Imatges de pÓgina

demand by parents of one communion for a school of this character.

Thirdly, since the character and tone of a school depend largely on the unity of its religious instruction, the Local Authority should use the assistance of the denominations to secure for each and all of its schools, whether provided or non-provided, religious teaching supplied by one or other of the denominations at the cost of the denomination. The teacher (in the case of a large school the teachers) employed by the denomination should possess the usual Government qualifications, and should not give more than two hours' religious instruction in one day. He should not move from school to school, but should be attached to the school staff, and if used by the authorities, after his religious teaching was over, should be paid by the Authority for services so rendered. The assignment of each school to one denomination or group of denominations should be arranged by the denominations in a conference of their representatives, the Director of Education acting as arbitrator in case of any disagreement. Parents should be informed of the kind of religious instruction given at each school within their reach, and should on sending their children to school signify in writing whether they did or did not wish them to receive the religious instruction given at that school. Rent should be paid to the denomination by the Local Education Authority for denominational school buildings used for schools not confined to teachers and children of one denomination only. Thus, managers of existing denominational schools would have the choice between retaining their rights under the Act of 1902, provided that they admitted only children of their own denomination, and receiving rent without the right of appointing any teacher but the religious instructor. In neither case would the instruction cease to be denominational.

The natural objection to this scheme will be that it is far too costly to be practical. The force of the objection would depend on the willingness of the Local Authority to use the services of the teacher when not employed in giving religious instruction. Since the scheme would in effect attach to each school a supernumerary teacher qualified and accustomed to the school, there is every reason to believe that it would be welcomed by the Local Education Authorities and by the teachers, and would promote educational efficiency at a minimum cost to the schools. Nor would it in that case be much more expensive to the denominations than the proposed employment of teachers to give denominational teaching under the provisions of the Bishop of St. Asaph's Bill. It would necessitate, of course, the giving of religious instruction at other times than the first half-hour of the day, but arranged as schools now are, with abundance of class-rooms, there is not any real necessity to maintain this provision of the Act of 1870.

A far more serious objection is that of the possibility that the denominations might be unable to face the necessary expenditure, and that children would consequently grow up without religious instruction. It is of course impossible to avoid this danger without giving preferential treatment to some form of religious teaching objectionable to a large part of the community, a mere stage on the high road to secularism. But the very fact of the existence of this danger would stir up the conscience of the members of each denomination, and a sense of mutual responsibility and attachment would grow up between Sunday school and day school which would be invaluable for the maintenance of real religious life. As has already been indicated, the weakness of undenominational teaching in Council schools is its lack of any such connection. The instruction is mere instruction it is apt to lack the very soul of Christianity which is the sense of brotherhood and of mutual responsibility.

A minor objection may be raised, that parents are likely to be guided in their choice of schools by the consideration of contiguity, and that consequently the scheme would not really be consonant with the principle of parental rights. But the duty of the State in respect of parental rights has its limits. So long as a parent has a school of his own denomination which is reasonably accessible he has no cause of complaint. If he chooses a nearer school, he can either refuse the religious teaching of that school or accept it. But the good of the school as a whole must outweigh his convenience or the convenience of his children, and the good of the school demands unity of religious teaching within the school walls.

There remains the question of single-school areas. Districts which are so small that efficiency and economy demand that only one school should be maintained in them require a somewhat different treatment. Fortunately these are the districts in which religious organisations are stronger than they are in towns. Every child in these districts is known to the members of his denomination, and can be reached, as a rule, on week nights and Sundays. The plan most accordant with justice would seem to be that the Local Education Authority should build its own school, and should allow that school to be used for religious instruction during school hours by each denomination or group of denominations. As a matter of fact, Church children would probably continue in most cases to receive their teaching on their own school premises up to 9.45 A.M., while the non-Church children would be taught up to the same hour in the Council school. The question of the use of the school teacher out of school hours in these cases is not quite so simple as it is often represented to be. It would probably make for peace and for fairness in scholastic promotion if his services were not used by either side on the five schooldays. It is sad that it should be so, and that a competent and willing teacher should be muzzled ; but it is doubtful whether the

discord which might arise out of permission to teach, and out of the suspicions of corrupt influence, be not worth avoiding, even at this very heavy price. It will not be known for some ten or twenty years how much the nation owes to Church schools in single-school areas; but in time the full indebtedness will become apparent. Only those who know Arcadia intimately can estimate the moral and spiritual dangers which await a man of education without real country tastes, who is obliged to live for years in a country village. Wesley understood it when he instituted his three years' tenure for his ministers. It is to be hoped that the County Councils will devise means whereby the residence of village schoolmasters will not be too long protracted in one village. Should the teacher be out of harmony with the clergyman, and the two be entirely independent of each other, with only a very little want of tact and sweet reasonableness on either side, some of those who are now indignant because so many head-teacherships in the country are restricted to Churchmen will see that the restriction had its advantages as well as its drawbacks. But it is too late to look back. We must hope that the future may contain elements of accommodation and progress which cannot now be foreseen.

In all cases, whether in single-school areas or plural-school areas, honesty demands that schools held in trust for denominational teaching should be used for such teaching only. The fatal rock on which Mr. Birrell's and Mr. McKenna's bills have struck has been the attempt to alienate school buildings from the denomination to which they belong. These attempts have been specially resented in Lancashire, where a very large proportion of the schools have been built by the operatives, and have been the nurseries of the congregation and church which have grown up beside them. And in all parts of the country the very situation of the schools, close to the vicarage and church, makes the appropriation of them by the State a thinly disguised act of disendowment, a standing menace that further transfers' may await the property of the Church. If the State cannot use the schools on the terms on which it invited their builders to supply them, the least it can do is to respect their rights to the bare property in the buildings. Those who have no schools are prepared to make light of this point; but because they do so they cannot understand the force of the resistance encountered by their proposals as a whole.


The scheme which has been indicated in outline certainly fulfils the following requirements: (1) It makes for continuous and consistent religious instruction in each school. (2) It tends to bring that instruction into harmony with religious life outside the school. (3) It imposes no part of religious instruction on the rates and taxes. (4) It throws open all publicly paid teacherships to all teachers without distinction of creed, except in the cases where the school is entirely of one religious character, and the building provided by the denomination without any charge. (5) With that single exception, which hardly is an excep

tion, it places in the hands of the Local Authority the entire disposal of all teacherships the salaries of which are drawn from public funds. (6) It gets rid of all the problems, religious and political, which surround the existence of undenominational teaching, which as a form of religious teaching is said to be peculiar to England, and is really at the very root of all our religious difficulties. (7) It is perfectly honest in its treatment of school trusts.

These problems and many others would be still further simplified by a proper adjustment of the cost of education and fresh legislation as to the sphere of the Board of Education. Common sense would suggest that, as the teachers claim to be public servants, their salaries should be paid, like those of other civil servants, by the Board of Education, according to a fixed scale. The Local Authority should provide the school and its furniture and all school material. The framing of regulations to buildings should remain with the Board of Education, but the devising of educational curricula and the training of teachers should be delegated to the local universities, each university being responsible for its own sphere of influence. The universities also should appoint that all-important official, the Director of Education, for each locality, and through him should exercise an influence on the promotion of teachers. With the universities also should rest all questions relating to teachers' certificates and qualifications. In this way it would be possible to try educational experiments about which the Board of Education writes eloquent paragraphs without any real opportunity of giving effect to them. The decentralisation of the Board of Education is one of the most urgent of all educational reforms.

But it is little short of a sin at this time, so at least the Government Bills suggest, to imagine that education means anything but an attempt to remedy Nonconformist wrongs by putting Churchmen under the harrow. This paper is a plea that the resettlement of relations should be on intelligent and intelligible principles. If there is any real desire for peace, and all good men fain hope that there is, let it be recognised that there is no such friend of peace as the sadly old-fashioned virtue called justice.

It is impossible to conclude this paper without recording a most profound regret that it should have been necessary to suggest any resettlement. No plan can be devised which gives better security for religious instruction than the existing arrangements. A very slight alteration in single-school areas would have sufficed to remove the grievances of Nonconformist parents, but not those of Nonconformist teachers. A new situation has, however, been created by the introduction of the Bishop of St. Asaph's Bill, and by the Archbishop of Canterbury's treatment of it in the House of Lords. Undenominationalism with facilities has by high authority been indicated to be the policy of the Church, and, if the House of Commons will accept it, the House of Lords cannot be expected to reject a policy having such

strong approval from the episcopal bench. A deep conviction of the injustice, futility, and educational unsoundness of this solution has prompted the writing of this paper, which is a plea for regard to first principles of common fairness and impartiality. Without much hope of their being accepted, these suggestions have been made, and not without real sorrow for the disappointment that they will cause to many of the writer's friends. It seemed better to face this trouble than to give sanction to the idea that there was only one alternative to the existing system that Churchmen could suggest, and that an unjust one.


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