페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

jects for which science and art grants were made from South Kensington.

The age-limit for elementary education has no statutory definition, but the Board of Education has satisfied itself, on high legal authority, that after the age of 15 a boy or girl ceases to be a child. The judgement has been canvassed more as though it were a political pamphlet than a legal decision, but we must confess that to the ordinary mind, not specially desirous that school boards should be either extolled or rebuffed, it seems to be good law and good common sense. And yet the feeling excited by the decision comes not merely from the self-importance or partisanship of those interested in school boards, it is inspired by a sense of the value of the sort of education provided by these school boards, and the neglect of Governments, past and present, to secure its provision.

It may be asked why the Minute creating higher elementary schools failed to satisfy this requirement. The answer is to be found in a speech of the Vice-President of the Board of Education.

There is no power to give these large grants in the higher elementary school minute to any school which does not teach subjects outside of the elementary echool code, and there is no Parliamentary authority to give grants for anything outside the code but scientific subjects. The general idea of Parliament is that literary education is provided for by very large endowments, that technical education is provided for by the "whiskey money" (i.e. the residue under the Local Taxation Act, 1890), and that science and art are provided for by the annual grants of the House of Commons (Parliamentary Debates, 4th series, vol. 90, p. 672).

This sentence marks the disjointed character of our educational system. It is accentuated by the subsequent and most recent action of the Board of Education. Evening schools are now aided by Parliamentary grant as secondary and technical schools, on condition that at least a quarter of the cost is provided from local sources—fees, subscriptions, endowments, or grants from the local authority. Secondary day-schools are established on the same conditions as to the extent of the Parliamentary grant. But here again we are met by the limitations of the grant. Parliament recognises nothing outside elementary education except science and art, consequently the secondary day-schools fall into two classes -science and art schools—to which the Board contributes, out of the funds placed at its disposal by Parliament, not more than three-quarters of the total expenditure of the school ;-and secondary schools applying for a grant and obtaining one on certain conditions. In these last a general education is supplied from the resources of the school, and science teaching is provided by grants from the Board.

Parliament, therefore, in the money granted to the Board of Education recognises only two things-elementary education and science and art; while in the money granted under the Local Taxation Act 1890 it also recognises technical instruction. Technical instruction, as defined by the Act of 1889, covers the subjects recognised by the Science and Art Department, and includes 'modern languages and commercial and agricultural subjects.

We may now ask how the Education Bill treats the difficulties and the problems which we have been discussing

-the numerous educational authorities, the various funds from which education is supplied, and the limited recognition by Parliament of educational subjects. In the first place it creates in counties and county boroughs one local authority for elementary education and for education which is described as other than elementary.' The new authority is thus set free from all hypothetical and arbitrary distinctions such as have hitherto hampered, and still hamper, the Board of Education. Power is given to create schools higher than elementary schools in such a graduation and of such a character as the authority may determine, having regard to the resources at its disposal and the needs of the locality, and in these schools literary subjects may be combined with scientific and technical.

The non-county boroughs and urban districts with populations respectively of more than ten and twenty thousand are not only to be independent, if they please, as regards elementary education, but are to have powers concurrent with those of the County Council as regards education other than elementary, and to spend what they think fit up to the amount which would be produced by a rate of a penny in the pound. The county authority will have the power of raising a rate to the amount of twopence in the pound, and will, besides this, have the control of the residue under the Local Taxation Act 1890, commonly called the whiskey ' money.'

The wisdom of the excision of these smaller corporations from the larger area is open to question. They may, if they please, under clause 5 of the Bill, retain their existing system for elementary education, and therewith the present conflict of authorities—the municipality, the school board, the voluntary school—with their various types of education and sources of supply.

If the option as to elementary education were withdrawn, this proviso is less objectionable. The burden thrown on the counties of taking over the elementary schools would be lightened, and the educational interest, which in many towns is strong and keen, would be fostered by this measure of autonomy.

On the other hand, it may be difficult in some parts of England, where towns are numerous, to provide for the intervening spaces of country. The withdrawal of wealthy urban districts from the rateable area of the county may cause financial embarrassment; while much of the admini. strative merits of the plan for constituting one authority will be lost if, for the purpose of elementary education, a county is dotted over with a number of small independent units. It has been suggested that the consent of the County Council should be required to this autonomy of the towns within its area, or that, at any rate, the county should retain financial control. There is much to be said for either of these propositions, but they bring us face to face with two important features of the Bill—the constitution of the new authority and its powers and resources in respect of finance.

Is the new authority well constituted for the ends which it has to serve? The Bill is elastic to the verge of vagueness on this point. The council of the county, borough, or urban district, is to act through a committee constituted in "accordance with a scheme made by the council and

approved by the Board of Education. Only two conditions are laid down as essential to the scheme. It must provide that a majority of the committee are chosen and appointed by the council, and it must provide for the appointment of experts in education and of persons acquainted with the educational needs of the area.

The Secondary Education Commission advocated a process of indirect election, nomination, and co-optation for their secondary education authority differing somewhat as to composition in counties and boroughs. Lord Rosebery, speaking on May 30, expressed himself in favour of one local authority for elementary and secondary education, and of an indirectly elected authority; partly because the frequent recurrence of elections is to be avoided, partly because the introduction of educational interests into municipal elections would give them enhanced dignity and importance. One may hope that this would be so, but it is tolerably certain

that educational interests have not hitherto excited very great attention in the elections to school boards.

There is a general preference for indirect election, but for some reasons it would be very important that the council of the county or borough should be largely represented, or that it should even be in a majority on the committee through which it must act.

The committee will have to incur certain financial liabilities, and it should, in the opinion of many, possess financial control. If its budget is to be revised and amended by the council, its independence of action will be gone. If it is to have a free hand, not only as regards the money placed at its disposal by Parliament, but also as to the exercise of rating powers for educational purposes, there arises the necessity that the committee should have behind it the force which comes from a popular element in its composition. In other words, a majority of its members must be the elected members of the council. Direct election may not create or maintain a good educational authority, but the authority must be in some measure representative if it is to retain the confidence of its public.

We may now consider the financial resources of the committee, first for elementary and then for secondary education. For elementary education there is first the Government grant; and it may be hoped that the forms which this has assumed, the block grant, fee grant, aid grant, will now be simplified. There are the rates on which the maintenance of the voluntary schools will henceforth make a large additional demand, and there are endowments to which no allusion is made in the Bill, but which will need to be dealt with. Out of these funds the local authority will be required to maintain all the elementary schools and to provide, from time to time alter and improve, and keep in good repair, all but the voluntary schools.

For secondary education there is the residue under the Local Taxation Act 1890 amounting in 1901 to more than a million. County Councils have power to raise money by rate up to twopence in the pound, the Local Government Board may fix a higher rate by Provisional Order, on the application of the council of a county or county borough, while the autonomous boroughs and urban districts may raise another penny. Fees may be charged for education other than elementary, and the local authority, though it has no power to deal with endowments, will probably be able, by offer of subsidies, to come to terms with the smaller grammar schools, and to utilise the endowments within its area.

These resources are not large, and inasmuch as the same authority will, as regards counties and county boroughs, be responsible for both kinds of education, it may be feared that the additional charge which voluntary schools will make on the rates may deter the councils from the free exercise of their rating powers for the higher education,

The disinclination of the ratepayer to meet the growing needs of education may have an effect other than the mere diminution of educational resources. Already we hear a demand, becoming constantly more urgent, that Parliament should come to his assistance, and that a larger sum should be given to elementary education from the Imperial Exchequer. This may set free money for education other than elementary, but it must also react on the constitution of the new education authority. The larger the sum contributed by the general taxpayer, the smaller the reasons for demanding local representation and popular control, the greater the probability that persons nominated by the Board of Education may occupy a considerable space on the com

mittee of the 1.c occupy a conominate

The smallness of the resources which the Bill provides becomes more apparent when we consider that the new authority will not only be expected to make provision for higher education, but to take some steps toward the more complete and efficient system for the training of teachers.

In elementary education the need of such training has been long recognised. Few indeed, if any, are likely to possess an innate capacity for the maintenance of discipline in large classes, the power of arresting and keeping the attention of children, and of putting knowledge in such a form as would reach young and uninformed minds. In secondary schools it has been thought until very recently that anyone could teach who knew a little more than the learner.

The need of larger appliances for the training of teachers in elementary schools is apparent in the report of the Board of Education for 1900-1901. It appears from that report that 139,818 teachers are engaged in the teaching of more than four and a half million children. Of this number of teachers not more than 62,085 are certificated, and of these again not more than 36,020 have passed through training colleges.

Many of those who have not passed through colleges

that 19cation for Tols is appares for the trou

« 이전계속 »