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Council on Ee State, and ide Department: "(1870). In the

it proposed to secure, partly through the medium of voluntary schools already existing or to be thereafter established, and partly by the establishment of rate-supported schools under public School Boards. It aimed, not at the destruction, but at the modification and development, of the system previously existing, following in a great degree the lines of the old foundations. The conditions on which the schools under the control of the Committee of the Privy Council on Education were, previous to the passing of this Act, assisted by the State, and the nature of the jurisdiction exercised over them by the Education Department, were described in the preliminary chapter to the Revised Code (1870). Under that system there were two classes of grants to schools. In the first place, there were grants called “ Building Grants,”made towards the cost of erecting, enlarging, improving, or fitting up elementary school-rooms, and the houses of elementary teachers. In the second place, there were “ Annual Grants” to defray the current expenses of the schools. The first of these were to cease to be made under the new Act, when its provisions came into full operation, and the necessary schools to be provided for, as far as the State was concerned, by the institution of School Boards. The “ Annual Grants” were still to continue, subject to certain prescribed conditions with which every school must comply in order to be entitled to such grants for the future, and to come within the definition of a “public elementary school." Under these modifications, speaking briefly, was the existing system to survive the new Act. In introducing that Act,

Mr. Forster said that “the first problem to be solved was how can we cover the country with good schools ?' Now, in trying to solve that problem there are certain conditions which I think hon. Members on both sides of the House will acknowledge we must abide by. First of all, we must not forget the duty of the parents. Then we must not forget our duty to our constituencies, our duty to the tas-payers. Though our constituencies almost, I believe, to a man would spend money, and large sums of money, rather than not do the work, still we must remember that it is upon them that the burden will fall. And thirdly, we must take care not to destroy in building up—not to destroy the existing system in introducing a new one. In solving this problem there must be, consistently with the attainment of our object, the least possible expenditure of public money, the utmost endeavour not to injure existing and efficient schools, and the most careful absence of all encouragement to parents to neglect their children. Our object is to complete the present voluntary system, to fill up gaps, sparing the public money where it can be done without, procuring as much as we rightly can the assistance of the parents, and welcoming as much as we rightly can the Co-operation and aid of those benevolent men who desire to assist their neighbours.”

The first provision of the Bill was to be a system of organization throughout the country. England and Wales were to be divided into school districts, which were to be the municipal boroughs in all towns

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but London in London the school districts already formed for workhouse schools, and, where they did not exist, the boundaries of the vestries-in the country the civil parishes. Returns were at once to be collected, to ascertain the present educational condition of each of these districts, and Inspectors and officers sent down to test the quality of the schools. “If in any one of these districts,” he said, “ we find the elementary education to be sufficient, efficient, and suitable, we leave that district alone. By sufficient, I mean if we find there are enough schools; by efficient, I mean schools which give a reasonable amount of secular instruction; and by suitable, I mean schools to which, from the absence of religious or other restriction, parents cannot reasonably object; and I may add that for the purpose of ascertaining the condition of these districts, we count all schools that will receive our Inspectors, whether private or public, whether aided or unaided by Government assistance, whether secular or denominational. If we find the district adequately supplied, we let it alone so long as it continues in that state, retaining for ourselves the power to renew the examination from time to time.” But in the majority of school districts the present educational provision would probably be declared insufficient, and by public provision that need must be supplied. The public elementary schools' which the Government proposed to provide would be subject to three regulations, one old and two new; the first and the old regulation being that the school should be kept up to the standard of secular efficiency which Parliament from time to time might think it necessary to exact,—the second, that after a limited period it should ' admit any Inspector without any denominational provision,' and the third being 'an effectual Conscience Clause,' which was thus worded : No scholar shall be required, as a condition of being admitted into or of attending or of enjoying all the benefits of the school, to attend or to abstain from attending any Sunday school, or any place of religious worship, or to learn any such catechism or religious formulary, or to be present at any such lesson or instruction or observance as may have been objected to on religious grounds by the parent of the scholar sending his objection in writing to the managers or principal teacher of the school or one of them.'

This clause would “apply to all schools, secular as well as denominational, and would give to the parent the power of withdrawing his child from instruction if, on religious grounds, he thought that instruction to be such as the child ought not to learn ;” and it would apply to all grants, and especially to all annual grants, whereas the “old Conscience Clause" (the principle and efficiency of which he defended from experience) was applicable only in some cases to Building Grants. These three Regulations accepted and enforced, the existing restrictions upon secular schools would be removed. There was no intention to interfere with schools which had received a past Building Grant, and would not accept the Conscience Clause. They would not receive the annual grant; but no interference would be attempted

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with them on account of the Building Grant already received. It being found that in very many districts further provision would be necessary for public elementary schools, such provision would in the first instance be sought by giving voluntary benevolence a year's law within which to set up efficient schools, and so prevent the intrusion of the new system. “If that should fail," he said, “we come at last to what will undoubtedly be looked upon as the most important part of the Bill, namely, the compulsory provision where it is wanted—if and where proved to be wanted, but not otherwise”-and the machinery for its application was to be worked by School Boards elected by the district. It would be possible for the Government to attempt to supply it (the district) by defraying the expenses from the taxes; "and I believe,” he said, " that one or two honourable gentlemen think that would be the best way. No doubt it would be possible for the Government to try to do this, but I believe it would be impossible for them to effect it. I believe it is not in the power of any central department to undertake such a duty throughout the kingdom. Consider also the enormous power it would give the central administration. Well, then, if Government cannot do it itself by central action, we must still rely upon local agency. Voluntary local agency has failed, therefore our hope is to invoke the help of municipal organization. Therefore, where we have proved the educational need we supply it by local administration—that is, by means of rates aided by money voted by Parliament, expended under local management, with central inspection and control. I wish to be frank with the House, and I therefore say that undoubtedly this proposal will affect a large portion of the kingdom. I believe it will affect almost all the towns, and a great part of the country.” The School Boards were to be elected in the towns by the Town Council, in the country by the Select Vestry, where there was one, and a Vestry where there was no Select Vestry. The Board was to consist of not less than three or more than twelve members; but there was to be no other restriction on the choice of the municipal bodies. Expressing his belief that the “wisest course was to treat them with fairness and confidence,” he said, “We might certainly add ez-officio members to the School Boards; but we have come to the conclusion that no real strength would be given to a board by putting er-officio members on it. We believe that the very men fit to be exofficio members would come in with greater influence, and almost with equal certainty, if subjected to a popular election.” Nor was it proposed to place any Government nominees on the boards, because then the Government might be held to some extent responsible for failures ; whereas now they reserve to themselves the power to say, "The work must be done, and if not done by you, then we take powers to step in and declare the School Board in default, to do the work that the Board ought to have done, and to hand it back again to the elected members of the district when they are willing to take it up.”

As to the very interesting question, Who is to pay for the

education ? the Government were not prepared to make the enormous sacrifice involved in giving up the school fees. The sum paid by parents in school fees in the previous year had been 420,0001., which would be doubled or trebled, very soon, if the scheme worked as it was hoped that it would. “Why," he said, “should we relieve the parent from all payments for the education of his child? We come in and help the parents in all possible ways; but, generally speaking, the enormous majority of them are able and will continue to be able to pay these fees. Nevertheless we do take two powers. We give the School Board power to establish special free schools under special circumstances, which chiefly apply to large towns, where, from the exceeding poverty of the district, or for other very special reasons, they prove to the satisfaction of the Government that such a school is needed, and ought to be established. We require the approval of the Governnent to be obtained, upon the ground that it would not be fair to the existing schools to allow a free school to be set up unless on very special grounds. On the other hand, it would not be fair to impose on the Town Council of large places like Liverpool or Manchester the duty of meeting the fearful educational destitution that exists by electing a School Board, and not to give them power, if they think it necessary, to establish special schools for special cases. We also empower the School Board to give free tickets to parents who they think really cannot afford to pay for the education of their children ; and we take care that those free tickets shall have no stigma of pauperism attached to them. We do not give up the school fees, and indeed we keep to the present proportions—namely, of about one-third raised from the parents, one-third out of the public taxes, and one-third out of local funds." Failing the procuring of sufficient local funds by voluntary subscription, an educational rate would be imposed in the form of a charge on the poor-rate, seldom, probably, coming near 3d. in the pound. Should it exceed that sum there would be a considerable extra grant out of the Parliamentary votes.

As to other powers, the School Board were to have the power of either providing schools themselves, or of assisting the existing schools-provided these schools were efficient up to a certain standard of secular efficiency, and had the Conscience Clause; and the condition being attached, that should they go on the principle of assistance, the Board must assist every public elementary school on equal terms, without regard to denomination. The Board were to stand in the same position as that of managers of voluntary schools, and were not to be further restricted in regard to religion than “to the extent of a most stringent Conscience Clause." “ Just look," he said, “at the ages of the children with whom we have to deal. The great majority of them are probably under ten years of age ; some are over that age and under twelve, and I fear but comparatively few are over twelve and under fourteen. We want a good secular teaching for these children, a good Christian training, and good schoolmasters. We want these schoolmasters certainly not to

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feed themselves fettered in any way; but children of these ages can hardly be supposed to require doctrinal or dogmatic teaching to any great extent. It may be said — Why do you not then prescribe that there shall be no doctrinal teaching? why not, in the first place, prescribe that there shall be no religious teaching at all ?' Why do we not prescribe that there shall be no religious teaching ? Why, if we did so, out of the religious difficulty we should come to an irreligious difficulty. We want, while considering the rights and feelings of the minority, to do that which the majority of the parents in this country really wish; and we have no doubt whatever that an enormous majority of the parents of this country prefer that there should be a Christian training for their children

—that they should be taught to read the Bible. If we are to prevent religious teaching altogether, we must say that the Bible shall not be used in schools at all. But would it not be a monstrous thing that the book which, after all, is the foundation of the religion we profess, should be the only book that was not allowed to be used in our schools ? But then it may be said that we ought to have no dogmatic teaching. But how are we to prevent it? Are we to step in and say the Bible may be read, but may not be explained ? Are we to pick out Bible lessons with the greatest care in order that nothing of a doctrinal character might be taught to the children? I do not mean to say it would not be better to attempt to do this rather than fail in the effort of meeting this matter. If the general opinion of the country was that we should try that labour, I would endeavour to encounter it; but I say that it is one of detailed supervision which does not belong to the central government, and in which the great probability is the central government would fail.” After arguing that, on the other hand, it "would not be for the Government to prescribe that the Bible must be taught, because there might be parents in some districts, who, without any dislike to religion at all, might prefer a purely secular school with the religious teaching given elsewhere ;” and shewing that, in fact, the religious difficulty was found to be theoretical rather than practical- he came to the question, how to secure, if possible, the attendance of the children ? and said, “I shall at once state what I expect may surprise the House. It is that, after much thought upon the matter, the Government has permitted me to put before the House the principle of direct compulsion.” Explaining how he had been brought to the conclusion that this principle ought to be adopted, and, in fact, in the Short Time Acts had been already admitted, so that it was neither new nor "un-English”-he showed that the indirect compulsion of the Short Time Acts was not itself sufficient for his purpose, though he hoped that, before the School Board should be at work, those Acts would be so revised as to enable them to assist the operation of the present Bill. He then said :-“What we do in the Act is no more than this. We give power to the School Boards to frame byelaws for the compulsory attendance of all children within their

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