§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether it is true that the parish of Wymington has been without any public Elementary School accommodation since the passing of "The Education Act, 1870," and that the final notice requiring such provision to be made was only issued by the Education Department in May 1877; why, this notice having expired in November last, the Education Department has not issued its order for the formation of a School Board; whether this delay was due to the representations of the Vicar of Wymington made in 1870, and subsequently repeated at intervals, that a site and subscriptions had been offered for a new school which would shortly be provided; whether the Department has now been informed by the Vicar that the proposed school will not be built on the site originally suggested, but that a building upon the rectory farm is to be transferred to the school managers at a cost of £300 and converted into a school; whether it is the intention of the Education Department to accept the building so converted as satisfactory provision for school accommodation; and, whether in this case the grant of £151, which was sanctioned in 1870 towards the erection of a new school on the original site, will be transferred in aid of the expense of purchasing and converting the building now offered?
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
The hon. Member's Question is so long, and refers to so many details ranging over seven years, that I must trouble the House at some length. There has been no public elementary school in the parish of Wymington 113 since 1870. The first notification by the Department of the amount of school accommodation required was made in June, 1873, and the final notice was issued in May, 1877. When the final notice expired in November of last year, the Education Department found that a site which they approved had been acquired, and that school buildings which they had sanctioned were being proceeded with with due despatch; and, therefore, in accordance with the usage of the Department since the passing of the Act of 1870, no order for a school board was issued. Representations had been made, from time to time, by the vicar, in which he appears to have been supported by the churchwardens, overseers, and other inhabitants of the place, of their earnest desire to provide the necessary school, various schemes were submitted to the Department, and, as the intention seemed to be a bonâ fide one, delay was permitted. The local promoters of the school appear to have met with considerable difficulties, and the matter was further complicated by schemes for the Midland Railway going through the village at different points which might have affected the proposed school. Some time back the Department were informed of the change of site, and that a building upon the glebe farm would be sold to the school committee which could be well enlarged so as to supply a good school. The Department were satisfied that the new site was suitable and generally approved by persons connected with the locality, and the proper surveyor's certificate was furnished to the Department in the usual course as to the building and its price. The Department have also been satisfied that all the usual requirements as to the school, class-room, and residence, have been fully met by the building which is being enlarged, and I need hardly remind the hon. Member that the requirements of the Department as to buildings, &c., if blamed at all, are usually found fault with for being excessive. We also received last year a formal assurance, signed by the two churchwardens, the two overseers, and the way-warden of the parish, that the building was substantial and built of excellent materials, and that the site itself was the best and most central, and was preferred by the great majority of the inhabitants. The school itself and class-room, we are 114 told, are now ready except the furniture; and a certificated teacher is on the point of being engaged. If the usual requirements of the Department are found to be fully met when the building is actually ready for opening, the building grant will be given. This is one of a difficult class of cases, being a small village of about 300 souls. In such cases, where we find that the inhabitants are striving to provide a good school in the face of considerable difficulties, we think it better to adhere to the practice which has prevailed in the Office from the time of our Predecessors, and to give them ample time for carrying out their work, instead of at once ordering a school board; as experience has shown us that to force a school board upon these very small villages when they are hostile to a board, and at present do not supply suitable materials for a board, is by no means the quickest way of providing for the education of the children in these places, which is, of course, the primary object of the Education Acts and of the Department.