Reported in the News Letter on November 7, 1938: ‘14-year-olds need to be on the farm, not in classrooms’


A resolution protesting against the proposal to raise the school-leaving age from 14 to 15 years was passed by seven votes to three at a meeting of Coleraine Regional Education Committee on Saturday [November 5], Mr R B Lyttle JP presiding.

The resolution, which was submitted by the Strabane Committee, objected to the Bill on the grounds that the extra cost of elementary education would be too great; that the raising of the age would inflict hardship on a mainly agricultural community and would prove highly provocative.

Alderman Christie declared that if a lot of the trimmings were cut out of the elementary school curriculum so that more time could be devoted to essentials as in days gone by there would be no need to raise the leaving age. The Bill was unnecessary in an agricultural community, where it was essential that children of 14 should assist their parents in running their farms.

Alderman D Cunningham, who moved the adoption of the resolution, said that if the Government had looked into the matter carefully before having formulated the scheme they would have found that there was no public demand for it.

Mr Hugh McFetridge seconded the motion.

The secretary (Mr W R Johnston) pointed out that there were exceptions in the Bill. If a farmer wished his child, when over 14 years of age, to remain at home he would be permitted to do so.