HC Deb 02 February 1897 vol 45 cc1050-1
MR. J. C. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1) whether he is aware that the Roman Catholic and Protestant Managers of National Schools in Ireland and the Teachers Organisation have repeatedly called for the reduction of the average necessary for the employment of assistant teachers, and that the Commissioners of National Education last year, by a unanimous vote, requested the Treasury for sufficient funds to enable them to meet the proposed alteration; (2) whether he will use his influence with the Treasury so as to secure the necessary net grant to meet the views of the Commissioners; and (3) will he recommend that the assistant teachers at present threatened with withdrawal of salary, owing to the refusal of the Treasury to accede to the recommendations of the Board of Education, shall be retained in the pay of the Commissioners pending a settlement of the question?


Representations have been made as stated in the first paragraph of the Question. The Estimates for the coming financial year are now closed, but I shall be prepared again to bring the matter before the Treasury in connection with the Estimates for the year 1898–99 should the Commissioners so desire. As regards the last paragraph, the Commissioners have no power to continue payment to assistant teachers where the conditions of the existing Rules as to the average daily attendance for assistants are not fulfilled.


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1) whether he is aware that in five-eighths of the number of Irish National Schools at present the staff consists of one recognised teacher only, single teachers being thus responsible in over 5,000 schools for the efficient teaching of eight standards on 40 different part subjects daily; and (2) whether the Commission of Inquiry respecting the employment of manual labour in National Schools will take into consideration the exceptional circumstances of rural schools in Ireland, and inquire into the educational soundness of making the staff of such schools dependent upon attendance rather than upon the number of classes and subjects taught?


There is only one teacher in about five out of eight National Schools, but in a very large number of these schools, where the average daily attendance is sufficient, the teacher is aided by one or two paid monitors. In practice, the individual daily instruction alluded to in the second paragraph is not given, nor is it necessary for the efficient instruction of the classes, and certainly no teacher is held responsible for such an arrangement. The general arrangement is to have certain subjects taught on only two, or perhaps three, days in the week. As regards the third paragraph, the Commission has been appointed to inquire how far and in what form manual and practical instruction should be included in the educational system of the primary schools under the Board of National Education. I am unable to say whether the Commission will consider the Question referred to by the hon. Member as coming within the scope of the reference to them.