Penkhull Primitive Methodist Sunday School
In December 1840, Samuel Scriven was sent by the House of Commons to collect evidence relating to the employment of children and young persons in the Staffordshire Potteries. He finished his interviews in February 1841, and presented his Report to the Commissioners on 4 March 1841.
Penkhull Primitive Methodist Sunday School had then been established for 17 years. One of those interviewed was the Sunday School Superintendent, James Irvine, aged 40.
This is his evidence:
‘I am the superintendent teacher; have attended the school in this capacity two years; we have 64 boys and 56 girls. There are 16 teachers, nine males and seven females. The nature of the instruction is religious, in no instance secular, except writing. The books used are, the Bible, Testament, “Reading made Easy”, a work bearing on religion. They attend the religious worship of the chapel in the afternoon, and are instructed in the morning. Think they improve by their attendance. Most of them are the children of factors; are well conducted and respectful to us as teachers. We do not see much difference between children of potters and others. I think, however, as compared with other places, not manufacturing, that they are not so good. When boys are taken young to work they associate with men of bad habits, and acquire them. Think that by coming to school they lose evil habits, and we endeavour by all the means in our power to inculcate good ones.’
Scriven commented: ‘The room (a chapel) is large, airy, and well ventilated, capable of containing 150 on the girls’ side, and 80 on the boys. – All cleanly.’