HC Deb 05 October 1939 vol 351 cc2089-92
56. Sir A. Knox

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education what are the exact duties of the schoolmasters of evacuated children; how many hours teaching do they do each day and on how many days each week; and are they permitted to go on leave from Friday till Sunday night every weekend?

Mr. Lindsay

The duty of teachers of evacuated children is to continue, as far as possible, to teach the children and classes for which they are normally responsible. In addition, teachers generally are organising and supervising various activities and occupations for the children on the lines suggested in Circular 1474, of which I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend a copy. In these ways it is to be expected that many teachers are occupied for more than the normal school hours. I have no information of teachers going on leave every week-end.

Sir A. Knox

Would the hon. Member consider circularising all these school teachers in reception areas and explaining to them that their duties are not confined to giving some three hours' instruction per day, but that they must also look after and amuse the children and so relieve the pressure on the householders? Would he consider that the householder would not be able to get any leave during the war?

Mr. Lindsay

I think that is a matter that is very much better left to the good will and good sense of the teachers. Any circular on this point would not necessarily achieve the results that my hon. and gallant Friend desires.

Mr. Thorne

Are the teachers still under the control of the local authorities?

Mr. Lindsay

The teachers are still under the control of the local authorities.

Sir Percy Harris

Would the hon. Member consider that most of the teachers are working far longer hours than they would be doing in normal times?

Mr. Lindsay

It is my experience in visiting schools both in peace time and in war time that a great deal of extra work is put in by the teachers.

Mr. Ridley

Having regard to the hon. Member's several replies, will he discuss with his right hon. Friend the complete inadequacy of the billeting allowance?

Mr. Lindsay

That is a separate question.

Sir Stanley Reed

Is the hon. Member aware that in many of these areas the children are attending only five half-days a week, and that this is demoralising to the children and is destroying their education, quite apart from the fact that they are not under control for very long periods?

Mr. Lindsay

I am quite aware that in some cases the double-shift and three-day week system is in operation, but we are in the middle of a war.

Mr. Maxton

Is the hon. Member aware that the average teacher knows as much about the handling and training of children as the hon. and gallant Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox)?

57. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether he has instructed education committees to erect suitable huts in districts where the educational and other needs of evacuated children require extra accommodation; and whether he is aware of any education committees' district where huts have been, or will be, erected?

Mr. Lindsay

Local education authorities have been recommended to secure other buildings, wherever possible, to supplement existing school accommodation which cannot fully meet the needs of evacuated children. In a number of cases authorities have hired accommodation of various kinds for this purpose. I fear that the present demand for materials and labour in most areas will make the erection of huts impracticable.

Mr. Sorensen

Will the hon. Gentleman answer the last part of the question, as to whether he has any information as to the erection of these huts in some parts of the country; and, further, are there any means available to assist the local authorities?

Mr. Lindsay

That is a hypothetical question. We are trying to make the best use of all existing accommodation, but, as I said, at the present time the demand for materials in most areas would make the erection of huts impracticable.

58. Mr. Butcher

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, whether, in order to alleviate hardship and suffering to unaccompanied children coming from evacuation areas, he will authorise the medical officers of health in reception areas to provide dental, orthopaedic, and ophthalmic treatment in cases of special need, without the consent of the parents, in view of the difficulties and delays likely to be experienced in obtaining such consent?

Mr. Lindsay

As regards dental treatment, the Board have advised that where there is evidence that the child has received such treatment in the past it may be assumed that the parent would agree to further treatment, but that the administration of a general anaesthetic should, if at all possible, be avoided unless the consent of the parent had been obtained. In other dental cases treatment should be limited to emergency treatment. Cases requiring immediate orthopaedic or ophthalmic treatment are likely to be very rare, and, except in such cases, the consent of the parent should be obtained.

59. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether his attention has been called to the fact that some local education authorities in evacuation areas have provided medical help and school equipment, including books, for the children evacuated to rural areas, whereas in other cases the whole burden of making this provision has been left to the reception areas; and whether the Board is taking steps to deal with these unsatisfactory conditions?

Mr. Lindsay

I am sending the hon. Member a copy of a circular which has just been issued by the Ministry of Health, in which the Ministry and the Board urge that medical and nursing staff from the evacuated areas should, wherever possible, be placed at the disposal of the authorities in the reception areas. As regards school equipment, I have no doubt that the authorities in evacuation areas are willing to provide necessary-supplies for their evacuated children. This is a matter for arrangement between the authorities concerned.

Mr. Harvey

Is the hon. Member aware that some authorities are making no such provision for the sending of books and school materials, and would he urge them to do so?

Mr. Lindsay

We have sent a circular, but it is so important that I should like to see what steps are taken.