Ancestry UK

The Barnardo Rule Book

In 1944, as an adjunct to its recently established training programme, Barnardo's issued a confidential staff handbook, providing detailed guidance on every aspect of life in its homes. The "Barnardo Book" included sections on such matters as the daily routine, health, maintenance of discipline, and sex education.



For private circulation only.


Applications from parents, relatives or friends of a child, or from persons or bodies otherwise interested. Cases where an Order of Court will be available.

Applications coming under the first heading above can be made personally or by letter to Headquarters in London. Applications are investigated by specially appointed Officers. The decision upon them is made at Headquarters. Applications under the second group above will be directed to Headquarters.

If a Branch Home Superintendent receives an application for the admission of a child he should refer it to Headquarters.

Cases admitted fall into two main groups. (a) Where there is destitution. (b) Where a child is in moral danger or seriously neglected.

Children who are mentally defective or epileptic are not bars eligible for admission. Subject to these exceptions the physical condition of a child is, in itself, neither a barrier to nor a ground for admission.

It is an offence for a parent to abandon a child. Children are not eligible for admission on the ground that they have been deserted. Should a child be left on the doorstep at any Home or Office of the Association. The police must be informed so that they may proceed according to law.

There are no barriers of creed to admission, but before a Roman Catholic child is admitted reference is made to the authoritative Roman Catholic bodies in accordance with a long standing agreement. A similar practice is followed in the case of children of Jewish faith.

At the time of investigation the enquiry officer will enquire what is the religion of the parents and whether the parents have any wishes in regard to the religious upbringing of their children.

The decision of Headquarters will be communicated to the officer making the investigation.

All children received first at a Regional Reception Centre, where they will stay for one month or until they are out of quarantine. As soon as possible after the quarantine period is over Headquarters will issue instructions for the children to be transferred to the Central Reception Home

On arrival at the Regional Reception Centre the child will be examined by the medical officer and a note made on the dossier card of any defects requiring attention. Normally any medical, surgical or dental treatment that may be required will be given to the child at the Central Reception Home. Children who offer behaviour problems or are in need of psychiatric attention will receive treatment at the Central Reception Home. The child's permanent location will thereafter be determined by Headquarters after consideration of the reports.

The Council feels that to enable the public to realise that these Homes are a real asset to the nation in saving many lives which might otherwise be wasted, every encouragement should be given to members of the public who support our funds so generously to learn at first-hand something of the inside of our work. The Council is confident that Superintendents and members of staff will do everything in their power to make visitors welcome and that they will realise that the impression their Home makes on a visitor will have a considerable influence on that person of future goodwill and support.

In due course the child will leave this Home for a destination carefully selected according to his age and mental and physical requirements. Babies and toddlers are sent to a Nursery Home, with a trained staff and nursery school on the premises, where they remain until five years old. They are then transferred to a Boys' or a Girls' Home. In some Homes a brother and sister are able to stay together until the age of eleven: this is not possible in every case, and it will sometimes happen that at the age of five the boy will go to a Boys' Home and the girl to a Girls' Home. Some Branches are for juniors up to the age of eleven, and are specially planned for children who at the age of five are not strong enough to cope with numbers of children considerably older than themselves. The normally robust boy or girl will, go to a Home from where he will be able to attend the local elementary school until he has reached school leaving age.

Such is the normal course for a normal child, but there exist as well special Homes for special purposes. These include residential schools where special instruction can be given to children who need bringing on, Nautical Schools and, for older boys and girls, the Trade School and the Housecraft School. There are also Hospital Homes and Homes for the physically defective.

Each child will be instructed in the Bible and brought up in the Protestant Evangelical Faith. Where the parents' wishes cannot be ascertained and the child is too young to make so important a decision for himself, as well as in the case of Roman Catholic or Jewish children admitted to the Homes in special circumstances, the decision will be made at Headquarters regarding the child's baptism or dedication and his consequent religious upbringing.

Superintendents are responsible for the Home and for the physical, mental and spiritual welfare of the children in it, and are answerable ultimately in the discharge of their duties to the Council. There are, however, many matters in which action can only be taken in accordance with instructions from Headquarters. These instructions will be found in this book and in letters of instruction issued from time to time.

In all matters of children's upbringing, education, play, discipline, comfort, holidays, as well as of the day to day management of the Homes, Superintendents communicate with and receive instructions from the Secretary to the Managers and the Chief Executive Officers, who themselves act under the general control of the General Superintendent. In matters of health, sanitation, and diet, Superintendents communicate direct with the Chief Medical Officer.

Every money gift to the Homes must be paid into the local Bank with instructions that it is to be transferred to Font Barclay's Bank, Bow, London. Where this is not possible, money should be sent direct to the Chief Cashier at Headquarters by money order. Money gifts must not be retained longer than a week. Collecting boxes must be emptied at least once a month and the contents remitted in the manner described above.

Superintendents and staff should use their influence with Gift visitors to a Home to discourage undue favouritism being shown to particular children. All gifts for individual children should be handed to the Superintendent.

Any gift received expressly for the benefit of a particular child must be earmarked for that child. The donor should receive a letter of thanks as soon as possible. Gifts should not be withheld from children except in their own interests, and when withheld, the Superintendent should use his discretion as to the advisability of telling the child concerned. If a gift is withheld and the child is not informed, the Chief Executive Officer should be made aware of the facts.

No child should be allowed to have in his possession a sum equivalent to more than two weeks' pocket money. Small money gifts which are in excess of that amount should be placed to the child's credit and a proper statement kept. Should this credit amount to more than ten shillings in the case of a particular child, arrangements should be made for the money to be deposited under the child's name in the Post Office Savings Bank.

Gifts of clothing for individual children may occasionally be obviously unsuitable for the children for whom they were intended. In such cases the donor should be notified and permission sought to use them for other children in the Home.

While it is appreciated that it gives children much pleasure to give to Superintendents and other members of staff small presents such as models they have made or samples of needlework where the monetary value is negligible, the Council do not approve of organized presentation of gifts to Superintendents or staff on any occasion which necessitates contributions from the children's pocket money.

Private Prayers. Sufficient time should be allowed for private prayers, and children should be encouraged in the habit of saying them.

Housework. While the training of children from a comparatively early age to be useful about the house is helpful to their normal development, care must be taken to see that no child is given work beyond his or her capacity or which cannot be done properly in the time allowed.

Meals. All children must be in to grace at every meal. Punctuality should be insisted upon, and lateness must be explained by a genuine excuse.

Discipline in the Dining Room. Supervising meals is not easy, complete silence is not desirable and savours of "Institution" rather than "Home." Yet in a large dining hall talking often produces so much noise that something has to be done about it. The great thing is to get what you want, and if on occasion it is necessary to demand silence for a short period, then have it.

Table Manners. If children are to grow up with good manners, meals must play an important part. The use of table cutlery, the way children sit and how they eat, form an important part of their training. Superintendents should see that the table looks attractive, with clean cloths or mats, and that the table equipment is complete. Children should also be taught to look after each other’s wants.

Surgery. Dressings should be done daily before School.

Leaving for School. The duty of seeing that children start punctually for school and are properly dressed should be assigned to a member of staff.

On Return from School. Outdoor things should be put away tidily and clothes inspected. A watch should be kept for late comers. After changing into play-clothes, all children should clean their boots or shoes.

Quiet Room. It is most desirable to provide an opportunity for any children who want it to have the use of a small quiet room.

Evening Routine. After play, the younger children should bath first, and then other juniors, seniors later. Children with work to do should complete this first and then bath. Surgical dressings should then receive attention. After the younger children have gone to bed, seniors should go into the play room for recreation. Tooth powder must be available and staff must see that children clean their teeth.

Before Bed. All children should develop the habit of going to the lavatory before getting into bed.

Discipline in the Dormitories. Talking should be subdued until "Lights out." After that, complete silence should reign. Offenders, or offending dormitories, should be penalised, as, for instance, by being sent to bed early the following night.

Enuresis Cases. Staff in charge of dormitories must see that these children are sent to the lavatory at 10 p.m. This applies to persistent cases mainly, but those apt to have an accident should also go. Where the lavatory is some distance from the dormitory, a chamber or night commode should be provided where it is easily accessible.

Every child should have his own Bible by the age of nine. These can be indented for to Headquarters. Superintendents are allowed to spend each year up to 1s. per head on religious books for the children, or in the case of the staff, on religious or educational books, permission having first been gained from Headquarters, who will also gladly advise. All children are interested in magazines, and each Home can order "The Children's Newspaper," and a copy of a suitable daily newspaper for houseboys or trainees. One daily newspaper may be provided for the Staff common room.

Parents and relatives may visit children. The Homes reserve the right to limit these visits to once a quarter. The first visit must in every case have been approved from Headquarters; no reference need be made to Headquarters for subsequent visits unless instructions to the contrary have been given. A refusal to allow a parent to visit will always go from Headquarters.

Children are not allowed to spend a night away from their Home except by permission of Headquarters. Summer holidays are encouraged on the invitation of a parent or relative, who will be expected to pay the necessary railway fare. Permission for the first visit to parents or relatives must be obtained from Headquarters. Such permission is not necessary for a subsequent annual holiday with the same people if at the same address. The case of a child who for a period of twelve months has not gone away for a holiday should be placed before Headquarters for special consideration.

A register should be kept of all letters to and from the children in the Home.

The letters children write, as well as the letters they receive, should be read by the Superintendent or an official deputed by him before despatch or delivery. Any letters likely to have an unsettling effect upon a child should be referred to Headquarters before being handed to the child. Children may receive any number of letters and should be encouraged to write in reply. We cannot undertake to make children write more than once a month, but stamps will be provided for one letter a week. Gifts should always be acknowledged promptly.

Children with brothers and sisters in the Homes are to be encouraged to write to them, particularly on birthdays.

Correspondence about children dealing with the policy of con the organization or the management of a Home must invariably be sent to Headquarters. It is only in this way that it is possible to avoid inconsistent statements of policy being given to the public.

The Council does not wish that simple inquiries about a particular child shall be regarded always as involving a question of policy. It is realised that there is a wide field where the discretion of the Superintendent should be exercised, a point of doubt always being referred to Headquarters.

Pocket money is allowed to boys and girls after their fifth birthday.