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.


These notes have been written for the general guidance of our Superintendents, particularly those recently appointed. They are intended primarily for children of elementary school age. Where the children are older they will need some adaptation.

Responsibility for religious instruction rests with the Head of the Home. Family prayers should be taken by the Head. In the few cases where there is a resident chaplain, religious training must be regarded as one of his- special duties. Where older children are concerned, special stress should be laid on their private devotions. It must be remembered that for the majority, once they have left the Home, private prayer will be their chief source of strength.

Family prayers should be held daily in all Homes. They should be attended by everyone — staff, trainees and children — and should consist of a short simple prayer, a few verses from the Bible, and a verse or two of a hymn.

Where it is not convenient to hold family prayers in the morning, a short prayer should be used when the children are assembled for breakfast, asking God's guidance and help in the work and difficulties of the day.

On Sunday evenings, prayers should be a little longer sun with perhaps two hymns and a little informal talk by the Head of the Home or some outside friend. In the former case this will be valuable as it will provide a natural opportunity for bringing up points in connection with the religious life in the Home and kindred subjects without having to summon children and staff specially for the purpose.

For children under twelve, one Church service each Sun Sunday is sufficient, normally in the morning. The afternoon Ser or evening is a suitable occasion for religious instruction. This may take many forms — Sunday School, Bible stories, reading from suitable books, informal talks, lantern service, religious films, etc., with hymns or carols to keep it cheerful. With the over-twelve children, any evening service should be informal, though in the large Homes it will normally be held in the chapel. Care must be taken not to fill up the day with religious activities as a convenient way of keeping the children occupied.

Definite religious instruction should be given to children in small groups. This again is the responsibility of the Head of the Home. If it is delegated to some one else, care must be taken that this person is really competent to do it. Special emphasis should be placed on a thorough knowledge of the Old and New Testament stories. We owe it to the children that they do not leave the Homes without a real familiarity with these so that they become part of the very fabric of their lives. On application to Headquarters, an up-to-date bibliography will be supplied. Advantage should certainly be taken of any suitable Sunday School or Bible Class which exists outside the Home.

Great emphasis should be laid on the development of regular habits of personal religion. All children over seven should make use of the Bible Reading Fellowship. Those over twelve might have their own leaflets and read the portion for themselves, those under twelve are better in groups and reading it (perhaps a verse each) with a member of staff who can help and explain.

There should be a definite quiet time in the dormitories morning and night for private prayers. Children should be taught to pray and to kneel by their beds to pray. Private prayer presents many difficulties to children (and others). Each child might be advised to use at night a routine somewhat on the following lines.

(a) Say over the Lord's Prayer.

(b) Thank God for His goodness—for health, work, friends. Remember any special event that he or she is looking forward to. (Always dwell on the privilege of the personal approach.)

(c) Conclude with saying over the verse of a hymn. Never mind if the hymns are simple and naive. They should be used as an act of worship to round off the individual prayer.

On getting up in the morning, the children might be taught to say a little formal prayer, or the verse of a hymn, or the Lord's Prayer.

A list of helpful books of prayers will be supplied by Headquarters on request. These should be used by the Superintendent rather than given to the children. Children often find real difficulty in using printed prayers — they should be taught to pray, as other children are, at their mother's knee. Only then will it be a real prayer and not just something some one else has written.

The personal aspect of prayer must be familiar to the children if they are to be helped by prayer when they leave the shelter of the Homes.

There should be one or two really good religious pictures in each Home — probably in the room where the library is — and one bookshelf for religious works.

It is not infrequent for children of all ages to be baptised after admission to the Homes. The question of god-parents for Church of England children often presents a real problem. Superintendents or members of staff are frequently willing to act. Suitable trainees should also be encouraged to volunteer for this purpose.

All Church of England children should be encouraged to cone be confirmed before leaving the Homes. It is difficult to lay down any particular age, but it is usually inadvisable to confirm any child under the age of fourteen. An exception might be made for a child likely to leave the Homes before the age of fifteen. Care must be taken that only Church of England children are prepared for Confirmation. Should a child not of that denomination particularly desire Confirmation, the matter should be referred to Headquarters.

Do not leave it all to the clergyman. It is the duty of the Superintendent to help the child in every possible way to appreciate the significance of Confirmation.

Free Church children should be similarly encouraged to prepare for full membership of their Church.

A New Testament is presented by the Council to every child presented for Confirmation, as well as to every Free Church child who becomes a full member of the Church. These Testaments are obtainable from the Chief Executive Officer.

With smaller children a sung Grace is preferable; with older ones the spoken version is best. In both cases fairly frequent changes in the Grace used are desirable. The Grace should be real to the children, and not become a matter of routine. Especially in war-time it should be easy to enter into this form of thanksgiving with sincerity.

The local Clergyman, and the local Free Church Minister should be asked to visit the Home, and the children should be introduced to them individually.