Mentally Defective Children.

Oral Answers to Questions — Education. – in the House of Commons on 21st April 1932.

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Photo of Sir Charles Edwards Sir Charles Edwards , Bedwellty


asked the President of the Board of Education what number of mentally defective children there are in England and Wales, giving separate figures for boys and girls; what accommodation there is available for them to be educated and trained and where the institutions are situated; and what is the average cost per pupil for training?

Photo of Mr Donald Maclean Mr Donald Maclean , Cornwall Northern

On 31st December, 1930, the latest date for which complete figures are available, the number of educable mentally defective children of school age, ascertained by school medical officers in England and Wales, was returned as about 32,100: 18,700 boys and 13,400 girls. It is known, however, that the actual number of such children is considerably larger. There is accommodation in special schools for about 16,600 children of this type, and I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the Board's List 42, which shows where the schools are situated. The average cost of education in these schools is about £23 per child, per annum, in day schools, and £67 in residential schools.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the proportion of such children to ordinary school children is on the increase, or whether it is declining?

Photo of Mr Donald Maclean Mr Donald Maclean , Cornwall Northern

That question should be addressed to the Ministry of Health, which has a much wider area from which to draw statistics than we have.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

Seeing that accommodation is available for less than 50 per cent, of those children who are defective, will the right hon. Gentleman require local authorities to provide accommodation for the remainder?

Photo of Mr David Kirkwood Mr David Kirkwood , Dumbarton District of Burghs

Is it not a terrible indictment against the present system that there are so many mentally defective children in this country, inasmuch as it is largely owing to poverty, bad housing, and so on?

Photo of Mr William McKeag Mr William McKeag , City of Durham

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that purely mentally defective children are very often mixed up with deaf children at schools for the deaf, and that, if that were not the case, much more accommodation would be available for those who are merely deaf?

Photo of Mr Donald Maclean Mr Donald Maclean , Cornwall Northern

I will inquire into the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Mckeag). The question of the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) raises a matter of general policy into which I cannot enter at Question Time.