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Is such a number of children in attendance at day-schools ? Unfortunately sufficient materials do not exist for a complete answer to this question, and the greater part of the statements from which statistics are made up are of old date, and often of no value. Nevertheless, let us see what results can be obtained from existing statements.*
According to the returns of 1833, there were in England and Wales 1,276,947 children in daily-schools. From 1833 to 1849 the government had granted about £425,000 towards the erection of new schools. In these accommodation was provided for 656,021 children. The number of schools built without government aid during the same time cannot be accurately ascertained; but, according to what Dr Hook calls a liberal estimate, it is about 100 each year. This would give an aggregate of 1600 new schools, affording accommodation to perhaps 300,000 children. This is clearly an over-estimate; but accepting it in lieu of a better, it would increase the new accommodation provided to that sufficient for about 1,000,000 of children, which, added to the old, would give an aggregate of about two and a quarter millions. This statement must be received with many qualifications: first, no allowance is made for schools that may have been given up since 1833, either by being superseded by the new schools or otherwise ; second, the Earl of Kerry's returns were notoriously incorrect; and third, though new provision has been made for about 1,000,000 of scholars, it is almost certain that not half that number are in attendance-a statement founded on the fact, that in 2292 schools assisted by government, accommodation is provided for 563,781, and the average daily attendance is 259,519, or less than one-half. Some of the schools, towards the building of which government has granted money, are now actually closed.t Making allowance for all these circumstances, it may safely be said that at the present moment the number of children attending day-schools in England and Wales does not exceed, if it even reach, 2,000,000. The number of children attending church
* When the reader observes that throughout this Paper no notice is taken of Sunday-schools, let it not be supposed that we have not a high and just appreciation of their value, and of the zeal and self-denial of their teachers. They are not mentioned in the present Paper, because they are not included in its range. We have to do with ordinary day-schools, which are to be supplemented, not superseded, by Sunday-schools: the latter can never take the place of the former.
+ The Rev. F. Watkins, government inspector of schools in York, Durham, and Northumberland, says in his Report for 1848-1849, “On glancing at my list of schools, I can count up thirty-eight in Yorkshire only (that is, nearly one-fifth of the whole number on the list) which are thus hovering between life and death, or which are already extinct as daily-schools. Of those in Northumberland and Durham I cannot speak with any approach to accuracy. But I see no reason why they should be fewer in proportion to the whole number of schools in those counties. And if the same proportion exists in other parts of England, the subject has already obtained an extent and significance which may well entitle it to tle early and careful consideration of those who have authority and power to act in this matter.' At a meeting held in Manchester on 27th December 1848 (* Manchester Guardian, 30th December), a report was read by the Rev. Mr MʻKerrow, in which it was stated that a very considerable number of day-schools connected with places of worship in Manchester and Salford had been discontinued. Reference was made at the same meeting to other schools in Manchester that had been discontinued, in one of which the individual employed to sweep out the school, and keep it in a state fit for occupation, could not obtain a single item of payment for the discharge of those very important duties.'
schools is, according to the returns of the National Society, 955,865, or in round numbers 1,000,000. If we suppose, what is perhaps an overestimate, that as many children are found in other schools, we arrive at the same conclusion as stated above.
In Ireland there are in the schools connected with the National Board 480,623 pupils ; and if we suppose that half that number attend other schools, the number in Ireland cannot exceed three-quarters of a million.
In Scotland the provision, as stated by Lord Melgund in the House of Commons 19th June 1850, was as follows :883 Parish Schools,
74,300 scholars. 200 Supplemental do.,
16,800 125 General Assembly do.,
106,100 816 Free Church Schools,
65,000 Other schools, say
321,100 Sir George Clerk 'believed this was rather an over-estimate than otherwise, and that 300,000 would be nearer the mark.'
Thus, even on the most favourable computation, there are not found in the United Kingdom more than 3,071,100 children in attendance at school, or between a ninth and a tenth of the population. The proportion taken as a standard from Prussia was a sixth. The quantity may accordingly be said to be insufficient to the extent of nearly 2,000,000 of children.
These figures, however, do not give an adequate idea of the real state of the case; they give the aggregate of schools for the whole country, but throw no light on the mode in which these schools are distributed. In some districts there is even an excessive supply of schools, while in others there is a fearful deficiency. For example, in England and Wales there are 12,931 parishes or ecclesiastical districts, and of these 1171 have no church-school, while in other districts the provision is quite inadequate; as, for example, St John's, Liverpool, where 253 boys and half that number of girls have been refused admission lately from want of accommodation:' St Silas's, Manchester, where there are abundance of children to fill another school-room if it could be supplied :' at Gateshead, county of Durham, with a population of 16,000, the educational wants are at present barely half supplied so far as the national church is concerned:' Sunderland requires more National and Infant-Schools, there being above 1000 children uneducated at the present time:'-of a parish in Lincolnshire it is said the state is most deplorable from want of a daily-school-the Sabbath is spent in a most unbecoming manner, and almost every description of sin is practised with impunity :' in St Paul's, Knightsbridge, London, 'it is estimated that there are 2000 poor children needing education-provision is made for one-fourth, and dame-schools for about 100 more, so that more than 1000 are not at school:' a parish in Nottinghamshire, with a population of 1706, “is in a state of almost heathen ignorance—there is not one child educated in the principles of the church :' in Birmingham it is reported that nine more Infant-Schools are required capable of accommodating 150 children each: of a district in Huddersfield it is said 'the state is deplorable as regards education ; of children between the ages of five and seventeen, not more than one-half attend any kind of Sundayschool, and of those between four and sixteen, not more than one-eighth part attend any day-school:' of four districts in Leeds the following returns are given— school-rooms are wanted to accommodate 500 children; an Infant-School is required; a good school and funds to support it are very much wanted ; and as it is uncertain how long the schools can be continued, the clergyman does not like to make any return of them.' These extracts, which have been made almost at random from the school inquiry of the National Society, might be multiplied to any extent.
Other recent investigations into particular localities show the same results as regards insufficiency of supply. An inquiry was made in Glasgow in 1846 among a population of 40,000, and it was found that not much above one-half of those between the ages of six and sixteen attended school. Another inquiry, already alluded to, was made in 1847 in the district of Vauxhall in Liverpool, containing a population of 13,028, when it was found that the number of children old enough to attend school was 3228, of whom 2092 were receiving no school instruction whatever; while of 5538 parents, 361 fathers and 571 mothers could not read. In the spring of 1849 the statistics of day-schools were collected by the Wesleyans in the Manchester and Bolton districts—a district extending from Clithero and Colne in the north of Lancashire as far south as Stockport in Cheshire; westward to within about twenty miles of Liverpool, and eastward to the borders of Yorkshire. The population was estimated at 1,162,573, one-fifth of whom, or nearly a quarter of a million, were said to be children from three to fourteen years of age. The total number of day-schools, Church, Wesleyan, and others, was said to be 663, and of scholars 62,828, or about one-fourth of the actual number of children of an age to go to school. This return evidently contains many errors of omission, but even making the most ample allowance for these, the result shows a great deficiency. About fourteen years ago the statistics of education in three districts in Westminster were carefully collected by the committee of the London Statistical Society. This report bears throughout marks of the most vigilant personal examination, and though the state of things must have altered during the period that has since elapsed, yet the general conclusions of the committee will, we are afraid, be applicable to a great extent to the present condition of the districts. These conclusions are expressed in the following condensed form :
'Twelve thousand children of all ages receiving entirely, at the cost of the parent, an education of a very low order; 13,000 children of all ages receiving partly, at the expense of the parents, partly from private benevolence, an education more or less effective, but in all cases of some real value to the child; 3700 children of all ages receiving some little instruction in Sunday-schools, but no regular education; 4000 children of the upper and middle classes educated in superior private schools : 32,700 children of all ages receiving instruction, of whom 26,700 are between five and fifteen years old; and there are not less than 30,000 children between ages
of five and fifteen receiving no education in schools either really or nominally.
Let it not be objected to this exposition of statistics that it is confined to the dark side of the picture. It is true that many places could be
quoted with the cheering remark that all educational wants are supplied, and that all the children are in attendance at daily-schools. But these places are certainly exceptions to the rule, and our inquiry is concerned less with what has been accomplished than with what remains to be done. When the plague is raging, the physician passes by the healthy, and attends to the sick.
II. This provision, insufficient in quantity, is often bad in quality.
It does not necessarily follow because so many children are in attendance at school, that they are being educated there. Lord Brougham said very truly in the House of Lords in April 1834— It is an old saying that “ it is not all gold that glitters ;” neither is it all education that outwardly looks like it. You may have many schools, but very little shall be taught in them; many children may darken the schoolhouse door, they may talk and buzz there all the day, they may depart to their homes at eventide, and yet during their attendance so little may have been taught to them, as to render it impossible to say that they have been improved further than the being kept out of harm's way. Regarding many of the schools in Westminster, it was said that the children are sent mainly with the view of being kept out of the streets, and in general read out of any
book which they happen to bring with them from home; while many parents give strict injunctions that their children are not to be worried with learnin';' and in a report on Newcastle it is stated that many of the rooms which are called schools, and are included as such in the foregoing tables, are merely receptacles for children that cannot conveniently be taken care of at home, and where instruction is scarcely ever expected or wished for by the parents.'* Even among what may be considered the best schools those, namely, that have received government assistance, and are consequently open to inspection—the amount of instruction given is very
limited. For example, during 1848 two inspectors examined schools in various parts of England, containing 29,524 children, of whom 12,084 were unable to do more than read letters and words of one syllable, and only 4500 could read the Scriptures with ease; 2000 had advanced in arithmetic as far as the compound rules ; 800 were learning proportion, and thirty-nine algebra.t
The reports of the government inspectors of schools must convince all who will take the trouble to peruse such important and trustworthy documents, that the quality of the education given in a great number of the schools visited by them is very unsatisfactory. In the most recent reports the following among other statements are made :-'I cannot record any favourable impression of the schools (with four exceptions) which have inspected in Leicestershire : the standard of instruction in the country schools (Northampton) is very low, little else being taught but reading, writing, and arithmetic, and these very imperfectly : the standard of instruction in most of these schools (Lincolnshire) is very low: of four schools which have been inspected (Rutlandshire), I can only record their inefficiency for any practical purposes of education : the schools which I visited in Lancashire did not seem to be in a satisfactory state—they were inadequately supplied with books, the desks were in most cases attached to the sides of the wall, and the lower classes generally left to the care of monitors. Nor can I report more favourably of those in Norfolk and Suffolk, as far as I had an opportunity of judging : the general state of education (Herefordshire) is defective: the schools in Bristol generally are not, I believe, in an efficient state. I have further to report the following schools in Yorkshire, eight in number) as very inefficient, and, in their present state, utterly worthless for the purposes of education: the state of instruction in these schools (Lancaster, Cumberland, and Westmoreland) is in general very imperfect : and the inspector for Cheshire, Salop, and Staffordshire, reports the existence of very bad schools which hinder the commencement of others.'
* Journal of Statistical Society for 1838.
+ Minutes of Committee of Council on Education, 1848-49 and 50, vol. i. p. 310 ; vol. ii. p. 8.
If we come to particular instances, we find that the ignorance of the children in many of the schools is almost incredible. The Rev. Henry Moseley states that in the Windsor National School only two or three of the children in the first class knew the name of the Queen, though her palace was in the immediate vicinity ; that in other schools, when asked what was the greatest city in England, the children have named the neighbouring market-town; for the four quarters of the globe they have given the four points of the compass; have said that the Queen of England was also Queen of France; and that the people of Scotland were black ! Other inspectors tell us of schools where the boys in the senior classes could not work a simple sum in subtraction; of another, where all the boys in the first class were absent without leave or excuse; of a third, where a monitor described Heaven as ' a very nice place, where spirits were always flying about in the air and singing Hosanna ;' of a fourth, containing eighty-four children, “kept by a mistress, no maps, secular books, or apparatus, and only six children can work sums in simple addition;' of another, 'a mere apology for a school; the actual master is ninety-three years old, and has been here seventy-five years : his daughter keeps the school, such as it is, and the population reside two miles off;' and of another, thus described—'Neither master nor mistress were in the school on my arrival. Children in both schools in a great uproar, and very dirty. The discipline is most disorderly. Great deficiency of books, and no apparatus at all. One map of the world. Only twenty-three of the boys out of seventyfive were nine years old. The ventilation wretched. I consider no schools at all would be better than such as this. The clergyman complains that the district is most disheartening; that none care for education; that his scholars insult him when they have left school, and turn out infidels and Socialists.'
But if such is the quality of the instruction given in these comparatively favoured schools, what must it be in those of a lower kind known as “DamesSchools?' More than one-seventh of the total number embraced in the returns of the National Society seem to be schools of this class. Their nature may be thus generally described:-A poor woman in reduced circumstances, a young person in delicate health, a widow left destitute, or an old woman unfit for work of any kind, determines to make a living, or add to the profits of some other occupation, by keeping a school. No time is spent in considering whether the requisite qualifications are possessed or
little or no expense is incurred in preliminary outlay, and a room is