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Among the twelve Commissioners on this occasion were the first Lord Lyttelton, Dr F. Temple, now Archbishop of Canterbury, Mr W. E. Forster, and Mr (afterwards Sir) T. Dyke Acland. This was the Commission to which Matthew Arnold reported on the systems of secondary education existing in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and which he sought to impress with his cry of "Organise your Secondary and Higher Instruction." One of the less obvious effects of the Report was to reveal to Parliament the striking deficiency of public provision for the secondary education of girls in England, and the capability of girls to benefit by such a provision, if made.
The Report of this Commission, which appeared in 1867, was of a most able and thorough character, and had its Recommendations been adopted, much of the subsequent waste and confusion might have been avoided. No fewer than 572 Secondary Schools were reported upon; amongst these, the efficient schools were found to be few in proportion to the needs of the community; the best schools, moreover, were boarding schools, designed chiefly for the wealthier classes. There were 100 towns with at least 5000 inhabitants which had no endowed grammar school at all; in fact the supply was utterly inadequate, and that which existed was in many cases inefficient. Of this inefficiency two examples may suffice.
In one school the Commissioners found that the Head Master and the Second Master enjoyed the freehold of their offices and had not exchanged a word for thirteen years. another case the school was found to consist of a single pupil, and the large school-room had become a billiard-room for the master, who, when asked why he did not shew greater energy in getting pupils, replied that the house was a good one, the income was sufficient, and he was not ambitious.
"At Sedbergh there were 13 pupils, the schoolrooms were in a shameful state, and the scholars, though showing signs of having had teaching, were in a thoroughly bad state of discipline, and apparently only staying
on to qualify for the school exhibitions. Thame had two masters, receiving £300 between them, one of whom had a good house also. Mr Fearon found one boy in the school. A private school close by had 80 boarders and 40 day scholars, paying higher than the grammar school fees.... Reading had three scholars, and there was no hope of the school reviving under the then master....At Whitgift's Hospital, Croydon, the late master (who died in 1863), Mr Fearon was informed, found no pupils attending the school when he came, and never had any at all during the 30 odd years that he was master....At Netherbury the master has other business, and at one time carried on continuously with the school the business of a flour and spinning mill. Mr Stanton examined the upper half of the school: "they were profoundly ignorant on all subjects." [Vol. 1. pp. 225, 6.]
"The faults that may be charged in the buildings," reports Mr Bryce, speaking of the Lancashire Schools, "are of various kinds. I will briefly touch on some of the most conspicuous :
"1. They are, as a rule, ugly without and dingy within; ugly and dingy to a degree which not even a photograph could faithfully represent.... The interior is even more repulsive; the roof is low, and the small windows admit a feeble light. The walls are mostly whitewashed, or covered with
a wash which once was white, but is now a grimy brown.
The desks and benches are old, clumsy, inconvenient. There is everywhere an air of discomfort and neglect.
2. It is seldom that they have any proper means of maintaining an equable temperature. The fireplace is usually at one end-the upper end where the teacher's desk is placed-of a longish room; and the master is fried while the boys are frozen. The floor is more frequently of stone than of wood-I have even seen it of mud, interspersed with puddles—and thus the maximum of noise and the minimum of heat is secured.
3. The room is generally dirty and untidy. There is often no porch where the children may clean their feet and hang up their caps or coats.
4. The faults which meet the eye, however, are very far from being the worst to be encountered in these schools; it is another sense which really suffers, and suffers more than can well be described...the ceilings are generally low; the windows small and few. Many have windows which do not open; in others they are not opened from fear of the violent thorough draughts which would ensue. The result must be felt to be understood." [Vol. I. pp. 279, 80.]
The chief recommendations of the Taunton Commission were:
S. M. L.
I. That a Central Authority should be appointed-a strengthened Charity Commission.
That Provincial Education Boards for the local grouping of Secondary Schools should be established.
A difficulty was felt in determining the areas of local administration and the Registrar-General's districts were suggested: but this was only in default of an official unit-area recognised for general administrative (including rating) pur
The Commissioners were fully alive to the immense gain which will accrue to Secondary Education when it can enlist on its side local interest and local support.
"The necessity of dealing with schools in groups," writes the Commission, seems plainly to imply a corresponding necessity of local provincial Boards to deal with them...local opposition to many changes would be probably diminished and perhaps disappear if a considerable district, such, for instance, as a county, were handled by itself, and the endowments were administered for the benefits of that county....It is plain that a local Board has some very great advantages over a central authority. It can act from personal knowledge of the district, and consequently can consult the feelings and peculiarities of the people. It can inquire into all important endowments on the spot, and give every person interested an opportunity of being thoroughly heard. If in any substantial degree it represents the people, it carries a force with it which it is impossible to secure in any other way." [Vol. 1. pp. 637, 638.]
3. That Boroughs should be empowered to rate themselves up to 2d. in the £ for the supply and maintenance of Secondary Schools.
4. That an Examining Council should be appointed to report upon the instruction given; half of the members of this Council were to be nominated by the Universities; the benefits of examination to be open to all, not merely to endowed, secondary schools; and all schools to be capable of inclusion in the list of 'efficient' schools.
Further, a Commissioner was to be appointed by the Central Body to each District with powers of inspection.
Such were the four Recommendations of this Commission made so long ago as 1867: they cover in effect the whole field of what was then under consideration; at that date there were no Higher Grade Schools and no Technical Institutes to raise the thorny problem of delimitation. It was indeed a golden opportunity for legislation, but the issues involved were not understood either by those in authority or by the public at large, and the main outcome of this Commission on the passing of the Endowed Schools Acts was to place the Charity Commission in the position of a Central Authority for a large number of Secondary Schools, though Secondary Education as apart from Endowed Schools was naturally beyond the purview of such an Authority.
The projected Provincial Authorities lacking touch with all administrative and rating authorities alike remained in nubibus, while the work of examination, having been already taken up by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge as well as by the College of Preceptors, was left in their hands.
Following upon this Commission came the Endowed Schools Acts (1869 to 1874) under which certain Commissioners were appointed with powers to deal with Endowed Secondary Schools. To their credit be it spoken, that within the six years of their existence they obtained parliamentary sanction for no fewer than 235 new schemes and left behind them 200 draft schemes in an advanced stage. Such unprecedented activity met with its natural reward; the Commissioners resigned office in 1874 and the Charity Commission resumed sway and conducted operations with its characteristic caution and avoidance of official friction.
The action of the Charity Commission subsequent to 1874 has no doubt been largely influenced by their interpretation of the object in the preamble of the Endowed Schools Act of 1869, viz. that of "bringing a liberal education within the reach of children of all classes." They interpreted this to mean that in general the tuition fee was to be fixed as low as possible, and
accordingly, without investigation as to the cost per pupil of efficiency in the several types of school considered, the fees were allowed to be fixed by Governing Bodies far below the minimum cost of efficiency: in determining the scales of fees permitted the Commission took no account of a possible shrinkage of endowment, or even of the inevitable rise in the cost of efficiency under the new conditions prescribed by the Commissioners themselves; in fact, while responding to the public need for a wider diffusion of liberal education, they failed to enlist public support for the work they had undertaken. And why did they fail? Because, failing to perceive that financial considerations profoundly affect the questions of schoolefficiency, they omitted to collect, to collate and to report upon the facts which it was their duty to investigate. The consequence of this omission has been that no general standards of educational efficiency have been evolved, and that a large proportion of the schemes have been issued under serious misapprehensions and hence have never been fully operative. Instead of insisting that such schemes could not in many cases from the aspect of efficiency be fully operative without further financial aid, and that the public should not look to the Commission for grants for aid, the Charity Commissioners were content to perform their legal duty of launching the schemes without concerning themselves in their future fate.
Such a policy could not of course prove final. Schools in their financial distress looked around for aid from other sources.
Such aid was immediately available on conditions. Among the subjects of instruction lately admitted into Schemes was that of natural science, and the Department for Science and Art was at hand ready and willing to extend its operations by subsidising the teaching of this subject as well to pupils of school age attending Secondary Schools as to those of maturer years.
In 1852 a Department of Science and Art had been established under the Board of Trade, but when in 1856 it