School Savings Banks

Chapter 12 of
Britain's First Municipal Savings Bank
For many years the Education Committee had conducted savings Banks in the elementary schools of the city. These Banks were worked by the teachers in a manner somewhat similar to that in operation in other parts of the country. It was the general practice for scholars to receive back their savings when they left school, but with a Municipal Bank in existence, it was natural that means should be provided whereby the accumulated savings of the scholar should be transferred to an account in his name in the Municipal Bank.
In order to establish such a continuous chain, a deputation visited Leeds in 1920 to enquire into the system worked in conjunction with the Yorkshire Penny Bank. It was found that although the system was similar to the one in Birmingham, it included arrangements whereby a transfer was effected from the scholar's account to a Bank account as soon as the sum of £1 had been accumulated. The officials of the Yorkshire Penny Bank attached great importance to this early Bank contact with the scholar.
Visits have also been paid to Perth and York, where school savings banks are successfully worked. In particular, we were very much impressed with the Perth system and its results, which are largely due to the keenness and enthusiasm of the teachers and the organising ability of Mr W A Barclay, actuary of the Perth Savings Bank, who is a renowned authority on school savings bank work.
The scheme in force in Birmingham preserves the separate identity of the school savings bank while associating it with the Municipal Bank, and provides for the transfer of the amount standing to the credit of the scholar in the school bank to an account in his name in the Municipal Bank six months before leaving school.
It was arranged that the treasurer of the school savings bank should be co-opted as a member of the Bank Committee, and, accordingly, Mr F W Daniels was appointed by the City Council on the 9th November, 1920, and has continued his membership since that date.
The figures given below show the transactions which have taken place:-
 13 months ended 31st March, 1922
 Year ended 31st March, 1923
 Year ended 31st March, 1924
 Year ended 31st March, 1925
 Year ended 31st March, 1926
 Year ended 31st March, 1927
The table indicates very little movement in the amounts of savings or the number of accounts, and the possibility of improving the arrangements in such a way as to give better results is exercising the minds of members of the Education and Bank Committees at the present time.

[1] In Annual Reports issued subsequently to the publication of J P Hilton's book,
     the figures relating to Schools Savings Banks were continued:
 Year ended 31st March, 1928
 Year ended 31st March, 1929
 Year ended 31st March, 1930
 Year ended 31st March, 1931
 Year ended 31st March, 1932
 Year ended 31st March, 1933
 Year ended 31st March, 1934
 Year ended 31st March, 1935
 Year ended 31st March, 1936
 Year ended 31st March, 1937
 Year ended 31st March, 1938
 Year ended 31st March, 1939
 Year ended 31st March, 1940
[2] The visit to Perth, referred to above, was reported in the press as follow:

Daily Record: January 14th 1927


A deputation of the Birmingham Municipal Bank, consisting of Alderman Sir Percival Bower, chairman; Alderman Lovsey, Councillor Gelling and Mr J P Hilton, the manager, visited the County and City of Perth Savings Bank yesterday, to inspect and inquire into the bank’s working, as it is recognised as a model of what such an institution should be.


The deputation was received by Mr W A Barclay, actuary.


In the course of the day the visitors investigated the working of the Schools Bank, making a visit to the Caledonian Road School where they witnessed the bank in actual operation.


Mr P M Curle, the headmaster, explained many points of interest.
Daily Sketch: January 15th 1927
[3] The comment above by J P Hilton, that 'the table indicates very little movement in the amounts of savings' is reflected in a letter to the Birmingham Evening Despatch of July 17th 1930:


Sir, - Your leading article on ‘True Thrift in the Schools’ is opportune at the moment in Birmingham, for many thousands of pounds are being repaid to scholars with deposits in the ‘School Bank’.


The original promoters desired to encourage Thrift – there could be no other object – but 99 per cent of the thousands of teachers who deal with the school bank week after week, can testify that it fails entirely, notwithstanding the impressive statistical summary that is published at the end of each year.


For the most part, the money deposited is not on behalf of the children at all. The greater part of the money is withdrawn, prior to holidays, for a ‘bust-up’ or at best, it is withdrawn for some form of extravagant enjoyment.


The proportion that is deposited by children for themselves is very small, and that is generally withdrawn when a few shillings has accumulated, because it can be withdrawn with such ease and a means of spending it has been devised with greater ease.


It would be an easy matter to improve the School Bank, if it were put into the hands of people who knew a little about banking, and a lot about children, and whose object was to promote the spirit of thrift among the little people, irrespective of impressive Balance Sheets.


A real Thrift Scheme might cost a little money, but it would be worthwhile. – Yours, etc...,



[4] One small boy ('A Boy Financier') appears to have decided to ignore the School Bank system, and to deal with the BMB directly, as reported in the  Glasgow Evening Times (May 27th 1930) referring to a visit to Birmingham by some Glasgow councillors:

The Glasgow councillors were amused and interested to discover a boy in one branch banking his pocket money. Councillor P J Dollan, who questioned the boy, ascertained he was 11 years old, but had his own separate bank account since he was 10. The councillors asked leave to augument the lad’s account, which was granted.


Boys and girls are encouraged to use the bank, and when paying in money enter the amount on pay-in slips in the same way as adults do in an ordinary bank. Thus they obtain a practical knowledge of business methods in banking.


There are thousands of children, some of them only eight years old, who are regular patrons of the bank. They are allowed to bank even one penny at a time.

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