Mr. T. THOMSON
asked the President of the Board of Education how many children in the public elementary schools are under six years of age; what financial saving would be secured during the coming year by their exclusion; and what would be the effect on their future educational training by such exclusion?
§ Mr. BRIANT
asked the President of the Board of Education what, in the event of 2119W the school age for children being increased to six, is the estimated number of children who have hitherto been in attendance at school and would in future be excluded; and what reduction in the number of teachers would be effected?
§ Mr. FISHER
The number of children under six years of age on the registers of Public Elementary Schools in England and Wales on the 31st March, 1920—the latest date for which figures are available—was 738,148, but owing to the decline in the number of births in 1917, 1918, and 1919 the number of these children may be expected to decline in the ordinary course to 650,000. It is possible that the complete exclusion of that number of children might enable Local Education Authorities to dispense with some 12,000 teachers. On the basis of these figures the Board have estimated that, in respect of a financial year in the whole of which no children tinder the age of six attended school and in the whole of which the number of teachers was reduced by 12,000, the, saving to the Exchequer might amount to £1,938,900, though in the first full year only 90 per cent. of this, or £1,785,000, would be realised. This estimate is necessarily conjectural, and it must not be assumed that it would be at all applicable to the year 1922–23 if legislation were introduced to exclude children under six. Any saving from this source in 1922–23 would depend both upon the form of legislation and upon the date on which it became effective. It is not possible to discuss the educational considerations involved within the limit of question and answer.