult workman. They reach school so tired as to be utterly unable to profit by their education, and as a result of the overstrain the system ruins their health. You have also the fact that street trading is a hotbed of criminality, and of the loafer and cadger. You have the mon- 1952 strous injustice that for errand boys and van boys there is no legislative, safeguard at all. It is quite legal to employ these children for as many hours as the employer likes to do. It is quite legal to employ a van boy or a parcel boy up to ten or eleven o'clock at night. In fact, our industrial system and our educational system combined do not fit in well one with the other. The industrial system has been too strong for our educational system, and the whole thing seems nicely designed, not so much to safeguard the interests of the children—I may be pessimistic, but that is my impression—as to provide a certain number of employers of labour with as much cheap labour as they possibly can need. The task we have to set ourselves is to rescue for these children a few of the hours which are now given to monotonous and un-educative toil. The War has revealed many deficiencies in our industrial system. I will not refer to them all, but it is to a great industrial nation like this somewhat humiliating to find that at the outbreak of the War we were unable to manufacture dyes, a great many chemicals, and optical glasses.
It being a Quarter-past. Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further proceeding was postponed without Question put.