Page 5, 2nd February 1940

2nd February 1940
Page 5
Page 5, 2nd February 1940 — "PROS AND CONS" For Evacuated Schools in Government Camps

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Organisations: Board of Education
People: Vivian Hughes
Locations: Reading


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"PROS AND CONS" For Evacuated Schools in Government Camps

From Our Educational Correspondent Severe criticism is offered by a teacher correspondent of the use of the Government camps as secondary schools on the grounds that the

buildings are not adapted or adaptable for the purpose.

" The smaller camps," he states, " can sleep 348 children; but even making use of hall and two other smaller compartments available, there are only seven classrooms which can be used. Even In overcrowded slums an average of 50 children per classroom is considered formidable; and believe me, Sir, the eir In the four small rooins intended for classrooms in these camps would be overpowering after a brief occupation.

" That does not take into account the absolute necessity in a secondary school for physics, chemistry and biology laboratories. There are no such rooms available; it there were, there is no gas —an essential feature. If the hail is used for classrooms (and I have included this consideration in my seven) there is no gymnasium space. Neither have / been able to see adequate, if any, hard playground space out of doors.

One Pigeon-hole Only

" Each child (and this is taken to Include young men of eighteen) is allowed under the present arrangements one open pigeon-hole of four square feet at the most in which to stow all his worldly goods, with the exception of shoes and books. It is true that elsewhere baggage might be stored, but accommodation is only provided for about one small suitcase each.

" The teachers' rooms are about six feet broad by nine feet long. The bed barely leaves room for the totally inadequate plywood boxes passing for furniture. (You can neither fold nor hang an overcoat in them.) There are not enough rooms to provide each of our teachers with one. My work entails much reading and preparation, and privacy is essential if I and others like me are to perform our responsible tasks of teaching to University standard. We can do We but poorly with the accom

modation provided, no matter how willing we be,"

Minor Alterations

The Board of Education state that minor alterations may be made to suit the needs of particular schools and that additional classrooms can be made by adapting one of the classrooms, but it would appear that even this would not be practicable or sufficient in the case Of the larger secondary schools.

For some months now I have inclined to the belief that the camps would offer a reasonable solution of the problems of Catholic elementary schools in evacuation areas on the lines suggested by Mr Vivian Hughes in his letter in last week's CATHOLIC HEHAI.D.

There has been no definite Catholic stand on evacuation, though there have been ninny complaints.

It appears to we that if our child-ran are to be evacuated from the large towns' it would be better to have them in a residential school staffed by Catholics than for them to be billeted on non-Catholics and separated even from their Catholic teachers as so many of them are at the moment.

Parents would be Pleased I believe that many parents who have refused to evacuate their children or who have brought them home would agree to them going to a Catholic residential school. It is reported that one elementary school of 250 boys which has taken one of the Government camps near Reading secured overwhelming agreement from parents—only two refusing to send their children. This is a far bettea result than was shown by the original evacuation scheme.

From the reasonable criticism quoted above it seems conclusive that the camps are not fully suitable for use by secondary schools, except perhaps for small ones of 200 children or less, and that even for elementary schools they should not be used to their full sleeping capacity. As, residential elementary schools for 250-300 children, however, they offer advantages which are worth the earnest consideration of Catholic school managers.

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