§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education whether he has received a Memorial from certain parents of children attending the National School at Ringstead, Northampton, stating that they have withdrawn their 191 children from the religious instruction at that school under the Conscience Clause, and that their children have been in consequence treated as absentees, and placed at the bottom of their class, and asking redress of their grievance; whether this putting down of the children to the bottom of their class is a violation of the 7th clause of "The Education Act, 1870," providing that children may be withdrawn from the religious instruction without forfeiting any other benefits of the school; and whether he will have directions sent to the school managers to discontinue the practice of imposing this penalty on the children of Nonconformists?
§ *THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir W. HART DYKE,) Kent, Dartford
The Department have received such a Memorial, and are now in communication with the managers on the subject; but I am bound to say that there is nothing in the terms of the Memorial to exclude the possibility that the children were so dealt with because they declined to attend before the registers were closed, and were, therefore, in fact, absentees.
§ MR. CHANNING
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will draw the attention of the school managers to the Circular Letter of 1878, requiring that children should not be exposed to any disparity of treatment under these circumstances, and whether he has received any Report of the circumstances under the requirements of the Act of 1870?
§ *SIR W. HART DYKE
What usually takes place is—the registers are closed at the commencement of the school work, and if a child arrives after they are closed its attendance cannot be recorded.
§ MR. CHANNING
I cannot consider the reply satisfactory, and shall put a further question on the subject.