§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, the Bill which I now have the honour of inviting your Lordships to read a second time aims at the establishment, upon foundations already laid by existing Acts of Parliament, of a complete national system of public education in this country. It accepts the administrative machinery of the Act of 1902, and gives powers to the authorities constituted under that Act to improve the education in their elementary schools, and to supplement it by the addition of continuation schools where young persons shall continue to be educated up to the age of eighteen. In order to ensure that these facilities may be fully effective, the Bill also contains provisions regulating and limiting the industrial employment of children out of school hours. 1008 This, my Lords, is perhaps the most important part of the whole Bill. It is the first time that the nation has been asked to decide definitely that the claims of education shall come before those of industry, and to restrict the employment of child labour which has hitherto prevented so many children from deriving full benefits from the educational facilities offered by the State.
I am confident that these main objects of the Bill will be received with sympathy by your Lordships. But before I proceed to explain how the Bill endeavours to carry them out in detail, I ought to say a word about the reasons for introducing it at this particular moment. This Bill is, perhaps, the last great legislative Act of the present Parliament. It is a Bill which deals with One of those problems of reconstruction with which in all probability the next Parliament will be chiefly occupied. Some of your Lordships may be inclined to ask why a Bill which is mainly a reconstruction Bill should be introduced during the war, and when the end of the war is not even yet in sight. This seems to me a very reasonable question, and one which I propose to answer at the outset, because I think that your Lordships can hardly be expected to examine the merits of a Bill unless you are previously satisfied that it is an appropriate moment for discussing them.
There are two reasons why it is absolutely necessary that this Bill should have been introduced at once, and why it should pass into law with the least possible delay. The first reason is that, though not a war measure in the sense that it is necessary for the prosecution of the war, it is a war measure in the sense that, it is an attempt to repair to some extent the damage occasioned by the war. Of the material losses which the nation as a whole is suffering through the war, some can be made good; others, unfortunately, never can. And it is just because we are losing so much that can never be replaced that I feel that the Government is bound to do whatever is possible to repair so much as is capable of reparation. It is partly with that object that this Bill is introduced.
Let me explain a little further. The time is not yet when we can estimate the value to future generations of the sacrifices which are being made by the present generation in the war. That day may come. Some day, perhaps, we shall realise 1009 fully what it is that we are gaining at so high a price. We cannot do that to-day. But, unfortunately, we can already realise only too clearly the direction in which posterity must inevitably suffer. Even if victory were assured to us to-day, and we had already accomplished the peace to which we all look forward, we should still have to contemplate a few years of restricted supplies and many long years of heavy financial burdens. But those things are small, very small in comparison with the permanent drain upon the manhood of this country. We are to-day losing much that is bests-best in age, best in physique, best in moral qualities—of our manhood; and all that we can do, since we can never replace those lives, is to endeavour to improve the value of what is left to us. We hope in some measure to do that by this Bill. I may speak of it as a part of the payment of our colossal national war debt, an attempt to create a new source of national wealth in a race of men and women sturdier in physique, richer in intellectual accomplishments, more efficient in technical skill, stronger, wiser, and happier than those who have preceded them. That is one of the reasons for the introduction of this Bill at the present time.
The other reason is that the machinery which the Bill authorises has to be created before it can be used. We want to have it ready in time. A great deal must be done before the objects of this Bill can be attained; schools have to be built, teachers have to be trained, schemes have to be prepared. All this is necessary, and must take some years to complete. We want to ensure that when the time comes for putting this reconstruction measure into operation we shall have the machinery ready to do it, and if we were to wait until the end of the war much valuable time would have been lost. We should not then be ready to start the constructive work, and I think the Government would be justly criticised for having lost this time and not having made its preparations in advance. For these two reasons it was considered necessary that the Bill should be introduced at once.
Let me attempt to explain some of its provisions. In order to realise the problem with which the Minister of Education was faced, I should like to summarise very briefly some of the defects in our existing educational system. I think the chief of these is the fact that education to-day stops 1010 short at the very age when its value is only beginning to be realised. In theory our education is universal, free, compulsory, but in practice it is essentially incomplete, and the number of children who get any education at all beyond the age of fourteen is very small. Then, again, our present industrial system prevents a large number of children from ever getting beyond the elementary school, and the necessity for earning wages as soon as they can be earned prevents others even from reaching the higher standards in those schools. Thirdly, the physical condition of the children in our elementary schools is so poor that in many cases they are debarred from profiting from the teaching which they there receive. And, lastly, the varying standards of interest and efficiency among local education authorities and the varying facilities which they are able to offer for higher education throughout the country prevent, one from being able to say that equal chances are open to all children. Those are some of the obstacles which now obstruct the progress of education in this country, and this Bill has been introduced with the object of remedying and removing as many of them as possible.
I will endeavour to show how they are dealt with in the Bill. First of all, let me take the administrative provisions. The first seven clauses of the Bill deal with the powers and duties of local education authorities, and indicate the kind of provisions which they will be expected to make. The later clauses define those powers in more detail, and make provision for the realisation of the schemes which the local education authorities are called upon to prepare. Clause 1 enacts that it shall be the duty of the council of every county and county borough to think out and submit to the Board of Education a scheme which will provide for the progressive development and comprehensive organisation of all the educational needs of their area. Clause 2 requires the councils of boroughs and urban districts (that is to say, what is known as Part III authorities under the Act of 1902—those which have powers for elementary education only) to prepare similar schemes, which will ensure in particular the provision of central schools, special classes of practical instruction, courses of advanced instruction for older children, medical treatment, the preparation of children for secondary schools and their transference at suitable ages to such schools, and, lastly, 1011 the supply and training of teachers. Clause 3 requires the provision of day continuation schools to carry on the work of the elementary schools—that is to say, to carry on education after the age at which elementary education ceases. Clause 6 provides for the combination and co-operation of neighbouring local authorities in making these provisions; and Clause 7 abolishes the limit of expenditure to a rate of 2d. in the £ which was imposed by the Act of 1902 for higher education.
Before proceeding further to explain how this policy is carried out, I should like your Lordships to pause at this point and consider what will be the cumulative effect of these first seven clauses. As soon as the Bill becomes law the education authorities throughout the country will find themselves endowed with new responsibilities. It will be their duty to think out how they can best secure a thorough physical and intellectual training for all the children of their area, from the nursery schools which they may enter at the age of two right up to the age of eighteen to which the continuation schools will carry them.
I think the keynote, the basis, of the whole of this Scheme is the fact that there shall be an obligation upon the education authorities to use all the powers which they possess. They will have to examine existing facilities to see how they can be improved; they will have to look into existing deficiencies to see how they can be made good; to make provision for practical instruction; to consult with neighbouring authorities for the provision of secondary schools and training colleges for teachers; and they will have to consult with the doctors in their districts for the provision of medical treatment. All this means, of course, a very large addition to the labours of the existing authorities; but I think it will also mean a great addition to the interest of education committees in their work.
I want to say a word upon this point, because I believe that the new interest which will be brought about by this Bill will to a large extent compensate for the new burdens which will be imposed. Your Lordships will no doubt have remarked that whereas education proper—the framing of the minds of young persons, the development of their characters—is one of the most vital, the most interesting, processes in the 1012 world, yet the details of educational administration, its phraseology, the language of its statutes and its syllabuses, are the most depressing and the most boring. If I may I will mention a personal experience, which I have no doubt has been shared by many of your Lordships. After the passing of the 1902 Act I had the honour of serving for many years upon the education committee of the county in which I reside; and during all that time, with possibly one or two exceptions, we never had any discussion upon what I would call real educational policy; our whole time was occupied in giving effect to the matters laid before us by our officials, which dealt mainly with such subjects as the design of and estimates for buildings, the salaries and appointments of teachers, the prevision of material, and so forth. I think that the very able and enthusiastic men and women who serve on our education committees all over the country to-day would really welcome an opportunity of giving their attention to something a little more interesting. Therefore, great as will be the burdens imposed by this Bill, I hope that these men and women will find them worthy of their intelligence, and stimulating to their interest in education.
Having now shown how the Bill will affect the administrative bodies, let me say a word about the manner in which it will affect the children. I would put in the forefront the physical benefits of the Bill. I say this, not because I attach any higher value to physical training than I attach to intellectual training, but merely because I think that an improvement in this direction will be easier of accomplishment than an improvement in the intellectual direction. We have still a very long way to travel before we can say that we are satisfied with the methods of teaching at our schools, with the intellectual food which they supply to the children attending them. To secure a greater variety in the curriculum, to obtain improved technical instruction, to see an improved training of teachers—all this must be the work of many years, and it will be accomplished only after many experiments. But I believe that we understand physical training in this country; and all that is required for an improvement in this direction is fuller powers and additional staffs. If I may use the phrase, I think that in this direction we are in a position to "deliver the goods"; and it is only because I am of opinion that there will be a quicker return from an 1013 improvement on these lines that I put this question first.
The school medical service was founded in 1907, and it has already proved of considerable value in improving the physique of the children attending the elementary schools. But at present those powers are still voluntary; there are some authorities which have never put them into practice. That a further improvement is capable in the health of the children is shown, I think, by this fact. (a piece of statistics which is constantly quoted when people are speaking about education) that the Chief Medical Officer of Health of the Board of Education has stated that at least 1,000,000 children in elementary schools to-day are unable to profit by the instruction that they receive there owing to their physical condition. That is a state of affairs which we hope to remedy by this Bill.
Subsection (1) of Clause 2—at the very outset of the Bill—mentions attention to health as one of the objects for which local education authorities must provide in their schemes; that is to say, the provision of medical inspection and treatment is now made obligatory for the first time. Then Clause 18 further empowers the authorities to provide not only medical inspection but medical treatment, if required, to all children attending both the elementary schools and the continuation classes. This means that from the age of five—or even from a much younger age in the case of nursery schools right up to the age of eighteen, all children attending the national schools will receive careful medical attention. It is impossible, I believe, to exaggerate the value of this provision. In addition to the advantages which will thus be gained by the children, great advantages will result to the medical profession itself; because from the increased experience which doctors will derive from the study of children in large communities a very considerable advance in medical science may be expected.
Then, in addition, Clause 17 gives further powers, to supply and to maintain, or to assist in the supply of, holiday camps, play centres, and such forms of recreation as will supplement the physical training given in the schools themselves. There is, I understand, a very general agreement as to the value of these holiday camps for boys; and we hope to utilise movements like the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides, and to bring them into our educational system. The general effect, therefore, of 1014 these clauses will be that throughout their school age the children will receive such attention as will ensure their deriving the greatest possible benefit, not only from their schooling, but from their leisure. I mention this because I think it will be admitted that it is one of the duties of education to train scholars to employ their leisure as well as their school time. Closely allied with this question of physical efficiency is the question of the industrial employment of children out of school hours. At the present time children nominally attend school between the ages of five and fourteen. In practice, however, owing to the system of "half time" which prevails in certain parts of the country, education is seriously interrupted, if not sometimes actually suspended, even at the age of twelve years. In Lancashire and Yorkshire alone there are 30,000 children between the ages of twelve and fourteen who divide their working day between the school and the factory; and, besides that, all through the country the value of the elementary school is seriously impaired by the work which is now imposed upon children out a school hours. They are liable to be employed for three hours before the school opens, and for further long periods after the school closes.
I would like to quote to your Lordships three particular instances of the effect of this power to employ young children out of school at the present time. I admit that they are not typical cases. They are exceptional, and I mention them to show, not what is happening generally, but what is possible to happen at the present time. I have here a list of the various employments in which children are engaged, and I would like to quote three cases. The first is the case of a boy of eight in an infant school, who sells papers for thirty hours a week for 3s. 6d. The second is the case of a milk boy, again a boy in the infant department, 8½ years of age, who works every day from 4.45 in the morning till eight o'clock, and for a second delivery on Saturdays—that is to say, he works about thirty hours a week for 3s. 6d. The third is the case of a doctor's boy, a lad of ten, who works from Monday till Friday from 12.10 to 1.30 and from 4.45 till 8, on Saturdays from 8 in the morning till 8 at night, and on Sundays from 8 till noon. He works thirty-nine hours a week for a shilling and his tea and dinner. This means that the children come to school already tired, and the double burden of work outside the school and in the school very seriously injures their 1015 physique. All this we hope will be put an end to. Clauses 13 and 15, which deal with this question, have been drafted on the assumption that up to the age of twelve, at any rate, a child when not actually learning in school ought to be eating, sleeping, or playing, and nothing else.
The policy of the Bill is, first of all, that no child shall be employed at all for profit up to the age of twelve; that between twelve and fourteen a child shall not be employed before school nor after eight o'clock in the evening, and on other than school days not before six in the morning nor after eight o'clock in the evening; and that in the case of young persons between the ages of fourteen and eighteen attending continuation schools the education authority may require the suspension of employment on the day of attendance at the school or for any period not exceeding two hours which they may consider necessary in order to ensure that the young persons may arrive at school in a fit condition to benefit from the teaching there given. That is the policy in regard to children in general; but in addition Clause 15 provides for the case of individual children. If it is found that a child on a particular day comes to school tired and obviously suffering from work done even in the time allowed by the Bill, the authority is empowered to say that work shall either be prohibited or that such conditions shall be attached to it as to ensure no injury to health. There is one modification of this general policy. Local authorities may, in special cases, make by-laws allowing children, under conditions where they are satisfied that no harm will result from it, to be employed by their parents for one hour before school opens in the morning, and, if so employed, for not more than one hour after school closes in the evening.
When this matter was under discussion in the House of Commons it was pointed out that from this restriction of employment on school days a tendency might arise for a considerable increase of employment on Sundays, which might result in injury to the children through excessive employment over the week end. This criticism was felt by the Government to be justified, and it was hoped to meet it. The President of the Board of Education himself drafted an Amendment which he hoped to introduce upon the Report stage. 1016 Unfortunately, however, the Amendment was considered out of order on that occasion and was never moved. If the rules of procedure in this House will allow of it, this is a direction in which we should be glad to see improvement in the Bill by the insertion of words which would make such a tendency impossible. You will see, my Lords, that by these clauses we hope to improve the health of the children when they come to school, and by other procedure to go on attending to and improving their health all the time they remain in the school.
Now let me explain how the Bill proposes to deal with this improved material in the schools themselves. Children now come to school at five years old; some earlier. Indeed, many parents are anxious that their children should go to school as soon as possible, owing to the difficulties of looking after them in their own homes. The policy of the Bill is that a good home is the best place for a child, and that so long as the home is a good one the child should remain there, but that a good school is better than a bad home. When I say a bad home, I do not necessarily mean a home which is neglected or badly looked after. I mean a home in which, from the parents' circumstances, it is difficult for the child to receive the necessary attention. Therefore in Clause 19 of this Bill the local education authorities are empowered to establish nursery schools, or to assist nursery schools established by others, for children between the ages of two and five, and when the supply of such schools is considered adequate the Bill authorises the authorities by by-law to increase the starting age for attendance at elementary schools to six years. This merely means that the obligation to come to school at the age of five will be removed. At the present time some of the very best teaching in our schools is done among these very small children, and it is in no way intended that the nursery schools should supersede them. The nursery school will be as much a playroom as a schoolroom, and the instruction given will be rather incidental than direct. They will in fact aim at securing the healthy physical and mental development of the little children attending them, and thus prepare them for the lower classes of the elementary school.
Between the ages of six and fourteen children will continue their elementary education as they do to-day, with the fol- 1017 lowing very important differences. First of all, as I have explained, the system of half-time is abolished. There will be no employment up to the age of twelve, and after the age of twelve only modified employment. Then there will be improved practical instruction. There will be classes for "practical instruction," and these words are defined in Clause 47 at the end of the Bill. There will be improved provision of advanced instruction for the older children, and this is a very important point, because at the present time we receive complaints from all parts of the country that the older children in elementary schools are not really filling their time, that they are not as usefully employed as they might be, and when this is pointed out to the teachers we are met by the answer that under existing conditions, with the half-time system in existence, with so many of the older children receiving exemption from school attendance in order to take employment outside, these older classes are so diminished that it is impossible to arrange a satisfactory system of higher elementary education. This, it is hoped, may be remedied be these classes.
Then, in special cases, the local education authorities are empowered to raise by by-law the age at which children shall attend at elementary schools from fourteen to fifteen, and at the same time they are empowered to continue giving education to children up to sixteen or beyond that age. Further, my Lords, instead of leaving school altogether at the age of fourteen, as they now do, all children will be required either to continue whole-time education up to sixteen or part-time education up to eighteen. This means that the children who do not go to secondary schools or junior technical schools, but go straight from the elementary school into employment, will hereafter be required to attend continuation school and receive instruction for 320 hours in the year, or an average of eight hours a week for forty weeks. This will mean in practice that a child in employment will have three half-days a week away from his work, two of which will be spent in the school.
I should like to say one word about a concession which was made in the House of Commons on Clause 10 which deals with the provision of continuation schools. As I have already explained we propose to abolish the half-time system. This in itself is an immense change. It will have most 1018 far-reaching consequences throughout our whole education system, and it will also very profoundly affect some of the largest industries in the country. It was accepted in the House of Commons without demur. The principle of Clause 8 was accepted, I think, almost universally, and therefore, when we came to this further change of the establishment of continuation schools, it was considered necessary to concede a liberal measure of time to the industries which would be mostly affected in order that they may adjust themselves to the change. It was, therefore, partly to meet their case and partly out of regard for the inherent practical difficulties of the problem that Clause 10 now contains a provision that it shall not come into operation as regards children over sixteen for seven years from the appointed date. This means that when the war is over we shall have seven years in which to prepare the buildings and teaching staff for continuation schools for young persons between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, and only after those seven years have expired will the obligation to attend those schools up to eighteen be enforced. Although, of course, we should have been glad to put the full scheme into operation at once, I think it must be admitted that the industries which will be considerably affected and which will have to adapt their conditions to these changed circumstances did deserve some consideration. Moreover, I think it is more than doubtful whether, even if we had those powers, it would have been possible to do more than we shall now be able to do in the first seven years. I think the whole of our time will be very fully occupied in preparing this new piece of educational machinery for children up to the age of sixteen.
To sum up, my Lords, by this Bill we hope greatly to improve the physique of future generations; we hope to get the children in a better condition to profit by their teaching; we hope to improve our elementary schools; we hope to supplement those schools by others which will carry education right up to manhood and womanhood; we hope to increase the staffs of teachers, to improve their status and perfect their training; finally, to bring our Universities within reach of a far larger number of persons than at the present time. It will be realised that these results depend for their achievement not so much upon the Bill itself as upon the spirit in which it is received and worked. 1019 If this Bill becomes law substantially in its present form it will give us the framework of an educational system superior to that of any country in the world, but this does not mean that in a few years time we shall necessarily become the best educated people in the world. The Bill, as I have said, is a framework, and unless that framework is filled in with living ideas and used for the best purposes we shall not derive the full benefits from it.
I think it well that we should have no illusions about this point—no illusions about what you can do and what you cannot do by an Act of Parliament. Your Lordships will remember that whenever we are discussing temperance we are always reminded that you cannot make people sober by Act of Parliament. It is equally true that you cannot make people clever by Act of Parliament, but you can, by legislation, very materially either assist or hinder the work which others are doing in the cause either of temperance or of education. Though we may have the best system of elementary schools, continuation schools, secondary schools, and Universities, we can never derive full advantage from them until the people as a whole come to have a faith in learning and a respect for those who have learnt most. This faith I think as a nation we lack to-day. We pride ourselves on being a practical people; we are apt to be impatient of academic knowledge—it may be very foolish, but there are, I think, reasons for it—and these engrained national prejudices cannot be ignored. It we are to value our schools they must give us what we want, and not what we despise. They do not give us all we want to-day.
Of the persons who take an interest in education there are, I think, two classes. There are the utilitarians and the idealists. Those whom I call utilitarians criticise the efficiency of our technical instruction. They wish to see education, in the main, vocational; they want to see the children trained in the profession of their after life, and they want to see learning have a market value. But the idealists also are critical, because they realise that our educational ideals are not altogether in harmony with the ideals of our national life. As a nation we are worshippers of freedom; as individuals there is nothing which we value more than our personal independence; yet in our schools (in too many of our schools to-day) our methods are still conducted 1020 upon quite a different principle—upon the principle of subservience to external authority. We see, therefore, in many of these schools, in place of the self-expression of the pupil the assertion of the teacher; in place of freedom, restraint; in the place of that active process—I think the most fascinating at any age, but more especially to children, the process of learning and acquiring knowledge for oneself—in the place of that we have the purely passive process of being taught (a very different thing), a process which is really only being informed of the knowledge of others. Thus it is that with many children, instead of their school days being a period of continual unfolding and development of those qualities most needed in after life, they come to look upon them as a time of enforced detention, during which they learnt a good deal which they were glad afterwards to forget, and were subjected to influences which arrest rather than stimulate their individual growth.
Both these schools of thought will, no doubt, find fresh arguments from the existing crisis with which to enforce their opinion, but I think both of them may derive some encouragement from a Bill which on the one hand makes provision for improved technical teaching in our schools, and on the other lays it down as the duty of the school authority to prepare their pupils for the freedom and responsibility of life. All that Parliament can do is to provide the nation with the instrument for its own use; with a system which it can fill in and develop itself for the highest end—the training of its younger generation in all the essential qualities of complete citizenship, as well as to fit them for the ever-increasing strain of industrial competition. The Bill makes ample provision for local initiative, for individual effort, for a variety of experiments, and when we have done this our duty is at an end. We prepare the soil and provide the seed; for the gathering in of the harvest we must look to the labours of others.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Lytton.)
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
My Lords, I hope that the noble Earl opposite will allow me, in the first place, to offer him my warmest congratulations on the manner in which he has discharged his task. The noble Earl's interest in all good causes is so well known, and his study of all social 1021 problems is so familiar to everybody, that I feel certain the House will agree that his Majesty's Government has made a wise choice in entrusting to him the care of this great Bill instituting a system of national education—national education being, indeed, the one foundation upon which all our hopes of social improvement mast be based.
I can assure the noble Earl that, so far as I am concerned, I give a most warns welcome to this Bill as a whole. It fulfils to no small extent the high hopes that were formed by everybody, and not least by those who had been Mr. Fisher's predecessors at the Board of Education, either as President or Parliamentary Secretary, of the opening of a new era of educational progress when Mr. Fisher undertook the post of President of the Board. In one sense Mr. Fisher's task has been easier than that of some of his predecessors who endeavoured to get Education Bills passed through Parliament. He has very wisely, as I am sure you will all agree, kept clear in this great and comprehensive measure of those controversial subjects which took up by far too great a part of many former Education Bills. Thus, by the necessities of the times, he has been able to avoid those rocks and shoals on which so many tall ships have gone to pieces during the last fifteen years, the wrecks of which are still visible to those who care to visit the shores on which they lie. But, in Mr. Fisher's own words—He decided that in this measure he would not attempt to disturb the denominational balance or revolutionise the local system of education administration.Some day it will be the task of somebody to grapple at any rate with a part of those difficulties; but I hope the experience we have all had will, when that day comes, lead everybody to approach those difficult subjects in a temper of greater harmony and moderation than was possible on many occasions when people attempted to deal with them in the past.
The President of the Board of Education also avoided not a little controversy by altering, in some important respects, the form of his Bill from that which it assumed when it was originally introduced in August of last year. At that time there was a feeling, deeply felt by some and expressed by not a few, that the Board of Education was taking to itself a number of new and somewhat formidable powers at the expense 1022 of the local education authorities, and in two respects Mr. Fisher has changed the measure from its earlier shape. In Clause 5, which deals with the preparation of schemes, and in Clause 6, which has to do with the possible combination of different authorities for educational purposes, Mr. Fisher has given up the final authoritative discretion which was originally left to the Board both for the preparation of schemes and for the establishment of these combinations, and has granted a further appeal to the local authorities, an appeal in fact to Parliament, which has, I think, tended to mitigate opposition to the proposals, and therefore the cry of bureaucracy, which was pretty loudly raised, if not altogether silenced, has at any rate been greatly weakened since that change was made.
It is no disparagement to the great gifts and powers of Mr. Fisher to say that the main lines on which this Bill is drawn are familiar to all those who have been concerned with educational progress for some years past. Such questions, for instance, as the improvement of the position of teachers and the enhancement of their salaries, the abolition or limitation of half-time and the raising of the attendance age at elementary schools, the establishment of a system of compulsory continued education up to the age of eighteen, the institution of nursery schools, and the consolidation of the number of different grants which have been established by Act of Parliament at long intervals, all represent the hopes, and in some cases the dreams, of education reformers. Even the figure of £10,000,000 additional cost on the Education Estimates is very familiar to some of us. During the time when I was President of the Board of Education and caused an inquiry to be made into the possibilities of shaping a Bill to cover some of these subjects, the facts and figures which were supplied to me led me to suppose that precisely that sum—a sum of £10,000,000, not expendable at once but certain to be required within a few years—represented the addition which would have to be made to the Education Estimates. I think that some of my colleagues to whom I explained that fact received the news with rather mixed feelings, but it is quite evident that the particular changes which we were then considering, many of which are embodied in this Bill, must mean a substantial addition to the year's Education Estimates, and the country has to face that fact.
1023 Where Mr. Fisher's credit, as I venture to think, stands so exceptionally high is in the masterly way in which he has been able to combine in this measure satisfaction of so many of the educational needs of the country, and in the equally forcible and skilful manlier in which he has been able to commend those reforms both to the other House and to the country generally. I say without hesitation that I cannot think of any statesman of any Party who would have been able to produce precisely the same effect of combined earnestness and persuasiveness which has so distinguished the President's advocacy of these reforms. It cannot be denied—and in some of the later passages of his speech my noble friend indicated something on the lines of what I am going to say—that although controversy in the technical sense may be kept out of the Bill, there does exist a marked and deep rift of opinion between two schools of those who would desire to call themselves educational reformers. There is a definite conflict of ideas between those who would proceed to institute a purely selective system for the brighter children, both boys and girls, and who—in a phrase which was used in the debates in another place—would institute for them advanced education which can be put to profitable use, clearly implying that the children have a definite career before them. That is one view, but it is not the view of the Bill, because the Bill, while assisting the selection of the most brilliant and suitable children by means of scholarships and similar aids, does attempt to make a definite provision for those average boys and girls who may not be considered striking or brilliant, but for whom at the same time it is desired to afford apportunities which at present they certainly do not enjoy.
The divergence that I mean is shown by a proposition which was made in another place, and which hailed, as it might have been expected to hail, from the county of Lancaster. That proposal was to agree to abolish half-time at the age of fourteen, but after fourteen the cleverer children—picked children—were to be transferred to some form of full-time education up to the age of sixteen. A further selection would then be made, a further sifting from sixteen to eighteen, with the idea that the fine flower at the end might, then proceed to the Universities. This, as your Lordships will see, is precisely not the system which the Bill desires to promote. By the Bill, as the noble Earl has explained, those who 1024 undertake a definite system of secondary education can do so, but all those who do not are subject to the new rule of the continuation schools or classes, compulsorily and taken out of working time, which is what those who go for the purely selective system would desire to repudiate.
Both parties, of course, have the same object in view—namely, the education of the nation. And also it is quite clear that all children, the slower as well as the quicker, cannot profit equally by education thus extended from fourteen to sixteen, sixteen to eighteen, and after eighteen; but the weeding process must be naturally carried out, and not carried out too soon. I think that our own public school experience would tell us that it would have been very difficult among our contemporaries of fourteen to say which boys were worthy of further education and which might then be put to work. I suspect that if we think of some of our contemporaries, of what they were then and of their subsequent careers, we shall reflect that we might have made some rather ludicrous mistakes if we had had to come to a decision, and I am inclined to think that the masters would have made a more ludicrous selection still; because I believe a boy's contemporaries are generally better judges of his capabilities than those whose business it is to teach him. The fact is that, in Mr. Fisher's words, boys and girls have to be picked out at various stages for the advantages of higher education, and it is a danger, I am certain, to attempt to begin the process of selection too early.
This brings me, for reasons which you will apprehend, to various questions that have arisen regarding the application of this measure to rural areas. In another place anxiety for the effect of the measure upon agriculture was very freely expressed by many hon. Members, and I have no doubt that here, too, its effects will be somewhat jealously watched. Some attempts were made, in Clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill I think, to introduce direct references to agricultural education as one of the new duties to be imposed upon the local authorities. But in my judgment Mr. Fisher was right in not acceding to such a suggestion, tempting though it might be from some points of view. If the needs of a special industry were once inserted in these clauses you may be certain that other industries—mining, engineering, and countless other industries which flourish in 1025 particular districts and particular parts of England—would put in a claim for nominal recognition which it would be difficult to resist.
I am bound to say that the provision of the higher type of elementary school, the central school, in rural districts, particularly where the population is much scattered, is bound in my opinion to cause a considerable difficulty. The point is one on which the noble Earl did not touch in the course of his most laudably concentrated speech. It is one probably more suitable to be discussed as a matter of administration than as a matter of Parliamentary debate, but one which must necessarily give some anxiety to those who are interested in rural matters. One provision which the noble Earl did indicate is, I venture to think, of somewhat far-reaching importance and one which, I hope, will prove to be in the right direction—I mean the tendency to blur the outlines between elementary and secondary education by promoting, or even encouraging, the retention of boys or girls at elementary schools, even up to the age of sixteen, and possibly even for longer. That will, as I believe, be found to be a most valuable provision in certain industries and in certain parts of England, and it is one which I heartily welcome.
The noble Earl spoke of the concessions which Mr. Fisher had thought it wise to make in the course of the discussion in another place upon continuation education. Those concessions fell as something of a surprise on the House of Commons, and some enthusiasts there were plunged into despair, wrung their hands and said, I think quite clearly, that they thought that the Bill was as good as done for, and that everybody might as well go home to bed. But I am bound to say, as regards the principal concession, which came with somewhat dramatic force upon the House (that is to say, the further postponement fur five years—for seven years instead of two—of the coming into operation of continuation education) that this cannot be said to represent any sacrifice of principle on the part of the Board of Education. Personally I feel that the main justification for it rests in the impossibility of obtaining the requisite supply of teachers before that time. The question of buildings also arises, but I think that this probably will be got rid of the more easily of the two. The creation of a large body of teachers, many thousands, for the conduct of these 1026 schools must take a considerable time; and nothing could be more unfortunate than that, when the system gets into anythinglike full operation, the teaching should be inadequate and imperfect for the special purposes for which it is designed, with the obvious risk of giving the whole scheme a bad name from the first. I confess I am myself somewhat more doubtful regarding the expediency of a reduction in some cases of the hours from eight a week to seven—that is to say, from 320 to 280, which is an option left to the local authority. But I freely admit that I have not seen the representations made to the Board on which the President no doubt founded that concession; it very likely was represented to him from some of the mining districts, I think very likely also from some agricultural districts, that power to make this small diminution—because it is, after all, a relatively small diminution—would be of advantage to them. But the figure of eight hours a week is not a very imposing one in itself, and therefore any paring down of that figure is unwelcome to those who are so keen to see the schools succeed.
Then the noble Earl mentioned another concession—that of the one hour's employment at home before school and an hour afterwards. This was a concession which in my opinion the President was wise to make. It is one of those small matters which will, I think, tend to lubricate the progress of the Bill in the minds of a great many parents who would otherwise conceive that they were being hardly treated, and some of whom probably might set themselves to evade the Bill in a manner which would in all probability defy discovery.
There are other items in the Bill, all of which appear to me to mark a steady progress forward. There is the provision for learning the real facts about the private schools, of which there are so many—some, of course, well conducted, a large number very fairly well conducted, and a minority, which I hope is small, very badly conducted; but the sharpening and smartening up of those schools is, I am certain, a matter of great national importance, and I am exceedingly glad that the Board is going to undertake it. Then the noble Earl mentioned the medical reports which have become so familiar through those admirable annual summaries of Sir George Newman—which I hope are read by many—that it is really difficult to believe that it, is only as lately as 1907 that any medical inspec- 1027 tion took place at all, and only since 1911 that any grants were made for the purpose. The merits of inspection and of treatment, which I am so glad is now going to be made compulsory, really need no arguing from me or from anybody else.
The noble Earl also alluded to nursery schools, which have been in the minds of many people for some time past. The subject is not altogether an easy one, because there has been a certain difficulty in defining the functions belonging to education and those which, more strictly speaking, belong to public health; but I hope that, on the lines which the noble Earl stated, a system not of uniform management but of co-operation will take place between those who look after the crèches, who look after the nursery schools for the smallest children, and those who begin to give, the child something like real education in the infant classes of the elementary schools. I do not dwell on the advantages of physical training, the institution of camps, and so on, because I am certain that in this House they meet with general approval; and the fears which were expressed by a very small minority in the other House that the institution of camps might lead to the inculcation of a disastrous military spirit in the boyhood of the nation, I think are not likely to be strongly pressed in your Lordships' House.
Nor do I desire to say anything about the great and important reform of the consolidation of grants, except on two points. The question of teachers' salaries does not, of course, arise directly in the Bill, but it arises indirectly because the salaries which it is possible for a local authority to pay are bound to depend to a considerable extent on the total grant which it receives. This question of teachers' salaries has been a burning one, and in some isolated instances the fire seems to be far from extinct at this moment. Nor, I think, is it altogether a matter of wonder. When you come to think that there are now many thousands of Manual workers—technically, perhaps, described as skilled, but a very large proportion of them not highly skilled—who find it easy to earn £1 a day (and there are many thousands of such) it is not surprising that the class of teachers find that a salary of £120, or £150, or up to £200 a year, is not a very grand living for those who have to work hard and use their minds and tire their bodies in the teaching 1028 of children. Nobody can be surprised, therefore, that the demand has been made.
But there is one small matter connected with grants on which I desire to say a word, and that is Clause 25 (I think it is) by which elementary school fees are altogether done away with. I think it is important that the reason for taking this course should be clearly understood. It ought to be understood that it is in no sense a breach of the truce, which it is desired to maintain, of abstention from anything like denominational controversy. As I understand—I have no doubt some member of the Government will correct me if I am wrong—the grounds on which it is proposed to do this are purely educational, and it would, I think, be unfortunate if a misunderstanding of the objects of the Government were to cause any attempt here to replace in the Bill a provision that fees might be charged. Of course, we all know that it is exceedingly disagreeable to working people, who live in a clean, well-ordered home, to feel that their children may have at a school to sit side by side with other children who are the opposite of clean, possibly verminous and perhaps foul-mouthed. But it is important to remember that the general conditions of the schools and of the children who attend them have enormously improved of late years. Those former conditions are now less likely to happen, while the objections to creating a separate class of rather superior schools are so strong that I hope His Majesty's Government will not be disposed to depart from the Bill as it stands in this respect.
This measure is designed to carry out great reforms, covering a very wide field. In some respects of its drafting, this Bill differs from most Bills which come before your Lordships' House for consideration. At one or two points it almost seems to be going to break into poetry, so enthusiastic are the terms in which it speaks of our educational purpose. But I confess that I do not mind this, because I feel, as the noble Earl opposite does, that it is positively right to take advantage of the somewhat high pitch at which the mind of the country is strung in this time of war. I am quite certain that the enthusiasm for education among the workers, which is so admirably exemplified by the operations of that excellent body the Worker's Educational Association, should not be merely encouraged but should be taken positive 1029 advantage of, as His Majesty's Government are now doing by introducing this Bill.
As the noble Earl said, there may be, some tendency to ask, Why is it necessary to touch this subject, which cannot be said to be directly concerned with the war, at this moment; why could it riot be postponed until the reconstruction period? I think it is fair to ask, in reply, whether any instance can be suggested, or any possible respect, in which the discussion of this Bill and its carrying into law through both Houses can he said to be adverse to the carrying on of the war in the most effective and energetic manner. Those who have been devoting their time and trouble to the preparation and the conduct of this Bill are obviously not those who are concerned from day to day with studying the immediate operations or progress of the war. But this I most cordially do feel, and I agree with the noble Earl, that all that we have seen during the progress of the war itself, all that we know of the conditions which must exist after the war, tend to stamp upon our minds the conviction that not a moment is to be lost in bringing the nation, and the coming generation of the nation, into a state, I will not say of more advanced instruction or the accumulation of endless facts, but of the acquirement of a suppleness of mind and ease in dealing with affairs which will enable us to engage to advantage in the competition of the future. Because, my Lords, of this I am certain, that where we have been legitimately out-stripped in the race, whether it be in commerce, or industry, or in any other branch of activity, it has been through the lack of that mental gymnastic of which I have spoken. We are apt sometimes, perhaps, to dwell too much on the unfair methods—the grossly unfair methods—by which it has been sought o promote German ambitions all over the world. But all their methods have not been unfair. We have been out-stripped, not only by them but by others in various parts of the world, for want of this mental suppleness of which I have spoken; and it is because I think that this Bill will do so much to create an atmosphere in which these mental changes can, in the course of a certain number of years—that is to say, of a certain number of school generations—be carried into effect, that I give my most cordial support to the Bill which the noble Earl has introduced, and will do my utmost to assist His Majesty's 1030 Government to pass it into law as soon as possible.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, there have in the last half century and more been a great many important debates in this House on the educational question. The thoughts of those of us who are familiar with the records run back to the amazing orations of Lord Brougham. I tremble when I open the pages to think what they must have meant at the time. So far as I can make out, some of them cannot have been delivered, if they were delivered as they are now printed, in less than three or four hours. These debates have been many, and there have been since his day many others of first rate importance; but I venture to say that the speech which has been made by the noble Earl to-night will take no unworthy place in the long records of speeches of Ministers introducing, or of Ministers opposing, Education Bills in this House. There was a lucidity of treatment of a complicated subject and a felicity of diction which will make that speech live for a long time.
For more than a century now each generation has seen some great endeavour, successful or unsuccessful, made to go forward in this educational field. There were great debatings just a century ago. Then eighty years ago, in the 'thirties, when the early State grants were made, the question both in this House and still more in the House of Commons was debated with much greater frequency. Half a century ago came Mr. Forster's great Education Bill of 1870; and in the opening years of this century—note each one in a generation—came Mr. Balfour's Bill of 1902; and now after sixteen years we have what is in some respects, though not the most novel or original in character, the most far-reaching, and, as I think, useful of them all. I do not know whether it is a mere coincidence—probably it is, but it is a curious one—that nearly all these debates have come during a great war, just when approaching its conclusion. It was during the last stages of the Napoleonic Wars that the great societies were founded in England for educational advance. It was during the Franco-Prussian War that Mr. Forster's Bill was carried through Parliament. It was during the South African War that Mr. Balfour carried his Bill through Parliament; and to-day we are again in the same condition. Would we could think that the passing of 1031 this Bill would herald, as in the other cases happened, the end of the war which is thundering upon us now.
Each one of these sets of debates and controversies has heralded a new departure in English history—in the social life of England, shall I say? This Bill heralds what I suppose beyond all question is bound to be the most remarkable new departure of them all, and there lies the real answer to the charge of inopportuneness to which allusion has been made to-night. It has not been made by any one suggesting here that this Bill is inopportune, but reference has been made to those—and they are not a few—who have said s[...]. To me it seems that this war is a stimulus to effort of this kind which is irresistible. We are fighting through blood and tears to preserve our rights and the inheritance of freedom and righteousness for our children. This war has given us a revelation in a score of different ways of what are the needs and shortcomings of our education as it stands. Day by day those who have opportunity of observing it will find evidence borne by men fighting at the Front as to the difference there would have been to them in their lives had they had opportunities which we believe measures like this will give to their children, and who give therefore their enthusiastic and firm support to this Bill. The war establishes a claim upon us to see that when under the new franchise the men and women of this country are called upon to occupy a place in the novel life which must begin when the war is over, they and those who follow them immediately shall be equipped beforehand for what lies ahead in the manifold and most perplexing problems of those days. We are asked whether the education as given now to lads and girls, and as it has been in the last ten or twenty years, is adequate to enable them, beyond question, to discharge aright the responsibility which will now be theirs—women as well as men. There can be no doubt whatever that we must answer that it is not, and so we want a new Bill.
Your Lordships have been reminded in eloquent and forcible terms by the noble Earl of what the Bill does give us. May I re-state it in a sentence or two, looking at it from a slightly different angle and summarising it more briefly than he did. The purport to my mind, and the outstanding features, of the Bill are these: first, that we are recognising the wholeness 1032 and unity in the life of the boy or girl growing up to be manor woman, physically, mentally, and morally, and we must equip every part of that manifold composition—hence the nursery schools. If it is easy to talk of those schools lightly and flippantly as something which lies outside what we call education, it is only because we are unduly narrowing what education really means. Nothing could have been better than the way in which the noble Earl described the nursery schools. Then we have compulsory attention on a far greater scale to the health, not only of the little children, but of the growing boys and girls, and insistence upon rest and leisure, and the right way of using it. Nothing can be more interesting in the Bill than the endeavours which are systematically made to develop the physical powers of the boys and girls, not only in the schools but outside, by teaching them how to employ aright the leisure which will be more largely theirs than before.
All this may be said to be a mere administrative question, and I have heard the Bill described as a poor piece of work, because it is merely dealing with the bureaucratic and administrative side of the educational system. On the contrary, it makes the administrative side of the system less, bureaucratic and more elastic, and throws more responsibility upon local authorities, large and small, and allows them and individual teachers to range over a far wider field, within and outside the school walls. This is, of course, administration, but it is administration of a kind which we desire to encourage in all its novel features, and we are thankful to know that this new interest will be given to the administrative work of which some are apt to speak with scant respect. The noble Earl told us from his own experience how administrative work in the past had been apt to be of a mechanical and dull kind; but no one will be able to say that in the future administration will be either mechanical or dull. It will range over a wide field, and will offer opportunity for every sort of effort.
Then I would speak of how the Bill develops the whole make of a boy or girl by passing them on to the continuation school, so that what is gained before shall not be absolutely lost within an incredibly short space of time—sometimes but a few months—by a boy or girl leaving school at an age at which your Lordships began your school life. This Bill is going to 1033 render that quite impossible for the future, though the danger is to be obviated in more than one way, and there is more than one alternative as to how it is to be done. I think the whole problem of these continuation schools is one which will tax the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the administrators of the coming days in a way that we hardly realise at present. The very question of disciplinary control in schools of boys and girls between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, who are there not voluntarily—so that you can punish them by sending them away—is one that will call out the ingenuity of some of the very best of those who have gained experience in our clubs and institutes and other such organisations. All that this means morally, if rightly used, is a thought that fills me with hope, great as the difficulties undoubtedly will be.
I am also thankful for the unification, or correlation—I do not like the word—the unification of the whole of our educational system, getting rid of the watertight compartments and of the monotonous uniformity of a single type of school. The opportunity is now given to us of allowing experimental work of all kinds to be done. Mr. Fisher himself has called attention to the fact that these experimental possibilities are wide in their range, and he encourages teachers and educational authorities to use them to the full. Let the oneness of our education, in all its different grades and in different types of management and for different ages of boys and girls, be adequately developed, and we shall find no fear of a mere rigid or bureaucratic system being that which is set on foot under the provisions of the Bill when it becomes an Act. Mr. Fisher has told us more than once that he regards the system of new groupings and of central classes and the rest as being one of the cardinal principles of the Bill. That is, that all forms of education should be part of a single whole, and that the larger educational authorities—the county councils or the borough councils—should be allowed to frame schemes themselves on their own initiative to meet those parts of education to which the elementary school is only the preamble. Here is an opportunity and a field for ingenuity, resource, and thoughtfulness on the part of those who give their minds to educational work, which is a new departure in some respects in our system.
And in the background of the whole lies constantly the thought of the new status, 1034 the new dignity, and the higher qualifications of the teachers who are to be in charge of our schools. A teacher is to find his or her rightful place in our common life. Of course, as your Lordships know, this is not directly part of the Bill, but it is in the background of all that the Bill proposes to do. The work that is here described will be in the hands of men and women who are better equipped for the purpose, partly because they are better paid and partly because they have been better trained. It is of vital importance that this should be borne in mind when we are comparing what will be possible under the new measure with what has been possible under the Acts with which we are familiar. I think I am right in saying that nearly £4,000,000 a year more has been allotted by Parliament for the salaries of teachers in elementary and secondary schools, and in addition to this we have the prospect held out of an impending Bill for pensions which will give teachers further security still. That will not merely attract into the ranks of teachers men and women of a higher type, perhaps, than they have always been in the past, but also give them, when they are there, an opportunity of doing their work more fitly because of the better status and the provision made for them in every kind of way.
All these things will cost—they must cost—a great deal of money. That is absolutely as it ought to be. If there is anything on earth worth while, it is this. As Mr. Fisher himself said, the question is not, "Can we afford to do it?" but "Can we afford not to do it?" We cannot afford not to do it, at a time when the calls upon our people and the necessities that lie ahead are of the sort that they are. Obviously, my Lords, such a Bil had, in its passage through the House of Commons, to face considerable perils. You could not abolish half-time, you could not prevent early morning work on school days (even when such outrageous examples as the noble Earl quoted can be brought forward), and, above all, you could not insist on continuation schools, without encountering opposition and danger, but through the shoals and rocks the Bill has been steered by the skill of the President, whom every one is belauding to a degree that must recall Aristides; and he has been steering it through until the Bill is now, as we all believe, on its way to the Statute Book. Of course, Amendments will be moved here. I am not aware of 1035 very many, but I have no doubt there will be some. There are Amendments which I myself feel might reasonably be made. I want a reconsideration of the question of Sunday labour, and possibly a reconsideration of the question about fees, but neither of these questions looms large in comparison with the Bill as a whole, and in its main features the measure as it stands has, so far as I can judge, the whole-hearted support of nearly all good men who understand this subject.
I want to say one word upon the fact that we have this general agreement, for I think the question has been sometimes a little misrepresented. The noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, referred a little while ago to it, and asked, as others have asked, why the Bill has not had the rough weather that earlier Bills usually had to encounter. I think that this wants a little careful statement if we are to avoid widespread and perhaps mischievous misunderstanding. It is ordinarily said, and truly said, that it is because it has avoided the religious question. Some people draw the inference that it is admitted that religious people—some would say "Church people"—are those who have hitherto been obstructing educational advances. That is again and again brought forward, and it is supposed that it has been prevented now by the skill with which the subject has been avoided in this Bill. Speaking generally, I deny that view altogether, root and branch, either in past history or in present fact. What has happened is this. The country as a whole has for years past, all through its history, desired that education from the very beginning upwards should include for all who were willing (through their parents) to receive Christian teaching as an essential part of education. Again and again educational reformers have tried so to arrange their schemes as to avoid the difficulties which arise out of that question. Those who are keen in their belief that no education worthy of the name can be given in our country unless religion is at its core and its base have, in that respect, opposed particular parts of other measures before, and similarly they might be called upon to offer opposition again. But this Bill is going to improve our educational system administratively, if you so call it, in a hundred different ways, without embarrassing in the least its existing religious character or basis, and without touching it in any way Therefore, we can support it whole-heartedly.
1036 This is nothing new. Whenever a Bill was one of genuine educational progress I maintain that those for whom I am here supposed to speak have supported it. It is constantly said—it was said in the House of Commons only a week or so ago—that the clergy, and especially the Bishops, have again and again set themselves against educational advance. I deny that absolutely, subject to the fact that in every profession and walk of life there are cranks, obscurantists, and stupid men, and that neither the clergy nor the Bishops are exempt from possibilities of that sort-Speaking generally, I maintain my statement to be absolutely true, and if any man challenges it I am ready, at whatever period, to take up his "glove" on the subject. Looking into it quietly and thoroughly, and going back to the original facts and documents, not to mere summaries in handbooks, you will find how great were the difficulties which had to be encountered by the clergy, and by those who have been foremost in promoting educational advance during the last couple of centuries.
It is worth dwelling upon this for a moment or two, because this charge is very often brought forward, and I am anxious to bring the true facts before the notice of your Lordships. Going back to the beginning of modern elementary education, the real beginning was in the Sunday-schools of the eighteenth century—Sunday-schools which were not such as we are accustomed to now, but in which reading, writing, and arithmetic were taught. These were mainly established by the clergy, in England at all events. I do not speak for Wales; but in England they were mainly established by the clergy, and what they had to face was the opposition, not of clerics and Bishops, but of the laymen who objected to them, and who put their opposition in forms which read almost incredibly now. Within about twenty-five years of the end of the eighteenth century, 7,125 Sunday-schools were established in England, mainly by the clergy, and they had to meet formidable foes.
Let me give your Lordships an example. In one of our southern English counties the Sunday-schools promoted by the clergy stirred the wrath, or the anxiety, of the magistracy and a number of the leading laymen in the county. I have here an ex- 1037 tract, which I hit upon quite accidentally in a Report drawn up by the then Quarter Sessions of that county. It states—It is with limitations only that Sunday or other schools for the poor are beneficial. So far as they have any tendency to raise an idea of scholarship, to make those who attend them conceive they are scholars and thence to place them in their own conceit above common labour, they become prejudicial instead of serviceable to the community.Those were the objections we had to fight, and we fought them successfully. Sometimes the opponents went much further and objected to the "ward schools," or "charity schools," which had been formed, and in which the clergy, as they described it, "spoilt and retarded the growing industries of the country." I was reading the other day a pamphlet, which apparently had a wide circulation at the time, on the educational controversies of those days, and I find that the writer, who seems certainly not to have been a clerical person, says—In the metropolis of this kingdom I have heard there are five or six thousand of the children of the very lowest of the people, clothed and educated at the expense of private persons. The males, I apprehend, are generally instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic; the females in reading, knitting, and needlework; and I presume both of them may be continued in those places of education until they arrive at the age of fourteen. The males during the whole time of their reception are, I fear, too seldom engaged about anything which has so much as the appearance of labour. The females, indeed, I believe, are generally kept, as was observed above, some considerable part of their time to knitting or needlework. But if some meaner and more laborious employment, especially when they are a little grown up, could be found for them and take the place of, or at least be joined with the other, it would undoubtedly be much more suitable to the lowness of their birth and station, and have a natural tendency to fit them for those servile occupations which in the ordinary course of Providence are most likely to fall to their share. …These poor children are certainly taken out of that rank and order wherein Providence had placed them. … What must be the consequence should this mistaken charity prevail universally? Who will be left to do the labour and drudgery of the world?… Young persons, so educated, will generally have other and higher views; but how are these expectations to be satisfied? It is impossible they should; there is not room left for that.Those are the kind of things we have had to meet; those are the things we did meet, and to a large extent conquered.
One more quotation. In the early years of the last century a very far-reaching Bill indeed was introduced, and with some difficulty got through a small House of 1038 Commons after much opposition. It did not pass this House. It is said that it was opposed by the Bishops, but if you will look at the records you will find that the Archbishop spoke to this effect—This Bill is on the lines of what we want done, but it is impossible to do it in the way here proposed. You are starting a school in every parish, but make no provision for teachers or the training of teachers. The thing must be done much more deliberately. We have the matter now in hand.This was two or three years before the foundation of the National Society; the Archbishop was Charles Manners Sutton, and that is what was called opposing the Bill. He was engaged at the time in founding the Society, and the number of schools became enormous. In the House of Commons the Bill was strenuously opposed. Let me read a quotation—However specious in theory the project might be, of giving education to the labouring classes of the poor, it would, in effect, be found to be prejudicial to their morals and happiness; it would teach them to despise their lot in life, instead of making them good servants in agriculture, and other laborious employments to which their rank in society had destined them; instead of teaching them subordination, it would render thorn factious and refractory.This would be of no importance if it came from a person of no consequence. The speaker, however, was the President of the Royal Society. He was a man who, during a long life is described as one of the most assiduous members who ever sat in the House of Commons—Mr. Davies Giddy, afterwards he changed his name to Gilbert—a friend of Sir Humphrey Davy, and who is said to have made the calculations on which the Menai Bridge was constructed. He was also a large employer of labour. That was the kind of opposition that had to be met; and when we are told that the progress of education has been retarded by the clergy and the Bishops, I ask your Lordships to remember what they have had to meet. The National Society and the British and Foreign Schools Society were founded almost at the same time, and by 1830 the number of the schools established in England was literally thousands, supported entirely by religious people and largely by the Church of England. Within twenty years of its foundation the National Society alone had 2,609 new schools started.
A little later came the great debates on giving Council grants for the promotion of education, and these were opposed on the 1039 ground that it was not the State's business to educate the people. If you look at the debates it is extremely interesting to see who were the spokesmen. A great conference or gathering of delegates was held in London to protest against the theory that it was within the province of the Government to educate the people, and the spokesman who voiced that opposition was not a Bishop, not an ecclesiastic, but John Bright. John Bright's great speech in the House of Commons in 1847 was against the theory that it was the duty of the State to educate the people, and when he wished to use the redactio ad adsurdum he asked what it would lead to, and said—"Imagine what comes next; you might have compulsion." That was the reductio ad adsurdum of the whole matter.
It is worth remembering what it was that those who on the other side were trying to promote education had to contend against. The gathering that I have spoken of formulated their resolution. The conference was attended by members from different parts of England, and they resolved—We hereby lay down the rule that the State ought not to assist in the education of the people.That is a thing that is worth remembering. Of course, I am not contending that the discussion was all one way, or that we had no obscurantist or stupid person on the side on behalf of which I speak to-night. There were such people, and plenty of them; but speaking generally I am quite certain that no fair investigator will fail to find that the main efforts made by the clergy especially, and the Bishops with them, was in the direction of the kind of educational reform which, under changed circumstances, we are trying to bring about to-night. When the Act of 1870 came, new conditions arose, but in the debates on that Act what the whole country owed to the labour of the clergy was recognised in speeches by Mr. Forster, Mr. Gladstone, and by speaker after speaker, day by day, throughout the debates. That is something to which those who have voiced views of the kind of which I have spoken would do well to give a little attention.
Then came the long years during which them were the struggling schools in town and country, with the undoubted fact that in many of the country schools it was extremely difficult to keep things alive, and 1040 you constantly heard—it is within the recollection of myself and many here—that the school had become a one-man affair, a "one-man show," as it used to be called. Why? Because in the rural parishes there was only one man who cared. Farmers were against it, labourers were against it, and the squires were apathetic. The one man who cared, who pinched himself and his household, and struggled through thick and thin to keep the school going, was the clergyman, and he was taunted with the fact that it was "a one-man show." What was done was not always done wisely or in the best way that it could be done. I am not contending that it was, but that accusation, made in the wholesale way in which it is sometimes made, is a thing which, upon an occasion like this, when we are dealing with a new departure in education, ought to be looked into. I am anxious to put on record what I am quite certain are the facts, and I am prepared to support them through thick and thin if they are challenged.
We have learned now a more excellent way. Those kind of voices are not heard. We are now all one in supporting a Bill which gives educational progress in a hundred new and varied ways, without emasculating or imperilling the religious element which we believe to lie properly at the basis of all the best education that can be given. I thought it not quite unimportant to call attention to these matters upon an occasion such as this, because of the constant reiteration of things of that kind, which are apt sometimes to lead perfectly innocently to something more than a misapprehension of the facts, because those who misapprehend have not studied the subject. These controversial points have been referred to to-night only to say that they do not here arise, but they must come some day under discussion. I am, however, sanguine enough to believe very firmly that we shall find that we can discuss them in a somewhat new atmosphere of friendliness and mutual understanding, much wider and stronger than that which we were accustomed to a few years ago. All the efforts that we are making at this moment—and they are many—to get into touch with religious men who have been opposed to other religious men (Non-conformists and Churchmen taking different sides in this matter) and to bring about quiet discussion of these problems, lead me at least to a very sanguine belief that we are on our way to a different atmosphere 1041 and a calmer sea than we have been accustomed to for many years.
Those for whom I speak, at least, believe in this Bill. It enlarges the responsibility of the authorities. It leaves, therefore, a great deal more freedom of action for development. In different ways it gives us what we have been waiting for—namely, the means of overcoming some of the moral limitations, some of the intellectual apathy, and some of the material difficulties which have hindred us hitherto. Prosaic some of its provisions may appear, but once this Bill has become law it will, I am certain, assist our children as they grow to be men and women by quickening their intelligence in a hundred new ways. Allusion has been made to-night to the phraseology of Clause 1, "With a view to the establishment of a national system of public education available for all persons capable of profiting thereby, it shall be the duty of the council," to do so and so. The noble Marquess said that it almost fell into poetry. I am not sure that poetry is how I should describe it. It is common sense and common sense exceedingly well put, and I think most wholesome in the place where it stands in the first clause of the Bill. We believe that we are doing what will lead not only to a quickening of the intelligence, but to the enrichment of character, for there is much in this Bill which deals with character-building as well as with brain furnishing; and it is for that reason, among others, that I so heartily support, it. I think that without much exaggeration we can apply at this particular hour in the history of this Bill the words that were used in the seventeenth century by Milton. We are doing what will set forward the education that he described—education, as he put it, of the sort "to fit our men and women to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously the offices both private and public of peace and war." The words are not inappropriate coming at this moment. They are not inappropriate in connection with the present measure, which I hope your Lordships will read a second time.
§ LORD GAINFORD
My Lords, I venture at this early stage of the Bill, and perhaps not uunaturally, to intervene in order to say a few words in connection with these proposals. Speaking in the House of Commons as far back as July, 1913, I outlined similar proposals for a Bill which had then passed the Cabinet and which, but for 1042 the war, would have been passed through all its stages in 1914. It is somewhat remarkable that whilst the outbreak of war in 1914 prevented the Government of that day from proceeding with an Education Bill, it is the war itself in the year 1918 which has created a situation that has made this Bill more than ever necessary.
Your Lordships are aware that Bills are now so drafted that as a rule they contain the gist and pith and principle in their first two or three clauses, and perhaps I may be permitted to make good my claim to the authorship of similar proposals by reading, if I may, the first two or three sentences of a Bill which I outlined when I spoke in 1913, so as to sustain the charge which I make in a very friendly spirit against Dr. Fisher of plagiarism, but also in order that I may convince your Lordships that I have some parental rights which justify my interest in this offspring. Clause 1 of the Bill of the Liberal Government of 1914 began as follows, and if your Lordships would care compare it with the first clause of this Bill you will see how similar they are—With a view to making education of every kind available for all persons capable of profiting by it, it shall be the duty of the council of every county and county borough to provide for the development and maintenance of a complete and progressive system of education in their county or borough so far as they have power to do so. For that purpose the council shall submit to the Board of Education a draft scheme, and shall furnish to the Board such information as the Board may require respecting the existing provisions for education and the relation of that provision to the provision made by the councils of adjoining counties and boroughs.The second clauses in the two Bills are almost identical. The words of the Liberal Government Bill of 1914 were—It shall he the duty of every local education authority under Part III of the Education Act, 1902, to make adequate provision for affording to children during the latter years of their elementary school life an opportunity of obtaining instruction of a more advanced character.As I could go on reading several other clauses which were taken from the Bill of 1914 and incorporated in this Bill, I think that your Lordships will realise that I have some right to take an interest in the proposals which are now before you.
There are, of course, variations. There are variations in the proposals in connection with they employment of children, in connection with the compulsory attendance of children after the age of fourteen, and 1043 also in connection with finance. I recognise to the full the magnificent labour of the present President of the Board of Education in the way in which he has helped to popularise these proposals in the country, in the way in which he has overcome a great number of obstacles placed in his path, and in the way in which he has vitalised public opinion in favour of this measure. I think the Government are to be congratulated on their evasion of controversy in connection with the proposals of this Bill, and the very fact that the most rev. Primate has just now blessed the Bill in no unmeasured terms speaks volumes for the skill of the Government in steering a course of an uncontroversial character. I am glad that we are all at one in hearty support of this measure, although we all feel that some points must have been waived which might have been of benefit to the people, both in connection with civil and religious education if they could without controversy have been incorporated in the measure.
I think the case for this Bill rests not merely upon the necessity of repairing the losses of the war; it also rests on the fact—and I speak as an ex-Minister of Education who was longer in occupation of that office than any other individual has had the privilege of being—that the local education authorities have proved themselves fully capable of being entrusted with such powers as the Government propose to confer upon them. The local education committees especially have proved themselves capable of managing their educational affairs to a much greater degree than the Parliamentary lowers have permitted, and it is due to them to give them the opportunity of managing a full system of education in their own areas. This Bill is also necessary because in our present system there is a lamentable waste of public money. It is also necessary because we have failed to secure anything like an organised system of intermediate education between the elementary schools and the Universities, and we have failed to bring our children physically fit into the elementary school. The Bill is necessary because the teaching profession, which is really the foundation upon which most education rests, has become less and less popular in this country, and it is to-day almost a dying profession.
The system which exists at the present time allows a majority of children to leave the elementary schools under the age of fourteen, and out of 600,000 children who 1044 leave our elementary schools every year only 40,000 stay until they have completed their fourteenth year, and only one in seven proceeds to the secondary schools. You have a very large number of authorities—1,196, if I remember correctly—many of whom do not even put into force the powers which they possess in connection with higher education at all. There are 138 which may rate up to 2d., and 180 which may rate up to 1d. in the £. I am glad that the Government have seen their way to abolish all this limitation, and that they will confer upon the various local education authorities full power to deal with education out of the rates, with the increased assistance which they will now get from the State, in order that they may secure a thorough system of secondary and higher education for the children in their various areas.
I want to say a word or two in connection with the physical condition of children. The noble Earl (Lord Lytton) in that eloquent speech to which we all listened with so much interest, testified to the importance of physical training being antecedent to the instruction of children. Over 100,000 deaths occur of children under five, which are said to be preventible, and that they are preventible is proved by the fact that, while 160 in every 1,000 die in pitmen's families, only 39 out of every 1,000 die in doctor's families. As the noble Earl has said, the education medical authorities estimate that there are about 1,000,000 children who are suffering from preventible ailments which deprive them of the full value of the education which they receive.
I believe that much more could be done in teaching mothercraft. In February, 1914, I was giving a grant of £5,000 per annum, but I do not know what is spent now. I believe a very large sum could be well spent in encouraging such teaching in order to reduce the ailments of children, and so make them physically fit in their subsequent school life. I know that there have been Departmental jealousies, and disputes as to which Department should look after the health of the infant children. I do not care what Department looks after their health so long as it is looked after, and I could only welcome the establishment of a Health Minister if it got rid of those inter-Departmental jealousies which have occurred in the past. I welcome all the clauses which deal with the establishment of crèches, 1045 of nursery schools for the bringing forward of infant life and making children strong and healthy.
My only criticism of this Bill is that even these clauses, great advances as they are, do not go far enough. I think the obligation on the local education authorities might be strengthened, and I hope it may be possible to do that in your Lordships' House at the Committee stage. There are some admirable clauses which deal with playgrounds, with the erection of baths, with the provision of playing fields; and I am sure that your Lordships will agree that we cannot over-state the benefits which can be derived from proper attention being given to the physique of children in the playgrounds, from organising games for them, and through games producing a manly and sportsmanlike spirit in the rising generation. Then in connection with domestic subjects there is considerable progress going to be made in respect of cookery classes, housecraft, and other domestic subjects, as well as manual and gardening instruction. As I have said, my anxiety is to see something more done in the direction of the prevention of to the exploitation of child labour. I welcome to the full the proposal that children under the age of twelve shall not be employed in general employment. But I think that even this clause needs strengthening. In my judgment there should be a limitation on the total number of hours for which children may be employed, when they are called upon to attend school, in every twelve hours. They ought to be limited to the number of hours in which they have to do work and in which they have to be taught. I am of opinion that ten hours employment a week is ample for any child of from twelve to fourteen years of age who has to attend an elementary school, and thirty hours a week is ample for any growing child during the holiday periods; and, if they are employed, the provision of their meal times ought to be safeguarded. It should be the duty of an education authority to make by-laws to prevent children being exploited. That duty has not been placed on the education authority, but I think it ought to be.
Under the proposals of this Bill, children from the age of twelve to the age of fourteen may be taught for twenty-seven and a-half hours every week, and they may be earning money thirty-one and a-half hours in 1046 addition; in other words, they may be at work, either earning wages or being taught in the schools, fifty-nine hours every week. When the working classes believe that forty-eight hours a week is economically sufficient and that they can produce the best results whilst working for that period, surely no law ought to be permitted which enables a child to be employed fifty-nine hours a week when the school is open and eighty-four hours a week when the school is closed. I believe also that there ought to be efforts made to prevent children of this age from carrying heavy weights. It is as detrimental to children to have to carry heavy weights when they are employed as it is for them to have to work long hours. The French have a law which prevents any boy carrying a weight of over 10 kilogrammes and any girl from carrying a weight of over 5 kilogrammes; and it seems to me that if we could strengthen this Bill in that direction, we should not only be doing a humane act but doing a great deal to make our children fitter for the education which will be imparted in our elementary schools.
There is only one other subject on which I wish to touch, and it is the most important of all—namely, the difficulty of securing school teachers. What is the position? In 1908 each year about 16,000 new school teachers were wanted in the elementary schools in order to obtain an adequate teaching staff, but we were then receiving as entrants each year only 9,614, of whom 2,722 were boys. In 1917, when, I suppose, we wanted 20,000, only 6,158 proposed to enter the profession, of whom but 919 were boys—about one in twenty boys have proposed to enter the teaching profession out of those who are required. Salaries vary enormously. A headmaster in Manchester can earn from £200 to £360 a year; in Cambridgeshire he may begin at £90 and go up to £200. To take another type, an assistant mistress in Manchester can get from £120 to £220; in Cambridgeshire she can get from £90 to £115. The salaries are too low to-day; and I believe that the policy of the National Union of Teachers, which has always hesitated to-encourage too generous a number of people coming into the teaching profession because it would tend to depress salaries, would be removed if the State would come forward and further raise the maximum. We should thereby secure a sufficient number of teachers entering the profession. A 1047 career must he guaranteed, and satisfactory pensions must be secured.
I need not dwell on the points in connection with the differentiation between men and women in regard to salaries, but there are, of course, practical arguments in connection with the expenditure of the average household of a male teacher which makes it desirable that he should be paid higher if you are going to attract more men into the teaching profession. There is also this to be said with regard to women. However able they are as teachers, their average period of service as teachers is very much less than the average period of a man, owing to the fact that so many of the women marry at an early age and leave the profession which has been supported very largely out of public money during their college training career. With a view to securing teachers we must not reduce the standard of the certificated teacher. No doubt the difficulties are considerable. The war has prevented recruiting for the teaching profession; and several teachers who have gone out to the Front have told me that when they come home after the war they do not propose to re-enter the profession. The position, therefore, is very serious.
Though the child population has increased, yet there are fewer children attending our schools than was the case formerly, very largely due to the temporary partial exemption from attendance. In 1915, 5,636,000 attended our schools, and there are now 100,000 less; there were 5,516,000 on the books in 1917. The number of schools has been diminished; twenty-five have been closed, and only four new schools were opened last year. Therefore we are going to be put into this situation, that immediately at the end of the war we are going to have a large number of additional children attending the schools. We have now classes consisting of from forty to sixty children, which classes ought to consist of not more than from twenty to thirty; yet we have no teachers coming into the profession who will be able to be utilised by the local education authorities to cope with the increased attendance, and the diminution in the size of the classes.
I have great faith in the education authorities. I do not think that the grant of three-fifths of the salaries will do everything that is necessary to solve the problem. It may help, but we must rely upon 1048 the education authorities setting themselves to the task of encouraging pupil teachers, and encouraging the children to come forward into the teaching profession in order that they may be properly trained. The Government wisely gave time. I hope they have not given too much time, as by extending some of these provisions for seven years. But, at any rate, it will take time to build the additional schools which are required. It will take time to establish a proper system of continuous education, from the elementary school up to the University, for those who are fit to undertake that education. But I believe that the education authorities may be trusted, and I hope that the whole country will encourage the in to go forward with their task.
If I have spoken somewhat egotistically, I ask the indulgence of the House. I have been identified with school boards, with voluntary schools, as well as with a County education committee for a great number of years before I entered the Board of Education, and I naturally take a keen interest in the subject. I feel it a privilege to have been identified in the past with these proposals, and the Government certainly can count on my whole-hearted support in connection with this measure. The moment seems to me peculiarly opportune. The nation realises that it cannot neglect the education of its children. The country is anxious that knowledge should be widespread; the industrial world realises that technical and trade work must be taught in our schools; and the nation desires an easy route for all those who are fitted for its use to have access to the highest education. Personally, I cannot exaggerate the advantages which I believe will arise under the blessings of this Bill. I believe it will create a thorough system of national education, and will promote the character, the intelligence, the vitality, and the happpiness of our race.
My Lords, I move the adjournment of the debate.
Further Debate adjourned accordingly until to-morrow.