From Our Education Correspondent Gradually one feature after another of the 1944 Education Act comes into operation or into local practice. Boarding-schools, for instance, are now theoretically within the reach of all children who need them; the Ministry has made it clear that L.E.A.a can pay tuition fees and other grants for suitable children at boarding-schools, even private and fee-paying schools.
in remote country districts Catholics will have a very good case for getting their fees paid at a Catholic boarding-school, as the only way of attending a school of their own Faith.
Everything depends on the discretion of the L.E.A., but some L.E.A.s are already deciding some such cases favourably.
Another part of the Act that is now going to be implemented is the inspection (by H.M.I.s, fortunately) of all private and independent schools. This has just been announced in Circular 196.
When all schools have been visited (this will certainly take some time), it will be possible to put in force the section of the Act which provides that the Minister shall establish a register of independent schools, with power to withhold registration from schools deemed unsatisfactory.
Any private school, therefore, however small (five or more pupils) may now expect a visit from H.M.I., and if it would like an early visit it can request ones On the whole, Catholic private schools have nothing to fear (we think) from H.M.I. Many of them will ask to be recognised as efficient, and will secure such recognition; even in the case of those who do not ask, it is unlikely that any urgent suggestions will be made on such matters as accommodation, unless overcrowding were very bad indeed.
Our good nuns need not be afraid; the H.M.Ls can tell when a school is doing good work.
The leaving-age has been raised, with a greater measure of partial success than one had dared to hope, but this has been done at a terrible cost to the other end of the school population.
One reads in a local paper of a Council school where 90 young children are crowded into one room, and 40 into another only 21 feet by 12.
" It is no longer a question of teaching them," says an infant school teacher quoted in The Sower, " but of getting the door shut and fitting them all in."
The emergency colleges have produced large numbers of new teachers of good quality, but not enough of them were trained for young children, and the colleges have been hastily reorientated for this purpose.
One outstanding event recently seems to have been the speech of Bishop Murphy (coadjutor to Bishop Moriarty, of Shrewsbury) on the schools question at the annual conference in January of the Catholic Teachers' Federation.
Far from giving offence to anybody, it was much appreciated by several non-Catholic dignitaries present, who were heard to remark that although they had known there was a case for Catholic schools, this was the first time they had fully realised the force of it.
Let us hope that Catholics on the look out for speakers will bear Bishop Murphy in mind.