asked the President of the Board of Education whether, in view of circular letter 10/4334 A, which has been issued to Lancashire and is to be issued to other counties, he will see fit to extend the reference of the Departmental Committee on School Buildings so that it can report on the question of school planning and the arrangement of class rooms; and whether he will prevent the instructions contained in the circular letter referred to taking effect until such a Report can be received?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Runciman)
I am not aware that there is any serious difference of opinion among local education authorities, school managers, or school architects as to the most suitable methods of planning schools and arranging class rooms, or that the bodies and persons concerned have any difficulty in obtaining good advice on the subject. I see, therefore, no reason to believe that the enlargement of the reference to the Departmental Committee now sitting is necessary or desirable. As regards the improvement of existing schools in Lancashire and other areas, I must remind the hon. Member that in many of these cases the premises fall below the most moderate standard of healthiness, comfort, and suitability. Whereas in the country as a whole a decided improvement in school accommodation, has been effected, the prevailing standard in Lancashire has been, and still is, low. In dealing with the worst cases in the area, the Board are not aiming at any ideal standard, or even at a standard which is not generally accepted as fairly applicable to old as distinguished from new schools. Gene- 1691 rally speaking, everyone knows what is needed. In a considerable number of these cases the reasonableness of the Board's requirements has never been disputed; and yet it has happened that the Board's repeated representations during a period of as many as six or seven years have been, for all practical purposes, unheeded. It is hardly reasonable to ask that the Board should now provide the excuse for further delay. What is required by dilatory authorities is not further information, but the will to carry out a plain duty to the children and teachers in their schools.
An HON. MEMBER
Are the terms of this circular intended to include or refer to a large number of new schools in the West of England which have a large assembly hall into which the class-rooms open?