(By JOHN WATSON, B.A. (Lond.),
Headmaster of Broughton
Higher Grade School, Edinburgh.)
SCHOOL PREMISES, 1873-1907.
Nothing can more strikingly
show the inadequacy of the school premises in 1872 than the fact that in 34
years (1873-1907) the School Boards of Scotland spent upwards of ten and a
half million pounds on the erecting, enlarging and improving of school
buildings. Of this vast sum £578,000 was contributed from the imperial funds
the rest was from the local rates, on which £5,740,000 yet remain as a
burden. The building activity still (1908) continues; but it takes the form
of providing Higher Grade and Supplementary Schools, and of improving
existing buildings, providing shelter-sheds, supplying pure water, improving
lavatories, and, generally speaking, making the schools more comfortable and
more in accordance with modern educational and sanitary requirements. In
such directions, as well as in providing for the natural increase of the
population, and for the shifting-especially in mining districts-from one
industrial centre to another, building is likely to continue for some time
to come. In it there seems to be no finality. It has not been confined to
School Boards. The Roman Catholic Schools in Scotland in 1872 numbered 22;
in 1907 there were 208.
ACCOMMODATION AND STAFF.
The Schools under inspection
in 1872 had room for 281,688 scholars. In 1907 accommodation was provided
for well over a million. In the same year the army of Scottish teachers was
21,220 strong, of whom over 15,000 were trained; 2,614 untrained; and 3,585
Juveniles (Pupil Teachers). A comparison with 1906 shows a remarkable change
in the composition of this force. The trained teachers had increased by 835;
whilst the untrained and Pupil Teachers had decreased by 180 and 738
respectively. Since then the diminution in the number of Pupil Teachers
employed has been greatly accelerated. Many of the larger Boards, such as
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen, have ceased to employ them, and
smaller Boards have not been slow to follow their example. The system is
doomed. The day appears to be at hand when only trained, adult teachers will
be employed in our Scottish Schools.
CHANGES IN THE TYPE OF
The type of education in
recent years has been gradually changing. There is less striving after
mechanical accuracy. Greater efforts are being made to render the pupils
intelligent and self-reliant. In arithmetic, for instance, long sums are
discarded ; but much time is devoted to mental arithmetic and to the working
of short sums of a practical nature. The time allotted to Parsing has been
greatly reduced. The teaching of Composition has vastly improved.
Promotion is no longer a
yearly occurrence--regulated by H. M. Inspector's visit-for duxes and dunces
alike. Bright pupils may be advanced at any period of the year. Many schools
aim at bridging the gulf between the Infant Department and the Qualifying
Examination in five years. Under the old regime the normal period for doing
this would have been six years. H. M. Inspectors, as a rule, favour the
shortened time. Children of more than average ability can easily do it those
with less should not attempt it.
This has assumed a kindlier
aspect. Mutual confidence between teacher and pupil is very common, and will
probably become more so as the size of classes is reduced, and other
conditions of teaching are made more favourable.
By the Act of 1890 provision
was made for the instruction of blind, and deaf-mute children ; and powers
were given to School Boards by the Education of Defective Children
(Scotland) Act (1906) to deal with children who are epileptic, crippled, or
defective. Some of the larger School Boards have made profitable use of
EDUCATION (SCOTLAND) ACT,
'The educational event of
1908 was the passing of the long-looked-for Education (Scotland) Act, which
came into force on the 1st of January, 1909. Many of the defects of the old
system, notably cumulative voting, 'small areas,' the lack of correlation
between the various classes of schools, and the inequalities of rating in
different districts, have been allowed to remain. The time available was too
limited for the discussion of such controversial subjects. Much, however,
has been done. The physical welfare of the children occupies a prominent
place. School Boards may provide for the accommodation, equipment, apparatus
and service for preparing and supplying meals to them; but the cost of the
food itself (except in special cases) must either be met by the parents or
defrayed by voluntary contributions. Where necessary, clothing also may be
supplied ; and parents who through neglect or carelessness send their
children to school in a filthy or verminous condition, may be prosecuted.
Agencies may be established and maintained for collecting and distributing
information as to employments open to children when they leave school.
School Boards may, and-when required by the Department-shall provide for the
medical inspection and supervision of the pupils in their districts,
one-half of the cost being paid out of the district education fund. Parents
are required to provide efficient education for their children between the
ages of 5 and 14 years. The dates of entering and leaving school, however,
may not coincide with the birthdays of the pupils. Power has been conferred
on School Boards to prescribe two or more dates per year at which scholars
may be admitted to school or leave it, and pupils must be enrolled on the
prescribed date succeeding the fifth anniversary of their birthday, and must
not leave (unless exempted by the Board) before the prescribed date after
they have reached the age of fourteen.
For young persons above that
age suitable provision shall be made in day or evening continuation classes
or in both for physical training and for instruction in the laws of health
and in the crafts and industries practised in the district. School Boards
"have the power to make bye-laws to enforce attendance at these classes up
to, but not beyond, the age of seventeen.
TENURE OF OFFICE AND PENSIONS.
The position of the teachers
has been distinctly improved by the Act. The right of appeal to the
Department in the case of dismissal gives them greater security of tenure.
The repeal of the restriction to grant retiring allowances imposed on School
Boards by the Elementary School Teachers' (Superannuation) Act, 1898, is in
itself a great gain. But the greatest is the prospect of a satisfactory
solution of the superannuation problem for teachers in all classes of
schools. The Department has been instructed to prepare a Superannuation
Scheme applicable to teachers and to constitute and administer a
Superannuation Fund for Scottish teachers, which fund shall consist of six
per cent. of the teachers' yearly salaries (four per cent. payable by
teachers and two per cent by School Boards) with an additional yearly sum
payable from what is henceforth to be known as the Education (Scotland)
Fund. The retiring allowances to teachers are to be in proportion to their
salaries and length of service.
The Education (Scotland) Fund
just referred to, shall consist of nearly all sums payable for education in
Scotland except university grants, the school grants under the Code, and a
fee grant of twelve shillings per child in average attendance at
non-fee-paying schools. It is to be distributed by the Department and not by
local bodies. The Fund is to be applied to providing for the expenses of
inspection of intermediate and secondary schools, to payments to the
Universities and central institutions such as Technical, Agricultural and
Art Colleges, to Provincial Committees for the Training of Teachers, and to
the Superannuation Fund already mentioned.
DISTRICT EDUCATION FUNDS.
The balance is to be
allocated for education in districts under local management, and is to be
known as `The District Education Fund.' From it payments are to be made to
School Boards and other governing bodies for pupils attending Intermediate
or Secondary Schools within their districts but residing outwith them; and
bursaries are to be provided to enable duly qualified pupils to obtain
education at approved supplementary courses, Intermediate and Secondary
Schools, Training Centres, Agricultural, Technical, and Training Colleges,
and the Universities.
The Act of 1872 provided
specially for children of average strength and ability; the Act of 1908
descends farther and soars higher. It cares, on the one hand, for the feeble
in mind or body as well as for the hungry and the naked; and, on the other,
for the strong in intellect who promise to become captains of industry, or
leaders in the world of Commerce, Science, Art, Literature, or Thought. If
it is carried out in the spirit in which it has been conceived no Scottish
lad of `pregnant pairts' need lack his opportunity.
It may be added that the
School Boards elected since the passing of the Act of 1908 have entered on
their new duties in a most praiseworthy spirit. They have fixed dates for
entering and leaving school, made arrangements for the appointment of
medical officers, and, as a rule, granted additional allowances to teachers
who had retired under the Superannuation Act of 1898.