§ (1) It shall be the duty of every education authority to prepare and submit to the Department for their approval a scheme or schemes for the constitution of committees (in this Act called "school management committees") for the management of schools or groups of schools under their control throughout their education area.
§ Every such scheme shall contain provision for the due representation of the education authority on each school management committee, and also, for the appointment thereto of at least one teacher engaged in a school under the management of such committee, and also, in the case of a county, shall have regard to the desirability of constituting separate school management committees for individual burghs and parishes, and shall provide for the appointment thereto on the nomination of local bodies (including town and parish councils and at the first constitution outgoing school boards) or failing such nomination directly, of persons resident in the locality and otherwise qualified to represent local interests ill school management.
§ (2) A school management committee shall, subject to any regulations and restrictions made by the education authority, have all the powers and duties of that authority in regard to the general management and supervision of the school or group of schools, including attendance thereat:
§ Provided that the education authority shall in every case themselves retain, exercise, and perform all their powers and duties in regard to—
- (a) the raising of money by rate or loan and the general control of expenditure;
- (b) the acquisition or holding of land;
- (c) the appointment, transfer, remuneration and dismissal of teachers;
- (d) the appointment of bursars, and the exercise of the powers conferred by the Section of this Act relating to power to facilitate attendance at secondary schools and other institutions; and
- (e) the recognition, establishment, or discontinuance of intermediate or secondary schools or of centres of advanced technical instruction.
§ (3) A scheme for the constitution of a school management committee for the management of a group of schools may provide for the delegation by that committee of any of their powers and duties in respect of any particular school (other than any power or duty relating to school attendance) to a school committee constituted as the scheme may prescribe.
Colonel Sir J. HOPE
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "constitution" ["schemes for the constitution"], to insert the words "and election."
The effect of that is that the School Management Committees should be elected. I think I can give my reasons most clearly by reading from a resolution passed by a conference of the school boards in the county of Lanark held on 25th September:That the proposal to create school management committees in place of existing school boards by the co-option of persons direct, or on 154 the nomination of local bodies, whose status and qualifications are undefined, and who have neither mandate from, nor responsibility to, the ratepayers, is undemocratic and retrograde.Those are my views. It seems to me that under the Bill you are creating a large hybrid body which is partly co-opted and partly nominated, with considerable powers and duties and little responsibility or moral authority, and I think the tendency will be for them to degenerate into mere clerks and irresponsible servants of the education authority. They have got to deal with attendance, continuation classes, holidays, and the endless small matters which anyone who has been on the school boards well knows, and which it will be quite impossible for the large educational authorities to deal with. The Secretary for Scotland has declined to give the numbers of an education authority, but I imagine that they will not be very largely different from those of the county councils. In that case in my own county we should have about forty on the new authority, and they would have to do the work which hitherto has been done in a very large area by some twenty-four different school boards, with probably a total of a couple of hundred members. I suggest that if this work is done it should be done by those who are directly responsible to, and elected by, the ratepayers. I see no difficulty in carrying this out. I know the obvious objections to two elected bodies, and that there would be friction; but, on the other hand, at the present moment county councils and district councils to a large extent deal with the same subjects, and there is not extraordinary friction. County councils, parish councils, and school boards deal with mental defectives under the Mental Deficiency Act, and they get on together. Then it is said there will be an extra election, but I do not see that that is necessary. You could have the election to the school management committees at the same time as the election to the education authority, and I am quite certain that if the school management scheme is persisted in you will not get good men. You might say that good men would not in any case go on the school management committees, but they certainly would more likely go on if they were elected bodies, because it would give them some responsibility and power, and would encourage good men to go on.
Under the present scheme the school management committees would become 155 merely nominal and would have no power, and they would take little interest in the proceedings, and the whole educational work, which it is impossible to carry out under the direct supervision of the central education authority, would be carried out by petty officials, if at all. There is another alternative which has been suggested in this resolution of the conference of school boards in the county of Lanark, and that is that a much larger central education authority should be constituted in each educational area, and that they should delegate the work to committees of their body. That, I think, is quite a reasonable proposition, but you could not delegate the work to committees, say, in Midlothian, if you only had forty members on the whole body In my own county, if you had a much larger body for the local education, say, 100 or 120 members, then you would be able to delegate committees of four or five members each to each of the areas of the school boards That is another proposal, and I should not object to either, but I wish to raise my protest against this nominated and co-opted body without responsibility to the electors.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SHAW
I have pleasure in seconding the Amendment, because I think it is exceedingly good. A similar suggestion was pressed by many of us in Grand Committee, but did not unfortunately on those occasions meet with the sympathy of the Government, and I hope that now it will have a happier fate. It is not only a good Amendment from any point of view, but even from the point of view of the trained administrators of Dover House it is an absolutely harmless proposal. No later than this very forenoon one of these representatives who are sent up by Scottish school boards to London came to me and said, "What is my position under this new school management committee? I am a man of strong views. I am able to voice my strong views because I depend on the support at the poll of the workers in my own little constituency. But if I am nominated by somebody, I know very well with whom I shall have to work, and I shall be up against them, and I shall be in a minority. They might say at first that I am a man with a lifelong experience of education, but after a while I should begin to get up against the laird and the factor, and perhaps even up against an Established Church minister." The fats of that man would be that all his 156 ability and all his long knowledge of education would be lost, because these people would say, "This is a difficult fellow to work with; and we are not going to nominate or co-opt him any longer." I do not see why, if democracy is a good thing for a whole country—and the Secretary for Scotland and the Lord Advocate have conceded that by giving us an ad hoc authority—it should be a bad thing when you come to a small local area, and I have pleasure in supporting the Amendment as a protest against the extinction of local democracy, which is one of the greatest flaws of the Bill. I trust my hon. and gallant Friend will go to a Division, and, if so, he will find a good many who will support his view.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. Clyde)
As the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Shaw) has just said, the proposition which this Amendment is intended to put forward was discussed upstairs, and was the subject of a good deal of discussion there. As he also said, that discussion did not result, I am afraid, in convincing us who were in charge of the Bill that the Amendment was one which we could accept, and I must say at once that I do not think our minds have changed in that respect at all. The House will observe that what is proposed is to make the school management committee appointed by election, but how by election, or by what electorate, the Amendment makes no provision for at all. The Amendment could not possibly be accepted as it stands, because it is an Amendment which would simply leave the Bill and the scheme which the Bill propounds in the air. To return, however, to what are really the merits of the propositions, the hon. Member has himself said that to make the school management committees elective—and let me suppose by that that he means elective in more or less the same way as the education authority is elective, although I do not know what its area would be or who the electors would be—but supposing you had that, he admits that it is open to the obvious objection of two elective authorities. The obvious objection to the proposal, as the hon. and gallant Member for Midlothian frankly said, is that you cannot have two elective bodies set up to perform, the one the superior, and the other the subordinate, functions.
§ Mr. CLYDE
I cannot regard any of those instances as having the smallest relevance to this question. The peculiarity of this is that the education authority of a county is responsible for the education policy to be pursued in the county and the educational finance. Relations of that kind do not exist at all in the cases the hon. Member put forward, and therefore I cannot admit the analogy would hold at all. But I would like to put two other considerations before the House which seem to me perfectly conclusive. For one thing, your school management committee may be, according to the circumstances of the particular locality, a managing body of only one school or of a group of schools. There may be, for example, schools of a different grade and schools which can be grouped conveniently under one committee, and accordingly the problem of election becomes insoluble—unless, indeed, you are going to make each school committee elected by the same electorate as elects the education authority itself. That would be a terrible affair.
§ Mr. CLYDE
That, I am afraid, from our point of view, only increases the complete impracticability of what is suggested. I would like to bring forward another point which is very important when you take into view the whole scheme of the Bill. Remember, the school management committee is one of the most important links in the solution of the problem of the transferred school. Now you cannot make a school management committee which deals with a transferred school the subject of an election. The transferred school demands, and must get, the protection, or some such protection, as the Bill gives, in that there must be at least some assurance that it has one or more representatives of the particular religion to which the transferred school belongs. And, accordingly, you simply cannot leave that to the chance of a popular election. The truth is that if you made the school management committee elective, it would be fatal to what is one of the beneficent things we hope this Bill will solve, or, at any rate, carry us an enormous step forward—the solution of the difficulty of the voluntary schools. For these reasons, first of all because we cannot see our way at all to accept the plan of making the school management committee elective as 158 well as the education authority; secondly, because, not only is there no machinery in this Amendment for an election, but there is no possibility of fixing an electoral area—the thing is impossible; and, lastly, because the school management committee would have to deal with this problem, in which we believe we have come near to a complete solution, namely, the transferred school, it is impossible to make it an elective body like the education authority, and, considering that this matter was fully discussed upstairs, I would suggest to the hon. and gallant Member, particularly in view of the fact that his Amendment would leave the Bill in the air, that, having quite legitimately and properly raised the point again, he might see his way not to press the matter further.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I think that, apart from the last consideration which the Lord Advocate addressed to the House, the whole of his argument failed to meet the case which was put forward by the hon. and gallant Member. His argument for elective school management committees was absolutely sound on democratic grounds, and it is of the utmost importance that the democratic element in school administration should be preserved in Scotland. The suggestion that it was impossible to have a kind of hierarchy of inferior and superior authorities responsible to the electorate dealing with the same administrative subjects is entirely contrary to the whole of our experience and practice in this country. Indeed, the whole of our government depends upon such a hierarchy for higher and subordinate elective authorities as it is, and there should be no difficulty at all in obtaining a workable system in which you had, first of all, in local education the elective authority for a large area, with subordinate elective authorities for the purpose of administration of groups of schools. But I admit the difficulty with regard to transferred schools, and while I regret that, in view of the difficulty, it may be impossible to press the Amendment, I could have hoped that some means might have been obtained of meeting it. I think we have run a great risk in respect of our educational system of having the subordinate local administration made entirely nugatory, that you will have the school management committees being nominated bodies, deprived of all real authority, as I believe is the experience of England. You 159 will find local school management committees in England who have not even the power to put in a pane of glass at a school without reference to the county education committee. If that is the kind of system you are going to have in Scotland as the result of the nomination method, you will not get any men who value their time, or any men of ability, to go on to these school management committees, so that this subordinate local control will be really a complete sham and a farce. In these circumstances, I think the Government between the Committee and Report stages should have devised some means of meeting the object we have in view.
§ Mr. GULLAND
Although I share the difficulties of the Lord Advocate at this moment in regard to this Amendment, there is one remark he made which I confess rather alarms me. He said it is impossible for these school management committees to have anything to do with the geographical areas.
§ Mr. GULLAND
That makes no difference to the point I am coming to, namely, that, unless you have something like an elected school management committee with a definite area under its charge, I fail to see how you can possibly hand over to that committee the duty of assuring attendance at school. In Sub-section (2) of this Clause the school management committee has the duty of supervising attendance, which means that it appoints the attendance officer and sees that the children attend school. That is done now, because each parish school board or borough school board looks after itself. I raised this point in Committee. But what the Lord Advocate says rather frightens me, and I would like to hear from the Secretary for Scotland how this question of school attendance can be dealt with unless there are geographical areas, under the charge of management committees. It is difficult enough now to lay salt on the tail of the defaulting parent or absentee child when you have responsibility as now absolutely definite. But if you say that one school management committee is to look after secondary schools, another elementary schools, another 160 Catholic schools, another Episcopalian schools, how are you going to ensure that any particular child has salt laid on his tail and made to go to one school or another? I should really like the Secretary for Scotland to answer, because, after all, the attendance of children at school is a point in education.
§ Mr. CURRIE
I should like to ask the Secretary for Scotland a question. A suggestion has been made that these smaller bodies may find that they are without power to do so much as to mend a broken pane of glass without the permission of the parent body. Is there any foundation for that suggestion?
§ Mr. HOGGE
May I point out that the only people left off the committee are the parents of the children attending the schools? It seems to me to be a ridiculous dilemma into which we have got in regard to the parents of Scottish children. We have the representatives of the education authority, those also nominated by the teachers, also representatives of the new transferred schools—every interest practically is represented on the committee that is going to manage the schools except the parents of the children who attend the schools. I am raising the question later.
§ Sir W. PEARCE
I have been sitting on a school management committee this afternoon, not in Scotland, but in London, and I should like to assure the House that the system works exceedingly well. The small committee on which I sat this afternoon recommended three important matters for consideration, and I may add that I have known no instance in which these things have been refused. I think, therefore, the committee, although they may not be strictly clothed with powers, has a great-power in the management of the schools.
Sir J. HOPE
Though I am not convinced by the arguments which have been used—and I think that time will show that I am right—I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Mr. GULLAND
I should like an answer from the Secretary for Scotland on the important point I put to him.
§ Mr. MUNRO
In regard to the question of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gulland), I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend will see that under normal circumstances the school management committee will be on a geographical basis. In these circumstances I do not think that any difficulty in regard to the question of parents will possibly arise. I regret very much I did not hear the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Leith Burghs.
§ Mr. CURRIE
May I repeat it? I drew the attention of the Secretary for Scotland to the fact that a suggestion had been made that these smaller committees, when appointed, may find themselves without the power of mending a broken pane of glass without asking the kind permission of the parent body. If there is no foundation for that suggestion it is a pity that people should be misled; if there is any foundation for the suggestion I should like to know what it is.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. MUNRO
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the wordsEvery such scheme shall contain provision for the due representation of the education authority on each school management committee, and also, for the appointment thereto of at least one teacher engaged in a school under the management of such committee, and also, in the case of a county.and to insert instead thereof the words,Every such scheme shall contain provision—This Amendment really gives effect to the promise which I made in Grand Committee to consider the question of the 162 representation of the teachers on the school management committee, and also representation upon those committees of persons representing the views of parents of children attending the transferred schools. In connection with these two undertakings I have embraced the opportunity of generally redrafting the Clause, in order that it may be of clearer construction than it was when it emerged from Grand Committee with certain Amendments to it. In substance, therefore, the Amendment which I am moving provides for representation on each school committee—first, of the education authority itself; second, of the teachers engaged in the schools under the committee; and, third, the parents representing the views of the parents of the children who are attending these transferred schools. Finally, in the case of the county, there are to be persons appointed by local bodies, in which expression town and parish councils and outgoing school boards at the first election of these committees are included, whilst other representation from other bodies may be considered. May I add that I have altered slightly the Amendment, paragraph (a), as it is upon the Paper, the alteration being designed to give effect to the Amendment standing upon the Paper just below mine in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh.
Further, in the case of a county, every such scheme.
- (a) for the due representation on each school management committee of the education authority and of the parents of the children attending the school under the management of such committee;
- (b) for the appointment thereto, on the nomination of the teachers engaged in the schools under the management of such committee, or, failing such nomination, directly of at least one such teacher; and also
- (c) in the case of a school management committee having under its management one or more transferred schools, for the appointment thereto of at least one member in whose selection regard shall be had to the religious belief of the parents of the children attending such school or schools.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I desire to thank my right hon. Friend for including mine in his Amendment. I will not, therefore, move my Amendment. I am glad that we are going to have on these school management committees the parents of the pupils who are attending the school. While we have not got all we wanted by the other Amendments, at any rate it is some assurance that if the parents are upon these committees they will be able to look after and better safeguard the interests of the children.
§ Mr. GULLAND
I do not want to be hypercritical, but the phrasing is, representation on the school management committee of the education authority. That may read in two ways, and the words may convey a meaning other than that intended by the right hon. Gentleman, and it may be for the Law Courts to decide. What I understand my right hon. Friend to mean is that there shall be direct representation of the education authority on the school management committee. But 163 it does not say that. Representation of the education authority does not necessarily mean that members of the education authority shall be on the school management committee. I should, I confess, like to see words put in that will make it absolutely clear that there are to be directly elected members of the education authority upon the school management committees. I do not think it is clear.
§ Mr. MUNRO
I really do not think that there is the slightest ground for the apprehension my right hon. Friend has expressed, and my view is confirmed, I think, by those Members behind me who are lawyers. All I can say is this: I will look into the matter, and if there is any real doubt about it—I think there is none—I will see that it is put right in another place.
§ Mr. SCANLAN
On behalf of those who have spoken for the transferred schools, I should like to take the opportunity of thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the Amendment he has suggested. He has provided for the representation of the teachers, a matter which my colleague, in the Committee, pressed upon him, and which I think found general favour. So far as the transferred schools are concerned it is right to say that while we have not obtained all that we had expected for the representatives of those schools that are being transferred, yet the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland has gone, I believe, as far as it was possible for him to go to meet us. On behalf of my colleague, and those interested, I thank him for the concession he has made.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. CLYDE
I beg to move, in Subsection (2), after the word ["subject" "subject to any regulations and restrictions"], to insert in the Bill the words "except as hereinafter provided."
This is only an introductory Amendment to the one which immediately follows. The several Amendments are proposed to be put into the Bill in fulfilment of a promise made while the Bill was in Committee. The point put was this: It was said: "Well; but there are in certain cases particular burghs which have taken a good deal of trouble and spend a good deal of money in establishing, equipping, and so on, first-class secondary schools of their own: does it not seem very hard that their school management committee should not in future be free 164 in its management and control of these institutions?" We thought there was a good deal of force in that view, particularly in the case of such burghs as that represented by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock. Accordingly we undertook to put into the Bill an Amendment, and this Amendment fulfils that pledge. There was a point raised—I am told by myself—as to the case—not a common case—where the secondary school was in a landward area, and it will be seen that the Amendment covers it. It will be observed that we have covered that ease also, because the form the proviso takes is that where there is a school management committee having under its management a secondary school, in that case it shall have all the powers and duties without being subject to the regulations and restrictions which were thought to be unjust in such a case.
§ Mr. SHAW
It is quite unnecessary to say that the pledge which the Lord Advocate gave in Committee on this point has been honoured, not only in the letter, but in the spirit, and the fact that the Government have put down this Amendment will give very great satisfaction and relief, especially in areas in Scotland where there is a very strong interest in secondary schools. With regard to the other point which has been raised. I think we may have some confidence that it is not only within the scope of the Bill that such an amalgamation may be effected, but it is the policy of the Government. I beg to thank the Lord Advocate for his proposal.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendments made: In Subsection (2), after the word "thereat," insert in the Bill the words,
Provided that a school management committee having under its management a secondary school shall have all the said powers and duties not subject to any such regulations or restrictions.
After the word "provided," to insert in the Bill the word "further."—[Mr. Clyde.]
§ Mr. TENNANT
There was a matter which the right hon. Gentleman undertook to take into consideration on Clause 4, namely, to give wider powers to local management committees in the larger counties, and I want to know whether that is a thing which they can or cannot do. The right hon. Gentleman promised to let me know.
§ Mr. TENNANT
Perhaps I might remind my right hon. Friend that in Committee I raised a point in regard to the great difficulty which large counties like Inverness-shire would have in managing their schools purely by the local education authority, and I asked whether some of the powers might not be delegated to the school management committees for those larger counties, and the Lord Advocate said he would take the point into consideration. I then said I would like something more definite, and the right hon. Gentleman will remember that a little altercation ensued between us.
§ Mr. MUNRO
I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend for reminding me of this point. I know that he raised a question with regard to the dismissal of teachers, the suggestion being that there might be difficulty in assembling the educational authority sufficiently frequently to deal with the appointment, transfer, and dismissal of teachers, and it was suggested that this power might be confined to the school management committee. There is very great difficulty in handing over to the school management committees the appointment or dismissal of teachers, and I feel sure that that proposal would be very strongly opposed in influential quarters. I should not be prepared to suggest that that power should be given to school management committees in large counties or any other counties. The point my right hon. Friend has in mind is probably met by an Amendment standing in my name on the Paper, which will have the effect of requiring the education committees to meet at least once a month except in July and August. If that Amendment is accepted, and I propose to move it, then I think the apprehensions of my right hon. Friend with regard to the capacity of the education committees to discharge all the duties referring to teachers and other matters would be very largely met. I hope my right hon. Friend will be satisfied with that explanation.
Sir J. HOPE
I wish to know whether St would be competent under this proposal for a school management committee to appoint of their own number 166 a small committee to look after and manage a particular school, in the same way as a committee could be appointed with a special object by school boards. Supposing, for example, a management committee had three schools, I want to know can they divide up their own bodies into separate committees, each to look after a separate school?
§ Amendment agreed to.