Charles Trevelyan (1870-1958) was Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education at the time of this report. He went on to become President of the Board of Education under Ramsay MacDonald's first Labour government in 1924.
For more on the background to this report, see chapter 7 of my history: search for 'Trevelyan'.
In common with other reports of the time, the Trevelyan Report was published in more than one volume. The report itself (presented here) was contained in Volume I; other material (appendices and verbatim accounts of the evidence given by witnesses) was in other volumes.
Volume I contains numerous marginal references to this other material: I have not included these references here.
The text of the 1909 Trevelyan Report was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 31 October 2020.
The Trevelyan Report (1909)
Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Partial Exemption from School Attendance
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Mr. CHARLES TREVELYAN, M.P. (Chairman).
(1) To inquire into and report upon the extent to which existing enactments relating to partial exemption from compulsory school attendance are taken advantage of in urban and rural areas in England and Wales; the occupations in which children so exempted are employed; and the effect of such occupations upon the general education and industrial training of the children.
(2) To consider the practical effects of legislation providing for the abolition or restriction of half-time employment upon industries and wage-earning, and upon educational organisation and expenditure.
(3) To report whether and to what extent, in view of these considerations, it is desirable to amend the law by raising the age at which partial exemption from attendance at Public Elementary Schools is to be permitted, or by raising the minimum age for total exemption concurrently with affording facilities for partial exemption.
1. We have the honour to submit the following Report on the questions which you referred to us in July, 1908, with regard to the partial exemption of children from compulsory attendance at School.
2. In the course of our Inquiry we have held 16 meetings at which we have examined 52 witnesses including representatives of Chambers of Commerce and Agriculture, of Associations of Employers and of Trades Unions, Officials of the Home Office, of the Board of Education and of Local Education Authorities, Members of the Consultative Committee of the Board of Education, Certifying Factory Surgeons, School Teachers, Farmers and private persons whose opinions seemed to us likely to be of value.
3. Our thanks are due to Local Education Authorities for the readiness with which they responded to our requests for returns in regard to various points upon which, in the course of our Inquiry, we felt ourselves in need of more definite information than we possessed.
4. The Committee on Wage Earning Children furnished us not only with the names of several useful witnesses, but with memoranda containing much valuable information prepared by teachers and others who had given their special attention to the question of Partial Exemption.
5. By the courtesy of mill owners members of the Committee were enabled to view several cotton, worsted and silk mills, to see the children actually at work, and to discuss the question of half-time employment on the spot with employers, mill managers and overlookers.
6. The law with regard to partial and total exemption from attendance at school, as it exists at present, is somewhat complicated, and in certain minor respects uncertain. In this connection we should like to call attention to the memorandum by Mr. H. M. Lindsell, printed in Appendix 18.
7. The ordinary obligation on a parent under the Education Acts subject to the exceptions stated below is that his child must attend school, or receive efficient instruction elsewhere, between 5 and 14 years of age. All Local Education Authorities are required to make bye-laws regulating the attendance at school of children who are not less than 5 or more than 14 years of age. At the present time the bye-laws of some half-dozen authorities fix 13 as the normal age for the termination of compulsory attendance. All other Local Education Authorities fix the age at 14. In no case can a child between the ages of 5 and 11 obtain any exemption from attendance at school, except on the ground of some reasonable excuse, such as that it is under efficient instruction in some other manner, is ill, or resides more than 2 miles (or such other distance as may be prescribed in the bye-laws) from the nearest school.
8. The ordinary age at which exemption may be obtained is 12, but under the terms of the Elementary Education Act, 1899; Local Education Authorities may include in their bye-laws a special provision allowing a child between 11 and 13 employed in agriculture to be absent from school during part of the year, if he makes 250 attendances during another part of the year.
9. At the age of 12 a child may claim partial exemption if he is employed under the Factory Act, or if he has reached the Standard of proficiency, or of previous attendance prescribed in the bye-laws of the Local Education Authority. The standard of proficiency varies between Standards III and VI of the Code, as may be fixed by the Authority, and the standard of previous attendance is 300 attendances in not more than two schools during each of five previous years.
10. A child of 12 can obtain total exemption if he has reached the standard of proficiency prescribed in the bye-laws, unless he is employed under the Factory Act, in which case he is obliged to attend school half-time till the age of 13, or unless he has taken advantage of the special provision above mentioned enabling him to be employed in agriculture at the age of 11. The standard of proficiency for total exemption varies between Standards V and VII in different localities.
11. In a large number of cases the bye-laws permit a child on reaching the age of 13 to obtain total exemption for the purpose of employment if he has made 350 attendances after five years of age in not more than two schools during each of five previous years. This is the provision under which total exemption is most commonly claimed.
12, There is no obligation on authorities to provide in their bye-laws for both partial and total exemption, and in a considerable number of cases the bye-laws contain provisions for total exemption only.
13. It ought to be borne in mind that there is a material difference between the nature of partial exemption in the textile districts and in agricultural districts. In the textile districts the bye-laws providing for partial exemption usually require the child to attend 5 meetings of the school a week. Thus the child attends the mill for half the day and the school for the other half. The mornings are spent in the mill one week and in the school the next. This alone can properly be described as a half-time system. Partial exemption in agriculture consists generally of entire exemption from school for certain months in the year. The child is allowed to be absent from school during the summer and part of the autumn, after the age of 11 or 12 as the case may be, if it has made a certain number of attendances, generally from 200 to 300, during a stated period in the rest of the year.
14. Examinations for the award of certificates of proficiency are held from time to time by arrangement with H.M. Inspector, but we find that, practically speaking, the only children who go to the trouble of entering for these examinations in order to obtain partial exemption are those who have been so irregular in their attendance in the past that they are unable to obtain the certificate of previous due attendance. 300 meetings are only about 71 per cent of the normal number of school meetings in the year, and as the average attendance of children throughout the country is almost 90 per cent it is quite exceptional for a child who has reached the age of twelve to be unable to qualify for partial exemption in this way. Indeed we find that the great majority of children have no difficulty in satisfying the condition as to 350 attendances for total exemption in those areas in which the bye-laws contain this provision.
15. It will be seen that the law allows of a great variety of local difference, of which advantage is fully taken.
16. The partial exemption system chiefly prevails in Lancashire where it is largely availed of for employment in the cotton mills; in Yorkshire, where worsted spinning and weaving are the staple industry, and in a few counties for agricultural purposes. It is not by any means the case that in all the areas where Partial Exemption regulations exist the population care to avail themselves of them.
17. We have obtained as accurate figures as possible from the various Authorities as to the number of partial exemption scholars. From the Returns so compiled it appears that the average number of partial exemption scholars during the year 1906-7 was 47,360, of whom 34,306 were employed in factories. Of those employed in factories, 20,302 are found in Lancashire, where it may be assumed that the great majority are employed in cotton mills. 10,517 are found in Yorkshire, where it may be assumed that they are mostly engaged in some branch of the worsted manufacture. The number of children obtaining partial exemption for the purpose of employment in agriculture was 3,800. There remained 9,254 children employed in other occupations. The great majority of the boys in this class were employed as errand boys by tradesmen of all descriptions, and of the girls, as domestic helps, principally in their own homes. The rest of the occupations were of a most miscellaneous character. For example, we find a few children employed as donkey boys, carters' boys, milk boys, golf caddies and hawkers; others were engaged in dairy work, dressmaking, tailoring, rag-sorting, hurdle making and sea fishing.
18. It is to be further remarked that our statistics show that where half-time is not already the custom of the district for textile or agricultural purposes, it is utilised very little for any subordinate industry or for domestic purposes. Thus there are many of the chief towns of England which have made no half-time bye-laws at all, e.g., London, Birmingham, Plymouth, Newcastle, Lincoln and York. There are also many towns where half-time regulations have been made, but where, because children are not required in the principal industries, it is not the custom for them to leave school and they are therefore not employed in other industries. Examples of this are to be found in Bristol, Manchester, West Hartlepool, Bournemouth, Norwich, Portsmouth, Hanley and Wolverhampton. Where on the other hand half-timers are employed in the staple industries of the town we find also a large number of partial exemption scholars engaged in all kinds of miscellaneous occupations. For instance in Bradford there were 326 half-timers other than those in textile employment in 1906-7, while in Leeds, with nearly twice the child population of Bradford, but where there is no textile half-time, there were only 13 non-textile half-timers. In Lancashire it may be interesting to compare Oldham, with 215 non-textile half-timers, and Warrington, where the employers agreed eight or nine years ago to employ no factory half-time labour and where consequently there is not a single partial exemption scholar though the bye-law for partial exemption still remains in force. The problem therefore with which we have to deal may be said to be confined to certain parts of the textile industries, localised chiefly in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire, and to certain counties where at present there are partial exemption provisions in force for agricultural purposes.
19. The only statistics of the number of partial exemption scholars in the whole of England and Wales which go back for any number of years are those published in the annual statistical volumes of the Board of Education. But those figures do not represent the actual number on the school registers on any given date; they merely show the number of children on account of whom the additional attendances, allowed under Article 43(c) of the Code in the case of partial exemption scholars, were claimed for any part of the school year. Thus a child who at the beginning of the school year was attending school as a partial exemption scholar, but who ceased to attend at the end of the first week on becoming totally exempt from school would be included in the total, as would also a child who became a partial exemption scholar during the last week of the school year. It is therefore clear that these figures afford a very exaggerated idea of the actual number of partial exemption scholars who were in employment at any one time, and if we take the year 1906-7, for which we have complete figures as to the average number of partial exemption scholars, we find that the number on account of whom additional attendances were claimed is almost double the average number. The numbers for that year are respectively 82,970 and 47,360.
20. While, therefore, the figures published by the Board of Education cannot be regarded as affording a reliable estimate of the actual number of partial exemption scholars at a given time in any year, they are useful as a means of judging whether partial exemption is on the increase or the decrease. Briefly, they show a very rapid fall between 1890 and 1899. In the former year the numbers were 175,437, and in
the latter 95,621. During those years the greatest decline took place between 1893 and 1895. In 1892-3 the number was 164,018, in 1893-4 140,831, and in 1894-5 126,896. This drop was no doubt largely due to the raising of the age for exemption from 10 to 11 under the Act of 1893. In 1899 the age was raised from 11 to 12 by the Act commonly known as "Robson's Act", but the full effect of this change does not appear to have been felt till 1900-1, when the numbers fell from 89,036 in the previous year to 74,468. Since that date however there has been a steady rise each year (except in 1903-4 when there was a slight fall) till in 1907-8 the number had reached 84,298.
21. We believe that this rise is mainly due to the provision contained in Robson's Act which enables a child to obtain partial exemption by the attendance qualification. In an earlier paragraph of the Report we have referred to the ease with which this condition can be fulfilled. No doubt also the recent boom in the cotton trade has tended to increase the number of half-timers, and in some areas a tightening up of the bye-laws as regards total exemption has had the effect of retaining as half-timers till the age of 14 children who might otherwise have qualified to become "young persons" at 13.
22. In forming an estimate of the value of the half-time system, it is worth while to consider what purposes it was originally expected to serve. It began in the Education Clauses of the Factory Acts of 1833 and 1844, at a time when there was no compulsory education and when the great bulk of factory children received no education worthy of the name. The provisions which required children employed in factories to attend school half the day or so many days in the week led, at least in a good many cases, to the provision of schools in districts where none previously existed, in order to enable the employers to fulfil their legal obligations. Children got some schooling where they would have got none if the employers had not had the stimulus of the educational requirements of the Act. The half-time clauses of the Factory Acts and the somewhat similar provisions in the Mines Regulation Act, 1861, were in fact the only effectual system of compulsory education existing before 1870. But now that the era of compulsory education has come and all children are under an obligation to attend school until 14, unless specially exempted, the half-time system is merely a reduction of the educational opportunities of the children to whom the exemption is applied.
23. It is not surprising, therefore, that while in 1870 the half-time system was generally applauded by educationists, who were then bent on making education general, it should now be condemned by practically all those who are considering it primarily from an educational standpoint.
ORGANISATION OF THE SCHOOLS
24. We propose to consider first the educational results of the partial exemption system. We have found that the opinion of the teachers in the schools is practically unanimous in desiring the cessation of the system of partial exemption in all its forms. An interesting summary of the views of all the head teachers of public elementary schools in Halifax is printed in Appendix 8. The objections taken in the evidence given before us are that the time, attention, and interest of the children who go as half-timers are divided between the mill and the school, and as a consequence they are unable to continue to pay proper attention to their school work. Their progress is retarded, if not absolutely brought to a standstill. The children come to school tired and sleepy. The organisation of any school in which there are half-timers suffers considerably. Arrangements have to be made for teaching in the same class children who attend the whole week and children who are only attending half. The full-time child frequently may receive two hours' instruction in a given subject, while the half-timer can only attend one hour's teaching per week in the same subject. The result is obviously detrimental to the half-lime child, who loses a large part of his education. If the half-timers are a small minority of the class they tend to be neglected and left
behind the others. If, on the other hand, they are numerous, the teacher has necessarily to give them special attention while they are in the school. The consequence is that the full-timers suffer in their turn; for the whole class tends to have its pace reduced to the pace of the slower children.
25. Another feature of the system makes the organisation of the schools still more difficult. There is no particular period of the year when children become half-timers. As soon as they reach their twelfth birthday they can, if they have made the requisite number of attendances, apply for a certificate and begin attending school half-time. Consequently there is an irregular depletion of the classes continually proceeding. A class with 50 children in average attendance at the beginning of the year may become as the year goes on a class of no more than 30 owing to the number who go to work half-time or full time. And its composition will be altering each week.
26. What makes the educational result more unfortunate is that the half-timers are drawn from the older children, and it is therefore the higher standards which are most disorganised. At a time when the value of education ought to become greater to the children, the teachers' work suffers the maximum of disorganisation. Thus in Blackburn out of 1,759 half-timers, 1,355 are found in Standards VI and VII. To cite one quite typical instance which was given us in evidence of a Standard VII class in a Bradford school. There are 48 names on the roll, 35 are half-timers. Thus there are 13 full-timers always present, and an alternating set of 17 or 18 half-timers different during every morning and afternoon.
27. A certain number of attempts have indeed been made by Education Authorities to concentrate the half-timers in particular schools or in separate half-time classes, in order to avoid handicapping the full-timers and to enable the half-timers to get special attention. There are cases where the system has met with some small success. In Halifax, in 7 schools there are half-time classes, and 239 out of 1,127 half-time scholars in the town are thus taught separately. In Darwen, in Lancashire, there are also as many as 8 half-time classes; but in general the attempt either has not been made or has been abandoned. It is found that if the half-timers are told off to certain schools, the distance they have to travel from their homes or from some of the mills is too far. It is also found difficult to dictate to parents the schools to which they are to send their children. If a child has been attending a school from infancy to 12 years of age, it is very difficult to shift it to another school when it becomes a half-timer. The constant variation in the size of the half-time classes is also a great difficulty in their organisation. They are varying almost daily owing to children arriving at the half-time age or obtaining leaving certificates on reaching the full-time age. Experience therefore shows that the separate classes for half-timers afford no practical solution of the educational difficulty.
28. We have mentioned the fact that in the textile district advantage is taken of the practice of partial exemption by non-factory children for domestic and other purposes. The number of these children in any particular school is as a rule too small to have any serious adverse effect on the general discipline or organisation of the school, but the effect of the system on their own education is probably considerably worse than it is in the case of factory half-timers. There is no obligation on them to attend any particular meetings of the school. So long as they put in five attendances in the course of the week, the conditions on which they gained their exemption are satisfied. They may evade deliberately such lessons as they dislike, and indeed as is only to be expected, their education becomes an entirely subsidiary matter to their employment.
29. We have had a good many statements made to us attributing an universal demoralising influence on the children from their early commencement of mill life. On the other hand we have had descriptions of the paternal care with which the half-timers are cared for in the mills. We think that both these generalisations are an exaggeration. It is obvious that the commencement of mill life must alter the point of view of a child considerably; and the effect of that change of view for good or evil must depend upon the particular mill. The half-time child, on going to the mill, practically begins a double life. Hitherto its attention and interest have been devoted to the school. The mill is naturally a new and superior interest
to a child of twelve. It feels that it is going out into the world. It works with adults. It thinks itself grown up. It tends to care more for the mill than the school, and to copy the talk of mill hands. We think that it is sufficiently clear that, in dealing with the unformed and impressionable minds of children of twelve, the general surroundings of their occupation are of the utmost importance. In school the adult influence to which they are subjected is that of the teachers who have been selected with special care with regard to character and attainments. Among the adult mill hands in a mill good or bad characters are to be found in the ordinary proportions existing in any kind of employment, and there are necessarily a large number of cases in which children are subjected to influences less good than in the atmosphere of the school. We have certainly a considerable consensus of evidence that a coarsening of the children does in many cases set in. This is more especially the case in the large towns where both boys and girls, when once they get the sense of freedom which the earning of a wage gives them, are apt to get out of the parental influence and to go about in the streets till late at night, to attend the music halls, and generally to adopt at once the habits of young persons several years their senior, whom they think it fine to imitate. The result is that the teachers complain that many of the children become addicted to bad language and roughness of manners to the general detriment of the schools, and in some cases, the boys especially, become less amenable to discipline.
30. The evidence with regard to partial exemption in rural districts leads us to materially the same conclusion about the educational results in agricultural districts. It is the experience of teachers that the agricultural partial exemption scholar while engaged in farm work picks up bad habits and objectionable language, and on his return to school in the autumn is impatient of restraint and exercises a very bad influence on the other children. One of our witnesses said that he had been told by two teachers that they had to give their biggest half-timers a thrashing regularly each October. Where, as is frequently the case in rural schools, the head teachers are women, a state of affairs which calls for such drastic remedies is even more serious. Nor does it appear that the partial exemption scholar himself derives any educational benefit from his compulsory attendance at the day school during the winter months. All the evidence that we have received is to the same effect, namely, that on his return to school after his prolonged absence he has forgotten much of what he had previously learnt and has acquired a distaste for schooling. It is generally impossible for a teacher in a rural school who has several classes to teach to give him the individual attention necessary to enable him to recover the ground which he has lost during the summer months.
31. It has been frequently asserted that the health of the children deteriorates as well as their morals under the half-time system. We must, however, regard this also as a too wide generalisation. In general, the occupations in which the children are employed are not specially heavy or injurious to the health. Doffing or piecing in the worsted and cotton mills is not a very laborious exercise, and it is only occasionally that we find half-time children employed in occupations such as carrying heavy weights or doing minute work which may be injurious to their eyesight. It must also be remembered that a child to be employed under the Factory Act must obtain a certificate of physical fitness from a Certifying Factory Surgeon. We were given to understand that the test is not a severe one - out of 45,555 children examined in 1907 only 743 were rejected - but there can be no doubt that it has the effect of excluding from the mills a certain number of children who are really delicate. It is, however, a generally accepted fact that the physique of factory workers is not what it should be. We are not prepared to say that half-time is the main cause of inferior physique to be found among the factory hands. But child labour, especially indoors, is liable, except under the most ideal conditions, to be inferior to school life; and there have been placed before us the results of several statistical investigations made in more than one half-time town which indicate distinctly that the weight and chest measurement and sometimes the height of half-time children are less than those of full-
time children in the same place and of the same age. These figures, which may be found in the Appendix, would appear to indicate that the general effect of factory labour begins to tell even at that early age.
32. Reference was made in the course of the evidence given by one of our witnesses to the small number of accidents to children employed in factories in comparison to the total number of accidents. But from figures supplied to us on this subject by the Chief Inspector of Factories it appears that in textile factories, in which the great majority of half-timers are employed, the accident rates for adults and young persons and for children in the years for which complete returns are available were as follows:-
It must be recollected that the hours worked by children are only about half those of adults and young persons, and it will thus be seen that although the accident rate for children has been falling rapidly it is still nearly double that for adults and young persons.
33. There is one distinctive complaint on the physical side made to us by the teachers which seems to be well sustained. Factory work in the morning necessitates much earlier rising than school life, most mills starting work at 6, whereas the schools start at 9 o'clock. The teachers find that many children, who have been in the mill during the morning, when they attend school in the afternoon, are frequently so tired that it is useless to try and get them to exert themselves, and that sometimes they are left to sleep at their desks.
34. In this connection it should be noticed that the actual number of hours during which the half-timer is employed during the day in mill and school together are greatly more than the school hours of the full-time scholar. During the week when the child attends the mill in the morning, it spends 30 hours in the factory and 12½ in the school, and during the week when it attends the school in the morning, it spends 25½ hours in the factory and 15 in the school. On an average therefore of a fortnight's work the half-time child has been engaged at work and school together for half as much again in actual hours as the full-time scholar. And when the child goes to the mill in the morning it has by the time it begins to attend school in the afternoon already worked for as long in the mill as the total school hours of a full-time child. It is not surprising that the teachers find that the faculties of the half-time children often require rest rather than exercise in the afternoon school.
35. The educational loss of the half-timer may be gauged by the small extent to which he takes advantage of opportunities for further education which offer themselves to children leaving Public Elementary Schools. Throughout Yorkshire and Lancashire there now exist many Secondary Schools with a large number of free places which can be obtained by Public Elementary School scholars with the necessary equipment, and in most of the large towns there are now systems of graded continuation schools, open for small fees to the working class population.
36. But Secondary Education is practically closed to the half-timer. In most cases, no doubt, the fact that the parents have sent their children to the mill at 12 implies that they have no anxiety for their advanced schooling. But in any case it is hopeless for the half-timer to compete with the full time scholar for Scholarships. He can, however, go to the Evening Continuation Schools. We think that it is clearly proved that much less opportunity is taken by half-timers to continue their education in Evening Schools than is the case with scholars who remain as full-timers to the end of their School course. The half-timer appears either to have lost the desire for education, or to be discouraged by his meagre attainments from following after knowledge which the full-timer is better fitted to obtain by his superior start. The attendance at Evening Classes is voluntary, and therefore depends on the influences which can be brought to bear on the children when they leave the Day
School. If the children have lost interest in their School work or have ceased to be influenced by the teachers they are less likely to attend classes of their own accord. And if their educational attainments are so small that they cannot profit by classes in which more advanced and interesting subjects are taught, but have to remain in preparatory classes where they are practically continuing elementary work, they are not likely to stay very long in the Evening School. These circumstances appear to operate very largely in confining most of the benefits of Evening Continuation Schools to those who have been full-time scholars.
37. From the evidence we have received it is clear in the first place that a smaller proportion of half-timers attend evening schools at all. In Halifax an investigation into the Evening School careers of boys between 13 and 14 years of age who entered the Evening Schools in the session 1903-4 shows that 70 per cent of those who had not been half-timers received instruction in classes above the preparatory course, while only 25 per cent of those who had been half-timers received similar instruction. But an even more marked feature is the way in which the half-timers tend to drop off after the first session, while a much larger percentage of the full-timers continue their education into the second, third and fourth years. Thus in Halifax while 33.5 per cent of the full-timers received special instruction in classes beyond the preparatory classes for at least two years, only 3.3 per cent of the half-timers stayed so long. The same general condition is to be found in other towns where half-time is prevalent.
38. There is one other point in connection with the education of partial exemption scholars generally to which we desire to call attention. Several of our witnesses referred to the practical impossibility of the boys attending courses in handicraft or of the girls in cookery. We understand that not only actual but prospective partial exemption scholars are frequently excluded from the courses in these important subjects because the arrangements require regularity of attendance at a fixed hour in each week.
39. In view of the foregoing considerations we find ourselves compelled to offer an unqualified condemnation of the educational effect of the system of partial exemption in both town and country.
40. We now come to the question of the industrial value of half-time. One of the chief arguments used in favour of continuing the system is that it gives to a large number of children an early opportunity of obtaining knowledge of the industry in which they are going to be subsequently employed, and that they acquire a skill and dexterity at the various processes which they could not obtain if they began work later. It is in fact represented as a substitute for apprenticeship.
41. We have already pointed out that where there is no agricultural or textile half-time there is no half-time in other industries. A certain number of half-timers are to be found working in bakehouses, biscuit factories and laundries in Lancashire and Yorkshire. But these industries exist in other parts of England where there is no half-time labour, and it is not contended that the children so employed have any advantage over those in Newcastle, Birmingham or Reading. The employers take advantage of a cheap form of labour customary in the district and the parents seize the opportunity of increasing the family wage. The children lose their education at school with no training to compensate them. It is still more harmful and useless where children are granted partial exemption in order to run errands, to lick labels or to act as golf-caddies, or at certain seasons at sea-side resorts to sell picture postcards or distribute programmes at popular entertainments. Many girls again in the half-time districts are kept away from school to do small jobs as domestic servants or remain at home half the day to help in the house. It cannot be argued that it is necessary to begin training for a housemaid at twelve instead of fourteen. These girls moreover lose the advantage of the thorough domestic economy training which is now given in many of our towns.
42. In the case of Partial Exemption for Agriculture very little attempt was made to argue that it had any value as training. There is a general opinion among those connected with farming that it is important for children to get early on to the land in order to become acquainted with agricultural processes and to become accus-
tomed to animals and farm work. But the irregular and temporary employment of the lads during a few weeks in the summer, though convenient to the farmers to meet the pressure of harvesting, does not give the all-round training which is wanted for a good farm labourer. We took evidence from an official of the East Riding of Yorkshire, where the Education Committee had taken the trouble to obtain accurate information as to the employment of Partial Exemption children. It appeared that none of the children were put to regular labour. They were given any odd job that needed to be done. The following are two typical specimens of the variety of employment at which children were found to be engaged:-
43. It is indeed sufficiently clear that Partial Exemption is little valued by the Agricultural community. The special exemption at the age of eleven, under Section I of Robson's Act, 1899, is practically a dead letter. Even where it is in operation very few children take advantage of it. The provisions for Partial Exemption of which advantage is taken to any extent are the ordinary Bye-laws exempting at the age of twelve. In the area, however, of 16 County Authorities in England and Wales there are no Partial Exemption Bye-laws at all. In the areas of 12 County Authorities which provide for Partial Exemption there was not a single Partial Exemption scholar. The number of Partial Exemptions for Agriculture only amounted in all to 3,800, in the year 1906-07. Of these 978 were in Cambridgeshire and 386 in the East Riding of Yorkshire, in both of which counties the Local Education Authority took the step the year before last of abolishing Partial Exemption altogether. The only place where it seems to be valued in any degree is where there is fruit picking in summer, as in Kent. There it is not argued that the industrial training is of any value to the children. But in the summer months the farmers want every hand that they can find for the fruit harvest. It is also sometimes asserted that a child is the best picker. Even where this seasonal demand for labour exists, it can very well be met in many cases by an adjustment of the summer holidays by the Education Committee to suit the local exigencies.
44. We are satisfied that as far as the Partial Exemption provisions in rural districts are concerned, they do not have the effect of giving the children any useful agricultural training, and are practically of little advantage to the farmers.
45. When we turn to the Textile Trades there is a greater difference of opinion, and we have had a wide variety of views expressed by employers, managers and overlookers in mills. A few regard the early entry to the mill as essential, deplore even the past changes which have raised the half-time age to twelve, and maintain that the mill-hands of to-day are in consequence less skilled than they were. Many others hold a more moderate opinion that it is of decided advantage to get the children early into the mills, that they learn to understand the processes and that they acquire a quickness with their fingers which is not to be obtained if they start later. Many others again entirely contradict this view, and declare that the full-timer who commences at 13 or 14 makes just as good a worker after a few months as the half-timer who started a year or two years earlier. The controversy is one which depends so largely on personal experience that it is impossible to give a decisive judgment. But there are certain facts and considerations which have impressed us in regard to it.
46. In a good many cases half-time has been voluntarily abandoned by the management of mills. Thus large numbers of cotton mills, especially those of the newer type in Lancashire have either ceased to employ or have never employed half-timers. We find that there is no desire to go back to half-time where it has once been abandoned. The full-timer is always preferred. Managers and overlookers say that he is easier to manage, and that he becomes quite as good a workman as the half-timer ever did. There is moreover nothing to denote that the mills where there are not half-timers are any less prosperous than those where they are still employed.
47. On the other hand, in mills where half-timers are to be found we met with several cases where the management was willing and even anxious to dispense with half-timers, but did not care to run counter to the custom of the district, and incur unpopularity with some of the parents and operatives. It appears to us that the feeling as to the value or half-time as a means of training is on the decline. While a good many of the mills which still take advantage of it are no longer convinced of its value, practically none of those which have abandoned it have any wish to revert to the old system.
48. In the case of Lancashire, our evidence went to show that the employers in general were ceasing to regard the retention of half-time as of great importance in cotton spinning and manufacturing. Their representatives stated that, provided the change were gradual and full-time labour could be obtained at 13, they did not expect that much opposition would be raised. Many employers frankly condemn the system. Others have abandoned it for many years.
49. The representative of the Silk Trade in Macclesfield also gave evidence that the silk employers were quite ready to abandon the employment of half-timers in all the processes of their industry. We understand that one of the leading firms in Leek attaches no importance to the employment of half-time labour.
50. We think that the feeling in favour of half-time among employers and managers is stronger in the worsted-spinning districts of Yorkshire than in Lancashire. The "early training" argument was held especially strongly by some of the employers who came to represent the views of the Bradford and Halifax Chambers of Commerce. The majority of half-timers in the Bradford trade are employed in the spinning process. They do casual jobs in sweeping and cleaning, but are chiefly occupied in doffing and piecing. For this process a certain amount of practice and quickness of the fingers is required. And it is argued that the knowledge of the wool-fibre so acquired is a valuable preliminary training for the further occupations in the mill.
51. Our attention has, however, been called rather markedly by other witnesses to certain facts in connection with the distribution of labour in the Bradford Mills. It does not appear to be the case that all the half-timers continue in the worsted industry at all. If we put aside for the moment child labour under 15, the trade is carried on mainly by women. It is true that in some of the subordinate processes males preponderate. In the combing they are as three to two. But even there we were told by representatives of both employers and workmen that the wages were low and did not afford a satisfactory means of livelihood for skilled men. In the spinning the work is mainly done by young women in the proportion of nearly four women to one man. In the weaving department the disproportion among adult workers and young persons is even greater, female labour preponderating over male by four or five to one. In spite of this fact there are nearly as many boys as girls who enter the mills as half-timers.
52. The half-timers enter almost entirely in the spinning department. There is no room in the spinning department for a large part of them as they advance in age, but most of the girls are able to obtain work if they want in weaving.
53. The position of the boys is much worse. There is adult employment for boys of special mark who may be likely to rise to be overlookers. There is the combing process with its low scale of wages, and there is some employment in spinning and weaving. But the majority of the boys do not get permanent employment in the trade at all. Doffing or piecing is no apprenticeship to them because they do not continue in the trade. Between 15 and 18 years of age the greater part of the boys leave the
trade, having lost an important part of their schooling, having acquired some preliminary knowledge of a trade which cannot find them employment, and are cast upon the labour market to try and find employment in a district which is peculiarly deficient in well-paid male occupations. As far as the boys are concerned the system seems calculated to create casual and unskilled male labour. In Halifax the position is much the same as in Bradford. We are informed that it has been ascertained, in the result of certain investigations into the careers of all the boys between 13 and 14 years of age in attendance at Evening Schools in that town in the session 1903-4, that over 40 per cent of the boys who had been half-timers, and subsequently remained in the mills as full-timers, drift into the unskilled labour market, and that 14 per cent of the boys who had been half-timers, but did not subsequently continue as mill hands, do the same. On the other hand only 3 per cent of the boys who did not work as half-timers drift into the unskilled labour market. Under these circumstances, we cannot accept without considerable qualification the argument that half-time is a valuable system of apprenticeship.
54. It was most strongly represented to us by mill owners round Bradford and Halifax that any restriction of the supply of labour is liable to cause inconvenience to employers. We can understand that where the mills are situated in villages of limited size, every hand is of value when trade is brisk, and it may be difficult to find a substitute for half-time children. But we cannot suppose that in Bradford or any other large town the labour deficiency created could not be met. It is difficult to suppose that full-timers could not gradually be substituted for half-timers without any very substantial increase in the cost of production, and any such reorganisation of labour should be of material help in dealing with the problem of boy labour which is so pressing in the district. It appears indeed that in Bradford this process of the employment of full-timers in place of half-timers actually attained considerable proportions about the year 1902, when there were only 2,993 half-timers as compared with 4,775 in 1908, while there were 2,389 full timers in 1902 as compared with 308 in 1908.
55. We feel compelled to doubt whether there is anything in the processes of cotton and worsted spinning and weaving which differentiates them so completely from other industries as to make it essential to have children at 12 to commence labour.
56. Half-time appears to depend more upon custom than any clearly provable necessity. Some years ago there were many half-timers in Huddersfield. A large part of the upper classes in many schools were disorganised by half-timers. About the year 1880 the School Board began to take steps to discourage it by dissuading the parents or refusing certificates if the circumstances of the family were not such as really to require the additional wage. The number of half-timers fell in a steady decline from 1,762 in 1879, to 1,110 in 1882, to 751 in 1891, to 94 in 1901, when public opinion enabled the school board to dispense with a half-time bye-law, and to-day there are no half-timers in Huddersfield at all. It is true that the trade is not precisely the same as in Halifax or Bradford. But it is the case that half-time was considered as necessary for it twenty years ago, until the contrary was proved by experIence.
57. A study of the conditions in Scotland affords the same contrast. In the textile industries round Glasgow and in the Border woollen towns there used to be a system of half-time. It has been gradually abandoned, and at present the only town in Scotland in which there are many half-timers is Dundee where there were in 1905, 266 half-time children as survivals of the system.
58. The main obstacle however to the disappearance of half-time is the custom of the textile districts. The children themselves like going to the mills. At first, at any rate, they enjoy the sense of becoming grown up and independent, and of having money to spend. We were not surprised to hear of a case where out of 300 children questioned only 7 replied that they would have preferred not to have gone to the mill. The regrets come later, when the young person of 18 or 20 begins to miss the schooling that might have led to a better position in life and better wages in the long run.
59. It is among a section of the working-class themselves that the half-time system finds very strong support. The feeling that it is worth making almost any sacrifice to prolong the education of a child is spreading only slowly through society. The parents of the children in the textile towns earned money as half-timers for their parents. They think it natural that their children should do the same for them. The wage of £5 to £10 a year which the half-timer can bring in is a welcome addition to the family income. It has often not occurred to them to weigh the value of the investment in a good education against the immediate gain of an increase of family comfort. It is all the more difficult to bring this home to the parents because the children do remain at school for half the week, and the educational loss is not so obvious as if the child were entirely absent from school.
60. Another motive frequently present in the mind of the parent is to get the child into the mill that it may be under the notice of the managers and so run a better chance of promotion than if it came as a full-timer. It is hardly necessary to point out that if half-time did not exist all children would be in the same position.
61. In some cases, also, it is to the interest of the operatives in the mills to employ half-timers. In certain mills and in some processes the operative chooses his assistants and pays them himself, and so is frequently apt to prefer half-time labour as being the cheapest. The representative of the twisters and drawers-in explained to us that the reachers-in who are employed by the operatives in his branch of the industry are paid by the men themselves. Unless they can see the prospect of an increase in their wage to enable them without loss to pay more to their reachers-in, they are anxious to be able to continue to employ the cheap half-timer.
62. It is frequently asserted that the reason why half-time is supported by many of the working class is because it provides wages for the families of widows and others in straitened circumstances. We find however that though there are cases where the half-time wage may save a family from serious distress or application for poor relief, such cases are not very numerous and are certainly not the main reason for the continuance of half-time. The wages earned by the half-timers are never very considerable; in many cases in the cotton trade no payment is made for some weeks and in some cases months. It is true that during the recent cotton boom in Lancashire half-time wages sometimes reached as much as 5s. or more a week, but the average is much lower. The results of a series of Returns from typical schools in half-time districts, obtained from the Local Authorities, show that the average wage earned by half-timers in the Oldham Schools was 2s. 7¼d., in the Blackburn Schools 1s. 2¾d., and in the Bradford Schools 4s. 2¾d. The Clerk of the Halifax Education Committee calculates the average wage of half-timers at 3s. a week. It is clear then that the half-time wage can rarely make the difference between poverty and comfort.
63. But the system cannot be regarded as a method of relieving poverty. The employment of half-timers bears no relation to the poverty statistics, as will be seen from Appendix 13. There is even a tendency for half-time to increase as poverty decreases. For as trade improves and mills want labour the demand for half-timers increases as well as that for adult labour. We have been supplied with Returns which show conclusively that the great majority of half-timers come from families that are earning good wages. The Half-time Council obtained the facts about 13,169 half-time children a few years ago, and found that only 1,296, or less than one-tenth, were children of widows. But the figures in the special Returns which we obtained show how little the wage is a necessity wage. In no case, it will be observed, do the figures indicate that a large proportion of the families are depending on child labour. The nearest approach to any such parasitic condition is in Bradford, where, as we have already pointed out, male labour has few outlets, and those often ill-paid owing to the prevalence of female and child labour in the district. We are informed, indeed, both by representatives of employers and workmen that the low wages of wool-combers are a considerable stimulus to half time.
64. An interesting experiment has been recently made in Bury, in Lancashire, on the lines of that of the Huddersfield School Board in 1880. The Education Committee
of Bury during the last few years have been refusing half-time certificates in all cases where the parents cannot convince them of the necessity of an addition to the family wage. During the years when the number of half-timers was rising throughout the other textile districts there was a progressive reduction in Bury from 672 half-timers in 1904 to 252 in 1908. Thus even a moderate application of a poverty test has reduced the proportions of half-time in Bury to a comparatively unimportant problem.
65. Even if half-time were actually one method of meeting distress we are not disposed to regard it with much favour for that purpose. It is hopelessly inadequate. It is obtained at the expense of the weakest part of the family. It is not found necessary except in the textile districts. There is a large part of the population in London as poor as in Bradford, and there is poverty in Newcastle and the towns of the North-east coast as well as in Lancashire. But half-time is not regarded as a remedy for poverty in London or the North-east.
66. We think that if half-time were abolished it would certainly be desirable to leave some opportunity to Education Authorities to exempt children from attendance in cases of hardship. But we think that the proposals which we make later for conditional total exemption after the age of 13 will sufficiently meet any cases of necessity without too injuriously affecting the education of the children.
67. There seems to be no doubt at present that a large number of the working class of Lancashire are not yet prepared voluntarily to accept any raising of the age, and are averse to any such legislative enactment. The leaders of the operatives, the Trades Councils, and Trades Union representatives are very generally in favour of raising the age. Last year a representative conference voted by a majority of 186 to 27 "in favour of the abolition of half-time up to the age of 13". When, however, a vote was taken in February, 1909, of the whole of the cotton operatives there was a great majority against any change. 151,032 voted against and 34,120 for raising the age to 13. There can therefore be no doubt that the opinion of the leaders has run ahead of the rank and file.
68. We think it possible that the same kind of feeling exists to some extent among the working class in the worsted districts of Yorkshire. There again the Trade Union leaders and the Trades Councils are in favour of raising the age. The delegates even of the wool-combers in Bradford, whose low wages are alleged to cause them to need the half-time wages of their children, voted in favour of it in July, 1908. Our impression is, however, that in these districts also some of the working class are less advanced than their leaders, and are not yet prepared to accept the abolition of half-time without a good deal of protest.
69. In both counties we think it is exceedingly probable that the views of the working-class leaders represent what will be the eventual opinion of the workpeople as a whole. We have had evidence which leads us to consider that the belief in the advantages of half-time is less deep-rooted than it was. And a further modification of the system would probably be followed in time by the same acceptance of the new conditions which has invariably followed each of the similar changes in the past.
70. We have already stated that the children who take advantage of partial exemption in agriculture are very few, and we have had no evidence which shows that the parents place any value upon it.
71. After reviewing all the conditions of partial exemption we are unable to recommend its continuance. We think, however, that in consideration of the age of the system and the long custom of the people, ample notice should be given of any intention to alter the law. We think also that any half-timer in employment at the date of the change should be permitted to continue for as long as he would have been had the law remained unaltered.
72. We do not believe that there would be any advantage in abolishing partial exemption in two stages by raising the age first from 12 to 13 and a few years later abolishing it altogether. It is impossible to find out with accuracy the exact number of half-timers between 13 and 14, but such evidence as we have points to their being a small proportion of the whole. There is a general agreement that in the event of raising the age from 12 to 13 the system will be practically abolished, for unless it became impossible to get any children full-time in the mills the employers would not find it worth their while to encourage half-timers for only one year. In any case a second disturbance in the arrangements for labour within a few years would be clearly undesirable. We therefore recommend the total abolition of partial exemption in a single change.
73. We have been asked further to consider whether we should recommend the raising of the age for total exemption concurrently with a half-time exemption at a higher age than at present. We are unable to agree to any perpetuation or recreation of half-time after the experience of the past. Almost all the educational objections which have influenced us in desiring the abolition of half-time between 12 and 14 would be just as serious with children between 13 and 15 or 14 and 16 years of age. The schools would be disorganised in their upper classes. The same failure to realise either the advantages of a thorough education or a thorough industrial training would be experienced.
74. We hold strongly that the day schools would be better henceforward attended only by full-time scholars. It is possible that as public opinion matures it may become practicable to raise the age for full time exemption. If so, it is most desirable that the change should not be complicated by the existence of the present dual system, under which, while the nation professes to accept a certain standard of age for leaving school, the children do, in fact over important areas of the country, end their serious education one or two years earlier.
75. We think that it is desirable that all total exemption below the age of 13 should now be abolished. It is utilised comparatively little, and only in non-factory employment.
76. We do not, however, feel called upon to make any definite recommendation with regard to the maintenance or alteration of total exemption over the age of 13. Our inquiry has only extended over certain industries and in certain localities in which advantage is taken of partial exemption. We have pointed out that there is a considerable force of opinion in favour of the abolition of half-time. But we are bound to observe that a great deal of that willingness to accept a change depends upon the possibility of the maintenance of total exemption at 13. This feeling was most strongly expressed by the agricultural witnesses. It also appeared in the evidence of the representatives of Lancashire employers who were ready to abandon half-time. We should have been bound, moreover, in order to express a considered judgment on the subject to have asked for evidence from a variety of industries in other parts of the country where half-time is not utilised but where large numbers of children are employed full time at 13.
77. But we have had to pay a good deal of attention to the conditions now required for total exemption. We cannot regard these conditions at present as either educational or reasonable. The object of the standard exemption adopted in the byelaws of the local authorities, was intended to secure that at least some standard of education should be reached by the child who obtains exemption. This object we find is practically unattained under the present system. Since the Local Education Authorities can adopt as an alternative for the children the attendance certificate by which they may obtain total exemption on 350 attendances for five years, this form of exemption has been very generally adopted. The result is that the standard qualification ceases to be of any importance, and children leave under the attendance exemption. Almost the whole of the children can qualify, except those who have been absent through long illnesses. Thus the present conditions of exemption are practically no educational test. We will give one instance to show how easily the attendance certificate for total exemption can be obtained. In 1906-7 the number of children
between 12 and 13 years of age on the registers of the public elementary schools in Burnley was 2,055. In the following year 1,352 attendance certificates for total exemption were granted to children between 13 and 14 years of age while only 106 children qualified for total exemption by reaching the prescribed standard. We therefore recommend that the Attendance exemption should be abolished.
78. If children are to leave school at so early an age as 13, we are strongly of opinion that there should be some greater security than at present for their efficient education. This might be attained better than at present by giving a Local Authority power to exempt a child, if and so long as they are satisfied as to the industrial value of the employment or the necessitous circumstances of the family, on condition of his due attendance at a Continuation Class. We do not prejudge the general question of compulsory Evening Classes for children who have passed the Day School age, but we think that this requirement upon all children leaving school as early as 13 years of age would be some security that the advantages of their education would not be lost. It would, moreover, make it probable that they would become accustomed to attendance at an Evening School and would see the advantage of continuing their education there even after the compulsory age is passed.
79. A system much the same as that which we propose has been in satisfactory operation in Scotland now for some years. The law permits the School Board to exempt from attendance either conditionally or unconditionally. The only condition which may be imposed is a requirement to attend a Continuation Class. There were 5,930 children exempted under this provision in the year 1907. The power of unconditional exemption is much less used. Only 1,686 children were unconditionally exempted in 1907.
80. Even where there are cases of great want in a family we do not see why the condition as to attendance at Continuation Classes should not be required. It is just as necessary for children of very poor families to continue their education as any others.
81. We have given our consideration to the question whether a "Standard" qualification should be retained as an alternative condition of exemption. A number of the witnesses expressed doubts as to the feasibility of requiring children to attend Evening Schools after a full day's work. If the Continuation Classes could be held in the daytime and the exigencies of trade permitted of the attendance of the children thereat, this objection would fall to the ground, and in such cases no alternative condition of exemption would be necessary. But in the majority of cases we anticipate that the Continuation Classes would take the form of Evening Schools, and unless some arrangement could be arrived at with employers for the restriction of the hours of labour on the days on which attendance at school is required, it is possible that compulsory attendance in the evening might prove detrimental to the health of the more delicate of the children. Moreover, in country districts especially, there are certain objections to girls being required to attend Evening Schools, particularly during the winter months. In view of these considerations we are disposed to recommend that Local Authorities should have the option, with the consent of the Board of Education, of adopting a Standard exemption as an alternative to attendance at a Continuation Class. If a Standard qualification be retained, we think that it should represent fairly advanced attainments, and should never be lower than Standard VI. At the same time we recognise that there are grave objections to the retention of a system which leads to the cleverest children leaving school early, and often to a system of cramming in order to attain the required standard. In these cases also we consider that exemption should only be granted if, and so long as, the Authority are satisfied that the employment is beneficial or necessary.
82. It would thus be open to a Local Education Authority either to permit no exemption at all before the age of 14 or to permit exemption at the age of 13 for beneficial or necessary employment on condition of due attendance at a Continuation Class, or, with the consent of the Board of Education, in consideration of the attainment of a high standard of educational proficiency.
83. We are of opinion that all matters connected with the education of children, whether employed in factories or not, should be dealt with entirely under the Education
Acts, and, as a corollary to our recommendations, we suggest that the somewhat obsolete Education clauses of the Factory Act, which were framed before the establishment of educational bye-laws became compulsory, and which have been the cause of much of the complication which has arisen in the past, should, so far as England and Wales are concerned, be repealed.
84. We have ascertained that in the year 1906-7 the average number of partial exemption scholars was about 47,500. Such evidence as we have been able to obtain points to the fact that the very great majority of these children are between 12 and 13 years of age, and we think that we shall be fairly correct in assuming that for every partial exemption scholar between 13 and 14 there are four between 12 and 13. This would give us 38,000 partial exemption scholars between 12 and 13 and 9,500 between 13 and 14. If partial exemption be abolished and the minimum age for exemption be raised to 13, the 38,000 children between 12 and 13 would be required to attend school full-time instead of half-time. As regards the children between 13 and 14 we must reckon at any rate at first that the majority would obtain complete instead of partial exemption from school. If it be assumed that 6,500 would be exempted 3,000 would be retained in school full-time. In place therefore of 47,500 children in half-time attendance there may be expected to be 41,000 children in full-time attendance; in other words, there would be an increase in the number of children in regular attendance at school equivalent to 17,250 whole-time scholars. We have also to take into account the number of children who, under the existing system, would obtain total exemption at the age of 12, but who would be retained in school at least to 13 if the minimum age for exemption were raised to 13. From such evidence as we have received on the point it would appear that there were about 5,300 such children, and we therefore anticipate that the abolition of partial exemption coupled with the raising of the minimum age for exemption to 13 would necessitate provision being made in the Day Schools for the instruction of about 22,550 additional whole-time scholars.
85. It is not possible for us to ascertain the extent to which each particular locality would be likely to be affected, but we have reason to suppose that in a considerable number of cases the additional children would be absorbed in the existing schools without necessitating any increase of staff. For instance, in those areas in which partial exemption consists in continuous absence from school during the summer, and every partial exemption scholar is back at school in the winter, the only additional children for whom new provision would have to be made would be the few who under the present system would have obtained total exemption at 12. We understand also that in Accrington, Blackpool, Bolton, Clitheroe, Colne, Haslingden, and Preston, all that would be necessary would be the transfer of a certain number of children from a few schools to other similar schools nearby. In other places, such as Ashton-under-Lyne, Blackburn, Burnley, Chorley, Darwen, Nelson, and some of the smaller urban and rural districts in the administrative county of Lancashire, where half-time is prevalent, some slight increase in staff and classrooms might be found necessary, but in several of these cases the provision of additional accommodation is at the present time under consideration.
86. In view of these considerations we feel that it would be impossible to put forward any reliable estimate of the additional local cost which the proposed changes would involve. But we cannot think that they would be likely to throw any serious financial burden on Local Education Authorities. Indeed we have little doubt that in many cases any additional cost will be largely if not entirely met by the increased grants earned from the Board of Education. On the other hand we are hopeful that the lengthening of the period of school life, and the removal of those difficulties of organisation in the higher classes of the schools which teachers and officers of Education Authorities alike deplore, will ensure a better value being obtained for the immense sums now spent upon Elementary Education.
87. As regards the increased cost to the Exchequer we find that the sum of the Annual Grant, Aid Grant and Fee Grant paid on account of children other than infants is approximately £2 1s. 6d. per child in average attendance. The Code permits of every attendance made by a partial exemption scholar being counted as an attendance and a half for the purposes of grant, and thus each partial exemption scholar earns approximately three-fourths of the grant which he would have earned had he been in whole-time attendance.
88. A grant is also paid for the instruction of children, generally over 11 years of age, in special subjects such as Cookery and Handicraft, but we believe the grant earned by partial exemption scholars in respect of instruction in these subjects to be so insignificant, that we may disregard it entirely in forming our estimate of the increased grants which our proposals would involve. This grant amounts approximately to 1s. 3d. per child of 11 and over in average attendance. We therefore calculate that the changes which we recommend would result in an increased cost to the Exchequer as follows:-
89. We have ascertained that nearly 180,000 children between 13 and 14 years of age leave the Public Elementary Schools annually. Some 40,000 of these children continue their education in Evening Schools and Classes and the like, and a small number enter Secondary Schools, leaving a surplus of nearly 140,000 children who, for the time being at all events, entirely discontinue their education. It is impossible for us to make any estimate as to the number of these children for whom the local authorities are likely to try and make provision in Continuation Classes under the new conditions which we propose for exemption. Consequently it is impossible for us to suggest what increased expenditure is likely to be required.
90. It may, however, be useful to give some indication of the average cost per child of such provision as we contemplate. It appears from the Returns of Expenditure in respect of Higher Education furnished by Local Authorities to the Board of Education that in the year 1906-7 the average cost per head of the provision made for the instruction of persons whose main occupation at the time was other than study was about £1 10s. 4d., towards which the Exchequer provided about 9s. 10d. But this instruction includes in addition to Continuation Classes of a preparatory nature technical classes of a highly advanced type, and inasmuch as more than half the students in attendance were over the age of 18, it seems natural to suppose that the average cost of classes suitable to children between 13 and 14 years of age is appreciably less than this figure. There should moreover be a reduction of the average cost in all those parts of the country where a system of Continuation Classes is already in existence, and where many of the children would be absorbed in the present classes at little or no additional expense.
91. We therefore recommend -
(1) That all Partial Exemption be abolished from a date not earlier than January 1st, 1911.
(2) That, at the same time Total Exemption under the age of 13 be abolished.
(3) That the Attendance Certificate for Total Exemption be abolished.
(4) That Total Exemption at the age of 13 be granted only for the purposes of beneficial or necessary employment.
(5) That the ordinary condition for Total Exemption be due attendance at a Continuation Class, but
(6) That subject to the approval of the Board of Education, an Authority may adopt as an alternative condition the passing of a Standard not lower than Standard VI.
(7) That nothing in any new legislation shall affect any children who at the date on which it comes into operation are partially or totally exempt from attendance at School under the bye-laws previously in force.
(8) That in the application of the Factory Act to England and Wales the provisions of Sections 68 to 72 shall cease to be operative.
92. In conclusion, we wish to express our high appreciation of the services of our Secretary, Mr. C. E. Sykes, whose zeal, ability and industry have contributed in no small degree to the successful completion of our investigations.
We have the honour to be, Sir,C. E. SYKES (Secretary).Your obedient Servants,
23rd July, 1909.