The Legal Factors
Limited Power Of Board Of
By Our Educatiorial Correspondent.
THE MAN IN TIIE STREET IS PUZZLED FROM TIME TO TIME BY THE DIFFICULTIES WHICH ARISE FROM THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE EDUCATION ACTS 1921-36, DIFFICULTIES IN PLACES HERE AND THERE WHICH DIFFER FROM THE REST OF THE AREAS, ALL OF WHICH CARRY OUT THE DUTY OF PUTTING THE EDUCATION ACT INTO OPERATION.
Such difficulties arise from the fact that the Acts are administered in part by the Board of Education, set up by Parliament, and by local education authorities who represent the local Councils elected by ratepayers, and which position will remain as long as the costs of education are defrayed partly by rates and partly from taxes. The result is that both bodies possess rig/as and duties under the Act.
In certain cases, the Board of Education has over-riding powers: in others, though the Board may be desirous of intervening, it has no power to do so. It is from the lack of essential executive power that the troubles arise.
As was pointed out a short time ago, with regard to the recognition of the public elementary school at Colwyn Bay, the local authority refused to recognise the Catholic elementary school which had been sanctioned by the Board. Though the Board withholds from the local authority the contribution from taxes and pays it to the Catholic school managers, it has no power to give the managers a further amount equal to the contribution which should be forthcoming from the rates.
The Blind Boy The case of the Nottingham Blind Boy, described recently in the Catholic Herald, is more complicated than the Colwyn Bay case though the difficulty arises also from the method of administration.
A brief summary of the sections of the Act relating to the education of blind children is necessary in order to appreciate the position.
(1) A parent must obtain instruction for the blind child, and distance from a school cannot be alleged as a reason for not carrying out this duty.
(2) It is the duty of local education authorities to make or obtain provision for such instruction under another local authority.
Under this provision the authority may decide to erect its own blind school or .contribute to the cost of the education of the blind children residing within its area to the authority possessing the school to which the children are sent. This is done because many authorities may have only responsibility for one or two children for whom such accommodation is necessary.
Limited Government Power
. The Board of Education have here two powers conferred upon them (a) that of certifying that the school is efficient (b) that of approving the amount of the contribution to be made.
(3) The period of compulsory education terminates when the child attains the age of sixteen.
(4) When the child attends a school which necessitates " boarding-out," the person with whom the child is boarded shall be of the same religious persuasion as the parents.
(5) Where the child is compelled to attend any school, the child shall have facilities for receiving religious instruction and attending religious services in accordance with the religious persuasion of the parents.
(6) in selecting a school the local education authority shall be guided by the rules laid down by the Children Act, 1908, relating to industrial schools. Children are sent where practicable to a school of the appropriate religious persuasion.
(7) Payments under this part of the Act in respect of a blind child shall not be made a condition of attending any school other than such as may be reasonably selected by the parent, or refused, because the child does not attend any particular school so certified.
The Change of View
Taking the above into consideration nearly every authority adopts the following procedure: The child is sent to the school which the parent has reasonably selected and in view of the procedure under the Children Act, 1908, it is a school of the appropriate denomination, and furthermore the duly approved contribution is made, if the school is outside the area of the authority.
In the case of Nottingham the authority agreed to follow the customary practice and made a contribution of about £26 for one
One cannot say what induced a change of attitude at the end of that time, but acting presumably on number (5) above, decided that the child should attend the day school for the blind which was established in the town.
Should such a change have been made? Is it right to make such a change when one considers that the school was reasonably selected by the parent? Does not the payment for the one year recognise the selection as reasonable? If it is reasonable, has the authority power to withhold payment, which is contrary to Section 66 of the Education Act?
B. of E. Powerless
Unfortunately, an appeal to the Board of Education is useless because of the limited powers in this matter. Only a Court of Justice can decide if the selection was reasonable. It seems a pity that expensive litigation is necessary to decide the issue.
Perhaps it will not be necessary since the Nottingham Authority are about to close their school for the blind. The child would then presumably come under the " boarding-out " dame, and be sent to the reasonably selected school, and the approved contribution paid.