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Rushden Echo & Argus, 19th Oct 1923
Presentation to Mr Arthur Mantle at Rushden

A Popular Officer

Mr Arthur Mantle of Rushden, for 20 years clerk and attendance officer to the Rushden Education Sub-Committee and neighbouring authorities, on Tuesday evening received a valuable gift from his friends in the scholastic profession. Mr Mantle recently resumed his duties after undergoing a serious operation, a leg being amputated.

Nothing but Good

The gathering of subscribers at which the presentation was made was in the Alfred-street Schools, Rushden and Mr B Vorley (chairman of the Rushden Education Sub-Committee) presided.

To the authorities at Rushden, Higham Ferrers, Raunds, Thrapston and other places, said Mr Vorley, Mr Mantle had proved a worthy officer. He had given them his best, had done all he could for the teachers and had met scholars’ parents in a tactful manner. At Rushden Mr Mantle had done his work wonderfully well, and they heard nothing but good about him.

Alderman T Patenall, representing the School Managers of Higham Ferrers, said he did not know of any gentleman who had done the work so acceptably as had Mr Mantle. Alderman Patenall referred to his old schoolmaster, the late Mr John Saunderson, as one of the finest handwriters in the neighbourhood and thought Mr Mantle, if not excelling him, was very close in merit. The Higham Managers wished Mr Mantle long life and prosperity.

Mr A Camozzi (Raunds) remarked on Mr Mantle’s unfailing good temper, and added: “In fact, I have thought at times that some of the mothers have kept their children away from school so that Mr Mantle would have to visit them!” (Laughter)

Mr W Askew, C.C. (Thrapston), said Mr Mantle was a most efficient, painstaking and courteous officer.

Mr Leonard Perkins, B. Sc. (headmaster of the Newton-road Schools, Rushden), said he had always felt that Mr Mantle was a friend – and a good friend.

Explaining the reasons for the presentation, the Chairman said the Managers and teachers saw that to carry on his work would entail great expense to Mr Mantle. They were glad to know that his health was improving, and that he was beginning to feel fit and well.

The Presentation

On behalf of the teachers and Managers of all the schools in the district concerned, Mr Vorley handed Mr Mantle a cheque for £135.

It was mentioned by Mr Vorley that, beyond those interested in the scholastic profession, the only subscribers were the Rushden Co-operative Society, Trades and Labour Council, Boot Operatives’ Union and Mr L Tysoe.

Mr S Saddler (one of the secretaries) said that since the cheque was made out the account had been added to, and it now stood at over £140. Of the 160 or more subscribers, some were as far north as Harrogate and others as far east as King’s Lynn.

Other speakers were the Rev. P E Robson, Mr F Green (treasurer of the testimonial fund), Mr T Large (representing the school attendance officers), and Mr W W Rial.

Mr Mantle’s Reply

Mr Mantle, in reply, said he hardly knew how to express his sincere gratitude for their kindness. Apart from the handsome present, he felt that what had been said had been a genuine expression of their feelings and good wishes.

He had made but one change of employment in 33 years. He was a native of Rushden, and had lived to see the place grow from a mere village. His father was also a native, and worked for one firm 54 years. It was nearly 20 years ago, continued Mr Mantle, that he was appointed as school attendance officer and clerk to the Managers. He was proud to say that during the whole of that time his relationship with the Education Office, Managers, and teachers, had been of the most friendly character.

Out of 45 who served as Managers when he became clerk, only ten remained. At Rushden they were poorer for the loss of men like Messrs Wilkins, Cave, Hensman, Claridge and Colson. Out of about 60 teachers at Rushden when he came eight or ten were left.

Fewer Children

Another thing that had impressed him was the decline in number of the children. Twenty years ago 5,253 were on the registers throughout his division, but today there were 3,769. In Rushden alone there were 850 less that at that time. The birth-rate had been decreasing year by year. As to the “tone” of the children, there had been a noticeable change in their general cleanliness, behaviour, character and discipline; he might say that the discipline of bygone days – that rigid, military type – had passed away, and school life had become more interesting and pleasant to the children. But with all this improved education they found a serious need in many cases for a home education in truthfulness, honesty and morality.

Another thing that impressed him was the speedy recovery of good health by children attaining school-leaving age. Almost every teacher could give instances where children had for months and years been excluded from school by doctors, including school doctors. Their names were kept on the school register without a single attendance being made, but the day they reached school-leaving age they went straight into a factory and were certified under the Factory Act as being fit for work. That such a state of affairs existed was no fault of the employer, the factory inspector, or the local doctor, but in his opinion the system of examination of the child was wrong. Unless there was an adequate fee paid for examination, this part of the Factory Act would remain a farce, for what medical examination would any of them expect for a fee of sixpence?

Teacher’s Salaries

Nineteen or twenty years ago, continued Mr Mantle, the teachers belonged to one of the worst paid professions there was, and he found records of trained certificated teachers commencing at £60 to £70 a year, uncertificated at £45, and probationers at £7.10s. per year. Today they could eventually earn four or five times those amounts. As to whether they were worth it, he was pleased to know that in this district reports of the inspectors were evidence that the teachers were efficient and that the children were on the right road to a sound, thorough, and up-to-date education.

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