§ (1.) £1,286,077, to complete the sum for Public Education.
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE) (Kent, Dartford)
The pleasing duty now devolves upon me personally of asking the Committee to vote the Educational Supply for the current year; and, in accordance with previous practice, I propose, at the same time, to make a statement to the Committee giving a history of the progress which has been made in the past financial year. Seeing that the population of the country is increasing at a rapid rate, and that a large amount is annually demanded from the taxpayers, I think it is only natural that a jealous eye should be kept upon the expenditure, and as the day comes round for the discussion of the Estimates, I am not astonished that hon. Members on both sides of the House demand that a full discussion of those Estimates should take place. I am glad that the Vote is this year brought forward under circumstances which will permit of its being adequately discussed, for it is impossible, at this moment, for anyone who takes an interest in the 777 question not to see that there is a considerable amount of educational electricity in the air among those who take an interest in educational matters. A certain amount of this is possibly due to the triennial School Board elections which are shortly to take place, and in some degree, perhaps, it may be due to the appearance, long deferred, of the Report of the Education Commission. I will not now enter into a discussion of that Report; but it is only fair that I should express the gratitude which I know is felt throughout the country and in this House, altogether apart from Party or creed, to the Commissioners individually and collectively for the enormous time and attention they have devoted to this matter—not only for the manner in which they have analyzed the evidence which they have placed at our disposal, but for the extraordinary patience and assiduity they have shown in regard to the preparation of their Report. No one can study that Report, even in the most cursory manner, without being struck with the fact that while it contains a number of recommendations dealing with matters which for years past have been burning questions, still it also contains a vast number of recommendations of vital importance upon educational matters respecting which practical unanimity has been already secured. So far as the Government are concerned, it will be their duty to study that Report anxiously and carefully, with a view to stating next year the course they are prepared to pursue with regard to it; and I can give this pledge to the Committee—that if Her Majesty's Government deem it wise and expedient to ask Parliament to amend the Education Code, ample notice of that intention will be given to Parliament. If there should be any intention of amending the Code, their proposals will be laid on the Table in a concrete form for the information of hon. Members six weeks previously. It would be impossible to pass away from this portion of my observations without one further remark. It would be absurd for me to shut my eyes to the fact that a strong assumption has been drawn in certain quarters that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to lead an onslaught, all down the entire line, on the present system of elementary edcuation. As far as I am concerned, I may say that I am abso- 778 lutely ignorant of any such intention; and, standing here as a consistent supporter of the Act of 1870, I can say, for myself, personally, that I should look with the deepest concern upon any attempt to destroy the settlement arrived at in 1870. I can assure the Committee, and I say this after carefully considering the anomalies of the system, that I have formed an opinion which it would be wrong to disguise—that any attempt on the part of Her Majesty's Government to overthrow the settlement of 1870 would lead to the most disastrous results. I believe that this Education Question is at present regarded with an entire absence of Party spirit, and to plunge it again into the seething vortex of sectarian politics and agitation would retard the course of education to an extent that it is scarcely possible to exaggerate. I have, therefore, put the matter plainly to the Committee. I will now, with the permission of the Committee, make a statement with regard to a few figures. I think this is only due to the Committee, although the figures with which I shall have to deal are somewhat dreary. The Estimate for 1888–9 is £3,576,077, as compared with £3,453,807 for the year 1887–8, showing an increase of £117,270; but I am glad to say that the major part of this increase—indeed, nearly the whole—is accounted for by an increase in the sum of £114,685 for annual grants in aid of day and evening scholars, owing to the very welcome increase in their numbers. There is also the estimated rate of grant per head for day scholars, which is 17s. 6½d., as compared with 17s. 5d. in 1887–8. With regard to the salaries of the Department, there is no numerical addition whatever. There is a slight reduction in the salaries at Whitehall of £505, which is due to a reduction in the cost of boy clerks and copyists; but there is an increase of £3,260 in the salaries of Inspectors due to the triennial and annual rise, and also to the fact of the increase of scholars in the evening schools and of the examinations thereby rendered necessary. In the payment of pensions to teachers there is an increase of £1,160, of which I am sure hon. Members will approve. There is no task more unpleasant to me than dealing with these pensions, for I am frequently driven into this position—that I have often absolutely to refuse a 779 pension to a teacher who has broken down from sheer hard work. No public man can have a more unpleasant task to perform than to refuse any public recognition of the services of these teachers. Although I do not wish to touch on any controversial subject, I am sure it is impossible for any practical man to deny the fact that the present state of things, with regard to the remuneration of teachers, needs very serious overhauling. This sum of £1,160 has been devoted to nine pensions of £30, 14 of £25, and 27 of £20. Certain grants have been made to School Boards under Section 97 of the Act of 1870. The increase of £1,155 under this sub-head is chiefly owing to an underestimate of expenditure in 1887–8, and is partly caused by a slight increase in the number of schools receiving the grant. With regard to the annual grants to Training Colleges, hon. Members will see that there is a decrease under this head of £2,600. This is not due to any desire on the part of the Department to act unfairly to the Colleges; it is caused solely by an overestimate of the maintenance charges, which the fall in prices are gradually reducing. Therefore, the actual expenditure comes out for 1887–8 as £3,458,800, while the sum voted by Parliament was £3,458,807, showing a saving of £7. I will now ask the Committee to bear with me whilst I give a more detailed statement as to the rate of progress which has been made. I have, for purposes of comparison, to give the results of inspections for the years ending August, 1886, and August, 1887. At the close of 1886 the number of schools inspected was 19,022, and in 1887, 19,154, an increase of 132. The percentage of increase for 1886 over the previous year was .67, and for 1887, .69. The number of scholars for whom accommodation was provided in 1886 was 5,145,000, and in 1887, 5,279,000, showing an increase of 134,000. The percentage of increase was, in 1886, 2.93, and in 1887, 2.60. The scholars on the registers in 1886 numbered 4,506,000, and in 1887, 4,635,000, an increase of 129,000—a very large increase, far above any estimate that might have been expected from increase of population. The percentage of increase in 1886 was 2.12, rising in 1887 to 2.86. With regard to the average 780 attendance of scholars, the numbers were, in 1886, 3,438,000, and in 1887, 3,527,000, showing an increase of 89,000. The percentage of average attendance to the number on the register—and this is really the only point that is weak and not quite satisfactory—was, in 1886, 76.3, and in 1887, 76.1. The percentage of passes in the Standard examinations was, in 1886, 85.99, and in 1887, 87.32. The scholars examined in Standard IV. and upwards numbered, in 1886, 848,000, and in 1887, 912,000, an increase of 64,000. The percentage of scholars examined in Standard IV. and upwards had risen from 34.7 in 1886 to 36.3 in 1887. Of certificated and assistant teachers there were, in 1886, 64,310, and in 1887, 66,547, an increase of 2,237. Of pupil teachers there were, in 1886, 27,804, and in 1887, 28,930, an increase of 1,126. One very gratifying fact is that the percentage of scholars in Standard IV. and upwards had increased from 29.03 in the year 1883 to 36.3 in 1887, and the percentage of passes in the Standard examinations had increased from 82.89 in 1883 to 87.32 in 1887. It will not be denied that the information which I have just given to the Committee is of vital importance. It does not prove anything exceptional; but it does show a very steady increase in the rate of progress and as to the quality of the education given for the money. And, perhaps, the most gratifying feature disclosed is the enormous rate of increase in the number of names that have been added to the register. The increase is, I believe, 129,000—an increase which the most sanguine could hardly have expected. At all events, it is very gratifying. If the Committee will take the last three years they will find the increase in the number of children on the registers has been, in 1885, 75,000; in 1886, 91,000; and in 1887, 129,000. This is an increase of 65,000 over the numbers which might be expected from the average increase in the population. There are some figures, however, which are not quite so satisfactory—namely, those relating to the rate of increase in the average attendance. In 1885 the increase was 98,000; in 1886, 67,000; and in 1887, 89,000. It will thus be seen that, when we come to compare the average attendance in 1887 with the average attendance in 1885, the result is not satisfactory. I 781 should like, before I have done with these figures, to give a further comparison of the number of scholars, taking the five years, 1883 to 1887 inclusive, in Standard IV. and upwards, and also the percentage of such scholars to the whole number of scholars examined. In the year 1883 the scholars in Standard IV. and upwards numbered 660,000; in 1884, 732,000; in 1885, 783,000; in 1886, 848,000; and in 1887, 912,000. The percentage of these scholars to the whole number examined was, in 1883, 29.03; in 1884, 31.26; in 1885, 32.9; in 1886, 34.7; and in 1887, 36.3. This represents a solid and increasing gain, as regards the quality of learning acquired by our children in elementary schools, and not only is there a solid gain in the quality of the education, but the figures show, if any hon. Member will take the trouble to analyze them, convincing proof of the gradual prolongation of school life among the children. I do not think I ought to detain the Committee with more figures, but it may be well to put one further test as to the progress made since the passing of the Education Act of 1870. In the percentage of the number of children borne on the school registers to the estimated population, a steady yearly increase is shown up to 16.41 per cent last year, or nearly one in six of the population. The percentage of children in public elementary schools in regard to population was 7.08 in 1869, 11.46 in 1875, 14.75 in 1879, 16.04 in 1885, and 16.41 in 1887, or as nearly as possible one in six of the whole population. As to the distribution of the merit grant, which has been much discussed, I will, without discussing it purely as a test, or expressing any opinion as to its retention or abolition, or otherwise, give, for what they are worth, the following results for the last four years. The percentage was as follows:—In 1884, below fair 6.67 fair 31.19, good 43.45, excellent 13.69; in 1885 it was—below fair 5.90, fair 28.59, good 49.27, excellent 16.14; in 1886 it was—below fair 4.97, fair 27.43 good 50.59, excellent 17.01; while in 1887 it was—below fair 4.29, fair 24.92, good 52.33, excellent 18.46. Seventy-two schools out of every 100 infant schools or classes received the good and excellent grants last year, and 70 out of every 100 schools for older scholars. At all events, as far as the results go—I 782 will not say what is the educational worth of the estimates—but, as far as the results go, these figures show a steady and uniform rate of progress. With regard to school expenses the cost of maintenance per scholar in average attendance was as follows:—In board schools £2 14s. 11½d. in 1886, and £2 14s. 7½d. in 1887; in voluntary schools, £1 16s. 4½d. in 1886, and £1 16s. 4½d. in 1887. In board schools, excluding London, £1 19s. in 1886, and £1 19s 8½d. in 1887; in voluntary schools, excluding London, £1 15s. 9½d. in 1886, and £1 15s. 9½d. in 1887. In London board schools £3 3s. 4d. in 1886, and £3 0s. 5d. in 1887; in London voluntary schools £2 3s. 5¾d in 1886, and £2 3s. 9½d. in 1887. [An hon. MEMBER: Is that the cost per head?] Yes. I claim for these figures that they prove that a solid result as regards education has been earned for the vast sum of money we draw from the tax payers. I am not prepared to say that we have a perfect system of education, but I believe it is one which will be of enormous utility in the future to the children of the country. I have given the figures, because I think the taxpayers of the country have a positive right to demand information as to what the actual result has been. There is much criticism of the Act of 1870 at the present day, some of it of an adverse character, and some of it is to my mind not very reasonable; but I should like to apply another test as to what the result of the operation of the Act has really been. I have endeavoured to apply my mind not only to what the future may possibly bring, but to the exact position of the Education Question at this moment. Are the children of this country better brought up than they were formerly, and what is the state of the vast mass of our child-life we have had to deal with in the last 18 years as compared with the period be fore 1870? There is, I think, no better test to apply than that which may be gathered from the statistics of juvenile crime for two decades. Whatever that system may be, whether it is expensive or otherwise, it is desirable to bring it to such a test that it will be able to stand the criticism of this House. I have, therefore, taken pains to collect statistics showing the state of juvenile crime and delinquencies for two decades, from 1866–7 to 1876–7, and from 1876–7 783 to 1887. In giving these figures it is as well to say that I include the commitments to reformatory schools. The proportion per cent of the population of the commitments for juvenile crimes we as follows:—In 1866–7 under 12 year of age, males 1.5, females 0.5, tota1 1 per cent; under 16 years of age males 6.7, females 3.2, total 4.95 per cent; in 1876–7 under 12 year of age, males 0.8, females 0.2 total 0.6 per cent; under 16 years of age, males 4.5 females 1.7, total 3.7 per cent; and in 1886–7, under 12 years of age, males 0.2, females 0.0, total 0.1 percent; under 16 years of age, males 3.3, females 1.2, total 2.7 per cent. These figures are remarkable as an applied test. The committals of children under 12, which in 1866–7 were 1 per cent of the whole number, have been reduced in 1886–7 to one-tenth of that amount in the case of boys, and in the case of girls have almost entirely ceased, while the committals of children over 12 and under 16 have been reduced in the same period front 5 per cent of the total to little more than 2½ per cent, or, taking the two classes together, so as to cover the whole field of juvenile crime, the reduction has been from 6 per cent to 2.3 per cent, including admissions to reformatories.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
I think it would be interesting to know what the total numbers were in 1866–7 and in 1886–7.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
I am coming to that in a moment, but the percentage was 6 per cent in 1866–7, and it was reduced to 2.3 in 1886–7. The diminution is even more striking when the totals of juvenile commitments are compared with the population. In 1869—the year before the passing of the Elementary Education Act—with an estimated population of 21,869,607, the numbers of juvenile commitments were 10,314, or one to every 2,120 of the population. In 1886, with an estimated population of 27,870,586, juvenile commitments have fallen to 4,924, or one to every 5,660 of the population, so that while the population has increased by more than a fourth there is not half the juvenile crime there was 20 years ago. Surely this result is a goodly record of our legislative efforts. We still find to-day a fixed relation between crime and ignorance. During each year there is an almost uniform proportion of commitments of persons of 784 all ages who can neither read nor write, or can only read and write imperfectly. This proportion, according to the latest information, is from 96 to 97 per cent. I do not adduce figures to show that the present system is perfect; but how grave is the responsibility of those who propose to amend an educational scheme which can claim such solid results! I trust that I may now be allowed to advert for a few moments to a question which lies uppermost in my mind—namely, the average attendance of the children as compared with the number on the register in 1887. The number of the names on the register show an increase of 129,000, whereas the average attendances show an increase of only 89,000. I do not think that that is a satisfactory result, and I trust that no remark I may make upon it will be taken in any controversial sense. It has been my duty to read the Reports of the Inspectors and endeavour to ascertain the causes of this diminution. Various Inspectors give different reasons, and I find among the various reasons assigned that some of Her Majesty's Inspectors believe that the normal limits of compulsion have been reached, while others hold that a more vigorous attention on the part of the Attendance Committee and on the part of the Local Authorities and the more strenuous application of compulsion are necessary. One of our Inspectors (Mr. Sharpe) says, in his Report, that there is some difficulty in dealing with the poorest of the children, and some small decrease in the regularity of attendance; and then he makes a remark of the utmost importance, that it is absolutely necessary to popularize the schools, not only with the scholars, but with the parents also. Then he goes on to say that the condition of the lowest class in some of the board schools is pitiable and a question of serious national import, and he comments on the practical failure of compulsion to reach the lowest strata. I do not propose to enter into a debate on the merits or demerits of compulsion, but there is one thing that strikes me very forcibly. Our chief object should be to increase the average attendance, and to make our school life more popular than it is now. We place the greatest value on the interdependence of scholars, managers, and parents. And we believe it to be a good thing for the community at large 785 to improve off the face of the country all ill-regulated, badly ventilated, and badly constructed schools. The smallest circumstances of school life may affect the lives of little children, such as well-lighted rooms, bright papers, and pictures on the wall. One has only to recall one's own school days to remember what little things influenced one's school life, such as a bright paper on the wall or a good light—very small matters in themselves, but exercising an important influence. It is also absolutely essential that we should find some less barbarous method of paying the fees of pauper children. Mr. Coward, one of Her Majesty's Inspectors, says that a good deal of the irregularity of attendance is due to irregularity in payment. We are all unanimous in respect of these things. In improving the attendance we should look rather to making school life attractive and to the earnest work of School Attendance Committees than to any extension of compulsory powers. Mr. Sharpe, in that portion of his Report which I have already quoted, refers to the pitiable state of the children in the large towns, and especially the Metropolis. There I must venture to urge that, in a great measure, we must look to the aid of the several existing charitable institutions. I had the honour of moving the first Report over printed of the Poor Children's Aid Society in London, and that is not the only society which deals with the very poorest and hungriest of the children. A kindred body is the South London Dinner Fund Society, than which none does more practical work in this country. They are solely worked by voluntary committees, who employ able men and women on the spot to sift out every individual case, not only in regard to the children, but the parents. I have mentioned these societies because I am sure they are deserving of all support. The hon. Baronet who sits for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) has a Motion upon the Paper, and it would be discourteous on my part if I were not to refer to it. The hon. Baronet desires to add manual instruction to the Code, either as a class subject or on the same footing as cookery. The hon. Baronet is an authority on class subjects, and I think on this question we are in substantial agreement. My view is that there should be considerable freedom given to teachers in dealing with these 786 subjects. But, of course, in pressing this change, we do not forget the necessity of a good training in English and grammar. I have studied this question, and I believe I shall be supported by the Committee generally when I say that this freedom can be given to the teaching of class subjects, and yet the teaching of English and grammar may be fully safeguarded. As I am on the question of class subjects, there are two kindred ones to which I wish to allude which are nearly allied to technical training—namely, drawing and cookery. They are subjects on which I have taken some trouble. Here, again, I believe I shall receive the full sympathy of the Committee. Allow me to state how the matter stands in regard to drawing. In passing, I may say that I deeply regret that we are unable to proceed with the Technical Education Bill this Session. But, in the meantime, while we are waiting until some measure of technical education is passed, whether we are dealing with the higher class of education or the more elementary part of it, I think we ought not to be idle with regard to drawing. Hon. Members will be aware that the subject of drawing has had a chequered career, and that it has been made a kind of foot-ball between the Education Department and the authorities at South Kensington. But the Committee will be glad to know, from information which has reached me up to this date, that our school managers and teachers are becoming more alive to the advantages of the change lately made. It is satisfactory to know that there is solid evidence that the teachers and managers are being made aware of the advantages to be obtained, and I think I can say with accuracy that the increase in the present grant over that for last year amounts to something like 20 per cent. I should like also to say a few words on the subject of cookery. There, again, I have found the greatest difficulty in making those immediately concerned aware of the importance of the provisions which we have made with regard to the cookery grants. In many cases we have been offering a grant of 4s. to cookery classes, both in day and evening schools. I have been at some pains to inquire into the question of cookery, and I have had the advantage of discussing the matter with Her Majesty's Inspector at Oxford, who promised me that he would make 787 an effort in this direction. I should like to state to the Committee what the result of the effort has been. In the City of Oxford a most successful experiment has been made, and 441 girls are now being instructed in cookery. There are two teachers engaged by the committee, in three separate establishments, both of whom are fully trained, and one holds a triple certificate for artizan, household, and high class cookery. In 1886 the number of grants made to girls for cookery was 24,556, and in 1887, 30,431, or an increase of 5,905. The City of Oxford is a good instance of what may be done in teaching cookery. As I have said, 441 girls are now receiving instruction in cookery; and if the advantages offered by the Department were more generally known in the country, we should find that many would follow the example of Oxford in the establishment of evening classes. At all events, there would be no difficulty in the summer months in applying the system which had been successfully applied in Oxford to other parts of the country, and establishing a system of classes in cookery. There is another place in which the experiment has been tried. I do not see the hon. Baronet the Member for Banbury (Sir Bernhard Samuelson) in his place; but in that town the experiment has also been tried, and no less than 186 girls have been attending the classes which have been established, and which I have no doubt will be for the ultimate good of Banbury and the surrounding districts. I am afraid I have detained the Committee at considerable length—far longer than I originally intended. It is perfectly obvious that I have been addressing the Committee at some considerable disadvantage in regard to this great Education Question, as I have been unable to enter into the recommendations of the Commission. Whatever observations hon. Members opposite may have to make, in regard to the matters dealt with in the Report of the Commissioners on Education, I would implore them, under all the circumstances, to be somewhat merciful in the length of their remarks. It is not for me to say that they should not refer to the Report, but I wish them to understand that, whatever they may say, I am tongue-tied as to the most important points in the Report. I have to apologize to the Committee for the barrenness of 788 my remarks on this head. I can assure the Committee that, considering the great number of subjects of great importance which are necessarily brought under my notice in the Education Department, if I am silent on some of them it is not because I do not take a great interest in them. I should also like to notice that the functions of the Education Department seem gradually to have been extending since the Education Act came into force. The chief function is, of course, to administer the Education Act. During my short connection with the Department I have had various matters brought before me connected with higher education, with University Colleges, and other educational bodies. As I have said already, I do not under-rate the responsibility which rests on any Government that deals with questions like these; but I would throw out a warning. It is impossible to disguise the fact that we shall shortly be brought face to face with an important question connected with evening schools and continuation schools. By all means let us consider these questions of evening classes, evening schools, and continuation schools; but, in doing so, let us be just to the taxpayers and ratepayers of the country. Do not let us beguile them into a large expenditure of money which may to any extent be applied to secondary education. At any rate, let us inform the British taxpayer of the position in which we stand with regard to these important matters; and if we have to make a large advance, let us, at all events, be sure of our ground, and arrive at a clear understanding as to where primary education ends and secondary education begins. I have now only to thank the Committee for the patience with which it has heard me, and for the attention which it has paid to my remarks; and to assure hon. Members that, so far as the large amount which it is my duty to ask for is concerned, I sincerely believe it will be profitably and well laid out in making further provision for the education of the people. So much for the present. As regards the future, I can further assure the Committee that Her Majesty's Government feel the great responsibility which rests upon them in reference to this great problem, because they feel that no portion of the huge trust committed to their care is more important or more sacred than the 789 training of the youth of the country.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
said, he had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with great pleasure, although he regretted that the Committee were to be precluded from discussing the Report of the Commission. The right hon. Gentleman had made one remark to which he had listened with great satisfaction, and that was that there would be no attack upon or any attempt made to upset the settlement or compromise of 1870. That statement would have been heard with satisfaction in all parts of the House. The right hon. Gentleman had adverted kindly to the labours of the Commission, and as he (Sir John Lubbock) happened to be one of the minority upon it, he trusted that he might be allowed to express his own opinion as to how very much they were indebted to the majority for the great care they had devoted to the subject. He hoped the points of difference among them would not prevent the country appreciating the very numerous points on which they agreed. After the announcement which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman, he took it that there would be no attempt in the present discussion to introduce those questions upon which the Commission were divided. At all events, if any such attempt were made, he hoped that time be afforded for ample discussion. Though, no doubt, there would be much difference of opinion in the Committee as regarded the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Education with reference to denominational education and any aid to voluntary schools out of rates, still as regarded the purely educational recommendations there was a remarkable consensus of opinion, and he hoped that the rising conflict over voluntary schools and denominational education might not over-shadow those important points on which the Commission were agreed. He believed that when the Committee came to consider the question of what it was desirable to teach in our schools, those who read the Report of the Commission would see with some surprise how much of agreement there was among the Commissioners. Among the Members of the Commission were Cardinal Manning, representing the Roman Catholics; the Bishop of London; Mr. Shipton, 790 representing Trades Union Congress; Mr. Ellers, representing the teachers, and many hon. Members representing all sections of the House, especially Mr. Richard, whose recent loss they all deplored. He (Sir John Lubbock) was one of those Members of the Commission who found themselves unable to sign the Report al eventually adopted by the majority; but the points of difference were on questions relating to the finances of voluntary schools and denominational instruction. On most of the matters relating to purely educational questions the whole Commission was practically agreed. Not having been able, on those accounts, to sign the Report of the majority, he might venture to express his sense of its great value as a most important contribution to this vital question. Of course, there were many other important and interesting questions raised by the Report, and upon which the Commissioners were unanimous, or nearly so—the question of the distribution of the grant for instance, and many others into which he would not enter; but he wished for a few minutes to direct attention to the curriculum in these schools. Considering the very varied character of the Commission, it was certainly remarkable that, after a long and exhaustive inquiry, they should, as regarded the subjects of study—that was to say, on purely educational subjects—have been absolutely unanimous. He should have hoped, if the Forms of the House allowed it, that these recommendations—these unanimous recommendations—might have received the endorsement of the Committee; but as that could not be, he trusted that, at any rate, they might receive from his right hon. Friend opposite an assurance that he would give effect to them. The Report of the Commission stated—and the minority concurred with them—that—We desire that, as far as practicable, children should be grounded in all the four class subjects—English, Geography, History, Elementary Science—and that, when some only of them are taken, the selection should be left to the school authorities.They did not, of course, expect that this could be effected all at once, but indicated it as the object to be aimed at; and the latter part, of course, might at once come into operation. Now, that being the recommendation of the Commission, what was the present 791 position? There were altogether between 19,000 and 20,000 schools. Of these, 12,000 only taught geography. That was to say, there were nearly 8,000 in which no children were presented for examination in geography. That in itself was sad enough, but when they came to history matters were far worse. He doubted whether the country at all realized how backward they were. Out of the 20,000 schools, only 383 presented any children for examination in English history; while as regards science, only 39 schools out of the 20,000 presented it as a clas subject at all. Perhaps he should be told that he was omitting all reference to the teaching of these subjects as specific subjects; but, according to last year's Report, out of 4,600,000 children in our schools, under 22,000 were presented for examination in elementary science. There was a vague idea that board schools often taught Latin and French; but out of the 4,600,000 children, only 3,000 were presented for examination in French and 200 in Latin. Or, take drawing. The Commissioners said—We are of opinion that drawing is a most valuable part of elementary education, and that we are in England at present deficient as compared with foreign countries in respect to the teaching of this subject. At no time in a child's life can it be so easily taught as during the period of schooling. … We therefore recommend that, as far as practicable, drawing should be made compulsory for boys.Some form of manual training, perhaps carpentering, in accordance with the Swedish system, would be very valuable, not as a direct preparation for a trade, but as a mode of training the hand and the eye. The Commissioners dwelt with much force on the importance of elementary science. The importance of science teaching was urged in that House long ago by the Committee over which the hon. Baronet the Member for Banbury (Sir Bernhard Samuelson) presided. It had been urged by the Committee on Technical Instruction, and by other high educational authorities. Moreover, it was so far recognized, that in all infant schools simple object lessons and lessons on the more common phenomena of Nature were given. But as soon as the child was promoted into the upper school those lessons ceased, though in some cases they were recommended in the upper Standards. Even there, however, there was a long 792 break. The Commissioners especially quoted the evidence of one of their witnesses as typical, who told them that he found elementary science was especially valuable, because it was the one which most enlivened the teaching of the school, and did most to quicken the intelligence of the children. He said that he knew cases in which the parents changed the washing day so that their children might not lose the science lessons—certainly, in a homely fashion, one of the great scientific triumphs. The Commissioners said—If it be true, as we believe it is, that the object of elementary education is to give such instruction to the scholars as will best fit them to fulfil the duties of the life to which they are most likely to be called, and to enable those who may be endowed with special gifts to rise to still higher callings, then elementary science is only second in importance to elementary instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic. We have had" (they add) "a great deal of evidence showing the educational effect of science teaching in our elementary schools for both boys and girls; and we think that science—especially mathematical, mechanical, and physical science—is not only the foundation, but an essential part of thorough technical instruction.Dr. Siemens, as regards science, said—In the elementary schools of Germany we do not learn much of any particular thing, but we learn a little of many things as well. When I came to England I took up with electricity; but where should I have been had I not been taught a little chemistry, sound, light, and heat? If you young men will come over to my works here in your own country you will find all the foremen are Germans or Swedes, or Swiss or French; but your countrymen draw the carts and do the hard work. The little which our boys learn in school gives them a start in learning other things when they leave school, but your young men do not know anything to begin with.That was the opinion of a man admirably qualified to judge, both from his special acquaintance with science and manufactures, and with German education. But there was another consideration of great weight. It was a very unsatisfactory element in our education that evening schools were falling off. We did not succeed in interesting the children. The great faults of the present system were that it was too bookish and too dry. Surely it could not be said that literature was so uninteresting and nature so dull that properly trained children could find no pleasure in either one or the other. It was because he believed that the admirable recommendations of the Education Commission as regards the 793 instruction to be given in our schools would introduce more variety, and would open to our children the charms of literature and the interest of this beautiful world, that he hoped they would receive the support of the Vice President of the Council.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
said, that in offering a few general remarks to the House, he must remind them that there were two kinds of knowledge, one which came from studying statistics, reading Blue Books, and, hearing evidence; in that he would not compete with hon. Members opposite. The other came from managing the finances, regulating the teaching, watching the incomings and outgoings, conducting the administration, and inspecting the poorest schools. Now the latter was a knowledge which from the exigencies of the position he held he was obliged to possess, and from that point of view only would he venture to address the few observations he intended to make to the Committee. He had been much impressed by all that had fallen from the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) who had just addressed the Committee. Whatever was said by the hon. Baronet in regard to mental culture must command the respect of all, and he ventured to say that if the test of the hon. Baronet were applied to the work of the School Board within the Metropolitan area, it would be found much more favourable than the result the hon. Baronet had foreshadowed in his observations regarding School Boards generally. In other words, he thought it would be found that most of the subjects mentioned had been of late taught, to a considerable extent, by the School Board teachers of London. He fully acknowledged the truth of all the hon. Baronet had said in regard to making all the instruction interesting. The Committee would be glad to hear that an important committee of the London School Board had lately been sitting for that very purpose, and that after a protracted inquiry it had submitted a series of recommendations which were eminently practical, and would, if carried out by the Board about to be elected by the Metropolitan ratepayers, effect the objects which the hon. Baronet had set before the House. With regard to the teaching of science, 794 he could assure the hon. Baronet, on behalf of himself and many of his colleagues, that the London School Board did not yield even to him in their zeal for that most important matter. They had framed various schemes for that very purpose. There were obstacles in the way, and they were waiting for legislation, but with the support of the Members of the House and of public opinion they might hope, before long, to carry out a system of practical instruction in science within the Metropolitan area, which would be second to none in the world. With regard to evening, or continuation classes, that was a subject in which the London School Board had taken a very great interest. They did not undertake it on any grand scale. They were practical men, and desired to work by degrees from small beginnings. They took the matter up a very few years ago, and they had already made considerable progress; and he reckoned that about half the children who could possibly attend the continuation schools were attending—not, perhaps, to the extent the hon. Baronet desired, but still to an appreciable extent. If they got certain assistance from the Education Department, before long they would accomplish everything that could be be done. What was keeping them back in London was the want of certain changes in the curriculum. Hitherto they had not been able to get the authority of the Education Department to these changes. They had been told by the Department that they must wait until the Report of the Royal Commission was issued. That Report had now been issued, and he trusted the time was not far distant when the changes would be carried out. When those changes were granted, he ventured to say that within five years—without any grand scheme or large expense, or any trouble to the ratepayers or the public—at all events, in the Metropolitan area—they would have a system of continuation and evening classes not inferior to the system in operation in their day schools, which was so renowned. He was aware that many—nay, almost all—of the most important points connected with elementary education were put out of court by the necessity they were under of not alluding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. But many hon. Members would have observed 795 that the Royal Commission thought voluntary schools ought to receive the same assistance from the Treasury as was given to board schools. At first sight it would appear that the voluntary schools did obtain grants on equal terms, but the equality was apparent, and not real. The board schools had what he must admit to be an unfair advantage over the voluntary schools. There was the regulation about the 17s. 6d. per head. That regulation did not affect the board schools, which had no difficulty in showing that their income was equal to 17s. 6d. per head, because they had the Board's treasury at their back, as well as the long purse of the London ratepayers to draw upon. But that was not the case with a voluntary school which was struggling in the midst of a poor district. He knew instances of voluntary schools of the highest efficiency which had had their grant docked, because they could not make up the fees and the subscriptions to 17s. 6d. per head owing to the poverty of the parents. Therefore, in the interests, not of his own board school people, but of the voluntary schools, he thought that the 17s. 6d. rule ought to be abolished. It affected the poor voluntary schools, and had no effect whatever upon the board schools. He had observed one or two seductive recommendations in the Report of the Royal Commission. One was that the grant should be increased to 10s. per child for average attendance; and another, that there should be a fixed grant of 10s. per child. If these recommendations were to be taken literally, they would mean a present increase of the grant; but he had no doubt reservations and limitations would be found; there would be redistribution—fatal word—and, therefore, even if these recommendations were adopted, they would never get the whole of the 10s. But all these things led on to the hope that they might succeed in wringing from his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council something more than the £3,200,000 which they now received annually in grants from the Treasury. Out of this the London School Board only succeeded in extracting from his right hon. Friends a paltry £350,000 a-year, and he could assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who seemed to laugh at this, that with that they had the greatest difficulty in making both ends meet. He would ask his 796 right hon. Friend, in reference to this seductive recommendation of the Royal Commission, whether the grant to the London School Board could not be made £450,000 or £500,000 a-year? It would be a great relief to the Board, and would just make the difference between comfort and narrowness. With something extra from the Treasury he might be able to do one or other of several good things. He could assure the House that whatever they did get from the Treasury was well applied and hardly earned. Few people knew the toil, worry, and anxiety, the heart-searching, the jaw-breaking, brow-sweating work they had to undergo in order to win the grants after examination. He must, however, express the satisfaction of the School Board that there had been a great change for the better within the last year or two under the administration of his right hon. Friend in regard to the relaxation of the rule of payment by results. That payment by results must, of course, depend upon examination and statistics to some extent. But it was most dangerous, with all respect to them, to offer such a temptation to the teachers by telling them that their livelihood, their promotion, and their professional prospects depended upon statistics and results of examinations alone. They ought not to subject the teachers to this temptation, and he said this with all deference to a body of men high-minded as well as competent. What we ought to do was to have a dual system—one a test by examination in figures, and one depending on general considerations. He was under no obligation to praise Her Majesty's Inspectors, who were naturally the inquisitors and torturers of the School Board; but he was bound to say that in conscientiousness of character, talents, acquirements, and efficiency, they were as good a body of officers as could be found. But within the Metropolitan area there was a double system of inspection. Besides Her Majesty's Inspectors, the Board had their own Inspectors, and he was sure that some of his hon. Friends on that side of the House who had seen the Inspectors of the London School Board would bear testimony to their high character. So that, what with Her Majesty's Inspectors and the Board Inspectors, there was a double test upon which reliance might be placed. He congratulated Her Majesty's 797 Government on having co-operated with the Loudon School Board in securing that the grant should be given on general considerations as well as on figures. Something had been said in the debate about compulsion, in respect of school attendance, and much had been urged out-of-doors against the system pursued by the Board. He was afraid that if he were to enter into that subject properly, he would be called to Order by the Chairman for trespassing beyond the Vote. Nevertheless, much had been said against compulsion and he gathered from the remarks of his right hon. Friend that he expected the time might come when they could do without compulsion. He hoped the time might come, but it had not come yet. Were it not for the general support of public opinion in the Metropolis, it would have been impossible for the Board to maintain the compulsory system. In 99 cases out of 100 the facts were on the side of the Board, and the public had come to believe in the effectiveness of the present system of education. But there were a certain number of parents, who for the nonce were impenitent and incorrigible, and who must be compelled; but oven with them the Board's system of compulsion was as mild and gradual as it could possibly be. He hoped that hon. Members would not suppose that the moment an unhappy mother failed to send her child to school she was dragged up at once before the magistrate by the police. Not at all. First of all she had notice given her, and if she did not attend to that she was cited before a Committee, who were members of the Board belonging to the district, who admonished her in regard to her duty. That was the second notice. After that, if the child did not attend, she was served with a summons and was liable to be prosecuted. Even then, while being haled before the Judge, she might still agree with her adversary on the way. He ventured to say that it was only where there was a certain amount of hardness and obstinacy that the charge was pressed, and once a mother was visited with the penalty she never offended again. [Cries of "Oh!"] Yes; he said that in justice to the mothers of the children. On the whole the system of compulsion worked well, was successful, the results were satisfactory, and the system itself 798 was in consonance with the spirit of the age. Something had been said about there being a semi-barbarous system of levying fees upon the parents of pauper children through the Guardians. There was nothing of the kind in the Metropolitan area. On the contrary, where the parents could not pay the matter was brought before the Board, and the fees were in most cases remitted. [An hon. MEMBER: Only in the board schools,] He was only speaking of board schools, and not on behalf of voluntary schools. From the nature of the case his remarks could apply only to board schools. He did not suppose that the voluntary schools had any means of exercising compulsion. They could not compel the children to pay the fees or to attend. As regarded the board schools, he might say that the fees for poor children were invariably remitted, when necessary, after proper inquiry. With regard to other parents, he submitted that payment of fees was the law. Some hon. Members might think that no fees should be paid; but that was not for the Board to judge. The Board was bound to obey the Legislature. It was for that House to say whether fees should be paid or not, and the House had said that they were. While they had fees, the Board, as trustees of the public, were bound to see that they were paid. Even then the London School Board got less than £200,000 a-year in fees, or about one-eighth of the cost of the education. The remaining seven-eighths were paid by the public. That, to say the least, was generous. Something had been said in the course of the debate about the Metropolitan poor. Many societies had been formed in connection with the School Board for the relief of distress among children of the poor. He could not deal with this for fear of travelling beyond the Vote. The School Board authorities were giving most effective co-operation to those charities by finding out who were the really deserving children, and the teachers gave certificates, on the faith of which relief was bestowed. No opportunity was omitted of bringing deserving cases before the charitable and well disposed. It was one of their objects to search out and discover all cases of real hardship and distress. Something had been said about cookery. He could assure the Committee that the subject of cookery, also, was receiving the most careful atten- 799 tion from the School Board of London. There was not a girl above 10 years of age who had not to undergo a course of instruction in cooking. That he thought must have a great effect upon the rising generation, and he was certain that if any of his hon. Friends on either side of the House would attend their several cookery centres at 1 o'clock in the day they would be greatly gratified. The articles cooked were not consumed in the schools, but disposed of in the neighbourhood, a fact which testified to the excellence of the cooking. He came now to the question of secondary education. He might say, for the satisfaction of some hon. Members opposite, that he sincerely hoped the system of State inspection and State co-operation, which had been so beneficial over the whole range of elementary education, might be so extended as to embrace the almost equally important matter of secondary education. In conclusion he would make one remark only in regard to the social aspect of the question. He must entreat the Committee, and especially the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London, to remember that the subject before them was one of elementary education. The School Board were not educationists in the higher sense of the term. They had primarily to deal with the simple education of the humbler and poorer classes of children. Besides all this instruction in special subjects, in science, in technical and industrial training, and so on, they had what he ventured to say was the still more important duty of taking care of the demeanour, the morality, and the social well-being of these children, who would otherwise be growing up in a state of ignorance, which would ultimately render them dangerous to society. It was their duty to look after the moral discipline, and to take care that the children were removed, at least during the daytime, from degrading and miserable homes, and introduced to humanity and civilization, and all the benign influences that existed within the four walls of the school-house. They had also to take care that the children were not only subjected to such influences as these, but that they were taught to recite prayers, to sing hymns, to practise music, and to follow other pursuits which tended to elevate them in the scale of society; they were also taught cleanliness 800 and good manners. All these plain things were difficult to attain upon a gigantic scale such as had to be undertaken in London. Consequently there was much to be looked after besides what was commonly called elementary instruction. Apart altogether from the social statistics which had been so well presented by his right hon. Friend, he was certain, from their own information in the Metropolitan area, that our system of elementary education had already done worlds of good, that the neighbourhood of every one of our board schools was far more quiet and far better behaved than it used to be in former times, and that the general result must be a vast improvement in the social state of the rising generation of the people of England.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
remarked, that the argument of the hon. Baronet who had just sat down would have been more consistent if he had used the phrase "we denominationalists" instead of "we school board people." The hon. Baronet had certainly spoken more from that point of view than in defence of board schools. Without alluding directly to the Report of the Royal Commission, the hon. Baronet certainly went so far as to support the Majority Report in regard to the demand for fresh assistance from the country and from the rates for denominational schools. He had urged the disadvantage under which such schools laboured, as compared with board schools; but it was quite open to them to get all the advantages which board schools enjoyed by submitting themselves to the same conditions. Let them come under the public authority and under the representatives of the ratepayers, and abandon denominational interests, and they would get all the advantages of the board schools. He did not think it was fair, therefore, to represent the present conditions as unreasonable; but he thought that scarcely sufficient reference had been made by the speakers who had preceded him to the very interesting facts and figures which had been given by the right hon. Baronet the Vice President of the Council. He was sure that they had all listened with the profoundest satisfaction to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that there was no intention on the part of the Government to make any onslaught upon the settlement of the Education Question in 1870. Being 801 satisfied with what the vice President of the Council had said on that subject, he did not propose to allude to it further. The right hon. Gentleman gave them, with a single exception, which had been pointed out, figures that were in the highest degree satisfactory. The one exception was the comparative want of success in increasing the average attendance. The right hon. Gentleman had given some reasons for this, which might possibly have some force in them; but there was one thing on the subject of compulsion which had been referred to. It was said that compulsion required a great deal of tact to make it work well. It also required some vigour, and where the vigour was wanting it was altogether lacking. He had had some personal experience of the London School Board, and he could confirm what had been stated by the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham (Sir Richard Temple), that after serving notices and ascertaining all the facts, the School Board proceeded very gently and gradually. But when they arrived at the conclusion that it was necessary to bring a parent before the magistrate, the magistrate in a great number of instances set himself against the law, expressed hostility to it, and charged the School Board with acting unreasonably in refusing to allow another generation of British citizens to grow up in ignorance. Until there was a change of spirit on the Magisterial Bench, he was afraid there would be no really satisfactory result, and he did not believe that the compulsory bye-laws could now be as successfully administered as he hoped they might be in the future. There were other matters which might be urged. The children were of a lower class than formerly, and as this lower class was gradually elevated he hoped that some improvement might be made in that respect. There was one subject to which he felt bound to refer. The right hon. Baronet had spoken a few words upon it, but not as many as he should have liked to hear from him. He referred to the fee difficulty. The hon. Baronet who sat behind the Vice President of the Council know a little about this fee difficulty in London. He should like to ask the hon. Baronet what had become of a great number of the children who had been turned out of the board schools in past years for the non-payment of fees. It had been publicly stated that 46,000 had been excluded 802 because they could not bring their fees with them. The Chairman of the School Board did not deny that that was the case, but he said that in the course of time 32,000 came back and paid the fees. But how long was it before they came back? Some probably in the course of a week or a fortnight, but others not for months; and visitors had to go hunting for them for a considerable period before they came back. Eight thousand were admitted free, showing that they were the children of extremely poor parents; but even 32,000 and 8,000 did not make 46,000 and there were still between 5,000 and 6,000 who had bean driven out of the board schools who were not accounted for.
I must call the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that he is now travelling beyond the Vote. The examination the hon. Member is entering into of the discretion with which the School Board exercise their functions, does not apply to the aid given to the Board by this Vote.
§ MR. PICTON
said, he apologised for being irregular, and he would endeavour to follow the direction of the Chair. He had been led away by the expression of opinion which had fallen from the hon. Baronet opposite; but he would not continue the same line further. He thought that the increase in the number of children in the upper Standards must be regarded as fairly satisfactory; but at the same time there were many hon. Members who would be of opinion that it ought to have been greater. But although it was not an adequate proportion, they would rejoice that it was approaching a right proportion. He trusted that he would not be considered out of Order if he turned now to another branch of the subject. The Vote certainly was one to defray the expenses of elementary education in England and Wales, and under the head of those expenses he presumed there might be included the various special Reports which were from time to time presented in regard to the progress of elementary education generally. Unhappily, this country had recently lost a most eminent and distinguished critic and writer, who, amongst his other services to the country, devoted the best years of his life to the study of the question of elementary education. He felt that he could not refer to the special Report of Mr. Matthew Arnold on "certain points 803 connected with elementary education in Germany, Switzerland and France" without remarking how deeply all must lament the premature loss of such a brilliant genius and such an ornament to his country. Perhaps the remarks of Mr. Arnold were now of more value to us because we had lost him. The report had apparently made an impression upon the Education Department itself, and it now spoke to them, as it were, from the grave. He would ask why the country should pay the expenses of an inquiry like this, and then take no notice of them? With the permission of the Committee, he would read a few quotations from Mr. Arnold's report, with the view of showing that in the opinion of that gentleman the teaching on the Continent of Europe was more human, intelligent and interesting than ours. Mr. Matthew Arnold said—Along with the fuller programme and longer course of German schools, I found, also, a higher state of instruction than in ours. I speak of what I saw and heard, and of the impressions which it made upon me after seeing English schools for more than 30 years. The methods of teaching in foreign schools are more gradual, more natural, more rational than in ours; and in speaking here of foreign schools I include Swiss and French schools as well as German. I often asked myself why, with such large classes, the order was in general so thoroughly good, and why, with such long hours, the children had in general so little look of exhaustion or fatigue; and the answer I could not help making to myself was that the cause lay in the children being taught less mechanically and snore naturally than with us, and being more interested. In the teaching of arithmetic, geometry, and natural science, I was particularly struck with the patience, the clinging to oral question and answer, the avoidance of over-hurry, the being content to advance slowly, the securing of the ground.Further on Mr. Matthew Arnold says in this Report—But the higher one rises in a German school the more is the superiority of the instruction over ours visible. Again and again I find written in my notes, The children human. They had been brought under teaching of a quality to touch and interest them, and were being formed by it. The fault of the teaching in our popular schools at home, as I have often said, is that it is so little formative; it gives the children the power to read the newspapers, to write a letter, to cast accounts, and gives them a certain number of pieces of knowledge, but it does little to touch their nature for good and to mould them. You hear often people of the richer class in England wishing that they and their children were as well educated as the children of an elementary school; they mean that they wish they wrote as good a hand, 804 worked sums as rapidly and correctly, and had as many facts of geography at command; but they suppose themselves retaining all the while the fuller cultivation of taste and feeling which is their advantage and their children's advantage over the pupils of the elementary school at present, and they forget that it is within the power of the popular school, and should be its aim, to do much for this cultivation, although our schools accomplish for it so very little. The excellent maxim of that true friend of education, the German schoolmaster, John Comenius, 'The aim is to train generally all who are born men to all which is human,' does in some considerable degree govern the proceedings of popular schools in German countries, and now in France also, but in England hardly at all.These were exceedingly grave words, coming from a man who had devoted 30 years, and those the best years of his life, to the promotion of elementary education in England. Mr. Arnold was one of the Chief Inspectors of the Government, one of the most illustrious—perhaps he might say, in the shadow of his death—the most illustrious the country possessed, and yet Mr. Arnold told us that this excellent practice of the German schoolmaster was rarely applied in England. In the Report of the Commission, voluminous as it was, the subject of method scarcely appeared at all. If they would look at the elaborate syllabus of the published Report which had been before the public for some time, they would not find any reference to methods of teaching. At page 186 there occurred a passage which to some extent explained this most strange absence. The majority of the Commission there take an opportunity to deprecate on the part of the Inspectors any interference with the methods of teaching; but the Royal Commissioners were not Inspectors, and they might have investigated and brought the light of a large number of witnesses to bear on the subject without any interference with any methods of teaching adopted. He did not advocate any interference of the kind; but what he did urge was that more effect ought to have been produced upon the Central Department by such testimony as that which he held in his hand. He would now give to the Committee one or two illustrations, which he would make as brief as he could, but he thought the subject a most important one for the future. He would illustrate what he meant by the case of the Kindergarten system in our infant schools, the difficulties experienced in teaching read- 805 ing and arithmetic. First with regard to the Kindergarten system. So far as he could perceive or remember—for the Report of the Royal Commission was so voluminous that he really could not pledge himself to extreme accuracy in the matter—so far as he could perceive or remember, the Kindergarten system as being of utility to infant schools was never once mentioned in the final Report of the majority. In one of the Minority Reports, at page 252, he found that the Kindergarten system was referred to as affordingvaluable moral training in habits of tidiness order, and obedience, and the awakening of their intellects and development of their activity.Then again, at page 305, they were properly warnedagainst the error of supposing the Kindergarten was a definite subject of instruction, instead of regarding it as it was—namely, a method and spirit which should not be laid aside even in the higher departments.These were all the references he could find in the Multifold Report of the Royal Commission. But this was not the first time the subject of the Kindergarten system had been mentioned to a Committee of the Whole House dealing with the Education Estimates. He had himself taken the liberty of insisting that unfair difficulties were thrown in the way of the employment of this system of instruction. He presumed that it was not necessary to inform hon. Members that the Kindergarten system originated in Germany, and its main principle was following the order of Nature. Froëbel's argument was that the true method of developing the intellect of a child was by means of play, and in the first years of life all that a teacher could do was so to direct the play as not only to develop the muscles and body but the organs of sense, awakening the mind to an intelligent apprehension, to some extent, of outward facts. At page 206 of the Report, the Commission deprecated any interference in this matter; but we did interfere, because we made the adoption of the Kindergarten system in our elementary schools absolutely impossible. As the Minority Report very truly said, the Kindergarten system was not a special subject of instruction. It was a method and a spirit that must be adopted throughout the teaching of the school, or it would do very little good at 806 all. He desired to illustrate this by a reference to the work of a lady well known in connection with the School Board of London—Miss Lyschinska. After quoting the opinions of a considerable number of Inspectors who insisted on grinding reading, writing, and arithmetic into the young, she said—The prevalent view taken of the nature and functions of the infant school may be easily understood by the general reader from the above remarks and quotations. It is not considered as an institution in itself, containing greater differences of mental development than the girls' or boys' schools can possibly show. It is foreseen that children of a certain age will be asked certain questions. Why, then, it is argued, shall we not take time by the forelock, and begin to teach them their prescribed tasks a little sooner? Thus the infant school practically comes to be nothing more than the grand means for gaining time rehearsal. The tasks by reiteration must become a second nature to the children when they are legally called upon to repeat them.If we were to carry out in our infant schools the principles of the Kindergarten they must not examine the children in the letters of the alphabet, or in calculating various sums of twos and threes. The thing could not be done. It was the order of Nature that must be followed, and not any arbitrarily imposed system of our own. In this book was given a syllabus for the examination of nun-standard children in an infant school. In regard to children between three and four years of age, they were required in the case of reading to know the alphabet, and in writing to write elements with attention to lines. In arithmetic they were required to count, while children between four and five years of age were required to read small words; to know the power of letters and to be able to change the initial letter; to write small letters from a copy with attention to lines; to be able to add and to make simple calculations. Children from five to six years of age were expected to read a book of monosyllables; to write the alphabet from memory or from dictation; and to write numbers up to 20; to add and to subtract numbers up to 10, and by way of variety to count downwards. Every hon. Member must be aware that the reading of monosyllables was a difficult task for a child, seeing that monosyllables contained some of the most difficult words in the 807 language, in which the absurdity of English spelling was clearly manifested. He had urged these facts again and again upon the attention of the Education Department. But the Department would not even read the letters addressed to them on the subject. He thought it was rather hard that those who had at heart the lightening of educational drudgery and the beautifying of school life as much as possible should be unable to get a rational consideration for the insuperable obstacles which were opposed to the introduction of the Kindergarten system into the infant schools. He claimed the sympathy of his own Representative in that House, the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), in regard to the only method by which a foundation could be laid for scientific training. The hon. Baronet said that in the infant schools object lessons began science teaching, but it was not carried on afterwards in the higher schools. The authority he would quote on this subject was Miss Lyschinska, than whom no one knew more about the matter. This lady said—The gentlemen who promoted this movement doubtless had the lower classes of boys' and girls' schools in view. But how does the matter stand in infant schools, including children of Standard I.? Here the object lesson represents the elementary science of the upper department, but it really forms no essential feature of the infant school, the whole business of this department being that of getting infants in all classes forward for the examination in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Now, from the Pestalozzi-Froëbelian point of view we cannot, in the infant school, rest satisfied with the modest share of attention claimed for the observation of Nature in the upper departments. Surely, if at any period of life, it is during the first years that immediate contact with living, growing things is of paramount importance; and in our plan we represent it not simply as 'valuable,' but as 'compulsory'; in fact, as has been noticed before, it gives what is too often wanting in Kindergartens—namely, unity of plan, coherence in their organization. All the occupations and gains are illustrative of a central organic idea. In the transition class following the Kindergarten proper, the exercises in languages (spoken and written) are strictly co-ordinate with these lessons on natural subjects. The reading books in the first stages are framed upon the children's experience, which is ever-widening. It forms the germ from which all the various subjects are gradually differentiated as the school years advance. This store of experience is eagerly acquired by a little child, and it becomes to him an education of the will, 808 and their affections in the first instance serving afterwards as a basis for his instruction.He was aware that it would be useless to attempt to justify in any detail the importance he attached to giving free scope to the Kindergarten system in schools; but anyone who knew how many young children there were among the better classes who enjoyed it, would be ready to say that it also ought to be given to the children of the poor. He urged that the hard and fast tests on little brains of three or four years, tests absolutely inconsistent with the Kindergarten, might be modified by the Department, and permission given to the managers to introduce the Kindergarten system if they chose. He was glad to see that the majority of the Commission very properly deprecated too much insistence upon spelling, and urged the desirability of learning to read with ease. He believed half the children of the country were made muddle-headed and haters of learning by the intolerable torture through which they went in learning to read according to the present dreary, monotonous road through which they passed, and which discouraged their progress. He was present a few months ago at an excellent school in Zürich, where the children were taught to read by the sound of letters. Beginning, for instance, with such words as "manful,"—to substitute English for German—the teacher would pronounce it by syllables, asking the children to say it after him; having exercised them in that, he instructed them in the elementary sounds of each syllable. The children found a great pleasure in that mode of teaching, and soon became able to recognize the sounds of which each syllable was composed; the teacher then surprised the children by showing them that the sounds could be drawn on the blackboard, and in this way the whole thing dawned upon them as the result of their curiosity being exercised. He would like to see this system extended; for what children could be expected to be interested in reading when they were instructed in the spelling of words by means of the monotonous chant which might be heard through the windows of our schoolrooms, and which had filled him with disgust when he was a member of the London School Board? He knew that some said that the phonic 809 system was inapplicable to the English language. That, however, was a mistake; and there were quite sufficient words in English which were regularly spelt, and with which children might make a beginning. He knew a young English boy who was taught to read on the phonic system in German, while he taught himself to read English without any further assistance. The thing was perfectly easy and reasonable, and he maintained that it was the duty of the Education Department to endeavour to got their Inspectors to introduce more rational modes of teaching to read, so that learning, instead of being a torture to children such as it was at present, might be made a foretaste of the joy which it would give them in after years. With reference to arithmetic, the Commission had the advantage of the evidence of Mr. Matthew Arnold, who, when asked concerning his experience of children working out sums too much in advance for their knowledge, replied that this was the result of teachers not being so well trained as the teachers abroad, and that "one constantly found children writing off advanced sums who had not been trained in an orderly and gradual method." That was exactly his (Mr. Picton's) contention with regard to this matter. Mr. Wild, in answer to a question on the same subject, said he thought that the lessons in arithmetic ought to be confined to numbers within the purview of the children themselves. He would have the numbers up to 10 thoroughly mastered first, and next he would have all operations performed with those figures in the four first rules. That was precisely what was done in the German schools to which he had referred, and he believed that if children were occupied entirely with the first nine numbers for one year at least, without attempting to go beyond them, they would reach the rest of the steps with great facility. He referred to this only by way of illustration of the difficulties which followed from the want of a properly graduated system of evolution for the minds and faculties of children, and he contended that it was the duty of the Education Department to try and do something to remedy the evils of the present practice. With regard to the system of payment by results, for a long time, when a member of the School 810 Board, he had been under the impression that this system could not be dispensed with, but he had come now to believe that until it was abolished we should never have a rational or humanizing method of instruction in the schools. He had once induced a schoolmistress to introduce the phonic system, and the progress of the children was going on as happily as a marriage bell, until, on once going into the schoolroom, he found them grinding away at the old system. He asked the reason, and the schoolmistress replied, "Oh! Sir, the examination is coming on." In other words the results looked for were mechanical and required mechanical methods. So it would be seen that the mere fact of children doing a certain number of sums right, which they had learned in a book, was taken as a test of the value of the education given. We ought to follow the practice on the Continent, and insist that in general a certain line of evolution should be pursued; that there should be thoroughly well educated teachers; and that inspection of the school should take place from time to time to see how the teaching was being conducted, and if it was not properly given they should then get rid of the teachers. The teachers themselves were quite ready to take the responsibility, and he could see no difficulty in adopting that course. The hon. Member for the Evesham Division of Worcester (Sir Richard Temple) had referred, very justly, to the enormous importance of moral instruction. Beyond all things that ought to be secured, but he (Mr. Picton) contended that the present mode of giving moral instruction was liable to certain very obvious criticisms. Morality required that people should be thoroughly sincere and true, anything tending to promote hypocrisy being necessarily contrary to moral principle. He had received a pathetic letter from a teacher of the London School Board who had come to disbelieve in the historical reality of a large portion of the Old Testament, and who said that he was not allowed to teach it as he ought to do. An arrangement was made to excuse that master from giving that teaching, but he assured him that there was a considerable number of other masters in the same position. The Education Department took under its direction to a certain 811 extent the moral culture of the children, and if it tolerated a system under which hypocrisy and intolerance was incul cated, they would be doing what was detrimental to the morals of the whole population of the country as long as they allowed it to continue. Nor did he for a moment believe it could be contended that the moral progress made was an adequate result for the progress made in other respects or the number of schools that were built. Was the language of many persons in the streets of London as pure or free from profanity as they would like to hear it? He did not know whether he was giving an adequate reason, but he believed that the cause of what they often heard was that of all the branches of our education moral culture was most defective, and that the subject demanded that anxious attention which he hoped the Education Department would give it.
§ COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich)
said, there were some 2,000 adults attending evening classes in London, but that it was very doubtful whether the School Board would not be surcharged on account of it being outside its functions to provide evening classes for adults. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would take powers which would enable adults to attend the schools, because the education of these ignorant persons was just as much a matter of importance as that of ignorant children. He also desired to call attention to the harm done by compelling parents and sometimes their children to attend the Police Courts on summonses while criminal business was going on. He knew many cases in which hours had been spent by mothers and children waiting at the Police Courts for their cases to come on, during which time they were intermingled with the off-scourings of the town, and he was convinced that more harm was in this way done to children in a short time than weeks and months of efficient education could afterwards remedy. The School Board of London alone paid £1,000 a-year in respect of fees on summonses, and he thought that some arrangement ought to be made by which one magistrate should be appointed to deal with all such cases in a Court unassociated with criminal proceedings, or whereby these summonses should be taken at a fixed hour, so that women who had to 812 walk a mile or a mile-and-a-half to the Court should not lose half-a-day's work and the children be brought into Court while criminal charges were being heard. He admitted that a certain amount of preliminary inquiry took place before prosecution, but such was the necessity of people earning their living that they did not attend those examinations and waited until they had a summons to go before the magistrate. He considered it a great scandal that the magistrates should have to take these children and parents into a Police Court in order to settle whether they had a good reason or otherwise for non-attendance. He felt rather warmly on this subject, because the efforts of the School Board in this respect were retarded by the resistance of the Home Department, who had absolutely refused to receive a deputation on the subject. Then there was a grievance with regard to the limit of 17s. 6d. He thought it most unfair that, although the results of an examination in a voluntary school entitled it to the same amount as a neighbouring board school would receive, that amount should be docked because the voluntary school subscriptions happened to fall short. If a child in a board school earning 22s. on examination, and a child in a voluntary school earned the same amount, why should there be a deduction made from the latter he knew not. The very poorest schools suffered in consequence of this arrangement, and the reduction of 4s. or 5s. was often made from a grant to children in voluntary schools simply because the managers had not been fortunate enough in obtaining a certain amount of subscriptions. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had referred to the pensions of teachers. No doubt the sum at the disposal of the Department was entirely inadequate for the purpose of providing sufficient provision for teachers by way of pensions; but he was quite sure his right hon. Friend would be only too glad if teachers who had broken down in the pursuit of their profession were secured a proper provision in their old age. A Bill had been lying in that House for two years, the object of which was to provide pensions for metropoiitan teachers.
said, he must point out to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the subject to which he was 813 now referring was outside the present Vote.
§ COLONEL HUGHES
said, he would refer to the question in another way, of and say that the amount in the hands the Education Department for teachers' pensions was inadequate, and that any means by which that amount could be augmented, either by Parliamentary grant or otherwise, ought to receive the sympathy of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President. If, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman know of any means by which that fund could be increased, he trusted he would give every facility in his power for such provision being made. The percentage of average attendance in the schools of the London School Board during the past year had not been so satisfactory, and this the Board believed to be the reeult of the poorer classes of children being now in school. That he regarded as a satisfactory explanation. The number of children requiring the board schools had only increased by something like 2,000 during the last nine months, which was due to the fact of parents going into the suburbs of Edmonton, Stratford, Croydon, and such places, owing to the increased facilities of locomotion now within their reach. This was a fact most important to bear in mind when they considered the applications that were constantly made for providing school board accommodation further and further. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had stated that the Department was fully alive to its responsibilities; he could assure him also that the members of the London School Board were alive to their responsibilities. They had had a great difficulty with the Education Department for years and years. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give greater facilities for local government to School Boards in the large towns, and not insist upon their being bound by the cast-iron rules which were now acting detrimentally to the best interests of the child population.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said, he had not anticipated that the right hon. Gentleman would give the Committee much expectation of the Government taking action before next year; but he bad made one or two observations which hon. Members on that side of the House regarded with 814 great satisfaction. He had pledged himself and the Government not to disturb the settlement of 1870 by adopting the proposals of the majority of the Commission in favour of giving aid from the rates to voluntary schools. He had also said that in future a choice with regard to class subjects should be given to the managers, and that it should not continue as in the past, that the grammar should be compulsorily forced by unwilling teachers on loathing children, but that freedom of choice should be given in this respect.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
I said, that would be the practice with regard to class subjects, "due precaution being taken with regard to the teaching of English."
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said, that was the principle which many on that side of the House were advocating, and which those who signed the majority Report of the Royal Commission also recommended. He had had the honour of sitting for two-and-a-half years on the Commission; and of having signed not the majority but the minority Report. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had given a very satisfactory account of the educational progress of the country during the last 20 years; and he had been very much struck with his reference to the diminution of juvenile crime, and also to the considerable extension which had taken place in the age until which children now remained in school. To his (Mr. Sydney Buxton's) mind the most striking feature of the time was that while the last Royal Commission reported that the education of the country was in many respects very bad indeed, and recommended most radical reforms, the present Royal Commission was able to report that the present general state of education was highly satisfactory; and although they made certain recommendations, they did not think it necessary to propose such sweeping reforms as the former Commissioners had done. If the entire 150 recommendations were carried out, they would not constitute anything like the change effected in 1862 and again in 1870. He agreed with his right hon. Friend in thinking that the satisfactory progress made was very much due to the settlement or compromise of 1870, which had led different sections of the community to devote themselves to 815 educational purposes alone instead of fighting over their sectarian controversies. It was this which for too many years had prevented a system of national education being undertaken in this country, and it was only the re-opening of these sectarian jealousies which could possibly retard the progress which we were now year by year making. He was glad to hear that there was no prospect of re-opening this settlement, and the fear which some had entertained during the last few months must now be put aside, and they could proceed with their work without sectarian difficulties. No doubt there was a feeling in the mind of many persons that the voluntary system at present was in a parlous way, and that the School Board system which was intended to supplement the voluntary system in providing national education was tending to supplant it. ["Hear, hear!"] An hon. Gentleman opposite cheered that statement, but if the Committee would allow him to devote two or three minutes to that argument he believed he should be able to support the negative by facts and figures. Taking the case of the Church of England Schools, which belonged to the must powerful denomination, he thought it would be found on examination of the Blue Book that the opinion that the voluntary system of the Church of England was a diminishing quantity was absolutely without foundation. He found that while in 1870 the Church of England voluntary schools had accommodation for 1,365,000 children, last year they had accommodation for nearly 2,600,000, and that the Government grant and the fees received had increased in the same time by £1,479,000, while the amount received from voluntary subscriptions had only increased by £250,000. And this was not all. The chief complaints of competition had been of late years; and yet he found that, comparing 1880 with the present time, while the number of children in average attendance had increased by 162,000, and the income for grant and fee by £328,000 a-year, the actual burden on the managers had diminished by £6,300 a-year. The burden on the Church of England schools was less than it had been a few years before, while they were receiving a much larger amount of public money and educating a much larger number 816 of children. He found that there was an increase in the rates in the last five years of £470,000, and the total number of subscribers to the voluntary schools supported by the Church of England only numbered 220,000, and that only about 100,000 of those gave subscriptions of £1. Therefore, he thought that the contention that the burden of education on that most powerful of all Corporations, the Church of England, was overwhelming, and that it was too heavy for them to bear, was not altogether founded on facts. As he had pointed out, the demand upon them was less than it was five years ago. If they took it in general terms, there was thus no case on the part of the voluntary schools for increased support. But he agreed with the hon. Member for Evesham that there was very much to be said for giving increased support to voluntary schools in certain particular circumstances. There were two sets of circumstances in which further relief, to his mind, might be freely given—namely, in the case of small schools in scattered country districts, and of schools in large towns where unfortunately, in consequence of the distribution of the masses and the classes, the fees must be necessarily very low, while there was very great difficulty indeed in obtaining any large amount of subscriptions. He did not think that anyone would deny the assertion, or object to the proposal of the Royal Commission on Education, both of the majority and minority, that in the case of these small country schools further educational grants ought to be given. And taking into account the peculiar circumstances in which they found themselves, he should certainly desire to see further aid given to the voluntary schools in the poorer parts of our large cities. But he would only do that on one condition, namely, that the grant should depend upon the amount of the fee charged in the school; the lower the fee, the higher the grant. If it were made clear that the reason that a sufficient grant could not be obtained on account of the 17s. 6d. limit was in consequence of the lowness of the fee in a particular district, he would be inclined to take the smallness of the fee into consideration and alter the limit to a certain extent, and not allow the schools to be mulcted for anything above that, if their fee was sufficiently low in the 817 opinion of the Education Department. But he was not prepared to extend that privilege to the richer voluntary schools in other parts of the country, because it would come to this, that under those circumstances rich schools where the fees were high would be able to obtain so large an amount of grant as to enable them to carry on their schools without any cost at all. If the voluntary system were to continue, it ought to imply some sacrifice on the part of those who maintained it; but, if they were to have such a large amount of grant and fees paid to the voluntary schools, and these were not to be called upon to sacrifice anything to their particular denomination, he thought the sooner the schools came under popular control the better, and he should not be disposed to support the continuation of the voluntary system on such terms; but he had no fear of such results following the suggestion which he was prepared to support. Upon the particular point in reference to the rates, the Royal Commission, both the majority and the minority, were diametrically divided in opinion; but he was glad to think that on so many other matters, they were heartily agreed in the desire that further efficiency should be required in elementary schools; and, as far as they possibly could, the minority accentuated their points of agreement of the majority, and minimised their points of differences. They desired to show the points on which they were agreed, so that these should receive the attention of the Department, coming, as they did, from the Commissioners as a whole. His hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) had referred to the question of payment by results, and had said that his experience on the London School Board had brought him to the opinion that the present system must be largely modified, or otherwise that it would destroy the value of the education given. He (Mr. Sydney Buxton) had joined the Royal Commission very strongly of opinion that the evils of which so much had been heard were greatly exaggerated, and that it would be almost impossible to carry on any system of Government Grants unless there were also a system of individual examination to ensure the Department obtaining a proper result for their money. But the overwhelming 818 and unanimous evidence given before the Commission had certainly converted him, as well as other Members of the Commission, to the belief that a very profound modification of the present system was absolutely necessary, unless they were in future to ruin their system of national education. It was very difficult to know what alternative could be suggested for this so-called system of payment by results. It seemed to him that they might do one or two things. They might very largely diminish the variable grant, and considerably increase the fixed grant paid to the schools. While continuing the inspection and examination, they ought to have more inspection and less examination, and such examination as there was ought to be more in the nature of class examination before Inspectors, and be recorded as the result of their visits to the schools. He believed it was not necessary now, as it was 30 years ago, that we should have such an absolute test of individual qualification as was constituted by individual examination, and that perhaps we might do more by giving a greater freedom to the teacher, and by allowing the Inspectors to take the whole performance of the school into account, than by any record of individual examination. He knew it was difficult to suggest an absolute remedy for the present state of things which would give a perfect guarantee to the State in connection with this matter, but the difficulty arose in connection merely with the voluntary schools. If we had all our schools under local management, it would be very easy if, instead of the present system, local grants in aid were made to different localities responsible, under Government inspection, for the way in which the money was expended; and, if we had all our schools under local management, there would be no difficulty in entirely abolishing the system of payment by results, the State paying over a certain sum to the localities, and making them responsible for the expenditure. We had, however, the voluntary system in existence, and we should, perhaps, have it always with us, and thus we must have still State inspection and State examinations, at all events, of the voluntary schools. He believed the evils of the present system might be much 819 mitigated in the direction he had indicated, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether or not some profound modification of the system of payment by results could not with advantage be undertaken, both in the case of voluntary and board schools. Reference had been made to the question of fees. The Chairman had ruled that this was not the occasion on which the question of fees of particular schools should be discussed; but, short of the question of free schools, as one converted to the belief of the absolute necessity of freeing at the earliest moment all our schools alike, he thought that there were certain matters in connection with the voluntary schools in which prompt action ought to be taken. It was one of the chief evils of the voluntary system that at present the managers were allowed almost absolute freedom in the matter of fees; and the evidence given before the Commission on which he sat, went to show that these fees were not as a rule graduated according to the means of the parents, but depended upon the age of the child or the Standard in which he was; and evidence was given that in many cases the fee was raised in the case of a particular child in order to exclude that child, or it was raised in the case of children in the higher Standards to a prohibitive amount in order that the children might be driven out of the school and their labour made available in the district. It was monstrous that such a system should be allowed to continue. As the hon. Gentleman the Member for Evesham (Sir Richard Temple) had said, in the case of board schools, the question of payment of fees by the Guardians did not arise; they decided the matter for themselves; but, unfortunately, in the case of other schools in which the fee had been asked for and not paid, the unfortunate parents had to plead their poverty before the Poor Law Guardians, and that he was sure was destructive of their self-respect. He believed that one of the causes of the increase which had taken place in the pauper returns was due to this cause. He apologised for detaining the Committee at length; but felt that, having taken part in the proceedings of the Commission, he would be allowed to make a few observations on the subject.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, he extremely regretted that his hon. Friend had not laid before the Committee his views on the Report of the Commission, because it seemed to him that it formed a new era in the history of our educational system. He did not wish to minimize the benefit derived from the Act of 1870; on the contrary, he regarded it as one of the great land marks of National history, and he was extremely proud of having received a letter from the late Mr. Foster telling him that he had assisted him to pass the measure. He felt thoroughly that the result of the Act had been enormously to reduce crime amongst children; and the indirect benefits which had resulted from it could hardly, in his opinion, be overestimated. During the last 17 years however, people must have felt that the Education Act, although a very great step in the past, was still very deficient from a practical point of view. If this country was to compete on fair terms with foreigners, they must do something to make our educational system such as would put an artizan of this country in a position to do so. The first statement in the Report was that the moral instruction in our schools was "lamentably deficient." He did not say it was the case; but anyone who bad looked at the Report must have read with surprise the remark of the Commissioners that they were strongly of opinion that much greater support could be given by the State to moral training in schools. The Report then defined what this moral training should be, and urged very strongly that the question should be settled by the Education Department. Inasmuch as the State had undertaken the education of the country, and that the Commission had made this unfavourable Report on our moral training, the Education Department were under an obligation to reform the present system; and he said, without any wish to weary the Committee, that it was absolutely necessary that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council should, before next Session, say clearly and distinctly that some such amendments as were suggested should be proposed. With regard to secular education, the Commissioners laid down that the following subjects were essential portions of elementary instruction—writing, reading, arithmetic, needle- 821 work, drawing, English history, geography, singing and common objects. Those who had studied this Report would find that in every one of these subjects our education was practically deficient. This was a very serious matter, and one that should be looked into without delay and very carefully. The Report said "There is in the first place much complaint as to the quality of reading." He was not going to pursue this question into the minute detail which had been followed by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton); but, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council, whether the Department were willing to allow this elementary branch of education to remain in its present unsatisfactory state? With regard to arithmetic, the Commissioners reported that much time had been occupied in practicing useless arithmetic and in unravelling arithmetical puzzles; that, although the children might pass in this subject, most of them could not make calculations of the smallest use, such as the payments into Post Office Savings' Banks, and of such accounts as were likely to be useful in every-day life. The Commissioners having distinctly reported in this sense, he asked whether it was not desirable that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council should tell the Committee that the Department was going at once to set this matter right. With regard to drawing, that was also in a very unsatisfactory state, notwithstanding that all were agreed upon its use. The hon. Member for south Manchester (Sir Henry Roscoe) had given valuable evidence, and he said that drawing was the link between science and art and all industrial pursuits; and he went on to say, that although in many foreign countries it was the workman's own fault if he could not draw, in England it was exactly the reverse. In spite of the hundreds of thousands voted for drawing in elementary schools, such a Report was highly unsatisfactory. In the case of English, the same remark applied; that was not satisfactory. Was history being taught? The hon. Gentleman opposite said it was, but the Report said it was not. Then came the subject of common objects. These subjects had absolutely dropped out from all elementary classes. The general conclusion arrived at by the Commissioners was one that was worthy of 822 deep attention. The Commissioners reported:—We are bound, however, to call attention to the fact that witnesses of all classes testify to the imperfect knowledge gained in elementary schools.He (Mr. Bartley) asked the Committee, was it satisfied with the result of our elementary education on which they were now asked to vote £3,500,000? Secular subjects certainly showed that the results were not such as were anticipated and desired. Manual and technical education was held by the Commissioners to be of vital importance, and there was no one in the House who would not agree with him that these were subjects with which the welfare of the country was absolutely bound up. Indeed, from the Report it was clear that the Commissioners considered that unless we had manual and technical education in our schools our education could not possibly compete with foreign education. Elementary science, the Report said, was in its infancy; that was not a very satisfactory state of affairs. The Commissioners went on to say that technical training did not exist for our boys as much as cookery and needlework existed for our girls. Some witnesses even held that the amount of elementary science instruction was retrograding. He believed that that was quite correct. He thought the Committee was bound to say, having heard the opinion of these experts, that the state of things in regard to elementary science instruction, and also art instruction, was unsatisfactory. They were bound to ask the Education Department to revise the state of affairs, and to see that the difficulties were done with. Then came a question which, in his opinion, was just as important as any branch of elementary or other education—namely, the continuation schools for children above 13 years of age. We compelled children to be at school up to the age of 13, or they might even leave sooner if they had passed a low standard; but he candidly confessed, and he had spent more than 20 years of his life in the cause of education, that it was quite as, if not even more, important for children to be at school some evenings in the week after the age of 13 than it was for them to attend school before that age. Those who visited among the poor in the great cities knew that when at the age of 13 children left school, they had then but 823 very little knowledge. They knocked about the streets and forgot everything they had learned, and really the benefit of the education was very largely done away with. What was the practical result? As a matter of fact, if it had not been for the agitation of a few societies and persons keenly interested in the subject of evening schools, the evening school system would have died out altogether. Two years ago there were only 7,000 evening scholars in elementary schools in the whole of the Metropolis, and now it appeared there were only 36,000 in the evening schools of the whole country. This could not be considered satisfactory; they were bound to see that these children continued their education after they left school at 13 years of age, or whenever they had passed the necessary Standards. The reasons for the deficiencies in our system were very variable. People had different opinions as to the reason why the education system did not complete the work in the practical way desired. Personally, he thought there was too much centralization. He quite agreed with the remark made by certain hon. Members that they should allow greater elasticity, greater freedom and liberty to the various local School Boards throughout the country in their arrangements. He believed also that a good deal of the difficulty arose from there being two Educational Departments, one at Whitehall and the other at South Kensington. Then there was no doubt that the system was too cast-iron. It was the best system perhaps for all, but it did not meet individual cases. Finally, he was sure we should never have our educational system thoroughly satisfactory unless we had a permanent Educational Board which would look after the matter, and advise and lead public opinion. Such a Board should consist of educationalists, working men, and trades unionists interested in the subject. He did not propose that the Board should have the power of spending money, but he certainly thought it should have power to revise the Code, make suggestions, and adapt the Code to the practical wants and requirements of the people. If they had a Board of that sort he was sure it would lead public opinion in the right direction, and that it would put such pressure upon the Education Department that the present system would be rendered impossible. 824 He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President would, during the next year, frame such a measure as would do away with the imperfections of our system, for, as the Commissioners stated, the future of our country must depend upon the way we educated the working classes.
§ SIR HENRY ROSCOE (Manchester, S.)
said, he thought they must all have been pleased to learn that in some one or two respects, at any rate, the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council was prepared to carry out the suggestions which had been made for the improvement of our educational system. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that latitude was to be given to the class subjects provided that attention was paid to English. He would like to know whether English was still to be made a compulsory subject, because, if English was to be made compulsory in all schools, as at present, there would be no room for the other subjects to be brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman also told them that attention was to be paid to drawing, but he omitted to say whether the recommendations of the Royal Commission on this subject were to be followed out by making drawing compulsory.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
said, that he personally was in favour of drawing being made a compulsory subject; but as the matter was under consideration, it was hardly fair to press him further on such a point.
§ SIR HENRY ROSCOE
was sure the House would be satisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's explanation. Now, the Code in respect to secular subjects required very great modification, and he agreed with the view expressed by the hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley)—namely, that all of the education up to the present time had been book work instead of practical work. We required to bring children in contact with nature rather than with books. It seemed to him that the education descended rather from the middle ages, that we had not brought the system of education into touch with the requirements of modern times. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) as to the advisability of teaching from the very beginning by means of object lessons, whether the system be called the Kinder- 825 garten or the Froëbel system, or what not. Teach children from the very beginning with lessons from the concrete, and carry it through up to the class subjects and up to the higher standards. There was no doubt that the recommendations of the Royal Commission on this subject were most important, and that if they were carried out, as he trusted they would be, we should completely revolutionize the whole system of elementary education in the country, and bring it into touch with modern ideas, and our children might be instructed in these matters which were so essential for their welfare. He was extremely glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President call attention to the question of ventilation. There was no matter more important, and it might interest the Committee to learn that experiments had recently been made in the North of England and in Scotland on the composition of air in ventilated and non-ventilated schools. By means of the application of the new principle of determination of the presence or absence and the quantity or mass of microbes and bacteria which existed in the atmosphere, it was found that these small organisms were present in a very much larger quantity in non-ventilated schools than in ventilated schools. A singular fact was also found—namely, that the average number of passes among children taken from the ventilated schools was greater than the average number of passes among children taken from non-ventilated schools, proving that a relation existed between the physical condition of children and their mental capacity for work. And oven looking at the matter from a merely financial point of view, it has been shown that the expense of ventilating our schools properly would be more than repaid by the extra results obtained. The question had arisen as to the mode in which aid could be given under certain circumstances to the voluntary schools; and here he would like to say that the minority Report in some respects made a concession on the point—namely, that some of the instruction given by board schools, such as that of cookery, or collective instruction to pupil teachers, or the practical, scientific, artizan, technical, or manual training in centres, might possibly be thrown open, under a suitable arrangement, for the scholars 826 or pupil teachers in voluntary schools. The subject of manual instruction and instruction in elementary science was necessarily somewhat expensive, and it seemed to him that the instruction given, to be of a satisfactory character and really useful, must be given by men who had a good and thorough knowledge of the subject. It could not at once be given by the teachers themselves, and hence, in this case, the expense was one which, perhaps, some of the voluntary schools might be unable to meet. It seemed to him, therefore, in view of the importance of getting these subjects taught, that the recommendation of the minority of the Commission in this respect might well be borne in mind. Much had been said on the question of the progress which had been made in the last 18 years in elementary instruction, and no one could rejoice more than he did at the figures which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President had laid before them. It might be interesting, however, to the Committee if he drew their attention to a fact which was, perhaps, not generally known—namely, that the House of Commons, in the year 1807, had the subject of a national system of elementary instruction brought before it by Mr. Whitbread, the grandfather of the present hon. Member for Bedford. The proposition brought before the House on the 24th of April, 1807, was that everywhere where there was a number of poor who could not afford to pay for the education of their children, there should be established a school for their instruction. Mr. Whitbread proposed that free schools should be established throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom for the purpose of teaching spelling, reading, writing, and arithmetic. His (Sir Henry Rescoe's) grandfather happened to be Member for the Borough of Liverpool at the time, and he seconded or supported the Resolution. A Bill was introduced, and read a second time on July 20th of the same year; but on August 11, on its going up to the House of Lords, it was thrown out upon the Motion of Lord Hawksbury without a division. The Bill was supported in the Lords by Lord Stanhope and Lord Holland, and opposed by Lord Hawksbury, Lord Redesdale, the Lord Chancellor, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The ground upon which the Primate opposed the 827 Bill was that it left little or no control to the minister in his parish. It seemed that in those days the same objections were raised as now. The Committee might be interested to hear that Lord Stanhope said he begged to differ from the Right Rev. Primate on what he might call the abominable principle that no part of the population ought to receive education unless in the tenets of the Established Church. Lord Stanhope also said that the Bill brought forward from the House of Commons to the Lords was merely for the purpose of teaching spelling, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and he added the following words, which apply to the present time as much as to them—namely, that the superiority of the workmen with some education over those with none must be sensibly felt by all the great manufacturers in the country. This was what occurred no less than 81 years ago, and if the Committee could imagine what the condition of England would be if the reform made 18 years ago had been made 81 years ago—reversing the figures—he thought they would feel we might have now stood in the van of education instead of as at present lagging behind. Still we were making substantial progress; and he trusted that when next year arrived, and his right hon. Friend (Sir William Hart Dyke) had the task of bringing this subject again before them, they would hear that there were a great many amendments to be made, and that the recommendations made by the Royal Commission in which all the Members joined were to form part of those which the right hon. Gentleman, as Minister of Education, would advise the Government to adopt.
§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
said, he thought the debate had been characterized by a very general agreement with regard to the main recommendations of the Royal Commission. It was true that on one point there was a bone of contention, but he was happy to learn from the announcement made that night by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council that this bone of contention had been practically removed. He was glad to find such wonderful unanimity as to the importance of maintaining the Christian character of our schools. That was a matter of the highest importance to the country. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) spoke about the poor 828 moral results of such teaching in the lives of the children. Of this he (Mr. S. Smith) was perfectly convinced, that it was absolutely impossible to separate morality from Christianity; the two things must go together, and just in proportion as the Christian character of our schools was maintained, the moral character of our schools would be maintained. He trusted that we would continue in the future as in the past to maintain the essentially Christian character of education in this country. Now, he desired to call attention to the recommendation of the Commission in regard to the relaxation of the very stringent rules for payment by results. He was one of those who had for several years, in and out of season, protested against the extreme severity with which the system of payment by results had been administered in the country. His belief was that it had produced a most unwholesome amount of cram in all our schools, and upon this subject he referred hon. Gentlemen to the interesting articles in The Nineteenth Century on the excessive development of competitive examinations in all branches of education, and the gradual deterioration it was causing in the character of English education. He rejoiced also at the recommendation to allow teachers liberty of classification, instead of the foolish attempt of trying to force on all children, bright or dull, strong or weak, exactly at the same pace. He also rejoiced at the recommendation in favour of giving much more prominence to the training of the hand and eye. He agreed with everything said upon that subject, and also with what was said as to the matter of music and gymnastics, and of, generally speaking, popularising schools and making education much more attractive than it had been hitherto. But he had risen to-night chiefly for the purpose of calling attention to the recommendations of the Commission about extending the age of education. The Commission proposed that in all cases 13 should be the minimum age of exemption from attendance at school, and that the age of half time should be raised from 10 to 11. He believed that to carry out these recommendations would do much to improve the whole character of English education. He had come to the conclusion, after much inquiry, that the average age at which children in our 829 towns left school was about 12 years, and that the average age at which children in the country districts left school was 11. He maintained it was altogether impossible to maintain any high standard of education when children left school at such an extremely early age. It was for that reason he was such a strong advocate for the establishment of evening continuation schools. The fact was that the great bulk of our children after leaving school forgot in two or three years most of what they had learned. What was the condition of English children of the poorer classes between 12 and 16 or 17 years of age? A great proportion of them were laying the foundations of a wasted and ruined life. They were found by tens of thousands in gin palaces, in low music halls, and in the low theatres. They were saturated with that poisonous literary trash which was circulated in such enormous quantities in the Metropolis. They were getting the education of the streets, an education in every respect vicious and low, and that was the reason why this country, beyond any civilized country in Europe, had to contend with a degraded residuum of population which constituted a great national danger. That was the reason of the bad morality which the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) spoke of. The teaching of the schools was excellent, but the deplorable thing was the bad teaching of the streets, where the children spent so much of their time at the most critical period of life. It had been his painful duty to investigated the literary pabulum supplied to the children of our large towns. He had obtained no less than 40 penny papers published in London, which circulated from 1,000,000 or more copies a week, and about the sole material of those papers was stories of crime. Our children feasted upon these stories, and all their moral ideas were confused and drugged by this education. Could it be wondered at that we had such a large proportion of our nation who were degraded and morally unfit for the duty of citizenship, and far below the level of the same classes in Germany, Scandinavia, or the United States? Child neglect was the shame and disgrace of this country. There was far more cruelty and neglect of children here than in any other civilized country in the world. He did not speak at random. He had visited most foreign countries which competed 830 with us, and had made careful inquiries, and he had been astonished to find how far ahead most of them were of our own country. Last year he paid a visit to Germany for the express purpose of inquiring into the system of elementary education, and especially of continuation schools. He visited many schools, he saw the best authorities on education, and questioned them closely on social as well as educational questions, and he came home shocked to find how enormously behind the great Empire of Germany we were. What were the main points in which the German system surpassed ours? First of all, a German boy was kept at school until 14 years of age. Our children left school at 11 and 12; there were some towns in England where 97 per cent of the children left school at 11 years of age, as at Wolverhampton, for instance, and there were country districts where they left at 10. There were very few towns in which, on the average, children attended school after 12. London was an exception. Its School Board had done noble work. At Liverpool 12 was the average age, and generally over England 12 was the average in towns, and in rural districts perhaps 11. A German child attended school until he was 14, and the average attendance of German children in the schools he visited was 97 per cent, as against an average attendance of 76 per cent in England. In Germany education was universally popular; parents believed in it; the State believed in it; the children believed in it. There was no attempt whatever to obtain exemption from school attendance. Then again, in every city he went through he found a regular system of continuation schools, carrying the children on to the age of 17. In some of the remote cantons of Switzerland he found the young men attended evening classes in winter to the age of 19. Look at the effect of that, not only on the education, but on the morality of the people. In Berlin or Dresden you never see at night those hordes of miserable, squalid, and neglected children which swarm in English towns; that was a sight peculiar to our country, and it was the disgrace of our country. One might spend a month in travelling through Germany or Switzerland and not see the same amount of child misery that you can see in one hour in the East End of London 831 or in Manchester or Liverpool. He could not conceive anything of greater importance to the well-being of the Nation than to civilize and humanize and Christianize that wasted material which swarms in England to such a dangerous extent. The reason why he was so eager to see in our country a system of continued education was that he believed that in no other way would we ever make a serious impression on those terrible social problems which were so rife. The time when English children went wrong was between 12 and 16 or 17. It was then they ran wild, surrounded by temptations of every kind. It was then they read the abominable and depraving literature which soaked their minds with what was little better than poison; multitudes of them received no industrial training or acquired any means whereby they could make a proper livelihood afterwards. The consequence was that in all our cities we had an immense casual labour class; men who were not capable of following any useful trade. There was no such class in Germany. In that country, children got technical as well as mental training. Above all, they were kept under control up to the age of 16 or 17, with the result that they were tided over that most dangerous period when our children went all wrong simply because they were tinder no control whatever. He had no doubt it would be urged that the working classes of this country would not stand continuation schools. He had taken some trouble to ascertain the feelings of the English working classes on this subject. He had had a district in Liverpool, inhabited by the working classes, polled on the subject, and he had got a majority of about 90 per cent in favour of compulsory continuation schools. The men themselves knew that it was ruinous to the children to run wild in the streets; they saw the evil of it every day. It was a common thing in large towns for children of 13 or 14 to be brought home drunk. Little girls of that age were often found the worse for liquor. The parents had no control over these children, but they longed to have it. At Nottingham, the headquarters of this movement for evening schools, he had a conference with a representative committee of working men. They discussed the question fully. In Nottingham there were 49 working men managers of evening recreative 832 schools, and these men, without exception, were in favour of a National compulsory system of evening continuation schools. His belief was that if the scheme were properly explained to the working classes, it would be found that all the intelligent men whose opinions were worth having approved of the plan. The kind of education proposed for those schools had been admirably described by the Royal Commission. This movement was greatly indebted to the Report of the Commission, especially to the minority Report. Nothing could be wiser or better conceived than the suggestions which the minority of the Commissioners made in regard to continuation schools. In their Report it was proposed that the schools should be largely technical and attractive; that they should depend upon attraction quite as much as upon compulsion. Unless this were done they would altogether fail. Music, gymnastics, handwork of various kinds must be a large part of the education training in evening schools. He readily accepted the suggestion of the Commissioners that unless children had passed Standard VI. at the age of 13 they should be under obligation to attend evening schools for two years longer. He hoped the time was not far distant when children would be required to attend school until they were 14. He, however, did not think the country was ripe for that yet, though he thought it was ripe for 13. After leaving the day schools, he trusted that ultimately it might become the rule that children should attend continuation schools until they were 16. Of course, there would have to be some restrictions put on the hours of child labour. In Germany children who had to attend school were under certain restrictions as to labour, and restrictions would have to be made in England under similar circumstances. He thanked the Committee for the patience with which they had listened to him. This was a subject very dear to him; and his convictions were the result of nearly 30 years' work amongst the poor, and of which he had an experience of 30 years. He believed we should never make any impression upon the abounding degradation of our large towns unless we took hold of the children, placed them under control, and kept up their education, moral as well as mental, until at least 15 or 16 years of age. He did not think that 833 Parliament could embark upon any reform more noble or glorious than to expand our educational system in the direction he had sought to indicate.
§ MR. SALT (Stafford)
said, that the discussion showed how very largely Members on both sides of the House were agreed on educational subjects. They were all agreed, for instance, in supporting the present large expenditure on education on one condition—namely, that the expenditure was made in a way which should be most satisfactory to the feeling and needs of the country. Secondly, they were agreed upon supporting loyally the Act of 1870. They were all agreed that that Act was a most important Act, and was the foundation of an educational system which had produced untold good. They were also largely agreed that there should be some considerable modification in the present system of education—not a departure from the lines or basis of the settlement of 1870, but some modification which would rather extend than contract the principles on which material steps in advance were then made in the educational system. Then he found that in almost every part of the House there had grown up a feeling of discontent with the present system of payment by results. It was obvious that any large grant made from the public funds must be paid according to results; but the question to be considered was what was to be the test of those results? The present system was injurious to everyone concerned; it was extremely mischievous to the children; it was very hard, indeed, on the teachers, especially on the young teachers; and it was very bad for the managers, because it diverted their attention from their proper function of looking after the training of the children to the consideration of how much money might be gained from the Parliamentary grant. Again, a large number of Members had spoken in favour of moral or Christian training—he did not mean sectarian training. That, to him, was a matter of great satisfaction. There was another branch of the subject which he thought had not been sufficiently considered, and that was the health of the schools with regard to ventilation, washing arrangements, and so forth. That was a matter 834 upon which he was very glad to support the opinion so well expressed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Manchester (Sir Henry Roscoe). Furthermore, he believed that it would be found that the children were better able to learn if a considerable part of their school life was spent in good healthy physical training. There was one other point upon which they seemed to be very largely agreed, and that was that there should be, in some way or other, help given to schools in poor and outlying districts. There were two or three other points upon which there had not been a general concurrence of opinion. With regard to the 17s. 6d. limit, he was obliged to confess it was rather hard that when a school had honestly earned a certain amount of money, that amount should be consider ably reduced, simply because of the very peculiar 17s. 6d. limit. It seemed a rather curious thing for an Inspector to say to a school—"You have done so exceedingly well that I must fine you so many shillings," or pounds, as the case may be? The question of fees was a very difficult one. If they were not prepared for free schools he thought that whenever a Government grant was received a very low fee should be introduced. As to the matter of pensions he entirely agreed with what had fallen from an hon. Member opposite, that a large and general system of pensions, not entirely at the cost of the State, but in some way applicable to all teachers, should be introduced. He said that, for the reason that the peculiar kind of work which teachers were engaged in caused them to wear out early in life, and to incapacitate many of them for other work. He now came to the important question just raised by the hon. Gentleman opposite, and that was the age up to which children should be educated. It was a matter he had been interested in for some time; and he entirely supported the view that a system of continuation and night schools would not be disagreeable to the English workman. On a certain occasion he had met a large number of people, very many of whom belonged to the working class, and he had taken the opportunity of expressing the opinion that continuation schools of a compulsory character, at which 835 children could be educated for some years after they had left elementary schools, should be established similar to those in Germany. He had not had an opportunity of explaining this system fully; but he had been pleased to find his suggestion, on the occasion to which he referred, extremely well received by the working classes. He was glad to have that opportunity of supporting what had been said by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. S. Smith). He hoped the valuable Report of the Royal Commission which they had just received, and the very large consensus of opinion existing on many important points, would pave the way to enable his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council to deal with the whole of this Education Question in a large and useful way before very long. He certainly thought that they required, not a change of principle, but a change in the manner in which they were working. They wanted much greater elasticity in their system—a much simpler method of payment, and some way of throwing responsibility on the Governing Bodies of schools. So much depended at the present moment on the Education Department, there was so much detail to be gone through, and there were so many Rules to be laid down—there was so much work to be done to obtain payments—that really Local Bodies who were engaged in the promotion of good education were almost entirely drawn out of any responsibility whatever. When he spoke of the responsibility of the local managers of schools, he thought the time might be approaching when they might put the management of voluntary schools on a much more definite footing. At present there was no particular definite knowledge in the Department as to the system under which the managers of voluntary schools met regularly or acted like other bodies engaged in business transactions. Those persons had to dispense a large amount of public money; and he believed it would be by no means impossible and very useful if regular Rules and Regulations were introduced for the management of voluntary schools to which public money was given. He sincerely trusted that after the good feeling expressed in the present debate, his right hon. Friend would be 836 able, in the next Session, to do some good work and introduce valuable improvements.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
said, he should only occupy the attention of the Committee for a few moments. He wished to ask the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council to a question which had been under his consideration for a long time, having reference to the Nottingham School Board, and connected with what was called the People's College Board School. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he had seen his way to come to a decision favourable to the majority of this Board? The policy which they were pursuing was, as the right hon. Gentleman had already been informed, supported by about nine of the members against six. The object of the movement was to enlarge the College School. At present its accommodation could only be certified for about 200 scholars, whilst there were about 425 scholars on the books, with an attendance of 390 on an average, or nearly 90 over the maximum accommodation. Now, that was really the only board school anywhere in the centre of the town. There were a great number of applications constantly being made for admission to the school, and the school was very successful, inasmuch as it paid its own way. The views he (Mr. Broadhurst) was expressing were supported by nearly all those who had a right to speak upon the subject in the district; and he was requested by the School Board Authorities—that was to say, by the great majority of the members of the School Board—to press the right hon. Gentleman to come to a decision in favour of the almost universal desire amongst those concerned. They sincerely trusted that in the reply which it was to be presumed the right hon. Gentleman would make to the various questions and suggestions addressed to him that night, he would find himself in a position to assure the Members for Nottingham that he had been able to meet the wishes of those connected with the People's College Board School. He (Mr. Broadhurst) trusted he would not be considered out of Order in addressing this question or appeal to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, he regretted very much that he had not been present whilst the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President was making his valuable statement that day; but he had gathered from his Friends around him, and from observations which had been since made, the gist of the announcement which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman—namely, that the Government had no intention whatever of altering or reforming the Act of 1870, or of doing anything in regard to the alleged claims of the voluntary schools of this country.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
No, no! I cannot allow that statement to pass; I think the hon. Gentleman has mistaken what I said. I said there was an assumption in certain quarters, and that there had been reports in the public Press declaring that it was the intention of the Government to make an onslaught all along the line on the settlement arrived at in 1870. What I said was that, so far as I was concerned, I should view with the deepest concern any attempt to overthrow that settlement. There is a very wide distinction between that statement and the one the hon. Gentleman opposite now attributes to me.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, that the point the right hon. Gentleman now raised was one he (Mr. Molloy) was coming to. Let the right hon. Gentleman put it as he would, his announcement amounted to this—that the settlement as regarded the difference between the School Boards and the voluntary schools in this country was not going to be changed in any way by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman, in making that announcement said he had come to that opinion after consultation with his Colleagues. It was, of course, the thin end of the wedge of a public announcement on behalf of Ministers; and that announcement on behalf of the Government he (Mr. Molloy) looked upon as exceedingly important. It appeared to him (Mr. Molloy) to be nothing more nor less than a hauling down of the flag which the Conservative Party and the Government had been waving in the country for some years, and an evacuation of the fort which they had declared years ago they never would leave. There was no use attempting to minimise it, or attempting to put any other interpretation upon the announcement, 838 than that he (Mr. Molloy) would prove what he said. Some years ago he had appealed several times in the House for the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate this subject. His appeal was listened to, and at his instigation the Royal Commission was appointed. It was understood by hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House; and he appealed to his Colleagues on the Commission, some of whom he saw on the Benches opposite, whether it was not understood by them—and it was understood in the country generally, as well as by all who took a leading part in obtaining the Commission, that the object of the Commission was that either by a sharing of the rates, or in some other manner, the alleged grievances of the voluntary system in this country were to be relieved. He could give further proof that that was the meaning and intention of the Government in appointing a Commission. Since that appointment there had scarcely been a candidate for a seat on the Tory side of the House throughout the length and breadth of the land who had not put that point forward as a claim upon his (Mr. Molloy's) Catholic Coreligionists, who otherwise would have been inclined to vote for the Liberal candidates. Catholics were induced to vote for Government candidates on the ground that those candidates promised to do that for them which was nearest their hearts, and which to them appeared to be of most vital importance. Members of his (Mr. Molloy's) own Church had helped those candidates in their elections, and now they found that the Government, after reaping all the advantage that was to be reaped from the holding of this Commission, came to the House that night—and in a quiet and very simple fashion, he admitted—in a quiet and friendly way, announced that their policy was superior to their convictions, and that they hauled down their flag in front of those who were their enemies on this question. There was no getting out of this dilemma. He had discussed this matter with Gentlemen sitting near the Vice President of the Council over and over again; and he and his Friends had tried to see if some settlement could not be arrived at which, whilst it would be absolutely in the interests of education in this country, would allay the grievances which the 839 different denominational systems had complained of for so long a time. And now what were they to believe of a Government who appointed a Commission to investigate the matter, and appointed as its Chairman one of their own Ministers, and had their own Party largely represented upon it—what were they to believe of a Government who gave them the idea that the object of the Commission was to bring about a redress of their grievances, and who sought their help, but who, when the time for action came, struck their colours without firing a shot? He spoke with some warmth, because on this question of education for some years—strong Liberal, or rather Radical, as he was—he had supported the Tory Government. This was a question which had always appeared to him of most vital importance; and yet they were told that night that it had not entered into the mind of the Government who had appointed the Commission to do anything to upset the settlement of 1870. Well, he had had his suspicions of that for some time past, and had not been idle in the matter; but, before he came to that point, he should like to draw attention to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, but who had since left the House. It had been with the greatest astonishment that he (Mr. Molloy) had listened to the hon. Gentleman's speech. He had thought the hon. Member was a strong supporter of the Commission, and of the view that changes were necessary in the educational system of the country, in order to relieve voluntary schools. And yet the hon. Gentleman rose in the most pleasant manner, adopting the tone of the Minister for Education, and said what an agreeable thing it was to find that they were all agreed upon so many important points. Since when had the hon. Member been agreed upon those points? Why, within the last 24 hours, and no longer. Up to the time this announcement was made by the Vice President of the Council, the hon. Member (Mr. Salt), and those who sat around about him, were in favour of all that the Commission had reported. If the Commission had reported against any change in the present system, and had said—"We have examined into the subject of these alleged grievances, and 840 we do not find there is any solid foundation for them," then he (Mr. Molloy) certainly should have said that Ministers had nothing else to do than accept the conclusion of the Royal Commission of their own appointment and their own nomination, which was composed of a majority of their own friends. What was the moaning of appointing this Commission? Did the Government mean that they appointed Commissions simply for the purpose of relegating the Commission to the back for two or three years in order to get rid of a difficult electioneering subject? They appointed that Commission solely and simply that they might have a basis on which they could build up a Bill for relieving the grievances of the denominational schools. They declared in that House that they would do so.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, the Government had said in that House—they or their own people, in their speeches—Members had made that declaration, and Ministers had given their assent to it. He did not mean to say that any Members of the Government had said so in as many words, and in such clear and distinct terms as he should have liked to hear; but Tory Members had risen and had declared that if the Commission reported in such and such a sense, the Conservative Party would do so and so. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members on the Conservative side had certainly led the House to believe that. This Royal Commission had devoted two and a-half years to work which was about as wearisome as any which could have been undertaken; and apparently with no result. What was the object of the Commission? Was it to settle petty details which could be settled by the Department itself without the intervention of anybody? Was it to settle details which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President could easily settle himself? Last year appeals were made to hon. Members from the Treasury Bench. Hon. Members, when they wanted to deal with this subject, were asked to wait for the Report of the Royal Commission. Well, they had waited for that Report; and what did the Government do? They threw the Report of their own Commission into the waste paper basket—they cast aside 841 absolutely and entirely the one question, and the one question alone, to decide which the Commission was appointed. [Dissent.] It was no use for the Minister most interested in this subject to shake his head when he (Mr. Molloy) made that statement. He (Mr. Molloy) would undertake to say that he knew more about the appointment of the Royal Commission than the right hon. Gentleman did. The Commission was appointed upon his (Mr. Molloy's) instigation and appeal. He had seen all the authorities who could be seen upon the subject—all the authorities on the right hon. Gentleman's own side—all the authorities who had been advocating this measure for a long time; and he said distinctly that the real understanding upon which the Commission was appointed was such as he had described. There was one of his Colleagues upon the Royal Commission sitting near him, whom he called upon to deny the fact if it were not as he said. The understanding was this—that the question to be settled by the Royal Commission was the only question which could not be settled by the House of Commons—namely, the financial relations between the voluntary system and the board school system of this country. Well, hon. Members had experienced another disappointment The Government, as he had said, had hauled down their flag; but he was happy to say that for some time past he had guessed that that was the course the Government would take; he had watched their conduct for some time, and he had seen that coming. He (Mr. Molloy) had supported the advocates of denominationalism belonging to other creeds than his own in this matter most loyally, and had given them all the assistance he could; but when he saw that for purposes which it would be better that he should not enter upon just now, the Report of the Royal Commission and the whole policy of the Commission was to be cast aside, he had looked round to see whether a settlement in the interests of education of all kinds, both moral and secular, could not be obtained by some other means; and he was happy to say that the differences which had existed between himself and his hon. Friends on that (the Opposition) side of the House no longer existed. The settlement 842 which the Government could have made, and could have made with the greatest ease had they had the courage of their convictions, would now be made by somebody else. It would be made without their assistance, and those who had deserted their Colleagues and hauled down their flag must not complain if they were defeated and left in the rear, for the fault would be their own and nobody else's. He (Mr. Molloy) and his Friends saw how this matter could be settled, and how, upon the differences which had hitherto separated them, they could all be brought into accord; and he, for one, could no longer give any support to the Government on this question of education; but he thought it would be found that those who were of his creed, and who agreed with hint in this matter, and many not belonging to the same Church, would refuse to give the support in the future to Tory Members on the ground of their educational policy, which they had bestowed upon them for the last two or three years. They would give their support where it would be more useful to them, and where he certainly believed the support would be more honestly utilized.
§ MR. C. T. D. ACLAND (Cornwall, Launceston)
said, he was very glad to have heard the remarks of the last speaker. He confessed he sympathized most heartily with the hon. Member in the feelings he had expressed at the beginning of his speech with reference to the maintenance of the voluntary system. There was one remark he (Mr. Acland) was anxious to make with reference to the point which he know would not be received with favour by this Government. His proposal would be regarded by their supporters throughout the country as fatal to their policy. He desired to see a provision introduced into their educational system by which every voluntary school in the country would have upon it representatives of the parents of the children and of the subscribers. In order to bring that about, it would, no doubt, be necessary to lay down some rule by which subscriptions must bear a certain proportion to the total expenditure before subvention could be granted. He had not sufficient acquaintance with the subject to say definitely what the proportion should be which should be provided by subscription; but he 843 should think that 5s. or 6s. per head would be about the amount which should be subscribed in order to entitle subscribers to a subvention. He should like to see the Government grant withheld from all schools on the management of which parents sending children to the school and subscribers of not less than a definite amount were not represented by elected representatives. He said that distinctly on behalf of voluntary schools. He did not believe that this country would much longer stand the voluntary system as it was at present. He was certain that as education increased, and as the necessity for a small amount of technical knowledge became more appreciated, the interest taken by parents and residents in rural districts in the schools would also increase considerably; and he thought that in the interest of voluntary schools the Government would be wise to do their best by whatever measures they thought right, to induce managers of all voluntary schools to insure an adequate representation of both parents and subscribers. Such was the character, he was sorry to say, of many managers of voluntary schools, and such was their anxiety to maintain exclusive control over the schools, that he did not think they would willingly do this; and he was afraid that such compulsory measures as he had suggested—namely, the withholding of the Parliamentary grant—would have to be resorted to in order to insure that result. Now, this proposal was open to the objection that many schools were bound by the trust deeds of the National Society; but that, he apprehended, might be dealt with by legislation. He knew very well that without legislation this particular hindrance was not likely to be removed; but he believed that if that hindrance could be removed the voluntary system would be endowed with a vitality in this country which at present, in his eyes, it did not possess. Now, he wanted to say one word on a different subject, to which no allusion had been made that night, although he had thought something would have been said with regard to it in the opening address of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council. During last Session they heard a great deal about the institution of an Agricultural Department. That Department had not 844 yet been appointed; consequently, they could not look to anyone else than the right hon. Gentleman who had charge of education for any information as to what was to be done, if anything, with reference to instruction in agriculture in elementary schools. Proposals had been made, he knew, to the effect that land should be attached to elementary schools. He himself would not believe that that was a practical way of securing the result which he desired to see attained; but he was anxious that, on behalf of technical instruction in agriculture, the Government should do their very best to induce Local Educational Authorities to raise both the age and the standard which entitled children to exemption from school attendance. As the matter stood at present, in the West of England—which was the district he knew most about—he was afraid that 10 was the age at which most children left school; and by the time they reached 13 they had practically forgotten all they had learned. He did not think it unreasonable—on the contrary, he thought in the interest of the labourers themselves it was wise, almost necessary—to compel the children to attend school until they were 13 years old, or at least until they had reached the highest Standard open to them. He said this with reference to technical instruction in agriculture, for the reason that he was rather inclined to believe that a certain amount of the elements chemistry, mechanics, botany, and anatomy could be got into the heads of children if they were kept at school for the longer period, after the age of 10 and up to the age of 13. He would, therefore, urge the Government to do their best to induce the School Attendance Committees and the School Boards in the country to raise the age up to which children should remain at school. He knew of a case where in a certain parish children had been required to attend school up to the age of 13. The authorities, however, required uniformity to be established in that parish with the rest of the district, and reduced the age from 13 to 10, to the great injury of the educational advancement of the children of that very large parish. He knew this was not the occasion upon which to discuss the South Kensington system—this was not the Vote on which to do it. But without discussing that system 845 he wished to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to this point. At present it was a fact that in populous districts—he believed actually in some of our large towns—children were being taught the principles of agriculture, as it was called, simply because it was one of the easiest subjects in which a grant could be earned. He supposed that this ease was caused by the extremely vague character of the instruction which could be apprehended by children of tender years. He could hardly imagine a more ridiculous waste of time and money than the teaching of the principles of agriculture to children in large towns, who, perhaps, had never seen a field or a leaf in their lives, and were never destined to make any subsequent use of agricultural training.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
said, there was a stringent regulation laid down, to the effect that instruction in the principles of agriculture should only be given to children whom it was intended to employ in that pursuit.
§ MR. C. T. D. ACLAND
said, that he had been studying the Agricultural Educational Report, and had not noticed that Regulation there mentioned; but, however that might be, as an agriculturist, living chiefly in the country, he trusted that in future consideration of this great subject of education the Government would bear in mind, especially in reference to the prospects they now had of County and District Councils being established, the great importance of giving the District Authority in each part of the country the utmost possible influence in determining the character of the education in that locality. They know that in different parts of England different kinds of agricultural training would be better for the children, just as different education in trades was essential in different towns, and as he had said, as an agriculturist, he was extremely anxious that the District Authority should have some influence in directing the character of the education of the children.
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
said, the country was spending an enormous amount of money on Education, and speaking on behalf of the people generally, he believed they would not grudge the expenditure of any amount upon that object provided they received for it their money's worth. 846 But having listened to the discussion of that evening, he thought there was considerable doubt that the country was receiving the return they had a right to expect from the £5,200,000 asked for. They had, in the first place, the statement of the Commissioners, that to a large extent the moral training of the children was neglected. It seemed, therefore, that the voluntary schools, which were established to give religious instruction to children, were to blame for this deficiency in respect of moral training. Our sectarian views were very largely responsible for the comparatively meagre results reached by this educational system, and he believed that, having come to a parting of ways, the voluntary and the School Board system could not long continue to co-exist. One system would be swallowed up, and he did not think it would be that of the board schools which had now covered the whole face of the country, and this view received confirmation from the opinion of the Bishop of Manchester, who said a short time ago that the whole system of voluntary education would have to give way to a broader system. Another authority had also stated that it was perfectly clear that board schools which had been so planted in the country would have to furnish the solution of the Educational Question. We should have to look more and more to that system because, outside all our machinery, there were nearly 1,000,000 children who were neglected in the matter of Education. It was those children on the verge of crime that they wanted to get at, and for that purpose free education and some mild form of compulsion was necessary. He appealed to the Committee to support him in saying that this could not be effected except by means of the board schools, who were popularly elected bodies, because the people would never allow compulsory power of this kind to be exercised by a non-elected authority. They had to look to a free system of education, and he thought that must be entirely of an unsectarian character. If they could get rid of sectarianism in the training of children, then he believed that the problem of life for them would have been solved. One of the great works to which the County Councils would have to devote their attention was the educational problem.["No, 847 no!"] He thought so, at any rate; they would have to look after the voluntary schools for the reason that he believed they were not safe in the hands of sectarian bodies; and the treatment of the children of Nonconformists in village schools, and the use of these schools for sectarian purposes, was a state of things to which the people objected and would not submit to long. It would come to this—that if money was to be given year by year for purposes of voluntary schools, some elected representative would have to be upon the managing bodies to look after this expenditure of public funds. He believed that the great principle to be drawn from that night's discussion was that the solution of the educational difficulty lay not in the extension of the sectarian system but in the development of the system of School Boards.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
said, he desired to make some remarks on the very gratifying Report which the Vice President of the Council of Education had presented to the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee that the increase of school rates was 2.87 per cent, the increase of population being only 1.35; so that more than one-half of the total increase on the school registers for the past year was due to other causes than to the increase of population. There was no evidence whatever that a single child more was receiving instruction in England this year than before, although the idea prevailed with some, in the same way as in the first instance it had pervaded the Scotch Education Department. But the middle class, who once sent their children to non-State-aided schools were now sending them to board schools; and that was what was taking place also in Scotland. The Education Department said there was a great increase in the schools, whereas it could be shown to be due to the transfer from the class of schools mentioned. The Education Department had charge of all the children; their duty was to see all the children of England educated; but why did not they, in virtue of their duty, make up a statement showing the number of children in both denominations of schools? If this were done they could then compare the total number of children receiving instruction of all kinds in one year with the number receiving 848 instruction of all kinds in other years; and until they did this there would be no fair comparison in respect of the real progress of education in England; for as board schools increased, the children of the middle class would be driven into them for cheaper education, and the result would be the belief that the education of the country was extending, while probably nothing more was being done than the putting down of good non-State-aided schools. With regard to school accommodation, the Report stated that there was school accommodation for 5,278,892 children, but when they looked at the average attendance they found it was represented by the figures 3,527,381. Thus there existed an enormous difference between the accommodation and the average number of children for whom they had to provide; and, further, they found that whereas the school accommodation had increased by 134,000 seats, last year the average attendance had only increased by 89,000; so that the disproportion was annually increasing. It seemed to him, therefore, that there ought to be some legislative provision—such as existed in Scotland—for a check upon School Boards in matters of this kind. They were in Scotland as sensitive on the subject of local management as anyone in England; nevertheless the ratepayers would have no check on the School Board unless there was a representative body to whom they might appeal. It was, therefore, a salutary provision that the English Education Department should have the power of checking any inordinate expenditure on schools; but there was, as far as he knew, no such provision; and he thought the Vice President of the Council would do well to turn the matter over, with a view to supplying the deficiency. Attention had been called to the fact that the average attendance was so low as 76 per cent of the number of children on the register; but English Members might take heart here, for they were not far behind Scotland, whereas the proportion was 77.79 per cent. But it must be taken into consideration that in England children went earlier to school than in Scotland, and it was to be expected older children would be more regular in their attendance. Reference had been made by a previous speaker to the fact that children in the board schools would leave 849 very much about 10 years of age. It was easy to make that statement, but he had looked into the facts, and found that there were no less than 1,379,727 on the register above 10 years of age, and 793,750 above 13 years; and the gratifying result would be found on comparison that, whereas 66 per cent of the children above 10 years were presented in Standard IV. and upwards, the number presented in Scotland was only 62.34. It was no doubt very important that the school age should be extended in England. In 1870 there was probably some reason why there should be some difference between the two countries in the matter of compulsory education. It was felt that the Scotch people had had a good educational system, and were quite able, without inconvenience, to comply with the requirement of a greater restriction on the children; but education had advanced so much since then as to place the two countries very much upon an equality, and there was, therefore, no reason for keeping up one system in England and another in Scotland in the matter of compulsory education. There was, for instance, no reason why Standard V. should not be made compulsory in both countries, and therefore, bearing in mind that children in England went earlier to school than in Scotland, and would in consequence pass the Standard at an earlier age, he thought the time was come for extending the limit of school age to very much what it was in Scotland. Again, he did not see why the 17s. 6d. limit should be maintained in the case of the voluntary schools. It made no difference whether a board school cost 150 and a voluntary school £100—the educational result must be equally good, and he did not think that large expenditure necessarily produced the best educational result. Reference had been made by the last speaker to the fact that he would not give compulsory powers of education to voluntary schools. But that was not the question; voluntary schools had no compulsory powers of education; that power was for the School Board to exercise, and it was for the parents to send their children to voluntary or board schools, as they thought proper. [An hon. MEMBER: There are 1,000 parishes where there are no second schools.] If the ratepayers 850 did not provide them it did not affect his argument. The parent was entitled to select the school to which he would send his child, and if the school provided educational conditions which were certified as sufficient, he could not see that there was any right of interference in the matter. Then with regard to payment, it was not a case of handing over £3,000,000 to the voluntary schools without supervision; Parliament never granted money without supervision; the Educational Department did not pay a penny without exercising the control of seeing that what was given was fairly earned; so that it was not necessary that a voluntary school should be under local representatives in order to warrant their receiving money. It was sufficient that the school was under Government Inspection and that, as he had said, no money was given to it that was not fairly earned. Speaking from his own experience it was not the fact that voluntary schools burdened the ratepayers. The less teaching there was in the board schools the cheaper it was for the ratepayers, because time voluntary schools provided school accommodation at their own expense and received no aid on that account, but in the board schools accommodation must be provided at the public expense; and so it would be found that, as the board schools were increased in number, so also was the taxation of the ratepayers. The effect of the voluntary schools was therefore to aid the rates, while that of the board schools was necessarily to burden them, and if a parent sent his child to a denominational school he did not see that the State was the loser, or that, as a matter of sentiment, there was any ground for complaint. With regard to the sectarian character of the schools referred to by previous speakers, the same view had prevailed in Scotland in 1870, when Parliament legislated on the subject of religious teaching; it was left as a compromise, and decided that parents might withdraw their children from the religious teaching of the schools if they chose to do so. But at the last election hardly a single Member was returned under the cry of "secular education," and there was scarcely a school at the present time in Scotland in which religious education was not given. The people of Scotland would not tolerate the cry of secular education; but not 851 only was that the case, for the leaders of the United Presbyterian Church were now on the Committees and were in favour of religious instruction in the schools, although, curiously enough, they thought there should be Disestablishment of a religion of the people still more advanced in years than their own. And it would be also found that the people of England, Wales, and Scotland had the same regard for training up their children with something more than secular education. He, therefore, thought that voluntary schools in the matter of the 17s, 6d. limit at any rate should be placed on an equal footing with board schools. But the real test was "Do they comply with the requirements of the Education Code?" If so, then they were entitled to the payment; the test was inspection and that being on their side they were entitled to and ought to receive it whether they charged smaller fees or not.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
said, he had to say a few words on the subject in connection with education, which, although it had never yet been before the House of Commons in a definite form, would in the near future form the subject of keen discussion. He did not entirely agree with his hon. Colleague the Member for the St. Rollox Division of Glasgow (Mr. Caldwell) that National Education was distinctly and solely a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence. He did not look upon National Education from that point of view; he thought that a nation could not pay too dearly for its education, and that everything laid out upon that would be returned to it in the advantages which resulted from the increased intelligence of its citizens. They were all pretty well agreed that mental pabulum was administered to the children in the schools in sufficient quantities, but he did not believe in stuffing their brains and leaving their stomachs empty. His idea was that a certain amount of beef and bread was necessary before the efficient training of the young could take place; that in order to make an omelet, eggs must be broken; and sooner or later there would be heard a call from the poorer classes of the country for one good meal at least being provided for the children at the expense of the ratepayers. He knew that in Paris there was a Government 852 grant of £12,000 for this purpose. The hon. Baronet opposite had made their mouths water by his description of the way the children connected with the board schools cooked, but another spectacle, which brought water to his eyes, arose before his mind at the time, of the wizened, miserable, and wasted children in the board schools of the East of London without food. This matter, as he had said, would form the subject of keen debate, and he was certain that the House would come at last to see the wisdom, as they would eventually reap the benefit, of making some provision for the physical necessities of the children.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, this question of Education, with perhaps the question of governing India, was the most important which the country had to consider, and he was glad that, having had time to study the Report of the Royal Commission, the right hon. Gentleman had made a statement with regard to their most important recommendation. The Commission, which was appointed two years ago, was made up of men of eminence in certain ranks of life. Many of his hon. Friends bad been under the apprehension that the Commission at the time was appointed with the foregone conclusion that it should produce a Report upon which the Government might proceed to alter the existing relationship between the voluntary and board school systems of the country. The Government had now, however, thrown over the main recommendation of the Commission, and he could not imagine that they had been allowed to take the course followed to-night of their own accord. Amongst the mysteries of the present political situation this one was the greatest. Was it that the "crutch" had failed the Government? It might on examination be found that their action was due to the intervention of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (The Marquis of Hartington) or of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain); but he believed the Government had been saved from very serious disaster which would have overtaken them had they persevered in following the recommendation in question. He was prepared to say that not only had every reasonable consideration been shown, but the greatest tenderness also towards the voluntary and denomina- 853 tional system of Education. He was amazed that a gentleman occupying the position of Permanent Secretary to the Education Department and an ex-Secretary should be found lending the countenance they had to this system, which might be expected merely to meet with approval from narrow-minded ecclesiastics; and the revelations made by the evidence given before the Commission would come with surprise on the country, and tend to lessen the confidence in the impartiality of that body. He would only repeat what had been already said on that side of the House, and would be perhaps received with favour on the other side—that whatever sum was necessary for the real education of the people of the country would not be grudged by Parliament. With the object of frightening hon. Gentlemen they were told that £5,000,000 were annually expended in the various departments of the Education Office, but when all was said and done this was not more than one-sixth of what was spent on the Army and Navy. However necessary it was to maintain the expenditure for the defences of the country, and the experiments in which we indulged every year and month, no one could doubt that it was of infinitely higher importance for the permanent welfare of the country that ignorance should be dispelled from the minds of the people and that they should have the means of earning an honest livelihood and leading a respectable life. He would look for curtailment of expenditure, therefore, in every other direction before he would consent to any cheese-paring policy in connection with education. Some hon. Members had sought to impress on the Committee the feeling that there was harmony on this great question of education and with regard to its future progress. He wished that was the case. But there was no peace at the present moment—no unity and no harmony. They were within a few days of a great contest in all parts of the country for the election and re-election of men who had charge of popular education. His own town was no exception in this respect; and around what did the struggle centre? It was wholly around sectarianism. Fifteen members had been appointed upon the Bradford School Board, and eight one side and seven on the other would determine the policy of the board. It 854 had been said of the Vice President of the Council that he was tongue-tied in regard to the Report of the Commission, but he thought the right hon. Gentleman had shown that this was not the case. He was anything but tongue-tied; but instead of giving the Committee to understand that it was not the time to consider the Report, the right hon. Gentleman had bludgeoned it and kicked overboard all the Commissioners' recommendations. It had been said on that side of the House that all the subsidiary recommendations of the Commission had been agreed to. This was perfectly accurate, and Gentlemen on that side accepted everything that went plainly and simply in favour of the education of the country. If it were the case that there were alien force in the School Boards of the country, he thought people would begin to see that it was necessary that some change should be made. He would say, let the voluntary schools live and flourish, but let them do that on their own merits. Let there be a genuine choice of schools; but he confessed that he did not anticipate that the two systems could run on parallel lines very much longer; and in his opinion, if it were not for a few ecclesiastics, a great number of the denominational schools would be handed over to the School Board system. The condition of the denominational schools was now as favourable as Parliament was likely to make it. There was one fact of the greatest importance which had to be considered—namely, the difficulty under which masses of the parents of the children lie in providing the school fees. What was the fact in regard to the so-called voluntary schools of the country? Since 1870 the fees had increased to the extent of 50 per cent. Instead of making it easier for children to go to school, managers of voluntary schools had made it much more difficult. Upon the whole the House and the country had occasion to be satisfied with the turn things had taken. In all probability things would not rest now that this great controversy had been raised again. He certainly listened with amazement to the comments of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the St. Rollox Division of Glasgow (Mr. Caldwell) upon the English Education Question. In Scotland there was a system of universal School Board. That 855 was the true system of popular representation, and there was no department of our municipal and social life in which it was of more importance that the people who paid and sent their children to school should have the commanding power than in the Educational Department.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)
said, he did not think the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) had altogether carried out the amicable spirit with which some of his Friends had spoken to-night. It would certainly not be the hon. Gentleman's fault if the debate closed in the same tone in which it began. The hon. Gentleman appeared to assume for himself and his Party all the credit for conscientious conviction in the matter of education, and would not admit that others might have convictions equally conscientious.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, he did not wish to make any charge which was unfair. He only stated that the avowal of the National Society was to have control of the education of the people of the country, in order that the children might be brought up in the principles of the Church of England.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, it was because he and his Friends believed in the principles of the Church of England, that they desired to have schools in which those principles were taught. As a member of the Church of England he believed its doctrines were right; and, therefore, he claimed to have the right to have schools in which those doctrines were taught. All he asked was that his conscientious convictions should be as much respected as those of the hon. Gentleman. But he was not going to rely on his own conviction only. Something had been said about the settlement of 1870, and they had been told that nothing was to be done now that would upset the basis of the settlement of 1870. He was quite willing to subscribe to that doctrine, but he must remind hon. Gentlemen what that settlement was. In order to impress the matter on the minds of some hon. Members who might not, perhaps, remember all that was said and done in 1870, he intended to quote a few words of a right hon. Gentleman, who was beyond suspicion, opposite—namely, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian 856 (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). That right hon. Gentleman was reported to have said in 1870—It was with us an absolute necessity of honour and policy to respect and favour the educational establishments and machinery we found existing in the country. It was impossible for us to join in the language or to adopt the tone which was conscientiously and consistently taken by some members of the House, who look upon these voluntary schools, having generally a denominational character, as admirable passing expedients; fit, indeed, to be tolerated for a time, deserving all credit on account of the motives which led to their foundation; but wholly unsatisfactory as to their main purpose, and, therefore, to be supplanted by something they think better. That is a perfectly fair and intelligible theory for any gentleman to entertain; but I am quite sure it will be felt that it has never been the theory of the Government.That was part of the settlement of 1870. He and his Friends had just as much right to demand that that part of the settlement should be adhered to as any other part. They demanded that if the board school system was not to be disturbed the compact with the voluntary schools should not be disturbed. Now, some sneers had been expressed against the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) because, as it was said, he had hauled down their flag. Where was the flag, and how was it hauled down? It seemed to be supposed that the Education Commission had been started in order to elicit aid from the rates for voluntary schools. Who had a right to say that? Where was that ever stated? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) would tell them where such an announcement was made. Those who supported the denominational system—and in this he thought he would be borne out by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy)—agreed it was desirable that a Commission should be appointed in order to see how the voluntary schools should be assisted to preserve their existence. They did not anticipate any particular form in which that assistance was to come, and to say that because they did not get one form of assistance, they got none, seemed to be an exceedingly fallacious statement. Now, the hon. Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) complained that geography and history were not taught; but if the hon. Baronet 857 were to refer to the real facts he would find that these subjects were often taught in the shape of reading lessons. The hon. Baronet must remember that more instruction meant more cost. He did not know whether the hon. Baronet was willing to give a larger sum for the instruction both in board and voluntary schools; but unless he was he could hardly expect that his wishes would be carried out. There was one suggestion made both by the hon. Baronet and by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith), with which he cordially agreed, and that was that what were called continuation schools should be more widely encouraged. But the Commissioners found, after taking evidence, that there was very great doubt whether we should be able to insist upon children being sent to such schools. That such schools should exist was most desirable, and that we should encourage them in all ways was quite right; but that we should be able to insist on children of both sexes being sent to the schools seemed to him, from a practical point of view, extremely doubtful. He would be unwilling, therefore, though most anxious to see the schools liberally supported, to commit himself to the policy of compelling children, certainly girls, to attend such schools. The hon. and learned Member for King's County said he was convinced that the Conservative Government and Party had struck their flag and departed from the understanding with respect to the subject of voluntary schools. At the same time the hon. and learned Gentleman said he and his Friends now understood that the Liberal Party were prepared to give them what they wanted. If so, what became of the somewhat strong language used by Liberal Members about the retrograde recommendations of the Royal Commission and the protests against demoninational schools? What were the schools which the hon. and learned Member was interested in if they were not denominational schools? He should have thought they were the most denominational of all schools, and if the hon. and learned Member and his Friends expected to get aid from the Liberal Party for those schools, how was that aid to be obtained except on the lines of the settlement of 1870? If hon. Gentlemen could approach the subject in a somewhat calmer speech than was 858 displayed by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth), they would find there was a great deal in the Report of the Commission which could be accepted on both sides of the House. There were various ways in which assistance could be given to voluntary schools quite independent of aid from the rates. Take the case of an increase of the fixed grants. That was a great addition to the resources of voluntary schools. Then there was the removal of the 17s. 6d. limit, which was imposed at a time when education cost less than now. And a point on which the Commissioners were unanimous was the relieving of school buildings from rates. That again was a practical remedy which would very greatly relieve voluntary schools. As an attack had been made on the Government, perhaps it was well he should remind hon. Members that an important conference of clergymen and laymen had been held this week at the offices of the National Society, and that the first resolution passed was as follows:—With regard to the important proposal that voluntary schools should be aided by rates levied locally, this conference is of opinion that such a practice would be inexpedient, provided the other measures for their relief suggested by the Commission are adopted.One happy result of the Royal Commission was that those who entered it with very discordant feelings left it with feelings much more in accord. He might say there was a rapprochement and a very singular bringing together of people with discordant views on the subject of National Education which he thought was alone a justification for the appointment of the Commission. Of this he was fully persuaded, that during the proceedings of the Commission one conviction forced itself on the minds of many, and that conviction was that, whereas the whole of the education of the country had for long rested upon a religious basis, unless it continued to rest on that basis it would be of little or no value at all. The Commissioners had a most important and interesting report given to them by Mr. Cunynghame, a well-known official of the Charity Commission, on the state of Education in Paris, which Report produced a great impression on his mind and on the minds of other Members of the Commission. Mr. Cunynghame, in his 859 visits to the schools of Paris, came upon a school taught as a great many were taught in Paris, by a secularist teacher, and the teacher said that in the course of a very few years Christianity would be, except as a matter of history, unknown to the children of Paris. The teacher added that although a Secularist himself he looked with fear and apprehension to the time when Secularism would be the religion of France. He (Mr. J. G. Talbot) was convinced that unless the education of this country was based on religion it would be worth little or nothing in contending against the forces of vice, immorality and Secularism which were so rampant.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
said, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. G. Talbot) had quoted to the Committee the evidence of Mr. Cunynghame with respect to the state of the French schools, and to the godless character of those schools, and to the fact that if the education was continued on the present lines, in another generation or two Christianity would be unknown to the French people. Why did the hon. Gentleman introduce that statement to the Committee? Was there any parallel to such a state of things in our English schools? Did the hon. Gentleman mean to say that our board schools were godless schools? Did he wish it to be implied that there was any lax of religious teaching in our board schools?
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said that what he did imply, and what the right hon. Gentleman could not deny, was that on the chance majority on the School Board depended the question whether there should be any, and what religious teaching.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
begged the hon. Gentleman's pardon; it depended upon nothing of the kind. He appealed to the Leader of the House (Mr. W. H. Smith), who moved the first Resolution with respect to the religious teaching in the board schools of the Metropolis, whether there had been any change in consequence of the alteration of the majority on the Board. Was there any religious teaching in the Metropolis that was better than the religious teaching in the board schools? He was bound to say, after a critical and careful examination of the religious teaching in some of the best voluntary schools in the Metropolis and a comparison of it with that in the 860 best board schools, that, on the whole, the religious instruction given in the board schools was more regularly given, more carefully given, more critically given, and more critically examined than that which was given in the voluntary schools. The same remark applied to the schools throughout England. Nay, more, since the passing of the Act of 1870, since the general spread of board schools, the religious teaching of the children of England had been better than it had ever been in the history of the country. He was an old Sunday school teacher, and he knew what a drudgery it used to be to get overgrown boys and girls to put a few letters together to form a word or text of Scripture. He knew the difficulty there was, in the first place, to get children into the school, and then to get them to understand the lessons. He knew what a different state of things there was in the board schools to-day. What had we in our day schools? Instead of 1,600,000 children we had 4,600,000, but instead of 1,600,000 imperfectly taught children we had 4,600,000 children that were being better taught every year. The numbers which were attaining something like a high standard of education were increasing year by year in marvellous ratio. He had just left the town of Birmingham, where he inquired as to the progress made in the higher Standards of the board schools. The number of children now passing the sixth and seventh Standards every year in Birmingham was 10 times what it was 10 years ago. Such progress he could hardly believe; it certainly exceeded what he had anticipated. What had been the effect of the day schools on the religious teaching in the Sunday schools? When he was Vice President he took great pains to inform himself as to the number of children in Sunday schools. In 1856, Mr. Baines, a member of the House, got a return, showing that there were over 2,000,000 children attending the Sunday schools of England and Wales. By the aid of the statistical Secretary of the Sunday School Union—and from no one did he (Mr. Mundella) receive more assistance than from the Secretary to the Church of England Sunday School Association—he ascertained when he was in Office that the number of children attending Sunday schools was larger in proportion than 861 the number attending the day schools. When children had been saved from the streets and been brought into the day schools, the parents had too much respect for them to let them run about the streets on Sunday. The parents desired that their children should be religiously taught. As a rule, the most abandoned fathers and mothers had some desire that their children should have some religious teaching. Moreover, instead of coming into Sunday school ignorant, unable to read a simple text of Scripture, children now came in from the hands of the experienced and trained teachers of the day schools, with receptive minds, and with a good knowledge of the whole of the Scriptural history. As to the higher Standards of religious teaching in the London board schools, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Evesham (Sir Richard Temple) would bear him out when he said that the examinations were exceedingly stiff. If the teaching erred at all it erred on the side of asking too much from the children. When at this moment the country was ringing with the most uncharitable and most disgraceful attacks on the board schools that one could not go to church on the Sunday without finding in his pew documents so false and libellous and uncharitable against the board schools that he blushed with shame and indignation, when one found the clergy in their pulpits denouncing the board schools, when he found in the parish magazines statements about the awful alliance between Dissenters and the infidels and the desire to extinguish religious teaching, and when he found the Conservative Associations going down to Wolverhampton and protesting against the suppression and extinction of voluntary schools, it was time to speak out and say this was mere hypocrisy, that there was no sincerity about it, that it was only resorted to with a view of keeping up voluntary schools as against board schools. He was thankful for the statement they had heard that night from the Vice President. He hoped they were going to get rid of a controversy, or a threatened controversy, which would only fill the country with sectarian strife and hinder the progress of education. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman must be satisfactory to everybody. Instead of trying to depress the board schools and bring them down 862 to the level of the poorest voluntary schools, let them try to raise the board schools still higher and bring the voluntary schools up to the best of them. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the compact of 1870 he would do well to read to Mr. Forster's speeches in 1876 on that compact. The right hon. Gentleman wished to remove the 17s. 6d. limit. Mr. Forster said that by having raised the 17s. 6d. limit they had been guilty of a breach of the compact of 1870, they had done great harm to denominational schools, and for his part he felt himself free to take any course he thought fit. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) was very much stronger than Mr. Forster. The right hon. Gentleman insisted upon dividing against the third reading of the Bill, and he concluded a powerful speech by expressing the belief that in the long run popular feeling would declare itself against the compulsory attendance of children at denominational schools, and, furthermore, against the support of such schools by public money. He (Mr. Mundella) had never expressed such an opinion as that, and he sincerely hoped that after the announcement which had been made by the Vice President, in which he completely threw overboard the objectionable parts of the Report of the Royal Commission, and declared his intention of standing by the settlement of 1870, they would have peace between both sides of the House on the question, and make some real progress in the next three years in the matter of education, instead of standing still as they had done for some time. On the whole the statement of the Vice President was very satisfactory. It indicated considerable progress, and if matters were only left where they were, just the kind of progress which he had stated would be made. He agreed with many of the recommendations, both of the majority and the minority, of the Royal Commission. If the recommendations concerning structural improvements in the schools, better ventilation, better the improvement of the teaching, the improvement in the staff, and the raising of the age for halftime and full time, were embodied in a Bill, they would find very hearty support on the Opposition side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman claimed an increase of the number of children on the 863 registrar of 129,000. That was a very satisfactory statement. But, said the hon. Gentleman the Member for the St. Rollox Division (Mr. Caldwell)—"Oh, but how do you know. These children have came probably from schools which were not State-aided?" The hon. Gentleman might know Scotland, but he certainly did not know much about England. There were very few non-State-aided schools in England, and the satisfaction was that there were now one-sixth of the population on the registers of the public elementary schools. The hon. Gentleman said—"Oh, you may have got some of the middle classes there." They wished they had them all there. Nothing would do so much to raise the people, to produce that true equality between man and man, as to get all classes of the population in the same school. He had been in German towns, where he was told that every class, the son of the banker and the son of the banker's clerk, and the son of the porter who swept out the bank, sat side by side in the same public elementary school. What an enormous advantage that was to all the people of those towns and of the country. He only wished we had a little more of it in our own schools. He congratulated the Vice President on the accuracy of the forecast he made last year. There was one point, however, in regard to which the right hon. Gentleman confessed we had retrograded, and that was average attendance. The average attendance had slightly diminished in the last three years, and the right hon. Gentleman was puzzled to know how to account for the falling off. An average attendance of 76 per cent was not satisfactory. It would have been thought 10 or 15 years ago a marvellous achievement, but to day it was not a satisfactory result. The right hon. Gentleman thought that perhaps we had got in the dregs or residuum of the population, and that that might have something to do with it. Did the Vice President not think the fee had a good deal to do with it? Was not the fee question very much at the bottom of the attendance? He found that in Birmingham, where the fees were 5s. a-year, the average attendance was 86 per cent. He found that at the Jews' Free School, at Spitalfields, 864 where there were between 3,000 and 4,000 children of the very poorest of the London population, the average attendance was 94 per cent. He believed that free schools, or even a limited number of free schools, would do a great deal to get rid of the bad average attendance. It was said that School Boards could not set up free schools; that the Education Department made the laws with respect to fees. But the London School Board had never applied for a free school. If they had asked for one, or 20, when he was at the Department, they would have had them. He believed that if the School Board would set up a number of free schools in the poorest districts of London, the Lord President or the Vice President of to-day would sanction them. Why did they not try and see how far free schools would solve the difficulty? He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the excellent figures he placed before the Committee with respect to the educational results. There was hardly any crime amongst children under 12 years of age, and the statement with respect to juveniles under 16 was marvellous, for whereas in 1869, with a population of 21,000,000, there were 10,314 committals, in 1886, with a population of 27,000,000, there were only 4,922 committals. Nothing could be more satisfactory than that. This was an annual result. There was a steady diminution of the criminal classes every year. That was worth some of the expenditure which we made in order to fit our children for citizenship. With respect to the payment of the fees for pauper children, the Government promised, when the Local Government Bill was before the House, that they would take measures in that Bill to get rid of the payment of fees for pauper children.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said, the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that that proposition was made in connection with the District Councils, the portion of the Local Government Bill which was dropped.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he was aware that that was so; but he did not know why the County Councils could not exercise power in respect to the payment of the fees of pauper children, acting on the representations of the local Com- 865 mittees. He regretted very much that such power was not given to the County Councils, because, while we were raising our children with one hand by means of education, we were lowering them with the other by bringing them in contact with pauperism. The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) made some excellent criticisms upon the curriculum of the schools, and the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) made a most interesting speech upon the methods adopted in our schools. He should be most rejoiced if we could set about improved methods; but what were we trying to do? It seemed to him that until we made a complete change we were trying to put a quart in a pint pot. The hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) was quite right when he said that so long as the school life of our children was so short and limited as it was, it was no use talking about improved methods or improved curriculum or anything else. So long as a child could go into the factory as a half-timer at 10 years of age, so long as a child could leave school, as he could in 8,000 or 10,000 parishes in England on passing the Fourth Standard, it did not matter what the curriculum, methods, or appliances were, we could not have good results. We might bring the best teachers from Germany, we might use the best apparatus in the world, but we could not compulsorily put subjects into a child who was going to leave school before he was 11. In the home counties, in Hertford and Essex, for instance, the School Attendance Committees had fixed the Fourth as the leaving Standard. In consequence of good teaching, children passed the Fourth Standard earlier every year. In some of the Loudon schools children passed that Standard at nine, but they could pass it very easily at 10. In some counties, as soon as a child was 10, and he had passed the Fourth Standard, out he must go. The Government said—"We are not going to pay for you any more. You have passed your Standard; you must go." The Chancellor of the Exchequer would agree with him that there could not be a greater waste of money than to educate a child up to 10 years of age at the expense of the State, then turn him out, and find that at 13 he had forgotten all he had learnt. It was simply an 866 educational waste. We would not make the sacrifice which was so necessary. What did Mr. Matthew Arnold say about the curriculum in the Hamburg schools? He said—The fixed matters of the school course are religion, German language, English language, object lessons, history, geography, natural history, arithmetic and algebra, geometry, writing, drawing and gymnastics. This school course is of special interest for English people in that it includes the English language as one of the fixed matters of instruction.The English language! He (Mr. Mundella) wondered what would happen if the hon. Baronet (Sir Richard Temple) were to propose to make a foreign language matter of instruction in the London Board Schools. In Russia no child left school until he was 14; it was impossible for him to do so. And when he left school, unless he could satisfy the school authorities, he must attend a continuation school until he was 16 or 17. It was the same in Switzerland. Throughout Switzerland all schools were free, and in Berlin every elementary school was free. Matthew Arnold said—That any wise statesmen would take free education out of the domain of public agitation and deal with it;but he added—You must, at the same time, deal with secondary education so as to give the middle classes some access to secondary education.He (Mr. Mundella) thought the English working classes were sufficiently fair to know that the middle classes must have their fair share of education. We had done nothing for three years. We had rather gone back in some respects. Whenever anything had been asked, what had been the answer? "Oh, the Royal Commission is sitting; we can do nothing until we have got the Report of the Royal Commission." He trusted that now we were going to do some solid work. He trusted the Government intended we should do the work on which we were all agreed in respect to elementary education. We had the Reports of two Royal Commissions and of a Committee of the House on Technical Education. We had had two Bills introduced in respect to technical education and both had been dropped. We had a Report on Welsh Intermediate Education. It had been promised by the right hon. Gentleman and his Predecessors for three years that that subject should 867 be dealt with. It was yet untouched, and the condition of intermediate education in Wales was worse than that in any country in Europe. Then there was the pledge of the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) with respect to Endowed Schools and Secondary Schools. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would fulfil that pledge, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would some day or other find time to give the House his reply with respect to our Colleges. He trusted the Government would do what they could to equip our people in the educational race, in the battle of life, in the great struggle now going on in commerce and industry among the foremost nations of the world.
§ MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)
said, he would give to the hon. Members upon the Government Benches credit for the most earnest anxiety thoroughly and fairly to educate the children of the country, but he could not help feeling that those hon. Gentlemen were prone to give way to the temptation to super-add sectarianism to the education. He and his hon. Friends did not complain of the desire on the part of anyone to give a religious education. He for one believed that education which was not religious was pretty nearly as bad as bad could be. So far, he entirely agreed with the most earnest views as to religious education which could be expressed from the opposite Benches. The difficulty, however, was that there were so many belonging to that section of the Church represented by those who had been speaking from the Ministerial Benches who thought there was no religion in the world except their own form of religion. The result was that if they once divided—bigotry on the one hand and religion on the other—they would find there was not so much anxiety for religious education as for education which he and his hon. Friends suggested; it was not so much religion after all as it was bigotry. Now, he did not wish to speak as the representative of the Church to which he belonged but as a member of it. He did so because he was aware that the statement had been promulgated through the length and breadth of the land, that because a certain member of the Church had signed the majority Report, the majority Report represented the general 868 opinion of Wesleyan Methodists. It did nothing of the sort. He desired to speak with the most perfect respect of the rev. gentleman in question, but the Wesleyan Methodists had no Minister of Education in their body. They did not mean to have, and if they had, he believed that the gentleman in question would have no chance whatever of being elected to the post. Neither he nor anybody else was entitled to represent that Church, and it was sufficient to say that the great body of testimony and of objection and protest that had come from every part—or almost every part—of the Kingdom against the Report, showed what was the general feeling of this particular Church. This was not a matter which should be brought on the floor of the House under ordinary circumstances. He did not want to fight this as a matter of Roman Catholics, Methodists, or Baptists on the one hand and Church people on the other. What he and his hon. Friends earnestly thought was this, that a religious education was necessary. He did not agree with some very good friends of his not far from him who thought that an education altogether without any religious flavour would be a satisfactory thing. He did not go that length; but he believed that in the board schools properly worked with au adequate Conscience Clause, fairly and loyally applied, they could get as much religious training as they could reasonably expect to get into the minds of the children so as to prepare them both for this life and the next. The Government had indicated what they were prepared to do. He did not want to put a fly at the bottom of the cup, and to say anything unpleasant on this matter; but some hon. Gentlemen spoke in this kind of way—"We believe in religious education." Well, so did he (Mr. Waddy) and his hon. Friends. But they went on to say—"And we believe the education which should be given is that of the Church to which we belong, and we are very proud of our opinion." Very good; if those people were so anxious to see children educated in the principles of their Church, let them pay for that education. He had not the slightest objection to their doing so, but what he and his hon. Friends believed was this—no doubt the Establishment possessed some earnest men, noble and pure, and ornaments to the Church; 869 but he and those who believed as he did, very meekly, but still very earnestly, held the same view with regard to their Church. They also were proud to maintain the principles of the Church to which they belonged. Let that, however, pass. Over and over again in that House they had had complaint made of the way in which the schools of the country were worked. These complaints, he knew, were not with regard to what happened in the towns, for the school authorities dared not abuse their powers there; but in the country districts, in very many cases, the schools were worked for purely sectarian purposes. It was done constantly. He said deliberately that in the county, one division of which he represented, he firmly believed that every fairly taken Census would show that Nonconformity was decidedly in the ascendant. That might be the misfortune or the good fortune of the county—he would not inquire which—but he was convinced that if at that moment a poll was taken in Lincolnshire it would be found that of the people who frequented the House of God on the Sunday, Nonconformists, putting all sects together, by far out-numbered the members of the Established Church. What was the fact as to the schools, however. From one end of the county to the other they were entirely, or almost entirely, in the grip—or rather, to avoid offence, he would say under the kindly care and management—of one denomination, and one denomination alone. Although there were many Church clergymen in that county who used their power with admirable justice, fairness and loyalty, yet it was perfectly well known—and he was confident it would be difficult to find anyone on the other side of the House who would seriously question it—that in many quiet country villages where there was no one to oppose them the Church clergy were using the school as an engine for purely sectarian purposes. That was what he (Mr. Waddy), and those who thought with him, protested against, and wanted to have altered; and he ventured to think that they ought to have it altered. But how were they to have it altered? They knew the usual formula in these matters. Complaint was made to the Home Secretary in such and such a case, and he was asked to make inquiries. Sub- 870 sequently the right hon. Gentleman got up in his place and said—"I am sorry to say there is a certain amount of truth in the statement which has been made, and I very much regret that there should have been a want of proper feeling on the part of this clergyman;" but the clergyman was never punished by his Bishop or by the Home Secretary. The clergyman could not be punished; and the consequence was that the same thing went on over and over again, and the School Board was made an engine in a way that a great many people did not like and very earnestly resented. Nothing on earth could be more wretched than the idea that there should be squabbling in this House over the bodies of these children for their religious training, but they could not get rid of this unseemly contest in any way but that suggested by the right hon. Gentleman who just sat down. Independents, Baptists and Methodists were quite as good as members of the Church of England, and do let hon. Members opposite try to believe it. The Nonconformists were trying as earnestly as Churchmen to make their children Christians, and he would say—"Let men of all denominations strive on equal terms to do all the good they could to the minds and souls of the children." He believed the happy time was coming when that would be done, and when the Education Act would be fairly worked without the necessity for a Conscience Clause.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
I will only detain the Committee for a very few minutes, because I find the difficulty I had to face at starting on the somewhat lengthened speech I made at the commencement of the evening would be still more intensified if I ventured to reply to the various statements which have been made in the course of the debate this evening by so many different speakers. I think, however, I may be allowed to thank the Committee for the very interesting debate we have had, and to assure all hon. Members on both sides that, although some serious points of controversy have been raised since I have been in Office, this is the first serious debate on elementary education that I have had the honour of listening to.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
I can assure the Committee that the debate has been of great value to me. It appears from the statement of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) that he thinks I have not given sufficient attention to the point he raised—namely, class subjects; and subsequently the hon. Gentleman the Member for Launceston (Mr. C. T. D. Acland), speaking in a very thin House, urged the vital importance of some kind of agricultural education being given in elementary schools. It is said that we should have instruction of an elementary kind as to animals and plants with particular reference to agriculture. Well, that is a suggestion which I think worthy of the consideration of the House and of all educationalists; and Her Majesty's Government have taken steps to bring about a higher class of training in the subject of agriculture. As the Committee must be aware, there are dairy schools in operation, and the education here implanted has been to some extent amplified by the measures recently adopted. I am sorry that I omitted to mention in my opening statement—having fully intended to do so—that the sooner some change takes place in this respect the better. I think that, however young a child may be, he is never too young to receive some sort of education on agricultural matters, even if you only begin by instructing him as to the habits and characteristics of animals and plants, and particularly the insects noxious to plant life. As I said before, it would be utterly impossible for me to traverse the whole of this debate, which has gone on to such great length, and which had dealt so considerably with the matters referred to in the Report of the Commission. At the present moment, as I said at an earlier period, I am absolutely tongued-tied on the subject of the Commission. With regard to many of the subjects which have been touched upon on both sides of the House—such, for instance, as payment by results—although I sympathize with a great deal that has been said, yet, if I were to attempt to go into these matters at this late hour, I should very likely find myself hereafter involved in difficulty in handling them. These matters are not easy ones to deal with, 872 involving, as they do, an enormous amount of consideration and detail. At an earlier period of the evening I listened with attention to the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy)—to the historical survey with which he favoured the Committee of the circumstances attending the appointment of the Royal Commission; and I am bound to say that, so far as my own experience goes, that historical survey was utterly incorrect. I know absolutely nothing whatever of the circumstances mentioned in the hon. and learned Gentleman's statement as to the appointment of that Commission. I feel bound also to say that, although I was not in my present Office when the Commission was appointed and knew nothing of the circumstances, I have been in communication with the officials of the Department and with most of the Members of the Commission, and have never heard anything which would tend in any way to corroborate the hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks. Furthermore, I cannot accept the interpretation which the hon. and learned Member puts upon the observations I made at the commencement of the debate—and which he puts upon them, by the way, without having heard my statement. I will not further detain the Committee. I can only repeat what I stated earlier in the evening—namely, that Her Majesty's Government are fully aware of the heavy responsibility which rests upon them as to these educational questions—whether with regard to elementary education, continuation schools, or any of the other important matters that have been raised—and that I hope and trust that during next Session of Parliament we may be able to propose some kind of scheme which will not only meet with the approval of the House, but be of lasting benefit to the country.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman of the question addressed to him by the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst) with reference to the People's College Board at Nottingham. He (Mr. Mundella) trusted the right hon. Gentleman would give the Committee some statement with regard to this institution, the subject in question having been for some three years before the public.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
I have to say this with regard to the matter. On arriving in town I had but the shortest notice that; these Votes would be taken to-day, and, therefore, was not able to prepare myself for the discussion as carefully as I should like to have done. However, I have heard of some change to be made with regard to this school building, and from all I gathered I hope that the new proposal will lead to satisfactory results. If the hon. Member for West Nottingham will ask me for further information on Tuesday next, I hope to be able to give it to him.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, that though he had the misfortune to rise after the right hon. Gentleman had answered the criticism which had been offered upon his statement, he yet trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would give him that sympathetic reply which he had promised on a previous evening. On two previous occasions he (Mr. Conybeare) had abstained from bringing the Education Estimates under the notice of the Government at the express desire of the Government, and in order to accommodate them. Though he did not propose on that occasion to introduce any remarks upon the controversial matters arising out of the Report of the Royal Commission which the right hon. Gentleman had—and perhaps very properly—intimated a desire that the Committee should not go into, and as some of those matters, which on other occasions he should have been ready to go into, would now be somewhat out of Order, he would confine himself almost exclusively to one point, having reference to one of the most important branches of education—namely, the supply of elementary teachers to our national schools. Now, the proposition he desired to bring before the Committee, and which he thought he should be able to prove, was that the proportion of untrained teachers to the teachers who were trained in the Training Colleges was so great as first of all to reduce the standard of efficiency; and secondly, to reduce the scale of salaries which they were paid, so that many of the elementary teachers were now receiving what could only be called starvation wages. The importance of this position if—as he thought he should be able to do—he could sub- 874 stantiate, it would be seen at once, when it was recollected that although the majority of these Training Colleges were belonging to one sect—that was to say, to the Church of England, yet 72 per cent. of the expense of the pupils was borne by the public. He did not wish to stray into a controversy as to whether that was right or not, but was merely assuming that some portion of the cost of these Training Colleges was borne by the public purse; and if that was the case he maintained that they should do all they could to promote the success of these institutions by finding employment for students who were trained in these Colleges at such great expense. But, so far from that being the case, they were running in competition with men and women of inferior stamp, so far as education was concerned. He believed that he was right in saying that at the present moment there were hundreds of these students who had passed through an expensive course of training who were without employment, and who must be years before obtaining it. The number of certificated teachers was 43,628, and according to official calculations there was a waste of 6 per cent per year, or 2,600, which had to be supplied from some source or other. This, he maintained, was a very small percentage. Well, there were some 1,600 students turned out of those Training Colleges each year, which left about 1,000 additional places to be supplied by untrained teachers. But last year 1,665 certificates over and above the 1,600 College teachers were granted to untrained teachers—teachers—that was to say, who, from being pupil teachers, passed through some very slight examinations indeed and obtained certificates. He submitted that these untrained teachers passed their examinations and came into competition with the more extensively trained College students under more favourable circumstances, with a view to employment, than were possessed by the College trained teachers, because, in the first place the untrained teachers were already in situations, and were not turned out in order to make room for the students, who, instead of being at work in schools, had been in Colleges passing through this expensive training. In the next place, not having had the experience of College training, these untrained 875 teachers were able to work for smaller salaries, and, consequently, were more in demand, especially by the smaller School Boards, than was the case with the expensively trained teachers. The facts to which he referred were abundantly proved in the Reports of Inspectors Oakley, Fitch, and others. It was furthermore clear, from the Reports, that the standard of efficiency of teachers generally was to a very great extent reduced, owing to the system to which he was referring. Ample corroboration of that statement could be found in the Report of the Royal Commission. The burden of the surplus or overplus of teachers, amounting to some 700 or 800, fell upon the trained teachers, who, on leaving College, were unable to find employment. Now he desired to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council whether he could supply the Committee with statistics showing how many of these 700 or 800 teachers who passed out of College last Christmas had since been able to obtain employment? He was told that 400 or 500 of these failed to get any employment whatever. What he would urge the Government to do would be, in the first place, to see that the teachers turned out of the Training Colleges should have the preference for posts in the board schools. The present anomalous condition of things had arisen through the great demand for teachers when the Education Act of 1870 came into operation. It had been necessary to get as many teachers as possible in the shortest possible time; but, as the Inspectors pointed out in the Reports, the exceptional conditions of 1870 no longer existed, therefore it was desirable that the supply of untrained teachers should be curtailed as far as possible, and that could be effected by making the examinations which these pupil teachers had to pass more difficult. They were getting year after year a higher class of intelligence amongst the children in the schools; and from that he argued that they ought to take measures to improve the intellectual capacity of the people who had to teach them. The Government might easily introduce machinery to supersede the present worn-out system, which was adopted only in the case of special emergency. He need hardly remind the Government that in all Continental 876 countries—certainly in Austria and Germany—they had nothing comparable to the slipshed way in which the teaching body was supplied to the schools in this country. In Austria there was a most careful and elaborate system of theoretical as well as practical training, without which no teachers were allowed to take charge of any schools whatever. He had not wished to elaborate this matter, and would merely content himself with saying that he had not been made the mouthpiece of the teachers, but had ventured to make these observations in consequence of the manner in which the subject had been brought before him. It did not seem to him a question upon which they need wait for legislation; but he believed it to be in the power of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Department to remedy the state of things of which he complained. On another matter he should like to ask whether something could not be effected in the interest of the teachers, as to the endorsement of their certificates by Inspectors? Lastly, he wished to point out that it would tend very much to the good and easy working of Education Codes from year to year if, when they were under consideration, and alterations were being suggested, the Department would see its way to putting itself into communication with the representatives of teachers; he did not mean to say that the Department should take the teachers into their confidence, but a strong feeling existed among the teachers that it would be very beneficial if those who had the practical working of the Code were, at any rate, consulted before any changes were made. He did not think that was itself a subject upon which the Department need stand upon its dignity. In conclusion, he would merely say that he cordially approved of what had fallen from the Government that evening, and that he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman for the statement he had been able to lay before them. He was sincerely desirous of seeing higher and better education introduced into the country than that which it already possessed, especially in the matter of foreign languages, which was a matter in which we were very largely behind Continental competitors.
§ MR. CONWAY (Leitrim, N.)
said, he must confess that he was astonished 877 to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council that the Government were determined to climb down from the position they had taken up in regard to the settlement of 1870. He (Mr. Conway) was sure that his co-religionists would be greatly surprised to-morrow morning when they read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Their votes had been obtained upon a certain representation, and upon promises which, it now appeared, were to remain unfulfilled. Practically, the Vice President of the Council that night had repudiated the suffrages of the people, or, at any rate, of the Roman Catholics of the country, simply because he was afraid to face the opposition of a certain section of the House. He (Mr. Conway) should certainly use what influence he had with his co-religionists to convince them that no confidence could henceforth be placed in any announcement of the Ministerial Party. With regard to manual training in elementary schools, to which reference had been made by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), he did not think it would be advisable to introduce it; but he did think that it would be well to train the bodies and develop the physical health of the pupils by means of gymnasia. He submitted that it was a valuable thing to train the eye and the hand of pupils in the play-yard, and supplement it by having drawing, and so forth, taught in the schools. The London School Board had instituted a Committee of Inquiry to ascertain the extent to which manual training was adopted in elementary and primary schools on the Continent; and he believed that the Commissioners who investigated the matter came to the conclusion that it would not be desirable to initiate such training in this country. There were a number of important subjects, however, in the 4th Schedule of the Code which might easily be taken up if the Government would only give the necessary instructions. Why were those subjects not encouraged? It was because of the 17s. 6d. limit. He would not dwell on the point, but he held that the alternative was to train boys in the gymnasia. Some of the most competent witnesses examined by the London School Board Commission spoke about workshop instruction, and said 878 they disapproved of giving it in elementary schools. If regarded from the point of view of training the hands and eyes and body generally, he thought that top-spinning, playing at marbles, hoop-trundling, and so forth, would yield far better results. If a boy in after-life was intended for a cabinet maker, the manual training he would be likely to get in a school workshop would unfit him for doing anything in a real trade workshop. He (Mr. Conway) believed in the Kindergarten system, and would suggest that they should do away with the cast-iron system of payment by results. Boys should certainly be taught the use of trade appliances and tools; they should be trained intelligently in the schools, and should be allowed to go into the school yard and practise such exercises as increasing the velocity of a cricket-ball. Witnesses examined before the London School Board Commission had spoken very depreciatingly of the manual training system in use at the La Villette School in France. One witness—a member of the Charity Commission—stated that boys trained in this school certainly had a good idea of drawing, but they made by no means efficient workmen, our own aprentices making far better journeymen. What was wanted were opportunities to the children to develop the muscles as well as the eye, and that could best be effected in the play-ground. He did not agree with the present system under which passing in reading was dependent on efficiency in spelling; and he would propose that instead of this they should make it conditional that the boys should have some idea of elementary drawing. In that way, and by the adoption of the sort of physical training which he advocated, they would render boys fit to go into our workshops and to use their natural faculties and abilities. Under those conditions our workmen and mechanics would be more than able to hold their own with the workmen and mechanics of the Continent. To talk about the British workman being inferior to the foreigner was all moonshine. Under the Merchandize Marks Act it was well known that they had sought security for the labour of the British workman. They knew that goods had been brought from foreign countries to this country to have the British mark put on them, in order 879 to fetch higher prices in foreign markets; and that certainly did not look as if the work of our own people was inferior to that of the foreigner. They found that the work of the British workman was superior to that of the foreign workman; for if such were not the case the foreign workman would depend more on the quality of his own work, and would not come here to have the English mark put upon it. He admitted that design was taught in foreign countries more than it was in England, and advocated the training of our boys in the principles of design; but, he held that, even under present circumstances, the British workman could hold his own with the foreigner, and that if made capable of rendering his work more attractive to the eye, the superior quality of that work would recommend it all over the world as above anything of the kind which could be produced elsewhere. As to the Merit Grant, he complained that the subject had been treated in a superficial manner that evening. Then, with regard to pensions; without speaking about the general question of pensions he would just point out that teachers were encouraged to enter the profession up to 1862 as pupil teachers, but yet all who entered from 1858 to 1862 were left out of the scheme of pensions. Pupil teachers were attracted to the profession by the prospect of a pension after years of service, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman ought to take into account those who failed from health or other reasons between 1858 and 1862, and who had been attracted by the hope of pensions. Inspector-ships, also, ought to be open to schoolmasters. The initiative he was glad to see had been taken. Sub-inspectors had been appointed from the profession, and there were Assistant Inspectors appointed from the profession, and there would be no hardship but a gain to the service if, when Inspectorships became vacant under the ordinary law of Nature, they were filled by promotion of Sub-inspectors, so that the best masters in the profession might look forward to becoming Inspectors. These were considerations that should compel the attention of the right hon. Gentleman and the Department, for they were much agitated among the teachers throughout the country.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
said, he found some difficulty in fully following the remarks of the hon. Member, and he hoped to be excused if he only replied that they should all receive consideration by the Department. When in the earlier part of the evening he touched upon pensions, alluding to them as causing an increase in the Vote, he thought he had showed no want of sympathy with teachers, and could only add that it was a question that required to be carefully considered. The same remark applied to masters becoming Inspectors. If in his reference to the Merit Grants he appeared to slur over the statistics, he could assure the Committee it was an inadvertence on his part, and the figures were actually on the paper he held in his hand. As to what had been said by the hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Conybeare), he was perfectly ready to admit that if it was a proved fact that 1,665 certificates had been given to untrained teachers while a vast number of trained teachers were without employment, that certainly required investigation. If he could gather statistics as to the number of teachers who, passing through Training Colleges, had failed to find employment, he would be glad to place them in the hands of the hon. Member. Further, he could only say that most of the questions raised had been dealt with at enormous length by the Royal Commission, and with a great deal of evidence, and he could promise that they should receive the very fullest attention at the hands of the Education Department.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next.
§ Committee to sit again upon Monday next.