§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE (for Mr. Jenkins)
asked the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been called to the action of the Chatham education authority in dismissing Miss M. Handford from the post of schoolmistress of St. John's School, Chatham, in consequence of her refusal to submit to an instruction by that authority to discontinue the training on natural -history to the infants under her charge by getting rid of several pet animals which were kept scrupulously clean; whether he is aware that an appeal made by Miss Handford for an interview with the local education authority to explain the reason for her action was not granted; that previous to the report of the local medical officer, upon whose report the local authority acted and which resulted in the dismissal, His Majesty's inspector of schools saw the pet animals in school and reported on 29th March of this year that the work in the infants' department was progressing vigorously and effectively, all the teachers having improved under Miss Handford's 1294 guidance, and the outlook was full of promise; whether he has received a Petition from the parents of the children attending St. John's School, who are deeply interested in Miss Handford's method of training the children; and whether, having regard to the qualifications of Miss Handford, he will have immediate inquiry made, and, until a report of the same be issued, have her reinstated?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Runciman)
I have seen a statement of this case, from which I understand that the teacher's engagement was terminated owing to her refusal to obey a direction given by the local education authority. The direction was one which the local education authority are entitled to give, and which the teacher should, therefore, have complied with. The Board have no power to secure the teacher's reinstatement, and as the matter is entirely between the teacher and the local authority I do not think an Inquiry would serve any useful purpose. I can find no trace of the Petition referred to in the question.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware whether this teacher was carrying out the instructions of the training college, and is there not a case for the Department to inquire into so as to see whether the local authority exceeded its jurisdiction in dismissing her?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
From the information placed at my disposal it is quite clear that this is not a case in which the Board can interfere.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
If it can be shown that the teacher was merely carrying out the instructions to teachers as laid down by the training college, will the Department intervene?