SIR,—An article which appeared in The Spectator on November 6th
presented the report of the National Society on the Dual System in a very favourable light. But as the Church Assembly which meets on November 17th is to be asked to endorse this report it is right the they and other members of the Church of England should realise that the
proposals made in the Report will be largely unacceptable to thousands of people, and if pressed in their present form may cause serious dissension at a time when national unity ought to be maintained.
It is notorious that a very large number of denominational schools fail to meet modern educational requirements. For the past forty years the public purse has borne at least 95 per cent. of the cost of education in these schools, while the denominations concerned have had the advantage of using the premises on Sundays and on weekdays out of school hours. In such circumstances, the reasonable policy is to transfer to the local education authorities for their use all those school buildings which Anglicans are unable or unwilling any longer to maintain.
But the National Society takes another course and seeks a solution of its troubles by making deficiencies good at the public expense. The Society proposes that some of its schools should receive an Exchequer grant towards the cost of alterations and improvements and yet maintain their denominational character unimpaired.
In a second type of school it is realised that no funds will be forth- coming from denominational sources. So it is proposed that the whole burden of alterations, repairs and upkeep should be transferred to the shoulders of the local education authorities. The plain man would say that such a school having lost its original voluntary character ought to become a Council school under full public control. But while the National Society pays lip-service to the principle of public control it still puts forward reservations regarding the appointment of teachers which would hamper the freedom of the local education authorities and maintain in a more subtle form the objectionable tests for some of the teachers. People sometimes talk as if a transfer to a local authority will cause a violent change. It will do nothing of the sort. The school will go on as heretofore with its existing staff of teachers, many of whom will still be teaching in the same school twenty or thirty or more years hence.
It is the more surprising that the National Society should advocate such a policy when it is aware that the proposal to give further financial subsidies to junior schools was deliberately rejected by the present House of Commons in 1936. It can scarcely be expected that the House of Commons should turn a complete somersault as a reward to those denominationalists who have failed to fulfil their obligations. Is not the general principle plain that further finance from public funds must be accompanied by full democratic control?—Yours, &c., National Education Association, WILFRID J. ROWLAND, 32 Victoria Street, Westminster, S.W. 1. Secretary.