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powers were very imperfectly exercised; and that if this increase had been made in both years, the whole increase would have been 440,000, nearly half of the whole average attendance in 1866-7. It may perhaps be argued that if compulsion, universally extended, had produced anything like an effect commensurate with that which it has actually produced where it is allowed to rule, the effect would have been to add some 900,000 children to the 1,152,389 of 1870-1.
We think that this is a striking and satisfactory result, although we are far from saying that it will not be, and ought not to be, improved upon in the next few years. It should be remembered that the increase in gross attendance is far greater than in average attendance, and that children, who fall short of average attendance, nevertheless receive considerable educational benefit. There are indeed some drawbacks. The sweeping reluctant children into school must tend to increase irregularity of attendance, especially in Board schools, which cannot shut their doors on the unpunctual, as the best voluntary schools do. Nor must we be discouraged, if the same cause for a time lowers the standard of actual performance in the examination by Her Majesty's inspectors. These drawbacks will, we hope, gradually disappear, and then the real benefits of compulsion will be reaped.
There are a few local results of compulsion which deserve to be added to this general summary. Compulsion will be difficult at the two ends of the scale, in scattered rural populations, and in the huge, complicated, and migratory population of the metropolis. In boroughs of moderate size, where every child is known and can be accounted for, it ought to answer almost perfectly ; even in the great towns it ought to answer
What has it actually done? In London the increase of average attendance in efficient schools is 60,000 since March 1871, that is about 33 per cent.; of this much is due to increase of schools, but much also to compulsion.* The increase in inefficient schools is also great; and this, although it is an unsatisfactory thing enough, is at least so far gain, that it is better to have children in defective schools than to let them wander in the streets. If we turn to the great towns, we find that in Liverpool the increase in efficient schools is 8,132, or about 25 per cent. ; in Manchester (between December 1871 and September 1872) 8,051, or about 36 per cent.: in Leeds, where the School Board seems to have been very ably and liberally worked, the increase is actually (between November 1870 and November 1873) 95 per cent., and the number on the rolls is 44,111, out of a school population of 47,340; in Bradford (between March 1871 and October 1873) about 46 per cent. ; in Bristol (between March 1871 and December 1872), about 22 per cent. ; in Birmingham about 54 per cent. ; in Salford about 36 per cent.* When we look to smaller towns, the results are, as they should be, better still. In Stockport (53,014 inhabitants) the increase of average attendance is 53 per cent.; but (allowing for half-timers) there are in average attendance 6,472 out of a school population of 6,926, and only 181 children not on the rolls of some school. In Macclesfield (35,450 inhabitants) the increase of average attendance is 75 per cent.; and in the week ending March 29 there were only 341 children not at school, allowing for those under 13 permitted to be full-timers' at work.
* Compulsion was not exercised till March 1872.
It is clear that compulsion will work and does work already; it ought to work still better in a short time. One drawback on its effect, especially in London, is that children are driven into inefficient schools. The Amendment Act has greatly strengthened the hands of the Board in this matter, and the multiplication of efficient schools ought gradually to swamp the inefficient ones; we trust therefore that this blot will gradually be wiped out. But there is one real and most serious difficulty in the way; it is one which cannot be met by legislation or remedied by any action of the School Board, but must be gradually removed, if ever it is removed, by improvement of the condition of the poor. It is not the want of free schools ; for experience has shown that the difficulty of finding . school-pence is infinitesimal. If London were covered with free schools to-morrow, the wholesome responsibility of parents would be superseded, the ratepayers would be needlessly and sorely burdened, but the real hindrance to effective compulsion would remain the same as before. It is not even the want of proper clothing, although this is sometimes a real difficulty, especially in inclement weather, and in relation to the requirements of the best schools. It is the inability of the really poor to dispense with the small earnings of their children or what is much the same thing—their children's services at home. A charwoman, who cannot go out to work without leaving an elder child at home to mind the baby,—a widow, with a large family, whose elder children get their food and
The average attendance is not a perfectly satisfactory test where the half-time system largely prevails. Two half-timers in regular attendance, often doing at least as well as whole-timers at school, are only reckoned as one in the average attendance' roll. VOL. CXXXIX. NO. CCLXXXIII.
some small wages in service,-a hardworking labourer with a sick wife who needs attendance, for which he cannot afford to pay—these are the recusants with whom School Boards know not how to deal, and whom no magistrate will convict. How this difficulty can be removed we cannot speculate; it may
be mitigated, but it must be allowed for; and, as long as it exists, it is the one most serious drawback to our educational prospects.
We have only to add that the question of the universal extension of compulsion is one which must be faced. At the same time we do not wish to see any precipitate steps taken. The real difficulty lies in the creation of a proper organisation. For small districts, as we have already said, the School Board machinery is sure to be cumbrous and costly and not likely to be sound and effective. There are reasons of much weight against entrusting compulsory powers to the Board of Guardians and the Bench of Magistrates in petty sessions, as has been in some quarters suggested. Possibly the best solution of the difficulty might be the grouping the parishes of a large district together, and putting over the whole a Board for Compulsion only. But we trust that every step will be well considered, and that, whenever universal compulsion is introduced, care will be taken by supplementary legislation to narrow its action as far as possible ; for so only can we give it a chance of being really effective, and prevent the demoralising effect of the existence of a law which can be evaded or defied.
We have now but one last question to ask: What effect is the new system likely to produce on the general tenour of our English education ?
It seems absolutely impossible that it should not greatly raise our whole standard. It will in a short time cover England with efficient schools ; it will increase the resources devoted to the work, and thus improve both the quantity and the quality of the teaching staff; it will, by the co-existence of the two kinds of schools, keep all up to the mark—the voluntary schools because for them efficiency will be the condition of existence—the Board schools because a constant public interest and an unsparing criticism will be brought to bear on them ; it will, in great measure, diminish or remove the
one great hindrance to learning, irregularity of atterdance, and reduce to the narrowest limits the class of utterly uneducated children; and, last but not least, it will make education a matter both of Imperial and local concern. For all these reasons it must raise our standard greatly; and that the standard needs to be raised is only too painfully obvious to those who compare the number of children in our schools with the number pre
sented for examination, and the number presented for examination with the number passed in any of the higher standards.
It will, we hope, also do something to give more unity to the system, without falling into that rigid and artificial uniformity, which is the delight of some extreme theorists. Individual vagaries will become less possible; schools will be less looked upon as the private property of individuals or denominations ; more intercommunication must take place between the schools in each town, between the various towns with each other and with the Department. In one word, the system will become more really national, and yet it will not lose, either the stimulus of local interest, or the enlivening power of voluntary zeal.
And we also hope that the education of all classes in the country will be looked more and more as a whole, and the various classes of schools, from the village school to the grammar school, from the grammar school to the high school,' from the high school to the university, will be welded together. The Mortimer and Lawrence scholarships in London, and the new schemes of several endowed schools, are valuable steps in a right direction. But it is one which is as yet only indicated; it must be trodden at no distant future.
But what shall we say of the Religious Element, which hitherto has ruled in our English education ? What will be its fate under the new system?
Are we to listen to anticipations, gloomy or exulting, of its future extinction ?
It would be idle to deny that under the Education Act the State has assumed a different attitude towards religion. It has insisted on a universal Conscience Clause: so far all men agree with it. It has chosen to enforce the provisions of that clause by regulating every time-table ; and on the wisdom of this men may perhaps differ, It has refused to examine, to test, or to reward religious instruction, as if it were no element of education as such. It has, as we have seen above, not only withdrawn that preferential recognition of religious denominations which was implied in the old system, but it has deliberately disconnected all Board schools from these denominations. All this means withdrawal of State support from religion, the throwing the religious element upon its own inherent strength, the giving it just a “ fair field and no favour,' neither less nor
What will be the effect of this? The answer depends on the inherent power of religious faith in the hearts of the English people. If, as all indications seem to prove, the vast majority of our people really desire that religion should be an integral element of education, then that desire will simply fulfil itself, and the withdrawal of privilege may even stimulate its inherent energy.
We do not believe that the voluntary schools will in the least lose their religious tone and character, although the provisions of the Act, and the presence or the expectation of a School Board close at hand, will bring home to them the conviction that they are doing service not to their own denomination only, but to the whole country, and so will prevent their assuming a narrow and intolerant spirit. They will suffer a serious loss in the Religious Inspection of the Department; but this is, we see, being supplied from another source, and the new system will have some advantages as well as draw. backs in comparison with the old.
But what are we to expect in the Board schools ? It is well known that the vast majority of the Boards have ordered religious instruction in their schools (the new Birmingham Board is, we believe, the only important exception); and they have found it willingly accepted by managers and parents. But it is supposed (by those who have never read the Act), that such instruction must be 'undenominational' in the sense of contain: ing nothing to which any denomination, even the smallest, can object; and it is curious to see how extremes have met on this matter, and how the Bishop of London, at St. James' Hall, agreed with Mr. Dixon or Mr. Chamberlain, at Birmingham. The inference is natural, that it must be a colourless and lifeless thing, a sham trying to fill the place of a reality.
But what are the real facts of the case? The only limitation imposed by the Act is the well-known Cowper-Temple - Clause,' which forbids the teaching of any Catechism or for‘mulary distinctive of any particular denomination. It is a vague and inconsequent clause enough: it is easy to show that it ought to have done less or more.* But its object, as explained by its author and accepted by Mr. Gladstone, was to avoid 6 ticketing 'schools, attaching them to any denomination, and tempting them to proselytise the children who came to them. The Boards generally have adopted something like the resolution of the London School Board, which leaves the teacher free to teach, provided only that he does not infringe the clause, in spirit or in letter. The inspectors of the London School Board, in a report presented on the eve of the retirement of the late Board, testified that the religious teaching was mostly
* Why could not the religious denominations have agreed on the old basis of the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments,' leaving objectors to the protection of the Conscience Clause ?