HL Deb 26 June 1876 vol 230 cc388-92

, on rising to move for Returns respecting the Endowed Schools, read extracts from the Report of the Royal Commission appointed some years ago to inquire into the Endowed Schools. He regarded the legislation which had been based on that Report as miserably incomplete, and falling, in essential particulars, far short of the recommendations of those Commissioners. They spoke of dealing with schools in groups as a necessity, and said that that necessity seemed plainly to imply the corresponding necessity of local provincial boards to deal with them. Indeed, in the words of the Endowed Schools Commission upon their establishment the system proposed in that Report "mainly rested." But in spite of his remonstrances in that House, provincial boards for dealing with endowed schools were omitted from the Bill of 1869. And as that Report had warned them, the result had shown that under the centralizing system neither the late Endowed Schools Commissioners nor the present Charity Commissioners could deal in a satisfactory manner with those foundations. He was far from saying this was the fault of either set of Commissioners. They entertained an enlightened view of their duties. And here he must be permitted to pay, on public and private grounds, a passing tribute to the memory of the lamented Lord Lyttelton. But by their own avowal in their Report of 1872, they were unable to deal systematically and satisfactorily with the endowments placed under their control for want of proper legislation. One of their great difficulties was to keep down the number of first grade schools. For all masters and very many trustees were anxious that their school should enjoy the dignity of being of the first grade, while there was a far greater need for schools of the third grade—schools for the children of persons just above the wage-class. The Commission of Inquiry stated in its Report that the schools of the third grade would require to be as numerous as those of the first and second grades taken together; but what was the fact? He found that while under the schemes hitherto sanctioned there were 27 first grade and 55 second grade, there were only 56 third grade schools. Owing, however, to the fact that the Commissioners had been unable to deal with the schools in groups, there was reason to hope that there were few districts which had not still endowments available. Indeed, about three fifths still remained untouched. There was, therefore, time if the matter was taken in hand at once to prevent very much harm; though as much good could not be done as might have been effected if the admirable scheme of the Schools Inquiry Commission had been taken up and acted upon in all its integrity. But if the Government left not "well" but "ill" alone, no benefit would result to the country from the valuable labours of that statesmanlike Commission, from its comprehensive and practical recommendations, founded upon full, protracted and exhaustive inquiry. Indeed, in some respects the previous condition of those endowments then of an aggregate value of some £20,000,000 sterling, their scandalous disuse, misuse, and abuse, was less to be deprecated, because much less hopeless of improvement, than would be the permanent respectable misapplication of them unavoidably carried on by successive Commissioners under the centralizing legislation of which he complained.

Moved, That there be laid before the House, Return made out county by county, with in each case a proximate estimate of the annual value of the endowments, of (1) the number of schemes finally approved and in force in England and Wales under the Endowed Schools Act of 1869; of (2) the number of schemes published by the Endowed Schools Commissioners and the Charity Commissioners but not yet finally approved; and (3) educational endowments not included in Nos. 1 and 2 but within the provisions of the said Act, distinguishing those to which section 3 of the Endowed Schools Act, 1873, applies, in continuation of the Return ordered the 22nd of June 1875.—(The Earl Fortescue.)


concurred with the noble Earl (Earl Fortescue) in thinking that if the present system was pursued there was great danger that the educational resources of the country would not be made available to the extent that was desirable. He hoped efficient steps would be taken to extend the operations of the Commissioners over the Endowed Schools of the Kingdom. The Endowed Schools Inquiry Commission came to the conclusion that a large number of these schools were not doing good, but, on the contrary, were doing harm. There were two causes for that state of things. One was, that the trustees were so hampered by obsolete provisions, intended to have a different effect from that which in reality they had in these days, that it was impossible for them to make improvement—and that without legislation it was hopeless to expect that the Endowed Schools of the country could be put on a satisfactory footing. The second cause was that the schools were in no sort of relation with each other, but in mischievous competition; there being in some districts schools much in excess of the educational wants of those districts. It appeared to the Commission of Inquiry, of which he was a member, that it was necessary, first, to provide for a complete review of legislation as regarded individual schools; and, secondly, that the schools should be put in healthier and more harmonious order as regarded relation to each other. In reference to the latter of these purposes, the legislation following on the Report of the Commission was very unsatisfactory. He was not prepared to contend that the machinery devised by the Commission for the carrying out of the second object was the best that could possibly be devised; but he did not think that the object could be accomplished without local machinery. If they could only persuade the people on the spot to look to the school more for the education it would afford than for any material advantage it might be to the neighbourhood, what they would ask for would be good for themselves and good for the country at large. But they did not look at it as a matter of education—they regarded it as more dignified to have a school of the first grade. They wished to make it a school for the education of other youths besides those of the locality, thinking that by so doing they would bring more of the wealthy classes to reside in the neighbourhood. The latter was a very legitimate object in itself, but it was quite inconsistent with the object for which the school ought to be maintained. The result was, that a large number of schools were in some cases to be found within the same area; and ultimately localities, which by means of Endowed Schools competed for boarders from a distance and for attracting wealth, would find that they had made a great mistake. A case was brought under his notice a short time ago, in which a school failed because it was not successful in attracting persons from a distance, and because it did not provide an education suited to the wants of the locality in which it was placed. He hoped it was not yet too late to adopt the recommendations of the Commission, so as to prevent the waste of a larger part of these endowments through the want of the necessary organization; for he concurred with the noble Earl (Earl Fortescue) in thinking that if there were delay in the matter there would have to be another Commission of Inquiry or something of that kind in another 20 years. He thought it was quite possible to adapt what remained of these endowments to the arrangements already made; and a great advantage which would follow from an efficient mode of dealing with the Endowed Schools was this—that when by such a system the wants of secondary education were provided for as far as possible by means of existing endowments, the gaps would then be perceived, and would be filled up by public effort.


hoped the noble Earl who had brought forward the subject (Earl Fortescue) would not hold him guilty of disrespect if he did not follow him through his interesting statement on the Endowed Schools, and he hoped he might claim the same indulgence from the right rev. Prelate if he did not follow him through the various points he had raised. He had known before that evening that the noble Earl had on all occasions when the subject was discussed advocated a system under which there should be local committees in every county to manage the Endowed Schools in their localities, which committees should communicate their views to the Commissioners. That appeared to be the view taken by the right rev. Prelate also. He (the Duke of Richmond) thought there were objections to such a course; and he ventured to assert that some of those objections had been stated by the right rev. Prelate himself. According to the showing of the right rev. Prelate, there would be the danger that the locality itself, taking too high a view of its educational necessities and requirements, would be unwilling that any school other than one of the first grade should be set up in its midst. He believed that no injury was done to localities by the present system. It was his opinion that the Commissioners endeavoured to make themselves acquainted with all the wants of the district of the particular school with which they were dealing; and that they were more capable of taking a fairer and more impartial view of what was required than persons who from local considerations would be anxious to have a school of the highest grade. At the same time, he thought the noble Earl was right in calling the attention of the Commissioners to the views which he entertained, and there was no objection to the Return the noble Earl had moved for.

Motion agreed to.