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Higham Ferrers - Lecture

From Wellingborough & Kettering News 21/02/1890, transcribed by Peter Brown

Lecture on Education at Higham Ferrers.

On Monday evening, Mr. J. R. Wilkinson, of Addington gave his lecture entitled "Denominational Educational weighed in the balance and found wanting.”

Mr. J. H. Sanders was voted to the chair, and briefly introduced the lecturer.

Mr. Wilkinson said the great question of education could not be shelved, notwithstanding that Lord Salisbury had gone back from his promise. What they needed was a really national systemof education. There were now 10,000 villages and towns in which there were no School Boards. Having noticed the fast increase in the Denominational Schools since 1870, he went on to say that all educationists who put education first and party afterwards were agreed that the dual system of education cannot last. It therefore behoved all who took an interest in the subject to consider which was the best system. He then proceeded to show the small amount paid in denominational schools by the subscribers in comparison to the amount paid for fees and grants, and he further stated on the authority of the Government Blue Book that Board Schools are better taught and managed than denominational schools. In the latter the minimum area for a child was eight feet, while in the Board Schools it is ten feet, and this allows an overcrowding of 480,000 scholars in the denominational schools over what would be allowed in the Board Schools. The lecturer gave figures bearing out his contention that education results in the Board Schools were superior to those in Denominational, and he quoted extracts from the Inspectors’ reports to prove that the Denominational system had a tendency to lower the Standard of Education. Mr. Mundella had remarked upon the difference between Scotch and English people on this subject and stated that when at the Education Department, if a Scotchman waited upon him it was usually to ask that the Standard of Education might be raised, while English deputations generally wished it lowered. This was accounted for by the fact that in Scotland they had a national system of education, while in this country the denominational system tended to starve the schools by an insufficient staff and apparatus. After pointing out that Denominational Schools were restricted in the choice of teachers and often appointed them, not so much because of their capacity to teach as because of their ability to play the organ at Church, Mr. Wilkinson proceeded to comment on the injustice of the present system to Nonconformists and urged that it violated the principle that taxation and representation should go together. All sections of the community had to pay the taxes but at present the taxpayer had no more voice in the management of the schools than a cow or a sheep, while, as a matter of fact, the present system placed in nearly every parish two agents of the Conservative party, viz., the clergyman and the schoolmaster, and the school building, to which all the children were sent for their education, was refused for the meetings of one of the great political parties in the State. A hearty vote of thanks to the lecturer terminated the proceedings.

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