---------__----CANO.NTSCOTT ON EDUCATION.|1902-05-21|The Chester Courant and Advertiser for North Wales - Welsh Newspapers Online
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HOLY TRINITY PARISH CLERK…

CHESTER BOARD OF GUARDIANS.…

CORONATION FESTIVITIES.

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CANO.NTSCOTT ON EDUCATION. -+- THE VOLUNTARY SCHOOLS. THE EDUCATION BILL. The Rev. Canon Cooper Scott con- tinued his remarks on "Elementary Educa- tion m his sermon, on Sunday evening, at St. John's Chupch, Chester. Speaking of the condition of affairs at the time of the passing of the Educa- tion Act of 1370, he said the great increase of the population in our large towns had outgrown the powers of voluntary effort to meet the demand for education. It had done what it could; but it could not longer meet the increasing demand of the people. It became evident to all that the Government must interpose to provide for the deficiency. Some of the very best intellects and the greatest experts in educational matters were employed in devising a scheme which would best meet the wants of the nation in this respect. This work was not done hurriedly, but very carefully and deliberately. Those who had undertaken to form a scheme were convinced that the work which was done by the Voluntary schools was so efficient in its character, so widely extended and so valu- able in its influence, that it could not be dispensed with, and to have interfered with it would have thrown back the cause which they had at heart. It was, therefore, deliberately determined to make use of the existing machinery, and to encourage Voluntary schools to continue their work. In all schools there was a deficiency of money. In the case of Board schools, that deficiency was made good by the simple process of levying a rate. In the Voluntary schools, the deficiency had to be provided by contributions, collections in the churches and chapels, by tea, parties and concerts, and so on. Of course the competition, where board and Voluntary schools existed side by side, was a severe strain upon the Voluntary schools. Other important changes were made. HIS Majesty's inspectors ceased to make an examina- tion of the children in religious knowledge, and the Church of England appointed diocesan in- spectors for that purpose. The attendance of the children at school was made compulsory, and this rendered more schools ne-c-essary. It was with a feeling of relief, if not thankfulness, that they saw provided what voluntary effort could not provide. On the whole, the feeling was ono of thankfulness. He never did like to hear those board schools spoken of slightingly, as though they were antag- onistic to religious teaching. <=> He believed, him- self, that a very large number of board school teachers would prefer to have some religious teach- ing in the schools to which they were attached. At the time of the passing of the Act, he happened to be in charge of a large and very poor parish in the south of London, and saw those great schools growing up around it. He knew many of the teachers who were employed in the board schools, and they felt keenly any reflection upon the re- ligious teaching given. It was true there was one clause in the Bill which forbade strictly Church teaching. Children who had been baptised in the Church of England were placed at some consider- able disadvantage, and something like a. grievance was felt then. and was felt. still, upon that particu- lar point. Mr. Chamberlain told them, at Bir- mingham, that the board which thought to remove all religious teaching were met by a widespread outcry. Mr. Chamberlain was evidently surprised, but wholesomely impressed bj| the opposition to what was regarded as a Godless school. When they disregarded the cultivation of moral life, they were doing a grievous injury to the world. He was amazed when he heard really religious men advocating a secular education only. Turning to the history of their Voluntary schools, the rev. gentleman said he remembered quite well that the general impression was that a few years would see the end of Voluntary schools, and that they would disappear into a national system of educa- tion. For some reason or other that had not been the case. He was surprised at the statistics which had been published. Church schools had, during the last generation, increased in accommodation from 1,365,000 pllces to 2,791,000 places, an in- crease of more than double; while the attendance of the children had increased from 844,000 to 1,893,000. The increase of children attending Church schools alone was more than a million. Taking the money side, it was found that during the past 30 years the Church had expenaea upon schools and training colleges more than £ 28,000,000. It was really astounding. He was sure that Voluntary schools which did not belong to the Church of England could shew a similar increase. He was at a loss vo sav how the great increase had come about. It might mean that people had a certain amount of attachment for the schools in which they were educated. Then they might hope that in many cases the parents had valued the distinctive religious teaching. They had seen the passing of a Free Education Act. It was not a very e-special benefit to the schools themselves. It had possibly not resulted in a greater value being placed upon education. Mr. Chamberlain had confessed that although he was in favour of a merely secular education, he found that most people disagreed with him. He was prepared to welcome the work of the Voluntary schoo's, and even go further and em- body them in a general system of national educa- tion. They were doing the work of secular educa- tion with great efficiency. The machinery was in full working order. Why, then, should they throw back the cause of education indefinitely. Why should they paralyse the work while making that groat change, and why should they dis- courage those who were interested in the secular education of the people Its well as the religious welfare? They were commonsense questions, and they were not surprised that no commonsense answers had been given. What, then, was it pro- posed to do with our educational system at the present time? It. was proposed to place all schools under one controlling body also to provide for the maintenance of schoo! teachers, but to leave to the managers of the schools the duty of keeping tho buildincs in repair. The country thus had the use of all Voluntary schools for nothing. Tne obliga- tion to keep the schools in repair would be a very serious one indeed, and would cause _a giea of anxiety. There was the conscience c< c- which forbade the managers to aLovv any religious instruction to which parents objected. In places where there was only one school. and all children had to attend it, it would certainly, he. thought, become necessary to exercise the very greatest care in such matters. In a town, of course, it would cause very little difficulty, because parents could select a, school. How was it that as mana- gers of Voluntary schools the,- were willing to accept such an ar r ai,enient? He supposed it was because they valued the education of the people, and the presence of religious teaching. He thought that those who had denied themselves time and money would have sor/ie further ae- knowledgment than they had received as yet. They had not. been working for their own personal credit, or for the advancement of their own inter- ests, but for the welfare of the community.

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