London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

View report page

London County Council 1934

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

This page requires JavaScript

In the same year, the Council had considered a circular from the Board of
Education and the Ministry of Health on " children under school age." This
circular urged local education authorities, in framing their programmes of educational
development, to consider the provision of nursery schools and nursery classes. The
Council decided, however, to make no departure from its previous policy until
the extent of the commitments which might fall upon it as the result of the projected
legislation for the raising of the school-leaving age was known.
The Special Services Sub-Committee in November, 1933, received a deputation
from the consultative committee of head mistresses of infants' schools, urging the
provision, within infants' departments, of what they described as nursery wings.
The deputation submitted the view that this method of providing for very young
children was preferable to establishing detached nursery schools.
A Report, issued in December, 1933, of the Board of Education's Consultative
Committee, under the chairmanship of Sir W. H. Hadow, entitled " Infant and
Nursery Schools," dealt fully with the various questions affecting the mental and
physical development of children up to the age of seven. Many of its recommendations
were in accordance generally with the Council's policy with regard to
young children in its schools. With regard to nursery classes and nursery schools,
local education authorities were recommended to survey the needs of their areas
and to provide facilities, in consultation with the Board of Education, for the
nurture and training in schools of children under five, whether in nursery schools
or nursery classes. The report advised that where children under five are admitted
to infants' schools, nursery classes should be the normal type of provision.
The representative managers have recommended the provision of nursery
schools, particularly in areas which have been scheduled for slum clearance and in,
or adjacent to, the Council's housing estates ; and the Special Services Sub-Committee
in April, 1934, received a deputation from the Nursery School Association of Great
Britain, urging the reservation on housing estates of sites for nursery schools and
better provision, on nursery school lines, for children in infants departments.
Dr. E. M. McVail (divisional medical officer), Miss E. Stevenson (senior woman
inspector) and Miss G. Sanson (inspector of infants' methods) were asked to report
comprehensively upon the whole question. As a result of the consideration of
their report, the Council has agreed to the principle of nursery school development
in London, and provision for this has been made in the three-year programme
Dr. E. M. McVail reports that accommodation in nursery schools has, during the
year 1934, remained unchanged, viz., 1,044 places in 15 schools. Of this accommodation,
500 places in 3 schools are maintained, and 544 places in 12 schools are aided.
Eight schools, including the 3 maintained, have a Council doctor, whilst 7 aided
schools make their own arrangements. Children in all schools are seen at least
once a year and in many once a term, special cases being examined more frequently.
All except one aided school now have a Council nurse, who visits daily for
treatment of minor ailments, advises as to suspected infectious disease and inspects
for cleanliness. The number of visits paid by the medical officers was 210, and
3,079 examinations were made of the children.
The Council's treatment centres are available for the treatment of nursery
school children, and at most schools the parents co-operate well by having medical
recommendations carried out. Children with rickets as a rule improve markedly
with the nursery school regime—fresh air, exercise, milk, cod-liver oil and suitable
food—and hospital treatment is only exceptionally necessary. Out of 1,585 children
examined, 162 were noted to have rickets to a greater or less degree.
Medical inspection and treatment—Day continuation schools, evening institutes and
junior instruction centres.
Day continuation
schools and
With a view to closing up to some extent the gap in physical care between
school leaving and the commencement of provision of medical benefit under the
national health insurance scheme the Council decided that, as an experiment for
one year, arrangements should be made as from 1st April, 1934, for the medical