§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £9,125,442, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on 31st March, 1912, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various Establishments connected therewith, including sundry Grants in Aid." [Note.—£5,250,000 has been voted on account.]
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Runciman)
I regret that discussion on the Education Estimates should be in any way unduly curtailed, but as the Committee was good enough last year to say that they approved of a full statement being made with regard to the work of the Board of Education throughout the preceding twelve months I propose to-day once more to take a review of the whole field of activity covered by the Board of Education. I wish to disclose first of all one or two satisfactory episodes in the past year's administration which have been of interest not only to England but to the Dominions and the Crown Colonies as well. The Imperial Education Conference which met here in the spring of this year had representatives present from the Crown Colonies and from the Dominions and from all the education offices of the United Kingdom. The topics which were there discussed led to a unanimous decision in every case. Arrangements were made for continuing the work of the Department of Special Enquiries, which is now performing the duties of an Imperial bureau, and the Conference before it dissolved, expressed a wish that four years hence the Imperial Government should once more summon them to discuss Imperial education matters. An advisory committee is to be set up in London on which there will be representatives of the Dominions and of the India and Colonial Offices and the Board of Education for the discussion of these educational topics between the meetings of the Imperial Education Conference, which in future, I trust, 496 will be held every four years. Two conferences are to be held next year of an international nature in London. I refer first of all to the fifth International Congress on Mathematics, for which the Board is making special preparation; and secondly to the Conference of the Universities of the Empire, which has been, summoned by the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and London. It will be attended by the representatives of every one of the Universities in the British Empire.
The museum work of the Board of Education, although not controversial, has been of profound interest throughout the whole of the last twelve months, and the attendance of the public at such museums as the Victoria and Albert Museum has been greater than even the most sanguine supporters of that museum could have anticipated. Now, in twelve months, nearly a million persons passed through the turnstiles of the Victoria and Albert Museum. But the work which is done there is not restricted to London alone, and the circulation of objects for exhibition has gone on continuously throughout the year. Something like 23,000 objects are continuously in circulation amongst provincial museums. No fewer than eighty-seven provincial museums benefit by this arrangement, and wherever we have made loans we have made them under conditions which are not likely to jeopardise the safety of the objects which are sent out. The loans which are made in England, I think, are safe from loss by fire and theft by the guarantees given us by the local authorities. When, however, requests are made for loans of these objects for international exhibitions abroad I have laid down the rule that in future no original object shall leave London for the purpose and that we shall send out only replicas. For instance, in silver and gold, I intend in future to have nothing sent out except electrotype reproductions. To an ordinary visitor in an international exhibition it looks exactly like the original, which remains in London. If I had not made that arrangement, something like a year ago, we should have lost the whole of a very valuable exhibit which was at the Brussels Exhibition when the fire broke out. As it is, the only things that we lost were two tapestries which we had provisionally purchased and for which we had not paid and a number of these electrotype reproductions which we replaced within a fortnight, and so set up once more in Brussels the com- 497 plete exhibit as it had been before the fire broke out. In the Indian Museum we have re-arranged and re-housed almost the whole collection. The new galleries are open now and anyone who cares to go down there will find that the extra accommodation which we have given will lead him to believe that we have almost doubled the number of articles there on exhibition, but this is not so. All that we have done is to set them out in better form and in better cases, with greater space between them than they ever had before. But I regret that up to the present we have not been able to gather together the whole of the Indian collections to be found in the museums of London.
During the past year the most important event in the museums has been the opening of the Salting collection. I reminded the House last year of the generosity of Mr. George Salting over a very considerable period. When he died he left to the Victoria and Albert Museum the whole of his exhibition of pottery, all his miniatures and a great collection of his prints, and they are now housed in two galleries and something like six rooms and form one of the most beautiful collections of ceramics to be found anywhere in the world. The first visitors to this collection when it was thrown open were the King and Queen, and since then a continuous stream of visitors has passed through the rooms of this valuable collection. The next most important bequest of the year was that of Captain Murray, who not only gave us the whole of his collection, but also added to it a sum of £50,000, the income of which is to be devoted from year to year to strengthening the collection. I have decided that that annual income shall be devoted to increasing our collection of objects of the German renaissance. We have already set out Captain's Murray's collection in such a form that I trust, in the course of the next fortnight or three weeks, the public will be able to see how beautiful are the things which have been bequeathed to the nation.
As to the science museum the Committee know that there has been a controversy over the site. The British Museum trustees felt aggrieved that there was a re-arrangement of sites proposed by the Government. I have no regret at any controversy on this subject, since the first announcement was made in regard to the site of the science museum. I entered into close negotiations with the trustees 498 of the British Museum, and we have now arrived at an agreement which will give us the land we require for the science museum, and will enable them on the British Museum site to arrange their objects to the best advantage to themselves. It will not interfere with the arrangements of the natural history museum, and we shall have at South Kensington a group of museums which will be the envy of every European nation. I turn from that to the higher technical work which is under the control of the Board. I regret to say that from all I learn of the work done in the provinces and of the work done on the Continent I have to confess that it is in the field of higher technological forces that we have most leeway to make up. It is true that in many directions large sums of money are being devoted to the endowment of technological chairs. I have to report that there are technological chairs in almost every modern university. Great bequests have been made during the past year. The University of Liverpool has recently founded a professorship of naval architecture largely owing to the generosity of Mr. Elder. They have also created a department for the study of the problems of town planning—a new and rather interesting department. There are at the present time at least two departments in modern universities for the study of aeronautics, one of them being at the Imperial College. A professorship has been founded at Leeds for the study of the gas, coal, and fuel industries. It was founded by one of the-great industrial organisations. In the same university instruction is being provided in woolcombing and cotton-spinning, for which no less than a sum of £50,000 has been given by the Clothworkers Company, of London, making, I believe, the school at Leeds one of the most valuable technical schools in Europe. A sum of £35,000 has been provided for mechanical engineering chairs in the North of England, and in three universities no less than £30,000, £50,000, and £70,000 respectively have been provided for the promotion of chemical science, in which, I regret to say, England does not hold the first place. In London £60,000 has been set apart towards the £100,000 needed for a university department for the training of women in the science of the household. Great progress has been made, I am glad to think, in the departments of metallurgy and chemistry in the North, and among the sciences at the Imperial College great improvements have been made during the 499 past twelve months. I believe that now the leaders of the great industries are well alive to the fact that, in the development of higher technological work lies much of the hope of their future success. I need not mention agriculture further than to state that two agricultural colleges have been linked up with modern universities. When one records all that there is still left the feeling that in England there is not full appreciation of higher technological work, and when we make comparison of the number of students at German universities with the number at English universities I find that the comparison is all to the advantage of Germany and not to our credit. In the eleven modern universities of England at the present time full-time students number 9,655, and if you add 7,000 at Oxford and Cambridge of under and post-graduates, you arrive at a total for England and Wales of 16,655 students. This sounds like a large number, but when, you remember that Germany has 63,000 students at similar institutions we may well say that we have a long journey before us.
The most important departure which has been made in the administrative work of modern universities is to be found in the change in the machinery for the distribution of the Treasury Grant. For a long period the Treasury Grants, given boldly in large sums to be spent largely at the discretion of the modern universities, were allocated on the advice of a committee set up by the Treasury. The Treasury have no other educational work to do, and there was unfortunately a certain amount of overlapping, because the technological work came under the Board of Education. It was felt that a change in the administration in these matters, and I think also the simplification of the regulations under which modern universities work was of the first importance if we were to avoid a great deal of wastage and overlapping in the universities themselves. With that object the Government decided to transfer the distribution of this Exchequer Grant to the Board of Education, and now practically the only Department modern universities have to deal with is that Board. I am glad to think that this meets with the approval of the modern universities, and in the many conferences I have had they have shown the desire to do their best to work together with us for a common end, namely, the extension of the work and the further efficiency of the 500 work falling under their guidance and control. I cannot pretend that the Board of Education at the present time is sufficiently equipped to do the whole of the work undertaken by the advisory committee appointed by the Treasury, and I have therefore set up a small Advisory Committee to deal with the distribution of these Grants. I am glad to say that I have secured as chairman of that committee Sir W. S. McCormick, LL.D., who is well known for his services under the Carnegie bequest, and who was one of the most active members of the Treasury Committee. Associated with him are Sir J. A. Ewing, K.C.B., F.R.S.; Sir William Osier, M.D., F.R.S.; Miss Emily Penrose; Sir Walter Raleigh; Sir John Rhys, and Sir Arthur Rücker. They are a small, and I think I may add, a very distinguished committee. They have already started their meetings and amongst the first arrangements which have been made is that the Hartley College at Southampton, which is struggling to exist as a University College, has been given Grants for a further year, in which time they may be able to accumulate a fund to enable them to continue University College work.
I now turn to one of the great Departments of the Board's work—that concerned with secondary education. There has been no more remarkable growth in the educational work of the past few years than the increase in secondary schools. At the present time there come under the purview of the Board of Education no less than 1,060 secondary schools. It is true that about ninety of these receive no Grants. The whole of the rest receive large Grants from the State. The amount which I have to ask the Committee to place at our disposal for the year 1911–12 has risen from £647,000 three years ago to £777,000 for the current year, but as this covers no fewer than 162,000 scholars, a little over half of whom are boys, I hope that the Committee will agree that we are not aiding secondary education extravagantly. One fault, I regret to say, we still have to find with the secondary schools all over the country, is that the children come in too late and go out too early. The objection that is taken by all educationalists is that the full benefits of the secondary school cannot be given to the child who is not there for a term of years, but the local authorities are well alive to this fault, and they are, by means of undertakings signed by the parents of the children, and by means of scholarships, doing what they can to induce 501 parents to keep the children at school for a longer period in these secondary schools. One of the requirements of England is that the secondary school system should be flexible.
We have done everything we could to make the local needs of a district one of the deciding factors in the curriculum which is sanctioned for a secondary school. I believe that we have not left out of sight the specialised work that ought to be done with greater success in secondary schools than in any other. With that object we have worked in close harmony with some of the great educational associations. At this stage I will mention only two, the Classical Association and the English Association. The English Association in particular has given us most valuable aid in the compilation of a circular on the teaching of English, which I am glad to say has met with praise from every quarter in the United Kingdom. That a practical bent should be given to these secondary schools is all to the good. This is particularly necessary in rural areas. I am glad to be able to report that nearly forty secondary schools now give a distinctly rural bias to their education. One of the best rural schools, that I should like to mention, is the county school for the West Riding which the county council has established in Knaresborough, which is now largely attended by the children of the farming classes, though it is not restricted to farmers only, and will I trust have a considerable influence on agricultural success in the West Riding in years to come.
Then aid has been given outside the ordinary purview of the Grants in the exchange of teachers with English schools abroad, an exchange which has been counterbalanced by the visits of foreign teachers to the United Kingdom, and we have also been able, through the generosity of the Gilchrist Trustees, to give a small Grant to a selected number of teachers for what are known as observation visits, the object of that being to give those teachers an opportunity of studying the best work which is being done in their special subjects in other schools in England and Wales. I look forward to greater efficiency being attained with regard to the staff as well as with regard to the children. The first and most startling fact with regard to the staff in secondary schools is the extremely small salaries which are paid to the assistant masters and mistresses. They are out of all comparison not only with the salaries paid in Ger- 502 many, but I would add, and I hope not at all unkindly to the head masters, out of all comparison with the incomes of the head masters. I cannot believe that we have by any means solved or even approached the solution of what has now become a very serious problem. Every effort ought to be made by all those who are interested in secondary schools to improve the position and the dignity of the teachers in secondary schools.
In particular we have been doing what we could to secure for head masters and head mistresses adequate powers and responsibilities, and one thing which I believe to be of considerable value to them we have attained, with regard to a new arrangement which has received the sanction of the Board during the past twelve months, which is to give access by the head masters and head mistresses to the governing body. Even now I am sorry to say there are far too few of the teachers in secondary schools who have, had anything in the nature of training. I have had for the time being to suspend one of the requirements in the regulations which makes that a condition of service. One of my hon. Friends, I think the hon. Member for Sunderland, has frequently asked me questions with regard to the employment of elementary teachers or those who have been trained specially for elementary work in secondary schools. I find that there is a considerable number of elementary teachers, or those who have been trained in elementary colleges, who are now working in secondary schools. There is a large amount of work which they can do well in those secondary schools. At the same time they must realise that there is also a considerable amount of work for which they have not been equipped. I have in no case allowed the masters who have received an elementary training to be barred from service in these secondary schools as my hon. Friend thought. I have asked him for any instances which have come to his knowledge of that having been done. He has not yet brought to my notice any particular case. If I come across any I shall be quite glad to take action in the matter. But it must be clearly understood that in the secondary schools you require teachers of all kinds and it is absurd to exclude teachers of any kind.
Another matter in which my hon. Friend has been interested is that he thinks the governors of the secondary schools are not in touch with the local education authorities. I do not know what are his grounds 503 for thinking so but I find that the governors of the secondary schools provided or controlled by local education authorities are made up as follows. In six of these schools the Education Committee is the governing body. In forty-four the Higher Education Committee is the governing body, and in all the remainder the governing body is a subcommittee of the council themselves. I am glad to find that although these men are fully engaged in the local government work which covers so many things nowadays, the sub-committees of the councils have been giving throughout the past year a larger and larger amount of time and personal interest to the welfare of the schools. It is necessary, of course, that you should have on these governing bodies men who can spend time over the schools if they are to do their work well, indeed if they are to be able to understand the problems which are brought before them from time to time. But the best way of governing these schools is undoubtedly by means of the local education authority. They ought to be democratic, if democracy does its duty. That is my experience of the governing bodies of those schools to which I have referred. They are either a sub-committee of the council or the higher education committee of the council or the education committee itself. If there is any fault to be found with those governing bodies that lies at the door of the education committee only in so far as they are not all elected.
The number of children who are able to take advantage of the education in the secondary schools has greatly increased. I think the Committee may be interested in knowing when we give large Grants to these secondary schools that children of every class, those of the poorest as well as those of the richest parents, are able to take advantage of the education given in those schools. I am pleased to report so far as the free list is concerned, that there is no charge whatever made on the child for attending the secondary school. The only sacrifice asked from the parent is that he shall put off for a year or two sharing the earnings of that child. It is sometimes a considerable sacrifice, but it is the only sacrifice asked of them. But these numbers have gone up during the last twelve months to a considerable degree. I find that out of 162,000 in England and Wales, no less than 51,000 in these secondary schools are in free places; that is to say, 504 whereas we provide in the regulations for 25 per cent, of the places in the secondary schools being free places, the schools are actually giving over 30 per cent. I find, moreover, that in addition to these there is a very large number of children who previously attended elementary schools. I can imagine no misfortune greater to secondary schools than that they should be in a water-tight compartment, with no passage from elementary schools into the secondary schools. At the beginning of the present year there were no less than 85,000 children in England and 12,000 children in Wales in the secondary schools who had previously been elementary school scholars. It is suggested that in pressing for the entry of these children at an early age we are doing what we can to compete with elementary schools to their disadvantage, and to help the secondary schools at the expense of the elementary schools. I hope that no Member of the House or parents outside will believe that. I want to see the elementary school scholars come in at an early age. [An HON. MEMBER: "What age?"] The general educational opinion is that they should come in about the age of nine or ten. There would be no cost to themselves if the parent was prepared to make the sacrifice of time. I think it is all to the good that they should pass into these schools as early as possible. If you take the whole of the children in the secondary schools in England who come under our purview nearly 60 per cent, are children who have been in the elementary schools. In Wales, the number is still more remarkable, over 83 per cent, of these children being children who have previously been in the elementary schools. I think when it is suggested that we attempt to cut them off in watertight compartments the House will realise that the ideal on which we work is not to confine the benefits of education to any one class, 'but, in these schools in particular, to unite all classes in a single organism. I only wish it could be done in the elementary schools here as well as it is done in America. The important thing is that in allowing these children to come into the school free places no difference should be made between them and the fee payers.
There should be no differential entrance test; there should be no condition as to the continuance of the child in the school, there should be no undertaking to stay in the school, imposed on the free placer which is not equally imposed on the fee payer. Pressure is brought to bear 505 on me from many quarters to reduce the number of free places, and I hope to have the support of the Committee in the refusal I have made, so far, to reduce the number in practically any of the schools that have made complaint. Of course, there are some cases where the secondary schools could not fill up free places normally. There are some cases where financial reasons forbid their giving the full 25 per cent, of free places. Where there are cases of that kind—I have gone into every one of them—I am satisfied no harm is done to those who wish to take advantage of the education there, without cost to themselves. I am glad to say we have so far resisted the claim made for a general reduction of the 25 per cent, requirement. Another great development of the Board's work on the secondary side has been the very remarkable increase in the number of full inspections made in secondary schools. The staff at the disposal of the Board allows for about 200 of these inspections to be made every year. They are made by some of the best-known scholars in England—men of great renown in the Universities—and the whole of the inspectors who take part in these inspections have themselves had teaching experience. The inspections of the Board of Education have not always been popular; yet, curiously enough, in the last twelve months we have been invited by some of the great public schools to send down our inspectors for full inspection. We have already, at the invitation of their governing bodies, inspected Clifton, Dulwich, Repton, Sherborne, and King's School, Canterbury, amongst boys' schools; and amongst girls', Wickham Abbey and the Godolphin School at Salisbury. The most remarkable is the invitation we received from Harrow, and a full inspection is now proceeding at Harrow. Who would have thought a few years ago that the Board of Education would ever be asked to invade such sacred precincts? The secondary schools are used not only by those who wish to go into the professions and into the higher branches of industrial work and by those who can spare the time for the higher education of their children, but also, very largely, in the early stages of the training of teachers.
I would turn the attention of the Committee for a few moments to the output of trained and untrained certificated teachers, who now nearly all take their training at the secondary schools or in the pupil teachers' centres. I do not know 506 whether the Committee is aware of the fact or not, but the average output of trained and untrained certificated teachers remains fairly constant in spite of the growth of the population and in spite also of the smaller classes, which created an increased demand for trained and untrained certificated teachers. On an average about 7,000 teachers are certificated each year. The number was fairly large in 1910; it was 7,500. It has fallen during the past twelve months to 7,400, and, as far as J can see, it will remain at about that figure in the coming year. I may be asked, therefore, "On what grounds do you maintain the figure at this large total?" I do it for two reasons. One is that I find in many parts of the country a shortage in the supply of teachers. Another reason is that I cannot press the local authorities to have smaller classes, and penalise them if they have uncertificated teachers, unless the supply of certificated teachers is kept up. What I wish to see is not a diminution but an increase in the number of certificated teachers. I want to see an increase of employment in every part of the country. We have heard a good deal about the over-supply of teachers. There is over-supply; there is also a shortage, and this is by no means a paradox. The over-supply is to a large extent temporary, that is to say it is greatest at the beginning of the school year, and is largely local. I have given the greatest possible amount of attention to this subject in the last twelve months, and the conclusion I have come to is that the main over-supply is to be found in London and Cardiff alone. In London far more teachers are turned out than are necessary for the requirements of the area. There is also this awkward fact, that teachers who are trained in London, and who live in London do not wish to be employed elsewhere; they want to remain near their homes, so that it happens in London there is a large over-supply of teachers. The same holds good, of course to a much smaller extent, in Cardiff. I do not know whether the Committee is aware of the fact that in many areas the authorities are calling out for more and more teachers.
I have recently been asked by the following local authorities to give them some assistance in increasing the supply of teachers, and mark how varied are the areas: The Lindsey Division of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, Devon, Northampton, Huntingdonshire, Preston, and Rhondda. There 507 may be local reasons for teachers not wishing to go to Rhondda; but the fact remains that Rhondda, one of the largest industrial centres in the country, has been unable to obtain teachers.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I am speaking of all classes of teachers; I will differentiate later. I also hear that there is great scarcity in Gloucestershire, East Suffolk, and Leicestershire. As my hon. Friend suggests by his interruption, this is not to be found entirely in the class of trained teachers, although some of the authorities find it difficult even to get trained teachers. Only to-day I hear from the county of Durham that seven of their vacancies have been filled with great difficulty after a long interval; nine of their vacancies have been filled by the promotion of uncertificated teachers who passed the acting-teachers' examination; seven of the vacancies were filled prospectively by teachers who are now still at training colleges and will not be available till August. There were fifteen vacancies in which the credentials of the applicants were not satisfactory, and ten vacancies for which no applications had been received at all. That is in Durham, and these vacancies are for certificated teachers. In Norfolk I believe the case is mainly one of uncertificated teachers. There the schools are smaller than in Durham, and it is impossible to expect a county area to staff its small schools with such highly trained teachers as a county borough can afford to employ. But Norfolk has been attempting to fill up the supply by the employment of more certificated teachers, and the improvement in that county is well worthy of mention.
In Nottinghamshire they are now engaging young teachers still in. training colleges, who will pass their examinations in July, and the Director of Education writes that he has received no applications for employment from last year's crop of certificated teachers. So far as this area is concerned, no trained teachers of last year's crop are available. With that before me, I cannot take upon myself to reduce the output of trained certificated teachers, nor to reduce the output of certificated teachers, but I think something ought to be done to meet 508 the London case. I propose, therefore, as the London County Council has been good enough to initiate the proposal, to push the change a little further than they. They proposed to reduce the annual output of the training college places in London provided by the council from 910 to 760. I have suggested to them that permanent buildings would be approved by us for an annual output of 635, but that there might be a continuance of the temporary provision for 760. That will help in London. I hope it will do some good in the reduction of the over-supply in London, but it will not meet the whole case, for there is trouble arising every year so long as all teachers come out of training colleges on the same date. If they are all to come into the schools at once, the schools are going to be short of teachers before the year is out. If the schools are not going to be short of teachers before the year is out, there must of necessity be a number of these young teachers out of work at the beginning of the year, after finishing their training college course. I have been endeavouring to find out how far a double date for leaving training colleges is possible, and some have replied that a double date for leaving would disorganise the college and add greatly to the expense of running it. Indeed, I cannot give a single instance of a training college that is prepared to say that they would willingly have a double date for leaving, because of the very great disturbance it would cause. But that does not shut the door to the possibility of particular colleges turning out their schools not in July but in December.
If we were to make a change with the existing colleges I am informed that the principals might regard those colleges which were put in the December category as having been selected, or in some way not being up to the standard of those who emptied their rooms in. July. But there are colleges coming along for sanction, and there are some in the London area. I would suggest to the local authorities, and to those representatives of the local authorities who are in this House, that it might be a good plan for them to consider how far the new colleges should be started on the basis of taking in their young men and young women in order that they may enter the teaching profession at Christmas instead of in the autumn. I believe some steps could be taken in that direction by London, and that it might be possible for some of the North Country or provincial 509 colleges to make this change. I do not desire to do this without having the full concurrence of those who are in close association with the training colleges. I trust that that will be given, for I believe they are just as much alive as this Committee is to the hardships which occur by all the teachers from the training colleges being thrown on to the market in July instead of being spread out better over the succeeding twelve months. I ought to add, in conclusion of that topic, that the trouble does not start only with the training colleges, but that it also begins far back in the schools. As the Committee well knows, the work which is undertaken in those schools nearly always starts in the autumn, as the school year starts then, and it will mean a considerable disturbance of secondary school work if it is to start in future in January and not in August in any secondary schools which have already the August system of starting the school year.
I turn from that topic to that of training colleges as a whole, and on them I will only make two or three remarks. One is to draw the attention of the Committee to the enormous increase in the number of undenominational places which are now at the disposal of those who do not wish to go into training colleges where there is a denominational test. The increase in denominational places during the last five years has been 300, and the increase in the number of undenominational places has been 3,000. There is still in operation a regulation which provides that 50 per cent. of the places of the denominational training colleges which receive nearly nine-tenths of their upkeep from the State should be thrown open to boys and girls irrespective of denomination, irrespective of creed. I do not think this has worked hardly on the training colleges concerned, and their representatives who have recently seen me tell me that at present they believe no harm has been done by Nonconformists invading the colleges, and I do not believe any harm will be done in the future. A new type of training college is springing up in the country, and I am not at all sure that we are proceeding in the right direction in fostering so many training colleges which are restricted to their localities, and which will in course of time lead to the inbreeding of teachers. Some of the best authorities declare that they could not get teachers by any other means, and I believe they are correct in saying that. But if every county is going to set 510 up training colleges for its own children who are going to pass into the local schools, and who never get out of their own area, it is quite clear the width of their view must be very much circumscribed. However the authorities of those local training colleges are quite well aware of the risk which they run in this direction, and I believe they will take every means in their power to prevent the over-localising of the view of those who are in their colleges, and I trust they will see to it that the teachers and the masters and mistresses of their colleges will be chosen from a much larger area than that over which they have administrative rights. One of the best of the new colleges is the Cheshire County Training College. I would like to point out how excellently they are doing the work, how admirably they have varied the curriculum, and how wide an experience they are giving to the students in every direction.
In future I look forward to a large extension not of training colleges of this type, but of training colleges which are in direct association with the modern universities. I hope to see, in course of time, every modern university with a very large training department. If that is to be the-case, however, there must be halls of residence, for, let the Committee remember, that there are far more women in the teaching profession than men, and everyone who knows anything about those young people will know that it is very much better, if they cannot live at home, that they should not live in lodgings. Those homes of residence are springing up in some parts of the country already. There is one in Birmingham and more than one in Manchester. We have given some slight assistance, financial assistance, to-the building of those halls of residence in. so far as they will serve teachers for the training they are directly interested in. This residential provision, for women in particular, is most urgent. Those young students, not only live sometimes under circumstances of considerable difficulties, but up to the present they have all suffered from one serious drawback. Their ambitions—and I say it not at all unkindly—are too great, and they have endeavoured to cram into the three years they spend in the training department of the modern university, not only the whole university work done by the ordinary graduate, but the training work which is required for the teaching profession. I have been informed from universities where they had training departments that 511 this has led to overstrain, and especially overstrain amongst women. They have been stale before they entered into the schools; they have been tired, and in many cases the physique has suffered. I think every credit is due to them that they have made such great efforts to combine university work and training work, but I hope this will not go on.
After many conferences with the heads of modern universities, I came to the conclusion that the only way in which we could give those students a fair chance was to turn their three years' course, which they spend there, into a course purely for university work, and to postpone training work until the fourth year, and the maintenance and payment of fees which we gave during the three years we now extend to four years. This will add a burden on the amount which we spend on the training of teachers, but I believe it will be amongst the best money that goes out of the Board of Education. There is only one risk we run, and that is that those young people may not be able to stay the fourth year for this purpose. We can only find that out by experiment. I am assured by the university authorities that they will be prepared to spend the fourth year. I hope by the maintenance Grants which we have given them, and in some cases I hear that the county councils are prepared to supplement those maintenance Grants, that we shall enable even the poorest child coming from the meanest of the elementary schools to go to the secondary school and to the university, and finally come to the teaching with a good university degree behind him. This is a change which has met with the approval of all the modern universities which are entering on a new work with enthusiasm.
I stated that I thought that the child ought to have a chance of proceeding from the lower school to the top of the highest university and entering the teaching profession. I go further and I say this for the satisfaction of my friends, especially those who have been speaking in the country recently, that I believe this really ought to apply not only to the teaching profession but to all grades of the Civil Service, and to all grades of the teaching profession itself, and I will add to the inspectorial staff as well. I have been attacked for not having done this in the past. Have I not done it in the past? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] If I understand the cheers of 512 hon. Gentlemen opposite they would suggest that I have only recently come to this view as a result of public agitation—is that their view? I take it that it is their view. They are absolutely mistaken. They do not say so. I have done this during the whole of the three years I have been at the Board of Education. I take first of all the inspectors who serve under the Board. I am alone responsible for their selection. There are hundreds of applicants, some of them come with all sorts of influence behind them, and influence not restricted to gentlemen outside of this House. I have for vacancies which number about seven or eight in the course of the year now on the list something like 700 applicants from all sorts of schools and all sorts of universities and every district of England and Wales. I take the greatest care myself to see that those are sorted out. I have never entrusted the selection of inspectors to any member of my staff, for I believed it was a matter of the highest importance, and I was not prepared to depute that responsibility to any one. I have scrutinised their record I have taken care to find out in the country from many directions what could be found out about their personality and their skill, and in every case of any staff inspector appointed I have had long and searching personal interviews. I need hardly say there has been nothing in the way of jobbery in the appointment of inspectors. That is not the charge which is made by those who do not know what the Board have done during the three years.
The one desire I had from the very first was to get for the inspectorate the very best men for the job. You may say how do you choose the best? I choose him in this way. I want a man of wide experience. I want a man of some knowledge of local administration and of the schools in which he will have to work. I prefer a man who has taught. As far as possible they should be men who are specialists in some branches of the work, and should have on some occasion done excellent work and original work in the schools. I wish that original work to be spread over the whole of England and Wales. I will point out, therefore, that, in selecting the best, I cannot afford, if I am to consider the interests of the children in the schools, to restrict the inspectorate to any one class or to any one profession or to any section of any one profession. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or to any one university."] Or to any one university, or to any two universities, 513 or to any one school, or, I will add finally, to any one social class. Nor can I allow the inspectors, once they are selected, to be placed or to be used according to their own convenience. Let me give the House some samples of the kind of men whom I have been obtaining for the service of the Board during the past three years. I will not weary the Committee with many of them. I take some fair samples, and I hope the Committee will take it that they are fair samples, and not the only men of this class. [An HON. MEMBER: "Are they junior inspectors?"] Yes, junior inspectors. I think it is on the subject of the category of junior inspectors the suggestion has been made at meetings all over the country that the promotion and selection was closed against men of humble origin who had themselves been teachers in elementary schools. That is really the case which has been made in the country. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] It is one of the cases which everybody knows. I want to meet that—I want the Committee to be satisfied that before this agitation was promoted I had already done the very thing many of those estimable gentlemen had been saying I ought to have done.
I take the first example, that of a junior inspector in the North of England. He started life in the London County Council School at Brixton. As far as I know there is no taint of the upper social classes about Brixton, though I do not want to say anything that any Member for Brixton may resent.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
It is the same thing. I am using the ordinary nomenclature of the day. If it was before 1902 he was in the Brixton board school. He went from there to a pupil teachers' centre, then to Southampton Row Training College; he took first-class honours in English at London University; he was a scholar of the University, George Smith prizeman, and so on. But he went to Oxford, and to Balliol, where he got a first-class in History, a very creditable performance for a board school boy. He took prizes there, amongst them several at Balliol, and he had other qualifications. When that man came on my list of applicants I saw his record, and I said, "There is a man with the widest possible experience, who has shown by his own achievements that he is a man of character, and, as far as I know, he has knowledge of the very atmosphere in which I wish him to work." After hearing all I could about his work in the 514 various places where he had been, I came to the conclusion that he was worth seeing. I saw him, and as a result of careful scrutiny and further enquiries I appointed him.
Let me take another. He was at the Longfleet School, at Poole. He passed from there to the Borough Road Training College. I have been directly or indirectly connected with the Borough Road Training College for many years, and as far as I know there is no social taint about it. He also got a London degree and an Oxford degree, with second-class honours in Natural Science. He had other qualifications. He was an exhibitioner, and he had a wider knowledge, I venture to say, of the teaching profession and more of the training requisite for a man who had to inspect schools than a man who had not been through the mill. I go further, and say that, all things being equal, he had a wider knowledge than a man who had been through the mill but had not been at the University. I therefore selected him. I turn to another, a Welshman this time. He was at an elementary school; from there he went to an organised secondary school and to a pupil teachers' centre. Ho also went to Cambridge, where he got a first in Moral Science; he also took a degree at the University of Wales, and was Ph.D. of another university. He was a man of wide experience, not at all unlike the type you commonly find in Wales, who works his way up from the little village school and without any social backing or financial assistance reaches the top of the ladder. He was the kind of man I wanted, I got him, and he is at work in Wales. I turn to another. He was at Shoreditch, at the Haggerston Road Board School. From there he went to Owen's School at Islington. He worked his way up bit by bit until he reached Oxford, where he was an open mathematical scholar. He took first class in Mathematical Mods and first class in the Honours School. He was also a prizeman, and he took honours in Physics in 1904. I got him.
Who can say that these men are not chosen from the elementary schools altogether irrespective of their social class? These are samples of men whom I have appointed in every direction. I give them as being fair samples. I have also had others who came from the great public schools. How foolish I should have been if I had said, "I am going to taboo the big public schools," provided the men who 515 came from them had sufficiently wide experience. When it is suggested that the Board's staff is made up only of those who come from the upper class, the suggestion must be made by men who are not well versed in the actual facts.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Mr. Holmes may have his personal opinion, but I am taking the actual facts. I say nothing about Mr. Holmes's view. I am not going to discuss that; Mr. Holmes can defend himself as far as his personal view is concerned. The actual facts are that I have had men. from every social class. My hon. Friend has in his mind one sentence in Mr. Holmes's memorandum, a sentence which says that we usually look to university men and public school men for our junior inspectors. Mr. Holmes ought to have known better, for he knew the men who were appointed during the time he was at the Board. Some of these very men to whom I have referred were appointed while Mr. Holmes was there. I say nothing about Mr. Holmes at all. He has expressed an opinion upon these matters, but I expect the Committee to be guided not by any expression of opinion by Mr. Holmes, but by the actual facts for which the Minister himself is responsible.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Yes. I said these were samples; I will deal with the other universities and with the men who are not university graduates, in order that the House may have full information before it. It is suggested that these men are selected from the upper class only. I hope I have exploded that idea; they are not. Further, it is said that there is an effective barrier placed in the way of elementary school teachers; there is not. ["No."] I have the resolution, which says: "An effective barrier" is placed "in the way of candidates fully qualified by ability, knowledge and experience, merely because their preliminary education has been received in the primary schools and schools other than the great public schools of the country." That is the resolution which has been passed all over the country and has been sent up to me in large numbers. I am sorry to say it must have been 516 drafted by those who are not aware of the actual facts, which I am now giving to the Committee.
It is suggested by one of my hon. Friends that the names I have given refer only to Oxford or Cambridge men. Let me state how the universities stand. I do not know that there is any particular objection to Oxford or Cambridge men simply because they happened to go to Oxford or Cambridge. After all, they are the oldest universities in England, and if only you get a man of the right origin, who has had the right experience, with an Oxford or Cambridge training on the top of it, he is all the better for it. But there are other universities, and the other universities have not been boycotted. I take the whole of the examiners and the inspectors now serving the Board of Education, whom I have appointed during the last three years. It is true that twenty-one of them had degrees of Oxford and twenty-two had degrees of Cambridge; but when you consider the enormous number of students at both—I think there are 3,000 undergraduates in each university—the fact that they are the oldest and richest and must of necessity be the best equipped, I do not think this number is at all surprising. Besides those, I have appointed three men who had a London degree and were not at Oxford or Cambridge; I have appointed two men who had a Welsh degree and were not at Oxford or Cambridge; I have appointed one of Aberdeen, one of Edinburgh, two of Dublin, and eight who had no degree at all. I hope that that satisfies my hon. Friend.
The one charge which is made is that in the selection of our men we have been guided by social preferences or that we have erected a social barrier. The best way of testing whether they have been all selected from the upper class is to take the schools from which these examiners and inspectors have come. I have given samples, but I do not wish the Committee to decide on samples. I will give the total number of examiners and inspectors who have been appointed by me, and their origin. I have appointed sixty in the last three years. Take, first, the great public schools—that is the phrase used in the Resolution; I do not wish to restrict the term too closely; I presume it means those schools which call themselves public schools and those which have a statutory right to be called public schools. Out of these sixty, eigh- 517 teen started life in the great public schools. I come to the next class, the schools, like St. Paul's, the City of London, Llandovery, Tonbridge, Owen's School, Islington, and so forth. From these schools twenty-nine came, and thirteen came from the public elementary schools. When we think of the advantages enjoyed by many of the secondary schools in the way of large endowments and well-established staffs, I do not think you can say that twenty-nine is too large a number to come from them, or that thirteen is too small a number to come from the elementary schools.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
The thirteen who came from public elementary schools afterwards went to secondary schools, of course?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I mean thirteen who never had a secondary school training. They were elementary school scholars, and never had the advantage of a secondary school education. Some went to pupil teacher centres, and from there to training colleges, and then found their way to the university or took a London, Dublin, or a Welsh degree, as the case may be, but their school was a public elementary school.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
Some of those who are given as having come from the secondary schools may also have passed through elementary schools.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
They might have done so. I am afraid I cannot tell in every case whether they did so or not. It does include some who had been in elementary schools, but thirteen out of sixty certainly had their only schooling in elementary schools. Therefore, it is not accurate to say that during the last three years we have erected a barrier in the Board of Education against elementary school scholars, nor that we have restricted these appointments to children of the upper classes. I have told the House how I make the selection. I hope they will believe me when I say that in making that selection I do it with a great sense of responsibility. I try to get men who represent all the interests of education, with the widest possible experience, and the fullest possible equipment for their task. I do not know that I need trouble the House further upon that point, except to say that out of the whole of the inspectors now on the staff—some 357 in all, including the women as well as the sub- 518 inspectors—138 have Oxford or Cambridge degrees, nineteen have London degrees only, eleven have degrees of other Universities, but not an Oxford or a Cambridge degree, as far as I know, and twenty-seven have no degree at all.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I cannot give the exact figures. I have answered a question once or twice on that point; but I think over one-half, something like two-thirds, have had elementary school experience. If the hon. Member likes I will give a little later the number of those who have had elementary school experience. I must point out that in the answer I have given as to the degrees of inspectors I am excluding sub-inspectors, who in every case had elementary school experience, but the majority of whom have no degree, and women inspectors. The figures I am responsible for, and for which I have to answer in this House, are the figures of the appointments I have myself made. I have made a full disclosure of the whole of those figures, and I hope I have set at rest the feeling which so many people have outside, that the higher offices in the Board of Education and on the inspectorial staff were being barred against men of humble origin.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
A very considerable number. I think I have given the full number; I cannot say exactly at the moment; it is about twenty-six or twenty-seven.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
It is not months, but years. I have answered questions in which I pointed out that the shortest period of practical teaching experience I referred to was two years, some three, some seven, some nine, and two over thirty years.
§ Sir JAMES YOXALL
Will the right hon. Gentleman lay on the Table a Paper stating exactly in each case the period of experience as an elementary school teacher? I do not mean as a scholar, or pupil teacher, or student teacher; I mean in each case the experience as a certificated teacher in a public elementary school.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I think it is rather to be deprecated that any of our inspectors should be mentioned in a Return to be laid on the Table of the House. I certainly think that they ought not to be placed at this disadvantage—if it be a disadvantage; but if my hon. Friend wants to know the exact numbers of the men, and I think he ought to be satisfied with the numbers without bringing in the names—
§ Sir JAMES YOXALL
Can we have a return to indicate the persons by numbers and not by names. That will quite satisfy me. I do not want the names at all.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I shall be glad to give my hon. Friend the fullest possible information on the subject. One qualification I must add to what he has said. I cannot agree that the only man who is fit to be an inspector is one who has previously been a certificated teacher. I think to lay down that hard and fast line would be to commit a sin of exactly the same kind in the opposite direction to that which I am often charged with.
§ Sir JAMES YOXALL
The question arose on the statement that all these inspectors had had experience as elementary school teachers. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a certain proportion. I want to know what that number is, and how long is their experience? I do not adopt the view that they must all have had the experience suggested.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I am glad to hear my hon. Friend say that. I have given the House as full information as I could. My hon. Friend is now going to another qualification of the inspectors. What I have been disproving—and I hope effectively—is that the inspectorship is restricted to children of one selected social class. The meetings in the country would not have been so affected if those concerned had known that no effective barrier has been erected, within at least the last three years, against any social class.
§ Mr. LEACH rose.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
I deprecate these interruptions. We may have the whole proceedings interrupted.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I do not at all resent any cross-examination that I may be put to, but I would point out to my hon. Friends that I have a certain amount of ground to cover, and I would like, if I may, to cover that ground. Later in the Debate, if I can throw further light on these topics, I shall be only too delighted to do so. I turn from that subject to the greatest area of the Board's work—namely, that of the elementary schools. The first, rather a prosaic side, to which I must refer, is that touching the buildings. The commonest defect of school buildings is that they are badly ventilated. When we come across a school heated by a coke stove with a leaky pipe, the children sleepy, and the teacher with a headache, you may be sure that that is a building which cannot be satisfactory for elementary school purposes. Or if you find that the children on wet days have to pile their clothes in the passage instead of hanging them up in a proper place, that cannot be a satisfactory school. If you find their playground is a small gloomy yard, surrounded by high buildings in the middle of a large town, the Board cannot be satisfied.
I go further, and say that unless decent offices and facilities for washing are given, and even in new schools occasionally there is the provision of school baths, you cannot expect elementary school-children in the dirty parts of great cities to live up to a high ideal of cleanliness. Within the last three years I have been doing what I could to get the local authorities to raise the standard of their school buildings—to have them better ventilated, better warmed and better provided with outside offices and playgrounds, as well as inside equipment. I am sorry to say that at first I met with a great deal of opposition. In some parts of the country local authorities and the authorities who were responsible for the denominational schools very much resented the pressure which I brought to bear upon them.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
No; I think the hon. Member may be perfectly well satisfied that I have not in my administration singled out denominational schools for better ventilation than council schools. I have made no difference between them. A child served badly in a council school will get an illness just as readily as a child served badly in a denominational school. 521 In every case I have expected one standard only, namely, good health, hygiene, and good equipment. It does not matter to me, so far as this side of my administrative work goes, whether a school is denominational or not. The necessity of the case is that the child and the teacher should have a fair chance in the building. A great deal of this work has been done so completely that we have covered whole areas of the country. Already we have issued schedules on which local authorities are now working for such great areas as Essex, Huntingdonshire, Lancashire—which is a peculiarly difficult place—Somersetshire, Staffordshire, and Salford; and in every case the local authority is working on the schedule provided.
Schedules are being prepared for Cheshire, Durham—only two districts of Durham, the rest will be dealt with later—Leicestershire, Birmingham, Leicester City, Manchester, and Cambridge. Several Authorities have asked us to schedule their defective schools. What we have agreed to do is that if they will deal with the whole of these schools at so many per year over a period of two years or three years, as the case may be, we will be prepared to give them a year or two to run after that without interfering with them. I think that is a good bargain. In many parts of the country large sums of public as well as of private money are being spent by the local authorities and by trustees in improving their school buildings, and far greater progress has been attained than ever we have been able to attain in the past. So far as I know, the local authorities are working in complete harmony with us on these wide schedules; this black list of defective schools in the cases which I have quoted.
We have not only to deal with old schools, but with new schools. I freely acknowledge that where I can I foster the building of new schools, for the more new schools the better. The greatest obstacle to the building of new schools is the vast expense. I do not wish the children to be put into schools which are not fit. I do not want to see ugly buildings put up. I think we ought to have some of the best public buildings that can be put up, but extravagance can be carried too far. I appointed a committee last year to go into the whole question of school buildings. They discussed new plans and methods, and one of their conclusions was that we ought to release schools from some of the by-laws which at present impose on them 522 totally unnecessary requirements. I hope progress is going to be made in that direction during the next few months; that we shall do something to pull down the very heavy cost of new school buildings. We are constantly exercising pressure in this direction. As an example of that I may point out a case of a borough in the Eastern Counties where they required a school for about 800 children. The first proposal that came to us was for a school which would cost over £21 per head. After many reductions, a good deal of remonstrance, and a good deal of discussion, that amount has been reduced to twelve guineas and I believe the requirements will be thoroughly well satisfied at that.
Apart altogether from the buildings, the health of the children is of the supremest importance. At a. time when the House is discussing a National Insurance Bill I think they may well take into account that already, under the organisation of the local educational authorities, no less than 6,000,000 children are subject to medical inspection. In the whole of the Authorities' areas there are 322 school medical officers who are carrying out this work. They inspect the children on entering and on leaving, and a very large number of the children in special cases which are selected by the teachers are inspected too. In about a hundred and odd cases they are also inspected in a third age group. Some authorities have been very slow to undertake the work, but I say nothing on that subject now, because I believe they are all going as rapidly as they can towards covering the whole of the area. Last year no less than 2,000,000 children were examined by the school doctors. There are nearly a thousand school doctors, of whom seventy-three are women. There are 300 school nurses, excluding altogether those who come from the local nursing associations. If the Committee is not already aware of the fact, I think they will be interested to know what have been the findings of the inspection. Of the 2,000,000 children no less than 10 per cent. were found to have seriously defective vision. No wonder some of them were thought to be stupid merely because they could not see! Some three to five per cent. had defective hearing. Eight per cent. had adenoids or enlarged tonsils. One per cent. had ringworm, and one per cent.—in some cases rising to over four per cent.—were suffering from tuberculosis in a readily recognisable form. One per 523 cent. were suffering from heart disease. From twenty to forty per cent. had extensive decay of their teeth.
It is a disclosure which must give pain to every humane minded man that in England you have at the present time no less than 60,000 children who are suffering from tuberculosis in a readily recognisable form. Heart disease claims another 60,000 sufferers. These are facts which when brought home to local authorities make them at once agree, even at the expense of their most economical ratepayers, to embark upon medical treatment. Inspection is of some good, but it does not go the whole way. If inspection is to yield practical results, it must lead up to treatment in one form or another, either private or organised by the local education authority. But if it is to be undertaken by the local education authority we are bound under Statute not to give sanction until we are satisfied on four facts:—First, we must be satisfied that before treatment is undertaken the inspection is satisfactorily organised; second, the treatment based on preventive schemes of treatment shall be coordinated with the work of preventive medicine already conducted in the area, and not organised apart from it; third, that the authority which is responsible for the inspection shall also be responsible for the treatment; fourth, before the authority undertakes this work all other means should be exhausted: that is to say, that the parent cannot himself have the child treated by a private practitioner. But there is some work which the private practitioner cannot do and which is much better done by organisation. Even such a common thing as ringworm yields best to the X-ray treatment, and very few private practitioners have the necessary apparatus for dealing with this. Therefore we think it well to have our school medical service organised on a basis which is not out of harmony with the public health service already in existence. We prefer the school medical officer to be the medical officer of health—and he is in a very large number of cases—something like 250 out of 320. Another thing of great value is that if the school medical officer is not the same man, that he should be in close touch with the borough medical officer; for mark how necessary it is that the information collected by the school medical officer and by medical inspection should be passed on to the medical 524 officer of health as quickly as possible. For this reason: that the sanitary control of the schools is in the hands of the sanitary officer. Notification, disinfection, and sanitation of the home is in the hands of the sanitary authority. The right of entry into the house to the ailing child is an advantage possessed by the medical officer of health. All this means that the medical officer of health is an essential officer in the economy of the school medical service. And that is why we ask the local authorities to work in complete harmony with the existing public health authority. I take as an example tuberculosis. The first thing necessary is to find out what is the cause of tuberculosis—to find out what is its origin and the source of the trouble. The medical officer of health has a record of the child's birth, and he knows something about the home environment and the tracing of the source of infection. The school medical officer detects the disease at the time and then the child is dealt with by the local education authority, which body is responsible for the improvement of hygiene in the schools, for open-air schools, and other means for dealing with each case. Finally, it is the sanitary authority which disinfects the home and closes up the case. The same holds good in regard to verminous cases, and it is equally true with regard to infectious diseases. The medical officer of health undertakes the various medical duties; he links up the home with many of the public services, and that is the reason why we are taking the view that you must work on a conjunct arrangement if your medical inspection and treatment are to be at all effective.
The charge made with regard to medical inspection was that it would be likely to lead to a decrease in the sense of responsibility of the parents. Quite the contrary has been the experience. The truth is a great many parents are reluctant to believe anything is wrong with their children. It often comes as a complete surprise to them. There are a minority of people who resent medical treatment, but, on the whole, the vast majority are surprised when they hear of illness among the children, and they believe it their duty then to make the mothering far better than before. A great many of the medical complaints are really the effect of defective mothering. By giving a little assistance, guidance and hints to the mother and making her improve the home surroundings, you im- 525 prove the health of the children and are making the best use of medical inspection. The best way of dealing with a great many of these cases is to make the nursing better, to improve cleanliness, and that is the practical result of the institution of medical inspection. So far from decreasing the sense of responsibility, it opens the eyes of many parents to the necessity of better treatment for their children. I will not trouble the Committee by telling them the large number of local authorities who have made special arrangements for providing medical treatment under this Act. I would like to point out the number of school clinics which have been instituted in various parts of the country, and I desire to say that where school clinics are started, full advantage ought to be taken of the service already available. Let me say further, that special treatment is now provided in many areas for feeble-minded and defective children and for children that are deaf or blind.
I turn now to say a word as to what has been done on the subject of physical training. The extension of physical training on scientific lines has proceeded apace in the last few years. Our physical exercise syllabus has run into its third edition. The teachers in the training colleges are taking it up, and last year no less than fifty inspectors voluntarily underwent a course of physical training in order that they might be up to date with the teachers coming from the training colleges. The Temperance syllabus is also used by 214 local educational authorities out of 322. Hygiene of various kinds has been furthered, and the circular I promised last year on infant care and management has been issued, and every day I am getting inquiries upon that subject. This is only indicative of the progress made in almost every direction within the last few years. I recently had the privilege of talking to a man who knew our education system well ten years ago, and who returned to this country recently after working in other parts of the world during that long time. And he says one thing that impressed him was the richness, variety, and freedom of the teaching in the schools. He thinks there is now greater scope for originality, and I think he might have added a great reduction of mechanical routine in the schools than formerly. Brighter and more interesting books are used. Improvements everywhere have cropped up; the interest in the school work is on the increase, and one of the 526 great aims of all great schools has been to give the children not only instruction but to give them appreciation of habits. They have been taught to use their hands as well as their heads, and in every great school in London or in the country hand work is on the increase. Children enjoy that more than book work, but still in these schools there is to be found a proper spirit of order and precision. Every teacher and child knows his place, and his task. There is most implicit obedience and high discipline worthy of the best regiments in the Army. The school organisation is so great amongst those who control elementary schools that I think the achievement at the Crystal Palace some Fridays ago, when 100,000 children were taken safely to the Palace and safely taken home again, may well be put to the credit of those responsible as an illustration of the changes for the better which have taken place.
One of the Church of England schools a few years ago was a great hall with a number of ecclesiastical windows in it. It had four classes in it ten years ago. That is all changed since. The central hall now is simply a hall with class-rooms in all directions off it. That was done at a cost of £2,500. In the same school the other day, when one of my friends called to see how things were going on, he found the most exquisite performance of music conducted by the headmaster. He told me that they sang an anthem by Gounod and finished up with a song by Tchaikovsky. It is true that the musical skill in the elementary schools was so great in years gone by that it could not be surpassed even to-day. In another room in that school the children were engaged at handwork, cardboard modelling, and so forth. Let me take now as another example a country school; it is a quite commonplace school, with nothing exceptional about it, with the boys and girls under a mistress. At eleven o'clock the boys go out to their school garden; they take note-books with them, on which to record what they have done. They watch their seeds progressing and they make sketches of what grows up. The girls have flower gardens, and this school garden system is springing up all over the United Kingdom. In Suffolk I know another case where the schoolmaster not only has a school garden, but where the children are taught to build poultry runs, having been taught the care of poultry, and where they have even with their own hands made a river bath in the river close by. In that county no less than 100 527 gardens are in working order. School journeys have been organised with great advantage to the children. They study literature and singing and make maps and sketch, and they come back with a wider knowledge of the history of their own area. In every direction the schools are becoming better and better.
The one danger I foresee is this. That if the curriculum becomes too varied it may lose a great deal of the quality of the old schools. I wish teachers would realise that under the code they have the power of eliminating some of the optional subjects and concentrating upon others. I trust they will exercise their discretion in that direction more widely in the future. I think it is possible that if we attach too much importance to showy subjects some of the old subjects may be neglected. After all, reading, writing, and arithmetic are essential. It is all very well to draw a flower, sing a good old English song or make an intelligent map of Australia, but that will be no use to a girl if she does not know what six and a-half yards of ribbon at 6½d. the yard will cost. It is possible to make a school too attractive. I do not forget the man who said, "It does not matter what you teach a boy, so long as he does not want to learn it." When I hear a recent writer say that our elementary schools are bound in chains of custom and routine I cannot agree with him. I think we are breaking those chains in every direction. One thing I am sure of, and that is, that it is unwise to decry the present elementary school and its products. Someone reminded me the other day that the earliest example of writing was by a prehistoric Egyptian who wrote on the behaviour of the young. Among other things, he said:—His motive was to improve the manners of the rising generation, which were no longer as good as they were when he was a young man.Probably it may be said that boys in schools now are not as industrious or as accurate as their fathers. I do not believe it. I believe the products of our schools are improving every day. There are no means of measuring with comparative accuracy the product of the elementary schools to-day with those of former generations and of determining which is the better; but we have more variety and interest in our schools to-day than ever we had before. Meantime let us not disapprove of the old school and the old schoolmasters. I have the honour to know a great number of them, and they 528 have been considerable social forces for years in their neighbourhood. When you take the country areas you will find many cases where the parents themselves have been subjected to chastisement by those same masters. Or, if you take the towns, you will find in the clubs and social institutions and centres of activity it is recognised that those old schoolmasters did their work well. They scarcely knew what they were undertaking in many cases, or the benefits they conferred upon the children confided to their care.
I want to sum up the general consideration, which, I think, commend to the House of Commons these estimates for social reform. Social reform of all kinds has met with an amount of support never paralleled in the past. Let the House remember how important a part schools play in our social organism. They are not only the sorting house for ability, but they are the centres upon which the social movement acts, and ought to converge. You cannot exaggerate their importance, and for the sake of whole generations of children no alien interests should intervene; indeed, the time during which they can come under the influence of these schools is far too small—a period of some seven or eight years, and then they pass away from the purview and attention of their masters and mistresses. During those six or seven years the whole bent of their life may be affected. The school determines to a large extent whether a child will be industrious, sober and capable, rather than lazy, drunken and useless. It is not only the capacity of the child, but the character of the child which is moulded in our schools. I do not wish to depreciate in any way the power of Parliament, but my opinion is—after three years of very intimate connection with the Board of Education and with our schools, and for some years before that with local bodies—that the fate of England is decided far less in Parliament than in our schools. All our projects for improvement will fail unless they are built on sound mental and moral bases. I believe the instruction of our young people provides the only secure foundation for social reform, and I believe that basis and that education can only be secured in so far as it is maintained by the ceaseless efforts of the 200,000 men and women teachers, thinkers, and administrators, who rightly plead that while you generously devote national funds to kindly and sometimes heroic measures, you should not grudge expenditure upon the most pro- 529 fitable of all social benefits, the endowment of six million children with the blessing, of discipline, health, and knowledge.
§ Sir PHILIP MAGNUS
I desire to say a few words upon the very interesting address to which we have just listened. The President of the Board of Education has naturally covered a very large area of subjects in the address to which we have just listened, and it would be impossible for me, even if I so desired, to attempt even to run through all the various questions to which he has referred. I know that there are many hon. Members present who are naturally desirous of saying something upon the many interesting topics which have been referred to. Therefore I shall restrict my remarks to one or two subjects, and mainly to those questions which have been omitted from the exhaustive speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Everyone must agree with the last few words of his eloquent speech, in which he referred to the great part which the schools of this country now play in its development and progress. Certainly there is no branch of Government service in which everyone in the country can be so interested as in that branch which has to deal with the intellectual, physical, and to some extent the moral development of the children of this country. At the commencement of the right hon. Gentleman's speech he referred to our museums. It is a very satisfactory feature resulting from the beneficent legislation of the years 1899–1902 that the President is now able to make a speech which deals not only with one branch, but which covers the whole area of national education in this country, an area extending from museums to our elementary schools and kindergarten. As regards the museums, I take it from the President's speech that arrangements have been made or are likely to be made for the extension of the buildings of the Natural History Museum on the Kensington site, and at the same time for the erection of appropriate buildings for the Science Museum on the same site.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
There is a slight modification of the arrangement, but it does not in any way jeopardise the interests of the Natural History Museum.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I am pleased to know that the Science Museum will be in close juxtaposition to the College of Science and Technology, so that it may be of service to the large and increasing number 530 of students at that important institution. The President said he was not satisfied with the higher technological work being done in this country, but the only fact he mentioned illustrating his dissatisfaction was that the number of students in the universities and higher technical institutions of Germany are much greater than in this country. We know that is so, but perhaps I may remind him of a fact, which he is no doubt thoroughly aware of, that the higher technical institutes of Germany have been established almost for as many decades as the institutes of this country have been established years. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman refer to the great advantages which had resulted from the close connection of these higher technical institutions with our universities, and to the eminent services of some of the City companies in the development of higher technical instruction in this country. I must also congratulate the President upon the successful efforts he has made to unify the Treasury Grants which are to be made to cur universities. I for one am quite satisfied that those Grants shall be made by the Board of Education instead of by the Treasury in order that the education of this country may be unified from the lowest to the highest branches. I should say that one of the reasons why the higher education of this country does not compare so favourably with that of Germany is that the Grants provided for higher education in this country are very much smaller than those provided in Germany. I think that the proportion of expenditure on university education in Germany as compared with the similar expenditure in this country would even be greater than the disparity of students in the two countries. Now we know where to look in regard to this matter. We have to look to the Board of Education for increased Grants, and after the speech of the President I look with confidence to him to give larger Grants in the future to the universities of this country.
I wish now to refer to the question of secondary education. The right hon. Gentleman in very sympathetic terms stated that the salaries of the assistant masters in our secondary schools are very much lower than they should be. I must own that I fail to find in his speech any distinct promise as to the improvement of the salaries of the assistant masters. Let me point out how very important it is that the salaries of the assistant masters should be increased. The Government 531 and all local authorities have been very active in granting free places and scholarships in our secondary schools. A great part of the speech of the President of the Board of Education referred to the facilities which are now offered to children to pass from the elementary schools to the secondary schools. I am afraid I cannot agree with all he said, but to a certain extent I sympathise with him. We are most desirous to see our elementary schools linked up with our secondary schools, but at the same time one must point out that it is very easy for the Government to say we are giving all these benefits to the poor children of the country; we are enabling them to obtain better education in our secondary schools and we are devoting large sums of money to scholarships for that purpose. It is, however, a matter for consideration whether these benefits which the Government are so liberally giving are given at the expense of the State or at the expense of other persons. The case is very similar as regards the medical benefits which are to be given tinder the National Insurance Bill. The Government say they are going to give these medical benefits to a large number of people in this country, but before you can provide either educational or medical benefits you must be satisfied that the teachers and the medical men are willing to give those benefits and are capable of doing so. We cannot expect to find capable and efficient assistant masters in our secondary schools if they are underpaid, as the President admits they are, at the present moment.
I would like to impress upon the Committee the great difference in the salaries of assistant masters in the schools of England as compared with Germany and other places. There are very few local authorities in this country who give an initial salary of £150 a, year to an assistant master in a secondary school. There are not more than three or four cases where the final salary amounts to £300 a year. How can we expect the best men to be attracted to the teaching profession when their prospects are such that they cannot expect to rise to an income of over £300 a year? In Germany, on the other hand, I find that in nearly all the schools the salary commences at over £150 a year and rises to between £300 and £400, and sometimes to £450 in addition to rent allowance. Besides that, in nearly all the states 532 the teachers have pensions amounting to from 75 per cent, to 100 per cent, of their salaries.
It is a matter of supreme importance that the teachers in our secondary schools should be free during the period of their instruction from all anxiety as regards provision for their old age, and you cannot possibly expect, out of the meagre salaries which are now given by local authorities to the teachers in those schools, that they should be able to make provision for their old age. They cannot have that freedom from care if they are to devote the whole of their energies to the work of instruction. It is partly because our assistant teachers are harassed in this way that the profession is made so little attractive, and that the results of secondary education in Germany and France are superior to what they are in this country. I earnestly appeal to the President of the Board of Education to take such steps as may be necessary to assure that when grants are made to secondary schools they shall not be made exclusively for the benefit of the pupils in the schools providing free places and scholarships, but that a fair proportion of those grants shall be devoted to the provision of more efficient and better qualified teachers to give the instruction which is so much needed. The President did not say anything about the old class of schools known as higher elementary schools. There is some reference to those schools in the report. The President pointed out, on the other hand, how desirous he was that children should be removed from the elementary school at a young age in order that they might be transferred to a secondary school. "A secondary school" is a term which requires some definition. It is quite true there are many classes of secondary schools in this country, but in Germany, to which we often look for guidance in educational matters, the secondary schools are differentiated. There are different classes of secondary schools, not according to any social distinction, but according to the kind of education given in those schools.
Are we quite certain that in all cases it is a good thing for children to be taken out of their elementary school at the age of nine and transferred to a secondary school in which the education will in no way qualify them for the work in which they are afterwards to be engaged? If our schools were differentiated according to different occupations in which chil- 533 dren may have to earn their living, I should say it is desirable that the education of the child in the secondary school should be extended to sixteen or seventeen years of age, but with our secondary education, badly organised as it is at present, the kind of education given in the secondary schools is a matter to be considered before determining to draft such large numbers of children into schools where they may receive an education which is of little service to them in after-life. The problem for the Board of Education is to organise our secondary education so that we have schools which will continue the work of the elementary schools and thus enable boys and girls to take advantage of the higher technological education which is provided at present, to take their places in the industrial world, to improve the industries with which they are connected, and at the same time to earn a living for themselves. I am sorry to say the Board's Report with regard to these higher elementary schools is a very unsatisfactory one. It distinctly states:—It can hardly be said that the majority of higher elementary schools are in any special degree fulfilling what the Board conceived to be the true functions of schools of that type.One would like to ask what efforts the Board are now making in order that these higher elementary schools shall fulfil the true functions of schools of that type. They say further that they fear the report they may issue next year with regard to these schools will be less satisfactory than at present. We have to bear in mind that all over the country, throughout the whole of the industrial centres, there is a general complaint, notwithstanding all the President has told us, that the education in our elementary schools is not sufficiently practical for the important purposes of life. It is very easy to speak of the good work which these schools are doing, but, when we come to examine reports such as that of the Poor Law Commissioners, and when we come to ask the masters of our industries, our manufacturers, and our foremen whether they are satisfied with the kind of education possessed by the boys who come to their works, I think the President would not be able to present so hopeful and so satisfactory a picture of elementary education in this country as he did in the interesting speech he has just made. Almost all of them declare that our education should have a more practical bias than it has at present. Those who have studied the subject carefully are strongly of opinion there should be less 534 instruction that appeals directly to the memory, and that the teachers of our schools should serve rather as guides to the pupils in their endeavour to work out problems for themselves.
In conclusion, I would only ask one question. About a year ago the Board of Education, seized with the importance of improving the practical instruction given in our elementary schools, appointed a committee of their own inspectors to take into consideration the whole of this question and to see in what way the school-teaching of the country could be placed on a more practical basis. What was wanted was that in both the boys' and girls' schools there should be more manual training, not only carpentry and cookery, and that the whole course of instruction should be organised to a very great extent upon those principles of education which give to the teaching of any subject a distinctly practical basis. I have not heard what action has been taken by the Board on that important report of their own inspectors. The President has quoted a few isolated instances, and I am glad to say there are many, in which sound instruction of a practical character is being given in our elementary schools, but we want to see that this is the rule and not the exception, and that the whole of our schools are so organised that practical work forms the chief part of the instruction. I think the President is justified in referring, as he has done, to the great progress that has been made in all the departments of education during the last few years. Anyone who visited the whole range of our schools, from the elementary school up to the university, ten or twelve years ago, and who took the opportunity of inspecting them at the present time, would certainly agree with the President that a very remarkable development has taken place; but in education we cannot afford to stand still. We must go on improving, and therefore I do most seriously commend to the attention of the President the importance of giving effect to some of those objects to which I have ventured in these few remarks to refer.
§ Sir JAMES YOXALL
The hon. Member for the University of London is slightly more pessimistic about the elementary schools of this country than the President of the Board of Education has shown himself, and I am not surprised that should be the case. The hon. Member for the London University, like myself, only so 535 short a time ago as a little more than twelve months listened to an expression of opinion on the part of the President of the Board of Education which was rather different from that which he gave this afternoon. Many of us for a long time have realised the admirable work, the devotion, the skill, the energy, and the success which are manifested by the teachers in the public elementary schools of this country, and I am glad that at last they have received from the Head of the Department that need of praise and gratitude which they deserve.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I have always acknowledged the excellent services performed by the public elementary teachers.
§ Sir JAMES YOXALL
It is only a little more than twelve months ago we had all the faults of the elementary teachers pointed out, and nothing else. We were then told their work was purely mechanical, that they lectured too much instead of teaching, and so forth. I hope the President will not object to my commenting upon the change in the tone of his speech, because I feel sincerely grateful to him for having adopted that change, and so I do not doubt do a great number of teachers who were somewhat hurt by the estimate placed upon their work by those who speak and write for the Board of Education. We were told by the President towards the end of his speech this afternoon that things in the elementary schools are very well indeed. We have heard almost a pan of satisfaction and praise about the schools and about the teachers, uttered by the President at the close of his speech, and yet little more than twelve months ago all the inspectors in the employ of the Board of Education were officially informed that the elementary school teacher is engaged inSurveying, or trying to survey, a wide field of action from the bottom of a well-worn groove.That was an instruction sent out to all the inspectors of the Board of Education, not only of the elementary branch, but also of the other branches and it was sent out to them with the authority of the Board of Education. Which is to be the true statement the one made by the President of the Board this afternoon or the one sent out to the inspectorate staff of the Board by the Chief Inspector of the elementary school at that time? That circular was sent out by the Chief Inspector of the elementary schools, convey- 536 ing that statement and other statements all totally unfounded, most unfair, irritating, and almost insulting in their tenor and their terms. That circular was sent out on behalf of the Board of Education with the word "approved" written on it.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I really must contradict my hon. Friend. He has also stated that in a letter to the public Press. The word "approved" was not written on the circular, but on a paper authorising the printing of it. It may only be a small point, but I think the hon. Gentleman when he makes a statement of that kind ought to be certain he is correct.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The hon. Gentleman said the word "approved" was written on the circular. It was not. It was written on the paper authorising the printing of the circular. It is only a, small point, but I think the hon. Gentleman ought to be correct in his statement.
§ Sir JAMES YOXALL
I am afraid I cannot distinguish between approving of the circular and approving of the printing of the circular. I have seen a proof of the circular itself, and either upon that proof or upon the paper containing it I saw the letters "appd" in the writing of the Permanent Secretary of the Board of Education. At the time I saw it I said I should hold myself free to use, if I chose, any information I obtained. The right hon. Gentleman, for his own satisfaction, may draw a distinction between approving the printing of the document and approving the document itself, but I put this to the Committee: For what purpose should the document be printed if it was not going to be circulated? What distinction of any moment is there?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The distinction I draw is this: I am very often responsible for the printing of views I do not hold myself, and that naturally must be so in every Department. It would, however, be a ridiculous thing to say, when I approve of the printing of the views of everybody, that I always approve of the views of everybody. It is only a small point, but it is an important point. My hon. Friend has said before "the document itself bore upon it the word 'approved,' "and I say he is not correct. There is no question of threatening me "with the publication of any information he might have obtained.
§ Sir JAMES YOXALL
I make no point of the fact that before I saw the document I said I might make use of any information I obtained. I can assure the Committee that I am betraying no confidence whatever. I have a right to make the statement I did. My charge is not the President of the Board of Education approved his circular—I can understand that many things come under his eye which he does not approve—but that this document slandering the elementary school teachers of the country and their work, so utterly opposed as it is to the sentiments expressed by the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon, was written by the senior inspector employed by the Board and was marked "appd" for some purpose—approved for circulation or approved for printing only, I do not care which. The point is that it was printed with the assent of the President of the Board of Education, and it was circulated with his consent, and, whether "appd" means permission to print or permission to circulate, it does not really affect this question.
We are told that the distinguished public official, whom I regret to have to refer to publicly in this manner, minuted an expression of regret for permitting the circular to go out. Most of the circular has been reproduced in various ways. It is true, as the right hon. Gentleman says, that one clause has never been reproduced. I know there was one clause which was not so obnoxious as the other clauses, and which, perhaps, to some extent alleviated the ill-effects of the remainder of the circular. Still the fact remains that the circular has been placed on the records of this House. It has been printed elsewhere, and a certain number of typewritten copies have been put in circulation. But there has been no expression of regret on the part of any official of the Board of Education for its tenour or for the slanderous accusation against the school teachers of the country as a whole. My complaint against the right hon. Gentleman is that, although I am sure he would not wish to be in any way associated with this kind of policy, he has not been sufficiently careful or quick to dissociate himself from it.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I did so on the very first opportunity that offered itself. I said that I had no connection whatever with it.
§ Sir J. YOXALL
That was most insufficient for the purpose, especially as the repudiation was very soon after followed by 538 a minute, in which the right hon. Gentleman, not only approved and praised, but almost deified the person who committed this outrage. Another point I wish to make is that the right hon. Gentleman has from the first—unconsciously and unintentionally, of course—conveyed to this House opinions concerning the work done at the Board of Education, which it would be difficult to substantiate in a court of law. If I were granted what I have asked for—a Select Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into the circumstances of the issue of this Circular—I think I would be able to show that the Circular was but one symptom of a disease which is becoming very prevalent at the Board of Education. I do not particularly lay stress on the demand for a Committee to inquire into the terms and origin of the Circular, but I believe if the Committee were appointed and had before it Mr. Holmes it would receive a very different impression concerning the Circular, its origin, and authority from that which has hitherto been conveyed to the House. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman has given the House statements in perfect good faith, made on the authority of his own officials.
§ Sir J. YOXALL
On the right hon. Gentleman's own authority, but on information supplied by others. I think I can show by an examination of certain figures given to this House some months ago, in reply to a question put by myself as to the teaching experience of inspectors of the Board, that the return given by the right hon. Gentleman, although I have no doubt it was given in perfect good faith, was, in fact, most misleading.
§ Sir J. YOXALL
It may have been a perfectly accurate answer to the terms of a question drawn up by one who was not careful to so frame it as to ensure securing the full truth. As a matter of fact, the exact number of inspectors, junior inspectors, and sub-inspectors should have been given separately, and not lumped together, and then it could have been ascertained if any of them had had experience in teaching in public elementary schools. But by reason of the way in which the answer was framed information undoubtedly misleading was given to the House by the President of the Board of Education. This is only one of several 539 cases of the kind into which a Select Committee might inquire. The facts cannot be brought out in debate here in the time allowed for discussion, or in the circumstances under which debate takes place. But they could be ascertained in the leisurely, careful, and almost judicial fashion which characterises the procedure of Select Committees of this House. Again I ask, as I asked the Prime Minister in this House a few months ago, whether we cannot have a Select Committee to inquire into these matters. If one be granted, I think I can undertake to prove to that Committee and to the President of the Board of Education himself that he has, no doubt intentionally and without the least desire to do so, conveyed to this House misleading information. It has not only been a case of misrepresentation and skilful misrepresentation, but there has been a juggling with figures, a sailing very near to the wind, always, however, on the safe side.
There are other defects which I might point out. The right hon. Gentleman, in his speech, has paid a compliment to the teachers. He has simply done them justice, and, I venture to think, no more than justice. But there are classes of teachers in the schools of this country, not only elementary school teachers, but secondary school teachers, whose feelings have been just as much stirred by the attitude of the Board of Education, and who feel they have not received that nice and kind treatment at the hands of the Board to which they are entitled. Let me point out to the Committee how their susceptibilities are often wounded when there is no need to do it, by the use of a wrong word. For instance, in his speech this afternoon, the President of the Board of Education referred to "trained" and "untrained" teachers. What he meant to do was to distinguish between teachers who had been in training colleges and those who had not. Undoubtedly in the past the difference in the teaching obtained in training colleges as compared with other forms of training was so small as to be almost purely nominal. The distinction twenty years ago, fifteen years ago, or even only ten years, was very slight. Those the right hon. Gentleman calls "trained" teachers no doubt got some instruction which untrained teachers do not get. The latter have not attended training colleges, sometimes by reason of their poverty, and in other cases because 540 of differences in creed and faith. But they strongly object to being called untrained.
I would remind my right hon. Friend that in Circular 709, which was a very admirable document, some malign influence at the office managed to secure the insertion of a clause which cast a very serious slur on the so-called untrained teachers, and that slur has never been removed, although appeal after appeal has been made for its withdrawal. That is not the way in which to study the susceptibilities of large classes of people—men and women. That is not the way in which they ought to be treated, and I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will see if he cannot add to the complimentary statement he has made to-day concerning the teachers and their work, something which will prevent their susceptibility being thus hurt in the future. I have asked for a Select Committee to go into the matter of the amount of experience in teaching possessed by those persons whom the right hon. Gentleman has appointed to be inspectors on elementary schools. In regard to the secondary schools, the right hon. Gentleman has referred to the fact that there is a quite popular demand for detailed inspection, and he informed the Committee that these inspections were always carried out by inspectors who had had experience in teaching in secondary schools, and who, therefore, were acquainted with the difficulties, and knew what could and could not be done by these schools. These inspections were in fact made by expert, practical men. What we want is that the inspection of elementary schools should also be conducted by men who have taught in such schools. We do not say that there should be nothing else but the teaching element in the school. We do not say that because a man is an elementary school teacher that alone should give him a supreme claim to an appointment as an examiner or inspector in an elementary or secondary school. What we do say is that a man who is sent to examine or inspect a school should have experience in teaching in that class of school, and should know by experience the difficulties and drawbacks; what can be done, and what cannot be done. And when we make that claim it is not sufficient satisfaction of it when we hear of the appointment of a young man from Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow, or London Universities, after he has been only a few months in a school—six or seven months at the 541 outside of actual teaching in a public elementary school—in order to be able to say on the form of application, "I have had experience in teaching in an elementary school." Cases of that kind have arisen frequently, and promotions of that kind have been made. It is not satisfactory to us, and it does not satisfy the claim that nobody should be sent into a school to examine it unless he has had some experience in teaching.
I will not dwell upon that point, but it is one of the things I want the Select Committee to go into if our request is granted, as I hope to hear it will be, before the Debate is over. There are many sources of difficulty for the Education Department, and it is surprising to me that this circular trouble should have arisen with regard to the elementary branch, because, so far as I know, the elementary department is carried on with a less amount of friction than the other departments are. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the great development and improvement in the work of education throughout the country. Yes, but he must not take credit for the Board of Education for all that. I do not think he intended to do so. There are thousands upon thousands of members of education committees throughout the country working earnestly and faithfully for elementary, secondary, and technical schools without fee or reward. Ask them what they think; ask any one of them who has had experience of the Board of Education, who has come up here on a deputation by reason of some unreasonable demand made by the Board. Ask them what they think of a great amount of the work. Ask them what they think of the administration of the Board of Education. Ask them whether the President has appointed the best men for the evening schools, or men who know something about the technological branch as it is to-day—and after all, the blunders as to the persons appointed to teach do not depend altogether upon the teaching theory to which the circular directly refers. It may be an evening school or an art school, or it may be in the secondary school branch, but I say you will find if you will make careful inquiry among all these as to the merits of the Board of Education, and especially if you take the opinion of the members of these local committees who are responsible for the teaching in the schools, you will find among them the widest and deepest dissatisfaction with the administrative work of the Board, and it is surprising to me that it was in connection 542 with the branch where there had been less trouble than in any other in the past that they have had this trouble about the circular.
Education is progressing. Why? Not because of, but in spite of, the large amount of administrative interference by the Board of Education. Whatever may be said about the circular, the spirit of the circular is still there, and it cannot be removed by three years of the present President's rule. It is not a sufficient answer to the charges simply to quote the appointments he has made during the last three years. The spirit is still there; it has been there all along; but it has grown enormously during the last ten years. There is reason for great dissatisfaction, not only by the teachers whose amour propre and dignity have been offended, but on the part of the education authorities and all the private persons who are concerned in the work of education. There does exist this dissatisfaction with the present state of things, and this point ought to be inquired into. I do not think a Royal Commission would be the best machinery; it would be too large and it would be too long in its operations, but again I ask the Government to let us have a Select Committee and we could bring before that Select Committee the evidence on which we rely in making these statements. That Committee could report not this Session but during the course of next Session, and then in the next Session in approaching these questions we might be able to speak with more knowledge of the facts than we can at present, even after the long, admirable, lucid, philanthropic, well meaning, and jubilant statement which we have heard to-day.
§ Mr. HOARE
Like the hon. Member opposite, I was very much surprised by the optimistic sentiments which the President of the Board of Education has expressed. It seems to me that the annual statements of successive Presidents of the Board of Education are all very much the same in their optimism and in their intention to to make us believe that everything is for the best in the best possible world. I am very sorry to differ from the President of the Board, and to have to add to the controversial note that has been struck by the hon. Member who last spoke. During the last twelve weeks an extensive controversy has been agitating the educational world. I am not going back into the details and intricacies of that controversy, least of 543 all am I going to add any personal references as to what then took place. But Jet me say in passing that I am sorry the President of the Board of Education at that time made a charge against myself, and that although on more than one occasion I have taken the opportunity of showing that that charge was without any justification whatever, he has not taken the opportunities which he has had to withdraw the charge. But I do not trouble the House with personal matters of that kind.
With reference to the general controversy, let me brush away what I regard as two misconceptions. With reference to the two general courses of that controversy I am in entire agreement. I am in agreement with my Friend opposite in his demand for an inquiry, and I am also in agreement with the general feeling expressed throughout the country for a more sympathetic and conciliatory attitude at Whitehall towards the great local education authorities. But I am not in agreement with two of its minor courses or—I do not wish to be offensive—spurious courses. I am not in agreement, on the first point, with the course which the controversy has taken in attacking particular officials. I am not in any way in agreement with that. I never intended to attack any particular officials when I brought this matter to the notice of the House. I may be wrong, but it is my strong opinion that if the President of the Board of Education had adopted the line which I believe the majority in the House expected him to take and had taken responsibility for the official acts of his chief officers, there would not have been any reason why the names of particular individuals should have been brought into this controversy. I am not in agreement with the attack that has been made also upon several occasions upon the older universities. It would be nothing short of traitorous for one in my position to say anything in depreciation of the course of education which are given at Oxford and Cambridge. It would not only be traitorous, but absolutely inconsistent, in a member of the London Education Committee, who is doing his best to ensure that there shall be a ladder of scholarships from the Board School to the universities, and to the older as well as the new universities, to say anything in depreciation of the advantages of a course of education at Oxford or Cambridge, and nothing was and nothing is further from my mind.
544 I have the fullest appreciation of the advantages of the older universities and public schools, and it does not in any way mean any disparagement of other kinds of education in different parts of the country to say that. I do not in any way depreciate these other kinds of education, and I would remind hon. Members that when I say that I hope they will not, whilst they appreciate these other kinds of education, depreciate the education given at Oxford and Cambridge. Let me pass on and speak with regard to the legitimate results of this controversy. First of all there is the demand for some sort of inquiry. I support that movement for the following reasons. I say that during the last generation, and particularly during the last ten years, the whole face of the educational world has changed. A few years ago it was considered that the duties of the educational authorities began and ended with the very few hours in a limited number of weeks during which the child was at school. Now I need not remind the Committee that has entirely changed. Education to-day has become much more comprehensive and complicated, and therefore it is of the utmost importance that the central authorities at Whitehall should be able to draw from the experience of men and women who have been brought face to face with the actual facts of local administration and the actual difficulties of local conditions. That in no way cuts out the other type of official. I am not sure whether the merits of one type have not been exaggerated at the expense of the other. The President has to some extent satisfied me by some remarks he made this afternoon, but in one respect he did not. It seems to me the central authority at Whitehall would do well if it often made more use of the experience of local administration. I think at the present moment there is a wealth of experience among the officials of local authorities from which the Board of Education ought to be able to recruit some of its officials. I think that owing to these changes in the educational world, the number of appointments, and the complexities and difficulties with which its officials have to deal, that the time has come for an inquiry. I differ in one respect from my Friend the Member for Nottingham (Sir James Yoxall). I think these changes and difficulties not only affect the Board of Education. I prefer the proposal of the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden), and I signed his memorial asking for a Royal Commission to inquire into the number, 545 conditions, and methods of appointment of all the Government officials. I am inclined to think it better to include the Board of Education in that general inquiry. I said I was in agreement with the other result of this controversy, the demand that has been made, and is being made, by every great local authority for more sympathetic treatment at Whitehall. I will allude to one or two examples taken from the experience of local education authorities. It is a curious and significant fact that during the last year the Board of Education has got itself into controversy with almost every one of the great local education authorities. Last summer it was the London County Council. No doubt hon. Members opposite may have thought at the time that the Board of Education was justified in penalising the reactionary Moderates at Spring Gardens. It may have been that the county council was technically in the wrong, but whether it was in the right or not the Board of Education took what I can only call unfair advantage of the greatest local education authority in the United Kingdom by issuing their ultimatum at a time when the council was in recess and when there was no opportunity to give its official answer.
Let me pass from the London County Council to the Lancashire County Council. The President of the Board of Education made a passing reference to the controversy that has taken place with the Lancashire County Council for their non-compliance with Article 18 of the Board of Education Code. In this particular controversy the President of the Board of Education declared his intention of withdrawing the Board of Education grants from fourteen schools in the county. He may have been right or wrong in the intention that he expressed, but it is a curious fact that after what I believe was a somewhat acute controversy he eventually gave way and withdrew his demand in every case except three, and expressed the opinion that if he had been better informed at the beginning of the controversy he would not have made the demand he did. The Board of Education, in dealing with great local education authorities such as Lancashire, should have seen that it was properly informed at the very beginning of the controversy. Then there is the case of Liverpool. It is only yesterday that I received a communication from the Chairman of the Liverpool County Council, who feels aggrieved that at the beginning of this year 546 a circular should have been issued under the name, not only of the President of the Board of Education, but of the President of the Board of Trade as well, telling the local education authority there to carry out certain particular points with reference to Juvenile Labour Exchanges. I am not at all sure that in the matter of Juvenile Labour Exchanges it is not an excellent thing that the Board of Trade should cooperate with the Board of Education, but that is not my point. My point is that surely in starting what, I believe, is quite a new policy of sending communications to a local education authority signed by the President of the Board of Trade, and asking them to do certain specific acts, some kind of explanation ought to have been sent with it explaining the particular points and the advantages which would ensue from the co-operation between these two offices. Then there was the case of the Manchester Local Education Authorities. The President of the Board has no doubt received a communication from the Manchester Local Education Authority with reference to the circular to which I am drew the attention of the House. The Manchester Education Authority feels very much aggrieved that no explanation has been sent to it from Whitehall with reference to the aspersions which were cast upon certain of its higher officials. The memorandum ends with words which seem to me exactly to express what is not only in my mind, but I believe in the minds of most of the local administrators throughout England. I will quote them to the Committee:—Turning to the administration of the Education Acts, it may be pointed out that Scotland and Wales hare each their separate Boards of Education, and in these parts of the Kingdom a much better state of affairs is in existence, particularly in Scotland, due, no doubt, to the fact that the local education authorities have a means provided for bringing forward their views and recommendations. The English local education authorities hare no opportunities of bringing their collective views before the Board of Education, and are never consulted with regard to the Codes and Regulations which so largely govern elementary schools. When the Education Bill was before Parliament in 1902 it was stated that with the establishment of the new local education authorities there would come about a system by which greater powers would been trusted to the localities to the saving of much unnecessary clerical work at Whitehall. Such hopes have so far not been realised—administration by regulation has been intensified. What is wanted is greater liberty of action by the locality, with power to order the supply of education so as to suit local needs and circumstances by those best acquainted with such needs.Those opinions exactly correspond with my own, and, I feel certain, with those of the great majority of members of education committees throughout the country. 547 During the last few weeks my hon. Friend (Mr. Peel) and I have attempted to put a series of questions to draw attention to one of the details in which much unnecessary trouble might have been avoided by consultation with local officials and local administrators. I refer to the regulation with reference to evening schools and technical institutes. I am quite aware that in a matter of this kind it is the first necessity that the Board of Education, as representing the central authority, should maintain strict control over the financial Grants to evening schools and technical institutes, but I believe they could have done this without imposing an enormous amount of trouble upon the teachers and officials directly concerned with evening schools and technical institutes if they had taken local officials and local administrators into their confidence before they issued these regulations. I think I am justified in saying that from this fact that since the issue of these regulations there have been complaints from every part of the country, and that the result of these complaints has been that the Board of Education now say they are going to revise the objectionable regulations. That seems to point to what I am trying to impress upon the Committee that all this trouble might have been avoided if we had a little more sympathetic co-operation from Whitehall. I own that we are placed in some difficulty in the questions which we ask the President of the Board. For instance, the first question that the hon. Member (Mr. Peel) asked was on 20th April, when he asked "Whether the Board of Education have now decided to withdraw or materially amend the requirements respecting registration." The answer of the President of the Board was "No." In spite of this fact I find that only three weeks before that answer the Board of Education itself issued a circular in which it used these words:—The forms of register and the rules for registration prescribed under Article 14 (a) of the existing regulations for technical schools, etc., are being revised for the educational year 1911–12.It is only a point of detail, but it bears out what was said by my hon. Friend opposite, that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, perhaps owing to our clumsy drafting, to get answers to the questions that we ask. These incidents, and I could multiply them, as other Members of the Committee could, seem to me to show three things. In the first place, they seem to show that the President of the Board is under the impression that no 548 knowledge exists outside Whitehall; secondly, that he is out of sympathy with the work of local administration in the country; and thirdly, that he is out of touch with the details of his own office.
§ Mr. BOLAND
There is one point on which the community for which I speak to-day feels that it has been unfairly treated, not merely by the President of the Board of Education, but since 1906, and that is with regard to the secondary school regulations as they affect the Catholic schools of this country. Ever since the secondary school regulations as they now exist were brought forward we from the Irish Benches, speaking for the Catholics of this country, who be it remembered are mainly composed of the children or descendants of Irish people who have settled in this country, have steadily protested against the character of these secondary school regulations. I 'propose to show that in one respect at least it is open to the President of the Board of Education to meet the claim which is put forward by the Catholics of this country. According to the regulations as they now exist not a single new secondary Catholic school in this country can be recognised by the Board of Education. It is quite true that as regards existing secondary Catholic schools, owing to the waiving of two or three of the regulations they are able to go on, under protest it is true. But it is absolutely impossible to renew Catholic secondary schools in this country. At the present moment there are only eleven Catholic secondary schools for boys in this country. The girls are rather better off, there being something like thirty-nine secondary schools for them. When you come to look more closely into these figures, you find that out of these schools only three are recognised pupil teachers' centres, and that has an important bearing upon the future supply of teachers, not merely for the secondary schools, but for what is of the greatest importance, the Catholic primary schools in this country. On the other hand, there are 525 non-Catholic recognised schools for Protestant children, and as regards pupil teachers' centres there are 383. As regards the mere provision of the existing secondary schools and pupil teachers' centres for our people, they are ludicrously small.
The Education authority should have regard to the possible growth of the Catholic population, but under these regulations as they at present stand Catholic 549 secondary schools cannot be instituted in this country. Quite apart from the question of the children who attend the schools, the possibility of finding a means of giving education to the future elementary school teachers in this country is so confined at present that it is impossible for Catholics to say that proper provision is made for the supply of a sufficient number of Catholic teachers to man the elementary schools in this country. The President of the Board of Education and some Members of this House may say, "Why not let them go to the council, or non-Catholic, schools of this country?" That is not a solution of this difficulty. The Catholics have made great sacrifices in the past for maintaining the Catholic education of their children, and as a proof of this I shall state what has happened since the passing of the Act of 1902 in the case of elementary schools. According to figures published by the Board of Education, the number of elementary schools in this country which since the passing of that Act have been transferred from being voluntary schools and have become council schools in the case of the Church of England is, I believe, 321. As regards Wesleyans and other denominations there have also been considerable numbers of transfers. In the case of Catholic schools not a single one has been transferred in the course of the nine, years. That is a proof that our people in their poverty desire that their children should be taught in their own schools, as are the children of other denominations. The same thing is true of other schools in the country. Where it has become necessary to close a Catholic school because of the growth of the Catholic population another school has been substituted, also under Catholic management.
As regards our position, we have absolutely clean hands. We stand for Catholic education and Catholic teachers, and it is no answer to us to say, "Let your clever boys and girls take scholarships and go to council schools, and subsequently pass to the universities, and there get the training necessary for them to become teachers." That is not an answer to our protest. On the other hand, what should be done to provide a sufficient number of new recognised secondary schools which Catholic children could attend, and whereby you would not merely enable them to obtain the ordinary education which should not be denied to any child in this country, but which would enable future teachers of Catholic elementary 550 schools to get a proper education? What happens in London? There is not a single recognised boys' Catholic school in London. A few years ago, after the death of Cardinal Vaughan, steps were taken in order to erect a memorial to his memory, which was to take the form of a secondary school for boys. It was found to be impossible to carry out that project owing to the present technical school regulations. The Catholics, though they collected a certain amount of money for the school, were not going to hand that over to an outside authority altogether. What they ask, and I think justly ask, is that even supposing that the existing secondary school regulations are maintained, and granting that they are allowed in the case of existing schools, we submit that as regards new Catholic schools waivers of the regulations should also be allowed. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is a demand in different part of the country for institutions of the kind I have indicated, and I say that if he would waive these regulations in the case of new Catholic schools he would go a long way, but not the whole way, to meet, the Catholic contention.
A few weeks ago there was circulated a White Paper relating to the registration of teachers and the proposed registration council. I notice that at the close there is a suggested scheme for a teachers council for England and Wales. I am not at all criticising the proposed register of teachers. It has been long wanted, and I think it will be of very great value to this country, but I submit to the right hon. Gentleman that it would clear away a great deal of doubt from the minds not merely of Members of this House, but of the people of the country, if he would indicate what the powers of this new registration council are to be. Is it to be in any sense an advisory council? Is it merely to have no power except that of setting out in a schedule exactly what are the qualifications of the teachers? If its power is no more than merely that I have no fault to find, but I would strongly resent the idea of any power being given to the registration council which would in any sense conflict with the superior powers of the Board of Education, because I would then feel compelled to ask that some representation should be given to Catholic teachers, Catholic head-masters, and the Catholic community in the educational world. If the right hon. Gentleman is able to make it clear that in setting up the register there will be nothing done to im- 551 peril the future of any teacher in the country who does not happen to come under the recognised system, I should have no further criticism to make. Let me impress upon the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the secondary school question that feeling is extremely deep, because Catholics who have made great sacrifices in the past for their schools are not going to sit down quietly and see steps taken not by statute, but by regulations of the Board of Education, over which this Parliament has really no control, setting at naught the ideals and practices which have been in operation for many years—regulations contrary it seems to me, to the proper system of education in this country which has been recognised as denominational education. These regulations seek to destroy that system, and practically to put an end, if it can be done by those regulations, to the growth of Catholic schools. If regulations are to be set up by the Board of Education crippling more and more the determination of Catholics in this country to maintain Catholic education for their children, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that he will some day find that the Catholic community are united with intense strength on this matter. Although in late years we have always supported the action of the Government, we shall take very strong measures in order to assert what Catholics are determined to assert—the right of Catholics to have Catholic schools for their children.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
Before I proceed to deal with the matters on which the President of the Board of Education touched in his lucid and interesting speech, I would like to refer to a subject to which the hon. Member (Mr. Boland) alluded, namely, the prospect at last that we are in sight of the formation of a teachers' register, and the appointment of a council whose duty it will be to frame regulations for the registrar. The register of teachers has been too long delayed, and I am glad to think that there is a prospect of its being set up. I was very glad to hear from the President of the Board of Education that the British Museum had been so great a success as he described, and I think we owe our congratulations to those connected with the new Science Museum which is about to be brought into existence. The requirements of the Natural History Museum will not come in conflict with the operations of the new Science Museum. I 552 hope it will now be possible to extend these institutions when required without interfering with each other. The right hon. Gentleman pointed to the fact that we are behind Germany in the higher technology. I think there is a fairly obvious reason, namely, that our own teaching institutions are remote from the centres of industry. The higher technology can only be developed when you bring scientific teaching into close connection with the operations carried on in industrial communities as in Leeds and Sheffield, where you get the highest scientific research conducted in the immediate neighbourhood of important departments of industry. I hope that these universities will be assisted in the subjects with which they are dealing, and that they will be brought into closer and closer relation to the industries with which their teaching is connected, so that thereby they may conduce to the greater development of science in relation to the industries of this country.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to speak in a jubilant tone of the progress made by secondary schools. The Board of Education is doing what no local authority can do in that matter—that is to say, it is showing a preference in favour of one school as against another. The Educational Act of 1902 expressly forbids local authorities to do anything of the sort. The Board of Education by regulations are doing what Parliament has forbidden the local authorities to do. I can never accept the regulations as satisfactory while that blot remains upon them, and I sympathise entirely with all that fell from the hon. Member for South Kerry as to the injustice done to denominational schools and more particularly to the Roman Catholic schools of the country. The right hon. Gentleman dwelt upon the number of secondary schools which have largely increased and the number of pupils, and I admit that that is a matter for congratulation if we are satisfied that those institutions are really giving all that a boy or girl ought to get in a secondary school. Whether they get that benefit or not depends upon two things. The first is whether they stay at the school long enough—and in a great many cases we have heard they do not stay long enough—to enable them to get the full value of their time at the schools, and the next point is the quality of the schools.
In the early days of the Education Act, there were a great many schools started which were secondary schools in nothing 553 more than name. I believe that the Board of Education has enforced the curriculum which is very much the same, I think, as was drawn up when I was concerned in educational matters, and that the schools are now genuine secondary schools. But the right hon. Gentleman laid his finger upon one weak spot in the working machinery of secondary schools. That is the inadequate salaries which the assistant masters in secondary schools now receive. Unless you can really attract good men into that branch of the teaching profession your secondary schools will never be all you wish them to be for the sake of the children who attend them. I cannot help thinking that the President has taken a mistaken view in suggesting that the salaries of head masters were too large in proportion to the salaries of the assistants. Anyone who knows anything of the secondary schools knows how almost entirely their success depends upon the energy and capacity of the head master. I have known schools to rise and fall in the most astonishing way by the coming or going of a head master. The most successful head master is not necessarily the man of the highest academical qualifications. He is the man who can push the school and attract parents, and really turn out boys and girls better than they were when they came. I think that to reduce the salaries of head masters in order to supplement the salaries of assistant masters would be the greatest possible mistake, and that what the Board ought to endeavour to do is from one source or another supplement the very insufficient salaries of assistant head masters, and in that way make secondary schools what they wish them to be—schools in which boys and girls may get the stimulus of an education given by a man of high character, high capacity, and long training. That is a thing you will not get as long as it is not worth a man's while to undergo the training necessary to qualify him for a position as master in a secondary school.
I somewhat regret the rejoicings of the President over what he called the democratic constitution of the governing bodies of the secondary schools. Of course it is a very good thing if local authorities have really so far interested themselves in the working of the secondary schools that the committees or sub-committees can give the time necessary to attend to the government of the schools. But what most schools do want is not so much a democratic constitution, whatever that may mean, as a body of men who really under- 554 stand what a secondary school ought to be, and who will follow its curriculum, to whom the head master can go when he finds himself in a difficulty, and who really can spare time and take trouble for the development of the school. I think that is more important than being able to use the conventional term democratic as a term or phrase for the constitutional government of a secondary school. I was also glad to hear that the inspection of the Board is getting more widely used, and I confess I should not regret to hear that a school with which I am more nearly connected is also using it, because the Board of Education has the staff and the machinery for furnishing a more adequate inspection than any other inspecting body. It has got the money to pay for it.
I now come to the question of appointments, which has given rise to some animation in the course of this Debate. I agree entirely with the President of the Board of Education on the question of the method on which appointments are made. The Board of Education is perfectly free from the burden of examination in the selection of its servants. An examination conducted on the scale on which examinations for the Civil Service must be conducted necessarily becomes mechanical. It is no final test of fitness. Of course, it is a qualifying intellectual test. It is not a final test of efficiency in the Civil Service either as an inspector or as an examiner. Inspecting a man's record and then having an interview in which you can really gauge the character and colour of the man to some extent seems to me the right way to find the right man. As to all these questions about the position and the rights of the certificated teacher, and his necessary qualifications for the inspectorship or examinership under the Board of Education, what you want to get is the best man for the best post. I do not wish to say more about the Holmes circular. We have had a discussion about it, and I took exception then, and shall take exception again, to the mode in which that discussion was dealt with by the President of the Board of Education. But I believe that much of what was stated in that circular had a very large element of truth.
If I may put in a few words what I gather to be the root ideas in that circular, they were these: that a man who has got a university degree is better than a man who has not, and that a teacher is not necessarily the best man for an inspectorship. What is more, I entirely agree with the circular, that the teacher, 555 whether he is a teacher in a secondary school or in any sort of school, unless his habit of mind is corrected by the wider outlook of a university education, is apt to be opinionated and dogmatic, and in that way you have to regard other qualifications besides the experience of teaching in elementary schools. I quite admit that experience of that sort is a great benefit, and I am very glad to hear that the President has been able to find so many men who have had that experience and who are otherwise qualified to take these posts under the Board of Education, but so far as my own recollection goes the process that we went through in making appointments was precisely the process which the President of the Board of Education has described. I have a full sense of the value of the assistance I derived from the colleagues with whom I had the honour to work. I may say that we lived in stormy times. We had to enter into relations with over 300 local authorities in matters which were new to them and, to a great extent, to us. The material with which we dealt was highly combustible. Yet, on the whole, the Act came into operation without friction, except in certain places and on certain subjects and with the best feelings between ourselves and the very numerous local authorities with whom we have to deal. I think that that says something for the mode in which the appointments are made to those places under the Board of Education. I may be pardoned for touching on that point, because I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding on the question of qualification as to how the best men are obtained, and what is the result of experience as to the mode of obtaining them in the past.
The President of the Board of Education dwelt at some length on elementary schools, and used an expression with which I accordingly agree. He said that what was done in the schools was, on the whole, of more benefit to the nation than what was done in Parliament. There are one or two points on which I would like to touch. First of all, as to the expense of building. I was glad to hear that the President of the Board of Education is now endeavouring to reduce the expense of building where it is possible to do so. I was informed this afternoon by one of my hon. Friends of a mode of building which has not hitherto been employed, and details of which I do not feel qualified to explain. But it produces a school adequate in buildings and approved of by the Board of Edu- 556 cation at a cost of £7 per place. I earnestly hope that the Board of Education will encourage cheapness in building, more especially in the rural areas. One great feature of interest in our elementary schools at the present moment is the efforts which are being made at the health of the children. For a long time we worked upon the school surroundings. We took care that the rooms were ventilated and that the water supply was good and so forth. I confess I never thought that that was adequate, and I am glad that the Committee now understand that a system of medical inspection is being introduced. It often happens that there is a child with defective eyesight or defective hearing which has not been recognised, and then the teeth also have always been a source of trouble with children. A child might not be able to undergo the physical exertion which is borne by other children, and there would be no one in authority to give attention to that case. But now we have got the machinery, and I am glad to hear that the local Board of Education machinery for making an inspection is working well. It is essential to my mind that the Board of Education and the local authority should use existing local appliances, and that there should be great variety of treatment between localities as well as a considerable range of experiment. There should always be a connection between the local authority, the local inspector, and those persons who are more especially connected with the school.
We have had reports which are admirable in style, in arrangement, and feeling, but anyone who reads them I think will see that although a great deal of admirable work is now being done in the medical inspection of the schools, very much remains to be done. We have to bear in mind that the medical officer is not the only person concerned, there is the nurse who plays a prominent part; there is the teacher, and there is the home. We not only attend to the health of the individual children who are attending the schools, but we follow them to their homes, and tell the parents what is the matter with them, and how they ought to be treated, so that in future children may be sent to school in a better condition than are children at present. The medical treatment of children is a very important matter, but a great deal of care and thought is required as to whether we are not going too far in taking over the whole medical treatment of children, beyond what is 557 necessary to fit them for attending school. We have to consider whether we are really justified in carrying out this treatment in the way proposed at the cost of the ratepayers. As to the feeding of children, the child who is not fed is not in a condition, through hunger, to do school work. It is pointed out in connection with the feeding of children, that the child learns what is right and wrong in diet, and how to conduct himself at meals. Very often, at first, meals were somewhat of a scramble, and no attention was paid to regularity and discipline at these meals. Then there is the point as to teaching in the elementary schools. The President of the Board of Education pointed out that it is various and admirable, that the children learn interesting subjects, and that they are able to perform music, and so on. What, however, we have to think in our elementary education is, What does it lead to? Where does it take the child? It is not of any good to give an interesting and attractive education, even with accomplishments, unless you are giving the child that sort of instruction which will fit it to play its part in life. To accomplish that result it is necessary that our education should be continuous, that is to say, it should advance from the elementary school to the point at which the child is started in life. I am glad that a Bill, which will be the subject of considerable criticism when it comes to be discussed, has been introduced by the President of the Board of Education for the establishment of continuation classes, and the extension of education in that direction.
I am sorry that the higher elementary schools, which in many cases have been the proper sequel of the elementary schools, which carry on education on the literary side while teaching practical subjects in view of practical work in our industries, do not increase in number, but rather diminish. Perhaps I have a sort of parental interest in the higher elementary schools, because they were established on my own initiative, and I had hoped that they would turn out to be more useful. The boy or girl of every elementary school can go to the higher elementary school, or continuation class, or the technical school; but what we want is to land a boy at a point where he will be able to start in life, for that reason I am sorry to find that the Choice of Employment Act, which was passed last Session, is really of very little good. It was intended to bring the schools and the education authorities 558 into contact with the Labour Exchanges. A difficulty has arisen of this sort, that nothing can be done except by the joint action of the Board of Education and the Board of Trade. We have heard a good deal about the difficulties which the local authorities experience in dealing with the Board of Education. I quite admit that any Government Department is beset by difficulties, but here the unfortunate local authority has to deal with two Government Departments in such a small matter as an elementary school, and also with Labour Exchanges. I think it is extremely important that there should be some other way of dealing with the matter. Having regard to the immense difficulty of putting the children—assuming they are fit to work, and as soon as their education can reasonably be regarded as finished—into some useful employment which will lead somewhere, I earnestly hope that the Board of Education and the Board of Trade will combine together and see whether they cannot simplify and accelerate the work of local authorities in enabling children to get into employment. Of course, we hope that continuation classes will be used, and that the tutorial classes will also be found useful. We have every reason to believe that they will enable the working classes to carry on their higher education while still following remunerative employment. In that way we are doing the best we can to start a boy or girl in the elementary school—with a genuine desire to learn and profit by the means of education—on the way to the higher spheres of education. Of course, there is the other problem connected with the elementary school, and that is the problem of making the passage from the elementary school to the secondary school, which we all desire to see established as easily as possible.
If that is to be accomplished the secondary school must be made as adaptable as possible to the various needs of the children and of the localities. I entirely agree with what was said by an hon. Member, that the secondary schools should be various in character, and I believe the Board of Education encourage the adaptation of secondary schools to the requirements of an area. But the fact should not be lost sight of, that although we desire the child to go from the elementary school to the secondary school, we do not wish the secondary school to be of such a character that it would not be in a position to encourage in the child a desire for wider knowledge 559 and some of the accomplishments of life, while at the same time being carefully instructed so that it may be fitted for the practical occupations of life. We hope that the secondary schools may be a stepping-stone to the university, where a boy or girl has the capacity for university education, and who enters upon that course of instruction with the knowledge or reasonable expectation that it will lead to some profitable employment. I desire that the teaching which is given should be of a wide character, while always having relation to the future of the child and its walks in life. In order to accomplish that we should follow the child into its home, and see that it does not lose interest in its studies after it has left the school. If we can only make the parents and all the parties concerned recognise the value of education, not only its material value, but its value in making the lives of men more interesting and more generally useful, then I think we shall be doing something towards the establishment of an educational system which will confer benefits on all classes of the community.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
I beg to move, to reduce the Vote by £100.
I want, however, in the first place to thank the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board for his interesting statement, and to congratulate the Board on the work it is doing in regard to the medical inspection of schools, and also with the necessary corollary—the school clinic. That is one of the Board's activities which makes a very cordial appeal to me. I believe that the Board in that department, at least, has acted very wisely by inviting men to join its staff who knew their business. They called into their assistance a gentleman who did magnificent work in Bradford, a model city so far as this work is concerned, and by associating him with others in the work the Board seems to me to have made excellent progress, and to have gone on right lines. When I say that let me say that I make no apology for raising the matter of E Memorandum No. 21. It would be, so far as I am concerned, not a right thing to pass over the feeling in the country, the feeling of widespread suspicion as to how the affairs of the Board of Education are carried on; and also a feeling of the intensest unrest amongst thousands of teachers who are in the elementary schools to-day. The right hon. Gentleman the 560 Member for Oxford University (Sir W. Anson) said that there was some truth in. the circular, and possibly there is. The teachers may be uncultured and imperfectly educated, but I have yet to learn that it is a mark of culture to emphasise this want in others as this circular does. I have yet to meet the perfectly educated man. The teachers are not alone in this, and who is responsible? The interesting book, "Eton under Hornby," which has recently been issued should give an insight into the well-worn groove of public schools which supply one of the necessary antecedents for the appointment of inspectors.
I say that those things may possibly be true, but I venture to suggest to the House that it is the people of "complete detachment" who are responsible. They have been responsible for the drafting of codes. For forty years they have determined the curriculum, they have conducted schemes for the training of teachers and then they turn round and they say that the teachers of the country are imperfectly educated, and creatures of tradition and routine—which sits ill on them. Moreover, the present administration of the Board still retains in the schools of the country thousands of unqualified teachers. Then, forsooth, I suppose the average of this watered profession, watered by the very Board itself, is to be compared with that of the men of Oxford? That is not the way to gain the enthusiasm of the teachers of this country. It is the way to foster that suspicion which is everywhere in the schools, and which will not be allayed unless those responsible are brought to book. It is really easy to tell us that the man concerned has gone from the Board. This circular was approved by others in a superior position to the gentleman who wrote the circular. It must have passed through the hands of the responsible head of the elementary branch of the Board of Education. Further, it received final approval, whether on the face of the circular or on the face of a covering letter is immaterial to the point, of the Permanent Secretary. And yet there is not a word of apology to the teachers and inspectors drawn from the ranks of elementary school teachers who are slandered. I think that apology was due. The whole of the circular has not yet been made public in this House. Another portion of it was discussed the other day at a meeting of the Durham County Council Education Committee, and the portion I should imagine which relates 561 to the inspectors employed by the Durham County Council would appear almost to me to be actionable in a court of law. Those words have now been made public in the committee room of the Durham County Council Education Committee, and I suppose I may be forgiven if I repeat them again:—The £500 which is being spent on one Oxford man in—shire, is being laid out to infinitely better advantage than the £900 a year which is being spent on three ex-elementary teacher inspectors in Durham County. Indeed, the Durham Education authority is beginning to realise that its £900 a year is being wasted, and worse than wasted, and now that it is receiving full reports from the Board's inspectors, it is beginning to wonder what use it can make of the three inspectors who were appointed with undue haste.That is another portion of this circular. Naturally the Chairman of the County Council Education Committee is indignant, and the committee wish to know who supplied the information. They do not agree with the facts, and they repudiate the suggestions contained in the circular. When my hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. T. Richardson), who is Vice-chairman of the Durham County Council Education Committee, put a question in this House suggesting that there might be an apology to those inspectors and some explanation due, the answer he got to my mind was entirely unsatisfactory. The President replied:—I am not aware of the authority on which the particular statements referred to in the question (the question being the résumé of that portion of the Memorandum) were based by the writer of the Memorandum, who is no longer in the Board's service. As the document was intended solely for confidential perusal, and was made public without the knowledge and consent of the Board, I do not think that the Board is called upon to take the course suggested in the last paragraph of the question.Surely there is something entirely unsatisfactory about that. Are the replies to the questions which were sent out by Mr. Holmes not filed with the papers in the Board's office. I would that we might have access to the papers which contain the replies to the questions sent out to the inspectors by Mr. Holmes. The statements are not true or approved of by the Durham Education Committee, and they, with me, are anxious to know who supplied the facts on which Mr. Holmes made generalisations, the generalisations being repudiated by the committee. Some explanation should be forthcoming, and I think some apology to the men so unfairly slandered in that circular. I have wondered whether they are not entitled to seek legal redress in the law courts, because they are professionally prejudiced 562 by the words which have now been made public throughout the length and breadth of the country. If those words, addressed to the teachers, or rather addressed about them to certain individuals, were merely the vulgar slanders of those above them, then we could afford to ignore them; but I take this to be a symptom of a policy from which the right hon. Gentleman disassociates himself, but a policy which has been prominent at the Board for years. There are those in the Board who are responsible, and I should imagine promote the policy more than the gentlemen who act as passengers in the responsible Parliamentary position at the head of the Board. One of the weaknesses of the position has been that the Presidency of the Board of Education has been, as it were, but a stepping-stone to higher things. It is an entirely British conception of the place education should take in the affairs of the State that the Board of Trade is of superior status and the Board of Admiralty also superior to the Board of Education.
The fact has been that we have as it were passengers at the Board, and the fact that the Board is dependent entirely on that state of affairs has resulted in this, that the policy is framed more and more by those who stay there all the time. I am reminded of what a colleague of mine told me with regard to a State Department, whose name I need not mention, as this occurred not so many years ago. When there was discussed in this House the affairs of that Department one of the permanent officials came here, and my friend ventured to put to him the question, "What do you think of it all?" "Oh," said the gentleman, "I have seen squirrels go round in a cage before." I venture to put it to the House that if it is not alive to its own responsibility and to its own position in the thousand and one things which are not determined by direct Parliamentary mandate, then the great officers in Whitehall will take the place of Westminster, and that is what has happened with regard to this circular; and that is why I say that the circular is symptomatic of a policy which persists all the time, no matter who may come and go in the Presidency of the Board of Education. I venture to follow the right hon. Gentleman through a portion of his statement. I am glad to find that there are so many secondary schools in receipt of State aid. I am disappointed to find that though the percentage of free places has risen from twenty-five to thirty, 563 there are yet in the country 124 of the 1,000 secondary schools which have been allowed to depart from the normal arrangement of 25 per cent, of free places in the secondary schools. I doubt whether the suggestion that there is sufficient provision elsewhere will satisfy all those cases. If the normal requirement had been demanded in every one of those cases there would have been available in the public secondary schools of this country something like an additional 565 places for boys and girls from the public elementary schools.
The right hon. Gentleman appeals to me with regard to cases of hardship in secondary schools with regard to transfer. I have cases, and if he would consult the Parliamentary Secretary he would probably recall to him cases I brought for his private attention. I am bound to add I got no suggestion of redress which would encourage me to go forward with the suggestion of other cases. I will give him one of those cases. I will take the case of a gentleman who was the head of a flourishing pupil teacher centre, but not with the "antecedents usually looked for." His pupils actually went to Oxford and Cambridge, and here let me remark that I wonder whether there is not another secret circular dealing with the death of the pupil teacher centres. This particular centre, was attached, and this is stage one, as a wing of the local secondary school. Incidentally the head of that pupil teacher centre became subordinate to the head of the secondary school. In stage two, we have the total absorption of the centre into the secondary school and the removal of the head master. In stage three, the local authority intervenes, being anxious not to part with the services of an excellent man whom they valued, and they gave him an equivalent appointment in connection with their training college. The gentleman concerned was placed in charge of mathematics. When the inspectors came round they dubbed him as not being a suitable person, and these are favourite words in some of the recommendations of the Board, for this type of school, and forsooth he had to go. Incidentally, I may tell the House that when the report came mathematics came out, I believe, the best subject of all, but the gentleman is now eating his heart out in a slum school with a reduction of £100 pet year in his salary. I have heard suggestions of £10,000 of compensation in 564 cases where the reputation and career of a boy have been prejudiced, but I have yet to hear of a case of the Treasury coming along on the recommendation of the Board of Education to put right a case such as I have mentioned.
I have another case in mind, and one that I feel keenly, because the man concerned was intimate with myself and went through Borough Road with me. He was the head of a flourishing pupil-teacher centre, and again the fiat went forth that it was to be closed. The man was too proud to appeal to the two authorities concerned, who seemed to juggle between themselves as to which was responsible for finding him an equivalent appointment, and he had to go. He is now expending what little he had saved on qualifying for another profession entirely. Another man in the West of England is an assistant master, with a substantial reduction in salary in an elementary school where he had been head of the pupil teachers' centre. The pupil teachers' centre was a place where the progressive and excellent type of elementary teacher who had proved his worth in actual teaching came out on top. I do not know whether that was the cause of his downfall, but that is what happened.
A suggestion is made to me with regard to the governors of secondary schools. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that soon after the passing of the Act of 1902 there were suggestions from the Board of Education that the governors of the new secondary schools should be largely free from the domination of the directly-elected education bodies. Those who have any knowledge of local administration will agree with me. It was to that that I was referring as illustrating the continuity of the policy of the Board, which I aver to have been reactionary in this matter. With regard to fees, I hope the Knaresborough Secondary School, which is doing such admirable work, will not insist on a six-guinea fee. I recall the case of Todmorden, where the local authority wished to continue its secondary school as a free school, when it was taken over by the West Riding Education Committee. It had been a free school, but the education committee suggested a six-guinea fee. I proceed to other examples of the policy of the Board of Education. You find in the early stages, where there had been a modest fee of 6d. a week, the suggestion made that a 6d. a week fee for a secondary school is not the thing. I may quote the case of the Bolton Secondary School, where, when it was a 565 higher elementary school, the local authority charged 6d. a week. But when it was made a secondary school, the suggestion came from the Board itself—I speak on the authority of a Member of the Education Committee at that time—that the fee should be three guineas per annum, payable one guinea per term. The fees in secondary schools have risen in cases where they were higher grade schools at 6d. a week—a fee which gave the working man an opportunity of getting higher education for his boys. Imagine a man earning 28s. a week being called upon to put down for one of his boys two guineas three times a year, thus having more than a week's wages mortgaged before he got them home.
The right hon. Gentleman suggests that the right age for secondary education to begin is nine. I hope I do not see in that suggestion the setting up of preparatory schools to secondary schools, which will still further shut off the secondary school from the boy in the elementary school. We want our educational system to be a pyramid, with the elementary school for its base, and the rest tapering symmetrically from that base without any adventitious arrangement or preparatory schools, which incidentally will bring in a type of school intended to provide earlier secondary education for children in cases where you are not yet able to tell whether their parents will be able to afford it. I do not like the suggestion at all. I believe the plan would be inimical to the best interests of education.
I pass on to consider the question of the training colleges. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that the students in training colleges shall have the opportunity of reading for degrees and of undergoing a four years' course. That has not been the policy. This is a policy which comes to light almost at the last moment. The policy of late years has been, as the principals of London Colleges will doubtless tell the right hon. Gentleman if he asks them, to restrict the students in the colleges from preparing themselves for degrees. I speak as one who went through a training college. To speak of a college like Borough Road imposing an undue hardship on a man who read for a degree is to show a want of knowledge of how a training college works and of the type of man who enters a London training college. If he has a three years' course he can do it quite well. But the policy appears to have been to shut off from these men the oppor- 566 tunity of reading for degrees, and incidentally to shut them off from passage to higher educational institutions. I doubt whether the latter consideration did not dominate the suggestion as to reading for degrees. The difficulty was increased, because a man who read for a degree, and was able to secure the approval of the Board for that purpose, sometimes found that, if he went down in one subject in his final year, the Board's regulations required that he should take his teacher's diploma as an outside student, as an acting teacher, with all that is involved in taking a certificate as an outside student, although he had gone through a training college, and become what is called a non-collegiate certificated teacher.
I pass to the question of inspectors. Clearly the demand for closing the inspectorate to any but teachers in secondary schools is too absurd. There are 100,000 certificated teachers in the country, and 357 members of the inspectorate. The demand of the elementary school teacher is not that the door shall be kept for his entrance alone. What he demands, and rightly so, is that positive inexperience shall not be glorified. That is what has happened. The man who goes through Oxford or Cambridge has a great advantage. No one reveres those places more than I do, and I regret that I had not the opportunity of going through one of them. But I do say that, although a man may go through Oxford or Cambridge, he is not a heaven-born genius because of it. To imagine that because a man has gone through Oxford or Cambridge he has therefore learnt the technique of the art of teaching is again to show a want of knowledge of the conditions of life. A teacher takes years to perfect himself, if he ever becomes perfected, in the technique of his art. Imagine a man coming along with small experience—and my figures do not agree with those of the right, hon. Gentleman as to the experience of some of his inspectors—there are some who have not had a year's practical teaching. He will find that that is so if he makes the special inquiry, as I hope he will. The right hon. Gentleman has given what he calls fair samples of the gentlemen whom he has appointed as inspectors. I also will give some fair samples of men who have been appointed prematurely. I vouch for my samples exactly as the right hon. Gentleman vouched for his.
The first case I take is that of a gentleman who became an inspector and went to examine a rural school. He devoted 567 part of the time to an examination of the gardening of the school. A friend of mine was in charge, and I know that he is a good gardener. When they were walking along the paths the inspector said, "You seem to have a lot of weeds here, Mr. X." "Oh," said Mr. X., "those are parsnips." That was an incident in real life. There is an originality, but it may be the originality of immaturity. There is a freshness, but it may be the freshness of the evergreen. I will give another case. A friend of mine is in charge of a great school in one of our big cities. An inspector comes along—one of the recent creations of the Board—a gentleman who, I believe, will make a good inspector, because he said to my friend, "I have been recently appointed; can you put me up to a thing or two?" You find, too, that it is conveyed to some of these young gentlemen who become junior inspectors—I do not know whether it is through the usual channel—that if they get a little experience in a school they may expect to be appointed. I say that for the work of an inspector you must have a man who has been under the harrow himself. A man who is going to criticise a time-table should have made one. A man who is going to show the defects of a scheme should have had to draft one. The point is that positive practical acquaintance with a school seems to rule you out if you are over the age of thirty. That is the usual thing. In reply to a question of mine the right hon. Gentleman states that the normal age of appointment is under thirty.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
"In view of the normal age of appointment, which is certainly under thirty"—I am quoting the right hon. Gentleman's words in reply to me. Surely those words are clear enough.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I hope the hon. Gentleman does not misunderstand me. If he reads the answer through he will see that that was given as the average. However, it is quite immaterial. The age at which I like to get junior inspectors is under thirty-five, and I have always said so.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
We agree that if you find a man who has had experience and can get him when he has all his genuine freshness about him, it is all to 568 the good; but this policy of appointing men who have not yet had experience, and have to get it at the State's expense whilst practising on those whom they inspect, is not a good policy. If it takes years to develop a teacher, under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, it may also take some years to develop the powers of inspection of work which is intensely technical. That we do not get. That is why I put in a plea for the practical teacher who has the necessary qualifications to undertake this work. There are such, but not many of them have been appointed of recent years. I recall what an ex-inspector of the Board told me. A man who had had the training of some good juniors who had for years conducted examinations for certificated students had the bitter experience of finding himself suddenly displaced by a junior, young enough to be his son in experience as well as in years, superseding him in his position. That is the unfortunate policy which has been developed.
The right hon. Gentleman has replied as extensively by letter as the resolutions which he has received have been great in number. His reply to the protests, which are deeply felt by the teachers of the country, says:—With respect to (E) Memorandum 21, it contains no more than the personal view of the writer, and was so understood by those to whom it was sent.But if a junior officer in the Board drafts a Memorandum, which receives the approval of his superior officer, are we to take it that the superior officer is not in accord with the sentiments expressed in the Memorandum? This Memorandum expresses more than the personal view of the writer. Surely under Departmental control it expresses the views of those who gave their approval to it as it passed through from stage to stage. Therefore it expresses not only the personal view of the writer, but the view of every succeeding highly placed official who passed it on to his superior officer. "It was not a declaration of policy," says the right hon. Gentleman.
It may not have said under the words "strictly confidential," "this is what the Board desires you to do," but imagine an inspector carrying this Memorandum about in his portfolio. Imagine him falling in with some member of an education committee and the question of an appointment to the local inspectorate arising. Would that inspector not feel that he would be doing a good service to those to whom he was responsible if he suggested to this 569 member of the local authority that the Committee had better not appoint anyone unless he had been to a public school and the university?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Can the hon. Member give any instance in which that has ever been done by an inspector?
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
I have not had the opportunity of being a member of an education committee, otherwise I believe it is quite possible that an inspector meeting me quite incidentally might have put to me the view which was expressed in a Memorandum contained in his portfolio.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
What I want to know is whether any inspector has acted upon it; if so, I would like to know?
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
Surely the right hon. Gentleman can hardly expect the inspector to come along and say, "That is the policy of E Memorandum 21 to be conveyed to the Vice-chairman of the Bluffshire Education Committee?" Surely not! That is not how things are done. There is an incidental meeting and the inspector knows what is in his portfolio. He knows what is the policy of the high officials concerned, and the opinions of the Board. He supports that policy, believing it to be the policy of the Board, though he has no definite instructions to that effect. It could not form the basis of any action. I have shown the House what I complain of, and I am prepared to give him the statement of what possibly happened, and leave the House to judge between the two points of view.Mr. Runciman does not consider that any branch of the teaching profession Can claim to be the sole depository …That is exactly what we feel, and it is because we have not seen that development in the policy of the Board that we bring our protest from the teachers to the floor of the House of Commons. We venture an appeal to Members representing the various constituencies who believe in education to have the Board of Education purged of this policy of reaction. Reaction is there, notwithstanding the glowing accounts of the right hon. Gentleman, and the teachers of the country would like the House of Commons to vindicate them against this slander.
Hon. Members know that in a big business the office boy can look to becoming a partner if he shows himself to be worthy. According to this circular, which I avow 570 is the policy of the Board of Education—at least the right hon. Gentleman cannot say what happened in his Department—the teacher in an elementary school is barred. There should be an incentive in the teaching profession. A man should feel if he shows himself worthy that there is nothing to prevent him rising to the highest position in the service of the State. Teachers have not felt that, nor do they feel that, and it is because there is this suspicion, shared by members of the local educational committees, as well as by teachers everywhere, that they look for a change. They believe inquiry will result in a change. They look to greater stringency in the way these departments are supervised; that we may have no longer a divorce between the control of Parliament and administrative action. That, I say, is an important matter, as more and more of the communal activities of the land are being brought under the care of the great State Departments which are responsible for their administration.
In conclusion, I want to make an appeal that the right hon. Gentleman would convey to the Prime Minister the desire of the teachers, and I believe the majority of this House and also the desire of the working men and the working women of this country, for greater access to Oxford and Cambridge, by means of those great endowments which were left by great and benevolent men who thought that education at Oxford and Cambridge would confer advantages. There should be a way open to merit into Oxford and Cambridge by the application of some of these great endowments of these universities to their original intention. Then only shall we have the ideal of the true educationist realised; not a ladder with many broken rungs, but a broad highway for the lad, no matter what his social antecedents may be, if he has grit and ability.
§ Mr. LESLIE SCOTT
I would like to call the attention of the Committee to another aspect of this question which has been referred to slightly during the Debate this afternoon, and in respect of which I also have put down a Motion. I refer to the practice of the Board of Education, under the Presidency of the right hon. Gentleman now occupying that office and of his predecessor, in regard to the relations between the Board and this House, between the Board and constitutional usage, between the Board and the law as it 571 at present stands. The hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kerry spoke this afternoon upon one aspect of the question to which I wish to draw the attention of the House. That is the secondary school regulations. I am glad to see the benches from which the hon. Gentleman spoke supporting, as he said, the view which we know Irish Members do support, that in the educational system of this country denominational schools should be treated as an integral part of our system and on an equality with undenominational schools. I trust that the Government will not have this Motion talked out. I trust we may have an opportunity of seeing the Members representing the Irish party at the Division to-night backing their opinions and supporting the schools in favour of which the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kerry spoke.
The policy of the Board of Education in relation to these subjects has been illustrated both in its attitude towards actual legal statutory enactments, and in relation to what I may call constitutional usage. I submit to the consideration of this House that it is a part of the constitutional traditions of this country that there should be perfect liberty of religious thought, and that no difference should be made on religious grounds in matters of education any more than on any other matters. The Secondary School Regulations were, as we know, first introduced in their present form in 1907. Up to that date the Regulations of the Board of Education had drawn no distinction whatever between the denominational schools and others. Both have been treated alike as integral parts of the educational system. It was only when the Government of that day suffered its defeat on the Education Bill introduced by the right hon. Gentleman, now Chief Secretary for Ireland, that in revenge the present First Lord of the Admiralty, then President of the Board of Education, introduced into his Secondary School Regulations discriminating provisions against denominational schools. There is. I say, no legal or constitutional justification for the Department of Education by Regulations discriminating between denominational and undenominational schools. The only ground upon which they have claimed this right is that in the Appropriation Act certain sums of money are granted to the Board for the purpose of distributing them as Grants-in-Aid of education.
572 I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to refer to any legal or constitutional authority of any kind to justify the distinction made in the Regulations. Under these Regulations—the House at this stage of the evening does not want to go into them in detail—the House will remember that broadly, in regard to the schools which were in receipt of a Grant in 1906, in 1907 they were allowed to continue in receipt of a Grant on the lowest scale, and only those schools; no new school was entitled to receive the Grant on any scale at all unless it complied with certain anti-denominational regulations contained in the Code. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that those regulations were, firstly, that no denominational teaching should be given except at the request of parents; secondly, there was the ordinary conscience clause; thirdly, that the trust or other instrument regulating the constitution of the school should not require either that the teachers or that the governing body should be denominational in character; lastly, there was a regulation which required that the governing body should be of a representative character, that is to say, that the majority should be chosen by representative bodies. Under Regulations 42 and 43 no Grant-in-Aid could be given to any new school that was not willing to comply with those four or five restrictions. In regard to schools that had been in receipt of the Grant in 1907, a waiver can be given by the Board, and in respect of no other school at all.
I ask the Committee to bear those facts in mind in regard to these regulations, because I want to illustrate the way in which they have operated in an actual concrete case, which I will call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to, in order to show how unjust and unfair they are in their operation. There is a school at Liscard, in Cheshire, called St. Mary Mount. It is a Roman Catholic school, and has been in existence for some years. It is a secondary school for girls, within the meaning of the regulations. Liscard, as the House may remember, is part of a growing urban district called Wallasey, which has recently been incorporated. The population of that district is growing very rapidly. In 1891 it was 30,000, in 1901 it was 50,000, in 1911 it was nearly 80,000. In the district there are a very large number of Roman Catholics. As a matter of fact, in 1908 there were over 6,000 Roman Catholics there. There was no other secondary Roman Catholic school 573 for girls within a radius of some eight miles. Such a school was, therefore, essentially needed. In 1908 the governing body of the school applied to the Board of Education for recognition for the purposes of the Grant. The Board of Education replied by reference to its Regulations, and said: "Are you willing to give up your denominational character and obey the Regulations which we made, to hamper denominational teaching, to forbid a denominational governing body?" knowing quite well that with that Roman Catholic school it was impossible that those regulations should be complied with. The governors of the school replied pointing out that the school was needed in the district, that it had over 100 scholars, that there was no other school, and that the needs of the neighbourhood were growing, and they asked for the assistance of the Government Grant. Not only that—and I quote the actual letter of May, 1909—the attention of the Board was drawn to the conditions in the following terms:—(1) It is well known to the Board of Education that the governors cannot accept the requirements of Articles 23 and 24, and that to make compliance with these a condition of recognition is tantamount to a refusal of recognition.(2) The Governors are ready to comply with Articles 5 and 18 in the same way as the Governors of other Roman Catholic secondary schools, but they look for the same waiver of Articles 23 and 24 which others have obtained where the schools meet an educational need.(3) The school in question meets such a need. It is the only Catholic secondary school within the meaning of the secondary school regulations in the district of Wallasey. The school is necessary for the children of a rapidly growing Catholic population requiring such a school, and who have a just claim for its recognition and participation in the grants.(4) The Governors request, therefore, that the school be duly recognised as an integral part of the higher educational system of the district of Wallasey. They believe that in this view they have the support of the local education authority.And the local education authority, that is the Education Committee for County Council for Cheshire, passed the following resolution:—That as this is the only Roman Catholic secondary school in this district and has a total attendance of 114 children, this committee recommends the application to the Board of Education.These are the facts. The school was needed in the district and the local education authority of the district passed a resolution to that effect, but the Board of Education merely replied: "We have had our own hands tied by our own regulations and we cannot give you the Grant which the local education authority say is needed." I submit there is no power to make these regulations, and as there was 574 no power to make them it is open to the Board of Education to rescind them. Why should a Roman Catholic or Church of England or Jewish School in the country, even old schools in receipt of Grants, be subjected to the condition to apply for a discretionary waiver from the Board of Education as a condition of their Grant? I say these schools are entitled as a right, and not as a waiver, to have the Grant, and in the next place I ask what difference in principle is there between a school that has been in receipt of the Grant and a school in a growing neighbourhood and a new neighbourhood where there are many children requiring denominational instruction because their parents wish it, what difference is there from the public point of view between an old and a new school? Is there any difference from the public point of view in the fact that the neighbourhood is new, and that the school is a new school. I repeat there is no legal authority, and no constitutional authority, in favour of these secondary school regulations which make this discrimination against a denominational school. I say there is not only no legal or constitutional authority, but I say that whereas at the time they were introduced in 1907, the right hon. Gentleman may say that he had in fact in this House of Commons a majority in favour of undenominational schools, to-day there is a majority against them, and in favour of equal treatment for denominational schools, and I call in to my aid for that the hon. Member for South Kerry (Mr. Boland) who spoke this afternoon. In a Debate on 11th June, 1907, upon secondary school regulations, upon a Motion, I think, from the Irish Benches, the hon. Member for South Kerry used these words in regard to the regulations then introduced. He said:—He could assure the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Education, that the regulations were regarded as a declaration of war by the Roman Catholics, and he would, before he sat down, move a reduction of the Vote in order to emphasise their attitude upon the subject.At the time and all through that Parliament the Irish party voted against these anti-denominational restrictions imposed by the Board of Education. The General Election has given a majority to the Unionists and Irish party. I say the Government to-night, unless they have squared the Irish party, if this matter goes to a Division, will find the Irish party, if they are loyal to their Roman Catholic schools, voting against them, and then perhaps we shall see the end of these regulations.
575 There is one other illustration of the attitude of the Board of Education to which I want to refer. I want to deal now with a Church of England school, and to show the attitude of the Board towards that school. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board cannot reply that this is only a matter of regulation. I take a case where he has connived and colluded in a breach of the law. The Wheelwrights' Grammar School, near Dewsbury, is a secondary school under the Endowed Schools Act. Under the Endowed Schools Act the original endowed schools commissioners, then the Charity Commissioners, and finally the Board of Education as successors to each other had power to make schemes to alter the character of an endowed school, subject to this restriction: that the main object of the foundation must be observed; that there must be no discrimination upon religious grounds at all; and that if the school is what you would call an ancient religious school of a certain denomination which it preserved down to 1869, then no change could be made in the foundation of that school in any scheme inconsistent with its denominational character. The Dewsbury school was an old Church of England school for many years down to 1869, and ever since. In 1888 it was converted from an elementary school into a secondary school by agreement, and at that time an arrangement was specially made and a letter was written by the Charity Commissioners saying that under the new arrangement the majority of the governors were to be of Church of England persuasion, and that the Church of England character of the school would be preserved.
A further scheme was made in 1898, and a large majority of the governors of that school, combined with two or three others, were not Church of England. Again the Charity Commissioners wrote saying that the Church of England character of school should be preserved by a clause put into the scheme, and the town council of Dewsbury supported it and gave an undertaking that, in regard to this particular one of the schools over which the combination had control, they would always support the Church of England character of that school. In 1902 an Education Act was passed which the right hon. Gentleman did not like, and which the West Riding County Council of the party opposite did not like. And then, during 576 the last few years, the West Riding County Council had to face the provisions of the 1902 Act. The 1902 Act says, as regards secondary schools:—
"(1) That the county council shall consider the educational needs of the district, and (2) that it shall not make any difference upon any religious ground."
That is a statutory obligation, and the Board had by a mandamus to compel the local education authority to carry out its duty. The local education authority—the county council—refused on any terms to give a grant so long as the school remained Church of England. What did the Board of Education do? They were written to by the governors of the school and asked to help the school to preserve its Church of England character and to force the local education authority to do its duty under the Act of Parliament and to give the grant to which the school was entitled. The Board of Education did nothing. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to produce any letter from the Board of Education, while he was President, to the local education authority asking them to do their duty in accordance with the Act of Parliament and to give the grant.
I rise to a point of Order. Is there any means whereby this Debate, which is so interesting, and the speech of the hon. Gentleman opposite, which is so eloquent, may be continued after a quarter-past eight? Can we by any means secure that private business, which begins in two minutes, can be put off and continue this Debate? Could we defer the consideration of the private Bill which is coming on to another day?
§ The CHAIRMAN
As far as this Debate is concerned no Motion can be moved which can effect that purpose. As regards what can be done when the other Debate begins, that is a question for Mr. Speaker.
Private business is put down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means. May I appeal to you as Chairman of Ways and Means to withdraw that so as to enable the Committee to proceed with this discussion.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That has nothing to do with our business now. I shall be able to deal with it when the time comes.
§ Mr. LESLIE SCOTT
I regret to say, Mr. Emmott, that time will very soon come. I trust that my hon. Friend's inter- 577 vention was quite as ingenuous as it appears to be. I only want to add this one word before the clock arrives at 8.15. The Board of Education, instead of calling upon the local authority to do its duty in accordance with the Act of Parliament, came out with a scheme changing the Church of England character of the school, turning it into an anti-denominational school and putting pressure upon the governors of the school to accept the scheme changing the denominational character which the school had for nearly two centuries. I want now to deal with the corollary—with the inference to be drawn from the attitude which the Board took up.
And, it being a Quarter-past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, under Standing Order No. 8, further proceedings were postponed without Question put.