HC Deb 19 June 1884 vol 289 cc793-4

asked the Vice President of the Committee of Council, If his attention has been called to the following statements, made at a meeting of the Tonbridge Board of Guardians, with reference to the Speldhurst National School: — A labourer named Miles, an industrious man earning 15s. per week, with seven children to keep, had a son, nine years of age, at school, who had passed from the third to the fourth standard, and was sent home to procure 1s. 1d. for the books which he required. He was sent back with the message that his father was too poor to send the money. He was sent home a second time, but returned with the same message. Since then he had been to school regularly, but had simply to set on a stool all day without learning anything at all. The same man had taken three girls from the Speldhurst School because they were put to menial work, such as scrubbing floors, instead of being taught. The Chairman of the Board drew attention to the following Letter, addressed by the Schoolmaster to Mr. Miles, as follows:— Speldhurst, 18th May, 1884. The Master begs to inform Mr. Miles he does not refuse to take your boy at school, only that he cannot work any more than other boys or yourself without proper tools; and, whether he will cause inquiries to be made into the circumstances of the case, and will state if this is the same school which was some time ago brought under the notice of the Department with respect to the flogging of boys for attending a Mission Chapel?


My attention has been called to the case referred to in the hon. Member's Question, and the managers of the Speldhurst School state the labourer Miles is in receipt of a much larger income than 15s. per week. In fact, that with his boy's earnings he is in receipt of 26s. 6d. and a garden allowance. They further state that they offered to accept payment for the books by an instalment of 1d. per week, which the parents refused to pay. They deny that the boy was neglected, and state that he was continually kept at work. The Department is of opinion that, having regard to the offer of the managers, there is no reasonable ground of complaint.