HC Deb 02 July 1918 vol 107 cc1624-8

(1) Notwithstanding anything in the Education Act, 1902, the appointment of all teachers of secular subjects not attached to the staff of any particular public elementary school, and teachers appointed for the purpose of giving practical instruction, pupil teachers and student teachers, shall be made by the local education authority, and it is hereby declared that the local education authority have power to direct the managers of any public elementary schools not provided by them to make arrangements for the admission of any such teachers to the schools.

(2) The provisions of Sub-section (3) of Section seven of the Education Act, 1902, shall apply to any question which arises under this Section between the local education authority and the managers of a school.


The first Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for West Bradford (Mr. Jowett)—[in Subsection (1), after the word "all," to insert the words "caretakers and assistants and all"]—is not within the scope of this Clause. The second Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King)—to leave out the word "not" in Sub-section (1)—["not attached to the staff"]—would amount to a large Amendment of the Act of 1902 relating to the appointment of all teachers by the local education authority. I do not say that it is out of order in the Bill, but it should be brought up as a separate Clause.


I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "pupil teachers and student teachers."

This is a very serious matter. It involves the question whether the agreement of 1902 is being observed in this Bill. The question of pupil teachers and student teachers being exempted from the Clause is considered a very important matter indeed by those who have the responsibility for a large number of non-provided schools. I know that this matter has been laid before their experts, who have expressed themselves as very strongly of the opinion that unless the words "pupil teachers and student teachers" are cut out of the Clause it would be an infringement of the settlement of 1902. I know that the President of the Board of Education is most anxious to do all he can to meet any fair and reasonable representations from those responsible for the voluntary schools. I had a conversation with him on the whole subject some months ago, in which he gave me very satisfactory assurances. I trust he will consider that if I am not one of those who have approached him on this subject, yet I speak with full responsibility when I say that those in charge of voluntary schools in this country are very much exercised upon this point. They feel very strongly that it would be inimical to the interests of those schools if these words were retained in the Clause. I therefore trust that he will give this matter his careful consideration, and, if possible, meet those whom I represent in regard to it. I would not urge this point so strongly unless I felt that the results would be very serious. I hope that he will give me some encouragement, and that the representations I have made will not fail of their effect.


The reason why the Bill proposes that pupil teachers and student teachers should be appointed by local education authorities is not that the authorities are anxious to extend their control over voluntary schools or that the Bill desires to alter the denominational system. But, in view of the dearth of teachers, it is of the first importance that there should be no obstacle to the adequate training of those who intend to adopt the teaching profession. Pupil teachers and student teachers receive elementary school, and it is essential that elementary school, and it is essential that the local education authority should be able to put them into the school which is most fitted to receive them. The present law upon the subject is that, in cases where there are more candidates for the post of pupil teachers than there are places to be filled, the appointment is to be made by the local education authority. The Clause therefore introduces only a very slight change. As things are at present, local education authorities are constantly, in virtue of the provisions of the existing law, sending pupil teachers and student teachers into voluntary schools, and it is generally regarded as a great compliment by the school that the school should be selected as being a school in which student teachers and pupil teachers may receive an admirable training in the principles and methods of their art. I think I am right in saying that in no single case has a local education authority used its power to introduce a Protestant student teacher or pupil teacher into a Catholic school, or, vice versa, to introduce a Catholic pupil teacher or student teacher into a Protestant school. The discretion which the local education authorities have shown hitherto in that respect will, I believe, be extended in the future. My hon. Friend said that this Clause was giving considerable alarm to the supporters of voluntary schools. All that I can say is that I have received no representations upon the subject from the representatives of Church of England schools. It is generally felt that it is very desirable that good schools should be open to student teachers and pupil teachers, so that our intending teachers should receive the best possible opportunities for development in education which are open to them. I may add that it very seldom happens that the manager of a voluntary school is so unreasonable as to resist the local education authority which desires to send a pupil teacher or student teacher into the school. Such cases are rare, but when they do occur they are sometimes unreasonable and extremely unjust to the pupil teacher or student teacher, who is thereby deprived of his best chance of receiving instruction in the art of teaching. I therefore feel, although I am very anxious to preserve with every possible respect the existing settlement, that it is in the interests of education that these words should be retained in the Clause.


Would the right hon. Gentleman be willing to consider some words on the Report stage which would perhaps introduce the safeguards that we desire?


Before giving a pledge I should like to know what safeguards the hon. Member proposes.

Amendment negatived.


The next Amendment—at the end, to add the words, In making arrangements with respect to the appointment of teachers the local education authority shall not make or authorise any diffentiation as regards salary on the ground of sex"— is out of place on this Clause, which does not deal with salaries of teachers at all.


As there is a very great deal of interest in the matter, may I ask you, Sir, whether it will be better to put it down as a new Clause?


I take it the hon. Member's purpose is to try to make statutory a matter which can now be dealt with by Regulation. If that is so, it should be brought up in the form of a new Clause.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


Can the right hon. Gentleman state in what respects this Clause alters the Education Act of 1902 other than with regard to pupil teachers and students entering into elementary schools? The Clause begins, "Notwithstanding anything in the Education Act," and then follow a number of things which may be done.


I think it is a little uncertain whether, in accordance with the terms of the Education Act of 1902, the managers of a voluntary school could be compelled—I do not think they could be compelled—to accept a teacher of cookery, let us say, or dairy work, or housecraft, or a peripatetic teacher of physical exercises not regularly attached to the staff. I think the Act of 1902, when it deals with teachers, contemplates permanent members of the staff. But the recent development in practical education has produced a body of teachers who are only part-time teachers, sometimes for only an hour a week, and it is very desirable that local education authorities should have power to compel school managers to receive such teachers.


Would the right hon. Gentleman allow me to ask how far he proposes to proceed this afternoon and whether he intends to take new Clauses—in fact, what he proposes to do?


I hope to get the Clauses of the Bill to-day.


It is a very large power to put a particular teacher into a particular school even in its limited form. Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to consider, between now and Report, some power of veto on the part of the managers, if that could be done without spoiling the scheme of the Bill? Friction has occurred before and may occur again, and this power might be used very harshly against particular school managers. If a person is known to hold views possibly obnoxious or objectionable to the manager of the school there should be some power of veto, possibly with a right of appeal, as a safeguard to the managers.

Clause 26 (Provisions as to Closing of Schools) ordered to stand part of the Bill.