HC Deb 15 June 1875 vol 224 cc1920-2

asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether a scheme has been submitted to the Educational Department for the transfer of the National Schools at Middleton, West Hartlepool, to the Stranton School Board, under the twenty-third section of the Education Act of 1870; whether in the said scheme provision is made that the schools shall be let on lease for twenty-one years on consideration of 2s. 6d. per annum; that the trustees shall have the exclusive and unrestricted use of the schools, fittings, and furniture, both in the boys and girls department from 5 o'clock p. m. on any day until 8 o'clock a.m. on all days, and the other parts of Sundays, Saturdays, Christmas Days, Good Fridays, Ascension Days, and of parts of the year when the scholars have holiday, and of one other day in each year, of which day the Vicar shall give one week's notice to the clerk of the Board; whether also the following clauses are a portion of the said scheme:— The master, trustees, and pupil teachers to he employed in the demised premises shall sign a declaration before appointment that they are respectively members of the Church of England as by Law established, and no person shall he so appointed by the Board unless he or she shall subscribe to such declaration, and such declaration shall he produced by the Board to the Vicar of the Ecclesiastical District in which the Board is situated, when required by him. The Bible (authorized version) shall be read and intelligently explained to the scholars by the master and mistress for half an hour on each morning during which the school is open, during the term, but without secular bias or the use of any catechism or formulary, and the vicar for the time being of the said ecclesiastical district may once or oftener in each week be present at such examination and instruction, but he shall not interfere therein. Hymns from the collection at present in use in the school shall always during the term be sung every morning and afternoon, and such vicar may be present as aforesaid during such singing of hymns; and, whether these portions of the scheme are satisfactory to the Department, and considered by them to be in accordance with the Education Act of 1870?


Sir, the scheme alluded to by the hon. Gentleman for the transfer of Middleton School to the Stranton School Board has reached the Education Department, and I find an answer was sent last week to the application. The reply, being such as is always sent with our approval in such cases, followed as a matter of course, and was, therefore, not submitted to me. All arrangements as to transfers are governed by the printed instructions relating thereto issued by the Department, which are generally sent for by a school board before entering into a transfer. In this case we were not asked for our instructions, and hence, doubtless, the misunderstanding of the powers of a school board has arisen. The rule as to the reservation to themselves by managers and trustees of the use of a transferred school for certain times is as follows:— The arrangement may provide for the trustees or managers reserving to themselves the use of the school premises during Sunday and during other times, provided a sufficient use is transferred to the board to enable the board to carry on upon the premises a public elementary school. The scheme proposed to us by the Stranton School Board complies with the provisions of this rule, and, so far, is approved by the Department. We have, however, a further rule respecting transfers, with which, to prevent further mistakes, I believe I had better trouble the House— The arrangement for transfer must not prescribe the kind of instruction (whether religious or secular) to be given in the school. It must not contain anything as to the examination or inspection of the school, the appointment of managers or teachers, the admission of children, or the general management of the school. The school, so far as transferred to the board, must be managed in every respect as the board for the time being see fit, subject only to Sections 7 and 14 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870. These two rules have always been acted upon since the passing of the Act, and represent, I believe faithfully, its intention. Under this latter rule we have objected, as a matter of course, to all the three clauses to which, in the second part of his Question, the hon. Gentleman has called my attention. I feel sure that the Stranton School Board could have no intention to contravene the provisions of the Act; but, in reply to the hon. Gentleman, I feel bound to say that we consider these portions of the scheme of transfer contrary to the law, and, therefore, I need hardly add they are not satisfactory to the Department.