In 1900, the School Board also had to get to grips immediately with the reclassification of elementary schools now to be divided into 3 parts – infants (embracing all scholars up to the age of 7), junior division (comprising from Standard I to Standard III) and the senior division (comprising Standard IV to VI).
In the elementary department, the board could earn a grant of 18s per scholar in average attendance, junior 20s and senior 22s.
New rules meant a further 6d would be given for each child if the school could accommodate military or physical activities. Many schools attempted this, and it was known that grants could be withheld if the schools did not come up to scratch. As such the new school at Auchinraith was to have a military or Physical education drill hall in the middle of the school. It was noted this was to be larger than High Blantyre and Low Blantyre, for whilst they had halls in the middle of the school, they were not sufficiently of a size that would merit the grants for physical activities.
In March 1900, the school committees were appointed as follows:
High Blantyre – Mr Douglas (convener), Davidson, Turnbull and Kelly.
Low Blantyre – Mr Menzies (convener), Campbell, McQuarrie and Devanney.
This decision appears to be a reflection recognising where those members lived.With reference to the Auchinraith new school, the chairman stated that it was practically completed and a committee would be needed. This is the best evidence to suggest that Auchinraith School sat unused from March through to August 1900, whilst appointments and final arrangements were made. Some conversation on this matter followed in which the chairman moved that the whole subject of Auchinraith school should be moved to their April meeting. He noted that the school finishing would be complete soon but did not think it wise to start school work until after the school summer holidays. He correctly noted it may be August 1900 before the school opened. At the same time , this would permit the Board time to consider appropriate staff appointments. Mr Douglas seconded the motion and it was carried.
Next, a letter was read from Mr. Ness, the headmaster of Low Blantyre School. He stated that a collection had been made amongst the scholars the previous week on behalf of the war (Africa) fund and that the total sum raised was £7 1s, made up of 510 donations from 0.5d to 5s. In a letter of thanks, acknowledging receipt of this amount, the treasurer of the fund, Mr. Munro, Hamilton, said this was the largest sum yet collected in any one school throughout the county, perhaps a reflection of how populated Stonefield was at the time.
Attention then turned to the new office accommodation that the School Board were to have within the new chambers that the Parish Council were proposing to erect. It was recommended that the office should be provided and it was now merely a matter of agreeing the rent that the School Board should pay. The Clerk of the Parish Council had drawn up an estimate of the rent based on the probable area of the building, likely to be about 11,300 square feet. The Board was to be given 352 square feet for which a rent of £13 was asked towards the estimated annual expenditure of the Parish Council of £45 per year. With cleaning etc, added it was pointed out that the Board rental of £13 would be increased to £20 and if the built in safe was required, there would be an added one of cost of £60. They agreed to decide that matter at the next meeting.
Finally, an attendance report on the 4 schools in Blantyre was given.
High Blantyre had 697 pupils on the roll, 593 average attendance with 15% absent rate.
Low Blantyre had 932 crammed into the school, 763 pupils attending each day in 1900, with 18% absent rate.
St Josephs School had 845 pupils, 745 attending, only 11% absent rate and finally Auchentibber just 67 pupils, 56 attending with 16% absent rate. Non attendance to schools would be addressed in later years with the introduction of fines, penalties and even jail sentences for parents, but not at this time hence why non attendance rates appear very high by today’s standards.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016