Copy presented,—of Minute by the Lords of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
said, that the Minute which he had just presented to the House contained provisions of more than ordinary importance, and would ultimately lead to a considerable increase in the Educational Vote; and he therefore thought it would be more respectful and satisfactory to the House if he departed from what he believed to be the usual practice on such occasions, and made some remarks explanatory of its nature, its objects, and the reasons which had induced the Government to submit it to the approval of Parliament. But before proceeding to do this, he was anxious that the House should understand that the Minute contained nothing at variance with the principles of the Revised Code. On the contrary, its object was, in the strictest conformity with the spirit of the Code, to render it more effectual for the purposes for which it was designed; and it could be no reproach, either to the Code or its authors, if, after the lapse of some years, experience should have suggested some amendments in a measure at once so original in its conception and so comprehensive in its design. He desired it should be further understood that the Minute which he had laid upon the table did not cancel a single article of the Revised Code. It was entirely supplementary to it, and all schools either declining or failing to fulfil its conditions would continue to be entitled to payment under the existing rules. When it became his duty to direct his special attention to the operation of the present system of popular education, as administered by the Privy Council, it appeared to him to be defective in three material respects. In the first place, not only in numerous instances, for that, he feared, was inevitable, unless under an entire change of system, but in instances far too numerous, the smaller schools continued unable to comply with the conditions which would entitle them to participate in the public grants. In the second place, there was a tendency to limit the education given in the schools to the three elementary subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic; and even with regard to these subjects, the results were not altogether so satisfactory as they were entitled to expect; and, in the third place, there had occurred such a diminution in the number of pupil-teachers under the operation of the Code, as had not only unduly impaired the teaching power in the schools, but had also endangered the adequacy of the supply of candidates for certificates, the certificates being the very foundation upon which the whole superstructure of national education as aided by the State was raised. If these defects were inherent in the existing system, the House would admit that the subject was worthy of the consideration of Parliament. With respect to the first defect—namely, the exclusion of small schools, for, practically, it was exclusion, he had high authority for saying that it, at all events, was a matter deserving the attention of Parliament. His right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), in his speech explaining the Revised Code in 1862, after having enumerated 964 parishes, in five counties only, having each a population of less than 600, which derived no assistance from the State, said—
In that opinion he (Mr. Corry) entirely concurred. Justice and policy alike required that small and poor schools should share in the contributions by the State towards the education of the poor; but it was well known that in thousands of instances they had failed to do so, and even if it were argued that their inability to fulfil the conditions required by the Privy Council was the result of the apathy rather than the poverty of the parishes in which they were situated, it could not be questioned that the proportionate expenses of small schools were far greater than those of larger ones; and this, in his opinion, gave them a peculiar claim to consideration. Compare, for example, two schools, one with 80 and the other with 40 children in average attendance. The Code did not require a pupil-teacher to be employed until there were 40 children above 50—that is, 90 children; and the grants could therefore be earned by the employment of one unassisted certificated teacher in both schools, while, assuming both to be equal in efficiency, the larger school, without any additional establishment expense, which the Royal Commissioners, in their Report (1861), estimated at more than 14s. in the pound of the whole of the expenses of schools, would receive twice the amount of public grants as well as, probably, of school foes from the parents of the children, in aid of private contributions. The Commissioners distinctly recognised the disadvantage under which small schools laboured in this respect. They said—"These districts contribute to the revenue equally with others, and it is exceedingly desirable, on the ground both of justice and policy, that they should receive back some share of the money."
and with the view of compensating this disadvantage they recommended a larger capitation grant in the case of schools having an average attendance of less than sixty children. That would form no part of his proposal, although one result of the Minute would be to give help to small schools, as well to those which were already connected with the Privy Council, as to those which had hitherto been prevented by their poverty from meeting the conditions of the grants. He would now pass on to the second defect to which he had adverted—namely, that there had been a tendency of late years to limit the teaching in the schools to the three elementary, to the neglect of what were called higher subjects, such as geography, English history, and grammar, and that even in the elementary subjects the average proficiency was unsatisfactory. He was aware that it was a fault of the old system that it was too ambitious, and he was by no means an advocate for giving a high education to the children of the poor, which he thought would be far more likely to unfit them for the state of life to which they had been called, than to lead to any useful purpose. But there was a mean in all things, and he agreed with Mr. Morell, one of Her Majesty's Inspectors, who had expressed the opinion in his last Report that—"The expense of a small school, efficiently conducted, is far greater in proportion than the expense of a large one, and it has always been considered a fault of the present system that it does not touch the districts which most require it,"
That these higher subjects were now too much neglected appeared from many passages in the Reports of the Inspectors, some of which he would ask permission of the House to quote. In the Reports for 1865–6, Mr. Barry said—"If the education given in a school is to be fruitful in after-life it is essential that it shall not consist merely in giving mechanical facilities, but that it shall arouse the intellectual power and give some taste of what knowledge really means, and draw out the determination and the will to acquire it."
Mr. Meyrick said—"In what are called the higher subjects of instruction (geography, grammar, and history), there has been a decided falling off since the introduction of the New Code."
Mr. Renouf said—"Geography, grammar, and history, all of them very efficient instruments for opening the mind, have disappeared as subjects of study, or when they exist are scarcely the ghosts of their old selves."
Mr. Wilkinson said—"There are very few schools in my district in which, except as regards religion,…the instruction is not conlined to reading, writing, and arithmetic."
With respect to this last remark, the House was aware that no payment was now made in respect of educational acquirement, except on the results of the examinations in reading, writing, and arithmetic. He did not deny that a good foundation in reading, writing, and arithmetic, was of the first importance to the poor man's child, and if the results in these respects had been satisfactory he might not, perhaps, have thought it necessary to call attention to the absence of instruction in the higher subjects. But it could not be said that those results were satisfactory, although he wished here to say that if the original plan of his right hon. Friend the Member for Calne had been adopted—which was that every child to earn the grants must be examined, at a given ago, up to a given standard—the state of things to which he was about to refer could hardly have existed. The statistics of the last Reports of the Inspectors would give the House a clear idea of the present average state of elementary proficiency. He found that in the assisted and inspected schools in England and Wales the scholars in average attendance in the year ending on the 31st of August, 1866, were 863,240. The percentage of infants under six years of age, and therefore by the rules of the Code not presentable for examination, was 25·97; above six, but not presented for examination, 8·44; presented for examination, 65·59; of these, there were presented in the three lowest Standards, I. II. III., 49·79 per cent; in the three higher Standards, IV. V. VI., 15·80 per cent, or less than a quarter. This was not an accident of ages, for if all above six years old had been grouped by age the percentage would have been 38·88 in Standards IV. V. VI.; and only 35·15 in I. II. III. Of the 15·80 per cent presented in the three higher subjects, 8·58 per cent were presented in Standard IV.; 4·96 in Standard V.; and only 2·26 per cent in Standard VI.; whereas, under a perfect system of grouping according to age, 11·51 per cent ought to have been presented in Standard IV.; 10·02 in Standard V.; and 17·35 in Standard VI. These figures referred not to passes obtained, but merely to the children presented for examination, and he would now state, not the percentage, but the actual number of children as they passed in the standards. Of the 863,240 children there were:—Under six years of age, 224,230; above six years of age, and presentable for examination, 639,190. Of these, there were actually presented 566,371; of which 364,126 passed without failure in the second standards. The number who passed in the three lower standards was 284,027, and in the three higher standards 80,099. Of the latter, 40,154 passed in Standard IV.; 26,884 in Standard V.; and no more than 13,161 in Standard vi. Of the 566,371 children presented for examination, only 13·161 had succeeded in passing in the sixth, or highest standard. To give the House an idea of what these standards were, he might state that, according to the Report for last year of the Committee of Council, "an ordinary child who was upwards of ten years of age could, if properly instructed, pass in Standard VI.," and the Report added "that the examinations continued to exhibit results which ought not to be regarded as satisfactory." The House would therefore see that his opinion in this respect was not singular, but was, on the contrary, supported by high authority. He must not, however, allow the House to consider that these unsatisfactory results were attributable altogether, or nearly altogether, to defective teaching. It was traceable to various other causes—to early removals from schools, to irregularity of attendance, to capricious removals of children from one school to another, and other such causes—but the fact remained that only a small proportion of the children ever reached the higher standards, and he would describe the value of such results in words which would carry with them much greater weight than any which he could utter. He would take the liberty of quoting from the Report of the Committee of Council for the year 1862, which bore the signature of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne, and of the late Lord President—Earl Granville—"Last year I reported grammar, geography, and history as being in abeyance in many of the rural schools of my district; these subjects, if not quite set aside, still continue to be materially curtailed in favour of the paying part of the school system."
It might be said that the Revised Code had not been long enough in operation to enable them to judge of its ultimate effects; but the latest Returns did not exhibit improvement, but the reverse. The percentage of failures in England and Wales in 1865, were 13·09 in writing, 23·58 in arithmetic; in 1866, 13·67 in writing, and 25·28 in arithmetic; there had been a small diminution of the percentage of failures in reading, but in writing and arithmetic the reverse was the case. The second object of the Minute was to obtain more satisfactory results in these respects, and to improve the quality of the education given in the schools; and, with this, the third object was intimately connected—namely, the maintenance of a more adequate supply of pupil-teachers. The tendency of the old system, under which the whole of the salary was paid by the State, was to encourage the employment of too many pupil-teachers. The Revised Code had led to the employment of too few, for under it no pupil-teacher was required unless there were ninety children in the school. Now, he (Mr. Corry) held it to be plainly impossible for a single teacher to give efficient instruction to anything like that number of scholars, consisting of infants, and children of from six to twelve years of age, divided into various classes under the several standards, and he considered it to be absolutely necessary not only to arrest the decrease, but also to encourage an increase in the number of pupil-teachers. Exclusive of Scotland, which the Minute did not touch, as the schools in that part of the United Kingdom were still paid under the old Code—exclusive of Scotland, the number of pupil-teachers was 13,393 in 1861, 12,803 in 1862, 11,590 in 1863, 9,907 in 1864, 9,556 in 1865, and 8,970 in 1866; so that the pupil-teachers, who in 1861 numbered 13,393, were now reduced to 8,970, being a diminution in six years of 4,423. Even this did not represent the whole state of the case; because, concurrently with that diminution, there had been a considerable increase in the number of schools and of scholars. In 1861, there were 8,494 assisted schools in England and Wales, while in 1866 there were 9,844; and the average attendance of children at assisted day schools, which was 753,444 in 1861, was 863,420 in 1866; showing an increase of 1,350 schools, and 109,976 scholars. The ratio, therefore, of pupil-teachers to scholars, which in 1861 was 1 to 56, had become 1 to 96 in 1866. It was true that in 1861 the number of assistant teachers was 316, and in 1866 it was 974; so that there had been an increase of 660 in assistant teachers; but this was a very small set-off against a diminution of 4,423 pupil-teachers. This falling off had been noticed with regret, and even with alarm, by the great majority of the Inspectors. Mr. Campbell says—"We regret that our first proposal to examine children for grants according to age had to be withdrawn.…Age and proficiency coincide, in fact, far oftener than not.…The reason for examining according to age was that the amount of proficiency required by Standard VI. represents the minimum of book instruction which can he put to practical use in life. Less than this is almost sure to be forgotten, because it cannot be used with pleasure or profit.…It can never be too well remembered that the probability of the next generation becoming duly educated depends on the number of children who secure the indispensable minimum of instruction before a given age, which the labour market inevitably and inexorably fixes.…It may generally be assumed that each child who in the 10th, 11th, and 12th years cannot pass according to Standards IV. V. VI., will never possess even the humble attainments which those Standards denote, and that, so far as the secular instruction of that child goes, the school which is paid on his account has done little or nothing to better him in life."
Mr. E. P. Arnold says—"In my last Report I ventured to predict the demolition of the pupil-teacher system; as far as the circumstances of my district are concerned, I seem to have been correct."
Mr. Moncreiff says—"It is in the schools which have an attendance, averaging from forty to ninety children, that the loss has been especially felt."
Mr. Robinson says—"Male pupil-teachers seem to me to be rapidly disappearing from all except a very few of the larger schools."
Mr. Warburton says—"Pupil-teachers have decreased by exactly one-half. The majority of schools in this district fall below an attendance of ninety, which requires the employment of an apprentice. I believe the disuse of pupil-teachers to be the main cause of decline in many schools which have hitherto been most efficient."
Mr. Watkins says—"I feel bound to represent to your Lordships that very serious evils result from the (practical) abolition of pupil-teachers in schools containing between fifty and ninety children, a class which includes the majority of country schools. My almost daily experience has convinced me of the urgent necessity which exists for taking some steps to remedy this evil."
He would only add, in corroboration of his (Mr. Corry's) opinion as to the danger of the decline of the pupil-teacher system, a short extract from the evidence of Mr. Tufnell, a gentleman of great ability, who was well-known by many Members of the House, and who had devoted his whole life to the promotion of education. In his examination before Sir John Pakington's Committee in 1865, Question 1,160, that gentleman said—"Out of 160 schools (in this district) receiving annual grants, more than one-half of them are now without pupil-teachers. Considering pupil-teachers as the chief reservoir from which the great supply of school-masters and mistresses is to be drawn, their diminishing quantity is a fact of great importance for the future. Their place is not adequately supplied by assistant teachers."
He was aware that the falling off was attributable, in a great measure, to the state of the labour market, and that there was great difficulty in finding young persons willing to assist in schools at the small salaries which were given; but still, he did not doubt that the want of supply was, in a great measure, attributable to the want of demand, and the third object of this Minute was to encourage a greater demand for, and thereby a more adequate supply of, pupil-teachers. Having now pointed out the defects which he wished to remedy, he might state that the plan which he proposed was based on a recommendation by Mr. Moncreiff, one of the ablest and most intelligent of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools. His attention having been directed to the great difficulties of small schools, Mr. Moncreiff offer the following remarks, which were quoted in the last Report of the late Committee of Council on Education:—"There is one part of the Revised Code which is doing an injury to the country, which it is impossible to lament too seriously. I allude to the discouragement which is thrown upon the engagement of pupil-teachers. The whole pupil-teacher system is now in danger of being upset, and, with it, that of the training schools, and if you upset those two things you bring back education to the state in which it was twenty-five years ago, and all the labour which has been undergone, and the £4,000,000 which have been expended in that office during the last quarter of a century, will be rendered useless."
It might here be right that he should explain to those hon. Members who were not conversant with the subject that every child might obtain three passes—one in reading, one in writing, and a third in arithmetic—so that forty children, if all succeeded without failure, would obtain 120 "passes;" but, at the present average rate, it would require about fifty-four children to do so. Mr. Moncreiff's plan would, no doubt, have relieved small schools; but it would have done so in a costly manner, because it would have extended the increased rate to large schools, which, as a general rule, did not require it, and that without any compensating advantage. But when he (Mr. Carry) came to look into the subject, he found he had to deal not only with pecuniary poverty, but with educational poverty as well, and he therefore proposed, in conformity with Mr. Moncreiff's suggestion, to offer the increased rate to all schools, but subject to certain educational conditions the general character of which he would presently explain. The details of the plan embodied in the Minute were these:—in the first place, all schools fulfilling the required educational conditions would be entitled to payment at the rate of 4s. per pass (instead of 2s. 8d.) on any number of passes not exceeding 120; the present rate of 2s. 8d. per pass to continue in force in respect of all passes exceeding 120. The additional grant to a school obtaining as many as 120 passes would be £8, and less in proportion to any less number of passes obtained. In the second place, the educational conditions were—first, that there should be one pupil-teacher for every forty scholars above 25, instead of above 50, as at present (or one assistant teacher for every 80 above 25); and the result would be (as regarded pupil-teachers) that, to entitle a school to the additional rate of payment, a pupil-teacher must be employed when there were 65 scholars in average attendance instead of 90, as under the present rule, and in the same proportion in respect of larger schools, 25 being substituted for fifty as the starting-point throughout. The second educational condition was, that the number of passes obtained should bear a minimum proportion to the number of scholars above six years of age in average attendance. The third was, that a certain proportion of the whole number of passes should fall under Standards IV., V., and VI. The fourth, that a certain proportion of the scholars should pass a satisfactory examination in at least one subject beyond the elementary subjects specified in the several standards. Those were the educational conditions required by the Minute. It also provided that a scholar, after having passed in the sixth standard, might bring a further grant to the school for one year only, on passing a satisfactory examination in any higher subject or subjects. This last provision would, he thought, be found a very valuable one. At present, no scholar could earn a grant for his school after he had passed in Standard VI., and the result was that the managers had a pecuniary interest in presenting the more intelligent scholars, who might be capable of mastering two standards in a year, for examination in lower standards than they were qualified to pass in. In the third place, as a further encouragement to the employment of additional pupil-teachers, the Minute provided that grants should be made to the managers of all schools fulfilling the conditions of the Minute in respect of pupil-teachers (but not otherwise), of £10 for every male pupil-teacher passing into a Training College in the first class, and of £5 for every male pupil-teacher passing in the second class. Also, that grants should be made at the examination after the first year's residence of £8 for the students placed in the first division, and of £5 for those in the second division. This would also be found a valuable provision, and would encourage managers of schools, and he hoped teachers also, as he had no doubt a portion of these grants would be assigned to them, in their endeavours to induce the pupil-teachers to remain in the profession, and become candidates for certificates in the Training Colleges. This provision would be limited to male pupil-teachers, and would not at present extend to Scotland, where the payments, as he had before observed, were still made under the old Code. He would now come to the estimated cost of this scheme. The increase for the first year would not be very considerable, from three causes. In the first place, all schools were paid for the year, down to the last day of the month preceding that of their inspection—so that a school inspected in May next, for example, would be entitled to only one month's payment of the increased rate, from the 1st of April—and so in proportion, in respect of other schools, inspected in other months of the year. Another reason would be the difficulty which would be experienced for some time of complying with the educational conditions; and the third was that there would be no premiums on the second year's examination of pupil-teachers coming in course of payment during the ensuing financial year. For these reasons the Estimate of 1867–8 for the increased rate of grants was only £13,000; and for the premiums on the admission of pupil-teachers £2,200, making a total of £15,200. It was right, however, he should frankly tell the House that in future years the cost would be much more considerable. The Estimate for 1868–9 would probably fall not far short of £40,000; and eventually, in the course of three or four years, when the scheme would be in full operation, the annual increased expenditure calculated on the present number of schools would probably exceed £60,000, or might amount to £70,000. The plan which he had described had no pretension to be a complete remedy for the various defects he had indicated, still less for those shortcomings which had been the subject of debate two nights ago, and to which the attention of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department had been directed; but he trusted it would give a stimulus to education, and produce results far more than commensurate with the cost of obtaining them. He hoped to give help to small and needy schools, already in connection with the Privy Council. He hoped to encourage small and needy schools, not in connection with the Privy Council, to place themselves in connection with it. He hoped to improve the quality of the teaching in all assisted schools, and to obtain a more adequate supply of pupil-teachers; and it would be a source of the highest gratification to him if the plan should prove conducive to the extension and improvement of the education of the poor."The schools which suffered most from the introduction of the Revised Code were the very small schools with certificated teachers. The loss of the augmentation can very seldom in their case be made up by the new grants. And even the augmentation hardly balanced the greater proportionate expensiveness of a little school kept up to the standard of efficiency. I propose, then, without drawing any line between school and school, that the first 120 'passes' in any school be paid it a higher rate—say 4s. instead of 2s. 8d. This would give but little trouble; the amount (£24) would become a fixed quantity for all except the very smallest, or the very feeblest schools. It is obvious that the additional amount would be a boon to the small, and but a trifle to the larger school. It would also diminish the relative loss by unavoidable accidents of inspection."
said, that the House was aware that ever since the Revised Code had been established efforts had been made to break down the certificate system, in order to facilitate the conditions of aid, and the extension of education. The question whether the certificate should be a necessary condition of the grant from the State was thoroughly examined by the Committee appointed the year before last on the Motion of the present First Lord of the Admiralty; and he believed he might venture to say that although no positive conclusion was arrived at, there was a very general concurrence of opinion on the part of the Committee that no change should be made in that respect. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) went into the Committee with strong views; but the result of the evidence adduced was that his opinions underwent much change, or at least modification, and a similar change took place in the opinion of at least one other member of the Committee. At the same time, there was a concurrence equally general that there were certain portions of the Revised Code which were susceptible of improvement, by which, without infringing any principle of that Code, greater encouragement might be given to schools in the poorer districts both of town and country. He should be the last man to underrate the advantages of the Revised Code, for he well knew how much it had effected. It had supplied an admirable, a searching, and a discriminating test of the education given in the schools; it had swept away a great deal of superfluous expenditure, and, above all, it had secured for every class of children, the youngest as well as the oldest, an equal share of instruction. Those were only a few of the advantages of the Revised Code; but, on the other hand, he was bound to admit that the change, coming suddenly as it did, pressed very heavily on the resources of managers, and tended in some cases to check the ardour displayed in the promotion of education. It had considerably reduced the salaries of teachers, and by so doing had affected the supply of pupil-teachers; and by its tendency to raise school-fees to meet the deficiency of the grant, it had aggravated one of the evils most strongly urged against our system—namely, that it gave aid where it was least wanted, and withheld it where the need was sorest. It was the object of the right hon. Gentleman, as the House must have perceived, to deal with all these points. As the right hon. Gentleman had truly stated, the position of the smaller as compared with the larger schools was no doubt one of hardship. The contribution of the State was a fixed quantity, whereas the expenses of the schools varied according to the numbers attending them. A large school might be conducted for 20s. a head, whereas in a small school the expense might be as high as 40s. or even 45s. per head, while the contribution of the State in both cases would be about 9s., and of course the difference had to be made up from the local contributions. The Revised Code, not as it was originally introduced, but as it ultimately passed that House, had the effect of reducing the grant from 11s. 6d. per child to 8s. In the country districts the pressure fell on the resources of the clergy, already overburdened. The decrease in the salaries of teachers had been very considerable. The salaries of the masters in 1865, as compared with 1861, had fallen from £92 to £84, and the salaries of the schoolmistresses had been diminished by the still larger proportion of about one-seventh, and there was every year an increasing difficulty in supplying the schools with proper staffs. So strongly was that felt to be the case by the Lord President and himself last year that, before they left office, they had determined to propose for the consideration of the Government a plan somewhat similar to the one which the right hon. Gentleman had just submitted to the House. An important point, no doubt, for the consideration of the House was the increased cost of these changes. They must, however, remember what had been the effect of the Revised Code in reducing the cost to the State of their educational system. In 1861 the sum expended for educational purposes by the State was £813,000; and last year it was only £626,000; they were, in fact, educating 300,000 more children in 1865 than in 1861, at a cost of £177,000 less. If this branch of their expenditure had gone on increasing in the same ratio as it had done before 1861, no doubt it would have exceeded £1,000,000 at that moment; so that it might be fairly said that the Revised Code had saved them somewhere about £400,000 per annum. But if that great reduction tended in any way to impair the efficiency of the education given, or to cut off the future supply of teachers, he was sure the House would be ready to make due provision for that which they had all most earnestly at heart—namely, the education of the poorer classes. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Corry) had endeavoured to grapple with these difficulties; but there was one point having an important bearing upon the case of the rural schools especially, for the maintenance of which additional means were to be provided, which deserved the greatest attention. He referred to the settlement of the question of the conscience clause. The chiefs of the Established Church had in many instances come forward and expressed most just and liberal views on that subject, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not during his tenure of office lose any opportunity of bringing that matter forward and endeavouring to effect its satisfactory settlement. Those among the clergy who objected to the Conscience Clause would, not improbably, accept from Parliament terms which, if consulted, they would not agree to; and the time had come when a final solution of this irritating controversy might, in his opinion, be effectually applied.
congratulated the right hon. Gentleman that he had been able to lay on the table a Minute conceived in a liberal spirit, and designed to carry out a reform of a kind and generous character towards those interested in promoting the education of the people. If there was any omission in his statement which he (Mr. Powell) regretted, it was the omission of any promise for larger building grants. There had recently been a great increase in the cost of building, and circumstances had arisen which had greatly increased the difficulty of all operations of that nature. He had hoped that whenever any amendment was made in the Revised Code, one important alteration would have been the providing of a more liberal grant towards the foundation and building of new schools. However, he hoped that during the Session of 1868 an Amendment of that kind might be introduced. He had heard with satisfaction that the Government intended to adhere to the practice of having certificated masters, the evidence in favour of which was very complete. There was some variety of opinion upon the question, and reference had been made to the United States, it being said that in many States of America there was not a system of giving certificates from the central Government. The reason, however, was that while in England we had a central grant and central certificates, they had in the United States local administration, local taxation, and, as a necessary consequence, a system of local certificates. On the Continent, wherever the educational system was of the same nature as our own, there was the same system of certificates as in England. There were now in many of the districts of the country signs rather of retrogression than of progress in popular education, and the Inspectors, who dealt with the small schools, were unanimously of opinion that those schools were falling back; it was therefore necessary that we should make some effort to stop the decay and disappointment that might otherwise ensue. The masters, it appeared, felt a great reluctance to have pupil-teachers, doubtless because of the trouble involved in instructing them; and on the part of the managers the same feeling existed, owing to the great complexity of the Revised Code; but he hoped that the portion of the Code which dealt with that point might be amended. He was sorry to find that the schools had been falling off in the supply of material—in maps, books, and illustrations. The contrast between the schools in England and Ireland was greatly to the disadvantage of the schools in this country, and we certainly had a right to expect that our schools should not be inferior to those in Ireland. Let the Irish schools be improved as far as possible; but let the English schools be equally improved at the same time. He was glad that the proposed step was to be carried out, and thought our educational system would be much benefited.
Perhaps the House will remember that the system of education in this country is a voluntary system, and that if it is pronounced by its friends and advocates, like the hon. and learned gentleman opposite (Mr. Powell), to be inefficient, the blame is not to be thrown principally on the Government, but on those by whom the present denominational mode of management has been set up. The hon. and learned Gentleman compares the case of England and Ireland; but in Ireland the system is a Government system almost entirely, and if the schools are bad, then blame the Government. But in England the foundation is voluntary, and all the Government does to the schools is to aid them. This is not from the wish of the Government, but from the wish of the different denominations themselves, for they knew very well that those schools which, were supported by rates would soon cease to be denominational. It is too much for those who are the friends and supporters of the system to turn round and complain of the Government because education on the system on which they have placed it does not go on so well as could be wished. Look at the fact as it stands. We undertook the Revised Code in 1862, when we found the expense of the grant was increasing at the rate of £100,000 a year; and when we found that the education given was very bad indeed. When we examined the children the statement of the Commissioners was borne out, for not one-fourth of the children were found sufficiently taught to be worth speaking of at all. We believed we could reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of the schools; and what have we done? We have reduced the expenses to the amount of £400,000 a year, according to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who is supplied with later information than I am; though it occurred tome, when I estimated the matter from data supplied to me by Sir James Kay Shuttleworth and other gentlemen, that the figure should be put somewhat higher. And for this decreased expenditure I believe we have given a much more efficient education than before. We were told at the time "You may do that, but you will so screw and injure the schools that they will not be worth nearly so much afterwards." But what has been the result? As my right hon. Friend opposite has stated, 1,300 new schools have come into existence, and 110,000 more children have been added as scholars—and that at an expense, proportionately speaking, of £500,000a year less than you would have been paying had not the system been altered. But then you are not contented, although the work is done better and cheaper. You are not satisfied, but must all begin tinkering and pulling to pieces the system which has produced such results, because you say fewer pupil-teachers are employed. Of course there are fewer pupil-teachers, and so there ought to be. Under the old system we were paying the whole salary for every pupil-teacher, and only part for other teachers—giving a bounty for every one of them—and of course all school managers got as many as they could. But afterwards, a grant was given to the managers to spend as they pleased and they naturally spent it as economically as they could, fewer pupil-teachers were employed, the cost of education was diminished, not only to the State, but to the managers themselves, and now we have a better, because better tested, education, at a considerably less cost. Why cannot you let the matter alone? Why are we to be asked in the name of education to give £70,000 more to the grant, in order to undo the work that has done so well? You have adopted a system faulty in principle in deference to the feelings, or, I should say, in deference to the prejudices of the different denominations. If the managers are not contented, when it is proved to demonstration that the system yields much good, notwithstanding its faulty principle, I say they are acting most unwisely, and that if they attempt to bend the bow any tighter it will break in their hands. The system is not defensible upon abstract principles, and the only way to defend and maintain it is by making it so economical and so effective that practical men may hesitate to sweep it away, knowing the immense waste of time, of power, and of trouble which would be involved before you could get a new system which, though theoretically better, would be practically as good. If you, by making it needlessly expensive, break the system down, there is nothing before it but a speedy extinction.
thought it an immense drawback in the progress of education that children of ten years of ago were generally withdrawn from school and sent out to work by their parents. The consequence was, that they learned nothing that they retained. They got a smattering of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but that was soon forgotten; and even if it were not forgotten, it was not education—it was only a means for education. Reading, writing, and arithmetic no more made an education than knives and forks made a dinner. The consequence of all this was, that only 15 per cent out of 850,000 children acquired anything like an education at all. How, then, was the present state of affairs to be remedied? By nothing less, in his opinion, than the establishment of a compulsory system, as in Prussia, where the parent of every child was made responsible for its attendance at a public school. He should also recommend the giving of State aid to evening schools to which adults might be enabled to go when their day's work was over.
said, it was an entire mistake to suppose, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bruce) seemed to suggest, that the builders of schools would accept from a Tory Administration a less measure of justice than they were prepared to accept from a Whig Government, as regarded the privileges which, in a denominational point of view, they were entitled to expect. But he wished to correct an impression that seemed to have been conveyed in some of the remarks which had been made upon the Conscience Clause and the building grants. With regard to the building grants, the diminution in them arose out of the diminution in the applications for them—a circumstance which was due to the operation of the Conscience Clause. As to the clergy of the country generally, and their view of the Conscience Clause, they had a great duty to perform, and all they wanted was fair treatment—the same fairness which was given to Roman Catholics, Wesleyans, and other denominationalists.
asked on what night the right hon. Gentleman opposite proposed that his scheme, subverting that of his right hon. Friend the Member for Calne, should be taken into consideration by the House?
replied, that his plan, so far from subverting, would, in his opinion, rather tend to strengthen the system introduced by the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe). As to fixing a day for the discussion of the Minute, he could only say that it would, in accordance with the rules, lie on the table for a month, when, if not opposed, it would be inserted in the Code for next year.
I am afraid there will be no vacant day during the ensuing month when the Minute can be discussed. Will the Government undertake that it shall not come into effect until we have an opportunity of pronouncing an opinion upon it?
replied, that such an opportunity would present itself on the Motion for going into Committee of Supply.