§ MR. O'DOWD (Sligo, S.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state the number of female schools in Ireland which have been closed because of insufficient attendance; how many of these schools have been constructed under the supervision of the Board of Works' architects; and will he say what public use, if any, it is intended to make of these buildings.
I beg also to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that many female national schools in Ireland have been closed owing to the reason that the attendances required by the National Commissioners' rules cannot be secured, with the result that delicate female children residing in rural districts have, in many cases, to travel six miles daily in going to and returning from other female schools; and, if so, whether, in the interests of the public as well as of the health of the children, he will recommend a modification of the rule governing average attendances in female schools.
§ MR. BIRRELL
The Commissioners of National Education inform me that since 1st January last only one girls' school has been closed. This was a non-vested school. During the same 1271 period thirty-five schools for girls have been amalgamated with neighbouring schools for boys, so as to form mixed schools. In these cases the old buildings are still available as class-rooms or for other schools purposes. The Commissioners are prepared to investigate any cases of alleged hardship in connection with the closing or amalgamation of schools if supplied with particulars. Their rules prescribe twenty pupils as the minimum attendance warranting grants. This number may be composed of boys and girls, or of either sex exclusively. An exception is made in cases where religious minorities have not the means of instruction within a reasonable distance of their homes. The Board of Works inform me that no national schools have been built under the supervision of their architects. Where a school is being erected by the aid of a Government grant or loan, the Board's architects occasionally inspect the building to see that the instalments of the grants or loan have been earned, but the responsibility for the work rests with the managers of the school.