HC Deb 31 March 1876 vol 228 cc966-7

asked the Vice President of the Council, If he is aware that the School Board of Burston-with-Shimpling, Norfolk, in advertising for a certificated mistress, offer a salary of £60 per annum— with £5, in addition, if the mistress will take charge of the Sunday School, and occasionally play the organ in Church; and, whether a School Board can legally make such arrangements and apply their funds to such purposes?


I have no doubt, Sir, that the hon. Member for Merthyr has correctly quoted the advertisement; but he does not tell me in what newspaper it was issued, and I must confess that I was not aware of it till I saw his Question. The House will, I am sure, agree with me that grave inconvenience might be caused if I undertook the censorship of the advertisements of schools boards for teachers. The two other points of his Question I will at once answer. As to the legality of arrangements being made by a school board for their teacher to play the organ in a church or to teach in a Sunday school, we were advised in a somewhat similar case that such arrangements are legal. I must at the same time remind the hon. Gentleman that the Education Department has nothing to do with the Sunday occupation of the teachers, or with their religious views and observances, and that the Department has no duty respecting teachers in public elementary schools under the present law beyond that of seeing that they are lay persons, are certificated, conduct their schools properly and respectably, and give the requisite number of hours of efficient secular instruction in accordance with the Code. As to the second part of the Question, I need hardly say that the legality of charging the rates with payments in return for duties connected with Sunday schools, churches, or chapels, is quite a different matter. With such questions, however, I have no power whatever to interfere officially, and it rests entirely with the auditor under the regulations of the Local Government Board to examine and decide whether the expenditure of school board is such as may lawfully be made. I assume, of course, that the payment in question was to be made out of money raised by rate and not out of any other fund. I cannot but say that if I was a member of a school board nothing would induce me to sanction the burdening of the rates with payments to teachers for matters such as those in the advertisement, which Parliament has not placed under the control of school boards.