Rutland Schools the Parochial Returns of 1818 & 1833 - Ian Ryder Researching Rutland	Registered Charity No 700273 Rutland Local History & Record Society
While both these returns have a similar structure, the 1833 returns are written with no personal comments included, whereas the 1818 returns include observations by the incumbent. These vary from those displaying a complacent attitude to the education of the poor, such as at Manton “The parish are perfectly satisfied with the means of education afforded them” to those voicing a concern as at Preston “The poor are in want of sufficient means of education”.  The latter was a better reflection of the increasing interest in the education of the poor, particularly amongst the clergy. The rector of Preston was amongst a group, of mainly clergy, who met in 1816 to establish a Rutland branch of the National Society for Promoting the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church. By 1817 fifteen schools in Rutland were operating under the auspices of the National Society and eighteen by 1837 (COERC).  This further illustrates the limitation of the 1833 Enquiry as it describes only seven schools as linked to the National Society.  From 1833 the government started to issue grants for school building, but these were tied to schools being associated with organisations such as the National Society. This led to a further expansion of National Schools in the county and is the reason that many of the county’s primary schools were and still are Church of England sponsored.
Parliament ordered enquiries into schools throughout England and Wales in both 1818 (Digest 1819, 739) and 1833 (Enquiry 1835, 762). These were conducted by questionnaires sent to the parish incumbent.  Not all parishes in most counties made returns, but those for Rutland are complete. Both sets of returns give similar information about the types of school and number of pupils in each parish, but the 1833 return also includes detail on how the schools were funded and the date of establishment, if after 1818. Although, all parish’s made a return the accuracy of the information was subject to individual interpretation of what the questionnaire required. This made defining particular types of school difficult and the numbers of children attending school are tainted by the problem of double counting of a child who attended both day and Sunday schools. These and other deficiencies were recognised when in 1835 the results from the 1833 Enquiry were published. Fortunately for Rutland the Manchester Statistical Society also undertook a detailed survey, in 1838, of the county’s education, by visiting each parish. The Society’s resulting report enabled some of the errors to be corrected. For example the 1833 Enquiry listed 10 Infant schools in the county while the Society’s Report found: “there is not a single school of the class that bears this title; the ten schools in question are mere dame schools.”  The Society’s Report has recently been republished by the Rutland History Society and the accompanying narrative provides a useful background to education in the early nineteenth century that puts the 1818 Digest and 1833 Enquiry returns into context (Ryder 2011, 16). Nevertheless, both the Digest and the Enquiry returns provide a parish by parish list of schools which is missing from the 1838 Report and are therefore valuable extra sources of local information.