Industrial school

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This article is about the institution of Industrial Schools worldwide. For Industrial Schools specifically in Ireland, see Industrial Schools in Ireland.

In Ireland the Industrial Schools Act of 1868 established industrial schools (Irish: scoileanna saothair) to care for "neglected, orphaned and abandoned children". By 1884 there were 5,049 children in such institutions.[1]

In England the 1857 Industrial Schools Act was intended to solve problems of juvenile delinquency, by removing poor and neglected children from their home environment to a boarding school. The Act allowed magistrates to send disorderly children to a residential industrial school. An 1876 Act led to non-residential day schools of a similar kind.

There were similar arrangements in Scotland, where the Industrial Schools Act came into force in 1866. The schools cared for neglected children and taught them a trade,[2] with an emphasis on preventing crime. Some of these schools were known as reformatories or, later, as approved schools. In recent times these schools have become notorious for the rampant sexual, physical and mental abuse that took place within their walls, often at the hands of members of the religious institutes running them.

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse in Ireland[edit]

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was established in 2000 with functions including the investigation of abuse of children in institutions in the State. It was dependent on people giving evidence which they did in large numbers.

The conclusions of the report issued in May 2009 (Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, 2009[3])are copied below. 42 of the 43 conclusions refer to the Industrial Schools. They are in themselves a useful summary of what an industrial school in Ireland was, as well as a damning indictment of Ireland, Church, State and society.

Vaccine Trials[edit]

Vaccine trials in some Industrial Schools were to be investigated by the Commission, but were discontinued by the Commission in 2003 following Court judgement. In a statement on their website the Commission said " The Vaccine Trials Inquiry was a Division of the Investigation Committee. Judicial Review proceedings seeking, inter alia , a declaration that the Order which established the Vaccine Trials Inquiry was ultra vires the Act of 2000, were initiated in November 2003. On 25 November 2003, an undertaking was given to the High Court, by the Commission, that it would not conduct any hearings in relation to the matters within the ambit of the Order, until the matter was settled. The practical effect of this undertaking was that the work of the Division was suspended at that point and never re-commenced, given the subsequent decision of the Court, that the Order was ultra vires the Act." [3]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  • Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, 2009.[4]
  • Vaccine Trials[5]


  1. ^ "INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS (IRELAND). HC Deb". Hansard (UK Parliament) (vol 285 cc1022-4). 10 March 1884. 
  2. ^ Gillian Carol Gear (1999). "Industrial Schools in England, 1857-1933" (PDF). University of London Institute of Education. Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, 2009
  4. ^ Report, IE: Child abuse commission .
  5. ^ Vaccine trials (report), IE: Child abuse commission, 2003-06-05 .