Motion made, and Question proposed:
That a sum, not exceeding S.:4,313,185 (including a Supplementary snm of £206,250)be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1935, for Public Education in Scotland; and for the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh; including sundry Grants in Aid."—[NOTE: £2,600,000 has been voted on account.]
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I now ask the Committee to turn from the subject of housing to the subject of education. The Vote before the Committee is for a sum of £6,706,935, which is £12,675 less than the Vote for the previous year. As a result of the partial restoration of the cuts in teachers' salaries, there is a Supplementary Estimate for £206,250. Since last year I have had time to meet teachers, inspectors, and representatives of education authorities throughout Scotland, and also to visit many schools. 1205 One's mind went back 30 or 40 years ago to one's own educational days, and what a painful process it was, at any rate for me, in more way than one. How different is the position to-clay. In the first place, our new buildings are a great advance on those of even 20 years ago. We seek for these buildings large open spaces, structures spread out so that air and sunshine may get as much access to the classrooms as possible.
Then, as to staff, the number of teachers is 28,000, as compared with 22,000 in 1914, while the number of pupils is to-day about the same as it was then, some 800,000. The average number of pupils per teacher to-day in primary and secondary schools is 35 and 25 respectively. All teachers in Scotland are certificated, 36 per cent. of them are graduates, and 14 per cent. honours graduates. Thus a reasonably adequate provision is secured of the material conditions and the living personnel. What about the curriculum? This, along with the teacher's personality, on which too great stress cannot be laid, is the crux of the educational system. The object of education, as I see it, is to help our young people to lead useful and enjoyable lives, to equip them for private leisure and life, citizenship, and occupation. Is not that the natural desire and ambition of all parents for their children?
Our commercial, technical, and domestic courses for those between 12 and 15 years of age have been during the last three years made more practical. We have tried to bend the leaving certificate courses away from the academic for those whose interests and abilities are not of that nature, so that the certificate shall meet the needs of those going into the workshop and not be merely a passport to the universities, as it has been too much in the past. Our continuation class system offers an immense variety of suitable practical subjects for those who are already in work; and our technical, commercial, art, domestic, and agricultural colleges meet the needs of the more advanced students. It is sometimes said that the curriculum is too rigid. Is not the curriculum rather a piece of machinery to be used, adapted, and bent to meet the needs of boys and girls? We are constantly scrutinising and improving the programme of subjects and the methods by which they are taught.
1206 I would now like to touch on two aspects of school work—the training for citizenship and the training for physical health. As to the first point, I do not think good citizenship any more than good conduct can be taught as an isolated subject. Information can, of course, be given as to civic and national government, but the real thing is a matter of atmosphere and example. The whole of the school activity should help to create and inculcate a feeling of civic responsibility, a habit of observing accurately and weighing evidence, a sense of fairness, a conviction that, though the State is a corporate body, it is enlivened by individual thought and action. Is not education one of the most difficult problems in a democratic country? When compulsory public education was started in 1870, the sphere of State action in public affairs was relatively limited. How different, as our Debate this afternoon has shown, is the position to-day. There are few sides of human activity in which the life of the individual is untouched by the State, and many of the questions arising perplex and divide even the most gifted minds. Yet if electors are not fitted to give a rough but generally fair judgment on these matters, how shall democratic government be conserved against the claims of those who sigh for a dictatorship either from the right or from the left? As we are reminded by the poster advertising the Pageant of Parliament:What touches all should have the consent of all.As to the second point, the nation is deeply concerned with the physical condition of the children. The figures of expenditure on our school medical service are interesting. The expenditure on medical inspection and treatment for the years 1914, 1922 and 1933 were, respectively, £44,000, £121,000 and £172,000—a steady increase during those years. These figures show that, whatever economies have been made in other directions, the health and physical welfare of the children have received increasing attention, and I think the Committee will agree with me in applauding our local education authorities for taking, in a time of great difficulty, this generous view of their responsibilities to the children.
On the physical side of education generally, I think undoubtedly great progress has been made. More time now is given to physical instruction, and the 1207 facilities in the way of gymnasia and playing fields are being steadily increased and improved. The aim, I think, should be the development of a well-grown and healthy race, a matter in which nutrition plays an important part. Although the reports of the school medical officers and medical officers of health have conveyed no signs that malnutrition among school children is increasing, one cannot ignore the fact that malnutrition does exist. I am advised, however, that defective nutrition is not merely a question of lack of food, but may be largely due to the use of foodstuffs which do not produce good bodily structure and resistance to disease. If that be so, as my advisers tell me, consideration may have to be given to the question of instructing our people in regard to what, for lack of a better term, I might describe as "the elements of nutrition." If the people's diet be wrong, steps should be taken in our schools to correct it. Surely it is better to build up healthy children capable of resisting disease than to have to spend money on the treatment of diseases which could be prevented by the use of a proper diet.
I now turn to a matter which has exercised the mind of Scotland during the last few years—the operations of the Endowments Commission. There has been dissatisfaction and criticism. Part of that has been, I am convinced, beside the mark, and I would like at this point to pay my tribute to the energy and ability which the Commissioners, many of them busy men, have brought to bear upon what may have been a thankless task. The present Commission was specifically directed by Parliament to examine, to reorganise, to amalgamate, to modernise. With such a remit how could the Commission fail to cause trouble? Its predecessor of 1882 caused similar trouble, but who, making a calm review of its work, would deny that it brought benefit to Scottish education and gave new opportunity to the clever children? There has been much criticism directed against the bursary policy of the present Commission. But I would point out that, irrespective of the operations of the Commission, the aid afforded by bursaries is now such as was undreamt of in the 19th century. We have to-day the endowment bursaries amounting to 270,000 a year, the rate bursaries amount- 1208 ing to £200,000 a year, and the Carnegie bursaries amounting to £57,000 a year where formerly we had only the first of these.
On the other hand, we must see that the sons of the middle-classes—those who come from the manse, the schoolhouse and the country surgery, of whom we have notable examples in this House—are not denied the aid which may carry them to positions of influence and power for good in this country. I regret that it would be out of order for me to make any reference to the future of the Commission, as that is a question which involves legislation. I would, however, like the Committee to realise that I am fully aware of the situation, and I hope to be able to make some statement on the subject at a very early date.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I have received a letter on this question, and I have several questions which I want to put to the Minister. Is there any truth in the statement that the little shopkeeper and the boarding-house keeper and people in that class of life are trying to make Marr College into another dollar institution, where the children of the semi-middle class will go and get the benefits of a fund which was left for the benefit of the poor of Troop who are capable of accepting the education provided?
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE
Before the right hon. Gentleman endeavours to answer that question, may I ask him to leave it to me, because I am in close touch with the situation through the present trustee for the scheme governing the Marr Trust.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I think it might be for the convenience of the Committee if I left the Under-Secretary to reply to any question which may be put. We expect that direct questions will be put to the Government in the Debate as to work of the Endowments Commission, and my hon. Friend will answer them. Passing from the Endowments Commission, I want to go back to the question of education. In education, as in other callings in life, competition from other countries is more strenuous to-day than formerly. Other countries are challenging us in the race, and in order that Scotland shall maintain her position it is essential that 1209 all concerned—central administration, local authority members and officials and, last but not least, teachers—shall watch the interests of the children with zeal and determination, and continue to give constant attention to all aspects of the modern problem of public education.
The provision of primary and secondary education is one of the greatest of the public services—inevitably and rightly. In extent and universality it has almost assumed the proportions of a monopoly. Monopolies have drawbacks and I sometimes wonder what would be the result if such education were under a competitive system—if supply had to respond to a demand that was widespread and active, enlightened and critical. While such a picture is merely imaginary, and I am not even dreaming of the competition of private venture schools such as once were common in this country, I wonder whether the proper monopoly in education has not something to learn from the outside competitive world. s there not room in our educational system for self-criticism, consideration of the needs of the modern world in the country as well as in the town, close sympathy between our teachers and educationists on the one hand and those taking part in the manifold activities outside on the other? Fortunately the opportunities for this have been greatly increased by the administrative changes made in 1930 in accordance with the Local Government (Scotland) Act of that year.
It is sometimes said by Englishmen that Scotsmen have a good conceit of themselves, and although there is value in this outlook there is also a risk that we may become too complacent and set in our views and fail to adapt ourselves quickly enough to new conditions. I confidently appeal to all engaged in the great work of education to bring continuous and tenacious attention to the maintenance and improvement of the high standard which has been attained. The modern world, especially the youth of to-day, questions old methods and demands an active outlook and a fresh spirit in education as well as in other walks of life. Every morning the mothers, rising early, send off to school the 800,000 children. With pride and confidence they send them clean and neatly dressed. There is little nowadays of the "creeping like snails unwillingly to school." The 1210 parents surrender their children confidently to the care of our 28,000 carefully selected and highly qualified teachers. It is a great trust, a great opportunity. The youth of Scotland s committed to their care during its most impressionable years.
Finally, let us note that the estimated expenditure from rates and taxes for education in Scotland this year is nearly £13,000,000. In 1914 it was about £5,000,000. The increase is remarkable, judged by any standard one might apply. It is a striking testimony that the public conscience demands the highest standard of education. It is a tangible sign of the sacrifice made by the taxpayer and ratepayer in a good cause; enforced, it is true, but, I believe, contributed on the whole with good will and confidence in the public administration. It is easy to criticise the teaching profession, but the high calling of the teacher is indeed a difficult and arduous one. Not only is infinite patience required but, amid the daily routine, a mind and heart to keep ever in view the ultimate object of fashioning and equipping the children for life. That is the spirit and outlook which animates, I am proud to say, our teachers in Scotland, and it is with that outlook that I beg to present this Estimate.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ Mr. N. MACLEAN
In the statement made by the Secretary of State for Scotland, he took advantage—to use the phrase with no harsh meaning—of the shortness of the time that we have at our disposal to discuss this Vote, to leave out any mention of the somewhat obscure situation that has arisen in Scotland over the Endowments Commission. The Committee would have liked very much indeed to hear some clear statement on what the situation in Scotland actually is, to enable them to be prepared, as is customary, in a proper manner.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I carefully avoided making any reference to the Endowments Commission. As hon. Members already know, the commission comes to an end at the close of this year, and fresh legislation is required. I thought that if I made any reference to legislation I should not only be distinctly out of order, but the Debate might be led into channels which would not be satisfactory.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman, but the point I was endeavouring to make was that if 1211 we had received a statement of things done by the Endowments Commission we might have been able to discuss that matter without in any way projecting ourselves into the future of education in Scotland if the Endowments Commission were to fall into disuse owing to the lapse of time.
Regarding the report which we have before us, one peculiar situation arises. With a great deal of this report hon. Members will be in entire agreement, but there are curious features in it which spring at once to the minds of hon. Members who represent Scotland, and which suggest that everything is not well in the schools of Scotland nor yet among the people who send their children to the schools. In the middle of page 25 of the report of the Committee of Council on Public Education in Scotland, in paragraph 20, there is a table: "Provision of meals and clothing to school children." The figures contained in that statement for three years bring to mind at once the circumstances which prevail in Scotland, and prove beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt—at least to my mind—that notwithstanding all the quantity of praise that is being bestowed upon the National Government, the situation in Scotland is undoubtedly worse to-day than it was previously, and that consequently we have not very much to brag about. The only thing upon which we can congratulate ourselves is that we in Scotland have at least taken it upon ourselves to look more closely after the children and to see to it that, whatever fault there may be in the conditions of the society in which they are growing up, they shall not suffer anything which can be prevented by the schools, but shall be fed and clothed, and so enabled to take the fullest possible advantage of the education we are giving them.
In order to justify the statement I have made, it is necessary for me to read the figures for 1931 and for 1933. In 1931, the number of children provided with meals was 28,801, and in 1933 the number was 35,382, an increase of 6,581 children. When we come to the provision of clothing, there is an even more startling increase in the two years, for we find that while in 1931 the number of children who had to be provided with clothing was 68,943, in 1933 the number was 110,350, an increase of 41,407 children receiving 1212 clothing. The number of meals provided to the children in 1931 amounted to 4,465,300, and in 1933 the number was 6,310,000, an increase of 1,845,000 in the two years.
I submit that these figures alone are a sufficient indication of what has been put before this House time and again by Scottish Members, and that they give the amplest justification for the very strong attitude adopted by most Scottish Members in endeavouring to insist that greater attention should be paid to Scotland because of the peculiar circumstances in which it finds itself owing to the fact that so many of its industries have been, in the phrase that is used in the Press, "Drifting South." In my opinion they have not been drifting South, but have been dragged South. If some of our business men in Scotland had that degree of patriotism which one considers they ought to possess and which, when they attend Burns' suppers and the Bannockburn celebrations they profess to feel, I am confident that the remarkable patriotism which hovers over them on those two wonderful days in Scottish history would prevent such a tale from having to be revealed in the report of our Scottish Education Department as to the poverty which prevails at the present time, and which is undoubtedly increasing in Scotland.
Regarding the statement made by the Secretary of State as to bursaries given to enable young people of ability to go to the university, there to accomplish what may be the ambition of themselves or of their parents, I want, here on the Floor of the House, to take up his observation that "young people from the middle-class must not be denied the assistance of these bursaries." I would not deny them to the children of any class. I would not confine them to the working-class or the middle-class, because I consider that children of all classes are entitled to the fullest education that it is possible for us to provide. The better educated its children are the greater will this nation—or any other nation—be, provided that that education is put to the best use, not used merely in the interests of the individual who acquires it, but for the nation which has provided it. What I want to point out is that in Scotland to-day certain children are being denied bursaries because it has been stated by the education authorities 1213 that their parents are too poor to allow their children to go to a university even with the assistance of a bursary, as it would entail too great a sacrifice by the parents.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
The Glasgow education authority is one. I have letters which passed between the Glasgow Corporation and myself when I raised the question with them in one case. At first they refused to give me any reason for their action, but when I pressed the matter and it was remitted by the education committee to the sub-committee dealing with bursaries the whole matter came out. I was informed by one of the education committee that the reason for their action was that the parents were too poor. Somehow or other the Press got information from inside of what was happening. The case was reported in the Glasgow Press and my name was associated with it, because my name had been brought up at the subcommittee and the general committee by reason of the letter I had sent. I had thought that the case I put forward was an exceptional case, but its publication in the Glasgow newspapers brought to me a dozen letters from other people reporting cases in which clever children at school had been refused bursaries because their parents were too poor. If there be a scandal—and I do not say there is—involved in the Marr Trust and in Troon, it is a mere flea-bite of a scandal compared, with the fact that children who show outstanding ability at school are to have the doors of the university slammed in their faces because they happen to he unfortunate enough to be born into a household where the father is either unemployed or is earning too low a wage to provide the necessary clothing and other things which are required, even when a bursary has been granted, to enable the boy or girl—because some of these cases concern girls—to go to a university.
I know that the Under-Secretary made the statement in the Scottish Standing Commitee that, although there was no bursary, education authorities had the right under the Education Act to make a grant. Here is my experience of how a local authority exercises its rights under 1214 that Act. When the matter was being fought out with the Glasgow Education Committee in the one case which I was making a test case, I was approached by several members of the committee. May I say openly, on the Floor of the House of Commons, that I have not yet received from the Town Clerk or the Director of Public Education in Glasgow any official statement as to their intentions or decision in that test case, but I received information from members of the committee whom I know, who came to me. Their statement to me verbally is that they admit that they made a mistake, that they ought not to have come to this decision. Then I put it to them, "Here is a boy who shows outstanding ability and you have barred the door of the university against him for one year. What are you going to do to enable that boy to retain his interest in his studies? Cannot you give him a grant of some kind, so that he can continue attending classes and be prepared to enter the university when the next term begins, in order to receive education for the particular line or profession that he wishes to enter?" I was informed by a member of the committee, when I appealed to them to make a grant out of the corporation's funds, that they could not do that as it was against the law.
§ Sir R. SMITH
Will the hon. Member tell me what the profession is that the young man wanted to take up?
§ Mr. MACLEAN
There are a number of cases concerning young women and young men. If I give the names of two or three of them who want to enter different professions, people will identify the individuals. If any hon. Member doubts me—and I do not say the hon. Member who interrupted me is doubting me—I can produce the letters from the parents and copies of my own letters to the education authority and of the letters from the education authority to me.
§ Sir R. SMITH
I am not challenging the statement of the hon. Member in any way, but he referred to the boy wanting to enter a profession, and I asked what that profession was.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
What does it matter? It is not a question of the profession he desires to enter. Their action has prevented him from entering any profession. It is not as though the question had arisen of some profession being overcrowded and his having been told by the adviser of studies "The particular profession you are thinking of entering is overcrowded and with your particular bent I think you should enter this other profession." If that advice had then been refused I could see some point in it. The bursary was not refused because the lad desired to enter any particular profession, but merely because his parents were too poor. That is the point which we have to consider.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I understand that the merit of the children in question to receive the bursary was not in doubt.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
That is so. In this case, the lad's ability to enter the university and sit for any degrees which he sought to take for the profession was never a matter of doubt. The whole point was that the household was too poor, and that caused the Committee to say that too severe a sacrifice would be imposed upon the rest of the family if they had to maintain the boy at the university, as an addition to the amount that he was receiving as a bursary. The Under-Secretary made it perfectly clear that the powers which the education authority said that they did not possess are actually possessed by them. I accept his word have repeated that statement to some members of the corporation whom I have since met, and they expressed surprise, because they were unaware of the facts.
Will the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary be good enough to issue a circular through the Department to the educational authorities in Scotland drawing their attention to that Section of the Act? We have now reached what might be looked upon as the holiday period, when the prizes have been presented and the children are on holiday. We shall soon come to the time when the universities open for a fresh term. The idea seems to be prevalent in the minds of elected members of education authorities —I do not mean merely the officials—that they have no power to make a grant in such circumstances. I ask for the issue of a circular so that it may be said in future that Scotland still remains the 1216 place where the lad or the lass o'pairts, despite the household circumstances, may always find open to them the avenue of learning, and that success in the sciences or in the arts which they believe the universities can provide for them. I ask the Secretary of State to see to it that those conditions are open, and that in the future local authorities shall not deny admission to universities to the capable child in the belief that they have not the power to make a grant.
§ 9.49 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHAN
Education is a subject with which I have long been connected, both because of the nature of my constituency and of my own interests. I should like to pay a tribute to the Secretary of State for Scotland for his most interesting and comprehensive speech. Education is an extraordinary subject about which to talk. The counters have been so handed about and so rubbed in the handling that they have almost no impression left. Educational Debates are apt to be like the mediaeval debates upon metaphysics where, within the rules of logic, you used counters which had practically no meaning. Nothing is needed so much as fresh, clear thinking and simple speaking upon this subject of education. A great deal of nonsense is talked and written about it. I have been a pretty bad sinner in that respect in the past. I have been speaking a good deal upon the subject in recent years, and I long ago said all the things that I believed to be true about education and a good many things which I knew to be untrue. So I have mercifully become silent.
The Secretary of State spoke simply and freshly upon the subject. Perhaps that is because his mind is not staled by speaking upon it too often. I specially liked his emphasis upon the importance of personality in the teacher. I thoroughly agree with every word of his tribute to our Scottish teachers. They have been a remarkable group of men ever since the days of John Knox, and to-day they have a very high average of academic attainment and of character. In the difficult matter of the cuts in 1931, they behaved with great dignity and public spirit. It is unfortunately true that the teaching profession has always been unpopular. In the mind of the ordinary, unthinking man there is always a certain prejudice against it and a, certain sus- 1217 picion of it, and it is therefore highly important that those who are associated with it should dignify the teachers' calling. Anything which detracts from the dignity of that calling and makes it more difficult to get the best men into it, is a very real national danger. Before the War, when I was a candidate for my own border county, I was once asked by a heckler if I knew who was the greatest danger in the country. I said that I did not, and I asked him what he thought it was. He replied--the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) will understand the language—that the "dominies were gettin' ower crouse," which means, if I may translate it into a much inferior tongue, that the schoolmasters were getting above themselves. The dominies can well be "ower crouse" in the right sense of the term. They should exalt their profession, and we should enable them to exalt it.
The danger of the teaching profession being in a position where it must always be the object of a good deal of popular suspicion is that it may get into an enclave, or group by itself. It may become like the clerks in the Middle Ages who demanded the benefit of clergy, and who maintained that they were not quite like other men. That would be a very great tragedy. The power of the teacher must lie in his being a good citizen. There was a good deal of talk in the Debate last night about the teaching of so-called civics. I do not like the word, and I do not much care for the subject. I agree entirely with the Secretary of State for Scotland that you cannot teach as an isolated subject the duty and the privileges of citizenship, because they must run through the whole curriculum from beginning to end. The best way of making boys good citizens is to give them teachers who are themselves good citizens. I always rejoice when I find members of the teaching profession taking an interest in public life outside their own line. One of the best ways of getting rid of the inevitable popular prejudice and suspicion is to teach the ordinary man that the teacher has just as much common sense as himself.
Another way of doing that is by making people understand the immense importance of education on the practical side. By "practical" I do not mean a narrow practicality. You must get out of the mind of the ordinary man the idea 1218 that education is regarded as an end in itself, a kind of wonderful picture which we have constructed, and to which we may be allowed to put a few finishing touches. We must make it clear that education is highly practical, and that its only business is to enable people to live a full, a happy, a worthy and a useful life. We shall very soon have to face the problem of extending the school age. I understand that I am not allowed by the Rules of the House to deal with that subject except inferentially—a blessed word. Inferentially speaking, I would suggest that, if we are going to make a success of any such extension, we must be very clear that the right subjects are embodied in the curriculum in the latest stages of this extended education. We must make it clear to the world that this final instruction is directed to the larger uses of life, and to the interests of that wider world which must be faced after leaving school. In framing our curriculum we must remember that, and we must make it clear to the ordinary man, who is to pay the bill.
§ 9.57 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I am sorry that the discussion on the Health Vote has left such a very limited time for discussion of the subject of education, not because I think that education is any more important than health, but because it is obvious that there is a large number of Members who are anxious to say a word on education—Members with varied experience and varied political outlooks. It is unfortunate that the House of Commons can only afford one day in the year, or a few hours of a day in the year, to discuss the question of education, which has always been of such very great interest to a large proportion of the Scottish people. It is particularly regettable because to-day we are discussing the Scottish Estimates, and we have just had two very fine speeches, one by the Secretary of State for Scotland and the other by my hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan), who have reached very high levels of educational oratory, but in doing so have got very far away from the Scottish Estimates. That was sound tactics on the part of the Secretary of State, and it was good party loyalty on the part of the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities; but those who sit on the Opposition Benches are more con- 1219 cerned to get at the details of the administration of Scottish education by the Government during the 12 months that have just passed.
As my hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities knows, I followed him, in perhaps the greatest school in Britain, as a junior boy, while he was at Oxford covering himself and his old school with many academic distinctions; and he was always pointed out to those of us who were his juniors as the example that we should all follow. Indeed, this was said to me so often by the various masters that I began to detest the name of John Buchan with a deep detestation, which I never overcame until we were sitting together in this House. Just as I regretted having to follow him in the school, so I regret having to follow him to-night, because no one in this Committee is more easily tempted than I am to get on to exactly the same type of theorising as has been indulged in by the Secretary of State and by the hon. Member. But I am resisting that, and I am going to deal with the administration of education in Scotland by the present Government, as represented by the present Secretary of State and his Under-Secretary, and I am going to enter caveats against the paeans of praise which the Secretary of State for Scotland showered on himself.
I want to suggest that education in Scotland during the year that has gone has not been on the high level which it could very easily have reached. My hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) raised one section of the problem, namely, the granting of bursaries for higher education in Scotland. If he turns to the appropriate paragraph in the report of the Committee on Education for Scotland, he will find that, during the financial year ending the 15th May, 1933, the total sum expended on bursaries by the education authorities was in round figures £207,000, as compared with £244,000 in the previous year; and the report states:The decline points to a somewhat exacting standard in the educational qualifications required in a bursary holder, a change for which there is much to be said.I regard that as untrue. The fall in the expenditure on bursaries was not because there was a limited number of pupils coming forward in Scotland with the 1220 necessary educational qualifications, because, if the right hon. Gentleman will examine his own report, he will see that a larger number of leaving certificates—the hallmark of the successful accomplishment of a secondary education in Scotland—were granted by his own Department to the pupils coming out of the secondary schools; and yet, under his administration, the amount spent on bursaries to permit of higher education was reduced to a very substantial extent.
The right hon. Gentleman saw fit to introduce into his speech on education homilies to housewives as to how they should feed their children—an argument to which I profoundly object. He argued that, if the mothers of Scotland spent the money that they had on the right kind of food, then the physical condition of the youngsters would be better. I believe that the average mother in Scotland knows just as well how to feed her youngsters intelligently as I know how to feed myself intelligently; and, frankly, I must confess to a very great depth of ignorance on the matter.
When I go into the dining-room of the House of Commons, I look down the menu and choose, not necessarily the cheapest things; but, having chosen what I regard as a meal that will satisfy me, I have not the faintest idea, when I have consumed it and paid for it, how it stands in the order of calories and vitamins and matters of that kind. I see great big, husky men in this House who eat even less intelligent meals than I do, and show an infinitely higher percentage of physical quantity, at any rate, than I do for my expenditure. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, before he starts to tell the housewives of Scotland—the mothers of Scotland—how to spend their limited resources in the feeding of their children, he should find out first of all what intelligent feeding is, and that is not known. He is subsidising at the moment a very fine research about the nutrition of animals; he is doing tremendous work at. the Rowett Institute, in the north of Scotland, to find out how to develop the best pigs, sheep, or cows; but he is doing absolutely nothing to find out anything about human nutrition. Research on animal nutrition, yes. Give us the big cow, the big pig and the big sheep. When it comes to the nutrition of human beings, he contents himself with a general homily to the housewives of Scotland.
1221 He himself, as head of the Scottish education system, was responsible for providing 6,000,000 meals during 1933. He is the biggest mother in Scotland. I do not mean that in any offensive sense, but he is responsible for feeding the biggest family. I want to ask him, as man to man, or as father to father, if he has spent two minutes of his period of office examining the menus that are provided in the various school feeding centres, and if, in particular, he has consulted high medical opinion as to whether the meals provided for those 6,000,000 cases are of the highest nutritive value, with the other qualities that ought to go with a meal, because it ought to be a meal that provides not merely physical efficiency but pleasure to the youngster who is eating it.
In addition to being the head of the educational service, he is head of the prison service. The prison dietary is absolutely perfect from a nutrition point of view. The medical experts years ago decided that that was so. Twelve ounces of oatmeal made into porridge in the morning, eight ounces of oatmeal made into porridge in the evening along with half-a-pint of sour milk to help to dispose of it, a point of soup in the middle of a day, and eight ounces of bread—they decided that that was a perfect meal. So it is theoretically. The right hon. Gentleman has freedom of access to all Government buildings. I ask him to go into the newest and most up-to-date prison in Scotland, the one on the outskirts of Edinburgh, not on a casual visit but to have a week's incarceration and see what he thinks of the perfect dietary at the end of a week.
I direct his attention to that and turn to another point in his statement. He talked to-day again about the necessity of bringing manual trade training more into the educational service. Last year he talked about that when he had newly assumed office. He told us he was proposing to send two of his officials to the Continent to study trade schools there. I said I had no objection to officials of his Department having a trip on the Continent. I have never interfered with any man's or woman's pleasure in my life. If it brightened the somewhat monotonous life of a civil servant to have a trip on the Continent, who was I to object to him having it? But I expected that when they came back they 1222 would have some report to present to us, perhaps in tabloid form. I do not want to pry into the whole story of their visit —all work and no play—but so far as they were on the Continent and saw something of trade schools, I think we are entitled to know exactly what they learnt and to what extent what they learnt has been applied during the year that the right hon. Gentleman has kept in office.
I notice that there has been an increase in the number of mentally and physically defective children. That should not be. We have now had a dozen years of school medical inspection and treatment. We have not an increasing school population to deal with. The educational problem during the last dozen years has been tremendously simplified by the fact that the Scottish population has remained to all intents and purposes stationary for a dozen years. There may have been variations of 10,000 or 20,000 in 4,000,000, but that is trivial, and yet there is an increase in the number of mental and physical defectives. I want to make certain that it is not a case of certifying as mentally or physically deficient boys and girls who formerly would have been regarded as suitable for ordinary schools. There is always this tendency that, when you set a particular social service going, there is a tremendous impetus to keep it going and to keep it filled. If you have prisons, you must have prisoners. If you have mental and physical defective schools, you must have pupils in them. I want the Secretary of State to direct his inspectors to be very vigilant and to see that no pupils are being sent into these special schools who could, without harm to themselves, be kept among their normal fellows.
While I appreciate the work that the teachers are doing among the mental defectives in particular and appreciate the benefit to real mental defectives of the special kind of education and the special kind of school provided for them, it is a horrible thing for a child who is very nearly normal to be segregated with those who are mentally defective. I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that in this matter he should issue an instruction to his officers similar to the one issued by the Ministry of Pensions in dealing with disabled soldiers always to give the man the benefit of the doubt. In this question of mental deficiency, if there be a doubt, give the youngster the 1223 benefit of the doubt and keep him among his normal fellows rather than segregate him and mark him as daft, because, if that attaches to him, it remains with him through life if he remains in the same community.
We passed an Act a year ago or more about the treatment of juvenile offenders. Under that Measure the old reformatory industrial school system was to go. The general intention of the House when it passed that Measure was to get rid of the punitive idea with regard to juvenile offenders and substitute the educational idea. I presume that the change over is taking place. I am glad to note that the number of inmates in the industrial and reformatory schools is diminishing. Now that the Education Department has a very direct responsibility for the running of those schools, I hope that, in this period of change over from the old reformatory and industrial school system which had a penal conception behind it, to one which is to be guided by educational ideas and objectives, the right hon. Gentleman and his responsible officials will keep a very watchful eye and see that the intentions of Parliament are given effect to in the day-to-day working of these places, and that the inmates of these institutions shall not be regarded as junior convicts being provided for graduation, but as young citizens being prepared for a useful place in society.
§ 10.20 p.m.
§ Mr. G. A. MORRISON
The subjects upon which I should most have liked to speak are, I am afraid, ruled out in this Debate. I should have liked to refer to the disappointment which many of us feel at the turn things have taken in connection with the raising of the school-leaving age, in view of the statement in another place the other day. The other question with which I should have liked to deal is the undeserved hardship which many teachers who have done Icing and good service are being made to suffer through the cuts in pension having become permanent. I am glad to think that something may be done by and by with regard to that matter. The present Debate happens to coincide with the issue of one of His Majesty's Chief Inspector's periodical reports. I have had very little time to examine it, but it gives a very interesting account of the work of Scottish education during the 1224 period of emergency. I have seen enough of it to be able to say that, considering the difficulties under which work has been carried on, due to the contraction in expenditure, and the hardships caused by long and continued unemployment in many homes, it is gratifying to know that standards have been surprisingly well maintained, and that there has been a less check than might have been expected to the improvement which was in progress before the crisis. All concerned have honestly tried to see that in these difficult times the children should not suffer.
The right hon. Gentleman visited Scotland a little time ago and conferred with members of education committees, teachers and various associations, and I am sure that everyone would be very glad if he would come back again, and come not merely to Edinburgh, but to other parts of Scotland. There are a great many people who are anxious to see him and to talk to him. I am not mentioning this fact as a threat, but as a welcome. The right hon. Gentleman laid stress on two very important things, on the connection between the school and the home, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, between school and industry and commerce. With regard to the first, co-operation between school and the home, it is not a new thing, and, as the Department rightly say in their report, more and more attention has been given to it during the past 18 months. As a teacher, I have never had so many parents consulting me at any time of my career as consulted me during that time. In many instances, these were cases of urgent necessity, the purpose being to see what could be done for the young person leaving school.
With regard to the other case, that of co-operation between schools and industry and commerce, it is a question of increased interest being taken on both sides. Each ought to know something of what the other is doing and what the other requires. While I agree with much that has been urged upon the right hon. Gentleman in that respect, I would ask him to scrutinise very carefully the advice that he gets. The expression "dead wood" is used very often. One is interested to read in the reports the testimony of inspectors that there is less dead wood in the school curriculum than is generally supposed. If our main 1225 object is to turn Out pupils trained to think, trained to understand and effectively to use their own language, to size up evidence and estimate the validity of an argument, then the schools must hold fast to the subjects that have proved their usefulness in training for those purposes. I will mention a case which came to my notice a good many years ago. The headmaster of a school well known to me arranged a commercial course in the days when that was not so common in secondary schools. The Scottish Education Department sent two members of the local chamber of commerce to inspect the students who were following that course. They made a report, which was sent by the Department to the school as part of the school report for the year. In that report were these words:This course provides for two hours per week to be given to history. Why is this? There is no money to be made out of history.That is an extreme example, but it is the kind of thing that I have in mind when I ask my right hon. Friend to scrutinise very carefully the advice that he gets from some sources. I agree with my distinguished colleague the Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) as regards a narrow curriculum of what is known as practical work. We must never forget that the pupil has to receive some training for leisure as well as for work. I agree also that a little more elasticity might be brought into the curriculum of the higher schools. That process is going on and has been going on for some time, and more and more alternatives are being provided to secure the elasticity of which I speak. It is said that self-criticism ought to be the duty of those engaged in education. Scotland has been the first country in the world, so far as I know, to set up a National Research Council on which there are represented not only people actually engaged in the work of teaching, but administrators, school medical officers, representatives of uniersities, training centres, and so forth. I have no doubt that the old country will be paid the compliment of imitation in this respect before long.
There is a brief reference in the report to the question of nursery schools. This is a matter in which I have taken an interest since my instantaneous conversion about 15 years ago when I visited Miss Macmillan's school at 1226 Deptford. One hopes there will be a great expansion of that service in Scotland. I learn that there are 19 nursery schools, only two of which are provided by public authorities, with some 611 pupils in attendance; there ought to be many thousands. These nursery schools have beneficial effects socially in the formation of good habits, and we have the testimony of those concerned in infant and elementary schools as to the marked and rapid progress which pupils who have been in nursery schools make when they go to the ordinary schools. Expenditure in that direction would be remunerative; it would give a return far beyond what many people expect.
One of the problems of the immediate future in our elementary schools is how to extend something of the joy which we have managed to bring into our infant schools into our elementary schools. This is due largely to the introduction of improved and enlightened methods, and there are some signs in the report that these newer methods are being spread upwards in the schools. Undoubtedly there has been a great improvement in the spirit of education in our elementary and secondary schools, due partly to the fact that teachers have taken a wider conception of their social duties. One has only to mention such things as school journeys, school clubs, musical societies, scout clubs; and 1934 is going to be memorable for the establishment of a hostel in Scotland for school children, where children with their teachers can spend, and are spending, happy and healthful week-ends. It is due also in some measure to an improvement in the relations between inspectors and teachers. The inspector is now often welcomed as a consultant and co-worker, not dreaded as an inquisitor. All this is welcome. If the teacher is to do his best he must be free—and the best teachers regard it as a great privilege—to use his awn subject, any subject, in order to foster in his pupils an interest in the things of the mind, to provide them with interests which will be a possession for ever and a lasting joy, to supply them with ideas which will enable them to lead useful, full and happy lives.
It is one of the most pleasant experiences of teachers to find long after pupils have left school, some of them recalling little things that he has said or done which have set some of them going 1227 on fruitful paths. Like bread cast upon the waters, it comes back after many days. A previous speaker has referred to the personality of the teacher. Someone has been unkind enough to say that that phrase is well on the way to becoming a catchword. I hope, however, that is not going to prevent us from speaking about it, because it is the one thing of importance. We talk about the environment of young people in schools, about equipment and apparatus, about methods and text books, but we must never forget that for many pupils the teacher is the environment. It is vitally important that he should be able to retain his humanity. When the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) was speaking on this subject I could not help thinking of the terrible remark made by a headmaster in one of Mr. Kipling's novels:Never again will I forget that a schoolmaster is not a man.The teacher has to strive to retain his enthusiasm, and enthusiasm cannot be created by legislative or administrative action, although much can be done by these means to ensure that the capacity, the energy and the devotion of teachers and pupils shall have the most fruitful and beneficent outcome that is possible. n that connection should like to offer a suggestion to the Secretary of State. One thing that seems to me most likely to bring about improvement in education, realising as I do the importance of the teacher, would be to secure peace and stability in the matter of salaries, some freedom from the irritation of constant salary changes. When was going round Scotland four years ago found in one area that there had been no fewer than four salary cuts in about four years. That kind of thing is not calculated to feed the undying fire. It might be considered whether the time has not come to set up some national negotiating body on the lines of the Burnham Committee in England, composed of teachers and education committee members, with a neutral chairman. I should be glad if the Under-Secretary, who is to reply, could find it in his heart to say that that could be done.
I am encouraged to mention one of the newer developments in education referred to in the report. I do so because within the last month no fewer than three hon. 1228 Members have asked what is being done in the way of broadcasting in the schools of Scotland. I have been asked these questions: Can you get anything like good reception? Otherwise broadcasting is no good. Another question is: Do the British Broadcasting Corporation take educationists with them in this matter, or have they just thrust themselves into the schools? I wish to say, as one closely connected with school broadcasting from the outset, that the National Sub-Council contains representatives of the Scottish Education Department, teachers, administrators, directors of education, and others. The separate subject committees contain many teachers and inspectors. These committees prepare courses and pamphlets, which are issued at the beginning of the season, and more recently synopses of separate lessons have been available. There is no intention of superseding the teacher; everything is done to obtain the co-operation of the teachers so that these lessons may have the best possible effect. I am not so well acquainted with the use of the cinema, which is also mentioned in the report, but it seems to me that both these things have proved their claim to further experimentation, so that we may see what can be got, what contribution these newer methods can be made to make, to the work of education.
§ 10.35 p.m.
The period of the last two years has been a trying time for education but the report presented to us to-night, like the report presented last year, reveals the fact that in spite of the reduction in the grant the fabric of education remains unimpaired. Unlike the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) who suggested that the Secretary of State ought to go to prison, I am going to ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept my congratulations on the statement which he has given to the Committee. It shows the steady progress of education in Scotland. One of the features of that report is the fact that the attendance has reached what we may call the high-water mark, which would indicate, at any rate, that the health of the children has been good. In this connection I should like to pay a, tribute to the teachers. For many years it has been my privilege to know intimately many of the teachers in Lanarkshire and 1229 I can speak in the highest terms of the great interest which they take in ail aspects of their pupils' lives and of the assistance which they are able to render to the medical officers in connection with the inspections of the schools. The teachers have come to realise that a knowledge of the home conditions of the children is helpful to them in their work. Many teachers keep in close touch with the parents of the children and visit their homes regularly and the knowledge thus gained is an enormous help to them in their school work. It also guides them as to the extent and character of the tasks which are given to the children to be done at home.
I do not propose at this late hour when others wish to speak to go into the pros and cons of the question of home lessons but, if we are agreed, as I think most of us are, that a certain amount of homework is necessary to encourage and develop self-reliance and concentration, we must also be agreed, that unless there are suitable conditions in the home for doing the homework, its value must be greatly decreased. I have for many years made a close study of this question. My interest in it arises from a, personal experience which, with the permission of the Committee, I will relate. When visiting a demolition area I came across a child of 13 doing exercises in the home where she lived with her father and mother and several other young children. The child had cleared one end of a table, which was littered with all sorts of stuff and with the light of a paraffin lamp was doing her homework. A gramophone was playing in the house next door and outside on the pavement there was a man playing a melodeon. The child was trying to do an algebra exercise. Reflecting on that scene I asked myself what is the meaning of the word "education." It is difficult to define, but my idea of education is that which is left to us when our schooldays are over, and when, possibly, we have forgotten a great deal of what we learned at school. It is the foundation which should remain to us on which to build in after life.
I venture to suggest that under the conditions I have described, algebra would not provide a, good foundation on which that child could build afterwards. I would be the last to suggest that the child should be denied instruction in algebra but I submit that that child, and 1230 many similar children, could more profitably devote their time to learning domestic science. I know the difficulties and I know that to develop the teaching of domestic science may cause expenditure. I am not advocating high expenditure on centres, but merely the replacement of itinerant teachers by permanent teachers of domestic science. Many domestic science centres are taxed to their fullest capacity, but, on the other hand, there are some of them which are only used one day a week, because of itinerant teachers, and I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he might make the suggestion to local authorities that the itinerant teachers in these cases be replaced by permanent teachers and so allow of the centres being used, not one day a week, but every day. The benefits from further practical instruction would far outweigh any expenditure involved. We should inculcate in the minds of these potential mothers of the country the idea that the real centre of women's activity is the home. We should instil in their minds that the guiding and guarding of the infant steps of the children is woman's prerogative in the State.
I want now to turn to pages 31 and 32 of the report, to the question of mechanical aids to learning, which has already been mentioned by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. G. A. Morrison). I am not denying the fact that music, art, it may even be speech or voice production, may have a cultural effect on the pupils, but I believe that, if wireless has a contribution to offer, so has the listener, and in that connection I say that for adult education broadcasting can serve a very useful purpose, where discussion groups may be formed and study circles established, and where a listener, being stimulated by the talk to which he has listened, goes to a, library, as the soldier would go to the armoury for his weapon, and there pulls out a book of reference relative to the talk he has heard, and goes back to his study circle and discusses it with the group. That, I would say, is the real educational value of broadcasting, but with an already overcrowded curriculum in the schools I cannot convince myself that it is of real educational value. I am not condemning it, and I will await with interest next year's report of the real educational value of this service.
1231 One final word on the visual aids to learning. There, I think, we shall have a great deal more help, and I hope the day will come in the near future when we shall have a development of films of motion study of the workers at their work, operating in factories, it may be at the benches or in the workshops, and have screen and projector showing these things in the schools. should also like to see committees of teachers, parents, and industrialists, meeting together and pooling their ideas, industrialists getting to know better the work of the schools and teachers better to appreciate the needs of industry. A community can only hold together with the co-operation of all its members, and so only by the pooling of ideas and co-operation shall we build a sound foundation for our educational system.
§ 10.43 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE
There are so many facets of this great question and there have been so many considerations advanced in the fascinating and very thought provoking analysis by the Secretary of State, that one could talk on this subject for hours, but there is no time to-night, and I must confine myself to two of the most vital sides of the discussion; but before doing so I would like to recall to the Under-Secretary of State this matter of "cuts." As we know, Parliament decided in its wisdom to restore 50 per cent. of the cuts in the teachers pay, but this has not been carried out in some counties in Scotland, and trust that the influence of the right hon. Gentleman and the Under-Secretary of State will be devoted towards inducing education authorities and county councils to put that matter right without delay.
There are two other subjects that I wish to mention, and one is the question of the Marr Trust, which has already been referred to. I congratulate the Under-Secretary on the settlement of that difficult problem. For three and a half years that great school has remained open, completely equipped and ready in every way but without pupils. We all know the reason why it has remained empty of pupils, because of the intervention—the no doubt well-intentioned in tervention—of the Educational Endowments Commission. Owing to the tact and ability of the Under-Secretary and 1232 the right hon. Gentleman, the matter is now settled. The Marr Trust has been restored to the control of the people whom Mr. Marr intended should control it, and the facilities of the school have been made available to the children of Troon for whom Mr. Marr intended they should be available.
Three things will happen now. The poor children of Troon will get a free education from the secondary stage up to the university stage. The other children resident in the neighbourhood who may be handed over by the County Council Education Authority to the Marr College will get a free education from the elementary stage to the university stage. The outsiders who are non-residents will pay. That was the intention of Mr. Marr and that is the intention that will be carried out. With regard to the future of the Educational Endowments Commission am not going to suggest any legislation, for it is not in order in this discussion, but will throw out a couple of suggestions to my hon. Friend as to how this matter should be treated. I do not believe that there is any desire in Scotland that this Educational Endowments Commission should be brought to an end at the end of this year, but I believe there is a feeling that its activities and powers should be somewhat restricted. Marr College has been an unfortunate example of the intervention of the Educational Endowments Commission, and I believe it to be the general feeling of Scotland that something should be done slightly to curb or restrict its power or to give to the Secretary of State or to some other authority an overriding influence or power against the decisions of the commission. I have heard it suggested that it should he continued in an advisory capacity. I do not agree with that, for it would be a slap in the face for a body of distinguished gentleman who have rendered great service to Scotland and to education in Scotland.
I suggest therefore that it should be retained in its present capacity, with possibly an appeal against its decisions by either the Education Department or the aggrieved body, whoever it may be, to say, the quarter sessions. That would convince the people of Scotland that, whatever the Educational Endowments Commission might decide, there would still be the right of appeal against decisions which in their opinion might be 1233 hostile to the interests of the children of Scotland. At present the Educational Endowments Commissioners can intervene in any will made after 1920. That is too recent. It has been suggested that the period should be put back to 1910. I do not think there is any peculiar benefit about 1910, but I think there is a period after which their activities might be stopped. That is from the period when the War started in 1914. The whole of the mentality of the country was changed by the advent of the War. We started to live in a different age after the War, and therefore I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that in the future discussions on this problem of the future of the commission he should consider restricting its powers to all wills drawn up after 1914, and that he should also give a right of appeal from their decisions.
§ 10.49 p.m.
§ Mr. SKELTON
Before I deal with the points that have been raised, I would say that I propose to continue this Estimate on Friday, and if I rise now it is because I am not certain how long the other two Estimates may take. If there is time after further discussion on the Education Estimates and any questions of moment are raised in the continued Debate, I will ask for a moment or two in which to answer them then. I think it will be convenient if I spend the few minutes at our disposal now to answer the points that have been raised, although I know I am cutting out more than one Member who has, I am sure, some interesting points to contribute to the Debate.
The hon. Member opposite raised again, most properly, the question of the local authority which does not use its power to give a meritorious scholar a bursary on account of the poverty of his parents. I say now, at the end of the Debate, what I said on a less relevant occasion, that as far as the advice and counsel I receive go, the Education Act, 1918, gives local authorities full powers to render whatever assistance is necessary, and that the assistance is to be given under special consideration of the circumstances, not only of the scholar, but also of the parent. I hope that this statement, made authoritatively in this place, will be sufficient information to education authorities of their powers, if indeed any are in ignorance of them. I will 1234 consider whether it is necessary to supplement what I now say by a circular, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend will not hesitate to issue a circular if it seems that there are still any dark places so far as knowledge is concerned. That was the main question raised by the hon. Gentleman, although he dealt with some other points. I will not say anything about the speech of my colleague in the representation of the Scottish Universities except to say that I greatly admired his speech and thought that his admonition against the tendency, which I believe we all have, to talk nonsense when we talk about education is one which, as Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, is ever present in my mind. There is no topic upon which it is more difficult to make any generalisation of any value at all than the topic of education.
It is not, however, my task at the moment to make generalisations, but to deal with the comments of hon. Members. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), whose contribution to the Debate delighted us all as usual, drew the attention of my right hon. Friend to the fact that the report showed that the amount expended on bursaries and scholarships had fallen from £440,000 to £407,000. The decision to give bursaries and the actual amount spent on them is entirely a matter for the education authority.
§ Mr. MAXTON
The local education authority has during the last two years been facing this question of bursaries as it has had to face every other.
§ Mr. SKELTON
It is perfectly true that the education grant for Scotland, like the money available for all public services since 1931, has been conditioned by the state of the national finances. I entirely agree with the hon. Member. But the actual use of the money put at the disposal of the education authority is in the matter of bursaries one entirely for themselves. The hon. Member then raised extremely interesting questions on two points, the first of which concerned the old reformatory and other schools which are now called approved schools. He is afraid that some penal quality may still cling to them. My information is that this is not the case. I was nevertheless much interested in what he said, and I propose to make separate investigations as to exactly what is the atmosphere and 1235 quality of these schools. We are in complete agreement with him as to the undesirability of that penal quality, and I trust that, as my information leads me to believe, it is now entirely gone.
With regard to the question of defective children, he spoke of the increasing number of them and suggested, with my full agreement, that nothing could be more lamentable if it indicated an increase in the number of marginal cases taken into special schools. According to my information, however, there is nothing to lead one to suppose that the increase in the number means that more marginal cases are being taken into the special schools. It may be, rather, that there is a more careful and scrupulous analysis of the nature of the defects; and on the general proposition I would suggest that where there is any real defectiveness it is all to the advantage of the child to have special school treatment. I would not accept it as a general proposition that it is all to the bad for a child to be sent to a special school, although I agree with what was said about the marginal cases. The hon. Member also raised an interesting point with reference to meals for school children. On the whole we are satisfied with the menu of the meals, which, I understand, is supervised mainly by the medical officers of the local authorities, but I agree that the point is a most interesting one and I shall look into it further at the earliest possible opportunity.
My other colleague in the representation of the Scottish Universities made an interesting speech and one which, I am sure, convinced the House of the value of the contributions he will make to our education Debates. He raised one specific point of great importance. As I understand it, he threw out the suggestion that the education authorities and the teachers should come together for the purpose of framing some general scale of payments of teachers in Scotland and invited me to express our view upon that suggestion. Our view is that if the education authorities and the teachers come to some common decision on that matter we shall regard it as of great interest; but he will recollect that in Scotland the only function of the Department with regard to salaries is the statutory one of seeing 1236 that the national minimum scale is being paid in each case. Still it would be a most interesting thing if the education authorities and the teachers came together and discussed this question and could come to some agreement about salaries.
My experience of the study of the subject of education in Scotland since I have been in my present post leads me to suppose that the fresh air of thought is constantly being applied to it. A great deal has to be done. As I see it, we are really in the early stages of applying a new method of education and I would crystallise that method in this sentence: it is a method by which education seeks to open doors and not to close them, to develop character, to develop powers, to stimulate the natural eagerness and curiosity of the mind of the young and not to put it in the strait waistcoat of an orthodox and sterotyped method of learning and subjects of learning. I see on all sides a loosening of the bands of the rigid outlook; and that is all to the good and the results are interesting. I think it is already clear that the people of Scotland are becoming not a less educated nation but a more educated nation. Had I time I would draw attention to the remarkable figures in the last report as to the increase of the use of school life, and all that kind of thing, but I hear the clock strike and other questions must be deferred to the next occasion.
§ It being Eleven of the Clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.