§ THE MINISTER OF ECONOMIC WARFARE (THE EARL OF SELBORNE) moved to resolve, That this House welcomes the intention of the Government to proceed with educational reform, as 982 evidenced in the White Paper on Educational Reconstruction (Cmd. 6458). The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving the important Motion that stands in my name I must crave the indulgence of your Lordships' House. It is quite impossible within the scope of a speech of reasonable length to give more than the bare outline of the great educational scheme brought forward by my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Education. As many of your Lordships desire to speak on this matter, and time is necessarily short, I shall not attempt to go into details with which most of your Lordships are familiar, but will content myself with endeavouring in as short a time as possible to give a sketch of the proposals as a whole. I am sure your Lordships will wish me, in doing so, to pay tribute to the President of the Board of Education and to his colleagues on the epoch-making scheme which they have produced.
§ A perusal of the White Paper will show the vast scope of the reforms that it envisages. Your Lordships will be well aware that the 36 pages of the White Paper are the result of many months and indeed, years of hard work by my right honourable friend and the conducting on his part of innumerable conferences and consultations through which he has steered his plan with eminent skill. My right honourable friend proposes the complete reconstruction and reform of our educational system and its very wide extension in many directions. The plan is to be taken as a whole, but I must make it clear at the outset that it is a programme which can only be achieved over a number of years, for the simple reason that the construction of this great edifice will necessarily take a very considerable time. In order to complete the scheme hundreds of new schools will have to be built, thousands of old schools will have to be structurally improved, and tens of thousands of new teachers will have to be recruited and trained. In any circumstances such a programme would take a long time to carry out, but when we remember what a call there will be upon the building industry in the immediate postwar period, we must recognize that the building programme alone will take some years.
§ There is also the question of national finance. Your Lordships will observe 983 from the table at the end of the White Paper that the expenditure ultimately envisaged runs into very considerable sums. It is impossible for this Parliament to bind its successors in that respect. As and when the various stages of the scheme are ready, and new calls upon the taxpayers and the ratepayers are required, it will be for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Parliament of the day to say how much money is available for the purpose. Therefore, while it is proposed to introduce a Bill in which the whole scheme will be embodied, the Bill will provide that the various stages come into force on appointed days, as and when they become practicable.
§ Let us therefore survey the new edifice as we hope is will be when it is completed. Starting from the child's earliest days, my right honourable friend proposes a very great extension of nursery schools for children under five. The compulsory age is not going to be lowered. That will remain at five as it is to-day. But it is proposed to substitute for the present power of local authorities to provide nursery schools a duty to do so wherever, in the opinion of the Board of Education, this may be necessary. It is now considered that the nursery school which forms a transition from home to school is the most suitable type of provision for children under five. Such schools are needed in all districts, as even when children come from good homes, they can derive much benefit, both educational and physical, from attendance at a nursery school. Directly a child goes to a nursery school it comes under the care of the medical authorities who are thereby given the opportunity of eradicating defects in their incipient stage. Nursery schools are a godsend to mothers with large families, mothers who have to go out to work and mothers who are not in good health. They can also be made the channel of imparting valuable instruction to mothers on the question of their children's health.
§ From the nursery school the child will go to the primary school which will take the place of the junior part of the present elementary school. But, my Lords, the primary school is going to be very different from its predecessor the elementary school. In the first place, the size of the classes is going to be reduced very much. It is going to be reduced as fast as the 984 supply of teachers and new buildings will permit. It is one of the gravest defects of our elementary schools that in many cases the classes are much too big. That is fair neither to the teacher nor to the child. The other fundamental difference between the new primary school and the old elementary school lies in the abolition of the special place examination. I think it is being increasingly recognized that in any case an examination is a very poor way of finding out anybody's ability, as it is well known that there are some people who can pass examinations without being able to do anything else, while there are many most capable people who are very incompetent examinees. This is even more so in the case of children than in the case of adults, because children develop very unevenly, and frequently it is not the most precocious child who becomes the ablest man. These considerations are enforced by the fact that it is always a wrong and dangerous thing to make the educational future of a little child of ten or eleven depend on his being able to pass an examination. In all classes of school there is a temptation put upon the schoolmaster to force or to cram a clever child in order that he may gain distinction in an examination and thereby add to the kudos of the school. But very grave injury to the child may result from any such experience.
§ Therefore, when the children leave the primary school and go to the secondary school, their future will not depend on the result of any single examination, but on the general appraisement of their abilities and character. Furthermore, as the education they will receive in their secondary school will be influenced by the careers their parents desire for them, their parents will be consulted on the matter. The child will leave the primary school at eleven, and at this stage the educational highway will provide for three streams of traffic. This is one of the most important of the reforms that my right honourable friend is introducing. The growth of secondary education under the Balfour Act has been quite phenomenal. In 1904 there were fewer than 100,000 pupils receiving secondary education under local education authorities—to-day there are nearly 500,000. Lord Balfour can be truly called the father of general secondary education in this country. But now the very success of the movement 985 has brought a grave danger in its train. Secondary education has proceeded on too uniform a pattern, and this is leading to two great evils. In the first place, a large number of able children are being forced to undergo an academic training which is ill-suited to their particular capacity. Secondly, the educational machine is turning out too many people with one type of education, and too few people with other types of education. The result is that the labour market in some directions is being glutted, and in other directions is being starved.
§ The statement that "all men are equal" is frequently quoted in its literal sense, which its author could not possibly have intended because no proposition was ever more demonstrably absurd. No two men are equal in any respect, and the same is true of children. Mankind, like all God's creations, is made up of infinite variety, and the paths and callings in which men and women can serve their country arc also infinitely varied. It is, therefore, very necessary to introduce some element of variety in education, while, at the same time, avoiding the dangers of over-specialization. Therefore, in my right honourable friend's scheme there will be three types of secondary schools known, respectively, as grammar schools, modern schools and technical schools. Children will go to them at about the age of eleven and they will remain there until they have attained ages varying between fifteen and eighteen. It is hoped subsequently to make sixteen the minimum age. These schools need not necessarily be in separate buildings. In some eases a grammar school and a modern school might be housed in the same building. It is a matter to be settled purely on the convenience of each case. It will also be provided that children can transfer from one type of school to another, because it may be found as the child develops that a mistake has been made in the type of school to which it has been sent. Grammar schools will confer on their pupils the honoured academic education with which we are familiar. The modern schools will give a good general secondary education with ample provision for practical work, such as carpentry for boys and domestic science for girls. Technical schools will cater for that very wide range of children whose interests and aptitude lie in that direction.986
§ There is a great dearth of technical schools at the present time, and this has already resulted in starving our industries of that skilled craftsmanship which used to be the glory of Old England, and which, I believe, is one of the special traits of genius in the English people. This over-emphasis on the academic side of education has also fostered the wholly untrue and pernicious belief that the black-coated worker enjoys some social or spiritual superiority over the skilled craftsman. I believe that nothing is more untrue. I think that one of the things that my right honourable friend will best be remembered for in years to come will be that he was the man who did so much to improve technical education in this country.
§ At this point we ought to glance at two types of secondary school to which I have not yet alluded. There are 232 schools known as direct-grant schools. These are schools which in 1926 exercised an option in favour of a capitation grant direct from the Board in preference to receiving their financial aid through the local education authority. The exact place which they will find in the new scheme has not yet been determined. That is a matter which is still under consideration and under negotiation, but it is my right honourable friend's intention to fit them into his general organization of secondary education. The other class of secondary school is that with which your Lordships are more familial —namely, the so-called public schools. That matter is, as you are aware, at present under consideration by the Fleming Committee, and it would not be proper for me to say anything on the subject until that Committee has reported. There is one point, however, to which I may draw attention. Under this scheme it is proposed that power shall be given to local education authorities to provide, maintain and assist boarding schools and hostels where these are found to be necessary or desirable. Hitherto there has been a very strong feeling amongst wage-earners against sending their children to boarding schools. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, who is a high authority in these matters, has recently said in another place that there is an important change of opinion in this regard. At any rate my right honourable friend's scheme provides 987 machinery by which a wide extension of secondary boarding schools can be inaugurated by the local education authorities, if they so desire.
§ I must also, at this point, draw attention to the Report of the Norwood Committee on secondary education which has just been published. The Government are, of course, not bound by the Report of this Committee, highly authoritative as it is. Noble Lords who study it, however, will, I think, see a close similarity between some of its recommendations and those of the White Paper. The Norwood Report makes a number of very important recommendations for the improvement of secondary education. One of the most important of these is that there should be a gradual change over from the school certificate examination in its present form in the direction of making it entirely internal—that is to say, conducted by the teachers at the school on syllabuses and papers framed by themselves. That is a matter upon which I anticipate that there will be some division of opinion among high authorities, but I need hardly say that all the recommendations of this Committee will receive the most careful consideration of my right honourable friend.
§ Another recommendation of the Norwood Committee is that "full consideration should be given to the educational and social advantages of the performance of public service for a period of six months falling between school and university or other schools of higher education." I believe that that is a recommendation which will command the support of many of your Lordships, who are indeed themselves exemplars of public service. The Norwood Committee also recommend that the winning of a college scholarship at Oxford or Cambridge, or a university scholarship elsewhere, should constitute a claim upon public funds for assistance towards the cost of living at a university, subject to evidence of need. That indeed would be another big advance in the opportunities which are now being provided.
§ I must also refer to the Report of the Luxmoore Committee appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and dealing with agricultural education. My right honourable friends the President of the Board of Education and the Minister of Agriculture 988 are at present in conference as to the best method of welding into the general educational system the agricultural education that we intend to offer to those who wish to make agriculture their profession. Although there is not much about agricultural education in the White Paper, I should like to assure your Lordships that this matter is far from being neglected.
§ We have now traced the progress of our scholar from the nursery school through the primary school to the secondary school. It is the view of my right honourable friend that it would be a tragedy if general education came to an end at fifteen, or even at sixteen, and, for those who have to go into employment when they leave their secondary school at such ages, compulsory part-time education is to be provided. This will be effected by institutions to be known as "young people's colleges." Thus will be realized the dream of Mr. Fisher, which was embodied in his Education Act but which was realized only in the town of Rugby and in a small number of the more progressive and larger firms in this country. It so happens that I myself was connected with such a firm, and I should like to testify to the value of its achievement in that direction and to the fact that it is perfectly possible, if only the arrangements are made, for education and employment to be thus combined. The hours of attendance at young people's colleges would be taken from the hours of employment as regulated by industrial law or by any subsequent industrial legislation. At first, at any rate, attendance will be limited to a day a week or its equivalent. In rural areas weekly attendance might often be difficult, and in such areas provision may be made for comparatively short but continuous residential courses at a time when farm work is at a minimum. These young people's colleges must indeed take various forms; for instance, special arrangements will have to be made for boys serving at sea, and every endeavour will be made to fit the organization into the industrial map.
§ The benefit of this system will by no means be confined to education. One of the greatest benefits which we shall get from it is the fact that these young persons will continue to be under the surveillance of the school medical service; that is to say, their health and physical well-being will be under constant scrutiny by doctors during one of the most critical 989 periods of human growth. I am told that examination of Army recruits during the present war has revealed the fact that an enormous amount of preventable disease owes its origin to the neglect of the boy's health between the time of his leaving school and the day on which he presented himself to the Army. If the gap between adolescence and manhood which at present exists in our medical services can be closed, I believe that that will be an achievement of enormous benefit to the nation.
§ The President of the Board of Education also proposes to increase greatly the facilities for technical, commercial and art education. Provision of this further education is at present a power and not a duty of the local education authority, and, despite what many authorities have done, technical education has not hitherto made that advance which the needs of a highly industrialized community require. In particular, the standard of the buildings and equipment in use has often been lamentably low in comparison with what can be seen in other countries which have been our competitors in world markets, and gives us little cause for satisfaction. Provision will accordingly be made in this scheme to place a duty on the education authority to provide adequate facilities for technical, commercial and art education, both full-time and part-time. This general duty will be translated into concrete terms by requiring authorities to submit schemes for further education which, when approved by the Board, the authorities will be required to put into effect by such stages as the Board may determine. My right honourable friends the President of the Board of Education and the Minister of Labour are in close touch with a number of industries with a view to working out more ordered systems of training and apprenticeship adapted to the conditions of to-day and suited to the very different requirements of different branches of industry. In this way it is hoped to build up in each major industry a system which will be accepted and applied, not by individual firms here and there, but on a national basis throughout the country.
§ It is also the intention of the President of the Board of Education to increase greatly the opportunities of poor men and women of reaching the universities. At present local education authorities have the power but not the duty to grant 990 financial assistance in suitable cases. The White Paper embodying the Government's scheme was published before the Report of the Norwood Committee. I have already drawn your Lordships' attention to their recommendation on that subject, and I think that there is no doubt that the policy of the Board of Education will be in the direction recommended by the Norwood Committee. I should like to point out, however, that it will also be possible from another direction to provide a university education, under the Government's schemes for further education and training, for large numbers of men and women whose education has been prevented or interrupted by war service. Awards to applicants for a full-time course of education at universities and university colleges will be administered by the Board of Education in collaboration with the Minister of Labour. Agricultural awards will be dealt with by the Minister of Agriculture. The White Paper also visualizes a wide extension of adult education. This, of course, must be on a strictly voluntary basis if England is to continue to claim to be a free country; but the Board of Education believe that the great advance in the education of adolescents will in itself create a much greater demand for adult education, and it is intended that this shall be further fostered through all suitable agencies.
§ We have now traced the future careers of His Majesty's subjects from the day when they first toddle into a nursery school to the day when they emerge as university graduates or are continuing adult education in middle age. I think you will agree that, when this great conception has been realized, this country will possess a system of education superior to that existing in any country in the world at present, and beyond the wildest dreams of the pioneers of education, from William of Wykeham to Mr. Forster. There are, however, certain other aspects of this great scheme to which I must draw the attention of your Lordships. I have already pointed out the immense improvement in the medical services to children and young people which will result from these proposals. Equally important is the proper feeding of school children. As your Lordships are aware, the school meals service has been greatly expanded during the war, and 991 this reform is going to be pushed on and made a permanent feature of peace. It is proposed to make the present power of local education authorities to provide school meals and milk into a duty. Almost equally important is it to provide that children of the poorest parents should be adequately clothed and shod. Local education authorities will therefore be empowered to supply and to aid the supply of clothing and boots for children and young persons attending grant-aided schools, whether nursery, primary or secondary schools, provided that they recover the cost in whole or in part from those parents who can afford to pay.
§ Another important proposal to which attention must be drawn is the compulsory inspection and registration of private schools which receive no Government grant. It is felt that a very small number of such schools are so defective, either structurally or educationally, as to be harmful to the physical and mental welfare of their pupils, and that the State should give some protection to the child and the parents against such abuses. I should add that it is proposed that the proprietor of any school condemned under these provisions should have the right to appeal against the Board's decision to an independent tribunal. That completes my survey of the new educational edifice which is being built. It is evident that this scheme cannot be completed, or indeed commenced, without the recruitment of a great number of suitable and properly trained teachers. Questions of the supply and training of teachers for the future are now being investigated by the McNair Committee. I therefore am precluded from saying much on this point, but I hope your Lordships will welcome my assurance that this all-important side of the question is actively in hand.
§ There are two other important changes of a constitutional or administrative nature that are involved in my right nonourable friend's proposals. In the first place it is proposed that the local education authorities shall in future be the county councils and the county borough councils only. In certain cases where the counties or county boroughs are too small or too impoverished it is proposed to group them together. The effect of that will be to reduce greatly the number of local education authorities, because it involves the disappearance of Part III 992 authorities under the Balfour Act, who are responsible for elementary education only. At the same time, however, it is proposed that the county councils shall constitute district education committees, covering the whole area of the county, and that certain powers should be delegated to these committees. The purpose of this is to associate even more closely than at present local interest and local knowledge with education, and I have no doubt that when your Lordships have been able to give due consideration to these proposed administrative changes you will approve them. Although there must necessarily be some heart burnings on the part of some of the smaller authorities whose status will be changed, I think it will be generally agreed that when we are devising such a complete reconstruction of our educational system it is also necessary to effect a reconstruction of its administration.
§ The second important change concerns the voluntary schools. The great educational developments I have sketched today cannot take place without the voluntary schools being more closely integrated with the educational organizations than they are at present. More than half the existing schools are denominational schools, and we must never forget the debt that the nation owes to the Church for what it has done in the field of education. For centuries before the State ever spent a penny on public education, the Church, in hundreds and later in thousands of schools through-cut the country, gave the English people all the education they had. My right honourable friend proposes to enter into closer partnership with the denominational schools and to weld them more closely into the national system. The Government proposals, if approved, involve a far-reaching step by the denominations. I am aware that there is anxiety among certain noble Lords and important sections of the public on this matter. They are afraid it is a step backwards. I believe it is a step forward, and I will tell your Lordships why.
§ I need hardly say that I would not be here to-day to advocate these proposals if I did not believe that they would promote rather than retard religious education. As I understand the attitude of the denominational critics, it is this. They say, "We are taxpayers and ratepayers just as much as any of our fellow countrymen. We 993 believe that all education must be in strictly denominational surroundings. It is unjust that our money should be taken to support a system of which we disapprove, and that we are only allowed to continue the system in which we believe, in the schools which we have ourselves built, under conditions which call upon the denominations for further financial sacrifices over and above what we have to pay as taxpayers." That is an attitude with which I have great personal sympathy. I think it is logically a very formidable argument, and in certain circumstances I should not hesitate to subscribe to it myself. However, I want my noble friends to look beyond strict logic, and to look beyond bricks and mortar, and I want them to ask themselves, as I have asked myself, what is it that we really wish to attain? Surely it is the greatest degree of efficiency in religious education throughout the country? We must remember that nearly three-quarters of the elementary school children are in council schools to-day. We want an advance and an improvement in their religious education. And I want to put this to my noble friends, which I believe to be profoundly true—that it is impossible to build a nation-wide system of efficient religious education on a foundation of denominational controversy and bitterness. That I believe to be much more important than logic, or rights founded on history or buildings.
§ And it is also surely very important that we should understand what the facts are, and not be blind to the encouraging facts, any more than to the discouraging facts. The facts with which we have to deal are these: In the first place, there is a very wide measure of agreement throughout the nation that religious education ought to be improved in all schools. Secondly, it is the greatest mistake to think that the teachers are opposed to education in religion, or that they themselves are indifferent to it. Teachers as a body are no less Christian than any other section of the community. They, however, do make certain professional demands. One of them is that no applicant for an appointment should be debarred on account of religious belief. Another is that professional advancement should not be prejudiced, as it is at present, by reason of the fact that a large number of headships are confined to members of particular communions. My right honourable friend 994 is satisfied that he can meet these demands without prejudicing the object that we all have in view.
§ The third important and encouraging fact to which I wish to draw your Lordships' attention is that a very close understanding has been reached between the local education authorities, the teachers, the Free Churches and the Anglicans as to the nature of the religious instruction to be given to children in council schools. These are embodied in a number of agreed syllabuses at present widely used in council schools. These syllabuses are based on the New Testament, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, and I should like to say, as the father of six children who has himself taught them daily from the age of three or four years until they were confirmed, that there is all the material in those documents to allow full Christian instruction to be given to young children by anyone who is himself a Christian. Everything depends on the religious instruction being given by someone qualified to give it. The Government's proposals will encourage teachers to equip themselves for this work.
§ Further, I would remind your Lordships that some months ago the noble and most reverend Lord, Lord Lang, when he was Archbishop of Canterbury introduced a deputation of Free Churchmen and Anglicans to the President of the Board of Education, in which five points were put forward as suggestions for the improvement of religious education in all schools. These points are all embodied in the Government scheme. I want to urge with all the force at my command that it would not only be an act of folly, but a betrayal of the religious needs of the rising generation, to ignore all this atmosphere of understanding, good will and collaboration among Christians, and to plunge back again into the bitter religious controversies of forty years ago. Noble Lords will remember those controversies well. I took part in them myself with zest as a very young man. I do not think we all realized at the time, but I think we realize now, that those controversies and that bitterness did great damage to the cause of religion.
§ I count it an immense gain, an immense advantage, that that atmosphere of bitterness among Christians no longer 995 prevails. Are we not right to seize this opportunity of building upon it, and of endeavouring to ascertain whether by unity of Christians we cannot advance the religious education of the nation better than by sectarian polemics? I am aware that the Roman Catholic Church has been unable to participate to the same extent in the collaborations to which I have alluded, and it is equally the fact that an important section of the Anglican communion is, in this matter, anxious to take up the same attitude as the Roman Catholics. I would point out that for those who take that view the Government's proposals make provision for a considerable extension of the help given to managers under the Balfour settlement. Not only would 50 per cent. of the cost of improvements and repairs to existing school buildings be borne by the State, but a revival of the Education Act of 1936 is offered. This would result in as much as 75 per cent. of the cost of proposals in respect of senior schools, which were put forward under that Act but held up by the war, being met from public funds.
§ Other voluntary schools, whose managers are unable to find half the cost of the necessary constructional improvements, would become controlled schools. These schools would be more closely integrated in the national system, but they would not cease to be the property of the managers. The managers would be consulted as to the appointment of head teachers, and the foundation managers would have the right to be satisfied as to the appointment, within prescribed limits, of "reserved teachers." The reserved teachers will give denominational instruction twice a week to those children whose parents desire it. Otherwise the religious instruction will be in accordance with the agreed syllabus.
§ In this matter there are great advantages in a certain amount of diversity in the national system. As the President of the Board of Education said the other day in relation to his scheme as a whole, "we shall retain in our system diversity of choice while attempting at the same time to fuse the parts and weld them into an organic whole." After all, we are experimenting and finding our way. If the plans now proposed do not achieve the result which I believe we all want, 996 the will of the nation will demand that they shall be revised, and the fact that there will be a wide element of diversity in the system will make it easier to see where it can be improved. The Christian view must be that there can be no genuine education that is not based on religion. Just as religion is the foundation of the Christian's daily life, so it must also be the foundation of the education of the Christian child. Education is not an abstract idea, or even a precious object in a glass case. It is an introduction into the world, and we want it to be a Christian introduction.
§ In conclusion, may I say that we have laid this White Paper before Parliament and the nation in order that our plans may be viewed as a whole, and in order that we may get the benefit and assistance of criticism and suggestion? I know we shall receive much help in this respect from your Lordships' House, and we shall welcome it. We want your Lordships' cooperation, we want your help, in this great project so that it may be the means of assisting England to become what we all desire her to be—a God-fearing, liberty-loving, brave nation, equipped to play its part as the centre of the greatest and most progressive Empire the world has ever seen, and in leading the world into paths of justice, peace and freedom. I beg to move.
§ Moved to resolve, That this House welcomes the intention of the Government to proceed with educational reform, as evidenced in the White Paper on Educational Reconstruction (Cmd. 6458). —(The Earl of Selborne.)
§ THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY had the following Notice on the Paper: To move to resolve, That this House welcomes the scheme for unifying the educational system of the country as set out in the White Paper, and looks forward to seeing the detailed proposals which will be brought forward for giving effect to this, with the hope that those proposals will guarantee effectiveness of education in the primary and secondary stages, will secure access to the university for all those who can profit by it, will set on foot a genuine system of adult education, and will secure and strengthen the religious foundation of education in all its stages.
§ The most reverend Primate said: My Lords, all of us would wish that the first 997 words spoken by a member of this House who is not himself a member of the Government, should be words of congratulation to the Government, and especially to the President of the Board of Education and his colleagues, on the comprehensiveness of the scheme which they have laid before the country. It is true that we received this with some anxieties in view of our memories of 1918 and what followed, for though it is a fact that the scheme now outlined is a great advance on what was embodied in Mr. Fisher's Act, it is also, as your Lordships are aware, the lamentable truth that very much of that Act has remained a dead-letter until the present time. More particularly, there was contained in that Act a provision for the raising of the school-leaving age to fifteen, passed in 1918, about to be implemented in 1931 —rather a long gap already—and then failing to receive the final approval of the Government and Parliament as a result of the economic crisis which was then coming upon the country. So I trust our welcome to the proposals now laid before us will be accompanied by a resolute determination to see that they are translated into action in a reasonable time.
§ We are now offered, for the first time, the hope of a complete national system. We have never had such a thing before, and it is evidently a matter of the first importance that it should be outlined and laid before us from the quarter from which it comes. There is no breach in the fellowship of our national life so deep as that which is created by the difference in educational opportunities. It is quite true that, already, the more gifted boys of the poorer section of society can make their way to the university, and from the university to any position whatever in the country, but for the general level of the boys of the poorer section it is still true that they have a great disadvantage in comparison with those of well-to-do fellow citizens. This many of us would regard as an injustice but, whether an injustice or not, it does in fact create a measure of separation between the sections of the community that is greater, I believe, than that due to any other one cause. If this can be overcome we shall have done much to intensify that national unity, which is already closer in our country than in any other country in the world, and one of our greatest treasures.998
§ It is therefore from that point of view that I first approach the consideration of this scheme, which should be set alongside the great Reports already laid before us— the Barlow, Scott, Uthwatt, and Beveridge Reports—as holding out a new and bright hope for the future, but having this great advantage over them that it actually proceeds from the Government itself. First we have the promise of continuity in education—a continuity of stages by age groups: the nursery schools, primary from five to eleven, secondary from eleven to fifteen, young people's college from fifteen to eighteen, all linked up with the universities and the promise of development in adult education to follow. About all that, which is in principle quite admirable, I would only say that I hope those ages are nowhere going to be regarded as sacrosanct. I think it is a fact that the only reason why eleven was selected by the Hadow Committee as the moment of transition was the fact that they saw no hope of raising the leaving age above fifteen, that you need at least four years to make a wholesome school life at all, and as fifteen was the limit at one end so you must go down to eleven at the other. I do not think there was any other reason in it.
§ I believe everyone is agreed that eleven is not a good age in itself at which to make the transition, and as soon as the school age is pushed up to sixteen, as is promised in the White Paper, I trust we shall also raise or consider raising the lower age from eleven to twelve. That would incidentally—it is not one of the most important questions but it is of real importance—make very much easier the bringing into the whole general scheme of education of which we are thinking all the schools which I was interested and happy to notice that the noble Earl described as the "so-called public schools." It is one of the more Gilbertian of our habits to call these private institutions distinctively public. I am a great upholder of them. I think they are amongst the greatest treasures we possess, and I want to make the values enshrined in them much more widely accessible than now, and for that reason I rather hope that the moment of transition from primary to secondary will be one in the long run which will be far more convenient, to put it mildly, for public schools than the age of eleven can possibly be.999
§ We have got in this scheme the final ratification of a change that has been steadily coming over public opinion since 1870. In that year the nation decided that there was an irreducible minimum of education which must be provided for all citizens. I suppose it was inevitable to begin in that way, but the whole scheme started on the basis of this idea of an irreducible minimum, with the result that we had for years upon the Statute Book that almost lunatic provision that if a child was clever enough to profit greatly by a prolonged stay at school it was allowed to leave earlier, while if it was so stupid that it could gain comparatively little it must stay at school the whole time. That has been got rid of, but there the provision stayed for a long while, indicating quite clearly that our principle at that stage was the irreducible minimum. Public opinion has been moving on from there and, though no formula is offered in the White Paper to indicate it, we are quite plainly now concerned in fact, not to provide that without which a citizen of the country would hardly be fit to exercise the franchise, but to do for every citizen the utmost that can profitably and beneficially be done. We have moved from the basis of the irreducible minimum to that of the attainable maximum, and we have now the provision of secondary education for all.
§ As the noble Earl has referred to the Norwood Report, perhaps I may be allowed to say one word upon it, especially on the proposed abolition by degrees of the external examination. I heartily welcome the substitution of an internal examination as clearly the best because I think it will leave the school freer and minister to that sense of independence and communal existence which I regard as of the greatest importance. But I also hope that there will always be provided an external examination which any child shall be at liberty to take as well, because there will always be some children who have not been well suited by the school they have attended and yet are able, by some of their work out of school hours, to attain very considerable proficiency in various subjects, who will never show it in the school or in an examination specially adapted to the school's atmosphere and outlook. Therefore I hope that this amount of variety will never finally dis- 1000 appear. That there should be variety is of course essential.
§ The noble Earl has emphasized it, and I need say no more except that I trust the Government will put in practice their views with regard to the importance of our rural schools. At the present moment in education, as in so much else, we are suffering from the dumping upon the whole country of methods appropriate to towns. That has been going on now for a very long time and I think we are only coming alive to it, but the result is that a very large number of the teachers in rural schools are permanently disappointed that they are not in schools from which they would be selected for towns schools, and that does not give the best hope for an enthusiastic type of agricultural education.
§ Beyond that there is of course this general aim. It is one of the merits of the Norwood Report that it started by asking what is very rarely asked in documents of that character: what is the aim of this whole process? I trust that the paragraphs in which that is worked out in the Norwood Report will receive as widespread an attention as the proposals themselves. But we may say at any rate that our aim is the production of responsible citizens. There are always two points that are indispensable. One is doing the utmost that can be done for the individual who has special aptitudes and peculiar talents, and the other is the training of these in such an atmosphere as gives the greatest hope that their gifts, when so developed, will be used in public service rather than in self-seeking, and— for this is of vital importance—that the school should be a real community. It is only in the community of school life that it is possible for the young person fully to exercise, and so become perfect by practice in, the spirit and temper of citizenship.
§ The family cannot provide that training. It can do very much. It can do things of more importance than anything that the school can do, but it cannot provide this, for in the end the settlement of most questions must be left to the parents; even the school to which the children go is decided by them. Therefore if we wish children to be members of a community in which they take their share, it must be a real community of persons of like age and like interests so that 1001 they can belong to it and feel that in some way it belongs to them. That surely is what so many of us have learnt in the public schools. It is the fact that they are so intensely individual communities themselves to which we are proud to belong, both then and during life afterwards, that gives them so great a hold upon our loyalty. It is one great feature of the White Paper that it recognizes this to a degree in which I think it has never been recognized in any document of the same kind before. Certainly in 1870 it was totally ignored. And the change has been very slow. Those who fashioned the scheme that was introduced in 1870 seem to have thought that the object of having a school was simply that it was cheaper to teach a lot of children together than to teach each of them separately, and they erected buildings which, as the late Charles Masterman said, declared, by the very ferocity of their audacious ugliness, the benefits of State-given education.
§ This is of special importance, and very special importance, in connexion with the continued education as we used to call it—that is to say, education of the fifteen to eighteen age group—and I think it is a stroke of real imagination when, for the dismal term "continuation schools," was substituted the term "young people's colleges." That suggests something with a life of its own, a living society to which people may belong, even though they are only attending it, it may be, for one day in the week. But let us remember how peculiarly vital it is at that age, the public-school age after all. That is the ground on which so many of us have been especially eager to see the school age raised, not so much for the schooling, but so that the young folk may be living members of a live community as they cannot be of any society to which their elders also are admitted as full members. It must be something of their own. And here let me say that the same may be true, abundantly true, of works schools to which the noble Earl alluded, and that there is room there, as I believe, for a great development in co-operation of a triangular kind between local authorities, trade unions and the heads of certain industries. There was a scheme of that kind on foot in Manchester some time ago, run by cooperation between the 1002 local authority—it was the municipality in that case—and the building industry, providing for a genuine educational use of a period of apprenticeship in the building trade. I believe it was working well, and I am quite sure it can be developed so as to work most admirably.
§ The noble Earl quite rightly alluded to adult education. I am bound to say that was the section of the Report which disappointed me most. I had hoped we might have had something fuller. I know the great difficulties and that other provisions must have precedence of it; but there is the most urgent need to press forward with this, and the opportunity is here. There is no doubt about the appetite. When the Workers' Educational Association started just forty years ago, it was regarded as rather Utopian to suggest that those who had only an elementary school education, and were engaged whole time in industry, could possibly do work of a university type, but the university tutorial classes were started and we have had abundant testimony that the work they do really is of a university type. In 1938–39 the number of those classes in the country was 779 and the number of students attending them 12,749. The Board has shown the greatest interest and generosity with regard to these classes, but it cannot yet be said to have aroused any large amount of public interest. Sir Richard Livingstone has been arousing the interest of all concerned in education to the vital importance of developing adult education, but we have not yet got to the stage when this section of the subject is universally encouraged. The war has, of course, about halved the figures I have just placed before your Lordships.
§ There is one word here that it might be proper to mention in your Lordships' House. I expect that your Lordships know that the late Lord Lothian did make his house in Scotland at Newbattle into an adult educational college. One is perpetually hearing that some of the historic great houses of England will not be any longer used as private residences. If that is so, I can imagine no better use for them than that some of them should become adult education colleges, handing on to generations of students in the days to come something of that great store of history and association which they contain within themselves and so still performing 1003 a living function of the greatest possible value.
§ But the "school as a community" idea necessarily gives special importance to the religious quality of education. It is about that that your Lordships will expect me to say something. All education must of its very nature be either religious or atheistic. It cannot be neutral. That is impossible. Neutrality in religion is atheism. It is the same thing. It means, in fact, that if you leave God out, it does not matter whether you think He is there or not. You cannot, therefore, merely have neutral education to which you append religious instruction as one subject taken alongside arithmetic, geography and the rest. It will never have real value unless it is felt to pervade the education as a whole. Religious education is something more than religious instruction, though instruction is always a necessary ingredient in religion. There is one point in the White Paper which I noticed with some disappointment. It is in paragraph 73 and it concerns young people's colleges. It is there stated that certain basic elements will be provided, and religion is not one of them. In view of what is said throughout, that religion is the foundation of education, I think it will probably be possible at least to make provision for those who desire to take it for some further religious instruction in these young people's colleges, and some provision also for worship. One must recognize that there must be a great deal more consideration given to the judgment of the individual members of the college, the boys and girls who will attend it. None the less I trust we shall never be told that, inasmuch as religion was not mentioned among the subjects provided for, it is now to be regarded as excluded.
§ The Church schools have historically stood for the idea of an education that is religious throughout. It is quite clear that if a teacher is handling such subjects as history and literature the religious minded teacher will so speak of those subjects that when religious instruction comes it will be appreciated as conveying in concentrated form what was present in that other teaching. A Christian speaking about history judges the events and the characters of history by standards which are Christian standards. 1004 (I remember asking my father when I was an undergraduate whether he thought it showed some desperate moral defect if I idolized Napoleon, and he said, "Not if you drop it by the time you are thirty." Most teachers will be turned thirty and they ought to be such people as will not idolize Napoleon or any other similar figure in history.) All of this can be done, and is done very often, with marked moral effect in a council school where there are religious teachers, but there is no guarantee in the council school that it will even be attempted. There is no guarantee in the Church school that it will be achieved, but there is a guarantee that it will be attempted. The aim should be to secure that the whole life of the school is conducted as part of the training, not only of citizens, but of Christian citizens. It is for that that they exist to bear witness.
§ I think it would be at this stage of our work a calamity if in the interests of greater organizational efficiency we were to eliminate schools which stood in the past for that ideal. I am happy to think that the White Paper, far from proposing any such elimination, makes an offer which, regarded from the side of the State, we must necessarily regard as generous. If it had been suggested to us ten years ago that the State would offer 50 per cent. of the cost of renewal and maintenance and still leave the school in the hands of the denomination that controls it, it would have been regarded by us as beyond our wildest dreams. Especially we must recognize this when the demand for renewals and the demand for schools to be brought up to a proper standard are likely to be made at a time when building costs will probably be extremely high, perhaps something like twice what they are now. There has always been a grievance when those who have done their best to keep up with the changing standards of different times are called upon perpetually to spend more and more upon schools because somebody else's sense of what is proper has altered.
§ But we all know, and we must desire, that there should be most stringent demands made after the war is over for the improvement of school buildings. If that is to be so, then I think that in view of the services which the Church has made in the past, and the great increase in cost, this offer of 50 per cent.—though as I say from the side of the State it is gener- 1005 ous—is reasonable and not at all eccentric generosity. But there will, inevitably, be great sacrifices on the part of Church people involved who have made great sacrifices already. The noble Earl has referred to the point of view of many in the Church of England. This is shared by many in the Roman Catholic Church also. They have their own ideal of education in its association with religion to which they are fully entitled, and which is, I believe, personally, the true ideal. It seems to them hard that in addition to paying for a type of which they cannot now see their way fully to approve they have to pay a very large extra cost for the type of school they value and to which they think they are entitled—inasmuch as those who may be satisfied with the type represented by the council schools hitherto are paying for what does satisfy them.
§ So I am going to venture to ask that three points may be specially considered. I recognize that the President in this matter has had to consider very many different claims, all of them, I think, on their own ground fair claims but not all able to be fully met, and he has struck a balance where he thinks it can most fairly be struck. I do not wish to say anything that can by overturning that balance arouse an opposition to the Bill that could jeopardize those great hopes about which I have been speaking. I believe that that would be the attitude of all of us. It would be most calamitous if it were supposed that Christian people cared so much about their own particular conception of education and its relation to the denominational principle that they were willing for the sake of it to risk the whole great enterprise on which the nation is now invited to embark. Provided that the balance, as it is now struck, stands and that it is not found possible to make any concession one way or another, I trust that they will allow this to go through with the balance as it is.
§ In view of what I have said, I would first ask that in the controlled schools—that is to say those represented under paragraph 56A of the White Paper, hitherto denominational schools, of which 100 per cent. of the expense will be undertaken by the State—there will be genuine security that the special religious instruction required by the trust deed shall be given by a member of the staff approved by the foundation managers. That is the special request made by the Church 1006 Assembly at its last meeting. It was carried unanimously. The reason is that there will no doubt be administrative difficulty in supplying reserved teachers in all the schools that are very small. If there are as many as three teachers at a school I think that the difficulty will not be excessive, and that probably, it will be easily overcome. But it is the very small schools with fewer than three teachers that make us anxious in this regard. I trust that when we see the Bill we shall find that genuine security is assured.
§ Secondly I would ask that there should be not only a reopening of the offer made in 1936 for those schemes which had then been already launched, but that the offer made then might be renewed in face of the new situation for new denominational schools, subject as then to a time limit, of a grant up to 75 per cent. There would be no risk I think of any unfair advantage being taken of such an offer, or that it would be utilized on any scale such as would create any serious administrative difficulty. It could only be done where there was very great enthusiasm and where people cared intensely. If it was reasonable in 1936, in view of the reorganization then contemplated, to make an offer of that kind, it would surely be reasonable to renew that offer now that reorganization is going to be universal and compulsory.
§ I should like, thirdly, to ask that there should be readiness to provide new denominational schools to come, when built, under paragraph 56B—that is under the 50 per cent. clause—if in any locality 80 or 90 per cent. of the population sufficient to fill the school signify their desire for a school of that character. If this were done it would be immensely welcomed by our Roman Catholic friends, most of whose schools are in districts where there is a large Roman Catholic population around them so that they find themselves having a homogenous population to fill the school. But there would be some areas—not, I expect, a great number— where it would be equally welcome to the Anglicans, and ex hypothesi if there is this population of parents with children to fill the school then there would be no imposition of denominational education on parents who would not welcome it. I ask that these three points may be considered in connexion with the voluntary schools.1007
§ I recognize that the scheme is, and is bound to be, a balance between rival claims not all of which can be met. I want here to say a word of appreciation of the great patience and fairness shown by the President of the Board in his frequent consultations with all the interests concerned. Nothing could have been more courteous, more friendly, or more understanding than his attitude in the whole matter, and the balance that he has struck is one that I believe may very well represent substantial fairness, though I believe, also, that the points which I have indicated might be taken into account without any serious disturbance of that balance in practice. He has offered us, in our time, a scheme of reform that may do more than any other proposals submitted for our consideration to heal the breaches in our national fellowship, to win for our country the full value of its human resources, and thus to stabilize for future generations that combination of freedom with unity which is our most priceless inheritance from the past and our most precious trust for the future. My Lords, I beg leave to move.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT SIMON)
My Lords, I do not think that it is possible for two Motions to be before the House at the same time. I think the right course is for the Motion moved by the noble Earl to stand as the Motion before the House; but if the most reverend Primate and others wish to have the further Motion put at the end of this debate, that can be done.
§ LORD ADDISON
My Lords, the list of speakers for our debate to-day and on the next sitting day shows the widespread appreciation which is felt of the remarkable group of proposals which has been placed before us by the noble Earl, and I should like in the first place to associate myself with what the most reverend Primate has just said in paying a tribute to the President of the Board of Education. Although I have had no inside knowledge whatever of the negotiations which have been conducted, I am quite sure that he must have displayed a singularity of fairness and competency for which we are immensely indebted to him. I sincerely hope that these proposals, so far as they are compromise proposals in that sense, will achieve the destiny which the most 1008 reverend Primate hoped for for them. I think it is right to say also that I for one, at any rate, am appreciative of the willingness of my noble friend behind me, Lord Winster, to take a Motion off the Paper so as to enable the present Motion to be taken at the beginning of our proceedings.
In these days, there can be no question whatever of the standard of competence of the British people; it has been proved conclusively during the last three-and-a-half desperate years. We have on the part of our young people a degree of adaptability, a strength of character and a responsiveness to need which are priceless possessions of the nation. Most of our young airmen of to-day were not even in their cradles during the last war; and therefore it is right, both for them and for others who have contributed in so many ways to our great achievements in the war so far, to recognize what must lie behind it all in the quality and ability of the British race. It is therefore of first-rate importance that we should see to it as far as possible that we make the best use of that priceless possession. I was greatly impressed by the quotation from Plato which precedes the Report of the Norwood Committee, because I have had in mind, as others of your Lordships must have had, what has been happening in Germany during the last decade or more in regard to the training and education, so-called, of their youth. We are told in that quotation:Nowhere must we hold education in dishonour, for with the noblest of men it ranks foremost among blessings. If ever it leaves its proper path and can be restored to it again, to this end everyone should always labour throughout life with all his powers.That reminded me of the prostitution of education which has been proceeding in Europe in the last decade with such calamitous results, and how it behoves us, therefore, to spare no effort to get education put into the right way.
But the calamities which have arisen through the misuse of education and training in the world generally make it all the more important that we should determine to make the best use of our own opportunities and to improve our system. I was therefore glad to welcome the final sentence in paragraph 35 of the White Paper:Education in the future must be a process of gradually widening horizons, from the 1009 family to the local community, from the community to the nation, and from the nation to the world.It seemed to me that that was a very inspiring and almost a prophetic sentence. Much of what the most reverend Primate has just been saying was entirely on the same lines, because we have moved, as he said, a long way from the time when the three R's were regarded as the be-all and end-all of so-called education. We have become, whether we like it or not, citizens of the world, and I ask myself, what is it that we want to do with our children? What do we feel ought to be done? It seems to me that we must frame a system, as far as possible emancipated from unnecessary pedantry, which will develop the right frame of mind in our young people and give them the right interests in the world outside. I think that the education which many of us here were fortunate enough to be allowed to enjoy did more for us, not in the mere catalogue of facts that we absorbed or forgot, as the case may be, but in the capacity which it gave us to understand a case, to see an opportunity, to endure drudgery, among other things, in a proper type of training, which so disciplined our minds that afterwards we were able to make use of our own faculties and discipline them in orderly fashion, and so develop our own personality. It is that kind of education, I take it, that we are setting out to try to provide for the young people of our race, because the wealth of ability in our race is manifest, and we want, therefore, to give it an opportunity to develop, so that those who possess it will be able to express their capacities fully.
There is such a wealth of material in this subject that I cannot pretend to deal with all of it. I should like in passing to refer to two or three points, and to deal in a little more detail with two points. In the first place, with regard to the question of denominational and undenominational schools, to which, as we should have expected, the most reverend Primate has devoted much attention, I would only say on behalf of myself and my friends that we shall do nothing to interfere with what we hope will prove to be a workable compromise. I should be tempted, were this not so, to make some observations on the subject. Like others, I have, however, very bitter recollections of the shameful experiences (as I regard them) that we all 1010 endured some 35 years ago. They certainly prejudiced religion, as the noble Earl said, and they did infinite harm to education. If by the skilful negotiations of the President of the Board of Education, and the willingness of the different denominations to co-operate, we can secure this compromise, we shall have gained immeasurably. I shall say no more about that.
I am very glad that health services, school meals and other projects of a like kind are embodied in the scheme, and that we are to have manna of a more realistic kind provided from the nursery school to the university. I am glad also that the Board propose to inspect other schools. I am quite certain that the public schools, of which the most reverend Primate has spoken so feelingly, would be the last to have any apprehensions. They are very proud—quite rightly—of their traditions and their achievements. But I myself as a boy was sent to a school which never ought to have been allowed, and a good many other people, I expect, are in the same position. I notice that the White Paper tells us, in paragraph 109, that anybody can start a school. There is a great deal of truth in that, and for four years of my own boyhood I was at one of those places. It will be a godsend to the community if the President of the Board has power to apply an eclipse. There are a lot of places which have been started purporting to give education which have been a discredit to the name of school and to education. It is that kind of place—I believe many of them have died —which I have in my mind, and I confess I am prejudiced by my own boyish recollections. It is a good thing that the Board of Education propose to inspect all schools, and I have no doubt that all who are worthy will be assisted and made more worthy as a result.
After all, the attainment of our object depends upon those who are going to do the work—namely, the teachers—and I propose, notwithstanding the McNair Committee, to make some observations on that subject, because that is, I think, a fundamental matter. We can provide bricks and mortar easily enough, and we can make grants out of public funds, but the whole thing depends in the end upon the character and training of the teachers, the people who will do the work in the schools. I suggest that that fundamental 1011 issue should be first in our minds. It would be impossible, I think, to exaggerate the debt that we owe to a great many of our teachers, and when the exodus from London owing to the bombing was at its height, a great many of our teachers saved their schools, both in London and in the country. There were a solidarity, an enthusiasm and a school spirit which could have meant nothing more than that the teachers both inspired and led them. We owe an immense deal to those teachers.
But when we have recognized that and paid tribute to the fact, we cannot deny that there are still a good many teachers who are not very competent, and it is not their fault. I think it is because we have not set out as a nation to develop a type of teacher with sufficient width of view and a sufficient generosity of treatment. I think our training colleges and our educational system have suffered too much, in fact have suffered a great deal, from too narrow and rather pedantic a conception of what a teacher ought to be. There was a great deal behind what the noble Earl said of the conception that the black-coated worker is trained to look upon himself as something superior. It has gone right through and greatly prejudiced the type of training which has been given in some of our training colleges and the type of person who has been in college to become a teacher. If we are going to have the width of training which is contemplated in this White Paper we have to open wide the doors to the type of person whom we are going to enrol as a teacher. Our training schools will have to be fashioned and a curriculum designed so as to include a great variety of types.
If a personal recollection may be permitted, I remember that some years ago, long before I came to Westminster, it was my business to examine medically candidates from training colleges for their certificate of fitness, and I recall having had a very painful experience. There was a young man who was extraordinarily well pleased with himself. He had all the assurance which accompanies ignorance, and he was explaining to me the courses which he had been taking term after term, and doing it with great satisfaction. He suggested, quite seriously—I am not exaggerating the case at all, I am understating it—that a great subject, for instance, like 1012 astronomy could be glanced at and more or less apprehended in one term. There was, indeed, a whole gamut of subjects which he pretended to have "gone through"—his own expression—which, I suppose, he felt himself qualified to convey to others, and I remember the grieved expression which came over his face when at the end, being rather tired of this recital, I said, "Well, my dear fellow, do you really think you know anything about any of these things?" Because, being a young professor myself, the thing that impressed me more and more every year as I got on was how precious little I knew. This young man's observations betrayed a frame of mind, but did not indicate training, and I suggest that the training for teachers must be looked upon as a much longer course than it now is.
We want, as a general basis, a course which should be applicable to any intelligent citizen. I think it would be good if our training system could embrace a period of apprenticeship, both in the schools and in the world outside, and then a return to—shall I say a post-graduate course of some special training? But however this particular Committee may map it out, I am quite sure that a much wider-minded, much more generous, much more comprehensive scheme of training teachers is absolutely essential. And that is why I am very glad indeed that the noble Earl indicated the changes of administration which are proposed. As to them I have nothing to say; they seem to me entirely on the right lines. Before I leave that, may I parenthetically support all that the most reverend Primate said about internal examinations? Somehow I am not particularly friendly myself to this suggestion of the Norwood Report, at all events in its absolute form. There is a statement in this document, respecting internal examinations which appears to indicate that a wholly internal examination is a desirable thing:In the interest of the individual child and of the increased freedom and responsibility of the teaching profession, change in the school certificate examination should be in the direction of making the examination entirely internal….I hope that the President of the Board of Education will consider that very carefully.
It is true that the record of the boy or girl in the school is of first-rate importance, and it is very important that that 1013 should be taken into account. At the same time, we must take care that outside persons, experienced in ascertaining standards of boys and girls should take cognizance of this system of selection, otherwise you will have a great variety of standards. You want some kind of uniformity. You do not want some place with a low internal standard sending up a batch of students who will be rejected in another place which has a higher standard. You want some kind of uniformity which external experience would supply.
Finally, I would draw attention to the time limit in paragraphs 5 and 6 of the White Paper. It says that each portion of the plan will be adopted on an "appointed day" as and when buildings, equipment, and teachers become available.The rate at which it will be possible to proceed will depend …. on the financial resources available.It will depend on other new claims. There will be such order of priority as may be laid down, but it is hoped that within the period of the Four-Year Plan mentioned by the Prime Minister it will be possible "to complete the initial design of the future structure," and, in addition, "to take the first steps in the programme of raising the school-leaving age." I should like a little light on that. I think the House and the country would want a little light on that. What is meant by "the initial design of the future structure"? It is a very bold design, a very attractive design, and I do not think we ought to put off until after the war asking the President of the Board of Education to begin to concern himself with the initial design. We want that a long time before that.
Also I should like a little more information about what is meant by the statement in paragraph 6 that during this four years period after the war it is hoped "to take the first steps in the programme of raising the school-leaving age." What does that mean? Does it mean that in some places the school-leaving age will be fourteen and a half? Does it mean anything? It means, of course, that we must have schools, buildings, and all that, but we are entitled to more guidance—shall I say more encouragement?—as to the meaning of these words than this White Paper provides. In saying that I recollect with acute feelings what the most reverend Primate reminded us of. I was in the 1014 Cabinet at the time of the Fisher Bill, and I know what happened. I remember that atrocious Economy Committee which afterwards condemned the education of little children. It said they did not need it if they were under five. It recommended that there was no need to educate them after fourteen, and the whole thing went by the board. Twenty-three years ago that happened in the Cabinet, and I was a member of the Cabinet.
§ LORD ADDISON
My noble friend says "Shame." I was not a member of the Cabinet that disregarded the proposals. But that was put forward with lots of other things more than twenty years ago, and we have not got it yet, as the Lord Archbishop reminded us. We are entitled to some better assurance than that during the four years after the war the President of the Board of Education will be authorized to consider the initial design. I want something better than that. In that connexion there is a very important sentence in the White Paper—namely, that there are in the Forces large numbers of young men who would make capital teachers if they were brought back and given the chance. Every priority ought to be given to making arrangements to obtain an initial supply of those likely to make good teachers. There is no priority in this matter, I suggest, that we ought to accept short of every possible preparation being made beforehand so that, as soon as the war is ended, or whenever it is possible, immediate action can be taken. What we shall require more than anything else— and I pray he may be spared to supply them—are enthusiasm, courage and, above all, resolution by the President of the Board of Education.
§ LORD CLWYD
My Lords, in rising to intervene for a very few minutes in this discussion, I wish first of all to say that I am authorized by noble Lords who sit on the Liberal Benches to say that the recommendations of this White Paper have their full support, and that they will be glad to assist in any way possible in facilitating the passage of the Bill incorporating these recommendations when it is submitted to Parliament. It has been my lot to be concerned in many educational controversies, some of which the noble Earl who moved this Resolution will remember. He will also remember 1015 that Wales, with whose public and Parliamentary life I have always been closely associated, has been always in the thickest of the fight. I am very glad, however, that we are beginning the discussion of these proposals in a new atmosphere.
Before I say anything further, I should like to join in expressing my appreciation of the very great service rendered to the success of these proposals by the President of the Board of Education in his preliminary consultations with various sections of public opinion in the country. I happen to know something of what occurred in that respect in my own country of Wales, and I wish to express my view as to the importance of the qualities which the right honourable gentleman displayed in connexion with these consultations—tact, patience, and consideration. These things will help greatly, I believe, in the further progress of the principles which he has so much at heart. I should also like to congratulate the Government upon their adoption of the procedure of the White Paper. For a very long time I have advocated this procedure. I have long felt that it would be a desirable thing if major proposals, not involving political issues, were submitted to Parliament and the public before being actually incorporated in a Bill and placed before Parliament. I am glad that this procedure has been adopted in this very important undertaking in regard to education.
Just a word or two about Wales under the White Paper. First of all I may say that I think there are a number of noble Lords present to-day who will know something about the very exceptional interest Wales takes in the question of education. I am old enough to remember the passing of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act in the year 1889. I remember well the enthusiasm of the Welsh people when that Act was passed; and, as the Minister of Education knows very well, astonishing results came from the passing of that Act, results which lifted up Wales in regard to secondary education to a very high place in comparison with other parts of the country.
The second thing I want to say about Wales is this. Everybody will recognize that there are disadvantages and difficulties in connexion with the continuance of the dual system in our primary schools. These difficulties and disadvantages are 1016 more acutely felt in Wales than elsewhere, but I join with the noble Earl who moved this Motion in saying that a new factor has appeared on the scene, a factor entirely unknown in the days of old, a new spirit of compromise, of conciliation and accommodation as between the contending parties in this matter, which I think augurs well for this new great step in the history of our education. Personally not only will I do nothing to prevent this spirit prevailing, but I will do everything I can to promote it in every possible way. Some noble Lords may know that one of the greatest aspirations of my public life has been to do something to bring into closer co-operation and unity the great religious communions of this country, and I feel that in view of the momentous issues that lie before us we should do nothing to raise again those fires of sectarian strife and bitterness which have been so discreditable in the past to our educational efforts.
One more point about Wales. I want to be perfectly frank with the House in regard to my own country. It has long been felt that we have in Wales a right to exercise larger powers of self-government in education in the direction of our own system of education. There is no recommendation in the White Paper as to immediate action in this direction, and all I would say about it to-day is that I feel sure that under the new Bill when it becomes an Act there will be yet further opportunities for Wales to show what it is capable of doing in every section of educational life. I have little doubt that the effect of these developments will strengthen the claim that we make for this further power of self-government in education and that a solution will be found.
There are two points in relation to the general recommendations of the White Paper to which I would like to allude. The first is concerned with the very greatly increased powers and responsibilities of the local education authorities, if such a Bill as is intended is passed. I have had every opportunity in my own country of Wales of knowing what the local education authorities there have been doing, and I appreciate the excellent work which they have done. I am speaking only for myself now when I say that in view of this very great addition to the powers and responsibilities of the local education authorities, I think it would be desirable 1017 to provide some machinery by which a further utilization of expert educational opinion and experience should be placed at the service of these local education authorities during the next twenty or thirty years. I simply throw that out as a suggestion of my own.
The only other point to which I will refer is the most important question of religious instruction in schools. The Government have decided that steps should be taken to ensure the provision of such instruction in our primary and secondary schools. Let me state my position very frankly to the House. This is tie position, as it seems to me. Owing to changes in many things which have taken place in our national life during the last half century or more, we are now faced with this result, that only a minority, some say a small minority, of the population ever attend religious services, and it is alleged that religious instruction in the homes is seriously neglected. In view of this the Government have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to secure more definite provision for religious instruction in all our schools. Let me say that I am heartily in favour of doing this upon, of course, agreed conditions, but I would like if I may to say in this connexion that, whilst favouring this provision for enlisting aid in State schools in the interests of religious education, I think that we should at the same time realize that it is our duty as Churches to close our ranks and by fuller co-operation and a greater effort do our utmost to recapture the dominant place of religion in our national life.
In conclusion, I would only add that I am painfully conscious of the mistakes, misconceptions and failures of the past in connexion with our educational activities and endeavours, but I do not despair of the future. It is well to remember that the thoughts of men are widened by education. I believe myself that these many changes and reforms will be the means of enabling the country in time to realize the full meaning and content of religion. After all, this is an essential thing for the success of the great enterprise in which we are engaged. I therefore desire to say that these recommendations in the White Paper have my cordial support. I believe that if they are embodied in a Bill and passed into law, they will mark a big step forward along the road of education that will be the means of helping us in 1018 this country to attain our goal in the momentous future that lies before us.
§ THE EARL OF GLASGOW
My Lords, I had a Motion on the Paper regarding residential schools. I would not have put that Motion on the Paper if I had known that this debate was going to take place. I understood it would come on after the Recess. I have withdrawn my Motion, and as there are many other points in the White Paper which will be ably discussed by your Lordships in this debate, I propose to confine myself to character training. The Fleming Committee, which deals with the public schools and with, I hope, the possible setting up of national residential schools, is still sitting, and it may be at least a month before the results of its deliberations are known. The matter of these residential schools is, therefore, sub judice, but as, in the opinion of many people, the character training of our youth is of even more importance than the knowledge of the subjects in the schools curricula, I cannot feel that I am ill-advised to ask for an assurance that the Committee will give the most careful consideration to this aspect of educational reform. I realize that the Government have shown a leaning towards boarding schools by the permission they have given to local authorities to set them up, but this is really a matter for the Central Government.
There is another point I should like to make about residential schools. I think the most reverend Primate deplored the difference between the scholars in the day schools and the scholars in the public schools. I am sorry that he has left the House. The point I want to make is that if at any time national residential schools are set up in this country as a part of the education system, I am perfectly sure many parents throughout the country of all strata of the population will send their children to those schools. If they do, a great deal of what is called class feeling will disappear. It may even mean the eclipse of Eton and Rugby. That is why I am sorry the most reverend Primate has left the House. This strong desire to give the best character training to our young people, and to give it in an atmosphere where it can be effectively implanted—namely, in residential schools —has gripped the minds of many thinking people.
The Educational Institute of Scotland recently published a report of memoranda 1019 they had submitted to the Advisory Council of Education in Scotland in which they advocate the establishment of residential schools. The Federation of Women's Institutes, one of the best known organizations in the country, recently sent a questionnaire to all their branches on boarding schools. A large majority were in favour of children being sent to boarding school for some part of their school life. The reasons given were: Character training; the child's outlook on life would be broadened; it would develop unselfishness, tolerance, self-reliance, resourcefulness and initiative. It would teach the child, especially the only child, to be a good mixer. It would encourage the team spirit and develop leadership. It would result in improved habits and better discipline. It would lead to better planned times of study and leisure. It would be beneficial to health, as boarding schools would provide good simple meals and regular habits. Long daily journeys would be avoided, and a regular routine would be provided. It would lead to freedom from home perplexities. It would be a relief to parents with crowded homes and a special benefit to children with an unsatisfactory home life. A small minority were unconditionally against boarding schools on the grounds that home influence which is so important would be lost; that self-reliance and a sense of responsibility are better developed in the home; and that a good home influence is better than a boarding school training. It was noted that this type of comment tended to come from the remoter villages.
Last March the Roman Catholic Bishops in Scotland were asked by the Secretary of State to contribute their views through the Scottish Educational Advisory Council on "How the educational system can most effectively contribute to training in the duties, rights and practice of citizenship, and to make recommendations." In their reply the Bishops stressed the need—these are their words—of a recognition by the authorities of a fundamental cleavage within the existing system of education between instruction and mere presentation of facts on the one hand and of training of character and human personality on the other.They go on to say:The results of the cleavage are obvious. We need only to refer to the substantial increase in juvenile delinquency in recent years 1020 about which the Secretary of State has on more than one occasion expressed his personal concern. And the defects of character which give rise to juvenile delinquency in youth give rise in later life to all forms of civic irresponsibility.Further on in their reply the Bishops comment favourably on the setting up of residential schools in order that the teaching of citizenship can be carried on in the right surroundings. These are timely words, and I hope the Department of Education in their final planning, which has yet to be completed, will recognize this cleavage and will do all in their power to bridge the gap between instruction and character training.
There is something wrong with our education to-day which has nothing to do with large classes, lack of teachers and perhaps an over-loaded syllabus. Whatever is wrong owing to these reasons, and perhaps others, may be much improved by the excellent reforms in educational administration laid down in the White Paper. But mere technical efficiency is not enough. The nation must have a soul. Our children must be taught the difference between right and wrong. They should be made to understand through a firm but kind discipline that to tell a lie or to steal is not done by decent men and women. They must, in fact, be taught the precepts of morality, self-reliance, responsibility and all those things which make good citizens. One would naturally expect the development of a child's character to be undertaken in the home, and if all homes were good homes, all might be well, but we know perfectly well that a great many homes are bad places for children to be in, where parents are slack and indifferent to the moral well-being of their children. This applies to all sections of the population. A great number of parents are not qualified spiritually to give this kind of training, and therefore it must be given in the nation's schools.
The question then arises, why cannot it be given in the present schools? My answer is that they are day schools, and it is not possible to give the best character training in day schools. I do not want to see the day schools done away with. They have their own place. Residential schools should be complementary to the day schools, and boys might be sent to them from, say, the age of twelve for a long or a short period as may be deter- 1021 mined. My criticism of the day school is that a child has little opportunity of absorbing those qualities which are the attributes of a good citizen, because, up to the age of fourteen, he is tied to his mother's apron strings. There is a lack of continuity in his life. Part of the day is spent in the school and part in the home, and, in the opinion of educationists, different and opposite standards of life are upsetting to children. The boy goes from the school, where he is to a certain extent controlled, to a home which may be a good or a bad place for him. I believe that the son of parents who can afford to send him to a residential school has a better chance of becoming a good citizen, however unsatisfactory his home may be, because in a residential school, suitably staffed, he spends a greater part of the year in an atmosphere which teaches him unselfishness and service to the community.
It may sound inhuman, but I would like to see our young people torn from their mother's apron strings. I should like to see them standing on their own feet, facing their troubles alone, in some place where they cannot run for sympathy to their parents. That is the way, I think, to train a boy not to be dismayed when, in after life, he finds himself facing an emergency or some difficult problem alone. For all this, the boarding school is a better preparation for life than the day school. It has been said—indeed it has been stated in the debate to-day —that parents do not want to part with their children, and that nothing would induce working-class mothers to let their children leave home for months at a time. That is a very natural feeling, and it is due to that feeling that in European countries residential schools hardly exist. Nevertheless, foreigners look on this system, as it is operated here—a very attenuated system compared with the size of the population—with admiration, not only for the splendid results achieved, but also for the self-sacrifice made by the parents. Parents here who part with their children at an early age hate doing so. They only do it because they are absolutely certain that it gives them the best preparational education in the world for soul and body.
When this becomes known to our people I do not believe that there will be any lack of desire to send their children to such schools. I feel some concern in the possibility 1022 that even if the Board of Education authorities agree in principle that a better citizen can be turned out as the result of a boarding school education, they may consider the obstacles to be so great that, in their opinion, the setting up of national residential schools would be impracticable. In that case I am afraid they may concentrate on partially meeting the situation by arranging for the transfer of a small number of boys from the maintained schools to the so-called public schools. That of course is a mere drop in the ocean.
I would like to ask the noble Lord who is going to reply on behalf of the Government if it would not be possible to adapt a certain number of the secondary schools as residential schools if the expense of erecting new buildings was considered prohibitive. I admit that I see objections, but perhaps they are not insuperable. I have received a letter from a divisional secretary of the National Union of Teachers suggesting that many of the military hutment camps all over the country might be taken over as a beginning and made suitable for residential schools. I think that it is a very good idea from the point of view of the cost He believes, and I believe, that it would be of the greatest benefit to the children from the towns if they could spend a great part of the year in rural surroundings. These huts are perfectly comfortable and the expense which would be involved in adapting them would not be excessive. I must admit after hearing the remarks of the noble Earl who started the debate about the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that I am afraid he would have a lot to say about these proposals, and even that he might oppose this one with regard to hutments on the ground that the scheme would be too expensive. But at any rate it would be less expensive than setting up buildings.
I am glad that the Government are taking a step forward with regard to religious teaching. It is a small step, but it is a step in the right direction, and it shows that the Government are alive to its importance. The Norwood Committee, in their Report, rightly draw a distinction between Scripture knowledge and religious education—the first, they say, being definitely a curriculum subject while the second is not. And they point out that the second is by far the more important. The Report draws attention to the im- 1023 portance of the personality of the headmaster or teacher who has to implant ill the pupils intangible spiritual values, and it suggests that in the fulfilment of this end the atmosphere of the boarding school is much more helpful than that of the day school. And the Committee made the same point which I made to your Lordships to-day, that the day school has not the same chance because—to use the words of the Report—too often, though not always, it might be fighting a battle with conflicting standards, or with indifference in the home.To be fair I should go on a little:The Committee consider that even the day school can do much by making the school prayers something of which the school can be proud, and in that and other ways they think religion can be made more real.I cannot agree wholeheartedly with this. The atmosphere of the average day school is not sympathetic to religious teaching. Of course, there are exceptions I know, but as a rule this is true unless the teaching is given by a devout believer whose earnest wish is to pass on his beliefs to his pupils.
On this whole question of character training I do not wish to be misunderstood. The British nation are a people of character and resolution. Our men, most of them from the day schools, are showing self-sacrifice, responsibility and leadership in all parts of the world in this great crisis in our country's history. I know all that. I know it because I have served with them. But there are shades and degrees of character, and all I ask is that our people should receive the best training so that they will show during the years of peace the same splendid qualities which are brought out in them by war. I would like to say how thoroughly I appreciate, as I am sure do your Lordships, the enormous amount of thought, work and time which has been given by the members of the Committees engaged on this all-important work of reconstructing our educational system, and the great success which they have achieved; but I should like to feel that the setting up of residential schools is a goal towards which we are striving, in order that all sections of our people should receive that special training for life which, up to the present, has been enjoyed only by the few. I fully realize that the setting up of such schools will be a great undertaking, and 1024 that there are many other things which after the war may have to take priority over it; but I hope that the noble Earl who replies will say that the Government believe in the principle of residential schools for all, and that it is a goal at which they are aiming possibly over a period of years. Personally, I firmly believe that the character training of our youth is an absolute necessity if we wish the British race to continue to hold its high place and its leadership amongst the nations of the world.
§ LORD RANKEILLOUR
My Lords, I may tell your Lordships that I have never stood up to speak, either here or in another place, with more reluctance than I do to-day. I know something of the efforts of the President of the Board of Education, and I fully realize all the work that he has done in dealing with the most difficult problems with which he has been confronted. I admire in particular the way which he is proposing to relieve children from the tyranny of examinations, the way in which it is evident that he looks on education as a matter far more of character than of knowledge, and above all his desire that it should be based upon a religious foundation. I am also aware of the disability under which he suffers, in that he has had to work under the cold shadow of Treasury control.
When, however, I pass from sympathy and admiration to the bare naked facts of the proposals which are before us, it is my duty to say that the provisions with regard to voluntary schools are inequitable for all managers, and simply impossible for my own community. They are impossible for two reasons: because of their certainty, and because of their uncertainty. There is the certainty of an enormous sum to be raised. That is admitted, in the first instance, in paragraph 46 of the White Paper, where it is said:It will be beyond the financial resources of most managers to meet unaided the bill which must be met ….Again—and this is really more important, although less in the public view—paragraph 50 says thatthe need for modernization or replacement of much of the non-provided school accommodation for junior and infant children faces the Churches with a financial problem greater in extent and no less urgent than that in respect of senior children.So far we have the certainty.
1025 We now come to the uncertainty, the uncertainty of what will be the sum involved. I have had supplied to me figures for the cost of rebuilding or remodelling old schools and providing new schools in the case of senior schools in sixteen out of our eighteen dioceses. The result is somewhat startling. According to the best estimates possible, the cost will be over £ 6,000,000. Taking half of that away, it leaves £ 3,000,000 to be found privately. That is for the senior schools alone, and we are told that for schools other than senior schools the cost will be more. We cannot say how much more, but, if we take the part to be found privately for those schools at £ 3,500,000, that will mean that between £ 6,000,000 and £ 7,000,000 will have to be found privately. I am very well aware that estimates of this kind and in this, connexion, as in many other connexions, are impossible to verify, but they may be wrong not only by being too high but also by being too low. We know that costs have risen very greatly; I think that the most reverend Primate himself said that they were twice as great as they used to be. I put these figures forward, therefore, as the best which can be given at the moment, but I would willingly ask for more exact estimates to be obtained by competent and impartial people, so that we may have some basis to go upon which may be as near the truth as it is as possible to get.
The most reverend Primate said that we should be glad that half the cost is to be found out of public funds, and that that was something which we should not have dreamed of ten years ago. A great deal, however, has happened since then. Costs have risen enormously—they have probably at least doubled, if we may trust some of the statements made recently in another place, which would be confirmed, I think, by the experience of the Ministry of Works. If what used to cost £ 500 now costs £ 1,200, it is not much consolation to be told that we are to be allowed £ 600. In truth, however, there is complete uncertainty as to the whole situation. We are told that the Act of 1936 is to be brought to life again, and that will give us, if universally applied, another 25 per cent., but we do not know whether local authorities are still willing to do what they were willing to do a few years ago. I will not say that we do not know how many of them will honour their 1026 word, because it was not their word but merely their intention, and I do not know that they would not be justified in departing from it. There is no certainty there either. In addition to that, local option is surely not the way to deal with a matter of this importance.
I was very glad to hear the reference which the most reverend Primate made to new schools. When we have schools which now exist and which have done good work in the past, very often at great sacrifice, then, if new schools of the same type but adapted to the changing movements of the population have to be provided, it is surely not too much to ask that they should be provided with due regard to the wishes and the demands of the parents. That is surely not unreasonable, if we are to have that unity in diversity which we all desire. From our point of view, of course, there is no question of wishing to have other than our own children in our own schools. If ever there was—which I very much doubt, unless perhaps in some little village school—any idea of using the school for propaganda and proselytizing purposes, that exists no longer. It is, I repeat, only for our own schools for our own children that we want equal opportunities. I am afraid that an idea is prevalent that because we have made such great sacrifices in the past we should be able to do so in the future. If that is held—and I am afraid it is— I can only say it smacks of the fiscal policy of King Henry VII. Henry VII used to judge people's ability to pay tax not by their possessions but by their past expenditure. When he saw a lavish entertainment given to himself he thought at once that was proof that those who gave him the entertainment could afford to pay a more substantial tax, and he instructed his joint Secretaries to the Treasury accordingly.
What is at the bottom of all this difficulty? I suggest that it lies very largely in what I can call the domination of the Cowper-Temple clause. That may have been a convenient formula, but it is a very strange formula and works very strangely. For instance, the English Church Catechism is barred by it, it is illegal. The Shorter Catechism of the Presbyterians is equally illegal, our own Catechism is equally illegal; but the Free Church Catechism would not be illegal. I do not say they would ever try to impose 1027 it, but it would not be illegal, because it covers more than one denomination. I am told—and this is I think the strangest case of all—that not only is it perfectly legal but it has been done, that Jewish teachers have taught in council schools, giving Jewish religious instruction to Jewish children, and they are able to do that if they base it on the Old Testament, because the Old Testament is common to them and to others. I say it is perfectly right that they should, but it is a very strange result of the Cowper-Temple clause. I believe, if I had the vanity and the time to do it, I could draft a Catechism which on its positive side—not on its omissions, but on its positive side— would be acceptable to the Church of England as well as to ourselves. But if in that I were to insist on an episcopal jurisdiction (short of that of the Bishop of Rome) that would not make it illegal, though it would cause a considerable explosion if it were suggested it should be taught at the public expense at what I may call the other end. It is really a strange position. If you can get something which one other denomination agrees with, that makes it legal, but if you cannot get it then you have to pay a luxury tax out of your own pocket, just as you pay a luxury tax on a dozen of champagne.
May I ask you to consider what you are now doing? You are setting up a form of religion available for all, and for which all must pay. To that I do not object. Just as I acquiesce in the fact of the establishment of the Church of England, so I say better a thousand times what I must call an imperfect presentation of Christianity than the barren logic of secularism. But what is the religious teaching you are setting up? Of course, it is dogmatic—I am glad we have got rid of the nonsense that used to be talked thirty or forty years ago about undogmatic religion. If a thing is undogmatic it is not religion. It may be an emotion, it may be a speculation, but it is not religion, because religion is something that binds by its very name. But you are setting up, to be paid for by all and available for all, a common denominator of the beliefs of the heirs of the English sixteenth century Reformation. Here again, for the reason I have said, I welcome it. But obviously it cannot apply to us, and I do object to a heavy fine because we wish to go further for our 1028 children and include something which we regard as vital and essential. And now that those who most opposed the Bill of 1902 will have got all the instruction they like available everywhere I think it is not going too far to ask for a little reciprocity.
There never was a time when men of good will thought more of what they agreed upon than of what they differed upon. There never was a time when we ought to pull together more in what we and no doubt others pray for every Sunday, the sacred cause of freedom. And it is really heartrending to think that in a matter of life and death for our schools we may have to engage in a new domestic struggle, that we may have to employ all the old machinery of controversy, the petitions, the meetings, the protests, the deputations to Ministers and members of another place, when we ought to be thinking of those things which we all have in common. However, I do not wish to end on too gloomy a note. This is not a Bill, and the Scottish solution, which is condemned in these proposals though by far the fairest, both logical and fair, is not the only possible solution; but I do ask the Government, and I think I may appeal to the noble Earl, because I know what convictions he has, to see to it to the best of his power that a loyal body of His Majesty's subjects should not be placed under a sense of rankling injustice at a time of all others when we ought all to be united.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
My Lords, I trust this debate will bring both satisfaction and encouragement to my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Education. Speaking as a Free Churchman, I feel it would be difficult to exaggerate our indebtedness to the President and the Parliamentary Secretary, and all those associated with them for the painstaking care and laborious work they have expended in their endeavour to recast our whole education service on a national basis. I desire especially to acknowledge the patience and understanding they have shown in their efforts to secure an equitable solution of the religious difficulty. I think Free Churchmen generally would desire to be associated with this expression of appreciation. If all that was hoped for has not yet been accomplished, that is the more reason to welcome the intention of the Government to proceed with educational 1029 reform, and that, after all, is all that we are asked to do in the Motion before your Lordships' House this afternoon. I gratefully acknowledge the courage displayed and the vision shown in the proposals now adumbrated. As was said by the noble Lord who has just sat down, this is not the occasion to examine in detail all the proposals of the White Paper, because we are not engaged on the Committee stage of a Bill or even the Second Reading, but on a preliminary discussion, and are thus more concerned with the broad outlines of policy. It is also a golden opportunity, as I see it, to try and secure as much unanimity as possible before the Bill itself is drafted.
As I am anxious not to trespass unduly on your Lordships' time, let me turn at once to the all-important subject of religious education. Speaking in your Lordships' House in a previous debate on this subject, I said quite frankly that "we look forward to the day when the dual system of education will make way for one great national system." That being our position, is it any wonder that we are disappointed with the White Paper? In view of the disabilities suffered by Nonconformists in single-school areas and the iniquitous position in which the teaching profession is placed, while most anxious to avoid unnecessary controversy I cannot refrain from expressing disappointment at the Government's decision to try and mend, rather than to end, the dual system. I am genuinely sorry to sound a discordant note, but I am tempted to compare the White Paper to Mussolini's ladle of castor oil, and resent it accordingly; but I refrain. What I do say most deliberately is that if the Government anticipate that Free Churchmen generally will swallow these proposals whole, then I believe they, like Mussolini, will experience disillusionment. I am not questioning the Government's good intentions. I only hope that the road so paved will bring them to the goal they desire, and not elsewhere.
Coming to the concrete proposals of the White Paper, I confess to some trepidation in regard to paragraphs 49 and 55, reviving the provisions of the Education Act of 1936, because if what is contemplated is the making of from 50 to 75 per cent. grants from public funds for the building or reconstruction of auxiliary denominational schools, to be known in future as "local agreement schools," but 1030 without the previous safeguards, then I can only say that the clause or clauses in the new Bill dealing with such proposals will of necessity require to be very carefully—I had almost said critically—scrutinized. I submit that the Education Act of 1936 did recognize the principle that where Government grants are paid for reconstruction of senior schools or the erection of new ones, the appointment of teachers should be handed over to the local education authorities. Is that principle now to be abandoned? Are such grants, ranging up to 75 per cent., to be made from public funds while allowing the denominationalists to retain the power to appoint teachers?
What I want especially to deal with is paragraph 56, where two alternatives are offered to all other voluntary schools. In regard to Alternative B in the category to be known as "aided schools," I cannot help feeling that the Government will experience some difficulty in defending a direct grant from the Exchequer to such schools without any adequate compensation to the public in the matter of democratic control. In that connexion may I ask what safeguards the Government have in mind to prevent those denominational schools in single-school areas, using the 50 per cent. grant towards the improvement of their buildings and then carrying on practically as before? I would urge that at least in these schools it should be definitely laid down that the general religious instruction should be from an agreed syllabus, to be supplemented by denominational teaching on two days a week for those children whose parents desire it. I would ask, too, that there should be some increased representation of parents of the children on the managing committees of these schools. I know it may be said that the parents have not evinced any great interest in this matter, but we are trying to educate a fresh generation of parents.
Better than all that is another proposal altogether that I want to submit in reference to single-school areas. I hope I shall not be thought unhelpfully critical, because that is not my wish at all. On the contrary, I want to go as far as I possibly can in general support of the White Paper. I recognize that it represents an attempt at a compromise. I therefore pass over much that in the old days I should have fastened on. Destructive criticism, as the noble Lord has just 1031 said, is valueless, but what will, I trust, be welcomed is any constructive proposal. I want to submit one, and to concentrate on that; but before doing so let me just say this. Nearly forty years ago when, notwithstanding my being a Nonconformist, I was elected Liberal Member of Parliament for the Cathedral City of Rochester, I put in the forefront of my election address the need for "good elementary and technical education free from sectarian bias," and that "public money must not be spent unless there is effective public control, and no religious tests should be applied to those who serve the State." By these words I stand, and I avow myself now a Liberal, albeit unattached.
I have been a member of your Lordships' House for more than a dozen years, and thus long enough to know that candour and sincerity are always respected by your Lordships. I am emboldened therefore to draw attention to a serious blot on the White Paper to which I, as a Free Churchman, take the gravest exception; other points I am content to leave over until we get the Bill. The problem above all others, in my submission, that cries aloud for redress is that of the single-school areas. If the proposals of the White Paper are translated into an Act of Parliament, this grievance is likely to be perpetuated for generations to come. I am not going to attempt to harrow your Lordships' feelings with illustrations of this injustice, more especially as I refuse to despair of a settlement by consent with sacrifices on both sides, coupled with the fullest respect for the convictions of all concerned. There is no need to labour the point. The position can be put in a nutshell. There are practically no Roman Catholic schools in single-school areas.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
Very few. Methodists have now, for a long while, made it their policy to surrender any school where it would be replaced by a State school. That leaves the Church of England schools, of which there are still some 4,000 in areas where the only school is their denominational school. As to how many of these, in such single-school areas, will opt for Alternative A and become "controlled schools," I can- 1032 not of course say, but I very much hope most of them. My plea concerns the residuum, whether many or few, which would then become "aided schools" under Alternative B of the White Paper. My appeal is to the Government and the Church of England that, in the case of single-school areas, there should be no choice of alternatives, but that all schools in such areas should become "controlled schools," and the Church should be relieved of all financial obligations accordingly in these cases. Failing such an alteration, it seems to me almost incredible that the choice between the two alternatives should be decided by the weight of money, which is the criterion provided in the White Paper. I submit that that savours too much of the marketplace, and is altogether unworthy of the serious issue involved. For upon such a decision depends whether or not children of Nonconformist parents should be compelled to attend a Church school, where the atmosphere, in some cases, may not be altogether free from opposition to the Protestant faith.
I ask the Government to explore this avenue of approach to the solution of a grievous wrong. It may be asking a good deal of the Church, but if they can find it in their hearts to make this gesture to their fellow Christians—albeit of other communions—I believe the effect in the country, yes, and its reflex action upon the Church itself, would more than compensate for any sacrifice entailed. Needless to say I have the profoundest respect for the convictions of others, even if I cannot share their point of view, and my anxiety is, as the noble Lord who preceded me just now put it, to emphasize the things upon which we agree, not those on which we differ. I am convinced that there is a measure of deep underlying spiritual unity amongst all those who seek to follow the meek and lowly Christ, Who said "I am among you as He that serveth." Certainly we have this in common, we all desire to serve what we believe to be the best interests of the children. I understand that a later speaker in this debate is to be the most reverend Prelate the Archbishop of York, than whom there is no more brotherly man in the Methodist ministry—I am sorry, I should have said in the Anglican ministry; no, I am not sorry for the former statement is equally true, and, if 1033 the most reverend Primate will not misunderstand me, I will add that I view both ministries as equally regular and valid. If, when the most reverend Prelate the Archbishop of York intervenes later, he is able to express any willingness on the part of the Church to consider sympathetically this proposal, it will add to our indebtedness to him.
One further word. In a recent debate on education in your Lordships' House I emphasized the inestimable value of daily and reverent corporate worship in the schools, and I should like to acknowledge very gratefully the statutory provision in that regard which is now foreshadowed in the White Paper. The deep and anxious concern of Free Churchmen in regard to religious education in no way lessens their interest in, or their appreciation of, the wider aspects of education generally, but rather accentuates both. I welcome the intention of the Government to proceed with educational reform and in that sense I support the Motion while retaining full liberty in regard to the Bill when it eventually comes before your Lordships' House.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
My Lords, I am very much tempted to take up certain remarks made by the noble Lord who has just sat down, but for me it is a race against time to catch a train. There are one or two things I want especially to say however which indirectly answer some of the things that the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, has just said. I want to add my thanks to the Minister of Education and the Government for the general proposals they have made. I am quite sure that all those who have had the advantages of the best education— primary, secondary and university—will welcome those general proposals so far as they open up, as I hope, the same opportunities to the bulk of our fellow-citizens in the future. But I wish I felt as happy about the religious side of this question as I do about the general proposals.
It is quite obvious that the Government are now absolutely sincere in realizing the very general wish of the country that religious education should be given "a more defined place," quoting their words, "in the life and work of the schools," recognize the importance of religious education as a basis of all sound education (from our point of view) and the need for emphasizing the importance of it. The 1034 fact is that the country had a very rude shock, and I hope it will not get over it for a very long time, when it awoke to the fact that what we thought was a Christian education given in our national system has this result, or partially this result anyway, that in spite of all the advance in education, in technique, in buildings and in equipment, there is a far more widespread ignorance of the Bible and of the elements of the Christian faith and religion than there was fifty years ago. Anyone in any denomination who is in touch with that side of life will, I am sure, bear me out in saying that. Really there is little wonder at this. The noble Lord who has just sat down, Lord Rochester, apparently does not want any qualifications for teachers except those that have existed and the only qualification has been willingness.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
Will the right reverend Prelate forgive me? I emphasized that point in a previous debate in your Lordships' House, saying that I felt everything depended on having teachers who had a personal experience of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
I am quite aware of that and was shocked to hear the noble Lord give vent to a suggestion just now that there must be no question of tests for teachers at all, not even a test of knowledge of the subject.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
The Minister of Education and the Government have at long last, like many individuals no doubt, awakened to the fact that the only qualification for teaching in the past has been willingness, and now they have added competence, but they do not define "competence." I suppose that a definition given to the word "competence" or "teachers competent to teach" would depend largely on what we thought was the object and aim of the teaching given in the school. I should like to refer to that subject for a moment or two because it seems to me of the utmost importance. I think there would be general agreement if any crowd of persons were asked to say what they wanted in this respect. They would say that what we wanted to produce was Christian character. The question is, how you are going to produce it.
1035 No one who has made any sort of study of the life and teaching of the Founder of the Christian Church can possibly have any doubt as to what He believed is the way to attain Christian character— namely, through what we now know as the Christian creed and the practice of the Christian religion. Anyone who has studied the history of the Christian Church from the Acts of the Apostles down to the present day must realize that this is really the unbroken faith and belief of the Christian Church in all its parts. Certainly I have never come across any Christian denomination which would not stand for the belief that the Christian faith is the basis of the Christian character.
If we are to produce Christian character we must see to it that our children are given definite instruction by teachers who know that faith, and I am quite sure the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, would agree with me that you cannot teach the Christian faith—you cannot get it across to anyone else—unless you believe it yourself. That I know involves a very difficult question, but we must face that question if we are really going to produce Christian character and Christian living in this country. But that in itself is not enough. Instruction is absolutely essential, but it must go alongside education. It may be my false reading of the White Paper, but it seems to me that the White Paper rather mixes up instruction and education as if they were interchangeable terms. I do not think they are, and I am quite sure the President of the Board of Education does not think they are. Education, especially education in the Christian religion and the Christian way of life, is something different from mere instruction as to what the Christian faith is or what the Christian way of life is. It is education in the ever-increasing knowledge of God as being the basis of all Christian character, and incidentally as the basis of loving your neighbour as yourself. It is education in the science and art of Christian worship as the basis of all Christian life. It is education in the knowledge of God's laws and education in obedience to those laws. It is education in dependence upon Him and co-operation with Him in prayer, to enable you to know His laws and obey them. It is education in the 1036 Christian's duty to his fellow-men in the law of fellowship. That education I submit, can really only be satisfactorily given within the environment of a worshipping, witnessing, working and fighting Christian fellowship. I say "a" Christian fellowship because I believe it is absolutely essential that it should be within the environment of some Christian fellowship.
What we complain about is that in the past Christian teaching in our schools has not been effective. I know that people will say that is because the Bishops and clergy and other people have not done their job, and I am quite prepared to acknowledge a share in the failure, but if it is to be effective in the future, we must recognize the basic principle that Christian character can only be produced and sustained in the environment of a worshipping Christian fellowship. A much closer liaison must somehow be established between the school and the Church. The White Paper is not very encouraging on this subject of religious teaching because in paragraph 54 it says the one principle which must not be ignored is the principle embodied in the Cowper-Temple clause of the 1870 Act. That principle has come to be known as undenominationalism. It has been tried out since 1870 for 73 years, and we know some of the results. Undenominational Christianity produces undenominational Christians. Are we really going to perpetuate this fallacious and pernicious idea that you can be a practising and real Christian without trying to be a practising member of some Christian fellowship? In this I am not asking for any preferential treatment for the Church of England or any other body. I plead that in all schools children should be taught that being a Christian means belonging to a worshipping Christian fellowship. You cannot be a Christian in any other way, any more than you can be a fighting sailor, a fighting soldier or a fighting airman without belonging to the Royal Navy or the Army or the Royal Air Force.
I do not mean you could not be a good man, but if you want to produce what I am sure we all do want to produce, there is only one certain way of doing it. We must recognize this basic principle and I would plead with the Government and plead with my Free Church brothers to reconsider the decision apparently arrived at not to allow denominational teaching 1037 to be given on school premises and within school hours. I would plead that the permission granted to non-Anglicans to receive that teaching in local agreement schools, should be given to children of all denominations in all schools, both primary and secondary, so that we might get much closer liaison between the school and the worshipping fellowship to which the child belongs. We want freedom of worship— that is one of the things we are fighting for—and we do not want to interfere with the Nonconformist or the Free Churchman or whatever he is called, any more than we want to interfere with the Roman Catholics. We want every denomination that is really out to do the job properly and is recognized as a Christian denomination to be treated in the same way.
The paragraph of the White Paper dealing with the position of the voluntary schools begins by saying:An embarrassing feature of the public system of education has been the existence within it of voluntary (or non-provided) schools…That is not very encouraging. In the opinion of the Government the voluntary schools have been a sort of mosquito, which I understand was created for one purpose, "to keep you up to scratch. "I am not sure that voluntary schools have not done that. We should not have got this White Paper on education to-day unless the voluntary schools had made themselves a nuisance. But it is not that I want to stand for. I stand for what I believe is absolutely essential; first, that in all schools children should be taught that you cannot really be a Christian unless you are inside a Christian fellowship, and secondly, that there ought to be a much closer liaison and co-operation between the school and the worshipping fellowship.
I cannot believe that the Government, if they considered this question, would not find a way of doing it without giving any preferential treatment to any one particular denomination. The endeavour should be to link up teaching in the classroom with education—the continuous education from infancy to death—within the living fellowship of the worshipping body of Christ.
§ LORD QUICKSWOOD
My Lords, I might have felt tempted by the very comprehensive character of the White Paper to attempt a survey of the whole problem 1038 of education in this country at the present time. But though that would be the scientific, the oratorical and the graceful way of addressing the subject, it would not accord with the requirements of time, or the convenience of your Lordships' House. I, therefore, shall endeavour to earn by brevity the advantage which I abandon under the heading of grace, and shall address myself to two or three points only at the risk of making a rather dishevelled and disorganized speech.
With respect to the religious settlement proposed in the White Paper I agree with the most reverend Primate that in some respects it is astonishingly considerate of the position of voluntary schools. Certainly it is more considerate than anything which could possibly have been put forward forty or fifty years ago. But I am afraid that my criticism of it would be like that of the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken, and like that of Lord Rankeillour, that it does not really do what we all, or most of us, desire to do. I think that it suffers from addressing itself to the question from what may be called the diplomatic point of view. That is perhaps natural in that the President of the Board of Education has inherited the liking for this line of approach from a very long tradition. For a very long time—certainly for the whole of my lifetime—the problem of education has been thought of as one in respect of which consideration must be given to many people and bodies, all of whom must be consulted. The Board of Education, the local education authority, the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, and the teachers have all been thought of, and it has been the endeavour to try to find something that will not, indeed, please all but will not displease all of them so violently as to wreck the education of the country. That has always been the way in which the subject has been treated, and it is so treated in the White Paper.
It is not, in my view, the way in which you will ultimately solve the problem. I do not think we can ever satisfactorily deal with religious convictions in the manner of compromise. You will never please anybody that way, and you tend to spread an atmosphere of inefficiency through all branches of your—in this case—system of religious education. To put it a little differently, what is it that we want to do? The noble Lord opposite, Lord Clwyd, expressed the view that there is a general 1039 impression that all places of worship tend to grow emptier and emptier. I am not quoting his actual words, but that is, in effect, what he said. And it is quite true. It does not apply to any one denomination rather than another. They all complain alike that their congregations do not grow larger but rather tend to grow smaller on the whole. That means that a very great part of the population are growing up to be not practising Christians, and we want to bring that to an end. We want to make our educational system such that it will turn out practising Christians. We want to do it—and I am sure that we are all sincere in saying this—with perfect impartiality. If there ever were any perverted people who aimed at using the State system of education for converting children from one religion to another, I do not think that any such exist to-day. We sincerely wish to see the Methodist child grow up to be a good Methodist, the Roman Catholic child grow up to be a good Roman Catholic, the Church of England child grow up to be a good member of that Church, and the Congregationalist child grow up to be a good member of the Congregationalist body. That is what we should all like to see. The same applies to the Jews. We want the Jews to be good Jews. We do not want to use the State system to convert anybody from one opinion to another. But I do not think we shall succeed in our aims through the White Paper.
It is not that I doubt the value intellectually of an agreed syllabus. I am sure that it will be an excellent thing in certain ways. But the point is that within two years after a child leaves school, even if you keep him there until he is sixteen years of age, he will have forgotten what he learnt about religion. We know how easily he forgets what he learns on secular subjects, but he will forget about his religious teaching far more easily unless he goes to church or chapel regularly. If he does not go regularly to a place of worship there is nothing to keep it in his mind. Whenever he picks up a newspaper he is reminded afresh of secular subjects which he was taught at school, and so they do not fade so easily from his memory. As to religious subjects, though, he will probably forget the whole of what he has been taught within a very few years, and will fall back on what is now the traditional attitude—the attitude of 1040 "going nowhere." Dr. Winnington-Ingram, when he was Bishop of London, used frequently to say that, in his experience, when he asked youths about their religious opinions and practices nine out of ten of them said that they "went nowhere," and they were put down on the list as "G.N's"—Go-nowheres. An agreed syllabus will not stop you having such people.
Moreover, an agreed syllabus, however theoretically excellent, is theologically and devotionally inefficient. It does not lead people to worship. It will not really bring people to fill the churches and chapels which are now so empty. I would have people address their minds to the problem strictly from what may be called the pragmatic point of view. We want to fill the places of worship. What education will fill them? So far as I can see there is no possible solution except to have a system of education which associates a child with whatever religious body its parents prefer that it should be associated with. If, from the beginning, you teach the child that it is a necessary part of its religion to go to church or chapel on Sunday, there is at any rate a hope that some of the children will keep that instruction after they leave school, because week by week they will have had a call to put it into practice. The occasion will arise and they will go to church or chapel, and so a habit will be formed and the difficulty will solve itself. It is that practical argument, and not any theological criticism, which seems to me to point to the fatal weakness of any plan, however excellent, for an agreed syllabus. An agreed syllabus can never fill the churches; the most that it can do is to make the child for a time instructed in the Apostles' Creed or in the New Testament. Excellent in its way as that instruction may be, it does not do what you want to do.
Lord Rochester complained of the single-school area. Nobody dislikes in theory the single-school area more than I do. It is founded on a thoroughly false principle. What the State should do is to give to the children the kind of religious instruction which the parents want them to have, and to provide only one kind of religious instruction in a single area is evidently quite wrong. I think, however, that Lord Rochester should concede to me that the same principle should be 1041 applied to every provided school in the country. They should all furnish the religious instruction that the parents want. That is done in other countries to some extent, and I think that it could be done, except for very small bodies of children, everywhere in this country. But you must want to do it. What really stands in the way of it is that we cannot persuade our Free Church brethren to do what we want them to do—to make their own children, the children of parents who belong to their own body, good members of their own body. I am certain that unless you bring up a child of Methodist parents to be a good Methodist, you cannot possibly hope that he will be brought up to be a good Christian. Unless you attach him in the days of his childhood to the Methodist Church, and let that organization have influence over him, he will drift away. All the forces which are negative will operate upon him and he will become one of those who have no particular religious convictions.
I do not believe, therefore, that the White Paper will solve the question of religious education. Nevertheless I quite recognize that it is most carefully thought out, and from the point of view of actually maintaining the voluntary schools it may possibly be more favourable than my noble friend Lord Rankeillour thinks. It is very difficult to judge, because one cannot tell what will be the atmosphere after the war in which the Bill will be worked, and a great deal will depend on that. Nevertheless, whether it saves the voluntary schools or whether it destroys them, I am quite sure that it does not do what we all want to do. I am sure that our churches and chapels will be just as empty fifteen or twenty years hence if this Bill becomes law as they are to-day. From that point of view, I cannot feel that it is a satisfactory solution.
I should like to say something about residential schools, but I shall probably be wiser if I do not, because my point of view is so different from that held by others on the one side and on the other. There are some people who would like to destroy the public school. I need hardly say that I do not sympathize with them. It seems to me that, since there are parents who like to send their children to a public school, and since there are public schools ready to educate the children, it is mere tyranny to interfere with that. On the 1042 other hand, the enthusiastic admirers of public schools, who wish every child in the country to have such an education, are, I think, quite equally foolish, though much less tyrannical. One great advantage of the public schools is their variety, the fact that they are so unlike one another and give not, as is often supposed, one type of education, but a great many types of education, so that parents have a large choice by which they can benefit.
I quite agree that if there are working-class parents who wish to send their children to a public school, and who are restrained by the expense, the State should furnish whatever money is necessary. There is not the smallest objection on the part of the public schools to bursaries being given to any working-class children whose parents wish to send them to any of the historic schools, or to any of the public schools of the country. When, however, we hear of a "public-school type," I cannot help reflecting that so far as the seven or nine historic schools are concerned, the boys of any of those schools would hear with the most marked disapprobation that they belong to the same type as boys from any of the other public schools. The truth is that a good deal of roseate colour has surrounded the public schools in the minds of persons who were at one time educated in them, and there is a certain unreality about the whole subject. I should like a common-sense view taken of them, as institutions which offer a kind of education which many people like, which is a perfectly harmless kind of education, and which, therefore, may reasonably be given and accepted in a free country. I should never put it higher than that. I should never try to force anybody into a public school. On the other hand, I would have the doors as wide open as possible, with any financial assistance necessary, so that anyone who chose could come to them.
If there should be a big demand for residential schools, by all means let the Government build residential schools, but let them try to imitate what is really good in the public schools, and that is their variety. Do not let us have a fixed pattern created by the Board of Education of residential secondary schools, of which when you have seen one you have seen them all, because they are all so much alike. That will certainly be of no value. Let each school have its own individual life; 1043 let the children be proud of belonging to that particular school, and not to a State system of schools. I hear with great impatience people who always want to have a national system. I always detest the word "national"; it smacks of that nationalism which has been the curse of Europe. In education you do not want a system; you want personality. You do not want colourless regulations which make everybody like everybody else, and spread a sullen uniformity over the whole body of educated people. I read in the Church Times the other day that what was wanted was the integration of the educational system of the country. I say that you do not want to integrate it; on the contrary, you want to disintegrate it, and make it as various as possible. You want to make it correspond to all the innumerable types and varieties of human nature, so that each child shall receive the education which happens to suit it. That is the ideal. You cannot quite attain it, but you should come as near to it as you can. If you set up residential schools, let them be as various in character as are the great public schools; let them imitate that great quality of variety and unlikeness to other schools, and then you will add to the resources available for parents.
Most of all, however, let us accept the principle that the parent is the best judge of what is good for his children. Do not let us have this idea that the working-class parent is not to be trusted, although the professional-class parent may be perfectly trusted. It is curious that we hear so much about the abolition of class distinction, while the whole educational system of this country embodies a class distinction of the most unreasonable kind. We are like the United States before the Civil War, when there were Slave States and Free States. We have free classes and slave classes. We have classes who are allowed to educate their children as they like—the free classes—and we have the slave classes, who are obliged to educate their children as the State likes. I think that that is an abuse. I do not want at this moment to abolish the whole system of compulsion. St. Paul, when writing to Philemon, did not suggest the emancipation of Onesimus, and I should like to imitate the judicious and temperate reserve of the great Apostle. But I do think it a pity that when you are what is called "raising the age" you do not try, 1044 to begin with, to see whether you cannot do it by propaganda and advice and the like, rather than by compulsion. Why must you have this odious system of compelling people made to affect a larger number of children than already suffer under it? Why not make it easy and recommend the use of the arts of propaganda which are so highly developed at the present time to persuade people to let their children stay till they are fifteen or sixteen, or seventeen if you like? That is the proper way to do it.
I remember fifty years ago being present when a solicitor in my constituency at Greenwich—I happened to overhear the conversation—was discussing with his son whether he should continue at Hailey-bury before he went on to the university —as a person in the White Paper might do, he wanted to prolong his education. The father was quite determined that "he should give up his education and should come into the office. I think he said rather harshly that he had wasted enough time already—a thoroughly uneducational attitude of mind. But nobody dreamt of interfering with him. He was one of the free classes, he was a solicitor. But if, let us say, an engine driver, supposing that we had compulsion up to sixteen, thought just the same sort of thing about his child, he would at once come under the system of compulsion; and yet the engine driver might in these days be quite as rich as the poorer members of the professional classes. It is a curious class distinction: it does not depend on income. You might have an income of £600 a year as one of the best paid types of artisan, and yet a clergyman with £250 a year, or a doctor with the same sort of income, is allowed to do as he likes in the education of his children, but the unhappy engine driver has to do as the State says.
This is all thoroughly unfair. You ought to have a free system. Now that everybody knows the value of it, you might leave it to their free choice whether they would keep the children on for another year or another two years or as long as they please. I would keep the schools open to the age of seventeen or eighteen for children whose parents wish it. But let it rest on the parents. Let that principle run through the whole of your educational system. Let the function of the State be to be the servant, or at least the agent, of the parents; and if the parents want one type of education, let 1045 the State be ready to furnish the money to give the child that type of education. Whatever the parent wishes, the State should be anxious to carry out. The parent is, after all, the customer of the educational system, and there is an ancient maxim that the customer is never wrong. That free part of our educational system, the public schools, has always acted on that principle. They have to meet the wishes of the parents, and do satisfy the parents, and on that basis they prosper. If we applied the same system everywhere we should have the truest form of democratic control. It would be the interest of every schoolmaster and every local education authority to make the schools as interesting and agreeable as possible to the children, so as to draw in as many children as possible and to keep them as long as possible.
I would, therefore, leave compulsion where it stands, but in any improvement or enlargement of education rely on the voluntary principle. Rely on the good sense of parents, and do not assume that a working-class parent is not every bit as zealous that his children should have a good chance in the world and every bit as desirous to make sacrifices for him as those of the professional classes. I believe we should gain in our educational discussions if we paid more attention to abstract principles and less attention to the machinery by which they are carried out. And I think the principle of liberty, the principle of the divine right of parents to control the education of their children, the principle that religious teaching is only valuable if it makes the person taught religious—those plain principles should govern our educational reform, and we should then indeed have set up a system which would be worthy of a free country, and would also make it, what it now pretends to be but is fast losing the character of, a truly Christian country.
§ LORD MORAN
My Lords, I am only anxious to add a teacher's postscript to what has been said in this debate. I was Dean of a London School of Medicine for twenty-five years, and every year there came to that school sixty or seventy new students, and for the next five, six or seven years, we watched them using the education they had already been given, applying it to a new task, that of becoming a doctor. What was the 1046 result? I have talked this over with friends from other schools, and the results on the whole were rather disconcerting. Many of these boys were lacking in reasoning power, and many were without curiosity. Now a student who is without curiosity is not a student at all. I shall not take up your Lordships' time in debating how far these results are due to early specialization, and how far they are due to the menace of the examination system, because I want to deal with the point how far the teacher has fallen short in this experience; for I agree with what is said in the White Paper about the importance of the teacher, which has already been touched upon in this debate. "It depends," it says, "almost entirely upon the quality of those who staff the schools whether the reforms proposed will be merely administrative reforms or whether they will, in practice, work out as real educational reforms." It seems to me that all we are doing will come to nothing unless we can find teachers of quality to carry on this work. I would like, therefore, if I might for a moment, to try and underline the importance of this teaching art and its very great difficulties.
In the education of the medical student we keep adding to the curriculum; we never take away. We ask him to memorize a mass of facts, instead of teaching him how to handle them. Before we send him away we so contrive to educate him that he cannot educate himself. He has no power of growth. I came to ask not how much a man knew when he qualified, but whether he wanted to learn and if he knew how. Now what is the explanation of this curious ineffectiveness of so many teachers, because we are dealing here with men who, after all, have got to the head of their profession, we are dealing with a small minority among 40,000 or 50,000 doctors. What must it be when you are dealing with a much larger number of people? What is the explanation? I think the explanation is that the teaching art is one of extreme difficulty. It is easy to ask a boy a question and decide whether he knows the facts. It is more difficult to shape a question to find out whether he can think for himself. Because I think nothing will come of our efforts unless we can explain to the country that we must have the best and that nothing but 1047 the best will do. But I want to dwell only on the teacher to-day. It has been said in the course of the debate that we may get teachers who are in the Forces, and that there are many men and women in the Forces whose experience and devotion will greatly enrich the education of children. I am quite certain that is true, but I am equally certain that nothing will come of those efforts unless we have some method of finding out during the war which are those men whom we wish to recruit for the teaching profession.
It is very commonly said that the stir and fervour of these times of war change men so that you make soldiers out of quite indifferent material. I do not believe that is true. War has no power to transform, it only unmasks and leaves men as they are themselves. The people with the battalions now on active service know perfectly well which are the men of character. War is a final test of character. When we are searching for officers and noncommissioned officers we are engaged in one long search for character. Since battalions and operational units know these men of character, is it not a pity that we should not have some record of these men? Because otherwise what will happen will be that a mass of men will be demobilized at the end of the war, the just and the unjust will be thrown on the labour market together, and we shall not know in the least who are the men of character. We shall have, perhaps, a letter from a commanding officer who may very easily have forgotten the man's name.
If this is true, I would like to say another word about a kindred subject, and that is the relationship between the teacher and the pupil. This relationship between the teacher and the pupil is, to my mind, everything. I was once asked what qualities in a man make a successful Dean of a medical school, and I answered: "If he is a sort of man who goes to see the fifth team play football on a muddy field in a downpour of rain and likes doing it, so that at the end of the game the players come to him and talk to him as one of themselves, then all other things will be given unto him." I need not remind your Lordships of the remark of Thomas a Kempis that learned men are very willing to seem wise and to be called so. It is quite certain that if we want to get this comradeship between the teacher and the 1048 pupil we must remember you can talk to a class, but you can only teach boys and girls whom you know.
I may be allowed for a moment to say a word on the conditions under which the teacher works. After what the noble Lord has said about public schools, I would not venture to praise them as moulds of character, but they have another advantage which has been lost sight of. They bring together the pupil and the teacher after the day's work is done. That was brought home to me in the early part of this war. Usually the physicians and surgeons attached to London teaching hospitals visit them three or four times a week, but when their students were scattered among half a dozen hospitals outside London, these teachers went to live and mix with them in groups of thirty students or so. They played with them, they messed with them, they got to know them, and educated them. Once more, you cannot educate men unless you get to know them. So I am glad the residential schools may be multiplied.
I have said nothing so far of the content of education, because I agree entirely with the parent who said that he did not mind what his boy was taught as long as he was well taught. At the Renaissance men became aware of the beauty all around them, felt a great desire to instil this love of beauty into others, and used the Classics for this purpose. Even now we would not quarrel with that, but Science, the business of the stars, and things of that kind interest the average boy more than any other subject. Science, it has been said by a member of your Lordships' House, is organized curiosity, and is it not the alpha and omega of teaching to arouse and inspire curiosity and hold the attention of the boy. That is why I welcome the decision to teach elementary science to all boys and girls.
I should not care to end without paying my small tribute to the President of the Board of Education. By his patience and forbearance during the preparation of this White Paper he has been spared miraculously the wrangles we have come to associate with educational reforms. He must have been the first President who has not had to bear in mind Lord Bryce's warning that excessive anger against human stupidity is itself one of the most provoking forms of stupidity. I would 1049 only say this further. He has been fortunate and happy in his Committees. But the art of all teaching, especially the teaching of science, is in its infancy. For the development of that art we shall get nothing from Committees. In the words of John Stuart Mill: "The initiation of all wise and noble things comes, and must come, from individuals—generally at first from some one individual."
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, at this hour I shall detain you only a very few moments, but short as my speech will be I must associate myself with those who have already paid a tribute to the perseverance and skill with which the President of the Board of Education has conducted these negotiations. Many years ago one of his predecessors introduced an Education Bill. His predecessor, a witty writer of light essays, introduced it with the words, "Minorities must suffer," and the result was his Bill had an extremely stormy passage. The President has introduced his White Paper in a very different spirit and, through all his preliminary, careful, patient work, he has created an atmosphere which has shown itself in the general welcome which has been given to his policy. I would only add this, that in the past Presidents of the Board of Education have followed one another with disconcerting rapidity. We are recognizing to-day that the post is one of the most important in the Government, and I do hope, most sincerely, that the right honourable gentleman may remain in it long enough to see, at any rate, some of these reforms carried into effect.
I welcome the White Paper as a whole. I welcome especially the comprehensive scheme of extended education which is set forth in it. It will be a very great gain when the school-leaving age is raised. Much of the earlier education given has been lost through the way in which boys and girls at the age of fourteen have been thrown on to the labour market. I hope that as soon as possible this reform will be carried through. In passing, I would say that I am encouraged by the very brief reference to the importance of our educational system having special regard to the countryside and those who live in agricultural districts. Those who have studied the subject know how greatly, in the past, we have neglected the countryside, and if there is to be a return to the country, if the value of the country is to be appreciated in the future more than 1050 it has been in the past, the children in the country schools must be taught to appreciate the country in which they are living, and to learn that possibly their vocation may be for work in the countryside.
I propose to confine my very few remarks to the religious policy set forth in the White Paper. It must be borne in mind that the changes in religious education which are suggested are due to two causes. First, there is the fact that we are dissatisfied with the results of the religious education in the State schools. I am not for one moment condemning the teachers in the schools, nor am I saying that the religious teaching given in such schools is valueless. I believe it is of great value and I appreciate the value of the daily prayers and hymns and the instruction which is given. I would say that a large number of the teachers in the State schools delight in the teaching and give their very best to it. I know that when I was a parish priest in a very large Sunday school the best teachers were those who were teaching in the council schools in the week. Notwithstanding that, I think we all recognize that there are certain weaknesses in the teaching which is given in the State schools and these weaknesses it is proposed to remedy. First, the syllabus very often has been quite out of date, obsolete and weak and has not been in line with the best modern educational demands. These syllabuses in some schools have gone on year after year unaltered and have been the cause of religious controversy. At the same time, all other syllabuses dealing with secular subjects have been brought up to date time after time. In future there is to be an agreed syllabus and many of these agreed syllabuses will be of the very greatest value. As the noble Earl who introduced this subject said, these syllabuses are by no means colourless. You can use them for giving doctrinal teaching which is accepted by the great majority of Christians, but I agree entirely with what many have said that it is useless to have a syllabus unless you have teachers who can teach it.
Another defect which is found in some of the teaching in our schools is that this teaching is given by teachers who have never been trained in it. They have been trained to teach geography and arithmetic and literature, but many of them have had no training in how best to give religious 1051 instruction. In future at the training colleges religious instruction will be one of the subjects which can be taken for the passing out certificate. That I think is a very valuable gain and it is also a valuable gain that in the future religious instruction given in our State schools will be inspected by His Majesty's inspector. In the past that has been impossible. There has been another defect in the teaching in our State schools. Religious instruction has had to be given at a definite time and all the teachers have to be engaged on it. There may be among the teachers one or two who are specially qualified to give that teaching and if, to use the unpleasant phrase which is so common to-day, the hours are staggered, it will mean that the best qualified teachers who do this willingly will be able to give the teaching at different times. All of that I think is a very great advance, or holds out the hope of a very great advance, in the religious teaching in our council schools, and we welcome it for that reason.
The second reason which has caused these proposals for changes to be made in religious teaching is due to the fact that we are unable to raise the money—and I think that is true of all so-called voluntary schools—which is required to bring many of the schools into harmony with modern demands. Now we Church people have made, like the Roman Catholics, very great sacrifices for our schools. I think it is almost impossible to exaggerate the sacrifices which have been made in parishes up and down the country for many years past for the maintenance of our Church schools. Sacrifices have been made by working people subscribing regularly towards the special demands made for improvements in their schools. Sacrifices have been made by poorly paid incumbents. But it is impossible to go on raising the money which is now required and we recognize that it is not fair to penalize the children by their having to attend some school that is far below the standard, so far as structure is concerned, which as offered by some other school built and maintained by the State.
What is to be done under these conditions? There is the black list with a number of voluntary schools on it and there is the impossibility of raising the money for all these schools. What is to be done? Of course if we were starting entirely 1052 afresh, if there had been no long history behind all this, I suppose we should have come and asked the State to provide the schools and to meet all the expenses, to meet 100 per cent. instead of 50 per cent. But we cannot do that. We know perfectly well that any such request would have to be rejected. It would leave still standing the grievance of some twelve thousand schools where the headmaster must be either a Churchman or a Roman Catholic. It would leave still standing the grievance of the single-school area. It would mean that the State would not have adequate control over the schools which it was not only maintaining but had actually built. If we made any such demand in these days it would most certainly be rejected, and therefore we accept the proposals which have been made in this White Paper that some schools, not the actual building but that some schools, will be taken over, the necessary improvements will be carried out at State expense, and the masters will be appointed by the local authorities, but twice in the week reserved teachers will be able to give denominational teaching.
I should here like, if I might, to support what the most reverend Primate has already said, that for the success of that it is quite vital that we should have a very clear understanding that we should have teachers reserved in the schools to carry out this denominational teaching. It is vital for the success of this part of the scheme that it should be carried out firmly, honestly and conscientiously. I am certain Roman Catholics will make sacrifices where they can, and I am perfectly certain Church people will make sacrifices where they can to maintain some of these schools. I know that many of the schools will have to go, but we shall, I hope, be able to maintain many of them, making the necessary alterations and receiving 50 per cent. of the cost from the State. I hope we shall make them model schools, make them what Church of England schools ought to be, schools where there is fellowship as well as instruction. I agree with everything that has been said that instruction by itself is not sufficient, but that with instruction there must come fellowship within some Church. I do not pretend that we have got all or anything like all we would have liked to have had, but we have got something far better than we could have hoped for many years ago, 1053 and the advantage of getting away from these religious controversies over education can hardly be exaggerated. I shall be thankful, we shall all be thankful, if we can feel that these old bitter controversies which divided us at one time are controversies of the past. Therefore I welcome these proposals. I hope that as soon as possible they may be put into effect. I believe that they will improve the religious teaching which is given. I believe they will give the voluntary schools in many cases opportunity for new life, and I believe that, in the opening words of the White Paper, these proposals will make for the greater happiness of the children and give them a better opportunity in life.
§ LORD TEVIOT
My Lords, I am the last speaker to-day and I hope I shall not repeat anything which has been said before. At the outset I would like to join in all the praise that has been given to my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Education, and in everything that has been said in commendation of this White Paper. One point I would like to stress is with regard to rural education. Undoubtedly rural education has been rather left behind, and I hope that my right honourable friend will bear that in mind, as I am sure he will. I hope also that rural education will not be put into the hands of the Ministry of Agriculture. Some things that have been said lead me to think that there is some idea of doing that. I hope that rural education will be left in the hands of the Board of Education and that the Board will do everything to strengthen it.
There are a few words I want to say on the religious question. I was rather depressed when I heard one or two of the speeches in this debate. I had hoped that the war had brought together all the various religious bodies in the country, but in this debate we have had evidence of quite definite differences of opinion. It brought to my mind something that Christ said: "In my Father's house are many mansions." Surely we can hope that the Free Churches and all other denominations will get together—it may have been already arranged—and somehow or other arrive at complete agreement on this question. It is of the utmost importance. Let us think what has happened in the world. The nations who have struck down religion have be- 1054 come the curse of the world. They have brought this great tragedy upon us. I was reading to-day words written by Heine a hundred years ago about God and Germany. He prophesied that if in Germany the restraining talisman of the Cross fell to pieces there would break forth again the ferocity of barbarism in Germany. How true that is. I believe that the present tragedy is entirely due to the terrible persecution of all religions, as far as we can see, in Germany and in the aggressor countries.
Another point I want to refer to is the continuation of teaching in schools and junior colleges to a later age. I feel we can do a tremendous amount to help young people understand how to take care of themselves from a health point of view. So many of them do things that are unwise from the health point of view and are quite ignorant of what is good for them. Surely, in these extra years, a few months could be devoted to teaching young people how to be well, how to be healthy, because we all know that a healthy, strong body does have the effect of uplifting the mind and has an elevating power from the spiritual point of view.
Now I would like to say a word about teachers. I agree with a great deal that has been said, but I feel that we should realize that these young people in the junior colleges are no longer children but out in the world, earning their own living. They will respond to any teacher who has the quality of leadership. I would like to tell your Lordships how important this question is looked upon in China which I recently visited. In all the schools in China, even in those for tiny children, each child is taught how to be a little leader. For instance, if you walk into a school, one of the little children gives the order to stand up or to sit down. Their idea in China is that that brings out the little child who has nerve, enables that child to take responsibility and fits the child to be a leader in after life. I feel that my right honourable friend has begun his great task under really good auspices, and I am sure your Lordships, like myself, will do everything possible to help forward this great stride towards a better education in this country. We can do that by talking to people about it, and enabling people who do not understand now to understand something about it, because we know quite well how few 1055 people ever read White Papers when they are published. We can all help in that direction.
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Soulbury, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Viscount Clifden.)1056
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, it may be for the convenience of your Lordships if I intimate that I do not propose to move the Resolution which I have put on the Paper. I am content with the Resolution moved by the noble Earl.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.
§ House adjourned.