HC Deb 17 June 1886 vol 306 cc1708-9
MR. CONWAY (Leitrim, N.)

asked the Vice President of the Committee of Council, Whether there is any provision in the Elementary Education Acts which authorises the managers of Board Schools, built and maintained by general rate for common use, to exclude the professors of any Christian Denomination from employment as teachers in the schools; whether the Finsbury Division of the School Board for London differs in this respect from other Metropolitan Divisions; whether, in the 45 Board Schools of the Finsbury Division, 735 teachers are employed by the School Board, and paid out of the rates; how many of such teachers have been trained in the Roman Catholic Training Colleges recognised by the Education Department; whether any attempt is being made to remove from the Gillespie Road, Highbury Vale, Board School Miss Mary Birch, who was trained for two years under the Education Department in the Liverpool Roman Catholic Training College, though erroneously represented in the Board's Returns as trained in the Stockwell Nonconformist College; whether Miss Birch is duly certificated by the Education Department, has likewise obtained her full drawing certificate, and two science certificates from the Science and Art Department, has always received good reports from Her Majesty's Inspector, and has taught for several years in the Gillespie Road Board School with marked success, and without complaint from children or parents; and, whether the local managers of Finsbury Board Schools, with whom, under the Board's regulations, rest the appointment and supervision of teachers, are justified in representing and treating the Board Schools of that Division as a "Protestant preserve," from which Roman Catholic teachers, though otherwise in all respects qualified, are, on account of their religion, to be excluded or expelled?


A School Board may select any qualified teachers it chooses for employment in the Board schools. There is no difference in this respect between Finsbury and other Metropolitan divisions. The hon. Member is probably correct in stating that there may be 735 teachers in the Finsbury Board schools, but I have not had time to verify the figures. We have no knowledge of and do not inquire into the religious denominations of the teachers. Miss Mary Birch was trained for two years in the Liverpool Roman Catholic Training College, and her certificate was issued in 1879. She has been on the staff of Gillespie Road Board school since May, 1881, and has during that time uniformly received good reports from Her Majesty's Inspector. The Department have no information as to any proposal to remove her from the school. I have no knowledge as to the practice of the Managers of the Finsbury Board schools in regard to the appointment and dismissal of teachers, and have no control over their action.