Liverpool Teachers and Military Service

Since Alderman Alsop announced to the Education Committee that upwards of 120 local teachers had joined H.M. Forces, this list has been supplemented by fresh enlistments. Some teachers have taken commissioned rank, and many are non-commissioned officers. Compared with other local education authorities, Liverpool teachers have done very well, and it is a pleasure to acknowledge the encouragement given by the City Council to the municipal service in respect of enlistment. Teachers above the military age have, however, been disappointed of the promise held out by circular 872 of the Board of Education. This circular asked for further enlistments for active service and for civilian instructors of drill and physical exercises, a position which teachers are well qualified to fill.
Correspondence with the Board, however, showed that the War Office were not as eager to obtain these instructors as the circular seemed to imply, and we believe many applicants have not succeeded in obtaining such posts, while many others have found the conditions of service different from what they were led to expect by the circular.
    A further circular now explains that these instructors are only required in towns where a local battalion is being raised or at large camps, and it is natural to suppose that even where these conditions obtain fully enlisted teachers are largely called upon to become instructors. This is probably the reason why for Liverpool no civilian instructors have been appointed. We believe that half-a-dozen or so are about to be accepted for service in Blackpool.
    The shortage of teachers in Liverpool schools consequent upon enlistments have made heavy demands upon those who remain. The number of “supply” teachers is never very large, and even if we add those who come into service on 1st December the deficiency is not made up. Head teachers find themselves tied to a class, class teachers find their classes enlarged, lady teachers find that they are put into boys’ departments. Much of this disarrangement was inevitable, and the burden of it is no doubt being cheerfully borne. None the less, it is incumbent upon the local education authority to make provision to cover the shortage as far as possible for the sake of the children.
    It is far too early to consider the effects of the war on education. That will have a detrimental effect is undoubted, but that the effect shall be as little felt as possible will be the aim of the whole educational service. One effect, however, is already apparent. We have taken an appreciable step nearer to the time when primary schools will be staffed almost entirely by women. There is little doubt that some of the 5,000 teachers who have enlisted will not again enter the schools. There will be casualties among them, and some have taken commissions in the Army. As is well known, the Board of Education was, before war broke out, faced with a deplorable shortage of teachers of both sexes, but particularly of men. The position is now still more serious, and all the administrative skill of the board and authorities will be required to remedy the situation. As Mr Goldstone observes in this month’s educational supplement of the “Times,” “The remedy is obvious, but will be expensive. That the cost must be faced is a national duty as insistent as securing a just and permanent settlement of the present war.”
    Councillor F. T. Richardson is to be congratulated on the choice of the first resolution submitted by him to the City Council. From his experience on the Education committee he evidently felt that there was some doubt as to the interpretation that officials of the Corporation might place on the resolution which promised the continuation of full salary to officials who had joined his Majesty’s forces, and who had gained promotion since entering the King’s service. Sir Charles Petries’s full and ready acceptance of the reading which will ensure that the man promoted for meritorious service shall receive the financial gain which accompanies this, and that it shall not be commandeered for the relief of the rates, is, we feel sure, in complete accord with public feeling in the city. It must have been with particular pleasure that Sir Charles was able to show that not only had Liverpool led the way in this matter, but that there had never been any intention of the Finance Committee to act otherwise than wholeheartedly. There are still subsidiary decisions affecting small sections of the officials to be made, but after the Council meeting we feel sure some just and liberal spirit will prevail.
(Liverpool Courier 5th Dec 1914)