HC Deb 06 March 1884 vol 285 cc660-2

asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether it is true that, on the occasion of the recent Sunday School Treat of the United Methodist Free Church, at Kidlington, the scholars who absented themselves half a day from the National Schools for the purpose of attending the treat, were, on the following day, first flogged, and then doomed to forfeit, for ten consecutive days, the usual fifteen minutes' recreation allowed during school hours; whether it is true that they absented themselves, on the occasion named, with the consent of their parents, in consequence of obstacles being put in their way of leaving school on similar former occasions in time to attend the treat; whether it is true that there are no other elementary schools in the district except the National Schools; whether, on the recent occasion of the annual dinner of the Kidlington Conservative Association, the school attendance was suspended for one half day; whether, on the following morning, when the children assembled at school at the usual hour, that the infants' department of the school was unfit for occupation, and that they were kept in the school yard until dinner time in very stormy weather, and were then sent home very wet, and told that they need not come again that afternoon; whether, after this loss of a day and a half's attendance at school, on the occasion of the dinner, the children were entered on the books as having been present; and, whether he will cause inquiry to be made into the circumstances of the case?


On the 25th ultimo I received a letter signed by two ministers and three circuit stewards of the Methodist Free Church, Oxford Circuit, setting forth the complaints embodied in the hon. Member's Question. I immediately called on the managers of the school for their explanation. An explanatory letter has been received from the Vicar of Kidlington, admitting that the children in the boys' and girls' departments who absented themselves for the purpose of attending the Sunday School treat were punished by a stroke on the hand with a cane next morning. It is also admitted that the school was closed on the afternoon of the 31st of January, and I understand that the banquet of the Conservative Association took place in the school-room on that day. It is further admitted that on the next morning the school was unfit for occupation, and the infants were allowed to remain in the yard during the whole morning under the charge of a monitor; also the register was marked. It appears that no inquiry was made as to whether the children who were punished were absent by direction of their parents; and it is obvious they ought not to have been punished for obeying parental authority. The closing of a public elementary school at a time or for a purpose which interferes with the instruction of the children is contrary to the regulations of the Department. And the marking of the registers and the keeping of an infant class in an open yard without shelter on a February morning are altogether indefensible. The managers of the school state that they were not consulted in any of the matters com- plained of; but that the teachers acted on their own responsibility throughout. We have, therefore, thought it right to warn the managers that any repetition of these offences will involve serious consequences to the teachers, and endanger the continuance of the annual grant to the school.