HC Deb 15 July 1918 vol 108 cc749-71

(1) With a view to continuing the education of young persons and helping them to prepare for the freedom and responsibilities of adult life, it shall be the duty of the local education authority for the purposes of Part II. of the Education Act, 1902, either separately or in cooperation with other local education authorities, to establish and maintain or secure the establishment and maintenance under their control and direction of a sufficient supply of continuation schools in which suitable courses of study, instruction, and physical training are provided without payment of fees for all young persons resident in their area who are, under this Act, under an obligation to attend such schools.

(2) For the purposes aforesaid the local education authority from time to time may, and shall when required by the Board of Education, submit to the Board schemes for the progressive organisation of a system of continuation schools and for the purpose of securing general and regular attendance thereat.

(3) The council of any county shall, if practicable, provide for the inclusion of representatives of education authorities for the purposes of Part III. of the Education Act, 1902, in the body of managers of continuation schools within the area of those authorities.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "training" ["and physical training are"], to insert the words, "of a non-military character."

At each appropriate stage of the Bill I have called attention to what I suggest is a very grave defect in a measure establishing what it describes as a national system of education, but which gives power to the local education authority to introduce military instruction and military methods both in our elementary schools and into the new continuation schools. I regard that as a very grave defect indeed, and I move this Amendment in order to challenge this matter on the question of principle. Discussions have taken place on this subject, and the view has been taken by some hon. Members, and by some of my hon. Friends immediately behind me, that it was impossible to distinguish between military training and other forms of training. It may be urged that organised physical exercises do form part of military drill, because in the Army some such exercises are gone through, but I submit that it is not a real objection to this Amendment. What is meant by the Amendment is perfectly clear, and, indeed, I venture to say, for my own part, and on behalf of those who are associated with me, that we shall only be too glad to have the principle of the Amendment adopted in any other form which would make it clear. Briefly, we object to a system of education with a military bias, which might be under military control, and partly consist of instructions in the art of war and in the use of military weapons. If the House were considering a Bill for the future defence of this country, or a Bill to make provision for the future training of the Army, it would be appropriate to take the opinion of this House as to whether methods of military instruction should be introduced into our schools and continuation classes.

I submit, with respect to a Bill dealing with education, that it is not appropriate in passing that Bill, to pass it in such a form that its scope in this respect is unrealised by a great many Members of the House. We might find, at a later stage, that under the provisions of the measure the local education authority might introduce military methods and military schemes of instruction into our schools and new continuation classes. I urge that the question of military training should be kept distinct from the Education Bill. If we were dealing with a Bill for the military training of the youth of this country, I would submit arguments against the proposal on principle, for I believe that the military system of training children and young persons in this country is the worst possible system of training. I believe that such a system of training would be very reactionary indeed, and it is a system which is opposed by the greatest educationists of to-day. It is contrary to the whole trend of educational process, and, indeed, the President of the Board of Education, in the previous discussions on this question, has made quite clear his own personal view, not once but several times, that he does not regard it as the duty of the Board of Education, or the duty of schools controlled by the Board of Education, to provide for military instruction in the schools of this country. The right hon. Gentleman has made a very clear distinction between his duties as President of the Board of Education and duties which could only toe performed by the War Office, after receiving the sanction of this House. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to put that view, which meets with acceptance in many quarters of the House, into this Bill. Otherwise we have no security whatever against the militarisation of the schools of this country. I have put this definite question to the President of the Board of Education: Will it not be possible, under this Bill, for a local education authority to introduce military drill, and instruction in the use of military weapons, and to have Cadet Corps in connection with continuation classes or elementary schools, and so forth? And the right hon. Gentleman has said, in reply, that whilst it would be possible for the education authority to do that they would have to obtain the assent of the President of the Board of Education, and he personally would refuse to give assent to any such scheme. I quite believe that so long as the right hon. Gentleman is President of the Board of Education he will refuse to give his assent to any such scheme for the introduction of military training and military methods into schools under his control.

But I desire to point out to the House that if another Minister presided over the Board of Education, a man of different political, and social, and educational views, it would be possible for him to give assent to any such schemes as were sent forward by the local education authorities and, therefore, the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that he should refuse assent to any such schemes, is no safegaurd for this House, though it may be a safeguard so long as the right hon. Gentleman occupies his present position. That is a point of real danger because, as was stated when this subject was previously under discussion, there are powerful organised bodies guiding and influencing public opinion, and seeking to get a sufficient body of support to all sorts of ideas and schemes for military training in connection with the elementary schools of this country. One public man, of authority and influence, has declared that it was only a matter of a few months before military Cadet Corps could be organised in connection with every elementary school in the country, and such schemes could be carried out under this Bill, provided the assent of the President of the Board of Education is obtained. I submit that if such schemes are to be urged, definite schemes for military training, they ought not to be introduced in the vague language contained in this Bill, and which solely depends for its effect upon the view taken by the President of the Board of Education for the time being. The Amendment which I submit is entirely in the spirit of the declaration made by the President as to what the duties of the elementary school are. The Amendment ensures that before any vital change like this takes place in our schools the assent of this House must be obtained, in a Bill directed to that specific purpose. Therefore I earnestly hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to retreat from the position he has taken up in the past, and will accept this Amendment, which does not take away any power that he seeks to keep, and which simply safeguards the schools of this country against the premature adoption by the local authorities, without the sanction of this House, of methods of instruction which would give an entirely new bias to our system of popular education.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I shall support my view on rather different lines from those of my hon. Friend who has just spoken. I look upon the introduction of military exercises and drill into our schools as very objectionable, on two grounds. One is the strong opposition to it that is felt by the working classes generally. Probably the right hon. Gentleman is not aware that there have been trade union conferences of representatives of the Labour party entirely upon this subject of military training. Those conferences have been attended by extraordinary numbers, and have been marked by extreme unanimity and enthusiasm in condemning military training connected with the educational proposals which are included in the Bill, and which have been so enthusiastically endorsed by the country. The working classes, as a whole, are strongly opposed to military training for various reasons. One is because they know that there are some sections amongst them who would never allow their children to go to schools where there was military training, which they look upon as preparatory to universal Conscription. I have spoken again and again to trade union leaders who, without divergence of opinion, have condemned the proposal, so strongly made in certain quarters, for military training. There is another reason. I look upon the sports in connection with our schools as of absolutely vital importance to the British character, and I think that if you are going to supplant cricket and football and other games by military drill, by out-marching, the forming of fours, rifle range practice, miniature ranges, and all that sort of thing, you are going to do a great deal of injury and, I believe, deteriorate British character. I believe that our schools would be quite strongly opposed to it. Everybody who knows the condition of our public schools at the present time knows that they are suffering very much by the necessity of carrying on the Officers' Training Corps. The boys are leaving earlier and the time that should be given to games is being largely taken from them to do Officers' Training Corps work. Many masters, many parents, and many boys regret that. They look upon it as one of the unfortunate things of this time. I only mention that to support my view that if you are going to have military training in schools you are going very much to take away from the old character and true traditions of our schools and you are going to make the boys and young men of the future less sporting individuals and more of military mechanisms.


This matter has been debated several times, and I should be extremely surprised if the President of the Board of Education is going to derive any mysterious new light on the subject which would induce him to retreat, as he has been requested to do. I feel very diffident with reference to expressing an opinion as to the feelings of the working classes of this country, but I can speak as to the very democratic community which I represented for many years. I might be able to reassure my hon. Friend that many years ago these military evolutions of a harmless character were adopted in the public schools of New South Wales, and I think gradually of all Australia, and there is no country where sport has a more thriving existence. I go further than that. The practical objection to this proposal is that it would result in frequently appealing to our Courts of law as to whether this particular form of military or non-military amusement infringed the provisions of the law. Well, I hope we are not going to encourage that feeling of unrest over this subject. I go further with reference to the experience of Australia. Long before there was any idea of war the Australians were the most peaceable people on the face of the earth. They never dreamed of war, but when this principle of universal training was introduced with the approval of the Labour bodies of Australia at a conference of the Labour parties it was impossible to avoid noticing a wonderful change among the young men of Australia, and there is not a soul in Australia not the most rabid lover of peace who is not heartily in favour even of that extreme form, compared with which this is merely a playground affair, of military training. And I want to say more than that. If the boys of England do cherish any desire for military training it is not from a desire of conquest, of military glory. It is from the desire to be able if the need come to defend their native land against all comers. Surely that is a patriotic spirit, and there never was a time when such desires can make a stronger appeal to our common sense of patriotism.


The right hon. Member for St. George's (Sir G. Reid) has stated very clearly the practical objections to the acceptance of this Amendment. It would involve constant disputes as to whether a particular form of physical drill was or was not military. The mover of this Amendment stated that he wished to dissever military training from the Bill, but military training is not mentioned. The words mentioned in the Bill are "physical training," and to those words the Government intends to adhere. The hon. Member will recall that an Amendment was moved in Committee to make military drill a compulsory part of continuation training. That Amendment was resisted. Continuation training would be after all a training for very few hours of the week, and the Government feels that physical training properly given within the very narrow limits of time which will be available in our continuation classes should be physical training of the most intensively practical character. Military training would be the last form of training which would be appropriate to training in a continuation school, and even if there were no other reason, that reason would be decisive against it. The hon. Member who moved this Amendment spoke of me as having stated a personal position in this matter. On this occasion I am not stating what my personal position is but what the policy of the Board of Education has always been with respect to this matter. The Board of Education has never viewed itself as responsible for military training in schools. The Officers' Training Corps and the Cadet Corps so far as they are assisted financially are assisted not from the Board of Education but from the War Office and that I take it will continue. But I think it would be very unfortunate if we accepted the words suggested by the hon. Member, because I am certain they would

give rise to a very considerable amount of practical difficulty. I hope, therefore, the House will support the Clause.


I am not myself in favour of seeing military training introduced into the schools for the reasons which have been stated, and therefore I can approach the Amendment not in any hostile spirit, though I for one could understand there might be forms of training like that for boy scouts which would do much. But this Amendment is like another Amendment which was recently moved in Committee from the same quarter. I really cannot congratulate those who have taken up this matter on the way in which they propose their Amendments. This suggests there should be special restrictions in the case of continuation schools. If the Bill passes in its present form there would be no such restriction in the case of elementary or secondary schools. You have suggested your Amendment in each case in a form that is really quite unfortunate, and which while not excluding this particular form of education from elementary and secondary schools excludes it in a perfectly illogical way from continuation schools.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 20: Noes, 120.

Division No. 63.] AYES. [5.29 p.m.
Arnold, Sydney Glanville, Harold James Roch, Walter F.
Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset) Hudson, Walter Rowntree, Arnold
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Jowett, Frederick William Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Chancellor, Henry George Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Thomas Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Collins, Sir William (Derby) Mason, David M. (Coventry)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Whitehouse and Mr. King.
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Raffan, Peter Wilson
Gilbert, James Daniel Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Ainsworth. Sir John Stirling Bryce, John Annan Gretton, John
Anstruther-Gray, Lt.-Col. Wm. Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury St. Ed.)
Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf Carr-Gomm, H. W. Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence (Ashford)
Baldwin, Stanley Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor) Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness)
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Cheyne, Sir William W. Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick Clyde, James Avon Henry, Sir Charles (Shropshire)
Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, South) Coates, Major Sir Edward F. Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Barran, Sir John N (Hawick, B.) Coats, Sir Stuart (Wimbledon) Higham, John Sharp
Bathurst, Capt. Sir C. (Wilts) Colvin, Col. Hills, John Waller (Durham)
Beale, Sir William Phipson Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Hodge, Rt. Hon. John
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Courthope, Maj. George Loyd Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)
Bentinck, Lord Henry Dawes, James Arthur Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)
Bigland, Alfred Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Hope, John Deans (Haddington)
Bird, Alfred Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir James B. Hughes, Spencer Leigh
Blake, Sir Francis Douglas Fell, Sir Arthur Hunter, Maj. Sir Chas. Rodk.
Boles, Lt.-Col. Fortescue Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam) Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)
Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, E.)
Bowden, Major George R. H. Gibbs, Col. George Abraham Jones, Wm. Kennedy (Hornsey)
Brace, Rt, Hon. William Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement
Bridgeman, William Clive Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough) Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford
Brunner. John F. L. Greig, Colonel James William Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)
Levy, Sir Maurice Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester) Thomas, Sir G. (Monmouth, S.)
Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert Pratt, John W. Walsh, Stephen (Lancashire, Ince)
Loyd, Archie Kirkman Prothero, Rt. Hon. Roland Edmund Walton, Sir Joseph
M'Callum, Sir John M. Pryce-Jones, Col. Sir E. Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Mackinder, Halford J. Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel Watson, Hon. W. (Lanark, S.)
Macmaster, Donald Reid, Rt. Hon. Sir George H. Weiqall, Lt.-Col. W. E. G. A.
McMicking, Major Gilbert Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) White, James Dundas (Tradeston)
Malcolm, Ian Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall) Whiteley, Sir H. J. (Droitwich)
Marks, Sir George Croydon Robinson, Sidney Williams, Aneurin (Durham)
Marriott, John A. R. Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Darwen) Wilson-Fox, Henry (Tamworth)
Marshall, Arthur Harold Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (N w[...]) Winfrey, Sir R.
Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Wing, Thomas Edward
Morgan, George Hay Samuels, Arthur W. (Dub. U.) Wolmer, Viscount
Palmer, Godfrey Mark Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Parker, James (Halifax) Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange) Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Partington, Hon. Oswald Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Liverpool) Yate, Col. Charles Edward
Peel, Major Hon. G. (Spalding) Spear, Sir John Ward Young, William (Perth, East)
Pennefather, De Fonblanque Starkey, John Ralph
Peto, Basil Edward Stirling, Lt.-Col. Archibald TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain F. Guest and Lord Edmund Talbot.
Philipps, Maj.-Gen. Sir Ivor (S'hampton) Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, W.)

On a point of Order, Sir. I desire to say that I voted in the "Aye" Lobby, instead of in the "No" Lobby, and I desire to have it corrected in the records.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)

I am not sure if the records can be altered. The hon. Member will no doubt have eased his conscience by what he has said.

Colonel YATE

I beg to move, at the end! of Sub-section (1), to add the words, and to devote at least one-fourth of the time allotted for such courses to physical training. In moving this Amendment, I shall be carrying out the wishes of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Board of Education, whom I am glad to see in his place, and I feel sure that the President of the Board will also agree to this, because I should not think he would like to be in any way against the wishes of his own Under-Secretary or to say anything inconsistent with the speech of the Under-Secretary. Perhaps I ought to remind the Under-Secretary of the words he used when speaking on the 30th May. He said: The enlistment and recruitment of our new Army has revealed great and most serious defects in the physical constitution of a large proportion of the population of these islands. We wish to improve the physique of the coming generation, and an essential part of the education and training which will be imparted to young people between the ages of fourteen and eighteen will be physical training. But I would remind the Committee that none of the objects I have referred to can possibly be achieved unless the system is made a universal system. That is what I ask the right hon. Gentleman to put into the Bill, and I trust he will agree to this and accept my Amendment. In 1914 I was a member of the recruiting committee for Leicester. The House will remember the enormous numbers of men who came forward then voluntarily to enlist. In Leicester we found that 27½ per cent. of the men who came forward and offered to enlist were rejected because they could not come up to the standard, either in height or chest measurement. We of the Committee took this matter in hand and formed a reject Sub-committee, and we gave those men who came forward voluntarily physical drill The little drill which we gave the men in the evenings when they had finished their work was so successful that out of 849 men we brought 638 up to the physical standard in height and chest measurements, and enabled them to enlist if they wanted. All these men simply lost their natural physique for want of proper physical training in their youth. It ought to have been given to them at school, but it was not given. Under the present system of education the physical training of our boys is neglected, and unless we do something we shall lose the national physique of our race. The parents of the boys have recognised this, and there is a universal demand amongst all the parents I have come across that physical training should be made universal. If the time that I propose is really used to the best advantage by well-qualified physical instructors, it will be of the greatest advantage to the youth of this country. We shall have a large number of instructors available before very long and if the schoolmasters are only sent to attend courses we shall be able to give the boys the proper training that they require. We have an excellent syllabus at the present time from the Board of Education. The syllabus is good, but the great difficulty has been in getting properly qualified instructors to carry through the syllabus on intelligent lines. Physical training is just as important for our youth as mental training. It ought to be half and half, but I have put the minimum down at one-fourth, so as to allow for different conditions in different localities. Boys engaged in agricultural work do not require the same amount of physical training as the boys who go into factories. A boy who leaves an elementary school at the age of fourteen and goes into a factory seems to have his physical development stopped, and I ask that the proper steps may be taken to provide against this in the future. We all know the old saying of "Mens sana in corpore sano." We must try to give our boys a sound mind in a sound body, and they both go together, and one is as important as the other. I therefore hope that the Under-Secretary to the Board of Education will agree to my Amendment.


I beg to second the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend. I quite admit the force of the arguments that he has brought forward in favour of the necessity and importance of this physical training for strengthening the whole physical force of the younger generation, but my support of the Amendment is even stronger from an educational point of view. If we look back over some twenty or twenty-five years of our national education there is nothing that we have more to regret, that has worked more evil in the whole course of our State-aided schools than the perverse, the persevering, the ineradicable neglect of physical education, and all that physical education means. I myself was brought up in Scotland, in the pre-scientific, pre-physical education days, when games in Scottish schools were not enforced, and nothing struck me more when I came into contact with the young boys who have gone to public schools in England than the intense love that they had for their schools. What did that come from? It was because their schools were not constantly considered as mere places where book learning and lessons had to be taught, but where there was something more, an esprit de corps, and a discipline in the physical side of life, and in the enjoyment of life, and nothing binds together the pupils of a school more, nothing gives them such influence in that common discipline, which educates them perhaps more than the discipline of their masters, than the physical instruction which they get at our great public schools. It was only some sixteen years ago that I succeeded, in connection with my own Department, in getting the first Royal Commission appointed to deal with physical instruction in our ordinary State-aided schools. We had had plenty of Commissions about education, but we never really had systematically dealt with the question of physical education. That Commission found that the amount that was given in these ordinary State-aided schools for physical instruction was a mere fraction of what was given in any schools where we would have our own boys educated. Would it be considered that in any public school it was too much to say that after six hours of book work, two hours should be given to games? Is there a single public school in England now that does not give more than that of the time of their pupils to physical instruction?


This Amendment deals only with the continuation classes and not with the schools at all.


Can the hon. Member not see that what applies to boys of one age applies also when they get over the age of fourteen, and even much more strongly? There is no time when more physical waste is incurred amongst our growing boys than after the age of fourteen. Up to that time they have a little physical instruction, but after that they loiter about street corners; and would it not be far better to give them this systematic physical instruction, which will endear their schools to them, which will make them feel that they themselves are performing a part of their education and helping to teach themselves, which would give them that esprit de corps which binds them together as comrades in their school, and which will bind them together in future also—is it too much to ask that for these poor boys after you have given them six hours of book work within the four walls of a room you should insist that there should be at least two hours of healthy, physical training? I do not care how much games may be given if they are under proper supervision. But for the sake of the educational effect, apart from the building up of the strength of the younger generation who might have to fight for their country, I am looking at it from another point of view, and I say, for the sake of education, and for the sake of the impulse it will give to the children, for the sake of the spirit it will create and the memories it will instil, I do ask the President of the Board of Education to agree to this very moderate Amendment, and to say that, after they have had six hours' book learning, however good and useful that may be, they shall at least have two hours of healthy, physical training, which will build up their bodies. I beg him to concede this point, which I believe will be a great security and great help both to the prosperity of these schools and the future welfare of the pupils.


I should like to make clear the meaning of the interruption which I addressed to the right hon. Gentleman when he was speaking, because he entirely misunderstood the meaning of that interruption. The right hon. Gentleman was arguing for this Amendment on the basis that it applied to the schools of the country, and proceeded with his argument on that assumption, whereas the Amendment is solely directed to the continuation schools, which are less than one hour each day. I entirely agree with all that has been said about the need and the desirability of providing for the physical development and recreation of the boys who attend these continuation classes, wholly associating myself with the attempt that has been made to give these boys physical training in the open air, games and recreation appropriate to their age. It is because I feel so strongly on that point that I very much hope the President of the Board of Education will not accept the Amendment, which I hope to be able to show is not a widening Amendment, but a limiting Amendment. One feature of the training that is to be given in these continuation classes is expected to take the form—and I sincerely trust will take the form—of summer schools or summer camps, organised on an educational basis, and I am quite sure that a week or a fortnight, or, better still, if a longer period, but even a comparatively short period spent by these adolescents at an open-air summer school or camp, where they will be taught to play, to study outdoor subjects and to touch life at many new points, will be the very best thing for their physical, mental, and spiritual development. And it may well be that, whilst the education we have in connection with these continuation classes can best be done, perhaps, at schools in the winter, the most important part may be done in connection with these summer schools or camps. Therefore, it is impossible, in considering these alternative but not competing methods of instruction, to state that one method of that instruction should be limited to a certain number of hours. It might well be, for instance, that you could give the whole of the continuation instruction, or a great part of it, at a summer school. You might not be able to give a very considerable portion at the summer school, and yet the value of that part which was given at a summer school or summer camp would be much more valuable, perhaps, than at the other class or school. Therefore, in that sense, the Amendment, so far from being a widening Amendment, is a limiting Amendment. I suggest it is far better, having laid down the principle of physical instruction in the Bill, and having given instructions to local education authorities to provide these summer classes and summer camps, not to seek to assess the exact number of minutes to be allotted, but to leave it to the good sense, initiative and enterprise of the local education authorities, with the guidance which the Board would give.


I desire to support the Amendment, primarily on the ground of social equality. You are only seeking by this Amendment to give to the adolescents of those classes who attend the continuation schools the same sort of advantages which are already enjoyed by those who belong to the class among whom we have been educated. I hope, therefore, the President of the Board of Education will give very sympathetic consideration to this Amendment.


I have listened with sympathetic and appreciative interest to the speeches that have been made upon this question. My hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Amendment quoted some words of mine. I am not sure that I attach the same kind of meaning to the word "universal" which he quoted. He might have gone further and quoted from the Report of a Departmental Committee, of which I was chairman, and of which the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Mr. Goldstone) was also a member. We took a considerable amount of evidence upon this and other aspects of the question of education after the War, and we came to the conclusion that physical training was undoubtedly an essential part of the education that ought to be given in these continuation classes, and we expressed ourselves very strongly indeed to that effect, so that, so far as the desirability of physical education is concerned, my hon. and gallant Friend is knocking at an open door. The President of the Board of Education, in the course of speeches he has made in different parts of the country commending the Education Bill to the public, has always given a leading place to the subject of physical instruction. But the question is whether it is desirable that we should lay down any hard and fast lines with regard to this or any other part of the curricula, and, if we were to lay down these hard and fast lines, what the effect would be. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lanark has indicated one possible and unfortunate effect. I submit it is very undesirable that the Bill should go into details with regard to the curricula, or as to the precise amount of time to be given to the various subjects in the curricula, the instruction which would be suitable for young persons of different ages, in different schools, engaged in different occupations, and living under different conditions of locality. They will vary considerably, and these variations will naturally affect the arrangements for physical training, as well as those for other objects.

Compare, for example, the needs in this respect of the factory child of poor physique, working under bad conditions. They are very different from those of the farm lads working in the fields who may, not improbably, have to walk a considerable distance in order to attend a school. Then, again, the time to be devoted to physical training may be affected by the question whether the 320 hours shall be spent in a full day course or shall be spread over several days in the week. The time to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers might be very well spared in the case of a number of young persons whose aptitude for mental study is not very great. But there will be a substantial minority who do follow serious courses either of a technical kind or in general subjects which appeal to them, and the limitation of six hours might be undesirable in those cases, especially if the students are living in healthy conditions. Now, my right hon. Friend who seconded the Amendment spoke of the education as if it were wholly book education. He spoke of six hours of book education in the course of a day. Why should it be all book education? Surely a considerable part of the education will consist of training of the hand and eye, and will not necessarily be confined to books. There is a danger, as has already been pointed out, that a minimum, if laid down in an Act of Parliament, may become a maximum, and I hope the House will not run the risk of such a course in connection with this particular part of the Bill; but, taking the question as a whole, realising as I hope the House does, the attitude of the Board of Education towards it, realising also that we shall be for some time to come in the experimental stage, I think it will be unwise, and it may be a danger to physical education itself, if we lay down hard and fast lines in this matter.

Amendment negatived.


I beg to move, after Sub-section (1), to insert, (2) In all rural areas the continuation schools established shall afford facilities for teaching practical subjects connected with agriculture. 6.0 P.M.

The object of the Amendment is simply to give an opportunity to the boys in the country who are hoping to make agriculture their career some opportunity of getting really a good education in that direction. I, personally, may be rather sanguine, but I sincerely hope that in any great scheme of reconstruction the policy so ably advocated for so many years by the right hon. Gentleman who represents one of the divisions of Birmingham will be adopted, and that we shall go as far as possible in the direction of encouraging the small ownership of land—those who cultivate the land they own. I feel that this will be quite useless unless those who wish to lead a life of that sort have really thoroughly up-to-date, practical, scientific agricultural education. The object of this Amendment is simply that facilities should be afforded to the rising generation who live in the rural areas to have the opportunity of continuation schools so that they may get some practical knowledge of agriculture. Without this I am afraid their career may not be very successful. I think we all realise that the land might produce even more than at the present time if there was any opening for the small man to get back to the land and cultivate it with any prospect of financial success. It is, however, absolutely necessary that he should be equipped with the very best possible scientific and agricultural education. The only way I can see that such education can be extended to the very poorest in our communities is to give them continuation schools in our rural districts, and such facilities as have been spoken of, so that they may be equipped for their career on going forth to an agricultural life. This is a thing which, I am quite sure, we are anxious to see encouraged in our country districts.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I feel that every effort to give more technical facilities which, I assume, this Amendment aims at, will be universally supported. We are all very anxious, and particularly those in our rural districts who know something of scientific farming, to help this matter forward. Anything that encourages and helps to make our students in rural districts not only good students, but scientific and educated students, should get our support. I have no doubt it will receive support from the education authorities. Whether it is or is not possible to increase these facilities is a query which the Board of Education will no doubt be able to answer, but if they can in any way add to the technical instruction of our agricultural students I hope that they will in this matter give favourable consideration to the Amendment.


The Board of Education are in full sympathy with the desire that continuation schools should impart an appropriate bias to the teaching they give. So far from saying anything in discouragement of agricultural education, perhaps I may be allowed, as a very old Member, to say that I myself brought the question forward in this House close upon a quarter of a century ago. The question, however, before the House is whether we shall or shall not make special mention of agriculture. We have been pressed from many quarters of the House to insert in the Bill particular references to special questions. Over and over again we have been urged to do this. If we were to begin to accept Amendments in this particular direction there would simply be no end to them. Having discouraged others from putting down Amendments relating to other very important industries, we are obliged to give to each and all the same answer—that it is inexpedient to make a particular reference in the Bill to one particular industry. May I draw the attention of my hon. Friends who moved and seconded the Amendment to the provision which the Bill makes in the very Clause which they seek to amend? Clause 3 refers specially to continuation schools in which "suitable courses of study, instruction, and physical training are provided without payment of fees." It will be for the local education authorities to present schemes to the Board of Education for that purpose, and it will be for the Board to see that those schemes are suitable. Naturally in looking over schemes which deal with agricultural districts the Board of Education will very carefully inquire as to whether or not the education proposed is suitable for that district, and whether or not the interests of agriculture in this connection are duly safeguarded.


I do not generally feel much moved or attracted by the excuses put forward by the President or by the Treasury Bench generally for refusing Amendments, especially if they are obviously very sensible and good Ones. I think, however, the excuse on this occasion is rather more weighty than usual. It is really one of the good points of the Bill that there is no specific mention of any particular interest or any branch of education in this Clause. It is intentionally vague, and it gives the authorities power to make their schemes for continuation schools suitable to their own districts. I am perfectly certain—and I would wish the hon. Member for Exeter was as certain as I am—I believe he is connected with the Devonshire Education Committee—that when this matter conies before these bodies in Devon and elsewhere they will see that certain provision is made for agricultural instruction in these schools. Similarly everywhere, where there is a great interest and vocation—in the coalmining districts, in the iron-trade districts, in the potteries, and so on—wherever these schemes are put forward special attention will be directed in the continuation schools to these great and vital industries. If they are not, I believe the Board of Education, much as it needs prompting and pushing, will act on its own initiative, and will come to the assistance of those who wish to sec the education practical in the sense the discussion indicates.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert the words, and in preparing schemes under this Section the local education authority shall have regard to the desirability of including therein arrangements for co-operation with universities in the provision of lectures and classes for scholars for whom instructions by such means is suitable. This Amendment has been introduced to implement a pledge which was given to my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, and it is designed to meet a very valuable suggestion which met with a good deal of acceptance by the Committee. The pledge was given on the Committee stage; it was as to some reference being introduced into the Bill as to the desirability of educating older persons in the continuation schools by means of university extension lectures. If this Amendment meets the views of my hon. Friend I hope it will be accepted.


The Amendment carries out in substance, and, if I may be allowed to say so, in very improved substance, the Amendment which I moved in Committee. I should like, in two or three words, to express my very great gratitude, and the gratitude of those on whose behalf I was acting, for the Amendment which has just been proposed by the President of the Board of Educatin. It fulfils, and more than adequately fulfils, the promise he gave us. The House will remember that on the Committee stage this Amendment was supported, almost unexpectedly supported, from every quarter of the House. I am quite sure the President has accurately gauged and accurately interpreted the wishes, not only of a very large number of Members of the House itself, but a still larger number of those outside this House, who are interested in progressive education. What will this Amendment do? It will compel the local education authorities, in framing their schemes, at any rate, to consider the advisability of availing themselves of the machinery for extra-mural teaching, which is now provided by the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London, and, indeed, most other universities of the United Kingdom. I tried to make it clear in Committee that, so far as I am concerned—and the point has been taken by the President—that this Clause will be applicable only to the elder pupils in the continuation schools. The machinery of extra-mural university teaching is really only applicable to the higher classes in secondary schools, and, of course, in these continuation classes. Indeed, the present regulations of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge do not permit a candidate of less than fifteen years of age to enter for one of the examinations of the extra-mural lecture classes. As a matter of fact, in practice, except in the special secondary school centres, of which there are a certain number, most of the candidates are very-much above that age, being seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, and even more than that.

What I hope will be attained in connection with this Clause, which the President has been good enough to move, and which I hope the House will accept is this: that in the smaller towns the local education authorities will avail themselves of the existing facilities provided for extra-mural teaching, but that in the larger towns the local education authorities will themselves organise such lectures and classes. In every case young persons of sixteen or seventeen will be brought into contact with a fresh type of teacher, and with fresh educational methods. I am quite certain it will be the fault of the teacher if some considerable proportion of these adolescent pupils are not carried on far beyond the stage of the continuation schools—for these lectures and classes will, I hope, form in the future, as, indeed, they have formed in the past, a very valuable link between our secondary and our tertiary system of higher education. I know it is part of the fashionable jargon of progressive educationists to-day to repudiate the idea of the educational ladder, and to substitute for it the idea of the educational highway. I do not quarrel with that, except for this reason—if I may be allowed to say so—I rather like the metaphor of climbing a ladder, for it does imply some effort on the part of the climber. The highway suggests that the way should be made as easy as possible. I think you can make things too easy in matters of education. I desire some effort on the part of those who seek to attain the desirable things of the mind. But that is by the way. The great point is that the opportunity should be brought within the reach of aspiring scholars, and that for all classes there should be a real opportunity for higher education. I believe that this Clause will bring that opportunity within their reach, and for that reason I am exceedingly grateful to the President for having accepted it.


I have no objection to the proposal that the universities should be consulted in making provision for lectures and classes for young people when they reach the continuation school age. I think, however, that the universities are fortunate in securing for themselves a preferential mention in this Bill. I want to ask whether this particularisation of the universities involves the partial rejection of the consideration of the Workers' Educational Association.




I am glad to get that information because that association does not get the special mention which is given to the universities, although in my opinion they have certainly done more in providing this education than any other body, because they have provided the organisation. That association represents one of the finest educational movements for young persons that this country has ever seen. When the local authorities are making their schemes I want them to consult others besides the universities, and I do not want anything conceded to the universities which will prejudice the position of the Workers' Educational Association. The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Marriott) referred to the educational ladder. Personally, I believe in the high way to education. The ladder with its broken rungs has usually been reserved for the children of the poor, whilst the highway has been open to the children of the rich. We want a highway which shall be the common road of both rich and poor, the only passport being ability to profit by the higher forms of education. I should like a specific reference to the Workers' Educational Association, so that we may have a direct assurance on record that they will not be prejudiced in their work.


I have moved this Amendment as much on behalf of the classes to which allusion has been made as to any other part of the work, and for this reason I included the word "classes" as well as lectures in my Amendment. I am sure the President will associate himself with me when I state that there is no such intention on my part as that to which the hon. Member has referred.

Mr. FISHER indicated assent

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In Subsection (3), leave out the word "the" ["the body of managers"] and insert thereof the word "any."—[Mr. Fisher.]


I beg to move, after Subsection (3), to add: (4) Before submitting to the Board of Education any scheme under this Act the council shall consult, after due notice and public announcement, any ratepayer or resident in the council's area, and representative persons or bodies, especially trade unions, co-operative and friendly societies, and minor local authorities, and shall discover and consider the wishes of teachers and parents of scholars in the council's area. I move this Amendment, although I am afraid it will not be accepted, because it give me an opportunity to point out that we are going to have schemes brought forward from all parts of the country from the different local education authorities. I am afraid in some places schemes will be submitted without any knowledge of the public as a whole or any public interest being taken in them, and very often important interests, and the impetus you want of public interest, support and criticism behind the schemes, will be lacking. It is quite possible, if you read the Bill as it is, for an education committee without any notice to the public to proceed to the consideration of a scheme. That scheme might then go to the local education authority, the town council, the borough council, or the county council, and it might be adopted with a lot of other business without any due notice or discussion in public. It would then go up to the Board of Education, and in a few days it might become a scheme operating amongst thousands of people, involving the expenditure of thousands of pounds, and there may have been no popular support behind it. I know there are provisions that after the scheme has got through the councils and before it is finally adopted there must be some publication, and that was a provision inserted during the Committee stage; but there is no previous consultation necessary of the public or of the interests such as the ratepayers or big organisations like the trade unions or other persons or parties interested. Take a large mining district. I should feel that unless the miners' organisation has been consulted as to the schemes put forward for continuation schools a great mistake would be made.


If the hon. Member will look at Section 4, Sub-section (2), he will find it provided there that Before submitting schemes under this Act a local education authority shall consider any representations made to them by parents or other persons or bodies of persons interested. I think that meets the hon. Member's point.


That does not quite meet my point.


Ought not this Amendment to come on Clause 4? I think that would be the proper place for it.


Then I will move it on Clause 4.