§ Sir W. RUTHERFORD
asked the President of the Board of Education what is the present position with respect to officers of certified schools; whether, 64W roughly speaking, there are about 2,000 officers and 34,000 children; whether he is aware that a Departmental Commission made a Report in 1919 recommending reductions of inmates of schools up to 25 per cent, on the grounds that such schools were much understaffed; whether he would be willing to furnish a short explanation as to the nature of the special work which these schools have been and are doing; whether a large number of these schools throughout the country are either closed or in course of being closed; what is the cause of such closing; for what reason have a large number of the teachers left the service; with respect to the schools in the Liverpool area, whether he is aware that the Walton Road School, May Place School, and the Northumberland Terrace School have been already closed; whether the schools at St. Annes, Freshfield, the Boys' Refuge in Liverpool, the St. George's, the Addison Road, the Queensland Road, the Toxteth Park for girls, and the St Annes Industrial are about to be closed and a number of departments in other schools closed; and can he state the reasons why this is taking place?
§ Mr. SHORTT
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. Certified schools are industrial and reformatory schools which are certified under the Children Act by the Secretary of State for the reception under an Order of Court of boys and girls who have committed offences, or who are neglected and not under proper control. The object of these schools is so to train and educate the children as to fit them for their work in life and to prevent them from falling into dishonest ways. Last year there were about 160 schools and about 12,000 children, and the regular staff numbered about 1,500. The Departmental Committee to which my hon. Friend refers reported that the staff of the schools was in some cases deficient both in quality and number, but they made no recommendation for the reduction of the inmates. As a result of the recommendations of the Committee the pay and conditions of the staff have been substantially improved.
Since the War the number of children committed to these schools has greatly decreased, with the result that most of the schools have many vacancies, and as standing charges cannot be reduced pro- 65W portionately to reduction in the number of children, the cost of maintenance per head has materially increased. It has therefore become necessary on grounds of economy to close some of the schools and concentrate the children in those that remain. Twenty-five schools, chiefly those where the situation or buildings are inferior to the others, have been selected for closing, and some of them are already closed. Some of the schools mentioned in the question are included among the schools to be closed.