HC Deb 07 July 1890 vol 346 cc1034-7
*(12.14.) MR. FRASER-MACKINTOSH (Invernessshire)

I beg to move— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying; Her Majesty to withhold Her consent to the scheme of the Educational Endowment (Scotland) Commissioners for the management of the Endowment known as the Macdiarmid School Funds so far as relates to the Parish of Portree. The people of the Braes District of Portree, which is a very poor one, complain that certain educational facilities they have enjoyed for the last 40 years are now taken away from them. A school was established there 40 years ago, and at a later period another school was established, and now it is proposed to do away with one of the schools. It is well known that one of the great disadvantages education labours under in the Highlands is the distance poor children are obliged to travel to school. If this school is closed as proposed, children will have to travel four miles to school instead of three. It is not to be expected that children ill fed and clad like those of the Braes can attend regularly under such circumstances, and as even hitherto the attendance is not up to the mark, if this project is carried out the present rather limited attendance will fall off altogether.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to withhold Her consent to the Scheme of the Educational Endowment (Scotland) Commissioners for the management of the endowment known as the Macdiarmid School Funds, so far as relates to the parish of Poitroe."—(Mr. Fraser-Machintosh.)

*(12.18.) MR. J. A. CAMPBELL (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)

The Commissioners, in framing this scheme, were very much guided by the information and opinions they obtained as to the state of education in the district. There are two schools in the district, but neither of them is very good. One is attended by about 36, and the other by about 29 children on an average. The schools are not far distant from each other, and the opinion of the Commissioners was that one good school would be sufficient, to be supplemented by itinerant teaching, as is provided by the Scottish Education Act, for the very scattered population of the remoter parts of the parish. Neither of the schools has a very high position in the opinion of the Education Office. Indeed, Her Majesty's Inspector has given something like a threat to both schools that unless their quality is improved the grant cannot be continued. In order to make the public school efficient, which it is proposed to continue, it is desirable that some money should be spent upon it. The scheme which my hon. Friend proposes to interfere with provides that part of the endowment shall be expended upon the improvement of the school accommodation. It is understood that about £200 will be required for that purpose, and the whole capital of the endowment is only £1,000. My hon. Friend is in error when he says the scheme of the Commissioners proposes to give the money for bursaries. Fart of the money, in the first place, is to be expended on improving the buildings; in the second place, the Governors shall apply such sum as shall be required out of their annual income in providing school material, including, in the case of girls, material for industrial work; and, thirdly, the residue of the income shall be applied by the Governors cither in establishing bursaries or in supplementing the salary of the teacher, or providing or supplementing the salary of a female assistant teacher in the public school at Braes. There is little doubt that the latter alternative will be preferred. The whole matter is left in the hands of the Governing Body, who are the minister of Portree, some one appointed by the School Board, and Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools for the district. The scheme has the full approval of the School Board of the parish. Hitherto the endowment has not been doing much good, and I ask the House to support the scheme of the Commissioners.

(12.24.) MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

It was for the benefit of a very poor district that this£l,000 was left. The school was the first school built in the district in 1847, and it was built, as a good many Highland schools are, in a convenient centre, so that children from the neighbourhood could attend with ease. Then a school was built almost alongside this school by the Free Church in 1860, and the proposal of the Commissioners is that of these two schools one shall be discontinued. The school to be discontinued is the older school, the foundation school, and it so happens it is the better conducted school. It has an average attendance of 29, and 15s. per head is earned on average attendance. In the other school the average grant is only 10s. per head. It is proposed to add to the buildings. The hon. Member for Glasgow University (Mr. J. A. Campbell) states that £200 is to be spent in adding to the buildings. The accommodation at present in the public school is £90, and the average attendance is over 65. Are you going to do over again what you have done in the Highlands, by erecting schools that are not required? The bursaries are to be allocated to the parish of Portree, where the bettor class population is to be found. The result will be that the better class children will carry off the endowments, and the money will not go to the district for which the money was left originally. Another proposal is to supplement the teachers' salary. Does the hon. Member for Glasgow University imagine for a moment that this is a place where you can look for higher education? The small number of children in average attendance shows that they are not the class for whom higher education can be provided. It is proposed also to build a school three miles away from the existing schools. If you use the money in putting a school down in the midst of the population it will be usefully employed.

(12.28.) The House divided:—Ayes 37; Noes 86.—(Div. List, No. 175.)

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