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SCHOOL ATTENDANCE.

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SCHOOL ATTENDANCE. By far the best utterance we have yet had on the vexed question of school attendance in Wales is that of Mr. DARLINGTON at the Mid-Cardiganshire Educational Conference on Saturday. We have from the commence- ment devoted considerable space to the dis- cussion of this question, and this week again we publish a full report of the debate in the House of -Lords, and the deliberations of the Conference at Felinfach. Mr. DARLINGTON pointed out that the reports of the examiners of the intermediate schools had been a rude awakening to them in Wales. These had shewn them that for some reason or other the state of elementary education in Wales was not what it ought to be. There was something out of order in the system. We have been told that in comparison with Eng- land and Scotland, Wales comes out a bad third in point of attendance. But there was nothing new in that, said Mr. DARLING- TON. Public opinion in Wales was not so enlightened on these matters as it was in Scotland, and the history of the two countries would explain the difference. The Welsh system of education has only been completed within recent years, while Scot- land has enjoyed the advantages of a Univer- sity and good schools for nearly five aentouries. But if Wales came out a bad third in attendance she was far ahead in other phases of education. At the Confer- ence on Saturday it was resolved to adopt the Model Bye-Laws of the Education De- partment, without a half-time clause, and with Standard V, or any standard above that as the standard of exemption. It remains to be seen how this scheme will work with- out the half-time clause. The half-time system is, no doubt, a great disadvantage to the children from the educational point of view; and experience has shown that the half-timer soon falls behind other school children in educational progress. In mov- ing the second reading of the Education of Children Bill in the House of Lords on Friday, Viscount KNUTSFORD said that it must be admitted, from experience in this country and on the Continent, that the half- time system was absolutely necessary, both in manufacturing and in agricultural dis- tricts. But there was a great distinction between the case of children in agricultural districts and those in manufacturing dis- tricts and that distinction had been met by a provision in the Bill which provided that the local authority for any district might by by-law for any parish within their district fix thirteen years as the minimum age for exemption from school attendance in the case of children to be employed in agri- culture, and that in such parish such children over eleven and under thirteen years of age who had passed the standard fixed for partial exemption from school at- tendance by the bye-laws of the local authority should not be required to attend school more than 250 times in any year. This provision only dealt with agricultural districts; and only applied to cases where the age of exemption had been raised by local authorities to the age of thirteen. Vis- count KNUTSFORD said that the adoption of a scheme in Germany and Switzerland under which children were allowed to work in summer and attend school in winter had worked most admirably, and in certain dis- tricts in those countries the exemption age was as high as fourteen, fifteen, and even sixteen years. The child did not lose any schooling, and it got two winters' schooling for one summer's play. By this system the parents would obtain the earnings of their children, who would be working legitimately for a period of the year and be saved the annoyance of visits from a school attendance officer. The adoption of this system would also be of great advantage to ahe farmers, for they would get assistance just at the busy period of the year. The proviso had been very carefully considered by the Education Department and by experienced officials of that Department, who saw no reason why it should not be passed. We are glad to find that the agitatior:for a better attendance at schools is already bearing fruit, and it is to be hoped that the new Association will have a successful career. The forthcoming visit of Dr. MACNAMARA to the county should also prove a stimulus, and bear good results.

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