§ Mr. WILLIAM PEEL
asked the President of the Board of Education whether the regulations expressed in Article 29 (b), applicable to evening schools and classes for the year 1910–11, have proved a source of embarrassment to local authorities anxious to encourage evening school work; whether the Board have recently intimated that they propose to remodel these regulations, but will not do so for the year 1911–12; and if he can inform the House why, if the existing regulations are not satisfactory, they are to be imposed upon evening schools during yet another Session?
§ Mr. TREVELYAN
The Board have not yet received the returns for 1910–11 during which the Article referred to has been in operation, bat although they have received certain criticisms upon the Article, some at least of which have been based upon a misunderstanding of its intention, they have no reason to suppose that it has been the cause of any serious embarrassment to local authorities in whose areas evening school work is satisfactorily or- 194 ganised. The Article is not an isolated regulation, but forms a part of the general body of regulations for evening schools. Its object is to lay down with more precision than has been the case in the past the distinction between those evening school courses known as "grouped courses," which are organised on the basis of concurrent instruction in a group of subjects, and courses which are organised on the basis of instruction in single subjects only. Courses which do not satisfy the requirements of the Article are not classed by the Board as "grouped courses," but they are not thereby debarred from grant, if they satisfy the requirements appropriate to single subject courses. I may add that an important object of this and similar regulations is to secure that public money shall not be wasted upon courses in which the amount of instruction given is not sufficient to be of educational value. With regard to the second part of the question, the Board have already announced that they hope to issue, in the course of the summer, a new body of Regulations to take the place of the existing Regulations for technical schools. This intention has nothing to do with the particular issue raised in the question. The operation of these new Regulations will be postponed for a year, in order to give due notice to Local Education authorities of the changes involved. The desirability of such notice has been repeatedly represented to the Board by the authorities, and this postponement is made primarily to meet their convenience. During the intervening year, 1911–12, it will clearly be simplest to keep the existing system unchanged, and not to modify its details pending the establishment of the new system for 1912–13.
§ Mr. TREVELYAN
I said that there had been certain criticisms, in a good many cases owing to misunderstanding.
§ Mr. HOARE
asked the President of the Board of Education whether, under Article 14 of the Technical School Regulations, 1910, local education authorities have been required to register evening school students in registers and in accordance with rules furnished by the Board of Education; whether such regulations and registers have proved unfitted for their purpose; whether, in framing Article 14 and in constructing the registers, the Board consulted representatives of local authorities and skilled evening school teachers; and, if not, could he state why the Board failed to secure such co-operation?
§ Mr. TREVELYAN
The answer to the first question is in the affirmative. I may say that the regulation applies equally to evening schools not maintained by local education authorities. With regard to the second question, the issue of these registers and registration rules was found necessary to ensure accuracy in the record of attendances and thereby to secure proper control of the expenditure of public money and a uniform basis for the returns made to the Board. The returns and claims for grant made on the results of the first year of registration under this system have not yet been received by the Board, so that it is impossible at present to say how far the registers have proved fitted for their purpose; but I have every reason to think that, subject to certain modifications of detail, they will prove to be satisfactory, and that the accuracy and uniformity of the returns will both facilitate the payment of grant and furnish valuable and trustworthy information. The Board did not call local education authorities or evening school teachers into consultation before introducing a uniform system of registration, as the responsibility for securing a proper control of the expenditure of public money, which was one of the principal objects of the change, is a responsibility that they cannot share with other persons. They recognised that the system, when introduced, would need improvement, as far as its details were concerned, in the light of actual experience of its working, and on such points they have received during the last few months various suggestions from officers of authorities and from 196 teachers in many cases upon the Board's own invitation, which are being carefully considered by them with a view to making the registration system at once as accurate and as elastic as possible.