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At a meeting of the Derby Board of Guardians March 12th, attention was called to the fact that three children were entered in the medical relief book as suffering from overwork. The medical stated that he had entered these names in order to call attention to the matter, as he had several cases under his notice. A member of the Board then expressed the opinion that overpressure was common throughout the town. A report of the proceedings having been sent to the Education Department, one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors was instructed to make inquiries. He had some difficulty in getting the medical officer to specify any particular cases, but eventually obtained the names of four children whose illness the medical officer attributed to overwork. With regard to these children the following facts were ascertained:-
THOMAS WALKER, aged 11, in Standard II, was noticed by the master to be looking ill on Friday February 22nd, and allowed to sit by the class-room fire. The following day he was employed in carrying a placard advertisement about the streets. He returned to school on the Monday, but was much worse on the Tuesday, and was certified by the medical officer as unable to attend school. Her Majesty’s Inspector visited the boy at his own house, and found him suffering from a severe cough and cold. He seemed a weak and badly nourished child with a tendency to consumption.
SARAH ANN HAYES, ages 12, Standard III, had attended the Nun Street Board School from January to November, when she was taken away, and had since been educated at a private school. While at Nun Street she was once excused attending school on the application of her mother, who stated that she had strained herself while helping to carry in a ton of coal, and could not straighten herself. On her return to school she appeared to be still suffering from the effects, and unable to hold herself upright. When visited by Her Majesty’s Inspector she seemed in fairly good health, and was engaged in domestic work.
SAMUEL SLATER, over 13, but only in Standard II., had been absent with his father from Derby from July to December, when he returned to school. He was taken ill 24th February, and certified as unable to attend school on March 4th. Her Majesty’s Inspector was unable to see this lad personally, as he had been sent to a neighbouring village for change of air. His sister said that he had gone because “his face had broken out”.
REDMUND HANDLEY, age not stated, in Standard III.; left school February 29th, suffering from pain in the side and tightness across the forehead. No complain had been made by his parents that the boy was overworked. Her Majesty’s Inspector thinks that the boy’s illness may have been due to the overcrowded and ill-ventilated state of the school-room, of which he had previously had cause to complain.
As a result of his inquiries, Her Majesty’s Inspector expresses himself as unable to see how these four cases of illness can be ascribed, either in whole or in part, to work in school or to home lessons.