BENEFITS AND HARDSHIPS OF NEW ACT
Domestic Science in Schools
From Our Educational Correspondent
Time alone will show the benefits which have resulted from the passing of the Edu cation Act, 1936. Since its provisions are governed by dates, a short time, comparatively speaking, has to elapse before the results become apparent.
Great difficulty was experienced in framing the Act, but still greater difficulties are being found in putting it into operation.
The second portion of the Act gave local authorities power to assist managers of nonprovided schools to provide new school buildings for senior children. The amount which could be given varied between onehalf and three-quarters of the cost of such buildings. The residue of the cost had to be found by the managers concerned.
On paper this is a very simple proposition. Consideration of the practical aspect shows that the erection of a senior school presupposes two or more junior schools which will act as feeders for the new senior schools. Such junior schools must be near enough to allow the children on attaining the age of eleven to travel without undue hardship the extra distance thus entailed.
Naturally the new senior school will be built containing every amenity. It will possess accommodation for practical work for boys and girls.
Handicraft Work In the new Catholic school at Welling there is a handicraft room fitted with every appliance for wood and metal work. A full-time certificated Catholic teacher has been appointed to the staff and the instruction is given to classes of twenty.
For the senior girls there is provided a cookery and housewifery centre where the girls are taught dressmaking, which entails cutting-out and fitting.
To this room is attached a small room fated in every respect as large city firms equip such rooms for customers whose suits are made to measure. In the main room the benches are equipped with the necessities for normal home cookery, each child having her own board, rolling pin, knife, etc., so essential for pastry cooking. Herein are contained also wash tubs, roller mangles, boilers wherein the water is electrically heated, and electric irons for the laundry work.
A smaller room opens out of the larger and here the clothes which have been washed are dried.
This school is erected on a new housing estate the centre of which is an old village. The children are taught the use of every upto-date appliance with which every modern working-class house is fitted.
Mgr. Jackman, who wrote in the
Catholic Herald concerning this matter, will be pleased to know that the children under the supervision and instruction of the Domestic Science mistress prepare, cook and serve the middaymeal for the children who do not go home to dinner. This mistress, with the assistance of staff, devises the menu for the week. The authority, after making the payment for the necessities in the initial stage, now require the scheme to be self-supporting, This is done, and yet the charge for the dinner is but 3fd. per head.
This school also has a large hall containing a stage, and arranged to meet the needs of gymnastic exercises. It is equipped with apparatus which include horses for vaulting, etc.. wall bars and beams.
Another feature is a geography and art room where well designed easel desks permit the children to develop their skill with pencil, brush and crayon under conditions which hitherto were only found in secondary and grammar schools.
Junior School The junior school, which is built on an adjoining site, is also a new school constructed on what is practically standard planning, i.e.. possessing the features which the Board of Education state in the publication—Elementary School Buildings—are necessary for up-to-date schools. Elsewhere, where a parochial school has been built many years ago, the erection of a new senior school will draw attention by comparison to the defects of the old building.
Whilst Catholic managers desire to provide schools on up-to-date lines, funds for the remodelling and reconditioning of the older schools are hard to obtain.
Where a new senior school has to be built at least twenty-five per cent. of the cost must fall on the Managers. If monies have to be found for the remodelling of the junior schools as well they must be provided unassisted from public funds.
Alleged Catholic Privilege
This is indeed a heavy burden for a voluntary body to carry. Nevertheless, pressure is being brought to bear on local authorities in certain areas not to be too generous in the help they may give to managers.
Dr. Workman, at the Methodists' Con-. ference, stated " that there was a good deal of feeling that under the Act (1936) in many places Catholics were acquiring an advantage at the expense of the ratepayers which was never intended."
Fortunately, many authorities intend to operate the Act in the spirit of goodwill with which it was passed, and give or contribute the maximum allowable.
Council Grants Vary
Newcastle-on-Tyne Council has agreed to pay the maximum, whilst London has decided that the amount of the grant shall be determined by the circumstances of the case, but no agreement will be entered into unless the scheme is really good. To ensure the latter, schemes of reorganisation have been drawn up by the Council's inspectors and officers and submitted to the Diocesan Committees set up by the Archbishop of Westminster and the Bishop of Southwark.
The work of these Committees is no enviable task, but if it ensures secular instruction in Catholic schools of the same type as that in the provided schools it will be a job well done, for the position of the Catholic school in the national system will be maintained. That Catholic schools form an essential bulwark in the fight against the imposition of pagan ideas is clearly shown by the Nazi attempt to suppress them. The struggle to retain our schools and to maintain and equip them must go on despite almost insuperable obstacles.