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WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO PROBLEMS
DR R. P. SCOTT.
IN treating of Secondary Education with special reference to those of its problems which now await solution, I do not propose to dwell on the most attractive features of the system -if system it may be called-which obtains in England. Of set purpose I say nothing of the dignity and high aims of the great Public Schools, of the excellent services rendered by our Grammar Schools and Modern Schools, or to the originality and initiative observable in the best private schools.
I propose rather to survey briefly the gradual and hesitating steps by which Secondary Education has at length won its way to the position of a great public question in England.
Amongst the problems which from an educational point of view press for an early solution are the following:-a State survey of existing schools; inspection; examination; curricula ; registration and tenure of teachers; salaries and finance generally; the mutual relations of Governing Bodies, Local Education Authorities, and the Central Authority. All these are but
different aspects of one great problem—to secure in the interests of the nation the highest possible efficiency of all its schools. And, after all, this efficiency is nothing more than a means to a still greater end, the training up of good men and women who shall be capable of answering to all the varied calls made upon the citizens of this great Empire.
Even before the early years of this century there has been a vague feeling that the public is in some measure responsible for education, and that grants of public money might reasonably be made for its encouragement. After an inquiry extending from 1818 to 1837, educational charities were effectively distinguished from other charities: a generation later, the endowed grammar schools of the country were inquired into, and in large measure were more closely adapted to existing requirements; but secondary education, as distinct from secondary schools, and from technical instruction, received no official recognition or support, until in 1889-1890, under the Technical Instruction and Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Acts, local authorities began to extend effectively over the whole area of England the benefits of a certain type of secondary education. Full recognition, however, of secondary education as a matter of national concern has been reserved for the closing decade of the century in the Bryce Commission and the Board of Education Act, 1899.
These are the most prominent features of the prolonged movement which has resulted in a partial organisation of secondary schools; yet hardly a year of the Queen's reign has passed which has not been marked by some public inquiry or Commission, or by some private or Government Bill, and though the statute which became operative in the very last year of the century may appear to be but a modest instalment in payment of a great debt, yet it cannot be doubted that the early years of the coming century will witness in England a great development and a wide extension of secondary education.
It will perhaps be enough to mention in order of date the
official inquiries, the Acts of Parliament, and the administrative changes during the century which have been of determinative importance to secondary education.
The Committees or Royal Commissions are:
1818-37. Brougham's Committee on Endowments. 1849-53. Chichester Commission.
1850-52. Oxford and Cambridge University Commissions. Public Schools Commission, under Lord Clarendon. Schools Inquiry Commission, under Lord Taunton. Technical Instruction Commission, under Sir B. Samuelson.
1861-4. 1864-7. 1881-4.
1894-5. Secondary Education Commission, under Mr J. Bryce.
Local Government Act. [Important as mapping out the whole country into local administrative areas].
Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act. [Important as providing all Counties and County Boroughs with funds for technical instruction].
Board of Education Act.
With regard to Public Departments, the following steps mark the chief administrative departures :
Committee of Council on Education established.
Charity Commission established.
Vice-Presidency of Committee of Council established, and the Department of Science and Art coordinated with the Education Department. Board of Education, including Consultative Committee, established.
Twice also has the Government of the day recognised that the organisation of education is a matter of national importance, viz. in 1869, when Mr W. E. Forster was admitted to the Cabinet with the purpose of giving the full weight of Governmental influence to his Education Bill, and again in 1892, when Mr Arthur Acland, though occupying no higher post than the Vice-Presidency of the Committee of Council on Education, was nevertheless admitted to the rank of a Cabinet Minister.
Thus the lack of legislation for secondary education in general has been due not to want of information on the subject, but to the absence of public interest in the matter and to a practical disbelief in national responsibility with regard to education as a whole.
Let us consider in order the several Inquiries into the subject, and their respective outcomes as regards legislation:
I. THE BROUGHAM COMMISSION. This was the first Commission appointed with powers of inquiry into Secondary Schools, though its range extended over charitable endowments in general. A Select Committee of the House of Commons, having considered their Report, recommended in 1835 the establishment of a permanent Commission to superintend the Administration of Charities.
2. THE CHICHESTER COMMISSION. Nothing effective was, however, done until this second Commission had reported that the abuses complained of by the former Commission had not yet been sufficiently remedied. As a consequence the Charity Commission was constituted by Act of Parliament in 1853, and empowered to conduct inquiries into Charities and to make
schemes for their administration. But it may be remarked, firstly, that such schemes were incomplete without confirmation by Parliament; and, secondly, that in the great majority of cases they dealt with non-educational charities.
3. OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY COMMISSIONS. In 1850, two Commissions were appointed to inquire into the state, discipline, studies and revenues of Oxford and Cambridge respectively. Both Commissions had a difficult task to perform owing to the open hostility of the resident members of the Universities. The Oxford Commission was exceedingly frank in its criticism of the then existing state of things. The Cambridge Commission was more guarded in its expression of opinion. But the case for reform was so strong that in 1854 and in 1856 Acts of Parliament were passed for Oxford and Cambridge, respectively embodying some of the chief recommendations made. In the reforms which followed both Universities became accessible from a wider variety of schools than had hitherto been the case.
4. THE CLARENDON COMMISSION. In 1861, a fresh Commission was appointed to inquire into nine great Public Schools-the boarding schools of Eton, Winchester, Westminster, Charterhouse, Harrow, Rugby, and Shrewsbury, together with the day schools of St Paul's and Merchant Taylors'.
The result of this inquiry was practically to reveal the need of a far wider inquiry, namely, as to the education given in endowed grammar schools generally. The legislative outcome of this Commission is seen in the Public Schools Act, 1868, a measure of exceptional legislation in favour of the nine schools above named.
THE TAUNTON COMMISSION. The Terms of Reference of this Commission were contained in the following words: "To report what measures, if any, are required for the improvement of secondary education, having special regard to all endowments applicable, or which rightly can be made applicable thereto."