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1946 CONVOCATION at Highfield - HARPENDEN
FRODSHAM CONVOCATION (Mid 1960's)
The National Children’s Home Convocation Lecture 1964
One of the subjects was how to deal with children that while they had not really done anything wrong in the eyes of the law, might if given the chance later develop problems.
Most of the concerns were over parental problems, whilst there was often no physical harm whilst the child was with parents, it was often noticed that the life of the child was affected.
For boys it was often missing several days of school, where they seemed to leave their parents in the morning with the intention of going to school, often the child never arrived at school, although at the end of the school day they might appear home with everything giving the impression that a full day of school had been achieved, this did not only affect boys at the lower end of the learning curve, but even bright children, even arranging to do home work after tea. The ages were in the 9-14 group. It was these boys that often became involved in minor wrong doings whilst away from school.
The first the parents knew was often via the school or the truant officer rather than the police. In many cases the problem was dealt with and no further school days were lost.
The problem we have is with the children that simply do not want to go to school. The solution is for some form of residential school.
Local Councils and the Home Office will jointly fund places for children that have been committed by the court, however if a placement is needed without court intervention, the full upkeep of the child then falls entirely on the Local Council where the child lives. Reluctance in funding is therefore a problem until the child actually becomes out of control.
It is thought that the approved schools programme could be enlarged to admit more children into the system, and possibly remove some of the rather negative connotations the public have over the words ‘Approved School’. Thus a new category of ‘Voluntary Approved School’ might be possible.
When this proposal for Voluntary Approved Schools'' was mentioned to a professional gathering, the question was asked: ‘But what would we do with the children once we got them there?’
The first answer is that the mere ''getting them there'' solves many problems, by forestalling the delinquency to which most of the children in question will resort to, by providing a stable environment which will not be beyond the tolerance of the stress-vulnerable child, by removing children from temptation and provocation. The minimum requirement is thus an atmosphere of good but not punitive discipline.
One might call it a therapeutic discipline based on the principles of least stress and the development of normal social attachments.
This is best done in small family-like units such as in the branches of the National Children''s Home. This system consists in the grouping of some eight or nine children each with their house-mother and having their own rooms. It means the abandonment of large-scale communal feeding, or if this is necessary, having separate tables for the family-groups. It also means the abandonment of large dormitories, three or four children sleeping in one room being the ideal.
Mr. R. H. Adams, Principal of the Kingswood Classifying School, once remarked to the writer that the only junior Approved School to which he could send maladjusted children with the confidence that they would not ''bounce back'' was the Coomb School in South Wales, run by the National Children''s Home, on the above lines.
A short time later—during the period of optimism owing to the temporary lessening of delinquency during the early 1950''s—the Home Office decided that it would have to be closed, choosing this school because it cost a few more shillings per child per week to run and was a little more expensive in the conveyance of children. That it offered a successful solution to a difficult problem was not taken into account.