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ELEMENTARY EDUCATION IN ENGLAND-BRIEF CONSPECTUS OF THE SYSTEM AS ORGAN
IZED UNDER THE LAW OF 1902.
The system of public elementary education in England is in the process of transition from the basis established by the law of 1870 to that of 1902, which went into operation March 26, 1903.
The new conditions established by the law of 1902 relate almost exclusively to the local administration of schools. The provisions of the law of 1870 and subsequent amending laws are continued in force, excepting so far as they are explicitly annulled by the law.
Local authorities.-The local authorities in charge of elementary schools are county and county borough councils, replacing the former elected school boards, and having general charge of (1) board schools, henceforth to be known as council or provided schools, and (2) voluntary (i. e., chiefly church) schools, to be known as nonprovided. The county and municipal councils become the local agents for the disbursement of the Government grant for elementary education. The councils are further empowered to raise the additional moneys required for the maintenance of elementary schools by local taxes, which are henceforth to be applied to both the provided and the nonprovided schools.
The educational functions of the councils, excepting that of raising school money by taxation, may be delegated to education committees constituted under schemes formed by the respective councils and approved by the board of education, a Every scheme for the formation of an education committee must provide for the appointment by the council of a majority of the members of the committee and for the inclusion of women in the committee.
Where the local education authority is a county councił all public elementary schools must have a body of managers, to be constituted by the local authority. In the case of nonprovided (i. e., church) schools, these managers must include foundation managers, not exceeding four (excepting in special cases), and managers appointed by the local authority, in the proportion of two to every four foundation managers.
The managers of a nonprovided school must carry out any directions of the local education authority as to the secular instruction to be given in the school, including any directions with respect to the number and educational qualifications of the teachers to be employed for such instruction, and for the dismissal of any teacher on educational grounds; but if the managers fail in these respects, then the local education authority shall have the power themselves to carry out the direction in question as if they were the managers; but no direction given under this provision shall be such as to interfere with reasonable facilities for religious instruction during school hours.
The managers of the school must also provide the schoolhouse, free of any charge to the local authority, and keep the schoolhouse in good repair, and make such alterations and improvements in the buildings as may reasonably be required by the local education authority.
It is expressly provided that the local education authority shall have power to inspect nonprovided schools, and that its consent shall be required to the appointment and dismissal of teachers, head teachers excepted; but the councils may not withhold consent to the appointment nor interfere with the dismissal of
• Central authority substituted by law of 1899 for the committee of council on education. In the reorganization of the department of education Mr. R. L. Morant becomes secretary to the board of education, replacing Sir G. W. Kekewich, who resigned the position November, 1902. On the 12th of May, 1903, Mr. Michael E. Sadler resigned the position of director of special inquiries and reports, which he had held from its establishment in 1895. In June following Di. II. F. Heath, academic registrar of the University of London, was appointed to the vacant directorship.
ED 1904 mm -51
teachers on religious grounds. Moreover, in nonprovided schools “ assistant teachers and pupil teachers may be appointed, if it is thought fit, without refer. ence to religious creed and denomination. [Head teachers appointed independently of the local authorities are naturally chosen on denominational grounds.] In any case in which there are more candidates for the post of pupil teacher than there are places to be filled, the appointment shall be made by the local education authority, and they shall determine the respective qualifications of the candidates by examination or otherwise."
Religious instruction.-In provided schools no sectarian instruction is allowed. Nonprovided or denominational schools are prohibited by a conscience clause from forcing religious instruction upon children whose parents object to the same.
Compulsory school attendance. The provisions with respect to compulsory school attendance are unchanged. Every local authority is obliged to make by-laws under which the upper limit of age for compulsory attendance must not be less than 12 years, and at the discretion of the local authorities may be raised to 14 years.
Sources of support for elementary schools.—The Government grant, which furnishes at present very nearly half the support of elementary schools, is applied on the same conditions to provided and nonprovided schools. The balance of the support for both classes of schools is provided by local taxes. In the case of a nonprovided (i. e., denominational) school in which fees have hitherto been charged the local authority shall," while they continue to allow fees to be charged in respect of that school, pay such proportion of those fees as may be agreed upo!), or, in default of agreement, determined by the board of education and the managers."
Free tuition.- In the third schedule of the law it is declared that “the duty of a local education authority under the education acts 1870 to 1902, to provide a sufficient amount of public school accommodation, shall include the duty to provide a sufficient amount of public school accommodation without payment of fees in every part of their area."
Definition of elementary school.--The law declares that-
The expression “ elementary school " shall not include any school carried on as an evening school under the regulations of the board of education.
The power to provide instruction under the elementary education acts 1870 to 1900 shall, except where those acts expressly provide to the contrary, be limited to the provision in a public elementary school of instruction given under the regulations of the board of education to scholars who, at the close of the school year, will not be more than 16 years of age: Provided. That the local education authority may, with the consent of the board of education, extend those limits in the case of any such school if no suitable higher education is available within a reasonable distance of the school.
Higher elementary schools are organized for the purpose of providing more advanced instruction than can be given in the ordinary elementary schools for children between 10 and 1.5 years of age who are certified by an inspector of the board as qualified to profit by such instruction. The special object which they have in view is to qualify the children taught in them to enter any of those callings in which scientific methods have to be employed. With this intention the course of instruction, though not exclusively scientific, is based on science, and all the scholars are trained to make accurate measurements and to perform and record simple experiments. One foreign language and elementary mathematics are included in the curriculum, while careful attention is given to drawing. The course of instruction extends over four years.
The 66 training colleges for elementary school-teachers (20 for men, 32 for women, and 14 for both men and women) under inspection by the board of ecbucation and in receipt of Government grants are also included under the general head of elementary education.
Higher education.—The local education authorities are empowered-
To supply or aid the supply of education other than elementary, and to promote the general coordination of all forms of education, and for that purpose shall apply all or so much as they deem necessary of the residue of the liquor duties under section 1 of the local taxation (customs and excise) act, 1890, and shall carry forward for the like purpose any balance thereof which may remain unexpended, and may spend such further sums as they think fit: Provided, That the amount raised by the council of a county for the purpose in any year out of rates (local taxes) under this act shall not exceed the amount which would be produced by a rate of 20. in the pound, or such higher rate as the county council, with the consent of the local government board, may fix.
Gorernment inspection.— The Gorernment supervision of elementary schools is maintained by an inspectorial service, which has been reorganized in connection with the general changes in administration consequent upon the passage of the law of 1902. The official report says:
Ilitherto there has been a senior chief inspector in charge of the metropolitan division and 11 chief inspectors, of whom nine were in charge of the other divisions of England and Wales, and the other two were inspectors of training colleges. The chief inspector, who under the new arrangement takes the place of senior chief inspector, is not attached to any district or division, but has general control over the whole inspectorate of elementary schools and is the channel of communication between the inspectorate and the board. The officers hitherto known as chief inspectors will now be entitled divisional inspectors. They will, as before, be eleven in number, and each of them will be in charge of a geographical division conterminous with the area of a group of local education authorities. Each divisional inspector will be to a large extent, responsible for the inspection of the training colleges within his division. Ile will be required to supervise in a more specific and effective manner than ha hitherto been the case the work of all the district inspectors in his division, and the district assigned to him for his direct inspection will be smaller than that hitherto intrusted to a chief inspector, in order that he may have time for carrying out the increased duties incident to the responsibilities of his post. He will be expected to make himself acquainted by frequent personal visits with the work of each of the inspectors of his division and to hold periodical conferences with all his inspectors, upon which he will furnish reports to the board through the chief inspector in regard to any matters which seem to suggest the desirability of administrative changes. Similarly the chief inspector will visit each divisional inspector as frequently as possible, and will also hold periodical conferences with them as a body, in order that he may be able to place at the disposal of the board the best information and advice which the inspectorate as a whole is in a position to afford. The administration of the board will be largely guided by the expert advice given them in the full sense of the responsibility involved and with full knowledge of local circumstances by the body of inspectors.
It is also expected that the local authorities, or, in particular, the local education committees, will come into close relations with the inspectors and will be guided, in a measure, by their expert knowledge of the school conditions of their respective areas. The inspectorate thus organized pertains to elementary schools exclusively. The similar service for the bigher grades of schools that the new law has brought in relation with the central authority has been provided for temporarily, but will probably be organized on a permanent basis in the near future.
PROGRESS IN THE APPLICATION OF THE NEW LAIV.
In order to understand the current record of elementary education in England it is necessary to bear in mind the radical changes made in the administration of education by the law of 1902, as indicated in the above epitome of the law. It is also desirable to keep in mind the relation of the law to previous legislation on the same subject, which relation is indicated by the appended chronological epitome of the principal events in the development of the system of education.
From the report of the board of education (central authority) for 19034 it appears that rapid progress has been made since 1902 in giving effect to the new law. On August 1, 1904, it had come into operation in every area of locai education authority with the exception of six, and in these areas the days ior its adoption had been fixed, making it sure that by the end of September the law would be operative in all. Thus, one of the main purposes of the law, namely, a reduction in the number of local authorities responsible for education has been accomplished. In the place of about 800 school-attendance committees and over 2,500 school boards there are now 328 educational authorities (municipal and county councils) for the country outside of London.
The concentration of local authority in a single body in each area has brought a large number of elementary schools, which were formerly isolated units, under one and the same direction as an integral part of the local school provision,
The education law for London, bearing date August 14, 1903, went into effect May 1, 1904, at which time the London county council became the authority for education in the metropolis, excepting as regards certain minor provisions for which the appointed day was October 1. Thus educational administration in the metropolis has been brought into unison with that of the rest of the Kingdon.
With reference to the general effects of these recent acts, the official report calls particular attention to the fact that they have made it possible to deal with the various forms of educational activity as parts of a coordinate whole in each area and that they have already brought within "reasonable distance of solution" problems which could not be solved until such relations were established.
As to the spirit in which the local authorities have entered upon the work, the report states that they are carrying out their responsible duties, not merely with energy and good will, but with tact and consideration toward the various bodies with whom they were brought into relation."
Special difficulties arise in the local conduct of education in England from causes peculiar to the dual system of schools—i. e., public and private. The newly constituted local authorities have been brought into conflict with the governing bodies and teaching staff of the latter class of schools in a few instances; fewer, however, than was anticipated. For the most part the questions in dispute have been amicably adjusted.
The board of education has encountered some difficulty in respect to the appointment of foundation managers of private schools. The total number of applications received for action in this respect amounts already to 11,538.
The power of grouping schools under one body of managers conferred by the law of 1902 upon the local education authorities has been exercised so far as reported in respect to 514 council schools and 278 voluntary schools. It is believed that grouping has really been effected in many more cases.
The efforts to deal with endowments applicable to elementary education, a task which also devolves upon the local education authority, have disclosed the fact that many of the endowments are not necessarily restricted to elementary education, but may be used to foster higher grade schools. The law of 1902 (section 8) also provides that-where the local education authority or any persons propose to provide a new public elementary school they shall give public notice of their intention to do so, and that appeals may (within three months after the notice is given) be made to the board against the proposal by the managers of any existing school, by the local education authority, or by any ten ratepayers in the area concerned, on the ground that the proposed school is not required or that a school of a different churacter would be better suited to meet the wants of the district. In deciding on any such appeal the board are directed by section 9 of the act to
have regard to the interest of secular instruction, to the wishes of parents as to the education of their children, and to the economy of the rates.
The following report of appeals and decisions in this respect is interesting as an indication of the impartial spirit in which the cases have been treated :
Notices under section 8 have been received from
The following new schools and enlargements have been sanctioned:
Church of England Roman Catholic
schools. Num. Accommo- Num- Accommo- Num. Accommo- Num. Accommober. dation.
ber. dation. ber. dation. ber. dation.
Appeals have been received against 40 proposed voluntary schools, of which 8 have been successful, 10 unsuccessful, 2 withdrawn, and 20 are awaiting consideration.
Appeals have been received against 32 proposed council schools, of which 5 were unsuccessful, 4 withdrawn, and 23 are awaiting consideration.
In 9 cases it has been necessary to hold public inquiries for the decision of appeals under section 8. The proceedings were in most cases of considerable public interest, and although the questions raised were novel and involved a careful balancing of conflicting considerations, the board have not felt any serious doubt as to the manner in which they should be decided.
STATISTICS OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.
TABLE I.— Number of elementary schools, by classes and accommodation in
From the foregoing table it will be seen that the accommodation in public elementary schools increased by 69,813 places between 1902 and 19903. Of tliis increase, a little more than half (36,806 places) is due to new schools that have been placed on the list for Government grants. The number of board or council schools—that is, schools under public management--was 518 greater in 1903