Amazing articles on just about every subject...

Education - The Modern State System

( Originally Published 1921 )

THE aim of this chapter is to trace the steps by which, within the last twenty years, the State has come in a large measure to control and to supply secondary education. The central point on which attention is to be fixed is the Education Act of 1902. This Act largely carried out the recommendations of the Royal Commission which reported in 1895, and was anticipated as regards technical education by the Technical Instruction Act of 1889. Its results need to be traced till we come to the next great landmark, Mr Fisher's Act of 1918.

Though the Act of 1902 was the first avowed recognition of the principle that secondary education is a fitting object of public expenditure, the State had in fact, though not in name, been aiding secondary education before that date in three distinct ways.

(I) The grants of the Science and Art Department, South Kensington, originally meant to help classes rather than schools, had come to dominate a whole body of schools. It is true that an "organised science school" was not necessarily, in the ordinary sense of the term, a school at all; in fact, where it was connected with a school, it consisted only of a particular department or of particular classes of that school. But the system of South Kensington grants brought with it the consequence that, provided the instruction given in a school was mainly scientific, that school was eligible to receive considerable financial assistance from the State. The only conditions were that the parent's income should not exceed 500 (originally 400) a year and that thirteen hours a week (originally more) should be given to science. At the time when the Commission reported in 1895, payment by results in these schools was being abolished; henceforth three grants were to be given—an attendance grant, an examination grant which was to be in respect only of the higher courses, and a variable grant dependent on inspection and oral examination. Inspection was to cover all subjects taught, literary as well as scientific. In other words science schools were assuming a more definitely secondary character. The past system of South Kensington, however, was severely criticised by the Commission. Their grants had narrowed the curriculum and the method of determining them had encouraged "cram." South Kensington schools "suffer from a permanent examination fever1," and the Commission recommended that the Science and Art Department, which had since 1884 been virtually independent, should be fused with the Committee of Council under the new designation of "Board of Education" This recommendation was carried out by the Board of Education Act, 1899.

(2) The Technical Instruction Act, 1889, was another means of introducing State subsidies to secondary education by a side-wind. It permitted county councils to spend money not merely on technical education in the strict sense, that is, direct preparation for a specific occupation, but on such general education as was necessary to enable the pupil to profit by a true technical course. The county councils, which had been brought into existence in the previous year, were allowed to raise a penny rate for technical instruction understood in this broad sense. Probably little would have come of the Act but for a fortunate accident. In 1890 the government proposed a scheme of legislation for the purpose of reducing the number of public houses. In order to compensate publicans whose licenses were taken away, an additional tax was imposed on all alcoholic liquors. The bill imposing the tax was passed, but that authorising its intended application met with such opposition from the prohibitionists, who would not listen to any proposal for compensating the publican, that it was dropped. Parliament found itself in the most unusual position of possessing a sum of money with which it did not know what to do. Arthur Acland, afterwards Minister for Education (1892-1895), and the leading educationalist on the West Riding County Council, suggested in a lethargic and half-empty house that the money should be handed over to the county councils and ear-marked mainly for the purpose of technical instruction. This was agreed to; and the county councils were thus enabled, or rather compelled, to provide for technical education without the necessity of levying a rate, which most of them would have been very reluctant to do. It was the experience which they acquired in this branch of education which paved the way for their appointment as the secondary and elementary education authority by the Act of 1902. The sum so handed over every year was always known as the "whiskey money." So curious a source of revenue, however, entailed one unfortunate result: the funds available for technical education increased whenever drinking increased and diminished with a spread of temperance, so that, if the total abstainers could have persuaded the whole country to "go dry," there would have been no funds left ! The Commission found in 1895 that 93 out of 129 county and county borough councils were spending the whole of the whiskey money on education but that in only thirteen cases was a rate levied. Of the £317,000 directly administered by county councils', £188,000 was spent on technical education in the strict sense, £17,000 was used to subsidise secondary schools, £39,000 was given in scholarships, £14,000 went to evening continuation schools, and £22,000 was devoted to the training of evening school teachers 2. No large proportion of the money therefore went to aid secondary education in the strict sense of the term, but the bulk was spent on the education of pupils of secondary school age, not of adults; and the Commission notes that county council grants had tended to modify the curricula of schools.

(3) School Boards, chiefly in large towns, though in-tended to supply only elementary education, had been led by the deficiency in the less expensive forms of secondary education to overstep the strict limit of their functions, and had set up "higher grade" schools. The Commission noted that many schools had assumed this name which differed from other elementary schools only by charging a higher feel. But the real higher grade schools, of which there were about sixty, kept their pupils to a higher age: they were in effect what the Schools Inquiry Commission had wished to term "third-grade secondary" schools. The secondary part of their work could as a rule only be financed by turning the upper classes into an organised science school under South Kensington. The Commission of 1895 held that higher grade schools could not, "speaking generally, share in the grant distributed by the Education Department nor be supported out of the rates, although in a few instances this seems to have been attempted 2." But the actual words of the Education Act of 187o did not seem to impose such a restriction, for an elementary school was defined as one "in which elementary education is the principal part of the education given." Acting on this apparent permission, the London School Board began to use the rates freely for such post-elementary education till it was brought to a sudden stop in 1899 by the action of Mr Cockerton, the Local Government Board auditor, who surcharged all expenditure incurred on pupils over fifteen years of age. This decision was upheld by the courts in 1900: thus no way was left save by legislation to avoid the abandonment of the schools which were already in existence. A temporary act was hurried through to allow the expenditure for the current year, and the government promised to introduce a comprehensive measure dealing with the whole organisation of education as soon as possible. This was duly brought forward and passed, and became the Education Act of 1902.

Before dealing with this Act, we must, however, return to the Royal Commission of 1895, generally known as the Bryce Commission. The question really before this body was whether or no there should be a State system of secondary education. It practically reported that private endeavour had failed to produce an adequate supply. It was true that the Endowed Schools Commissioners appointed under the Endowed Schools Act had before their disappearance in 1874 made no less than 902 schemes for reforming individual schools, and that their successors the Charity Commissioners had made an addition of 295 schemes. Great improvements had thus been effected: for instance, in the West Riding there were thirty-six efficient schools (eight of which were first-grade) against twenty-eight (of which only three were first-grade), mostly inefficient, in 1865. But the deficiency in the supply of secondary schools which had been pointed out by the Schools Inquiry Commission had only in part been remedied. Many of the small grammar schools were crippled by lack of funds and some were situated in such small places that their removal was desirable. The number of secondary school pupils at the outside was not more than 2.5 per thousand of the population. It varied greatly in different counties, Warwickshire, with the numerous schools which had been set up at Birmingham out of the King Edward's foundation, having 5.2 against Lancashire's 1.1. Schools were very deficient in the purely agricultural areas such as Devonshire, and in such districts education was little valued.

For these reasons they were of opinion that an adequate supply of inexpensive secondary schools could only be secured by State intervention. They were also influenced by the fact that the State was already virtually subsidising secondary education of a scientific kind and that thereby an unfair discrimination against the more literary type of education had come into being almost unnoticed. There was in fact a danger of the old grammar schools being entirely supplanted by the more modern technical and scientific forms of education, and this prospect the Commission did not welcome. "Such schools represent especially the tradition of literary education. There is little danger at the present day that we shall fail to recognise the necessity of improving and extending scientific and technical instruction. It is less certain that we may not run some risk of a lopsided development in education, in which the teaching of science, theoretical or applied, may so predominate as to entail comparative neglect of studies which are of less obvious and immediate utility1."

There was not entire unanimity in favour of State intervention among the witnesses. No doubt this was clue in a large measure to the atrocious policy which the Committee of Council had been pursuing in regard to elementary schools for the last thirty-five years. Temple, at that time bishop of London, and surely a progressive educationalist, was so haunted by visions of examinations and payment by results that he could not reconcile himself to the change. The fact that the responsible minister would necessarily be a party politician, coming in and going out with his party, did not inspire confidence. Finally there was the fear of bureaucracy, that is to say, of the permanent officials gathering into their hands more power than was intended and, as the Report put it, "managing secondary education on the same centralised system as primary." This has to some extent come to pass. Still, the Commission was probably right in regarding State control as the lesser of two evils, and their prophecy that the combination of secondary and elementary education under one department would do more to liberalise elementary education than it would to mechanise secondary2 has, on the whole, been fulfilled. Elementary education had grown up under government auspices and teachers trembled at the thunders of Whitehall; secondary education had been accustomed to enjoy independence and continued to assert it. It is not often that a change of name brings a change of character; but the Board of Education in its most bureaucratic days never converted the negation of education into a system, as did the old Committee of Council in the sixties.

Educationalists were undoubtedly groping for some arrangement by which secondary education could be controlled and financed by the State without becoming subject to the party system. The Commissioners were clearly aware of the difficulty, but they were afraid to face it. This was inevitable. Since the war we have become critical even of the most fundamental principles of the British constitution and of parliamentary government. Up to 1914 they were sacrosanct; every statesman prided himself on being constitutional, and it was not likely that any reputable politician would undermine the constitution for so small a thing as educational efficiency. The problem is with us still : it is doubtless responsible for the attraction of schemes of devolution to many minds : and it is therefore worth while dwelling on the exact nature of the difficulty and the form in which it presented itself to the Commissioners.

It has always been regarded as an integral part of the Constitution that departments which spend the public money should be represented by a minister responsible to Parliament. Under the party system this means that the education minister comes into office with his party, goes out with it however efficient he may be, and is rarely likely to be turned out however inefficient he may be. The system, which was designed to secure parliamentary control, works out in a manner quite the reverse. The minister himself is responsible to Parliament, that is to the party whips, who have no interest in real educational efficiency, with the result that the permanent officials, who are the real authors of educational policy, are responsible to nobody. During the war the party system was in abeyance and the novel departure was made of appointing a real educationalist as President of the Board. The contrast has made us realise the loss which education sustained by the fact of the first seven presidents having no interest in education before they held the post or after they quitted it.

A proposal was laid before the Commission which, if it had been possible to adopt it, would have left State education in educational hands. It was suggested that the minister should be assisted by a council composed of permanent representatives of the Crown and members elected by the universities and the teachers. The Commission came to the inevitable conclusion that the proposal was inconsistent with the Constitution. And indeed it was; for either the minister must obey the council or the council must obey the minister. If the minister obeyed the council, he would sooner or later come into collision with the party whips. If the council obeyed the minister, the public would in time realise that the party politicians were over-riding their expert advisers and would draw their own conclusions. The only way out of this difficulty would be the restriction of the cabinet system, so that such a committee could be represented in the House by a chairman who did not go in or out with the cabinet. A far more drastic remedy has now come within the horizon of practical politics, namely to remove education and many other matters from the Imperial Parliament altogether and to hand them over to provincial parliaments; but it seems rash to assume that such local parliaments would avoid the party system any more than the Imperial Parliament.

The Commission went as far as it dared in suggesting that there existed a large province in education which lay quite outside the sphere of parliamentary politics, viz. all that is concerned with membership of the teaching profession, with inspection, and with examination, " the means by which educational ideals can best be made to penetrate the educational machinery, scholastic and political." So far as this province was concerned, they accepted the idea of a council. Such a body would undoubtedly have become exceedingly powerful; for, whatever is laid down by law, the persons who possess zeal and knowledge will, under such circumstances, always be able to win the day against those whose position rests only on law. It is possible that in course of time nothing would have been left to the officials of Whitehall save the working of the parliamentary machinery. The ministry and officials, however, were careful to see that no such body was set up; they indeed permitted two shadows of it, the Teachers' Registration Council and the Consultative Committee, to wander like ghosts about Whitehall; but they rejected all the proposals of the former and confined the latter to the writing of occasional reports.

After discussing the constitution of the central authority, the Commission naturally proceeded next to consider the local authority. They found that scholastic opinion was against all forms of local control, while the administrative and political witnesses were all in its favour. Here again the teachers' objection doubtless was that local elections were usually conducted on party lines and, in the case of school board elections, on denominational lines. But the opposite case was well put by one of the witnesses:—"While elementary education may properly be imposed on a nation, the higher education ought only to be organised in response to the people's demand; hence it ought to be mainly under popular control," and German secondary education was in consequence to be regarded as too centralised. The meaning we take to be that, if you are starting elementary education for the first time in a country, the people are ex hypothesi too ignorant to be entrusted with its initiation ; but, if you have reached a stage at which an extensive system of secondary education is possible, there exists ex hypothesi a fair degree of enlightenment. In that case the parents have sufficient idea what they desire to doom your system to failure if you do not take account of their wishes.

The Commissioners, however, did not recommend handing over secondary education to the school boards, the existing authority for elementary education; the majority of the witnesses were unfavourably impressed by the smaller boards. Nor did they propose any new ad hoc body. The bulk of the electors would probably not have voted; and nothing expresses the public will less than a body about which the public is so apathetic that it will not take the trouble to exercise the franchise. Though the Commissioners were not very explicit, they seemed to favour the county councils, reinforced by expert co-opted members and possibly by representatives of the central authority and of teachers. The assumption that the local authorities for secondary and for elementary education would be distinct led them into difficulties over the higher grade schools which, though doing secondary work, were counted as elementary. In the Act of 1902 the Government cut the knot by making the county councils the authority not only for secondary but also for elementary education.

The Commissioners were anxious to bring the large public schools and other boarding schools under the central authority, though their non-local character made it impossible to bring them under any local authority. They believed that the best of the private schools would welcome inspection if it carried with it official recognition; ultimately recognition should be made compulsory. To allay the fears of non-provided schools, they suggested that the education authority should not be permitted to found new schools where the existing supply of recognised schools was adequate: but they contemplated that a certain number of such schools would be willing to be transferred to the authority. Unfortunately this part of the report remained a pious aspiration. Existing schools were found to have the deepest distrust of local authorities and a very limited trust in the central authority. Only financial necessity could make them part with their independence. The Act of 1902 was obliged to omit all reference to existing schools, and its effect was thus to remove deficiencies in the supply but not to create a true State system of secondary education. Much has, however, been done by administrative action to bring the bulk of the older schools in return for Board of Education grants, which began in 1901, under the central, though not under the local, authority. A State system cannot, however, be regarded as satisfactory so long as the schools which can afford to do so insist on boycotting it. They may be few in numbers and some of them might reasonably be suspected of doing so from an anti-democratic bias : but this is not the case with all, and the lamentable fact must be admitted that neither parents nor teachers have any great confidence in the State as compared with private endeavour. Till the State is capable of winning that confidence, it is desirable that it shall have rivals to stimulate it by competition; yet it is an unhappy sight to see the institutions with the greatest attractions of antiquity and prestige, which moreover educate a very high percentage of the most successful pupils, moving in an orbit of their own outside what without them can be called a State system but cannot be called a national system of secondary education.

As regards government and county council grants to the schools, the Commissioners recommended that there should be no "payment by results" and no differentiation in favour of scientific subjects. No legislation was needed to carry out this part of the report, and action was taken rapidly. In 1895 literary subjects were made compulsory in organised science schools; in 1897 payment by results finally disappeared from elementary schools; and in 1901 the newly constituted Board of Education began to make grants to secondary schools. Schools which did not wish to receive grants could nevertheless, by submitting to inspection, obtain "recognition." We will return to the present conditions as regards the number of grant-earning and recognised schools later.

Perhaps the most important recommendation of all has been left till last. The establishment of an adequate supply of secondary schools and of a system whereby they should be financed by public authority was a necessary condition of realising Huxley's ideal of the "ladder" from the elementary school to the university. It would be a mistake to suppose that there was ever a period when no boys from humble homes found their way to Oxford and Cambridge; and the success of some of the large town grammar schools, such as Manchester, Birmingham, and Bradford had considerably added to the number in Victorian times. But such cases were exceptions. The boy of outstanding ability in a large city stood a very fair chance of being discovered, in smaller towns he stood little and in rural districts none. The mass of pupils whose capacities were well above the average but not actually outstanding had few opportunities. The establishment of a State system rendered normal what had previously been exceptional. The witnesses who were examined by the Commission differed as regards the desirable number of free places in State-supported schools, the estimates ranging from one-third to one-twentieth. The Commissioners did not venture to suggest a percentage but contented themselves with expressing the view that free places should be given to " candidates of exceptional rather than of average ability." They discussed the difficult problem of the right selection of children aged twelve by competitive examination, and had to be content with leaving it as a insoluble. Scarcely any witness favoured the idea of free secondary education, which, however democratic it sounds, means in effect using the rates to pay for the education of the prosperous classes. So long as enough free places are given, every fee-paying pupil increases the total sum available for carrying on the school, and the fee-paying pupil is thus rendering an advantage to the free-placer. In order to give the fullest share in the system to the really poor, what is needed is not so much an increase in the number of free places as subsistence allowances which will induce the poorest class of parents not to refuse the Offer of a free place because of the loss of wages which their child incurs by remaining at school.

The chief extension of the free-place system occurred in 1907, when it was made obligatory on every secondary school as a condition of receiving the full government grant to admit 25 per cent. of free-placers. The Report of the British Association for 1918 contains an interesting review of the working of the system, which shows that it has on the whole been successful in fulfilling the aims of its authors. The few weaknesses which are revealed are such as we should expect in the working of any new system, and remedies are suggested; but a history of education is hardly the place to discuss them.

The Act of 1902 followed the Royal Commission of 1895 after a much longer interval than the acts which gave effect to the recommendations of the Public Schools and Schools Inquiry Commissions. Even so it might have been delayed still longer but for the situation created by the Cockerton judgment. For the first time elementary and secondary education were treated as part of a single whole. The two forms of education starting at the two ends had at length met in the middle. The elementary school age had risen till it had reached fourteen : a type of secondary school with a lower leaving age than the old grammar schools was now to be founded in considerable numbers.

As we are only concerned here with the effects of the Act on secondary education, we are able to omit all discussion of the great controversial feature which alone at the time interested politicians and a large section of the general public, the clauses which threw the voluntary schools on the rates. But, in order to understand the choice of the county councils as the authority for both kinds of education, it is necessary to refer to their predecessors in the sphere of elementary education, the school boards. The school board had controlled the education of a single town or village; it did not matter whether the town were London or whether the village contained only a few hundred inhabitants. The big boards worked fairly well, the small ones worked badly. In many villages it was impossible to find members with any educational views. But in any case, if the functions of the local educational authority were to be enlarged so as to cover secondary education, the smallest area which could be put under one authority must be large enough to support a secondary school. The smaller boards must therefore in any case disappear; but it would have been possible to substitute larger ad hoc bodies. But the school boards, which were elected on a crude system of proportional representation (the single transferable vote not having yet been thought of), were generally elected on strictly denominational lines. It is true that, once elected, the members usually laid aside their theological weapons; but it was feared that, under any system of ad hoc election, denominational firebrands would be elected rather than educationalists. On the other hand the county councils' had been successful in their management of technical education, and they were the one body in the sphere of local government in which the public had displayed any interest and which had attracted men of real administrative capacity to stand for election. It does not appear at first sight to be a qualification for an education authority that its members have been chosen not with a view to their educational capacities but to their ability in managing roads, police and asylums; but it is our English way to adopt lines which appear to work well, regardless of logic. In order, however, to secure that the county councils should not be left without expert advice, it was enacted that their powers, other than financial, should be delegated to a committee, on which, in addition to their own members, they should appoint experts from outside, some of whom should be women. The suggestions of the Royal Commission as to the representation of the Board of Education and of teachers on the committee were not carried out by the Act.

The need of the Act was shown by the fact that up to 1912 the county and county borough councils had founded 330 new schools and taken over 53 existing schools. It stands therefore as a great landmark in the history of English secondary education; for by it the two great problems of an adequate supply of schools and of transference of the best pupils from the elementary schools received their solution. This work is permanent. It cannot be prophesied with equal certainty that the choice of local education authority will stand the test of time; the school boards probably felt as secure of their position in 1895 as do the county councils now. There are already indications of a feeling that local interest is insufficiently secured by the centralisation of powers in the hands of a body which controls so large an area as the county councils, though this danger does not affect the county boroughs. The management of a school should of course largely voice the opinions of the area from which the school draws its pupils, but in a large county the county council is almost as non-local a body as the Board of Education. On the other hand a county council is more likely to secure differentiation of type than a body which controls only one school; and a lesser body is unlikely to found training colleges and schools for highly specialised purposes. But many of the county and county borough authorities are on the other hand too small for the latter purpose without combination. The fact is that the nature of the unit for local educational purposes is in each case the result of historical accidents1.

The reader may wish to have some information as to the numbers of schools of various types in the year 1912, as ten years would appear to give time for the Act to have produced its effect and the Act was the last important step towards increasing the supply of schools. It is, however, no easy matter to give the desired information. No complete list of secondary schools exists. The Board publishes a list of grant-earning and recognised schools; but half the schools represented on the Headmasters' Conference and a fair number of those represented on the Headmasters' Association have never sought recognition, and there are besides a considerable number of private schools. The number of schools represented on the Headmistresses' Association which are not on the Board's list is much smaller. In practice it is therefore necessary to ignore the mass of private schools, except the few which have been inspected, and the endowed schools, mostly small, which are neither inspected nor represented on any of the three above-mentioned bodies of heads of schools.

The problem is complicated by the fact that there are no less than five bases of classification which are of some importance : <> (a) According to the sex of the pupils—boys', girls', or mixed.

(b) According to the leaving age, where no hard and fast line exists, and the most that can be done is to divide according as the proportion of pupils over sixteen to those between twelve and sixteen is over 25 per cent., between 25 and Io per cent., or under Io per cent.

(c) According to their relation to the Board of Education —grant-earning, recognised, or independent.

(d) According to their relation to the Local Education Authority—provided, subsidised, or independent.

(e) According to curriculum, where again no hard and There are 62 administrative counties and 80 county boroughs.

fast line exists, such as that between Gymnasien, Realgymnasien and Realschulen in Germany.

(a), (b), and (c).

The facts for English grant-earning and recognised schools are obtained by adding up the schools as given in the List of Secondary Schools in England Recognised by the Board of Education as Efficient, 1913. The similar list for Welsh schools does not distinguish between grant-earning and efficient. To give a greater completeness to the list, we have assumed that the remaining schools on the Head-masters' Conference would come into the highest class as regards leaving age, the remaining schools on the Head-mistresses' Association and half those on the Headmasters' Association into the second class, and the remaining schools on the Headmasters' Association in the third class. But to prevent an unwarranted appearance of exactitude we have given only round numbers except in the first case, where there is not much likelihood of error.

It will be noticed that the leaving age appears to be higher in the case of girls than of boys. This is partly explicable by the deflection of boys from local schools caused by the existence of the great public schools and is a mere paper result; for in many cases the presence of a single additional pupil over 16 is sufficient to remove a school from one class to another. But the statistics as regards mixed schools and the number of cases, especially in the industrial districts, where, of two parallel schools, the girls' is in a higher class than the boys', show that the boy, whose education is thought of by the parent as vocational, is taken from school earlier than the girl, whose education is regarded as general. It is possible, however, that the better diffusion of talent among the teachers in the case of girls' schools, which is encouraged by the non-existence of anything corresponding to the large public schools for boys, may produce a half-unconscious recognition of the great mass of girls' schools as giving a more valuable education. The high leaving age of the small secondary schools of rural Wales is noticeable when one goes through the schools individually.

The following table shows a classification of grant-earning and recognised schools according to the character of the governing body.

The period between the passing of the Acts of 1902 and 1918 was thus marked more by the silent changes brought about by the activities of local education authorities and the influence of inspection than by any outstanding legislative or administrative change. This is, however, perhaps the best point at which to treat the history of the various attempts to secure a teachers' register.

The idea of a registering authority which should ultimately fulfil for the teaching profession the same functions as those performed by the General Medical Council and the Incorporated Law Society for the medical and legal professions is as old as the Schools Inquiry Commission. In a sense it was more pressing in 1869 than it is at the present day, since there were then more unqualified private schoolmasters and mistresses. We have seen that the proposal to establish such an authority was omitted from the Endowed Schools Bill during its passage through Parliament. It was revived and strongly recommended by the Bryce Commission, and the Board of Education Act, 1899, provided for its institution. Its subsequent fortunes were not happy. A registration council was actually set up and a register established in 1902. It was arranged in two columns, one for elementary teachers and the other for secondary. The National Union of Teachers objected to this division as preventing the transfer of an elementary teacher to a secondary school. The Board, rather than make up their minds to an amendment of the scheme, secured the passage of an Act in 1907 under which they withdrew the register altogether. Their action was some-what of a shock to progressive educationalists, as it seemed to betoken vacillation, the absence of a fixed policy, and a yielding to expediency. For some years the Board could not be induced to take any further action : they vetoed the proposals of the leading teachers' organisations on the pretext that they did not provide for the inclusion of certain specialist teachers such as those of domestic subjects and of physical training. It was not till 1912 that a new registering authority was set up. It is composed of an independent chairman and forty-four members, representing in equal proportions university, secondary, elementary, and specialistic teachers. At present' the register is drawn up practically by taking things as they stand, a fee of one guinea and five years' satisfactory experience being all that was demanded of existing teachers. After 1920 it was intended that no one should be admitted unless he should have fulfilled the conditions which the Council should lay down; but the war upset the calculations of the promoters of the scheme. On the academic side the conditions are practically in operation; a degree, the Board's certificate for elementary teachers, or certain substitutes for the degree accepted in the case of specialist teachers. But the value of the register virtually depends not only on the requirement of training from all save university teachers, but also on making registration a condition of being allowed to teach in a recognised school. Compulsion could of course be introduced by stages, e.g. by first requiring that a certain proportion of the staffs should be registered and afterwards by allowing no new teacher to be appointed whose name was not on the register. The next few years are likely to see a solution of this long-standing problem.

The year 1918 stands out as a landmark in English educational history. At the very time when the Germans were inflicting on the allied armies a series of defeats which might well have been regarded as the precursors of the subjugation of Great Britain and France to the German Empire, the British Parliament was quietly passing Mr Fisher's Education Bill which had been crowded out by the Representation of the People Act during the pre-ceding session. By the time the' check of July had turned into a retreat, the retreat into a rout, and the rout into the débâcle of November, the Act was on the statute-book. The provisions directly concerned with secondary education are few. But the requirement of a continuation school training till eighteen of all persons who have not continued their full-time training till sixteen, or reached the standard of a school leaving examination, if it does not exactly make a secondary education compulsory on all, at least makes schooling during the secondary age compulsory. The Act also requires that free places shall be given to all who are fitted to receive a secondary education and desirous of receiving it; and time will show how far these two provisions taken together will increase the number of pupils in secondary schools. The provisions of the Medical Inspection Act are also made applicable to secondary schools. By another important Act of the same year provision was made for the pensions of secondary school teachers. But it is clear that this annus mirabilis marks the opening of a new period in our educational as well as our general history; and it is not the province of this volume to anticipate the history of this new period.

The advent of universal schooling is probably the greatest fact in the history of that most crowded century in the record of human development—the century from 1815 to 1918. If we look back over the centuries, we seem to find a tremendous acceleration in the rate at which progress travels. The landmarks of the past—the invention of tools, the taming of animals, the discovery of agriculture, the invention of writing, the use of metals—stand centuries apart. The first millennium B.C. reveals the first consider-able acceleration; but the first millennium A.D. is a period during which, looking at the whole world, we hardly know whether there was advance or retrogression. From about 1400 A.D. advance has been becoming increasingly more rapid. Printing diffused knowledge among the upper and middle classes of the Western world; the geographical discoveries brought all mankind into a partial contact; science began to revolutionise the outlook of the intellectual classes and the standard of comfort amongst all. The world of 1800 A.D. differed more from the world of 1400 A.D. than the world of 1400 A.D. from the world of 600 B.C. But the nineteenth century seems to have progressed as rapidly as the four preceding centuries. The outlook of the educated European began to spread to all classes of European society and to a minority of the members of races outside Western Europe. Another century may see a practical homogeneity of the race. For, whatever had been gained up to i800, was virtually the possession of a minority in each country. A bolshevist rising in any country of Europe in 1800 would, by sweeping away the "bourgeoisie," have sent back civilisation to 2600 B.C. in a few months. Not that it would have made these countries all that Russia is now; for the unsophisticated Roman or Greek or Arab would have had a sense of moral and social responsibility which the oppressed Russian peasant lacks. But the gains of twenty-four centuries were stored with the few. The nineteenth century has many bad features, obviously bad: its industrial system produced a submerged tenth lower in the scale of humanity than any large class which existed in England in the two preceding centuries; their environment was more squalid, their interests lower, their opportunities for development more stunted. But it developed the antidote. It realised that the civilisation which the intellectual classes had developed was maintained by being handed on from one generation to another by two means, the printed page and a deliberate education. A civilisation based on oral tradition and unsystematised transmission might be lost as completely as many a civilisation of the past must have been lost on the occurrence of some unrecorded Völker-wanderung. Greek and Roman civilisation was not lost, because it was written, and became a living force again when the Renaissance used the organisation of a systematic schooling to spread it. The country folk of Stuart and Hanoverian times had undoubtedly a not ignoble traditional civilisation; it was on the national ideals of the mass of the people that the more self-conscious civilisation of the intellectual classes was built up. But the agricultural and industrial revolutions almost destroyed this traditional civilisation; it was cut adrift from the conscious civilisation; class ceased to know class; but for the Wesleyan movement the religious basis of social tradition would have been lost; and there was a danger that a large portion of the people would become without tradition, without State, without religion, without means of self-expression. Story and song, music and dance, worship and patriotism gone, what but the primitive instincts is left? Education was called in to prevent the loss of what had been before; but it was the germ of an advance beyond anything that had yet been. It cannot be judged on what it has yet accomplished; for its work is only beginning. It is perfectly true that before the nineteenth century there had never been a nation all or practically all of whose members could read and write; but it would betoken a sad lack of vision to think that the nineteenth century produced a nation all of whose members were educated. The past century gave everyone the tools by which a man can make for himself a path to the inheritance of the world's stored experience but it did not teach everyone how to use them. It made a good beginning; the results already gained have made a new age in the future possible; but it had two tremendous difficulties to encounter. The first is obvious; the same imperious necessity which brought it into being limited its immediate success. It strove to humanise many whom industrial and social conditions were dehumanising. The second was its confinement to the years of childhood: even fourteen was obtained as a leaving age only at the close of the century. Childhood can only forge the tools by which intellectual education can later be won and form the habits on the foundation of which moral character can be built. The "teens" are the really formative period during which mind and character assume the shape which they will retain. At present we are in the main a half-educated people; with the majority of our countrymen education has been broken off in the middle, and only a few beyond the age of fourteen can finish their education themselves by their own thought and reading and their own power of learning from their experience of life without further guidance. Unfortunately the dreams of theorists in the seventeenth century, that every one is capable of an equal degree of education, have been shown to be fantastic hopes. There is no economic or political impossibility—the difficulty is psychological. Modern scientific research has shown and is showing more clearly every day that not only saints and men of genius but men above the average in character and ability are born before they can be made and cannot be made by the best education unless they have been born potentially what they are later to become. The progress that has been made in standardising the Binet tests has not yet been grasped by the bulk of educated people in its full significance : it has shown that every child is born with a very distinct limit to his individual educability, and that these limits are in the majority of cases lower than the optimists of the past would have anticipated. All the more need that distinct ability should be discovered, in whatever station its possessor has been born, and that all should be educated to the full measure of their ability ! The twentieth century has awakened to its double problem; and the system of free places and that of continuation schools have been devised to meet its two sides; it will be the task of the rest of the century which is still young to work out its full solution.

Home | More Articles | Email: