Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £4,693,527, 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, 1939, for public education in Scotland, and for the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, including sundry grants in aid."—[NOTE: £3,200,000 has been voted on account.]
§ 3.58 p.m.
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Wedderburn)
We spent yesterday discussing the Vote for the Department of Health for Scotland. We have to-day three separate Votes to consider, namely the Education Vote, the Scottish Office Vote, and the Law Charges Vote. This Education Vote, which we are taking first, is one which has not been discussed in the House for some time—I think not for the last two years. This, no doubt, is due to the fact that the major event in the educational programme during that period was the Education Act, passed in 1936, and the principal matter of interest since then has been the consideration of the steps to be taken to prepare for the implementing of the Act in 1939. Other matters of major interest which impinged to a certain extent upon educational policy, such as physical training and the provision of milk, have been discussed separately on other occasions.
This is an Estimate for £7,900,000. That represents an increase of about £164,000 over last year. This estimated expenditure, as the Committee will see from the Estimates, falls under four main heads—administration, inspection, grants-in-aid, and the provision for the Royal Scottish Museum. The first provides for organisation, the second for observation and report, the third supplies the main sums of money which are necessary to enable education to be carried on by local authorities, and the fourth illustrates 2456 Scottish history and achievement. The gross total is about £8,700,000, and against this there is set an appropriation-in-aid of about £789,000. The first two items together, administration and inspection, add up to about £132,000, showing an increase of £4,000 over last year, and that increase is mainly due to the expansion of educational work both at the head office and in the inspectorate in preparation for the higher school-leaving age.
Perhaps, in order to show the modem spirit in which we are recruiting our inspectorate, I might mention that in the last nine years we have appointed 15 specialists in such practical subjects as engineering, commercial subjects, art, handwork, rural science, physical training and domestic science. In addition to the technical qualifications and teaching experience which are required in the work of school inspection, several of these specialists have had first-hand experience of the practice of their craft under ordinary conditions of employment in industry or in commerce. Until 1930 the only women who found a place in the school inspectorate were three inspectresses of domestic science, but before the end of this year we shall have in all 13 women inspectors, including five for domestic science.
The Museum expenditure, a small item of about £28,000, shows an increase of £1,000, and here I ought to mention that the number of visitors to the Museum has increased from 592,000 to 654,000 in the year under review. These three heads between them account for only about 2 per cent. of the total sum of money for which we are now asking. The main bulk of the Vote is under the third head, that is, grants-in-aid, which includes £7,443,000 for the general aid grant and £1,078,000 for superannuation of teachers. Together these form 98 per cent. of the total. As hon. Members are aware, the greater part of the general aid grant and the whole of the superannuation grant are determined by the 11/80ths formula, and are thus automatically determined by the English grants, which are based on the English expenditure. The money voted under these heads is paid into the Education (Scotland) Fund. That fund is used in the first place to provide grants for 11 central institutions, that is, technical colleges, the colleges for art, commerce and domestic subjects; the seven centres and colleges for the training of teachers; 2457 and 16 secondary schools which are not under education authorities; the large expenditure on superannuation allowances for teachers, the expenses of the leaving certificate examination, and other miscellaneous charges—a total of about £1,500,000. The balance of about £7,000,000 is divided among the 35 educational authorities according to block grant formula which is submitted annually to Parliament— £4 18s. 4d. in respect of each scholar, £119 5s. in respect of each teacher, with an adjustment for the rateable value of each area. The regulations which are proposed for the present year have now been laid before both Houses of Parliament and they have proved acceptable to the majority of the education authorities.
Any particular points on the Estimates—there are a great number that might possibly be raised—will be replied to by my right hon. Friend. I should like to turn, in commending these Estimates, to one or two general considerations. First of all I want to give some account of how we are progressing in preparation for the 1st September, 1939, when, in pursuance of the Education Act which was passed two years ago, the school-leaving age will be raised to 15.
Yes, there will be exemptions. We have made a great many comprehensive inquiries, which give us every reason to think that the year 1939–40 will find the education authorities generally prepared to make effective educational provision for the large proportion of children between the ages of 14 and 15 who will continue at school under the new arrangement. The main source of difficulty at present is the provision of new accommodation, because there is a great deal to be clone in bringing our accommodation up to the mark even if we did not have to enlarge it for the purpose of taking on new scholars. But in general we think that the education authorities will by that date be in a position to make effective provision for the additional number of children who will remain at school. All the 35 education authorities have already submitted their schemes to the Department and 33 of these schemes have been approved.
2458 I do not want to take up too much time, but it might interest the Committee if I gave one illustration from a rural and semi-rural county and another from a city, to show the kind of schemes which are being prepared. In the rural and semi-rural county that I select there are at present 64 schools—I am speaking of Midlothian—ranging in size from eight pupils to 900 pupils, and providing altogether for a total of about 15,000 pupils. The education authority does not think that when the leaving age is raised the total number of pupils to be provided for will be any greater than it is at present, and this expectation agrees with the general forecast for Scotland which the Department has received from the Government Actuary. The decline in the birthrate is the explanation of that. In 1913–14 the births in Scotland were 122,000; in 1920–21 they were 126,000; and in 1936–37 they were 88,000. But obviously there must be some reorganisation, some improvement of curriculum, some additional accommodation for practical work and physical education, some increase in teaching staff, if the additional year at school is to be made worth while. I am sure we must all agree that it should be made worth while.
It should also be noted that relatively greater numbers of pupils will be in the higher blocks than in the lower—again because of the steady decline in the birthrate. In the area I am considering the schools at present fall into four well-defined categories: firstly, four central schools providing a leaving certificate course of five or six years; secondly, 16 central schools providing an advanced division course of two or three years—both these groups of schools are fed from surrounding schools by pupils transferred at the age of 12 or thereby—thirdly, 11 self-contained schools providing advanced division courses for their own pupils only; and, fourthly, schools which carry pupils only up to the age of 12 and then pass them on to the central schools, aiding them, where it is necessary or appropriate, by bursaries and travelling facilities.
But the authority propose to carry centralisation a little further, so that in 1940 there will be in this area 19 central schools—of which four will be of the five-year type of secondary education—is of the three-year type with various forms of curriculum; one self-contained 2459 school with a three-year secondary course; and 43 junior schools doing primary work only. They propose to add 36 rooms for practical work and 13 gymnasia and halls for physical education. Some of these things are necessitated by the higher leaving age. Others would in any case be provided as part of the normal development resulting from increased attention to practical work and physical well-being. The staff of 544 will be increased by i6 teachers of various kinds, and, with this increase and reorganised provision already existing, children over 12 will have an opportunity for a sound course of secondary education in one or other of its various appropriate ofrms and in three-year courses or five-year courses, as the case may be, according to their probable leaving age.
But I would like to say that in respect of rural areas the Department have sounded a warning note about the danger of over-centralisation. Let me quote one short passage from the circular which we issued to the authorities on the subject of educational schemes:In many cases the authority will no doubt consider it expedient on grounds of educational efficiency as well as for the sake of economy, to provide post-primary education at central schools to which children will proceed after completing the primary course at other schools in the neighbourhood. This will clearly be an appropriate method in urban areas. The Department would, however, remind education authorities responsible for rural areas of the wider considerations which such a policy involves in their case. Long distance transport of young children brings its own problems and difficulties, as does also housing in lodgings and hostels. The social and intellectual life of a village may be impoverished by the removal of the older children and the more highy qualified teachers, Even on purely educational grounds the centralisation of the instruction of children from rural districts in burgh schools does not always furnish a suitable solution. A smaller degree of centralisation in suitable rural centres with a curriculum appropriate to the local conditions may often prove the better course. The possibilities of that individual attention which, in the tradition of Scotland, gifted pupils have received from devoted teachers in small country schools should not be forgotten.I think that is wise. We do not want mechanical centralisation inspired only by motives of economy or by too narrow a view of educational efficiency that would ignore certain important human factors and would fail to take proper account of rural interests and occupations.
2460 In the case of the cities, if I take as an example the City of Edinburgh, the process of the centralisation of post-primary education is already far advanced. Primary schools have been formed into groups which link to a central school in which pupils follow a well-organised three-year or five-year course of secondary education. By the time the school-leaving age is raised at the end of next year, it is expected that in this area there will be nine schools providing three-year secondary courses and six schools providing five-year courses. The building programmes for this area include 20 new or enlarged schools at an estimated cost of £700,000.
No. I am giving an example just to show the kind of schemes that are being prepared. But not all of this programme is due simply to the raising of the school leaving age. Some of it is rendered necessary by the movement of population, by the call for schools in the new housing areas, where the population are to some extent shifting, and by the need, in many areas the very pressing need, of replacing unsatisfactory and out-of-date buildings. When the programme is completed there will be an addition of 3,300 to the number of places in the secondary schools.
The pattern in which the education arrangements will be shaped under the provisions of the 1936 Act may be outlined as follows: Nursery schools for children from two to five years of age, infant division from five to seven, primary division from seven to twelve, and thereafter, a wide variety of secondary courses, in the first place determined by the probable length of post-primary school life—three years or five years as the case may be—and in the second place taking various shapes which may be either literary, technical, commercial, domestic, or rural, according to the aptitude and the interests of the pupil and the character of the locality in which he lives.
I would like to say one or two brief words about the progress that is being made in the provision of nursery schools, as I know that many hon. Members are particularly anxious that progress there should be accelerated. The development of nursery schools was one of the features 2461 of our educational programme in 1935, and after recapitulating certain general considerations about accommodation, planning, equipment, and so on, the Department suggested that all education authorities should make a careful survey of the nursery school requirements in their own areas with a view to submitting practical proposals to the Department. On 31st July, last year there had been established altogether 28 nursery schools in Scotland, with a total attendance of 1,067, as compared with 25 schools and an enrolment of 947 in the preceding year. The number has now increased to 31 schools, and I would add that the Glasgow education authority is proposing now to erect 10 nursery schools, and many of the other authorities have in hand schemes for their districts.
There is another point with which I want to deal, a point which I think is of importance.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
Is anything equivalent to nursery schools being considered for the rural districts, where the normal nursery school is not a feasible proposal?
I think it depends on the density of population; I think that is the only consideration. It is our aim that the three-year secondary courses designed for those who leave school at the age of 15 should be in their various types—technical, or literary, or whatever it may be—just as well housed, as suitably staffed, as properly planned, and as atractive to parents, to pupils, and to employers, as are the older secondary schools. We want very much to avoid any suggestion that there is any inferiority in educational and social value or any other such distinction between what used to be called the three-year higher grade school and the three-year advanced division school. I would remind the Committee of some observations which were made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate when the Education Bill was before the Scottish Grand Committee in 1936. He said then that our object was to raise the status of the three-year advanced division courses and to secure that the distinction between the curricula of the three-year courses and the full five-year secondary courses should be made only on educational grounds; and he pointed out that in the 2462 two types of school the scale of Government grant is the same, so much for each pupil and so much for each teacher without distinction, and that, as regards buildings and equipment, not only is there no distinction, but the advanced division buildings are in many cases definitely superior to those of the older secondary schools, and that, as regards the size of classes, the same general rule holds good for corresponding age groups.
In 1936 the average class in the advanced division school was 29, and the average class in the secondary school during the first three years of the curriculum was 28; and the figures are very much the same to-day. If anybody doubts that these aims are being realised, they should visit some of the new advanved division schools which are being built in many of the education areas, both in the towns and in the country. I do not want to cite particular examples, because that would be invidious, but there is no doubt that these schools are models of their own kind and need not fear comparison from any quarter, either at borne or abroad. I might perhaps mention one other point which has been emphasised by some of our inspectors in the course of the Department's inquiries on this point. They report that prejudice against the advanced division sometimes arises because parents find that employers are more willing to give jobs to young people who have attended the academic course of a secondary school for two or three years than to those who have completed an advanced division course of similar length, and it is our hope that employers and parents will become increasingly aware of the real value of the newer type of schools and the more modern forms of instruction that they provide.
I would just say one or two words on the topic of physical education. Considerable progress has been made since the circular which we issued on the subject in 1936. School building proposals between 1936 and June of this year have included 205 new halls and gymnasia, seven new swimming ponds, and 54 playing fields, and in many cases the improvement of existing playgrounds. Continuation classes in various forms of physical education are continuing to expand, and the number of students has increased from 20,801 in 1934 to 27,067 in 1936–37. One of the chief reasons for the increase is 2463 the success of what are known as "Keep fit" classes, chiefly for women, in which I am informed that a popular type of rhythmic exercises is taught. Nine authorities have appointed county organisers, while in 11 other areas, where the distribution of population creates special problems, special arrangements have been made under which the services of specialist visiting teachers are being made more widely available. During the past two years the number of specialist teachers of physical education employed in Scotland has risen from 476 to 547. In addition no fewer than 5,000 class teachers have attended refresher courses in physical training in recent years. A syllabus of "Schemes of physical training in one-teacher and other small schools" has been published by the Department for the guidance of teachers in small schools, who have to handle classes of a wide age-range and for whom the ordinary syllabus is not entirely suitable.
I think I ought to say a few words about the cordial co-operation which exists between local education authorities and their directors on the one hand and the Department's officials and inspectors on the other, and I think the Committee will agree that that is one of the most valuable features of Scottish education. The education authorities, either individually or through their associations, are kept closely in touch with all proposals for any Bills or any regulations, codes, circulars, or other instruments of administrative action, and the directors of education are in continual contact with our own administrative and inspecting officers. There is far more informal contact between the centre and the localities than there used to be in the old days, partly because the Secretary of the Department and nearly all of our administrative staff are now stationed in Edinburgh, partly because the Department fully recognises the importance and the efficiency of the great county authorities who now administer education in the localities, and partly because, under the modern block-grant arrangement, a large measure of liberty is left to the local administrators and to the teachers in matters of detail.
I would like to quote, in conclusion, a few sentences from the reports of the chief inspectors which were published last year, and in doing so I would like to point out that of these four officers, three are due 2464 to retire this autumn after long and arduous service in the cause of education in Scotland. One of them was honoured last year by His Majesty with a C.B.E., and another has received the degree of LL.D. from his own University. These men have seen Scottish education from very close quarters for many years in a more intimate way than most people could ever hope to achieve, and they are at an age which is free from illusions, but they speak well of our educational system and of the great advances that have taken place within their own lifetime. Here are three extracts:I find no signs of stagnation or complacency.
§ Mr. Maxton
That is the point. The hon. Gentleman is paying a tribute to entirely anonymous persons, and why should they not have their names mentioned and recognised?
It is in their capacity as inspectors of education of long standing rather than in their individual capacity that I am quoting them:I find no signs of stagnation or complacency; certain weaknesses have been noted, but there is ample evidence of energy and movement. A healthy spirit of inquiry, an interest in trial and experiment, a zest for new things are abroad, and from them is bound to issue some ultimate good.There are firm grounds for hope; the great mass of our teachers are well educated, well trained and zealous; the modern child is happy at school; the content of education is steadily growing in reality; increased stress is laid on essential things like health; and, best sign of all, there is a readiness to admit that our system is not perfect and, along with this, an earnest desire to mend the flaws.It is a pleasure to remark that, though some of my colleagues survey the educational scene with a severely critical eye, not one of them has sounded a note of pessimism or despondency. The general impression is rather that we are holding fast to what is good and precious in the present system and at the same time adopting in practice whatever changes and modifications have won the approval of earnest and thoughtful minds.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Westwood
I beg to move, to reduce the Vote by £100.
The Vote we are now discussing concerns one of the most important parts of 2465 Scottish administration which we can discuss, because it deals with the education of a race that has a particular love for education, and which for a long time claimed to be in advance of England. I am afraid, however, that England has made rapid strides, and that unless we do something more than we are doing we are likely to lag behind England. Reference has been made to the better type of schools, that are now being provided by the education authorities. May I suggest that it would have been a wise thing for the Department to have a complete survey of the schools in Scotland so that we would know exactly where are the really bad schools which ought to be rebuilt and reconditioned. That suggestion has been made before, but I do not know whether effect has been given to it or whether, as in England, there are black-listed schools on which we should concentrate with a view to getting school habitations for our children without which it is impossible to provide them with decent education. Reference has been made by the Under-Secretary to the increased number of playgrounds. There is a need not only for an increased number but for new outlook in providing playgrounds. The wrong type is provided. It is far too small in most cases, and instead of being a green belt round the school, it is more like a black band, and I suggest that if we had more green belts instead of black bands round our schools, they would look like places of health instead of places of mourning. I suggest, also, that playgrounds are cheaper to provide than policemen and better than prisons, and that an increase of the first will reduce the need for the latter.
With regard to school health services, it is well known to those who have been dealing with education administration that when the school health service was inaugurated it was believed that it would become one of the main preventive health services. With some knowledge of Scottish administration I think it can be claimed that to a considerable extent it has fulfilled its early promise. Experience has shown, however, that the main functions of our health service in the schools has not been to prevent the diseases and illnesses of children, but to discover and to remedy developed defects which might give rise to troubles in later life. The usual arrangement is that the children are medically examined as a 2466 routine measure three times during school life—at entry, age five or thereby, at age nine, and before leaving school, about age 13. May I suggest that now that the health and education authorities are the same body, except in the large burghs which are not cities, age five has now no particular significance as regards the health services for children and that it ought to be possible to use to better advantage those who are engaged on school health services.
The question which arises is whether a better service can be provided for preschool children without adding to the costs of county and town councils and without detracting from the value of the school medical service. The three parts of the routine medical examination during school life could easily be cut down to two, which might take place at age seven and at 13. This would release some of our medical staff for that pre-school medical examination which I have suggested, and it would give us a more effective service in discovering defects that ought to be remedied before the children enter school. It could be carried through at very little more, if any more cost to the local authority. For three years I sat on the Departmental Committee which inquired into the health services of Scotland. On page 17 of our report, which contains the summary of our decisions, there is a paragraph dealing with school health services which says:The school health service has materially contributed to the improvement of the health of the school children; but it is prevented by legal and other restrictions from achieving its full possibilities. The health service should exercise a continuous supervision of the health of school children and the health and education services should collaborate in choosing the sites and planning and construction of school buildings, provision of playing-fields and other facilities for recreation.The report goes on to state that the school health service is seriously hampered by the inadequacy of medical supervision at home, and it further states:The law should be amended also so as to remove any doubt about the power of local authorities to provide meals as a preventive measure. The provision of school meals, subject to approval of local arrangements by the central authority and the exercise of powers of recovering costs, should be encouraged.We are empowered to provide meals for necessitous school children under Section 6, Sub-section (3) of the 1908 Act, but unfortunately we provide the meals 2467 only to cure a disease that already exists instead of providing them to prevent disease being created. If we are to get full value for our money in education and for the huge expenditure from national and local funds, it would be wise to see that our children are provided with an adequate mid-day meal. That would do more in the way of education of physical fitness, and of building up a really fit nation, than many of the subjects which are being discussed in many Departments. At a conference which I attended last Tuesday I made a statement which I will repeat. It is a well-known fact in the case of a tremendous number of adults that if there were more visits to the butcher's cart there would be a need of fewer visits from the doctor's car. What applies in the case of adults applies equally in the case of our children. A good mid-day meal with body, bone and health-building properties would prevent that debility which we now allow to take place and then seek to remedy.
The social service which we are discussing is one of the greatest in Scotland. Many alleged economists attack our education system, but they are ofttimes, if not always, misinformed and ill-informed critics. They only look at it from the £s. d. point of view. I submit that our educational system is one of the most valuable of all our social services. I have seen that service make slow but sure progress towards the ideals that animated me when I set out on local administration 30 years ago. I have seen some revolutionary changes during those years in both the system of administration and in the outlook on education, educational methods and educational ideals. In Scotland there are only two social services which cater for a greater number of individuals than education. The expenditure on this service in 1910 was £4,439,000. The estimates that we are discussing to-day, together with the rate expenditure on education, find us now reaching a total of about £15,000,000 a year. The total number of people benefiting from that expenditure is 990,000, and when we look at it from that point of view the figures are not so alarming because it works out at only£15 a year or 5s. 9d. per week. There are many people who spend more on cigarettes and do not grumble at it, but who are always 2468 grumbling about expenditure on the education of our children.
When we get these figures in their true perspective we are justified in asking not whether we can afford to spend this sum of money on education, but whether we can afford to spend so little. The question most often asked is whether we are getting value for our money, because whether expenditure be small or large, we are entitled to get value for the nation's money which is spent on various services. That is not an easy question to answer. It depends on what we expect to get and on our method of approach to this great problem. Some of the so-called educated people of the past believed, as some at present believe, that a universal system of education is wicked. I remember once reading a leading article by Heather Bigg, which he wrote in 1890 in his "New Review of National Education," in which he said:The idea that all persons should have the rights to be educated is pretty, charitable, socialistic—That must have been his worst condemnation—but absurd, nay further, it is wicked.Then we had a statement by the gloomy Dean, one of our greatest English writers, who wrote in 1921:In the past the public schoolman has been exposed only to the natural competition of his own class, but now our sons—the sons of the wealthy and the so-called ruling class—have to meet the artificial competition, deliberately created by the Government, who are educating the children of the working class at our expense in order that they may take the bread out of our children's mouths.If one looks at national education from that point of view our expenditure is wasted, but if we view education as a means of elevating the race I am satisfied that, while we might be able to get better value, we at least are getting good value for our money at the present time. Far too many people expect that with our expenditure on education we ought to turn out highly educated citizens at 15 or 18 years of age. I shall make a statement which I have repeatedly made outside this House: Schools are not where we educate citizens; it is the facts of life, the meeting of people, the seeing of places, the art of intelligent conversation, the thirst for knowledge and the 2469 stimulation of the inquiring mind which enables us to benefit from real education, and the real purpose of our educational system is to lay the foundations on which to build the superstructure of an inquiring and independent mind without which there can be no real education.
While one may be a defender of our present educational system, it does not follow that one needs defend every detail in its mechanism or constitution. Great as is the progress we have made there is still room for greater progress. The curriculum is much too overcrowded. Much of it is dead wood and ought to be cut out, and to make for real success health and education must go together. After years of propaganda we are beginning now to understand the truth of that statement. To be undernourished and over-taught—and that often happens in our schools to-day—is a crime for which there is no justification, and if we are to get real value from the efforts of teachers and the expenditure of the money of ratepayers and taxpayers that state of things ought not to be allowed to continue. A great opportunity for educational progress presents itself. The raising of the school age, niggardly though it has been, and denying as it will to hundreds of our children the right of education up to 15 years of age, provides us with a new day school code which, if properly applied, will give us a new stepping-off stone in what ought to be a new educational system for Scotland. I am glad to see the disappearance of the distinction between secondary and non-secondary. All education beyond the primary stage is now to be secondary. Frankly, I am not so much interested in the label on the bottle as in the contents of the bottle. It is the curriculum which must be prepared by our headmasters, in consultation with the Department, which will make that new code a success and give greater progress to education in Scotland.
My time is practically up, because we are to-day again trying to carry through the self-denying ordinance which we have imposed on ourselves about the length of speeches, but may I suggest in conclusion that in the new scheme of education there are at least three important points which ought to be kept in the forefront: First, the capacity to express 2470 oneself with the spoken word intelligently and not unpleasantly is essential not only to the performance of one's duty in any democratic society but also to the removal of social barriers. Special attention ought to be given to speech in our schools, because in that way we can at least do something to remove some of the social barriers which exist at the present time. The facilities for learning handicrafts and domestic subjects should be as liberal as possible and available for all. Closer contact between school and environment is urgently needed, because that will be to the advantage of both education and industrial and social institutions. In the making and the keeping of a free people we require the best system of education possible, the system which will enable our children as they grow to manhood to think and act for themselves. The making of intellectual giants among men ought to be the aim and object of Scottish education. Its aim and object ought to be the elevating of our race to a still higher spiritual, intellectual and moral plane.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Mr. G. A. Morrison
As the hon. Gentleman has reminded us, it is some time since we have devoted our attention to the subject of Scottish education apart from occasional questions at Question Time. Since the passing of the main Act of 1936, and I agree with the hon. Member in regretting that that Measure did not make the benefits of an extended school life available to all pupils, I still hold the views I have repeatedly expressed in this House regarding exemptions—since that time a great deal of preparation has been made for carrying the Act into effect. It was seen that a new code would be required in order to incorporate the changes made by the Act. This was issued some months ago, and was accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum. For the greater part of the provisions of the code I have nothing but praise. The new code naturally does a good deal in the way of tidying up and consolidating, but along with that we get words of wisdom and encouragement and even of inspiration to those who are doing the actual work of education. It is not too much to say that it breathes a liberal and enlightened spirit which is all too rare in such documents. It aims at nothing less than the unifying of Scottish 2471 education and the simplifying of its organisation and nomenclature, much needed. I am glad that the confusion caused by such names as day school certificate, higher and higher leaving certificate, is now removed. We are now to have the self-explanatory names "junior leaving certificate" and "senior leaving certificate." As the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) has left the Chamber I may venture, without the risk of international complications, to read the opinion of an outsider on this new Scottish code:This code has been issued without any blowing of trumpets, and outside purely academic circles has attracted comparatively little attention, and yet to me it seems to be the most important educational advance of recent years. If such a code had been issued in England it would have attracted worldwide attention. In Scotland they get on with the job instead of talking about it.That is not the opinion of a perfervid Scot. It was expressed by an Irish teacher at a gathering of Irish teachers two months ago.
§ Mr. Morrison
The regulations for elementary, secondary and technical education are now included in one code. The code defines the natural divisions of the educational course and not particular types of schools. There are many things in the code to which one is tempted to refer, but I must select only one or two. It must give great satisfaction to all who are interested in nursery schools to find that they are given for the first time a place commensurate with their importance. This official recognition was bound to come, for these schools have long since proved their usefulness. The testimony of those who handle children coming from nursery schools is unanimous as to their beneficial effects. Dr. James Kerr, a Scotsman who did his chief work in London, has called the open-air nursery school the greatest educational discovery of our time. The tinder-Secretary has mentioned what Glasgow is doing. May I remind him that Aberdeen, in addition to taking over one voluntary nursery school, has built another one, and has recently decided to build a new one each year?
I was particularly interested to see how effect is to be given to the Section in the 2472 Act which abolishes all post-primary names in education except the one name "secondary." With reference to the post-primary stage, I welcome the offer of freedom to teachers to devise alternative courses, and to try out new subjects. What someone has called the dynamic of initiative is powerful everywhere, and in education it is of priceless value. Taking the code along with the answer given to me by the Lord Advocate two years ago to the effect that the Government's policy was still that of the 1935 Circular, namely, to provide equality of status, equipment and staff for all post-War primary work, I am filled with great hope for the future of Scottish education.
Having said that, I want to mention the blot on the copy-book. The provisions for the maximum size of classes, especially at the younger ages, are unworthy of the rest of the code. The right hon. Gentleman told the House last week that he is not easily satisfied with educational progress. I wish to say to him that with a falling school population there is no excuse for not speeding up the process of reduction in the size of classes, and to remind him that modern methods presuppose smaller classes. If individual and group methods and special attention to backward children are to have their full effect in the hands of an enthusiastic and sympathetic teacher, the total number in a class must not be too large. We must all develop, and help others to develop, a sensitive conscience in this matter. I do not want to be understood as saying that we have made no progress. At the time when I began to teach, I can remember young girls fresh from college standing in front of mobs of 80, 90 or100 children. It was killing work for both body and mind.
Another part of the code which I have found of particular interest is that which discourages excessive centralisation in rural areas. This is a subject on which I could spend the whole of the 15 minutes allotted to my speech. It is an important question and is complicated by the related problem of rural depopulation. Some people are beginning to wonder whether this centralisation system has not something to do with the drift of the population to the cities and the towns. Some of the counties in Scotland find it a terribly hard problem. The most striking example in my memory is that of the Island of Iona, in which 30 years 2473 ago there were 66 children of school age; to-day there are only three. It is good to know that those who control Scottish education are sympathetically aware of these difficulties. It is important to consider the effect upon the schools that are decapitated, so to speak. The loss to a district by the removal of the more highly qualified teachers is serious, and the loss of the older pupils is also serious. There is also the fact that when schools have had their tops taken off, the remainder of the school is often put in charge of a woman. I have no reason to say anything against the efficiency of women teachers, because I have had women assistants who have been better than the best of my men, but a woman can never take the place in a parish that a man could. The code recommends rural authorities to be generous in the matter of staffing. That is a matter for the Government, who ought to see to it that it is made easy for authorities to be generous in that matter.
Another event, outside the code, which has happened recently and happened quietly, is the establishment of the National joint Council of Administrators and Teachers. I first mentioned this subject in this House four years ago and it received the blessing of the late Mr. Skelton, who pointed out that while the Department could not put pressure upon anyone in connection with the matter, he thought that it would be a great gain if such a council could be set up. I am, therefore, glad that it is now practically in being. It will deal, although not exclusively, with salary questions, and it ought to be of great help in putting an end to the constant trouble over that question. In some areas of Scotland there have been continuous and vexatious changes in salary scales, and the teachers of Scotland would be very thankful if they could see a prospect of stability.
Coming back to the code, the encouragement of aesthetic interests is mentioned. These pursuits are valuable for recreative purposes in the schools for the time being, and also as laying a foundation for a life-long interest. School orchestras, school concerts, school dramatic societies and art clubs are very valuable. I should like to suggest, although I do not quite know how it can be done, that we should try to let musical and artistic talent have its opportunity. One 2474 often hears it said that ours is a musical country. That is far from being my experience. My experience is that there is a vast amount of musical ability, and sometimes ability of an extraordinarily high order, but it lacks the opportunity for training and development. I would bespeak my right hon. Friend's sympathy in that matter.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Barr
We are considering to-day a report which I am sure will be received with general favour in all parts of the Committee. I have given a good deal of consideration to what has been said and written regarding the coming into operation next September of the Act of 1936. I am pleased to note from the report that in regard to buildings it is laid down that there should not be extravagant expectations as to the numbers receiving employment certificates, which might curtail the size of the buildings. The report says:We advised that they (the local authorities) should not attempt to restrict too closely their accommodation proposals because of this element in the problem.That refers to the element of uncertainty as to the numbers who will secure exemption under the Beneficial Employment Clause. I do not think that the buildings will be too large if we take a generous view of what is necessary for the future.
I was pleased with the statement made by the Under-Secretary on the subject of bringing the Act into operation in September, and I am still more pleased with the Suggestions for Procedure, with regard to school attendance under the new Act, as embodied in the circular issued by the Department. The emphasis is there laid, as is done in the Act, on the nature and durability of the employment, the wages that are paid in the trades, for which the employment certificate is asked, and the hours of work. It is well to point out that the education committees and the local authorities are not bound by Acts which allow longer hours than they would desire. That was made very clear the other evening by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he was dealing with the Young Persons (Employment) Bill. He said:I was asked what would happen if a local education authority laid down a set of hours which boys and girls up to 15 were allowed to work, and those hours conflicted with the Bill. It does not alter the powers of local 2475 authorities in the slightest degree. A young person can only work up to the period laid down by the local education authority as being in all respects reasonable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th July, 1938; col. 2157, Vol. 338.]It would be desirable that when further educational facilities have still to be taken advantage of by these young persons, if possible the hours should be less than those that might be allowable under the Factories' and similar Acts. The report emphasises the importance of opportunities for further education, time for recreation, the school report on the pupil, and the medical officer's report. In dealing with the question of the choice of employment, it says:It will, however, be clearly understood that the object of the advice will not be to secure immediate employment for the children, or to encourage them to apply for exemption instead of remaining at school.The suggestions urged co-operation between local authorities so as to secure similar conditions for the grant of employment certificates, and that the standards for these employment certificates will be as high as possible.
Reference has been made to what are known as the advanced division schools, which now become the junior division of the secondary department. I was not altogether reassured by the statement of the Minister in this regard. Similar promises as to the complete equipping and staffing were made in 1924–25, and again two years later in the report of the committee of the Council of Education in Scotland. It said:The general aim is to staff the advanced divisions with teachers as highly qualified as those appointed to the secondary schools.That was repeated, but it remained an obiter dictum, and never came into operation. Will the Secretary of State kindly give attention to this matter of the proper staffing of the junior division of the secondary department? The number of graduates is still increasing, and that fact should help him in getting his principal teachers and additional teachers. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of his own words on this subject. I hope that now he has been elevated to his present high position he will not forget what he said in the Scottish Standing Committee on this point on the 14th May, 1936: 2476It is not in any way a grading down of what is at present known as secondary education, but it is a grading up of the advanced division. We do not wish that the shorter courses should be in any way Cinderellas. When they come into secondary education, within the definition in this Bill, it will definitely be our policy to treat them as equal partners and to do all we can to see that that high status is maintained."—[Standing Committee on Scottish Bills, May, 1936; cols. 390–392.]I would point out, and I welcome the fact, that in the Draft Rules and Orders in the Minute of the School Education Department for the Day School Code for 1939, no distinction is made in regard to staffing between the junior and the senior departments. I will not trouble the Committee with the words, but it is laid down that:In a secondary division the qualification for the principal teacher of each subject shall be recognition in that subject in terms of chapter V or chapter VI of the Regulations.There is no discrimination between the senior and the junior division. I hope the local authorities will be solicitous to give these junior departments the fullest possible status, and I could wish that the attitude of the parents would change. The Under-Secretary referred to it to-day. There is a feeling that there is something of higher social status in the five years' course, and the children enter it with no intention of completing the course. We used to say in Glasgow, when I was a member of the School Board, that there were 60 social grades in that city; every school had its own social grade, and parents objected to their children going to an inferior grade, as they reckoned it.
I come now to the question of unemployed teachers. On the 22nd March I put a question to the former Secretary of State regarding the unemployed teachers in Lanarkshire, and the figures which he gave me were tragic. There were three young teachers who had been unemployed for six years; six who had been unemployed for five years; 64 who had been unemployed for four years; 77 who had been unemployed for three years; 107 who had been unemployed for two years; and 110 who had been unemployed since they completed their training last year. Against that we have in Lanarkshire the size of classes. There were in April, 1938, 53 classes in Lanarkshire consisting of 50 children, and 22 with over 5o children. I have been astonished at the 2477 levity of the House, not this Committee, when I have brought these matters up again and again. On the 22nd March I put this supplementary to the former Secretary of State. I exonerate the present Secretary of State and I hope that he will not give a similar answer. I asked:Is it not rather serious that some hundreds of teachers should have waited two, three and four years.All the answer I got, without a word of sympathy, was:That is a matter of opinion."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd March, 1938; col. 981, Vol. 333.]When, on Tuesday last, I put a supplementary question to the Secretary of State:Will he not expedite this matter in order to get at once better care for these children and employment for the teachers?the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten), with his usual pleasantry, dismissed the whole subject by saying:Does the Minister not realise that children exist for the purpose of giving teachers jobs."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th July, 1938; cols. 1993–4, Vol. 338.]The State is responsible for those whom it has trained to be its future teachers, and it has a responsibility also for those who are standing idle in this profession at the present time. I know many of these young teachers. Some of them have double degrees, M.A., B.Sc., and some of them are honours graduates. I would emphasise that most of them are the sons or daughters of working-class homes, and that their parents stinted themselves to give them a university education and a professional training. It is well known that no country in the world has a better record than Scotland in this matter of parents stinting themselves to get their children into a profession like this, and then the children remain unemployed. This stinting of parents in Scotland to give their sons and daughters a university education is one of the true glories of our country, and one of the brightest pages in the annals of the poor. I hope that the Secretary of State is not going to try to get off by saying that this is a mere matter of opinion; it is a serious and tragic problem.
As has already been pointed out, our new ideas of education need smaller 2478 classes. The old idea, which was entertained from the time of John Knox downward, was to bring out the gifted boy, especially from the rural areas, and to give him a ladder up which he could climb, through the university, until finally he had his name on a brass plate in the school. We have a far grander idea now. We do not trouble so much about that gifted boy, because he will climb the ladder whatever you do. We now demand that the teacher get alongside those who are poorly equipped in body or mind, and to do that needs smaller classes and individual care, to bring them up, if it be only to the average. That is a far grander idea than the other, and means that we create a broad stairway up which all boys and girls of all ranks may pass abreast, to positions of honour, service and power.
I come to the question of the teaching of history in our schools and I want to give the Committee illustrations of what is to be found in some of the textbooks that are still being used in schools. I have the books here, but I am not going to trouble to quote the authority for each quotation I give. I will hand the books over, with the passages marked, to the Minister. My first illustration is from a standard history, published by Oliver and Boyd. Speaking of war conditions, this book says:Then wages in many trades rose according to the rise in prices, till most workpeople were receiving about three times as much as in 1914. When thousands of women and children were employed to work along with men, the Trade Unions said they must be paid the same high wages as men. Mere boys and girls had great sums of money as wages, much of which was spent on pleasure and expensive clothes. Cinemas and Dancing Halls sprang up everywhere.Not a word of the profiteer, or of the immense fortunes which were made by the rich. There is a description in one of those standard text-books of the first Labour movement which is described as beingdismissed for being involved in secret correspondence with the Bolshevists,as if it were the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), who brought down the first Labour Government. There is the same sort of talk about the General Strike and the crisis of 1931. I was delighted to read the following; whether it was written because of a desire to be impartial I do not know, but it has some unconscious humour: 2479The new combination was named the National Government, and it at once set to work to cut down the spendings of the Labour Government, and to impose fresh taxes on the long suffering taxpayer.The Government are still keeping up that process. Then, in another of these standard text-books comes something which is not so impartial as that I have quoted. It states that by the formation of the National Governmentthe country was saved from failing to pay its debts.I understand there was an idea that this history book should have a special edition published in America—but, needless to say, it did not mature. In its fulsome flattery of Britain, one of these books says:The Government of India is one of the most perfect in the world.I would like to see more of the Scottish language taught in our schools. I would like to see more justice done to Scottish nationalism—I am not speaking of the propaganda aspect of it. I remember, when I was in the School Board of Glasgow, we examined 62 books and finding that the name "England" was constantly put in instead of "Great Britain." It is not a mere fad to point out this fact. There is some justification for suggesting a textbook on this very point for use on the Front benches in this very House. Many of the best minds of our country have made their protest against the same thing. I will give the Committee what Robert Burns said in his letter to Mrs. Dunlop on 10th April, 1790:Nothing can reconcile me to the common term ' English Ambassador,' English court,' etc. And I am out of all patience to see that equivocal character, Hastings, impeached by the Commons of England. Tell me, my friend, is this weak prejudice?I know that the Scottish Education Department do not hold themselves responsible for the textbooks. It is also true and right to say that the history taught in our schools is determined not by the textbooks or by slavish use of textbooks, but by the schemes that are drawn up. There are many schemes which are progressive and well-balanced, and it is the function of the local authority and of the individual teacher to deal with it. I would give the individual teacher a good deal of scope, so long as he was not a mere propagandist. We do not desire to err on the other side. Statements about 2480 economic systems should be historical and unbiased. The Totalitarian States may wish to put in only one side of questions like this, but we believe in a just statement, so far as it may be possible, of both sides. In Milton's words:Let truth and falsehood grapple: who ever knew truth put to the worse in a free and, open encounter?I would teach the young people, as they go forward in years, of the defects and the benefits of the Scottish Parliament. I would have them taught the words of Lord Seafield when that Parliament passed:There's the end of an auld sang.And I would not blame any teacher if he said that there was nothing better for a good old Scottish song than to have the "Encore." If anybody says that the teaching of those subjects is too high for young people, I would remind him of the words of Sir Walter Scott:It is all nonsense to speak of writing down to young people; give them something to grasp at, and they will astonish you.I would not exclude all references, as some would, to Kings and Queens or to the delightful story of the doings and undoings of Kings and Queens in Scotland; at the worst it is quite a good intellectual exercise. As to battles, no doubt there are some legendary tales of battles. Why should we not speak of Wallace? I would have every Text Book tell of the indictment of Wallace, when he was tried in Westminster Hall on 23rd August, 1305—first, that he was a Scotsman and the son of a Scotsman; and secondly that he carried himself as though he were the general of an army, and when asked to desist he refused to lay down his arms; and thirdly, that when he was offered money to lay down his arms, he still refused; and therefore he was "a thief and a robber." It is no legend that his head was fixed on London Bridge and his quartered limbs sent to the Northern Burghs; but I would not have these things taught to bring in any animus against England. I would rather have the teacher show that when you behead a man you turn him into a patriot, and you weld his nation together, as was done in that case.
The character of Robert the Bruce is a little more dubious in some ways, but this is not all a matter of legend either. I believe that a battle did take place at a spot called Bannockburn; but I would not have the Scottish teacher stop at 2481 Bannockburn. In all fairness, I would have them go over the next two hundred years and describe the struggle as it is told in Tytler's History. They should go on to Flodden Field, and tell the children that there they will find far-and-away the finest monumental description of any battlefield in the world. Of course it was composed in recent times, but it is inscribed:To the brave of both nations.I would have them teach even Sheriffmuir and Culloden Moor and that saying of Sheriffmuir:Some say that we won,And some say that they won,And some say that none won at all, man;But of this I am sure,That on Sheriffmuir,A battle took place, that I saw, man.I would have no objection to the teacher adding that that saying is true of all battles, and of nearly all wars; true even of the Great War itself: "None won at all." I would not object if they went on to say that a League of Nations had been established having as its ideal to bring about an end to all war. And, indeed, I believe the teachers do this.
We must take history from the social standpoint. While there are many history hooks, there are two great books that changed the tenor of history—Green's "Short History of the English People," and Mackenzie's "History of the Nineteenth Century." And there are other books that have shifted the interest in history from Kings and wars to social advance and factory Acts and what they did for the children. I would close on this note: Let those who frame our textbooks, and those who teach, remember above all that real history is the story of art, of invention, of the pioneers of industry, of those victories of peace that are ever more glorious than the victories of war; of social and industrial advance; and—there is surely nothing partisan in this—that it is and should be the story of the struggle, the endless struggle, often hopeless, of the common people, onwards and upwards towards a higher lot and a nobler destiny.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Sir Samuel Chapman
No one can follow my hon. Friend the Member for Coat-bridge (Mr. Barr) without one thought in his mind, namely—and I hope that Englishmen here will not resent what I am going to say—that that speech, or a 2482 similar speech in the same spirit, would not have been delivered in an English education Debate. It shows how much we in Scotland reverence the past, how much we reverence truth, and how much we reverence all the great deeds which our predecessors have done for the good of Scotland. I want also to take the opportunity of saying what I have long wished to say when I have heard my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) make speeches in the House, and that is that I am sure all Members in all parties in the House, and the people of Scotland, owe a deep debt of gratitude to my hon. Friend for his enthusiasm, his work, and his self-sacrifice in the cause of education. I say that with all my heart. I have sat alongside my hon. Friend on many Provisional Order Committees; I have sat at his feet in learning what is the right thing to do on those occasions; and I have known all these years that there is no one in the whole of Scotland who devotes more of his private time to public affairs for the good of his fellow-countrymen. I am delighted, if he will allow me to say so, to have had the opportunity of saying this publicly in the best place in which anything of the kind can be said.
There are just three or four practical points that I wish to put to the Secretary of State. In the admirable circular which was issued by the Education Department only last Saturday—a circular which, if it is read and studied by education authorities, and carried out, will prove of great benefit to Scotland—the attention of education authorities is called to one side of the physical fitness movement, and it is suggested that one of their chief duties should be to provide as quickly as possible trained and experienced teachers for the purposes of this physical fitness movement. The circular goes on to say:The lack of trained instructors and leaders is one of the main hindrances to the desired development of physical fitness.An earlier circular, No. 98, was issued a year ago last March, much on the same lines. I am requested to bring this matter to the notice of my right hon. Friend by the education authority of the city of Edinburgh. By a mere coincidence, this question came before a meeting of the education authority of the city of Edinburgh on the very day on which the new circular was issued. That meeting could not have had any relation to the new circular, because it would not have 2483 been in the possession of the education authority, and, therefore, the remarks which were publicly made with regard to the difficulty of obtaining physical training instructors must have been made with reference to the circular issued more than a year ago. I have been requested to ask my right hon. Friend to be good enough to give consideration to this matter. The chairman of the education authority of Edinburgh, a very well-known gentleman, Councillor P. F. Allan, says that this matter is urgent, and he suggests that there is not a sufficient number of physical training instructors in Scotland at the present moment. He went on to say:There could be no denying that there was a shortage of teachers, and, at the rates Edinburgh was offering, they were not getting the best. Indeed, they were having difficulty in filling the posts that were vacant.The Treasurer of the City of Edinburgh, Treasurer Darling, also made a speech in which he suggested that a way out of the difficulty would be to obtain, whether for the time being or permanently, ex-service men as instructors in physical training in elementary schools. I do not want to dwell on the matter, though I could spend a great deal of time on it, but I would put it to my right hon. Friend, as an urgent matter, that the two admirable circulars which have been issued by his Education Department can produce no great results unless the regulations are relaxed, and the suggestion is that, if men who have been in the Army are competent, the education authorities should be empowered to engage them as instructors in physical education. My hon. Friend who opened the Debate on behalf of the Opposition is on the Physical Fitness Council, as well as myself and other Members of the House. When the Physical Fitness Bill, as we call it shortly, was before the House, a Financial Memorandum was issued which said that a sum of approximately £2,400,000 would be required from the time when the scheme was put into operation to the end of March, 1940. I notice that the chairman of the Grants Committee of the English National Fitness Council stated the other day that applications had reached the sum of £2,800,000, or £400,000 more than the total grant provided by the House for both countries, and I would ask my right hon. Friend whether he will see to it that 2484 England does not absorb too much of the £2,400,000, and that Scotland gets a fair share.
This physical fitness movement under the auspices of the education authorities in Scotland has not, in public, made that advance and that impression on the imagination of the people of Scotland that some of us hoped it would. Much has been done. For instance, one of the chief schemes was for the advisory Council to assist existing organisations, like the Young Men's Christian Association, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Guides, and so on, and that is being done. Another was for providing, or assisting in the provision of playing fields. That has been done, and is being done, and done most admirably. But two things have not yet been done which must be done in the near future. In the first place, we must have throughout Scotland what may be called athletic centres, centres which will attract to them all the idle young people and all those who wish to improve their standard, both morally and physically. This movement of ours is the reverse of ordinary commerce. We used to be taught in school that the demand would create the supply, but in this movement the reverse is the case—it is the supply that will create the demand. What is the use of going on to a platform and telling young fellows, even if they come to the meeting—and I do not think that many of them do—"Keep yourselves fit; go in for exercise," when you do not even give them a gym-horse or a ladder on which to exercise their limbs? We want community centres fitted up with a decent gymnasium, recreation room, shower baths—a social centre which will attract to it all those who think seriously of life in their youth and who would prefer to go there rather than stand at street corners or lounge about with their hands in their pockets not knowing what to do with themselves.
The other thing we must do is to establish, right through Scotland, holiday camps. In my constituency—I am sure my friends in the constituency will not resent my saying it—nine-tenths of the blinds are drawn for a fortnight or a month in August and September. I want those people in other parts of Edinburgh who have no blinds to draw to have reasonable facilities for getting some fresh air in the country. The town coun- 2485 cil of Edinburgh, through the education authority, is about to have, if it has not already had, a motion before it on this question of the establishment of holiday camps, and I trust that it will lead the education authorities of all Scotland on this matter.
There are examples in Scotland at this moment, which we can all see. The Special Areas Council have established two most amazing and wonderful camps, one at Rothesay and one a very few miles from Edinburgh, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers). I was there with a few friends a month ago, and I saw one of the happiest sights I have ever seen in my life. We happened to get there just after 400 families from the distressed districts had arrived with their children. There they were, on a beautiful June day, going into their little habitations. There the children were, some of them having been there last year. I have seen, if I may presume to say so, rich people trying to obtain happiness in all parts of the world, but I have never seen so much happiness in an hour and a half as I saw on that afternoon in that camp. Why should we not have camps like it all over Scotland? We are out for two things: community centres and holiday camps, and I ask my right hon. Friend to do everything he can to further these two great projects.
§ 5.45 P.m.
§ Mr. Mathers
The hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman) will forgive me if I do not follow him into the tempting subject he has mentioned in the last part of his remarks. It is true that the camp at Butlaw, near South Queensferry, in my constituency, is certainly a place where wonderful good is done, and it helps those people who go there to withstand the rigours of winter much better, I am sure, because they have been there in the fresh air and sunshine. I was glad to hear the hon. Member talking on that line. I was waiting, however, for one point which he omitted—I am sure it was an inadvertent omission. We need not only dumb-bells and Indian clubs, but food, to establish fitness. I am sure that the line that we on these benches take with regard to the physical fitness campaign is perfectly 2486 understandable, and that it ought to command support. It is that, fundamentally, we require to see our people given better opportunities of obtaining all the necessities of life, and we should not expect them to become fit on physical exercises alone. They need to have the physique before they can benefit properly from those physical exercises.
We are again working under a time limit to-day, so I do not propose to enter into a number of other points that have been very strongly stressed in this Debate, and that affect the constituency I represent. I was glad to hear, for example—and I hope it has made a proper impression on the Secretary of State for Scotland—reference made to the need for providing employment for teachers who have been, for a number of years in some cases, through the training colleges, and who are fully equipped, and who yet—it seems, because of the equipment they have—are prevented from having the opportunity of earning their livelihood in the profession they have chosen. I hope that what has been said by other hon. Members on that subject will he noted by the new Secretary of State, and that he will apply his mind and energy to securing that those teachers who have prepared themselves for that important profession shall have better opportunities of obtaining employment than they have at present. I do not want to develop along the lines of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge (Mr. Barr) either, although in that very fine, impassioned and eloquent speech I am sure he captured the hearts of all of us.
I am seeking the opportunity of making a complaint on behalf of the West Lothian Education Committee; but I want to preface that complaint by a word of thanks to the Secretary of State for Scotland for the way in which the Scottish Education Department have taken heed of suggestions in respect of the draft Day Schools Code that came from the West Lothian Education Committee, and which were made in respect of possible amendments to that code. I am glad to think that all the amendments that were suggested—amendments suggested in the light of real knowledge of the conditions that have to be faced—have been accepted by the Department, and given effect to in the Day Schools Code. I say that to show that although the West Lothian Education 2487 Committee were disappointed on a previous occasion, they have not been in any way resentful, and are still applying their minds to helping educational progress in Scotland.
The complaint I have to make is in respect of the training of teachers in physical training courses. The West Lothian Education Committee have always believed in close co-operation between the headmasters and the parents of scholars, and the headmasters have been looked upon, and rightly so, as people who can assist parents in determining what will be the proper profession for pupils and the proper line of approach to the educational profession. The attitude that has been taken up by the physical training college has rather disappointed those who hoped for guidance in putting their young people into the teaching profession, and disappointed the headmasters in their efforts to guide their pupils into the teaching profession along the lines of physical training. There is only one physical training centre in Scotland. That is the Jordanhill Training Centre in Glasgow. When I raised this question with the Secretary of State for Scotland, as far back as 1st March, 1937, I got an answer which showed that out of 106 applicants for appointment as physical training teachers 22 were accepted. An analysis of the places from which those 22 came indicates that nine out of 30 applicants came from the Glasgow area. An analysis like that caused some suspicion in the minds of the West Lothian Education Committee that perhaps propinquity to the locality from which the majority of the members of the committee responsible for the appointment come had a tendency to cause the choice to fall in that particular direction.
Every effort has been made to ascertain what are the qualifications required for schools in this particular course. It is obvious that these physical training experts are to be teachers, and therefore one would say that they require a sound groundwork of good educational ability. But that does not seem to weigh so much, because, in respect of applicants who went from West Lothian, they came out in the test at the training centre in the opposite order from what their educational qualifications would suggest. I 2488 mean that those who were highest in educational qualifications were placed lowest in the list of possible appointees as physical training teachers. It is necessary that a proper indication should be given as to what qualifications are necessary. I understand that the Education Department are able to give, in respect of the leaving certificate examination, a clear indication of the subjects in which improvement is required in order to enable success to be attained. If it is possible to do that in respect of the leaving certificate examination, the West Lothian Education Committee argue that it should be possible to give a proper indication of what is required in reference to the physical training course, so that headmasters may be able, before their pupils apply to go in for such a course, to say that there is a reasonable probability of their success.
I have pressed the matter I had quite a long correspondence on it with the late Secretary of State for Scotland. and he was not able to give satisfaction to the West Lothian Education Committee, in whose name I am speaking. I am now asking the new Secretary of State to apply his mind to this particular problem, in an effort to show clearly that there is no unfairness at all, nothing invidious, in the choice of those who pass as physical training teachers. I do not expect the Secretary of State to be able to give me an answer to-night, but it seemed to be necessary, after my failure in correspondence, to raise the matter openly to-day, in order that I might show clearly to the Secretary of State the feelings of the education committee in regard to this matter. There is a long correspondence, which I am not going to delay the Committee by going over, but I ask the Secretary of State to apply his mind to this matter, and to endeavour to give satisfaction to the West Lothian Education Committee on the various aspects of this question.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
With the exception of some criticisms directed to the size of classes and to school buildings, I feel satisfied, after what the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has said, with the general system of education in Scotland. We are naturally very proud of that system, and we very properly demand a high standard. I feel that, 2489 under the present administration and with the present officials, that standard, on the whole, is being maintained. So far as the mental equipment of the schoolchildren is concerned, I do not harbour any anxiety; but, as has been pointed out more than once this evening, mental equipment is only part of the purpose and object of education. When boys and girls leave school, we naturally expect them to be quick, clever, and knowledgeable of the ordinary things of life. But we also expect them to be tit to withstand the hazards of life, to be strong enough to do an ordinary job, to be physically able to become worthy citizens. Therefore, we have a problem here of physical as well as academic fitness.
On physical fitness, we have had from my hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman) an account of what has been and has not been done with regard to the new physical and athletic campaign. I myself was fortunate enough to have been at a school where 20 minutes' gymnastics were provided every morning, and I think I have benefited considerably as a result. I most warmly support this new physical training campaign. It will do great good. But this is my problem, which I put to my right hon. Friend with all the seriousness that I can command. There are children of whom one knows who, on account of their environment, do not need that new physical training. They live in open country places, among the hills and valleys, among farms and animals. Their whole life is physical exercise. They do not need gymnastics in the morning to enable them to hold up their shoulders, walk easily, and have an athletic figure. Their normal life provides it naturally. But in some places which all Scotsmen know—and I think that I know most of the counties in Scotland—in some of the rural parts of our country there are children who are to-day not able physically to absorb the education that is given them, not on account of sloping shoulders and stiff joints, but just because, I am sorry to say, they are not sufficiently or properly fed.
This is a very serious matter to raise publicly and I do not do it without a great deal of hesitation, but it would not do to allow this Debate on education to pass without asking my right hon. Friend for some reassurance on this matter. The 2490 problem of the feeding of school children is not a new one. Thirty years ago this House passed the Education (Scotland) Act, which provided for just this type of boy or girl who for one reason or another was not obtaining sufficient or the right kind of food at home. It made provision for meals and gave the education authori, ties power to purchase all equipment and apparatus necessary for producing meals in the schools. That was 30 years ago, and even now, 30 years later, only 40,000 children last year took advantage of the opportunity of obtaining meals on payment in the schools, and only 35,800 took advantage of free meals. If you add these two sets of figures together—I assume they refer to different sets of children—you reach a total of considerably less than 10 per cent. of all the children who attend the schools. If my experience is any guide at all, there are a great many more children who ought to be getting meals, either free or for payment. Take the average ploughman's family in Perthshire, my native county. The children have to walk two, three or four miles to school, though perhaps they now go mostly by omnibus. They go away from home in the morning. I have asked teachers, medical officers of health and other people who ought to know, and they tell me, time after time, that these children leave home in the morning without any proper breakfast at all. I suggest that without one full meal in the middle of the day for the children we cannot possibly hope to make our educational system effective.
This is not the place to raise the wide subject of nutrition policy, but I suggest that the Department of Education should expedite the inquiries that are going on now with regard to nutrition among children. While these reports are being prepared, and quite apart from these reports, they ought to consider at once whether they cannot extend the whole system of providing meals, and, if necessary, free meals for schoolchildren. I came across a case the other day—I suppose that there are hundreds of cases like it—of a family of five little children at a country school. They were having the usual bottle of milk. One day the whole of the five children stopped, and the local minister, having heard about it, went to the home of the children and asked the mother why she had stopped the children from having the milk. The mother said, 2491It is 2½d. a day, that is, Is. o½d. a week, and I really cannot afford it.One regrets to have to admit that part of the trouble, perhaps a large part of it, is due to insufficiency of monetary income in the home. It is not for us to-day to consider whether or how we should increase that income—it would be out of order to attempt to do so—but in this Debate we can raise the matter of child care at school as one with which the Scottish Department of Education has a duty to deal. The difficulty about giving meals to some and not to others is that you make an invidious distinction. You may give it to Mary Somebody and not to Johnny Somebody else. One is able to pay for it and the other is not. Consider how much unhappiness is caused in the hearts of the children and their parents by that invidious and disagreeable distinction? Personally I would give free meals to the whole of the children in country schools rather than cause that unhappiness.
I may be bordering very nearly on the intervention of your Ruling, Sir Dennis, but I would remind my right hon. Friend that, strictly connected with this problem, is that of the maintenance of a virile population on the land. I know that, on account of this state of affairs that I have been discussing, many ploughmen, fine enterprising men, or, more often, the ploughmen's wives, active women, decide that they cannot put up with conditions any longer and in growing numbers they leave the countryside altogether. This is a most serious matter in many districts, and for these and other reasons I ask my right hon. Friend to give us to-day some indication of what is happening. I am aware of the inquiries which are now taking place. I know that Sir John Moore and the Department are in cooperation and that a good deal of useful work is being done. I would like to know where that work is taking place? Are these inquiries being made in rural and agricultural districts as well as in mining districts which happen to be rural? What are these districts? Is the survey wide, comprehensive and representative enough of all our conditions in Scotland? Upon all these matters I would ask for my right hon. Friend's advice. I will conclude by congratulating my right hon. Friend and his staff at the Education Department on what appears to me to be 2492 an excellent year's work. We are advancing, and, as a Scotsman who had the benefit of a good education, I wish the Department every success in its good work.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Buchanan
It is with some degree of fear that I intervene in a Scottish Education Debate. On Monday we discussed to some extent the problem of hunger when we considered the Unemployment Assistance Board's report. Yesterday we discussed the problem of housing, and to-day we are discussing the problem of education. I confess that I often wonder which is the most important problem of the three. To-day I want to raise what is becoming rather a pressing problem in the City of Glasgow. We have had vast areas of the population re-housed. People have been given better homes, but we still have in our city great masses of people who are not being removed to better houses, and from the figures we were given yesterday, it appears that, in districts like mine and in parts of the east end of Glasgow, large masses of people cannot be moved for many years to come. When new houses are provided there are often new schools also, affording better educational facilities for the children, but the poor people who are left behind have still to live in the slum areas and their children have to attend the slum schools.
I ask the Secretary of State for Scotland really to try to get the powers-that-be to recognise that there are slum schools as well as slum houses. I represent the division in which I was born, and adjacent to my district is that of Tradeston, and during the 45 years of my life there has been only one new school built in those districts. The schools that I knew when I was a boy are the same to-day. Apart from re-painting, which has to take place at the instance of the sanitary authorities, there is no change in any one of the schools that I have known since the first day that I remembered being able to think in any way at all. In Tradeston there is one new school, and I believe they are building another. The school to which I used to go is not a bit different; not one window has been altered. There are the same playgrounds but with this difference. When we were children the streets were good playgrounds. After 6 o'clock at night you 2493 could play with complete freedom in most streets. There was practically no traffic, and the only thing one saw was a coal lorry. To-day there is no street in which motor traffic is not driven at least 30 miles an hour, and the streets have ceased to be playgrounds.
There is a school in my division where, although some of the people have been rehoused, the population is increasing. The school remains the same. The headmaster's room is at the top. Imagine a school containing a large number of children having the headmaster's room at the top of the building. The headmaster ought to be in a place where he can take command of the children in case of fire. Even if the Secretary of State for Scotland could not abolish these buildings and rebuild these schools, surely to goodness he could have some of them gutted and properly remodelled. The classes are overcrowded. I have never posed as an educationist. I always find that by the time I have examined the problems of unemployment insurance I have little time left for anything else, but I confess, even with my ruminations, I cannot understand the position with regard to advanced and secondary schools. If they are the same, why keep them separate? There is no difference between these schools, so why not make them the same?
The desire for good education is as great in Gorbals as in any other district in Glasgow, but what happens? A parent wants his child to go to Queen's Park higher grade school. I could more easily get into Buckingham Palace than a child from Gorbals can get into Queen's Park higher grade school. The number of children from the Gorbals district who have gone to that school can be counted on the fingers of one hand. I could never understand why children who live in the same district as I do are able to get into Queen's Park higher grade school while other children with equal capacity cannot get in at all. They have to go to another school, which is called an advanced school, but is not so good as Queen's Park. The Secretary of State can say what he likes, but at Queen's Park higher grade school you get finer buildings and more airy rooms. The conditions which obtain in the schools in Gorbals would never be tolerated in Queen's Park for a month. They would be demolished and rebuilt but, apparently, they are looked upon as being good enough for Gorbals.
2494 Indeed, in Glasgow you have a position where there are five different grades of schools—the fee-paying school, the secondary school, the advanced school and two other types of school. In Gorbals there is no advanced school of any kind, the advanced schools are miles away, and you need good boots and good clothes if you have to tramp through the wet streets of Glasgow. In addition, the transport is most inconvenient. Why should not the people of Gorbals have an advanced school in their locality? It may be said that it is hoped to clear the district but that cannot be done for some years to come. I went to Camden Street school as a boy, and if the Secretary of State would visit this school now he would find just the same miserable rooms and conditions as existed when I was a boy. They are just as bad.
I hope the Secretary of State will consider raising the school age. I do not know whether hon. Members will be in complete agreement with me on this point, but I would not send a child of five years of age to the ordinary schools in Glasgow. That is my considered view. The only reason why they are sent in some cases is that they are better in school than they are in many of the bad houses in the district, but that is not a good reason from an educational point of view. The time has come when we should improve the conditions. Imagine a child of five sitting for hours on a hard seat. They reminded me of the seats for prisoners at Barlinnie—just the same kind of hard seats. That is not good for a child of five. I think that the hardest-worked person to-day is the child between five and 12 years of age. Just think what a day means in the life of a child. It has to go to school at 9 o'clock in the morning and finishes at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Then it probably has to learn the piano or take up the violin case and go for a lesson. Then back at home afterwards, probably with some kind of a lesson to get ready. What sort of a day is that? For a child of that age it is not a day at all. I suggest that the time has come when to learn the piano and violin should be part of the teaching of the school.
I confess that I always envy people who are able to enjoy music and art. That is a blessing which I never knew, but my lack of it makes me desire the more that others should possess it. I do not know or understand music, but I 2495 would like others to be able to do so, and I would like the children of Scotland to know something about music, something about the things which bring out the finest instincts in an individual. Why should a child after it goes home from school have to pick up a violin case and chase out, and then chase back? Why should not music be a part of its regular school life? I think we should see that the beautiful things of life are given to our children while they are in school. Why should they not be taught to swim, to learn that water is not a thing to be afraid off? I was at manhood's age before I saw the seashore. Why should the children not see the sea and learn something about nature, instead of having to sit on hard seats all day, hating the teachers and seeking to get out of school as early as possible? The school has no attraction to them; the average child today is very anxious to get out of school. I want to bring into their lives the most beautiful things and to make the school the most attractive place for them.
I want to raise a small question affecting Glasgow teachers and their salaries. Some time ago the teachers got cuts in their salaries but I understand that while the Government cuts have been restored there remains a certain section of the teachers who are still suffering a 10 per cent. reduction in their salaries. It is quite easy on a public platform to sneer at policemen and teachers with good wages—I have never taken that view—but at the same time teachers are performing a most important social function and should be decently recompensed. I think the Secretary of State, for the good of education, should see if he cannot get the Corporation of Glasgow and the teachers to come to some kind of agreement. I would urge the Secretary of State to do something to broaden our education. I want to see every child with an equal chance; there should be no difference—no distinctions. I think it is a terrible thing to go into a school and see one child walking in with his halfpenny and getting his third of a pint of milk, and another child who has no halfpenny looking at his friend and saying, "What a lucky fellow he is. He has a halfpenny. He drinks milk." That should not be allowed to happen in any school. It is not good for the child who drinks or for the child who does not. It is bad for 2496 both. Why cannot you give them both a glass of milk, free? It is just as necessary for the child as reading history, or writing an essay. It is a cruel distinction to make. You may say that the child should have a halfpenny. That may be so, but the child is not to blame although its parents may be to blame. You may have some right to criticise them, but you have no right to criticise the child. Let us try to make our education broader and more uplifting. Let us abolish our distinctions in schools, make all schools just as good as the best schools where our children can learn the noblest things of life, and in this way make Scotland greater than ever. The measure of Scotland's greatness is not measured by one man here or there, but by the happiness of the common people.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Mrs. Hardie
The point I wish to put to the Secretary of State is in regard to the curriculum for advanced scholars, and particularly girls. A statement has been made regarding an increase in the curriculum of domestic science teachers. I have no objection to that, but what I am afraid of is that in the extra year, as far as the girls are concerned, too much time may be devoted to what are called purely domestic subjects. The one thing which the women of Scotland will resent is that their girls during this extra year at school should be taught housewifery as it is being taught in Glasgow. We believe that education should be general up to the age of 15 or 16 years, and that no specialised education should be given to children until they have had a general education of that description. I do not want hon. Members to think that I am opposed to domestic subjects being taught, but we do not want girls to be given a specialised education to be domestic servants or even housewives. The aim of education should be to turn out intelligent young people, and hon. Members may take it from me that if the schools turn out intelligent girls, they will be able to cook a dinner all right, although they have not been taught cookery at school. We want this instruction to be linked up with other subjects, such as hygiene and physical training, biology, chemistry and so on, as is the case in the higher grade schools. There is a difference between the schools at the present time, because in the higher grade schools the girls are 2497 not taught domestic economy, cookery, and so on, which are taught only in the elementary schools. I should like to have an assurance that the extra year which the girls will have in school will not be devoted mainly to training them in domestic science. We want the girls to have the same opportunities as the boys.
I make these remarks because I have a very vivid recollection that when I was at school, I spent a great deal of time in sewing a garment which my mother could have made on a machine in half an hour, and I saw the boys being taught much more interesting subjects. I know that things have changed, and that domestic science is much more developed than it was at that time, but I want to have an assurance that too much time will not be spent in that direction. Girls have the same right to receive cultural education, science and knowledge of that description as the boys. I would like also to have an assurance that there will not be any difference in the quality of the education given either to the boys or the girls who have to leave school at 15 years of age. We want variety in the curriculum, but we also want the education to be of equal status and quality, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) pointed out, we want the same type of schools, and the same sort of playing-fields and amenities as the higher grade schools.
I hope that I shall be given an assurance that in the extra year during which the young people are to be kept at school they will not be robbed of a proper education and fobbed off with some inferior type of education on the theory that most of the girls will go into domestic service or into factories. I remember that it used to be the case in Scotland that the whole family, and particularly the girls, made sacrifices in order that the clever boy could be educated and climb the ladder. I know of cases to-day where the daughters are either domestic servants or working in factories, and the son is either a minister or a teacher, and very often he is ashamed of the other members of the family because they have not attained the same standard as he has. We want equal opportunities for all the children. I used to be on the Glasgow education authority, and I always felt that the ordinary boys and girls had to make sacrifices. The clever boys were provided 2498 with scholarships to the universities, and special provision was made for the defective children, but the ordinary boys and girls were left out in the cold, and nothing particular was done for them. That is why I am so keen that the extra year should be used for the purpose of giving a good general education.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Gibson
The Debate on education is always one that is scrutinised very carefully North of the Border. We have heard with great pleasure the contribution made by my hon. Friend the Member for Springburn (Mrs. Hardie), who pleaded with skill and eloquence for the young women. I wish to associate myself with the sentiments that have been expressed by the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman) with regard to the brilliant performance by my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge (Mr. Barr). All hon. Members who listened to my hon. Friend's speech will carry it in their memory for a long time, and we hope that my hon. Friend will long be spared to take that keen and energetic interest in education in Scotland which he displayed this afternoon, without the help glasses, with which I have to fortify myself.
The schools in Scotland perform many functions. I do not wish to follow the remarks of the hon. Member for South Edinburgh or the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers) in regard to physical training. I assure them that they have my sympathy in what they have in view. Perhaps I may be pardoned if I say that I captained my school in cricket, I played for my university, and I won in the Bench and Bar foursomes; so that the hon. Member for South Edinburgh will see that I have my pride in that side of school life in which he is so interested. But I cannot get away from the fact that our schools are pre-eminently the institutions in Scotland that are charged with the preservation of our language and literature. It is the Scottish language and literature that the Scottish schools will preserve. Our language is distinctive and expressive. Provision is made in Section (5) of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1918, to provide books for general reading and to make them available not only to children and young persons attending schools or continuation classes in the counties, but also to the adult population resident therein.
2499 Surely, among books, particularly when one is considering language and literature, a necessary adjunct to both school and adult education is a national dictionary. At the present time, we have in preparation in Scotland a national dictionary, and it will be a national institution. It is absurd to leave the preparation of a national heritage of that sort to the haphazard contributions of individuals here and there. This is without question a matter of which the Government should take cognisance in the interests of education in Scotland. If I succeed in doing nothing else this evening, I hope I shall cause the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State to note the very strong desire of the people of Scotland that the national dictionary now in preparation should receive not only the recognition but the support of the Government, as a very valuable storehouse of the means of education in Scotland. Reference has been made to the schools themselves. I would recall to the Committee that I used to belong to the scholastic profession. I am one of the few members who has the parchment of the Scottish Education Department, which is also held by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. G. A. Morrison), who took part so helpfully in an earlier stage of the Debate.
§ Mr. Gibson
I am reminded by my old fellow student from Glasgow University, now the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen), that he has a similar distinction, as has also the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) referred to the ideal of surrounding the schools by green belts instead of black bands. That is a very admirable ideal, but I would also suggest to the Secretary of State that the school authorities, and in particular the Scottish Education Department, ought to take care that around the schools there are no temptations to the children to do mischief. In the old days, when the macadamised roads were not tarred, there used to be stones lying about, and older Members will recollect that there used to be a great deal of stone-throwing up and down the country. But that is not done now. Why? Because the stones are not there. They are securely sealed 2500 into the roads. Occasionally, however, one finds in close proximity to a school—I should like the right hon. Gentleman to pay particular attention to this, because it is a matter of some seriousness that has come to my personal knowledge—a house or other building which has been left derelict and in a state of ruin, and which is a source of supply of stones. These stones are an almost irresistible attraction to children.
I know of a case where bricks and stones were brought from such a building by the children from a school. They played at little houses on the footpath, and brought the bricks on to the roadway. People using the roads for the ordinary purposes of passage, in motor cars or on pedal cycles, expect the surface to be level and free from danger, but in the case to which I am referring, a workman going to his work on a pedal cycle was met by an oncoming bus, which had strong headlights, and he did not notice that there was a brick left on the road. The front wheel of his cycle came against the brick and he was projected in front of the bus, and sustained very serious injuries, not because of any fault on the part of the driver of the bus, but because some child from that school had been playing with the bricks and in a childlike way had inadvertently left a brick on the roadway, to the danger and hurt of the innocent workman going to his work. Where there is a building of that sort in close proximity to a school, I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it should be the imperative duty of the headmaster of the school to see to it that the building is boarded up and that that attractive source of danger is taken away from the young children.
I pass from that matter to another subject which has not been touched on in the Debate, namely, the growing up in Scotland of school guidance clinics. We have one in Greenock. There are only four or five in all in Scotland. If I recollect aright, there is one in Dundee. These child guidance clinics are fulfilling a very useful role in the educational life of Scotland. The third annual report of the Greenock and District child guidance clinic has been sent to me, and I notice that the function of the clinic is to promote the study and treatment of children presenting problems of personality, behaviour or learning. There was 2501 a conference at Greenock recently at which a resolution was passed, a copy of which was sent to the right hon. Gentleman. It was to the effect that the large classes which the regulations of the Department at present allow to be taught by one teacher did not permit of adequate attention being given to the abnormal cases which are bound to arise. It is just the wayward child, the child who has a little peculiarity, the child who is of the abnormal type, by that I mean a backward type, who needs attention. It may be that the child is left-handed or has a tendency to go astray in a particular direction.
That is the type of case which is investigated at the child guidance clinic, and the child can be helped enormously if the cause of its 'particular abnormality is discovered. These clinics are of a pioneering character and the need for them is emphasised by what has been said by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities and I think also by my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge, to the effect that some children are poorly equipped in body and mind. It is just that little extra attention to the individual case in a large class, that can be helped by a clinic of the sort I have described. This is a development in Scotland of which more notice ought to be taken than is being taken at present. It is an admirable work and may help to assist the operation of our school system, particularly in regard to the classes of younger children where the numbers are at present so large.
There is one other topic on which I wish to touch. We have in our schools carefully trained staffs of teachers of whom we are proud, but is the right hon. Gentleman perfectly certain that we are making the best use of them? I have taken the opportunity of making myself acquainted with as many of the schools in my constituency as I could. As a result of my visits, I find that more and more of the time of headmasters is being taken up with purely clerical work. Surely the headmaster's function is something higher than the filling-up of forms.
§ Mr. Gibson
Or like a typist in a lawyer's office as the hon. and learned Member will probably agree. Something, 2502 I think, could be done in this direction. Why should not more clerical assistance be given to headmasters? If a school is not sufficiently large to require the whole-time services of a clerkess-typist, surely a typist could be made available for a number of schools in turn. It seems ridiculous to find a headmaster busily engaged in typing out forms—a principal copy and a number of duplicates in every case—and returns of various kinds which are nothing but sheer figures. Why should his time be so occupied when he ought to be fulfilling his proper function of supervision or devoting himself to the "lad o' pairts" of whom we in Scotland have always been so proud and to whom we are anxious to see our headmasters giving special attention?
Perhaps it will seem to hon. Members that I am now dealing only with the small change of life in connection with this matter, but I would ask: Why should not every school have a telephone? I spent some time recently with the headmaster of an important school in my constituency and then proceeded to the office of the clerk of the school management committee. While I was there who should come into the office, but the headmaster of the school which I had just visited. He had come to the office in order to discuss a matter of the dates of holidays with the clerk of the school management committee. If he had had a telephone in the school he could have done the business in two or three minutes, instead of which he had to leave the school, pad his way down to the office, put in a period of waiting before he was able to see the clerk, then take up the time of the clerk, and finally pad his way back to the school again.
§ Mr. Gibson
There are other ways of keeping fit, and perhaps there are other members of the staff who are set aside for that particular purpose. In the case of the school to which I refer this deficiency has now, I am glad to say, been remedied and, as a result of a certain amount of pressure which I have brought to bear, both inside and outside Parliament, the education authority of Renfrew-shire have, I understand, arranged that telephones are to be put into the secondary schools. Why should it not be general? Why should not primary schools 2503 also have telephones? Consider what happens when there is an accident or a case of sudden illness in a school and there is no telephone. The janitor has to put on his jacket and run down the road to the nearest medical man. The nearest medical man may not be available and there is serious delay. A telephone at the school would obviate all those difficulties. We are living in an advanced age. What is the use of spending time and money on securing highly specialised staffs and then spoiling the whole business because we have not that modern adjunct of a telephone in the school?
I do not wish to elaborate the point. I leave it as a practical suggestion with the right hon. Gentleman. It is being taken up gradually in Renfrewshire. The secondary schools, certainly in Greenock, and, I think, elsewhere as well, are being equipped with telephones, and I have no doubt that in the course of time the primary schools there will be similarly equipped. On the whole subject of this Debate, I rejoice to see the interest that continues to be taken throughout Scotland in our education system. We may not export a great deal from Scotland, but what we do export has a sound basis of education, and that basis of education has made the beginnings of careers which have helped not only Scotland but the world.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Macquisten
I regret that I was not able to hear the whole of this discussion, and I particularly regret that I did not hear the speech of the hon. Member for Coatbridge (Mr. Barr), but there are just a few observations on this subject which I would like to make. It is fundamental to education that the child should be of a good physical frame and should be well fed. Some years ago I introduced a short Bill which I thought would help in that direction, but I was assured that no legislation of the kind which I proposed was needed. I was told that it was within the competence of education authorities to adopt the proposal which I made in that Bill. It was that education authorities in the large towns should open up schools in the rural areas, that they should buy up some of the big country houses, any of which could have been had for a song, take out to those houses the children who were willing to 2504 go—because it is essential that such a scheme should be voluntary—take teachers with them, set up residential schools and allow the children to grow their own food and attend to themselves while they were receiving their education.
Think of what that would mean to the children. They would learn gardening and agriculture in the act of carrying out those operations. They would at the same time have their lessons, and they would get the best of food. I came across a school on the other side of the world where that method was being followed. The teacher and the boys cleared some waste land and planted vegetables. They kept pigs, sheep and hens. The result was that the boys in that school were splendid little farmers and good scholars as well. I examined their work and I have never found better writing and composition than I found in that school. When the news of this experiment became bruited abroad the example was widely followed and to-day in a large part of the Commonwealth similar methods of education are being adopted.
I ask hon. Members to consider what such an opportunity would mean to a town boy whose father has a poor wage, as nearly all the working-class have. They cannot buy vegetables because by the time the vegetables reach the market the prices are prohibitive and the vegetables are tired. But if the boys can grow their own vegetables, just as those of us who have little places in the country grow our own vegetables, think of the educative effect. In the case to which I have just referred, I noticed an alertness and vigour about those boys which I have rarely seen elsewhere. They were applying the principleWhatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.They were far more ready and far better fitted for the battle of life than the boys who are trained merely on books. That school experiment marked a wonderful revolution. Why should not the Glasgow Education Authority acquire country mansions and invite children who are willing to volunteer to go out to them under similar conditions? They would have to be volunteers because you could never work it successfully by compulsion. But poor children—the children of widows or orphaned children, would be glad to go there, and when those who remained in 2505 the towns learned that their schoolfellows who had gone to the country, were living on the fat of the land as a result of their own efforts, they would soon be clamouring for the opportunity of joining them. It does not take much time to do all the little chores that are necessary about a place of that kind. They would be able to carry on their ordinary school work and in the course of time in that way we could have a population which would be, to some extent, rurally-minded.
The fault of our present education system is that all the children become urban-minded. Even the country children acquire an urban bias. I believe that God made the country and man made the town, and if we could get even a comparatively small proportion of our children trained up in some such way as I have indicated, it would be a revelation to them. They would be taught to interpret the handiwork of God, through the works of Nature.
§ Mr. Macquisten
It shows that the Jews are the wisest people in the world. I believe that some of the schools of the old religion in England are now applying this method and I am also told that the Blue-coat boys, in connection with their new school, are being trained very largely on similar lines. I am also told that where the experiment has been tried it has resulted in an enormous improvement in the physique of the boys. There is no use in having learning, if you have not also physical energy and strength. Boys cannot get that physical energy and strength unless they get the best of food, and they cannot get the best of food from tinned stuff that is bought in shops. You must have fresh food with vitamins in it, and I have suggested a method of getting it.
In Rhodesia, schools were started in and near the towns for the sons of the farmers, but it was soon found that the pupils had too many black boys to look after them. Instead of having to look after themselves they had everything done for them. Then it struck some bright person that it would be a good idea to have a school in a country district and that the boys should do their own chores, make their own beds and look after themselves generally and grow their own vegetables. Immediately 2506 there was an enormous improvement both in the virility and character of the boys, and they did their lessons all the better because of the additional eneregy which they derived from the physical work. That is a moral training for young people. It was entirely wrong that they should be waited upon by others. If education authorities would carry out that idea it would improve the race and assist the formation of character, which is the basis, the foundation and the goal of all sound education.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Leonard
I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that it is a waste of time to endeavour to impart instruction to children in school unless they are properly attended to from the point of view of nutrition. In the past it has been insisted that this is a matter that must touch only the necessitous type of child. I venture the opinion that in a few years the feeding of all school children, and not only those who are necessitous, will play a much greater part in school life than it does at present. In Norway the fact that nutrition and education are related has been recognised for a number of years, but the method adopted there is different from that which finds favour in this country. While here we are thinking of mid-day meals from the point of view of putting something into the children's stomachs, they have adopted a different attitude. They sent out investigators to ascertain what deficiencies existed in the diets of the school children, with special regard to protective foods. They then set about preparing uncooked breakfasts, because in the main the protective foods are uncooked. They set about devising a breakfast which consisted entirely of protective foods, and now a protective food breakfast is given to all children whether they are deemed necessitous or not, and I am informed that the results are most outstanding. I would urge the Secretary of State to ascertain if this matter has come under the review of the Department and, if not, to see if something can be done in that direction. The same principle is adopted in general health activities and, as a result, infant mortality has been reduced from 46 per 1,000 in 1931 to 30 per 1,000 in 1936. Infant mortality in London is 67, in Newcastle 84, and in Glasgow 98. There can be no excuse for not taking cognisance of what has been done there and pressing 2507 on the authorities in Scotland to take the same action. Milk is very important, but it does not supply all requirements.
The officers of the Board note in their report the unanimous decision of the Aberdeen authority to promote in their new housing schemes sites for nursery schools. That is all to the good. Glasgow is preparing for 10 nursery schools, but I am afraid they may follow the same line as Aberdeen and locate them in their new housing schemes. A special effort should be made in all towns to locate nursery schools in the densely populated parts, because it is there that they are required in greater measure than in the outlying districts. I note with interest the extension of broadcasting. I have come in contact with children who have taken advantage of broadcast lessons, and I have spoken to others with regard to it, and it appears now to be an accepted fact that it is a very desirable form of instruction. There are some places where it is left to voluntary bodies to supply the equipment. There is a comment on the reception apparatus being in the homes of headmasters. There are actually 2,000 schools without any equipment at all. Perhaps the answer will be that the responsibility lies with the local authorities, but children who are under the jurisdiction of local authorities have an aspect of State responsibility as well. The matter should not be allowed to rest where it is at present. If it is a good form of instruction, these schools should be adequately treated.
I should like to ask the Under-Secretary whether the architects responsible for the guidance of public authorities are taking cognisance of the need of canteens and dining rooms and other apparatus which will be required if the feeding of school children is made an integral part of school work. If they are not looking to the future in this connection, it is a lack which will be dearly paid for. With regard to holiday camps, there is a letter in the "Times" to-day. I do not accept the idea behind that letter, because it links up the question of holiday camps for ordinary school use with the requirements of air-raid precautions schemes, but it is a practical proposition which should be extended to a great number, if not to all, the school children who are willing to go to them. I read an article a year ago 2508 which worked the matter out in detail and, while the details have been submitted to the air-raid precautions people, there is no reason why it should not be taken into the cognisance of the Department and applied for the purpose of holiday schools. The article worked it out in detail that a holiday school built for the accommodation of 500 would, in the course of a year, be able to accommodate 5,000. The period was a month. I do not contemplate the possibility of parents allowing their children to go away as long as that, though they may, but the shorter the period the greater the number of children who can be coped with. These camps at present are designated "camps for necessitous children," and, in my opinion, that is a deterrent. I think they should be made a general part of educational work and, if children were sent there for a period during which their instruction would be continued, their education would not suffer, and they would gain greatly in health.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Johnston
I noticed in the Press that the Secretary of State, I believe for the first time, is giving monetary grants to two universities out of the Education (Scotland) Fund. To the extent to which he gives money to the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, he decreases the amount that remains for school buildings and for the development of education generally. I should like to know whether, in return for the grant of £12,000 to Glasgow University and £4,000 to Edinburgh University, he is getting any State representation upon the governing bodies of these institutions. It is the generally accepted principle nowadays that we do not give public money without some say in the spending of it.
§ Mr. Johnston
That is an entirely different matter. You have some control over Imperial Airways. Here, as I understand it, with the slight exception of the appointment of Regius professors, you have not. If there is no such representation upon the governing bodies of the universities, why not? It may be that next year Aberdeen and St. Andrews will come forward and ask for grants as well. If the principle be admitted that out of public funds, raised by public taxation 2509 and expended through the Education (Scotland) Fund, the universities are to receive large grants, it is not asking anything unreasonable that the Government should be represented upon the governing bodies of those universities.
§ Mr. Maxton
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned about the Secretary of State having the appointment of certain professors. Has he not also the appointment of the principals of the universities?
§ Mr. Maxton
Is it not a very strong element of control if, in return for a very small fraction of the total university expenditure, the State has the appointment of the man in whose hands the chief directing power lies?
§ Mr. Johnston
I believe that up to now the universities have always regarded themselves as bodies which raise their own funds and are subject to no control whatever by the Secretary of State. What relationship exists between the Secretary of State and the principal of the university after he is appointed, I do not know.
The second point that I want to put to the Secretary of State is this. In our secondary examinations now we ask questions about literature and give quotations from literature, and the child is expected to be able to give answers about Dunbar, Burns, Barrie, Stevenson. A proper understanding of all four requires a knowledge of the Doric. He must know something about the Scottish language, and to know something about the Scottish language there must be a foundation; the teacher must know something about it. An attempt has been made to build up a Scottish national dictionary to preserve the language and to put it on record. In England a successful attempt was made to preserve the English language, the dialects. When the promoters of the English venture required assistance in their work, as they did, they applied to the then head of the Conservative Government in this country, Mr. A. J. Balfour, who got them the necessary funds. I will not say where he got them from. I know, but I will not say. The point is that he got the funds, and whether he got them legally or illegally, or from what source he got them, is a matter that I shall say 2510 nothing about here. He got the funds, the English dialect dictionary was created, the scholars were paid, the books were issued, and for all time the English dialects are preserved.
Now we come to the Scottish national dictionary. Dr. Grant, of Aberdeen, and his coadjutors have been struggling to get the dictionary published. They have spent to the utmost penny of their own resources. Some of them have contributed very heavily indeed, and when an appeal for the comparatively small sum £2,000 or £3,000 is made to His Majesty's Government to enable this dictionary to proceed and the scholars to be paid, the Secretary of State for Scotland discovers, or is advised, that there is no fund out of which assistance can be given. I ask questions in the House about it, and for answer I am told that. I understand, however, that the Secretary of State and the Lord Advocate are themselves very anxious indeed that this dictionary work should proceed and should not be abandoned, that the two volumes already published should not in effect be wasted, and that tae other necessary volumes should be produced. The Secretary of State for Scotland and the Lord Advocate, I believe, have done and are doing their utmost behind the scenes to get the necessary funds.
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will not invite the very able officials of the Scottish Education Department to find reasons for doing something instead of finding reasons for not doing something. If he were to say to the Scottish Education Department officials, "Please show me where I can get £2,000 to enable the dictionary to be continued," I am perfectly certain they could show him how it could be done. At any rate, I recommend that course to him, and also that the education authorities of the country should become signatories for copies of the dictionary, for a number of copies each. He could make a grant for that purpose, and there are other suggested measures by which aid, and final aid, could be given to this venture. It really is an outstanding national disgrace that a venture like this should only be carried on by the sixpences, the shillings, and the pounds of the devoted research workers themselves, and that the Secretary of State, or otherwise, should not step in and get the necessary £2,000 or £3,000 that is required, particularly when 2511 the late Lord Balfour displayed an ingenuity, a courage, and a determination which I wish would be copied by his successors in office. If it is good for England that a dialect dictionary should have been subsidised, should have been created, and should have been successful, it is good also for Scotland, and I invite the Secretary of State to tell us by what method he proposes to see that this dictionary is not abandoned.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Colville)
Before I deal with the general questions that have been raised in the Debate, I should like to say a word or two in reply to the right hon. Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston). I cannot, in discussing the funds which are under review to-night, indicate to him where a grant could be found for the Scottish Dialect Dictionary. He spoke of the great ingenuity of the late Lord Balfour in being able to procure a certain sum of money for the English dialect dictionary, but I should say that that sum was relatively small. It must not be thought that it was a subsidy that anything like carried out the work of the dictionary. I cannot say the source from which that came, but that particular fund is not now available. The right hon. Gentleman asked me to exercise ingenuity, and he made certain suggestions as to the lines on which that ingenuity should run. I should perhaps mention that this dictionary is a fairly ambitious venture. It is estimated that it will cost about £30,000, and that it will consist of not fewer than 10 volumes, and the edition is to be restricted to 2,000 copies.
§ Mr. Colville
I will consider the lines which the right hon. Gentleman has suggested for the exercise of my ingenuity, but I could not, on the funds under discussion to-night, and with the legal advice which I have received, make any further observations on this point. In any case I could not exercise my ingenuity to the extent of going against the law.
§ Mr. Gibson
Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that he was Financial Secretary to the Treasury and that therefore he has a wide experience?
§ Mr. Colville
That has been a very valuable training. The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the grants to the universities. It is true, as the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) said, that the principals of the universities are Crown appointments, but as regards control, I would remind the right hon. Gentleman—what he really knows very well already—that the principle of giving State money to assist a university is not new, that for many years considerable sums of State money have been applied to the universities, and that the University Grants Committee have always recommended that there should not be direct Government interference with the management of the universities. The sums which I have proposed and which he mentioned are relatively very small compared with those much larger sums.
§ Mr. Maxton
Is not this money definitely a deduction from the local education funds? I am not asking for State control of Glasgow University. I do not want Glasgow University controlled by the Scottish Office or by Downing Street, but I think the Glasgow Corporation should have some definite say as to how Glasgow University should be run and that they should have greater representation, on a greater scale, than now.
§ Mr. Colville
That is a different point, and no doubt the hon. Member's observations have been noted. The Debate has thrown up a number of very interesting points, and I may not be able to answer them all if I keep the self-denying ordinance, as we have two other Votes to discuss, but those questions that I do not reach I will do my best to follow up. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood), who opened the Debate from the Opposition benches in a most practical speech on a subject about which he knows a great deal, spoke of a survey of the schools of England and said he was anxious that we in Scotland should not fall behind in that regard. The position in Scotland is that a survey was carried out three years ago and that that survey has been kept up to date. I am advised that 3,200 schools were fully surveyed. It is essential that we should keep such a survey up to date, and—
§ Mr. Westwood
Is it not necessary to have a black list on the same lines as in England, so that we shall be in a position 2513 to know where the black holes of Scotland are, just as we know where the black holes of England are?
§ Mr. Colville
I am advised that we have such a list and that these black holes are known. The hon. Member proceeded to refer to the question of food and meals in schools, and that subject was also referred to by a number of other hon. Members, including in particular the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and my hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart). The position is that in the year ended 31st July, 1937, 35,818 school children in Scotland were provided with meals free of charge and that 39,827 were supplied with meals on payment, while in 1935–36 the numbers were 33,800 and 30,900. These figures show the increase that has been taking place in that direction. In the year ended 31st July, 1937, again, 66,300 children received milk free of charge, and 260,700 children received milk on payment. The expenditure of education authorities in Scotland on supplying meals, milk and clothing for school children was about £105,000. A point made by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) was that all the milk should be given free because there was an invidious distinction between the children who paid and those who did not. There is, however, in Glasgow a high percentage now receiving milk without payment, for of 180,482 children in Glasgow schools, 48,678, that is 27 per cent., were receiving milk free on 31st March, 1938.
§ Mr. Westwood
Is it not a fact that the meals are provided only to necessitous children, in accordance with the Act of Parliament, if those who are responsible for the provision of the meals are satisfied that as a result of a lack of food, etc., the children are unable to benefit by the education? What I was pleading for was that we should take preventive measures to avoid debility instead of taking measures after the child has become debilitated as the result of lack of food.
§ Mr. Colville
I was about to describe the procedure and to make some observation. It is not necessary that a child should have a medical certificate that it is in need of food before food is provided. The words "or otherwise" in Section 6 of the Act of 1908 should be noted in that respect. In practice many of the 2514 children are provided with food on the report of the headmaster or teacher. Where cases are not necessitous the authorities may supply food, but not at the expense of the ratepayers. The hon. Member drew particular attention to the fact that the statutory procedure which has to be gone through before school children can be provided with food is somewhat complicated, and I agree with him. I understand that in practice Scottish children are not prejudiced as compared with English children, but I am examining the whole question and considering whether anything can be done to simplify the procedure.
The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. G. A. Morrison) welcomed, as did other hon. Members, the new code. His welcome has been echoed fairly widely in educational circles. The only observation he made was that there was one blot on the copybook in regard to the size of classes, but otherwise he regarded it as very good indeed. The Departmental regulations lay down the maximum in a primary class of 50, in the advanced division or the first three years of the secondary course 40, and for the subsequent years of the secondary course 30. Occasional excesses, of course, take place and are difficult to avoid owing to the shortage of school accommodation in certain districts and to the shifting of school population. The hon. Member for Gorbals referred to this difficulty in regard to the new housing areas. The number of oversized classes, however, has steadily declined from year to year. At 31st March, 1938, only about 125 primary classes, which is less than 0.8 per cent. of the total, had more than 50 pupils. The corresponding figure for 1936 was 309, and for 1933, 2,119. We do not pretend that there are not excessively large classes in a number of schools, but I ask the Committee to have regard to the trend of these figures which present an important and interesting indication.
§ Mr. Stephen
Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why the Department has made the figure 40 for the first three years of the secondary school when it used to be 30? It seems that the Department has raised the figure to 40 in order to bring the advanced course and the secondary course on the same basis instead of bringing the advanced course down to 30.
§ Mr. Colville
I think the hon. Gentleman is in error about that, but I would like to examine it before answering him more fully.
§ Mr. Stephen
If I am right will the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that the change back will be made to 30 for both the advanced and for the first three years of the secondary course?
§ Mr. Colville
I will give the hon. Member an assurance that if he is right I will apologise to him for saying he is wrong, but I will look into the point that he has raised.
§ Mr. Maxton
It is always desirable when assurances are flying about to get them down in definite terms. Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the Committee wherein lies the error of the statement of the hon. Member for Camlachlie (Mr. Stephen), because it is common knowledge to every educationist in Scotland and everyone who has any responsibility for Scottish education, except the Secretary of State, that the figures mentioned by the hon. Member are strictly correct.
§ Mr. Colville
It is not my impression that there was such a limit of 30, but I will look into it and make sure. I will write to the hon. Gentleman about it.
§ Mr. Stephen
Will the right hon. Gentleman put it right if what I say is correct? Is he going to pursue a policy of reaction by increasing the number in the first three years of the secondary course, or will he get rid of this backward step for which somehow or other he has become responsible?
§ Mr. Westwood
May I suggest that the information is available to the right hon. Gentleman in half a minute if he is anxious to get it. It is in the House, and perhaps he will get it and tell the Committee which of the figures is correct.
§ Mr. Colville
I can assure the hon. Member for Camlachlie that there is nothing reactionary in the course we are pursuing.
§ Mr. Colville
The trend of the figures as to the size of classes, so far from showing a reactionary course, shows that 2516 there has been marked and continuous improvement. The hon. Member for Coat-bridge (Mr. Barr) referred to some observations I made as Under-Secretary when the Bill for raising the school age was passing through the Committee stage. He said that I stated I was very anxious that the three-years' course should not become a Cinderella in any way. I hold to my words on that occasion. In the Code it is our intention to see that it is given the fullest and fairest treatment. The hon. Member raised a number of interesting points. One was in relation to text-books which are supplied to schools, and he quoted certain passages from which he deduced that the choice of history books was unwise. He was kind enough to pass the books to me for my consideration. He took exception to one quotation because it extolled the National Government and seemed to suggest that the Government of which he approved was not in the same class and was not so good. The same book also contains certain other passages, one of which I should like to read so that the quotations will balance each other out. It is on the subject of Free Trade and Protection, and it is a precept which I should dislike the young mind to assimilate too readily:Protection is the putting of taxes on foreign goods to make them dearer than the home goods and thus induce people to buy the articles produced at home.In the other book there is a paragraph with which I find much more cordial agreement. It reads:Many thoughtful persons who were Free Traders before the War have begun to doubt whether since the War the old one-sided Free Trade is still good for this country.Second thoughts seem to be best. The Department does not prescribe a list of books for use in schools, and they do not recommend or prohibit any particular book. The selection of text-books is left to the education authorities, and in general they delegate this duty to head teachers or a panel of teachers. To select books which would please the views of all hon. Members would be a very difficult task, and we might have to set up another Select Committee with all parties represented on it. Even then I do not know whether we should iron out the differences between us. It is in accordance with the trend of modern education that teachers should be given the greatest measure of freedom to draw up their 2517 scheme of work and choose their textbooks. The work of the schools is constantly under the review of the Department's inspectors, who call attention to any faults of instruction, whether due to books or not, and if any wrong precept were being taught it would be found out by the inspectors.
The hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman) raised the question of physical training. I intend to say something on that question on the next Vote, and I will not say much now, except to observe that I agree with him as to the difficulty of getting fully qualified physical training teachers. I have noted the suggestion made by Edinburgh Corporation, but it must be remembered that these teachers are required for important organising work—
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Captain Bourne)
I think the right hon. Gentleman himself realises that this comes on the next Vote.
§ Mr. Colville
I shall speak on the physical training campaign on the next Vote, but the teachers who are being employed are receiving grants of money under this Vote. They are for the most part persons with special experience of and training in physical education. The proposals of the education authorities for particular appointments will be considered by the Departments concerned. The hon. Member for Gorbals made a powerful appeal for the broadening of education and the improvement of the schools, more particularly in his own constituency.
§ Mr. Colville
He spoke particularly of his constituency and neighbouring districts of similar types, and said that the tendency was to build new schools in the new housing areas and to leave the old schools with little done to them. He will appreciate the problem which a new housing area throws up for a local authority. A school of some kind must be erected there; the place cannot go without a school; and it must be a good school. None the less, I will pay close attention to his observations. I cannot say that I am personally familiar with the places of which he spoke, but I propose to make myself familiar with them.
2518 He also made an appeal for the broadening of the curriculum in schools, and in particular for the inclusion of the teaching of art and beauty. I suppose that the hon. Member has noted it, but I would like to draw his attention to a relative part of the new Code. In paragraph 15, on page 6, it is laid down that the scheme of work for the infant and primary divisions, that is for those up to 12 years of age:Shall in all cases make provision (a) for courses of instruction in (i) reading, writing and arithmetic and in particular in the use and understanding of spoken and written English; (ii) music; and (iii) art and handiwork, (b) for physical education.'In the Explanatory Memorandum which accompanies the Code, there is a paragraph which stresses that point. Paragraph 38 says:Aesthetic sensibility should be cultivated through music and art.I therefore think that on this point the hon. Member and I are in agreement. The new Code does have the broadening effect which he desires. The hon. Lady the Member for Springburn (Mrs. Hardie) was anxious that the domestic science course should not run entirely on domestic lines but should form part of a more balanced course of instruction. That point is being kept in mind. I do feel that there is value in a domestic course in its proper place, but she need not be anxious as to the way in which we intend to build up a balanced course with other work. The hon. and learned Member for Greenock (Mr. Gibson) asked me questions on some nine or ten points, and I am afraid that without shortening the time available for the Debate I cannot go into all of them now, but I promise him that I will look into them. They ranged from the use of half-bricks in jerry building to clinics, and telephones for headmasters. I will examine them.
§ Mr. Colville
Because if any of his proposals can properly be carried out I shall take action on them, but I reserve to myself the decision on whether they can be properly carried out.
§ Mr. Colville
The discussion to-day has been a very valuable and interesting one, 2519 and I am glad that this Vote was put down, and also that a certain number of our English friends came in to hear the Debate.
§ Mr. Colville
Education is a subject on which we in Scotland have tried to keep in the forefront; we have tried to take the lead in education and I believe we shall continue to keep the lead. The hon. Member for Gorbals said the value of a country was not judged by a few fine examples among its people but by the worth and work of the mass of the people. I agree with him, but we must not neglect the fine examples, and I was very much interested in a ceremony in Edinburgh University yesterday which seems to indicate that Scottish work and Scottish education cannot really be at a discount. Among the distinguished people who received the LL.D. yesterday were the Viceroy of India, the Governor-General of Canada, the Governor-General of Australia, the Governor of Bengal, and two Cabinet Ministers, all of whom are Scotsmen, and four out of those six were products of Scottish day schools and Scottish universities. I leave with the Committee this last observation: That I am very glad that we can again to-day pass these Estimates with a knowledge that the educational system of Scotland is going forward and not going backwards.
§ Mr. Stephen
Can the right hon. Gentleman not say now whether he has the information for which I asked earlier? I was teaching before I came into this House, and before 1922 the maximum number per class in the first three years of the intermediate course was 30. Subsequently the number was increased. The advanced courses were set up after 1924, and it seems as though the Department has assimilated the numbers in classes in the first years of the secondary to the fourth year of the advanced course. I am asking him to give the Committee an assurance that the Government will not increase the number in the first three ears of the intermediate course.
§ Mr. Colville
I will read the hon. Member an extract from the Secondary Schools (Scotland) Regulations, 1923, Regulations which have been in force since then:In courses beyond the primary, junior or preparatory stage, except in special circumstances—2520 I must emphasise that—and with the express sanction of the Department, no class under a single teacher should contain more than 40 pupils in the first three years.
§ Mr. Stephen
The right hon. Gentleman is referring me to what happened after 1923. I am saying that prior to 1923 the code maximum for the first three years was 30—I am confident that it was a maximum of 30—and I regard it as simply evasion on the part of the Scottish Education Department to try to mislead the Committee in this respect. There has been a retrogression since 1923.
§ Mr. Colville
I can assure the hon. Member that my only desire is to interpret the Regulations as they stand, and I am reading out from the Regulations issued in 1923 and still in force. I will read the extract again:In courses beyond the primary, junior or preparatory stage, except in special circumstances, and with the express sanction of the Department, no class under a single teacher should contain more than 40 pupils in the first three years,It goes on to say, and here is possibly the explanation of the misunderstanding:nor more than 30 pupils in subsequent years, nor, as a rule, may more than 20 pupils be taken at one time for any subject of practical instruction.
§ Mr. Stephen
That is the Regulation in force at present. I am sure that the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities will agree with me that previous to the 1923 Regulations the maximum for the first three years of the intermediate course was 30.
§ Mr. G. A. Morrison
I cannot speak about the exact date or the exact words of the Code, but I know that in the first three years of secondary schools we looked upon 30 as the maximum. It was afterwards raised to 40.
§ Mr. Westwood
May I put it that these new Regulations were issued immediately preceding the abolition of the old intermediate certificate, preceding the new system of education which was to come in 1924 arising out of Circular 44? It is true that up to the issue of those Regulations 30 was the maximum number in the first three years of the secondary course, and it seems that under the new scheme they have been assimilating the 2521 courses with the old numbers that used to apply in connection with what was known as the supplementary classes, increasing the 30 to 40 instead of bringing the 40 down to 30.
§ Mr. Colville
I would point out that the present Regulations have been in force for 15 years and that during that time
§ there have been several Governments in office.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £4,693,427, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 102; Noes, 171.2523
|Division No. 313.]||AYES.||[7.57p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Grenfell, D. R.||Paling, W.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Groves, T. E.||Pearson, A.|
|Barr, J.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Batey, J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Poole, C. C.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Hardie, Agnes||Price, M. P.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Harris, Sir P. A.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Buchanan, G.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Ritson, J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)|
|Cassells, T.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Seely, Sir H. M,|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Chater, D.||Hollins, A.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hopkin, D.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Jagger, J.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cove, W. G.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Daggar, G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Stephen, C.|
|Dalton, H.||Kelly, W. T.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, D.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Thorne, W.|
|Day, H.||Lawson, J. J.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dobbie, W.||Leach, W.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Leonard, W.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Leslie, J. R.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McGhee, H. G.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||McGovern, J.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Foot, D. M.||MacLaren, A.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Gallacher, W.||Maclean, N.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Maxtor, J.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Milner, Major J.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Naylor, T. E.||Mr. Mathers and Mr. Adamson|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Cox, H. B. Trevor||Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Hambro, A. V.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hannah, I. C.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Cross, R. H.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Crossley, A. C.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Culverwell, C. T.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Davidson, Viscountess||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||De Chair, S. S.||Hepworth, J.|
|Baffour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Duncan, J. A. L.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Dunglass, Lord||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Eastwood, J. F.||Hopkinson, A.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Edmondson, Major Sir J||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Hunter, T.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Emery, J. F.||Hutchinson, G. C.|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Fildes, Sir H.||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Findlay, Sir E.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)|
|Butler, R. A.||Fleming, E. L.||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Cary, R. A.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Furness, S. N.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Kimball, L.|
|Channon, H.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Gluckstein, L, H.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Goldie, N. B.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.|
|Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Gower, Sir R. V.||Liddall, W. S.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Lindsay, K. M.|
|Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh W.)||Grimston, R. V.||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.|
|Loftus. P. C.||Procter, Major H. A.||Smithers, Sir W|
|Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Ramsden, Sir E.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Storey, S.|
|McKie, J. H.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Markham, S. F.||Remer, J. R.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Marsden, Commander A.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Ropner, Colonel L.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Wayland, Sir W. A|
|Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.||Wedderburn, H. J. S,|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Russell, Sir Alexander||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Munro, p.||Russell, S, H. M. (Darwen)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Nicholson, G. (Farnham)||Salmon, Sir I.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Salt, E. W.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Selley, H. R.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Peake, O.||Shakespeare, G. H.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Peters, Dr. S. J.||Shepperson. Sir E. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.||Mr. James Stuart and Captain|
|Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Dugdale.|
Original Question put, and agreed to.