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soundness of the cause which he advocates, and does this for the sake of political profit.
Now, if there is one matter more certain than another it is that the great bulk of the Conservative party and its leaders do not believe in the principle of free schools. As long as they were free agents they denounced the principle. Lord Cross, with his majority on the Royal Commission, wrote as follows (p. 200 final report) : “If, as we think, provision of the due necessaries of education as well as of the necessaries of life is part of the responsibility incumbent on parents, it may well be believed that public contributions and private benevolence are already doing all that can be safely required of them in augmentation of the payments properly exacted from parents. On the whole, we are of opinion that the balance of advantage is greatly in favour of maintaining the present system, established by the Act of 1870, whereby the parents who can afford it contribute a substantial proportion of the cost of the education of their children in the form of school fees."
No one supposes that the opinions of the Conservative and Church party have changed lately. Every diocesan conference, every gathering of voluntary managers, every utterance in Conservative newspapers, tells the same tale, that the party are adopting a policy they dislike and consider mischievous and demoralising, because they believe that the cry is a popular one, that if they do nothing, in a few years the Liberals will come in and do in a spirit unfriendly to denominationalism what they propose to do in such a manner as to secure increased advantages to denominationalism; in short, that out of the general conflagration of their principles the Conservative party may secure a salvage of pecuniary profit for Church schools.
The truth is that no reform in the management of the voluntary schools is worth looking at which does not secure the transfer of the appointment of the teacher from private and denominational patronage to the elected representatives of the locality. Every public elementary school, at any rate in the rural districts where there is but one school for the community, must become a part of the municipal equipment of the district. At present there is room for compromise in towns and populous places. There, pro
vided that, as in Scotland, there is a sufficient supply of schools under public management, educational reformers may acquiesce in the concurrent recognition of schools of a private and denominational character. But before we can be considerate of minorities we claim for the majority, that is, the community as a whole, the absolute right of managing and directing the schools to which the children are bound to go.
If the local community as a whole is Anglican the elected School Board will reflect the views of the community. If, as in Wales, the community is not as a rule Anglican, it is a clear hardship that the State should perpetuate by its grants a system of school government which subjects the school to influences adverse to the general sentiment of the community.
But in reality, with a few special exceptions, the mass of the English people do not desire the intrusion of these ecclesiastical differences into the day school. The clamour for distinctive Church teaching, &c., is one that is not raised by themselves, but is raised for them by the clergy. If these had not had the powerful wand of extra rates to conjure with, they never could have raised the support which is now given to denominational schools. The people not managing the schools do not care for the schools, and many of the schools are so bad there is no reason they should care for them. But on the other hand they are assiduously told that if there is a Board school there will be a shilling rate, and it is fear of this, not love of the Church Catechism, which maintains most of the Church schools throughout the country.
Those who do not use the schools, the clergy and the squires, have other reasons for maintaining them.
To many clergymen the Church school means an organist and Sunday-school teacher for nothing. Anyone who reads the advertisements for school teachers will note that in rural districts the schoolmaster is generally required to be the organist and train the choir, and this service, which represents a cost of perhaps £20 a year, is secured by an inclusive salary as head master; and thus the school funds, which by law should be exclusively applied to elementary education, are really diverted to subsidising the Established Church services.
Again, the schoolmaster is in many ways made the assistant of the clergyman. Sometimes he is required to be a lay preacher. It is not necessary to notice the more humiliating services which are said to be sometimes exacted from him. The National Union of Teachers can give plenty of instances where the schoolmaster's position depends not merely on his subordination, but on his servility, to the clergyman. But we may hope that these cases, though they are not unfrequent in the aggregate, yet are rare relatively to the large number of teachers employed. But the dependence of the master who has to teach the whole community on the minister of one denomination is not the only evil resulting from the clericalising of this branch of our municipal organisation. The demand for an organist or a parish clerk, or a general ecclesiastical helper, leads to the postponement of educational to other considerations in the selection of teachers. A good teacher who is not subservient to the clerical needs is liable to be dismissed; a bad teacher who is useful in the Sunday-school or in parish work is likely to be retained. As the mass of the Established clergy belong to the Conservative party, so the village schoolmaster, whose honourable and trusted relation to all the parents should make him keep clear of active politics, may be forced to be a political partisan, to canvass at elections, and generally to take an attitude which must offend a large proportion of the parents of his scholars.
For all these reasons it is of the highest importance that the community and not the clergy should have the appointment of the teacher. But here it should be observed that in any reform of our school system the administrative area should be considerably enlarged. The population of 7,000 indicated in the resolutions passed by the Wesleyans in 1872-3 is probably a minimum for the purpose of securing good administration and getting rid of petty parochialism. Most of those interested in education are agreed that a larger area of local administration than the parish will be required. At the same time there may well be parochial committees of management acting in subordination to the larger local School Board, and thus we shall secure that interest in the school on the part of the parents which will be good for the school and will educate the community.
All these considerations show that the question of the abolition of the school fee cannot be considered satisfactorily without at the same time reconsidering the larger and far more important question of school management.
Advocates of retaining private management, while obtaining a public grant in lieu of fees, say that there is no reason why there should be local representative management because the State as a whole gives increased financial aid. But this objection has no real validity and is merely technical. Public money gives a right to public interference, and if the nation thinks that its interference can best be exercised locally it may well delegate to the whole community through local election that power of administration which a centralised machinery could never effectively use.
For the ratepayers in each parish are the same electorate as those who constitute the House of Commons; they are not foreigners or strangers claiming a right to interfere in what does not concern them. It would be more reasonable to contend the other way, that when we have local representative management the authority of the central Department should be diminished and much more freedom and initiative should be left to the local committees, so as to meet the varying wants of the localities, which may suffer by the uniformity of a system devised in London and applied throughout the kingdom.
A central educational authority is needed, and will always be needed, to keep sluggish districts up to the mark and to secure a high standard of efficiency, but certainly the tendency of the future should be to give more power to the local representatives in managing their own schools.
Having thus far insisted on the proposition that any extension of public aid to our elementary schools must be coupled with a very large extension of public local representative management, including as an absolutely necessary condition the universal establishment of School Boards of sufficient area and the transference to them of the power of appointing and removing teachers, we may now turn to consider what are the essential conditions of any Parliamentary grant in relief of fees so as to make such a grant benefit national education,
After the capitulation of the Conservative party and of the National Society it may be thought unnecessary to argue at all in defence of the abolition of the school fee.
The following are among the advantages of the abolition of school fees :
(1) The simplification of the work of the teachers, who would be saved the trouble of collecting the pence and keeping the accounts, which in the case of Board schools are troublesome and elaborate: (2) Time and trouble would be saved to School Boards now spent in investigation and determining cases of remission. (3) Attendance would be improved where children had failed to attend part of a week: at present parents who have failed to send their children on Monday and Tuesday are apt to grudge the payment for the rest of the week. (4) Children would be retained in the upper standards, when their education is likely to be of most value and to have the most lasting effect. (5) It might be an advantage to parents to spread the cost of education throughout their whole life instead of concentrating it on the expensive period when they are rearing their children and before the children's earnings help the family income.
But if fees are only abolished in the lowest standard their aboli, tion will be a curse to education instead of a blessing. All the argu, ments against raising the fee with the standard apply to imposing a fee for the first time in the upper standards. On this point Scotch experience and the opinions of the advocates of voluntary schools concur with the contention of those who support free schools with conviction and not of necessity. So, too, if we are to have the advantages of free schools, we must not have any rags and shreds of the fee system hanging to us when we have divested ourselves of the substance. On the injurious effect of charging for books and school materials there is strong evidence in the United States; and the tendency there, now, is to abolish this charge.
Perhaps it is hardly necessary any longer to argue that any grant in lieu of fees should be based on the averge fee throughout the country, and not on the fee of the particular school. This principle seems to have been accepted in the discussions of the Wesleyan committee, though of all school managers the Wesleyans