§ LORD LYTTELTON
said, that when at the commencement of the Session he withdrew the Resolutions which he had given notice to move with reference to the Revised Code of the Committee of Council on Education, he understood that it was the desire of many of their Lordships that those Resolutions, with certain modifications, should be again brought forward. He thereupon reconsidered them; but after having laid them on the table he found that the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford) had given a notice on the same subject, though not to the same effect. He could not say that he felt pleased that one so able and eloquent as the right rev. Prelate had taken the bread out of his mouth. The matter had been then discussed at great length, and also in the other House of Parliament; there, however, appeared to be no reason why he should abandon his Resolutions. He did not hold the same view as many noble Lords on this subject. The right rev. Prelate said it would be very inexpedient for their Lordships to commit themselves to any formal decision, because it might possibly bring them into collision with the other House; and the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) also recom- 1138 mended that the Resolutions should be postponed till the House of Commons had discussed the subject. He could not share that opinion. Their Lordships had very little actual power in the matter, for it was almost entirely in the hands of the other House; and it did not occur to him that there could be any risk of a conflict arising between the two branches of the Legislature on a measure like this, such as might arise upon a Bill. On the contrary, he thought the House of Commons might derive some instruction and guidance from learning the views of their Lordships on the question. He was unable to condemn in toto the new Code even in its former shape, and still less as it now stood; nor could he sympathize with the desire for the return to the old state of things. It was impossible to do so, after the Report of the Royal Commission, which derived weight not merely from its authority, but from the talent and research of its Members. When a Commission, composed of such distinguished men, who had bestowed so much attention on the subject, made their Report, it was impossible but that the Government must put some of their recommendations in a shape for the acceptance of Parliament. In his series of Resolutions, as they now appeared, he had enumerated only the points upon which he entertained no doubt whatever. He had omitted the first of the original Resolutions, which referred to the manner and time of the Government proposal, in deference to the statement of his noble Friend the President, and his colleague the Vice President, that they had no intention of taking advantage of Parliament in any way. At the same time he owned that the explanations which had been given appeared to him neither altogether satisfactory nor intelligible. Last Session he brought the matter before the House with the express purpose of preventing Parliament and the country from being taken by surprise by any large measures concerning education, of which they had had no opportunity of judging. The noble Earl, however, desired him, on that occasion, to make his mind quite easy, because an opportunity would be given to Parliament of considering the matter; and added, that the Government intended to make a few administrative changes to which no objection was entertained. He was perfectly well aware that the colleague of the noble Earl in the other House (Mr. Lowe) shadowed forth the 1139 alterations which were in the mind of the Government before the Session closed, but no one understood that anything would be done then. The issue of the Minute on the last day of the Session was a violation of the spirit of the rule that all alterations of an important character should first be considered by Parliament. The explanation was that the proposed changes would not take effect until April, or some months after Parliament reassembled; but although that was to some extent correct, the publication of the Minute on the very day on which Parliament was prorogued caused the utmost alarm and dismay among the certificated teachers and Queen's scholars, in which the schoolmasters and managers of schools participated, who naturally feared that when it was announced on such authority that such a thing was to be done, it would be done, for they did not understand the niceties of official declarations. He did not know whether his noble Friend and his colleagues were astonished at the agitation which the step excited. The Education Department, at the close of a Session, fell into a state of coma, and during the months of August and September only printed answers could be elicited by the most urgent communications. His noble Friend went to France, one of his colleagues to Switzerland, and another to Italy; he thought, however, that even in those distant regions, to which the heads of the department had betaken themselves, some distant echo must have reached them of the fears and objections they had evoked. In consequence of that expression of feeling they were told that the Revised Code had been withdrawn or suspended. But was it, in fact, withdrawn? Grants in aid, for the purchase of books, which had formerly been allowed, were to be withdrawn by the new Code, and perhaps un-objectionably. Still it was part of the old system; and if on the 28th of July last any person had applied for a grant in aid for books, the application would have been allowed. After the withdrawal of the new Minute, however, an application was made in October for a book grant, and the reply, in a printed form, was to the effect that no more such grants would be made. Upon this he (Lord Lyttelton) wrote to inquire how it was, as the new Code had been withdrawn, that these grants were to be discontinued; and he was answered that it was perfectly true 1140 that the withdrawal of these grants was part of the Revised Code, but nobody cared about the book grants, and it was inconvenient to continue them. This was a minor matter in itself, but it showed that the Committee of Council had not in fact withdrawn the new Code. Similarly, he did not complain of assistance to lecturers in training schools being withdrawn, but it was contrary to good faith that it should be refused to a lecturer elected before the Minute issued. These were points which affected the confidence of the country in the administration of the Committee of Council, and he was obliged to tell his noble Friend that the confidence of schoolmasters and managers of schools had been greatly weakened by the uncertainty of the proceedings of Government, and that years must elapse before that confidence would be restored. He admitted that with the Code as it now stood, after the second revision, the religious part of the question was disposed of satisfactorily. But the answer of the Government, that nothing which could have been done by the Privy Council, as the Code before stood, could possibly induce clergymen to neglect religious training of the children, missed the point, as had been shown in an able letter addressed by the Rev. Mr. Birks to the noble Earl, in which that distinguished clergyman pointed out that the natural effect of the unrevised Minute was to exaggerate the importance of reading, writing, and arithmetic in contrast with religious and moral training. He was aware that the instructions of the Inspectors were fully sufficient for the end in view, but he thought that care should be taken to see that the Inspectors acted up to those instructions. He had also withdrawn a Resolution in relation to grouping. The explanations of the noble Earl to the House, and of his right hon. colleague elsewhere, had led him to approve the principle, although he thought the Code required, under this head, considerable modifications in detail. The opposition to the grouping arose from a confusion of ideas as to grouping for the purpose of instruction and grouping only for the purposes of examination. The Government, as he conceived, looked at the individual child in a school as the parents of that child did. The parents of a child of eight wished to see that child instructed up to a certain standard: when the child is ten, then up to a higher standard. The 1141 grouping for examination would apply the test in that way; and if any child did not reach the standard required, the teachers might not be to blame; but the Government might fairly say they had, for some reason or other, failed in that respect, and the grant would not be paid. He had received the alteration proposed in reference to infant schools with great satisfaction. With regard to the first Resolution, as it now stood, respecting the equitable claim of the certificated teachers and Queen's scholars to the undiminished payment of the allowances hitherto enjoyed by them, he should have been very glad to withdraw it; but though he allowed that, according to the light in which they looked at the matter, the Government had probably done all in the way of concession to these classes, all that they thought they could possibly do, still it was impossible for him to withdraw the Resolution. Assuming that the grievance alleged to exist on the part of these persons was a real one, the proposition of the Government was no remedy for the grievance complained of. A variety of ingenious arguments had been brought forward to show that no breach of faith would be committed by the Government propositions towards the teachers; but, in his opinion, they were all of them entirely fallacious. It was said that, in some way or other, the incomes of the teachers at some future time would be made up; and that in course of time they would find that their position was not at all damnified. But this was not satisfactory to those who suffered a present loss, and who reasonably objected to being compensated by an uncertain prospect of improvement. The remedy proposed by the Committee of Council was to put the screw on the school managers. But the managers could get out of the way of the screw altogether; Parliament had no hold upon them, and the teachers had no hold upon them. Again, it was argued that there was no such thing as a positive grant or promise of a grant; but that it rested solely on the original Minutes having laid it down that a certain minimum salary must be practically secured to the teachers, and that if that minimum were made up from whatever sources, the Government had nothing further to do with the matter, and might, with perfect good faith, withdraw their portion of the grant. There was nothing of the kind in the Minutes, so far as he could discover; and, looking to the numerous declarations made by the 1142 Government at various times that these grants had nothing to do with anybody else, and that they were totally independent of the school managers, it was impossible not to come to the conclusion that they were made on certain conditions, and that while those conditions were fulfilled they could not, without a breach of faith, be taken away. It was argued by one ingenious gentleman that, notwithstanding what the Government might say, the grants could not, from their nature, be made to the teachers at all, but must be made to the managers; that, according to the rules of political economy, the teachers would always fetch a certain market value; and that if the Government subtracted £ 20 a year from their salary, the managers would have to make it up. Certainly that was a subtle and ingenious argument; but it could not be very satisfactory to the teachers who had married and made other arrangements on the faith of a contract to be told that the laws of political economy would set them all right; for, in the first place, the operation of political economy was slow, whereas they complained of a present loss; and in the next place, the principles of that science, which appealed to the selfish interests of mankind, were not applicable to questions of benevolence. Again, it had been argued, and by no less an authority, he was sorry to say, than the Royal Commission, that there could be no claim, because the system rested on an annual Parliamentary grant. He need scarcely point out that the same argument would apply to the officers of the army and navy. But the great principle of the Revised Code wat that of paying according to success—according to the work done. This was what had been proclaimed by the Government as the new principle of testing the teaching by results. He approved the principle, although he did not approve of all the details of the application. But what was the work of schools—what were the results of education? It ought to be looked on as training an immortal soul to be a good citizen of this world, and to inherit a better life hereafter. Were they come to this—that the results of education were supposed to be achieved in a knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic—in a child of eleven years old being able to read and write and cipher. But as a part of the result, he entirely admitted it was a reasonable requirement that children of eleven or twelve should be able to read, write, and count 1143 much better than they do; and he had no objection to their proficiency in these points being ascertained by an examination. But he did not believe this could be done well as the Government proposed to do it. He doubted if it would be possible to make the examination so rigidly defined as they proposed. But of the children being examined he approved. It was true there was an irreconcileable difference as to the children's proficiency in reading and writing between two authorities—the great body of School Inspectors and the Royal Commissioners. The Inspectors stated, generally, that in 90 per cent of the schools the reading was good. The Commissioners said it was good in only 25 per cent. It might be doubted whether the Inspectors were not the better authority. But he admitted that that was no objection to the Government plan. It had been stated that in seven winter months, or 30 weeks, at five days a week, or about 150 working days, 10 gentlemen had inspected 8,926 schools containing 1,000,000 children, or at the rate of 10,000 children a day, or 1,000 children examined in 9 different schools, often wide apart, by each Assistant Commissioner each day. In 12 public schools in Lincoln, containing 1,600 children, it had been stated that not one child had been examined in the visits of the Inspectors. Let the facts be ascertained; and he had no objection to their being ascertained by examination. He would suggest the grant be divided into two parts, one to be given as prepared in the new Code, the other to be paid on the same general principle as at present. No part of the new Code had created more surprise than the provision forbidding any future grant for children above 11 years of age. He was at a loss to understand the meaning of the proposition for some time; but it appeared to be the opinion of the Government that they, the State, had nothing to do with the children after they were 11 years of age. It was said that the province of the State was simply to see that the children should be able to read, write, and count. He must protest against this retrograde view of the province of the State. Why did the State meddle with education at all? Why did they pay the schools, and take the work of education out of the hands of the parents? He had always understood that it was on grounds of public policy; it was thought right that 1144 for such objects the children of the poor should receive an education beyond what their parents cared to provide for them. He should regret to see this far-sighted view on the part of the State altogether abandoned. Under this new Code there were required no knowledge of English history, not even of the name of the Sovereign who sat on the throne; no knowledge of geography in these days of emigration, not even of their own colonies; no knowledge of the elements of political economy, of sanitary matters, of drawing or music. Notwithstanding all that had recently been said in regard to the importance of these subjects not one of them received the slightest encouragement. Nay more, if a school undertook to teach them and failed, it was placed in a worse position than one which did not undertake them at all. As to the evening schools, no doubt they were good in some respects; but to suppose that boys, after working hard all day, were in the evening, when they were tired and half asleep, to make up sufficiently at the evening school what they had failed to learn at the day school, was a great delusion. As to the proposed diary or log-book—a term borrowed by the Committee of Council from the Admiralty—its purpose did not seem very obvious, and the scrupulous teacher would certainly be very much embarrassed by it. Some forms or other assistance ought to be given by which the teachers should be aided in keeping this diary. Another important part of the scheme was that referring to pupil-teachers, and it was doubtful whether the Government proposal would not put an end to pupil-teachers altogether. He admitted that there was much that was plausible in the principle that paid assistants in schools should be engaged according to the market value of their services from time to time, and in this respect it might be right to adhere to the general principle of the new Code; but at all events, if the direct connection between the Government and the pupil-teachers was abandoned, he thought that it should be left to the school managers to engage pupil-teachers or not as they pleased. He had left out the Resolution which he had intended to propose on the subject of training-schools. The re-Revised Code wholly exempted them, and that was all that could be fairly expected. Of course they were to some extent affected by other parts of the 1145 scheme, but of this they must take their chance. He did not think they were fairly or considerately treated when they were called Government establishments, only because much of their income was drawn from Government. They were established in the hope that such aid would be received. They involved immense trouble and labour in the conduct of a most difficult and delicate machine, and as they were not institutions of a kind to command much local sympathy and support, any large amount of local contributions could not be expected. It was unfair to look mainly at the fact that the State paid four-fifths and the diocese one-fifth. The fair way to test it was to compare the amount raised in any one diocese for training schools with the amount raised in that diocese for any other similar purpose. He trusted the Government would, at all events, give their attention upon one vital point, and would give every encouragement to the students to remain two years, instead of one. He hoped also that the noble Earl would explain what was the nature of the special certificate alluded to in the re-Revised Code. It appeared to him that it was very desirable that the opinion of Parliament upon these points should be expressed, and therefore he now proposed to afford that House an opportunity of doing so. Whether be should press his Resolutions to a division would depend upon the feeling of the House. The noble Lord concluded by moving the following Resolutions:—1. That Certificated Teachers and Queen's Scholars have an equitable Claim upon the Government for the undiminished Payment of the Allowances hitherto granted to them on certain Conditions as long as those Conditions are fulfilled.2. That this House approves of the Principle of public Aid being given to Elementary Schools according to their Success in performing their Work, and also of the Principle of Paid Assistants in Schools being engaged according to the Market Value of their Services from Time to Time; but that it considers that the Manner in which it is proposed in the Revised Code to give Effect to those Principles is in some respects objectionable.3. That the Provisions of the Article 40, according to which the proposed Capitation Grant is to be paid in respect of the Attainments of the Children in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, are not satisfactory.4. That any System of public Aid to Schools ought to include some specific Advantage to Schools in which the Branches of Instruction above the Elements are successfully taught.5. That the Provision in Section (d.), Article 41, is not satisfactory.6. That the Diary and Log Book described in 1146 Articles 50–57, if required at all, ought to be more simply and fully explained.7. That in the event of the Government abandoning the direct Connection which it has hitherto maintained with Pupil Teachers and other Assistant Teachers in Schools, it ought to be left without Prejudice to the Managers of Schools to decide whether or not they will have such Pupil Teachers as Assistants.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My noble Friend will perhaps allow me, in the first place, to repeat the compliment I paid him on a former occasion for the great moderation and candour of his speech. The noble Lord has rather complained, and with some reason, that a right rev. Prelate, who, I am sorry to find, is not present this evening (the Bishop of Oxford), had taken the bread out of his mouth. It seems to me, however, that he has not so much cause for complaint, because we have had from him what may be called nourishing food as compared with the lighter and less substantial pabulum provided by the right rev. Prelate. It is, however, again my duty to trouble your Lordships upon some points upon which I have already spoken on previous occasions. I must say that the noble Lord, while he has revised his Resolutions, does not appear to have revised the speech which he intended to deliver upon the original Resolutions, and which he addressed to us this evening; he will, therefore, I hope, not consider me wanting in respect if I abstain from following him into some matters which have been disposed of by the modifications we have proposed. With respect to the religious question, although there has been no change from our original intentions, yet it is satisfactory to find that the explanations which have been given have quite removed all doubt upon that point, as I judge from the noble Lord's speech to-night and the silence of the right rev. Prelate upon that subject the other evening. With respect to training colleges, I need only refer to the question of special certificates, which, although not accompanied by pecuniary advantages, are certainly not useless or valueless. [Lord LYTTELTON said, he could not see what the special certificates were to be] A special certificate will be a certificate stating that the pupil has had the advantage of being two years at a training college, and has passed an examination both in the first and second year. That certificate will either have some advantage or it will 1147 not. If the managers of schools are likely to be—which I do not believe—insensible to the goodness of the machinery of these schools, then the certificate will be valueless; but if the philanthropic persons who are engaged in forwarding the work of education should continue to promote the excellence of their schools to the utmost of their power, then a certificate, showing that the pupil has passed two years in a training college will have weight, and will lead the managers to employ the best man and to offer him an augmentation of salary. The result, I believe, will be to encourage young men to enter and to remain at the training colleges in the hope of future advantages. With respect to the first Resolution of the noble Lord, there is, I think, some inconsistency. The noble Lord quoted certain authorities to show an equitable claim on the part of the schoolmasters; but then there are other and very distinguished authorities the other way. I need not trouble your Lordships with reading long extracts from the Report of the Commissioners, but will only say, that after close examination, and after hearing much evidence, they came to the conclusion that no such claim existed. I find, also, that of the great number of very able memorials which have been sent by the Diocesan Boards, very few have given an opinion contrary to the conclusion of the Commissioners; and one able memorial, coming from Exeter, clearly laid down the principle that there was no such claim. I find, also, that almost every person who has proposed plans upon this subject, including Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, has infringed more or less upon the supposed vested rights of schoolmasters; and, of course, the question of such rights is one of principle, and not of degree. I do not see, with these authorities, and after careful examination, how we could have advised the Vice President of the Council of Education to propose to Parliament to take account of vested interests which have been so decidedly declared not to exist. The noble Lord said, that it was unlikely that there should be no such claim, when every schoolmaster in the country felt himself aggrieved and had published his complaint. I do not think, however, that a vested interest is proved by the fact that the persons concerned 1148 choose to put forward a claim. The noble Lord has not shown that there was any particular advantage enjoyed by schoolmasters under the old arrangement which is not provided for in the new Code. I think my noble Friend is guilty of some inconsistency in putting forth strongly in the first Resolution the claims of the schoolmasters, while he throws over entirely the claims of the pupil-teachers. As to the argument contained in the seventh Resolution, I am ready to admit, as I did the other day, that the noble Lord's argument is the more logical; but, considering the strong Report of the Education Commissioners as to the advantages of the pupil-teacher system, and the general feeling in its favour, I do not think we should have been justified in proposing such a change as that suggested. The noble Lord seems to think that under the new arrangement the pupil-teacher system will be destroyed. I can believe no such thing, because I do not believe that the managers of schools will not continue to adopt every means in their power to keep up the goodness of their schools. A pupil-teacher more than a certificated master has to deal with the lower classes of scholars. It is not the pupil-teacher who deals with religious teaching, or history, or any of the higher branches of instruction, but he has to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. If pupil-teachers are useful for that purpose, managers will encourage their employment. As to the log-book, I think that will be found a convenient arrangement, as the Inspectors will be able to refer to it in order to ascertain whether the same pupil-teachers remain in a school as were there on a previous inspection, and it will also be a check upon an abuse which has been suggested as possible, but which I do not believe exists in any school—namely, the adoption of false entries of attendances. I certainly do not see what hardship there can be in keeping a book like that which is kept in many public departments, and in many private establishments as a matter of convenience. It gave me very great satisfaction to hear the noble Lord so thoroughly and so fairly agreeing in the main principles of the Revised Code as he has done, and as he invites the House to do by the first portion of his second Resolution. Nothing could be more gratifying than this admission on the part of the noble Lord, who possesses so much knowledge on these subjects, and who at the 1149 out-set was rather opposed to the principles of the new scheme, and only changed his opinion after further examining the question. I beg therefore to tender him our thanks. True, the concluding part of the second Resolution states that the manner in which it is proposed to give effect to the principles of the Revised Code is in some respects objectionable; but these words are so vague in themselves that I suppose we must look to the subsequent Resolutions for their explanation. Now, I cannot help thinking that my noble Friend, like the writers of some of the pamphlets which he quoted, misunderstands what is to be done under this Code. They all argue as if we were going to change the system entirely, and to substitute an examination of the children in reading, writing, and arithmetic for all those moral and religious influences previously existing in the schools. Now, that is a total misapprehension. With regard to what the inspection ought to be, I find that Sir James Kay Shuttleworth wishes the Inspector "to examine the general moral relations of the school and the phenomena which meet the eye." Mr. Birks proposes ten articles for the examination of the scholars by the Inspectors. The last of those articles is this, and I beg your Lordships to listen to it attentively, or you may possibly misunderstand it—Let a scale of merit be framed, dividing the actual attendances, after six, of the children examined by the total marks, the lowest quotient implying the highest degree of success.Mr. Birks is said to be a second wrangler; but it would almost require a third wrangler to interpret this singular formula. The right rev. Prelate who brought forward this question the other night desires that the Inspector should—By one glance of his experienced eye, ascertain the looks of the children, the cleanliness of the countenance and hands, the smoothness of the hair, the readiness of the eye, the mutual bearing of child to child, of the children to the pupil-teacher and master, and of the pupil-teacher to the master.Now, I believe that all these persons, although using very different language, mean the same thing—namely, that the system of inspection, hitherto practised, should still continue; and I may add that we have not the slightest intention to terminate or interrupt it. It is an absolute preliminary to the examination in reading, writing, or arithmetic that the Inspector 1150 should satisfy himself as to the religious and general instruction of the school, its order and discipline; and, of course, in that are comprised "the looks of the children, the readiness of the eye," and everything else of that kind. What we do is, after those and other preliminary conditions have been complied with, to impose a fine upon inability to pass the examination, and that I think is very reasonable. My noble Friend has very frankly allowed that that is a most reasonable test to apply to schools in which the children are supposed to receive any education at all. Many persons have erroneously imagined that we wish to discourage all other kinds of learning except reading, writing, and arithmetic. My noble Friend wishes some advantage to be held out to successful teaching in the higher branches of instruction. But there would be considerable difficulty in doing so. It would not be very easy, for example, to define the degree of excellence in singing which should entitle a school to pecuniary aid. As to the objection, that we are to examine each child individually in reading, writing, and arithmetic, the candour of my noble Friend has shown him the fallacy of that argument. I find from the report of the Head Inspector of Schools in Ireland that the Inspectors there are required once a year to examine every scholar individually not only in reading, writing, and arithmetic, but in everything that he is taught, and that there is no difficulty in applying that test. The report adds that it is very doubtful whether the inspection would not be an evil instead of an advantage if that individual examination were entirely overlooked. My Lords, I never could have anticipated that in this assembly any one would be called upon to speak of the great importance, next to religious training, of these three elements of instruction—reading, writing and arithmetic. And when we hear geography and other matters which might be useful to a boy spoken of, I ask whether the boy is not much more likely to obtain a thorough knowledge of these things if he can read and write than if he can do neither? Teach him to read, write, and cipher, and you give him the key by which he may unlock all the other treasures of knowledge. I think if these indispensable elements are properly taught to the majority instead of to the minority of the scholars who pass through the schools, parents will be more anxious to 1151 send their children there. Why, if boys or girls want employment on railways or in shops, fur instance, the first question put to them is, "Can you read, write, and count?" and we hear of tradesmen constantly complaining that they cannot get a girl fit to serve in their shops because many of those who apply for situations are unable to keep ordinary accounts. I say, then, that it is of the utmost importance to correct this deficiency in the simplest rudiments of education, while, at the same time, I disclaim the slightest intention to discourage the attempt to impart the greatest possible amount of additional instruction that can be given to the children of the labouring classes during the brief period within which they generally attend school. The next Resolution relates to the refusal of any payment on account of more than one examination of the children after they are eleven years of age. With the same candour which characterized the rest of his speech, my noble Friend admitted that we are right in the proposed system of grouping by age. His avowal on that point is infinitely more valuable than that of any of your Lordships who had originally taken a favourable view of this part of the scheme could have been, because at the outset my noble Friend was sceptical on the matter. Now, I have repeatedly urged upon the House that it is impracticable to keep the children of the labouring classes at school beyond 10 or 11 years of age. I grant that there may be exceptions to this, and that in all the schools there may be found some children of tradesmen. No doubt my noble Friend's head groom and head gardener have means enough and sense enough to keep their children some years longer at school; but the question is, are we to extend the assistance of the State to the middle classes, or to confine it entirely to the labouring classes? I hope these children of tradesmen will continue to attend the schools, and it will be good policy on the part of the managers to endeavour to retain them; but it is quite a different thing to say that the taxpayers of this country should be called upon to contribute towards the education of those who are competent to pay for it themselves. My Lords, I think I have now touched upon the principal topics of my noble friends speech. I have to repeat my thanks to him for the manner in which he has treated this question. I feel that the subject is a very difficult one. The plan we now propose 1152 will tend to simplify it; and I trust that the discussions which have taken place here and elsewhere may lead to a better understanding of the question, and tend to satisfy the public that the general principles of the Revised Code are sound and correct.
§ LORD BELPER
said, that his noble Friend the President of the Council had not entirely satisfied him as to the fairness or justice of the proposed withdrawal of the grant heretofore made to certificated teachers. He did not go the length of saying that the masters could be regarded as persons who had a right of property, or what was called a vested interest in the grants; but the circumstances under which the grants had been sanctioned by the Government and by the Parliament of the country must have produced in their minds a reasonable expectation of the continuance of those grants. Under that expectation many of them had entered the profession of teacher, and to withdraw the grants so suddenly and entirely was, to say the least of it, a harsh measure, if it was not positively unfair. He therefore hoped that the case of these persons would receive a favourable consideration from the Government and the Legislature. One of the objects in making the grants originally was to secure a better class of masters, and a matter of such importance ought not now to be lost sight of. He recollected, when these grants were first proposed, feeling surprised that the Government adopted such a course, and he then remarked that they were introducing a perfectly new principle; that so long as grants were confined to the building of schools, or to the giving of assistance to the managers of schools, there would be no difficulty in withdrawing them; but that when the Government gave annual grants to schoolmasters on certain conditions, they made themselves responsible for the continuance of the grants, or that at least they created an expectation which it would be difficult and unfair to disappoint. There was another point on which he was not entirely satisfied, and that was as to the age at which the payment for pupils was to be discontinued. It seemed to him very objectionable that it should cease at so early an age as eleven years and a half. If there was one point on which managers of schools, and all persons who had most experience in education, were agreed, it was this—that it was most desirable to retain the attendance of children at school 1153 as long as possible. It might be true that that was difficult, and that a very large number of children left school at that early age; but, whatever the difficulty might be, he did not think the point ought to be given up by the Government in despair, or that they should do anything to give rise to the inference that they considered it a matter of course that children should leave school on arriving at that age. It was said that if the payment was continued longer, children of a higher class, for whom the benefit was not intended, would remain. But he (Lord Belper) believed, that if that were the result, it would be an advantage to the school. If, in a school of one hundred boys, eight or ten boys of a superior class were induced to remain, it would give a tone to the school and afford an example to the younger children which would more than compensate for any additional expense it might involve. But he had himself known children belonging to the lower class remain later; and that such was the case was proved by the fact, that many pupil teachers were selected from that class. He hoped that this part of the plan would not be adhered to, because he thought it would be generally regarded as a great discouragement to the attendance of the elder children in the schools. True it was said that this would be compensated for by the night schools; but if it was expected that the children who left the day schools would attend the night ones, he was afraid that much disappointment would be experienced. Only a small number of boys who had gone into employment would be found attending the night school after their work was done. It was also doubtful whether the same master would be able to teach both a day and a night school. He had over and over again heard managers of schools say that they found the masters of day schools physically incapable of undertaking the teaching of night schools, and hitherto the Committee of Council had refused to allow masters to combine them. Another and still more important question was, how, under this system, provision could be made for the instruction of the pupil-teachers. One thing which peculiarly distinguished the present improved system of education was the substitution of pupil-teachers for the old monitors. How could masters be expected to teach pupil-teachers if they had not only a day school but also a night school to attend to? He was sure it 1154 was not intended, but he feared the effect of the proposed modification would be to discourage the system of pupil-teachers, and to restore that which was so much inferior. With respect to the test proposed—namely, reading, writing, and arithmetic—nobody could object to it, and he quite concurred with all the noble Earl had said on that part of the subject. He was glad to hear that there was not any intention to interfere with the acquirement by the pupils of a knowledge of the other branches of learning: but he could not help thinking that the effect of confining the examination solely to those three subjects would be to discourage the masters from paying attention to the cultivation of higher branches of knowledge, some acquaintance with which, on the part of the children, was absolutely necessary to the preservation of a knowledge of the arts of reading and writing. A child taught to read, write, and cipher only, would very probably, at the end of a year or two, be found to have forgotten what he had learned; whereas, if he had acquired at school a taste for literature, if he had been induced to take an interest in the subjects of his reading, he would be more likely to retain what he had learnt, and to improve year after year. He (Lord Belper) was not disposed to deny the shortcomings of the old system, or to say that great defects might not attend it; but it could not be doubted that enormous advantages had been derived from it. It had been successful in overcoming great difficulties—especially the religious difficulties which beset the case—in a manner that could not have been believed before it was introduced. He thought that in the statements made on this subject the effects of that system in giving a good and sound education had been in some degree undervalued. There was great discrepancy in these statements. On the one hand, the Royal Commissioners reported that only 25 per cent of the boys attending the schools acquired a good education; on the other hand, the Inspectors—gentlemen of the highest attainments and good faith, who had had the most ample means of informing themselves on the subject—reported that 80 or 90 per cent were well taught. An attempt had been made to reconcile these reports by saying, that while 80 or 90 per cent were well taught, only 25 per cent had well learned. He could not accept that as a fair interpretation of the reports. It was impossible to suppose that 1155 the Inspectors, as men of honour and high character, could have intended to make such a distinction; and he regretted that if the expression they used was considered ambiguous, they were not called upon for an explanation of it. He also thought it most desirable that Parliament should have the advantage of being furnished with their opinions on the proposed changes in the system, as no one could be better qualified to give advice on such a subject. He had stated some of his objections to the Revised Minute, without the slightest hostile feeling to the promoters of the measure or to the measure itself, and he trusted the result of the discussion of the subject in that and the other House would be the improvement of the Code, as he had no doubt that that was the object and intention of the authors.
§ LORD LYTTELTON
observed, that pupil-teachers had no claim whatever on account of their apprenticeship, and were not bound by it in the slightest degree. He was satisfied with the discussion that had taken place, and in accordance with what appeared to be the feeling of the House, he begged leave to withdraw his Resolutions.
§ Resolutions (by leave of the House) withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at half-past Seven o'clock, to Monday next, half-past Eleven o'clock.