Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a further sum, not exceeding £30, be granted to His Majesty, towards defraying the charges for the following services connected with Public Education and Youth Welfare in Scotland for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1944, namely:
|Class IV., Public Education Scotland||10|
|Class V., Department of Health for Scotland||10|
|Class I., Scottish Home Department||10|
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. T. Johnston)
The form in which these Votes have been placed upon the Order Paper to-day is designed to afford hon. Members the widest possible latitude in discussing the problems of education and youth welfare, and I am sure that hon. Members will agree with me that it is desirable that the widest possible latitude should be afforded for us in discussing these subjects. The Estimates for education in Scotland during the year 1943 which I now present to the Committee, provide for a sum of £9,021,790, an increase of £187,520 over the Estimates for the year 1942. How do we spend this increase? We spend it upon three major subjects. First, upon school meals and milk; secondly, upon development of the youth services; and, thirdly, upon the supplement to teachers on war service.
928 The school dinners service has increased at the following rather remarkable rate: In July, 1941, we were providing 35,000 school dinners; in May, 1942, 78,000 dinners; and in June, 1943, we provided about 140,000 dinners. In addition to that, there is a system of school lunches. Mostly these lunches are provided in remote areas where cooking facilities for meals are difficult or really impossible. These school lunches, however, have doubled in number. The old system of soup meals is static in number. In Dunbarton County, which is our best county for the service, 36 per cent. of the children on the roll are now receiving school dinners, in Clackmannan County 31 per cent., in Stirling County 28 per cent., and in Ayr County 28 per cent.; for Scotland as a whole 16 per cent. of the children receive dinners, and over 19 per cent. receive dinners, lunches or soup meals. This 16 per cent. compares with the figure a year ago of 8 per cent., so that during the year we have doubled our school dinner service.
England, however, is ahead of us. Where we have 16 per cent. receiving dinners in Scotland, in England 23 per cent. of the children are receiving dinners, so that we still have a leeway to make up, and we are pressing the local authorities in every possible direction to do it. The increased expenditure on the food services is estimated at £119,000, and to accelerate the development of this service I issued a circular intimating that through the Ministry of Works the Government would provide the entire capital equipment of all new feeding centres.
Our milk service in the schools has also grown remarkably. I look back some 13 years ago to the experiment which I inaugurated in Lanarkshire for the provision of milk in schools. Now we have over 500,000 children receiving a milk ration of a third of a pint a day at a cost of a halfpenny each. That means a reduction of two-thirds in the price of milk. Including the supplies of free milk, 67 per cent. of our total school population in Scotland are covered. The free milk is supplied to 25,330 children, or 5 per cent. of the total. Some children, of course, are so physically constituted that a milk ration in the middle of the day is repellent to them, and we do not seek to enforce these supplies in such cases.
929 Owing to the war, it has not been found possible to insist upon the usual routine examination of school children, but what examinations have been made show no deterioration in nutrition; on the contrary, there is, I am glad to say, evidence of actual betterment. For example, of one-third of the school children of Lanark, 26,000 of them, only 42 were shown as suffering from bad nutrition; and that is certified to be an improvement even on the figures of the previous year. Renfrew County disclosed only 20 children out of 12,653 examined as suffering from bad nutrition. Ayr County showed 14 out of over 14,000 children and the Glasgow School Health Service report shows that for 1942 boys at the age of 13 are 2½lbs. heavier and girls are over 2 lbs. heavier than boys and girls of these ages in the five years ending with the outbreak of war. In Plantaganet times lice, itch, and skin diseases were common afflictions of the aristocracy, and there was a great Queen who took a bath only under doctor's orders. Even more remarkable was the case of Louis XIV of France, who, so we are informed, bathed only once a year and apart from rare occasions did not wash his face. The great Cardinal Wolsey was wont to carry about with him an orange scooped out and filled with a vinegar-soaked sponge to counteract the odour of his contemporaries. We still, unfortunately, have some of those Plantaganet habits and afflictions ripe and flourishing among no inconsiderable section of our population. There is, for example, scabies. In Glasgow there were 5,039 new infestations detected in the schools in 1941, and in 1942 these figures had risen to 13,358. The figures in Renfrew County more than doubled, and the problem of how to deal with these skin afflictions is increasing to one of great magnitude.
I will pay Glasgow this compliment. The local authority there is making strenuous efforts to stamp out these body infestations and to foster habits of personal cleanliness and hygiene, and at some 17 selected schools they have appointed senior women teachers to supervise operations. There are, in addition, welfare attendants. The consent of the parents to the treatment, and the interest and co-operation of the child are first secured, and the results achieved are remarkable. I have seen reports from 930 one school which show that in December, 1940, the verminous children in that school were 14 per cent. In May, 1941, they were 3.5 per cent. "Nitty" children, as they are described, were in December, 1940, 56 per cent., and in May, 1941, that figure was down to 12 per cent. I think it is with justice that the senior woman assistant and the head master claim that the experiment has been an unqualified success, and the Glasgow education authority propose to develop these arrangements as fast as they can. Girls, of course, are the worse victims of vermin infestation of the head. The Lanarkshire medical officer reports that the percentage as between boys and girls on entrance to schools show that 0.9 per cent. of boys have verminous infestation of the head, and 12.4 per cent, of girls. He adds that the reason, in his view, is the custom of wearing the hair long, and he says that if girls' hair were worn not more than two inches in length, the problem of verminous heads would practically be solved and this could be achieved without any loss of feminine distinctiveness. But that is a subject which I do not wish to pursue.
I now turn to the second reason for the increase in our Estimates. A year ago in this House I drew attention to the alarming increase in what are described as "findings of guilt" by law courts in respect of children under 14 years of age. These cases involved what is politely termed juvenile delinquency. Half of them are, in fact, cases of theft and housebreaking, and it is appalling to envisage a state of affairs in which every year almost 8,000 children in Scotland under 14 years of age and 7,000 between 14 and 16, start life with a conviction in a law court for some offence. We need not apportion blame. We have all been young once—
§ Mr. Johnston
I was just about to say that I sympathise with the parents in many of these cases, and I would add that the old aphorism appeals to me:There, but for the grace of God, goes—But one trouble which worries us at the Scottish Office is that these figures of, I do not say convictions, but "findings of guilt," to use the official phrase, increased 931 in Scotland last year by 800, while in England they were reduced by 8,000, and we find great difficulty in discovering the reason. It is indeed difficult to know what remedies to suggest during the war. There is sometimes put up to us the idea that we ought to develop the probation officer system, but the probation officer system is not a prevention of the initial offence. It is true that it is, partly, an alternative to imprisonment; and when parental control is absent or unavailing, and the right type of probation officer is available and is chosen, it may indeed turn a lad from his anti-social habits and prevent the creation of a criminal. But there is quite a scarcity of the right type of officer and there are in Scotland today, only about 60 of them altogether, half of them full-time and half part-time.
The youth service, however, as distinct from the probation officer service altogether, is a positive remedy and is being steadily developed. During the year, of the 113,000 youths aged 16 to 18 who were registered and were invited to attend for interviews, about 60 per cent. of the boys and 45 per cent. of the girls joined one or other of the large number of welfare organisations now catering for the further education—moral, physical and social—of our adolescent youth. There is a vast variety of recreational and educational facilities provided by these clubs—first aid. home nursing, hygiene, folk dancing, gardening, camping, swimming, domestic cooking, handicraft, the drama, music, public speaking and debate, and physical exercises. There is one very successful club for girls in Edinburgh, with about 350 members, where, in addition to the usual educational and recreational facilities, the members run a snack bar in the canteen, taking turn about at the servicing. There is a splendid organisation in Aberdeen, with over 1,600 members, where sectional activities range over ball-room dancing, Christie Minstrels, athletics, discussion groups and "make-and-mend." This club is also a training centre for youth leaders for the North and North East of Scotland. There is one amazing effort at Whitecleuch in the wild uplands of Lanarkshire, where a lady teacher has succeeded in roping into the system of local continuation classes many other subjects, such as violin music, country dancing, first aid and a class for 932 the manufacture of shepherds' crooks. Practically every human being in the parish up to 83 years of age is a member of that class, and some of the club members travel as much as six miles to these classes across the moors. Let none frown upon the innovator who can attract the interest and enthusiasm of our adolescent youth to any form of physical or mental culture. Perhaps I may be pardoned for a personal recollection. When I was a member of the school board in my own home town many years ago I found that the most successful class I could run as a means of attracting young fellows to other continuation classes was a successful boxing class. There was free entry to everyone who would take another class in our continuation schools curriculum. I do not say that that class was the subject of great enthusiasm among every section of our community, but it certainly roped in large numbers of young men to our evening schools system, and when in conjunction with that we organised a large-scale dancing class—with self-government, on the same principle, and giving free admission on the production of an attendance ticket for some other evening class—I found that was the reason why our evening classes became the most successful, numerically, in all Scotland.
Finally, I am glad to say that there has been formed a Scottish Youth Training Association, which is running a summer school at St. Andrews for the purpose of widening the personnel capable of leading and organising youth clubs. Next year I hope that the effect of these clubs will be observable in a marked diminution in these depressing statistics of delinquency. The fact that 83,200 have joined a girls' club, the Church of Scotland Youth Organisation, the Boys' Brigade, the Co-operative Youth Organisation, youth hostels, the Boy Scouts, the Salvation Army, or a similar appropriate approved organisation, is at least an indication of the effort to provide some better outlet for the ebullience and effervescence of youth.
The Scottish Youth Advisory Committee has been reconstituted under the chairmanship of Lord Keith. It is entirely non-sectarian, or, rather, it is all-sectarian, and its recommendations will, I hope, be operated through education authorities and the large voluntary organisations. We seek to extend the 933 ideals of service and citizenship and to provide opportunities and avenues for the citizen of to-morrow in reaching out to healthy habits of body and mind. No service is of greater or more paramount importance. The youth service has difficulties arising from the present shortage of premises, the black out and the present hours of labour. But these in many areas are being overcome; all over, the effort is showing results in personal hygiene, in physical culture, in discipline, in manners, in national service and in the better use of leisure.
During the year the Advisory Council on Education in Scotland was reconstituted. Its chairman is the Principal of Aberdeen University, Sir William Hamilton Fyfe. Among its members are three hon. Members of this House, and there are representatives of all the other educational interests in Scotland. I invited the Council, if they would, to devote their attention in the first instance to making recommendations which can be put into force without further legislation. What powers have we that we can yet exercise but do not now exercise for one reason or another? Here are the first remits to which I asked the Advisory Council to give their attention: First, to consider how the educational system of Scotland can most effectively contribute to training in the duties, rights and practice of citizenship, and to make recommendations, the arrangements for promoting provision in Scotland for children from the time of entry into the nursery school until fie completion of primary education, and the arrangements for promoting them from primary to secondary education, and to make recommendations; third, to review the educational provision in Scotland for young people who have completed their primary education and have not attained the age of 18 years or discontinued full time attendance at school, whichever is the later, the examinations for which they may be presented, and the certificates which may be awarded, and to make recommendations; fourth, to consider whether the existing arrangements for the recruitment and supply of teachers in Scotland are adequate, and to make recommendations; fifth, to consider whether grants from the Education (Scotland) Fund should be made to voluntary organisations making provision in Scotland for the education of adults of 18 years of age and over and, if so, 934 under what conditions, and to make recommendations.
I have already had reports from the Council dealing with the recruitment and supply of teachers. These reports have been sent to the National Council for the Training of Teachers. The question of teachers' salaries was referred at once to the National Joint Council, composed of representatives of education authorities and teachers' organisations who meet to discuss these matters.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
My right hon. Friend said that the Council had sent in a report on the recruitment and training of teachers. I gather that that is an interim report?
§ Mr. Johnston
Yes, it is an interim report and has been referred to the National joint Council for their observations as to amounts and so on as to whether salaries should be minimum or standard.
Mr. McNeil (Greenock)
My right hon. Friend says recruitment and training of teachers. Did the report deal with university training of teachers or only with the training colleges?
§ Mr. Johnston
It is only an interim report, and it has not gone that length. I will not prejudice the conclusions of these committees, but I judge it right and proper to draw attention to the tact that apart from teachers on war service there is an under supply from the training colleges of about 1,760 teachers now. There has been a steady shrinkage of supply in relation to the demand since 1936–7, though there was a surplus prior to that year. But there will obviously require to be a searching analysis of the cause or causes of the shortage of supply. It is no use considering arrangements for raising the school leaving age, reduction in the size of classes and extension of the day continuation class arrangements unless we can somehow or other supply the teachers. I say nothing about the provision of school buildings.
§ Mr. Stephen (Glasgow, Camlachie)
Is consideration being given to the present arrangement whereby women are being taken from the training colleges, before they are allowed to complete their course, by the Ministry of Labour for other services?
§ Mr. Johnston
I will try to get an answer on that point before the day is over. I cannot answer it offhand. The Advisory Council has decided that one of the major and more immediate remedies for the shortage of teachers is the raising of the monetary inducements to train and enter the profession, and whatever may be the final view taken as to the proposal for raising salaries, I have referred that suggestion to the National Joint Council.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Has the right hon. Gentleman left the reports on the five remits? Is this the only one to which he is making reference? Can he give any indication what progress is being made with the others?
§ Mr. Johnston
I cannot answer that without notice. My Advisory Council is giving them very serious and continuous attention. We have already had the interim reports that I have referred to, but the others I have not got.
I turn now to the interest that has been aroused by the production of the White Paper on educational reconstruction for England, which gives particulars of the Government proposals. Some of them relate to matters in which Government policy will naturally be the same for Scotland as for England and Wales. Others relate to England and Wales only, because they deal with matters on which there has already been legislation in Scotland. For example, reduction in the number of education authorities, provision of clothing for necessitous children, settlement of the denominational schools problem, all education beyond the primary stage to be secondary—these and cognate matters are already met in our Scottish legislation. But we shall require to march in step with England's proposals relating to the raising of the school leaving age to 16, and compulsory part-time education up to the age of 18. An Education Bill for Scotland must therefore differ in some ways from the English Education Bill. I have indicated that the Advisory Council in Scotland was reconstituted in November, 1942, and that I have asked it to consider as a matter of urgency various aspects of Scottish education. In framing my proposals I hope to have the benefit of recommendations from the Advisory Council, but it may be assumed that the Bill will include provision for raising the school leaving age and for compulsory part-time education 936 up to the age of 18. We already have the necessary legislative power to raise the school age to 15, and there are points relating to exemption which will require to be dealt with in our Scottish Bill.
During the year we have consistently pressed for the release where possible of schools wholly or partially occupied by the Services or by Civil Defence services. The numbers wholly occupied have fallen. At 13th March, 1943, we had 98 per cent. of our school child population receiving whole-time education and 2 per cent. receiving half-time. This compared with 93 per cent. and 6 per cent. respectively a year ago.
During the year I have continually pressed the vital importance nutritionally, educationally and economically of the domestic science course, especially the domestic science course, in so far as it is concerned with the tasty and attractive cooking of our own Scottish primary products. We have had a most successful competition, some 20,000 girls taking part in the assembling and cooking of food in which oats and/or potatoes were the prime ingredients. I am sure it played some part in the fourfold increase of output from our oatmeal mills and that it will be of great dietetic and health benefit to this and the next generation. But there are still, out of the 40,000 girls who leave our secondary schools each year, some 9,000—over 20 per cent. of the whole—who leave without any cookery instruction whatever. I have never suggested vocational education in our day schools, but I am suggesting a little less memory training in medieval chronology and a great deal more tuition in and interest in applied science in the 20th century. Why, for example, are there so few day schools providing an opportunity of instruction in the working of the internal combustion engine? This, for good or ill, is a mechanical age. Thousands of boys would be extremely interested in knowing what goes wrong when a petrol-driven vehicle conks out on the public highway. Neither in Glasgow, nor Renfrew County, nor Dunbarton County do we have a day school with a motor car engine used in its curriculum. In Ayr County there are three and in Lanark County there is one. There are, of course, other applied sciences which ought to be given a place in our schools but are not.
937 I hope to live to see the day when good citizenship is taught, not as a special subject but as a text, or to use an old phrase common in our Presbyterian Church literature, as an "uncovenanted head" in every classroom. If the purpose and spirit of our educational machine are right, if the object is to fit future generations to live cleanly and worthily in mutual aid and social service, then all else will come right; but if that spirit is absent, however elaborate or extensive this system of memory training, we shall have failed. As a recent publication of the Educational Institute of Scotland so admirably put it, we have taught our pupils to think for themselves; we shall have to teach them to think of other people.
§ Major Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
The Committee will have listened with great interest to the right hon. Gentleman's picture of the progress that has been made in the manifold directions which now come under educational and allied services, and I think they will agree with me that, by and large, what he was able to tell us was a very satisfactory state of affairs and in many respects a considerable improvement on the report that we had presented to us last year. I am specially pleased, as I know the Committee will be, to realise that the difficulties in connection with part-time education due to the exigencies of war and the blitz period are rapidly being overcome. They were a serious handicap to education, and I rejoice that they are almost completely overcome. The Committee will rejoice that children show no signs whatever of suffering from malnutrition. They will regret and deplore the alarming tendency of juvenile delinquency to increase, which is also partly due to the war situation, when so many fathers are away and mothers are at work, but none the less alarming and none the less to be deplored. I know that the energies and enthusiasm of all concerned with this problem will be concentrated upon it in order that we may do something to lower the very deplorable figures which the Secretary of State has told us about. He called attention to the Advisory Council on Education, which on his initiative was set up this year. He made reference to the remits of a more urgent character which he had called for from this Council. I have the privilege to be on it, and I can assure Members who are 938 interested that it is working in the closest harmony and working very hard, and I hope and sincerely believe that it will fulfil a very valuable function and present reports in plenty of time for the legislation which will be required certainly next year, so that they may play a really vital and valuable part in the solution of our educational problems and the many reforms and improvements which we shall expect when the Bill is introduced.
No one should belittle the great achievements which have been brought about in education during the past year, more especially because of the great difficulties and handicaps which all concerned with education, and especially the teachers, have had to cope with. It is right that we should give due praise, and I am privileged to be allowed to pay a tribute to the way in which all concerned have worked, especially the teachers, during the past two difficult years. They have laboured, as all have laboured, under great handicaps. There has been the difficulty of large classes, which inevitably have got rather worse than better during the war. There has been the difficulty in some areas of overcrowded schools due to a shortage of schools because of blitzed and requisitioned schools. That is a great handicap to the teaching profession, and in every respect they have met it with courage and cheerfulness and in some cases under the most difficult and trying conditions.
I would like to say a word on the subject of the requisitioning of schools. My right hon. Friend knows that I have been very interested in and concerned about this problem. I do not deny that in the early days of the war it was necessary to requisition certain schools for the Armed Forces and for Civil Defence, but I should have thought that by this time and, indeed, a good deal before this time, it would have been possible for the military and air authorities to have cleared out of the schools and to have released them for the purpose for which they were built. It is not due to lack of pressure by Members of Parliament, nor is it due to lack of enthusiasm for the subject and strong attempts by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State; it is in some cases due to a stubbornness on the part of the military authorities and in other cases to the fact that they just will not be bothered to try and find alternative accommodation. Possession, they say, is nine points 939 of the law, and "What we have we hold." Every conceivable excuse is brought up in order to avoid turning out. I feel convinced that in many cases alternative accommodation could have been found, and in many other cases it could have been constructed by the building of huts which would have released schools to the education authorities.
I deplore the fact that in one or two areas there are still a few schools that have been either not repaired at all or inadequately repaired after damage by enemy action. I would urge my right hon. Friend to do all he can to expedite the supply of labour and material to put some of these schools in at least a habitable condition. There is one school in Renfrewshire which has never been repaired, yet the scholars are in it. I am told that there are holes in the roof and no lath and plaster on the walls. Every effort has been made to get it repaired, but every conceivable difficulty is put in the way, not by my right hon. Friend or the education authorities, but by those who unfortunately have complete control of the supply of labour and materials. An additional handicap to the teachers in the last year has been the substantial increase in the supply of school meals, which I welcome and which I know the whole Committee welcomes. We have still a long way to go. My right hon. Friend mentioned that 16 per cent. are now having school meals and that it was not yet as good a record as in England, but we are doing well on the whole. There is not any doubt that that has been a certain inconvenience and handicap to the teachers, who have co-operated on the whole very well, although I am told that in some instances they have not cooperated quite as well as they might have done, because I daresay they find it a certain handicap and inconvenience. I hope that they will co-operate in this new service, to which the Committee attaches the greatest importance, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will continue to spur on those local authorities who are a bit on the slow side in the provision of school meals.
The whole question of the supply of teachers is a matter on which I would like to concentrate for a short time. The problem is very serious and is likely to be much more serious at the end of this 940 war than it was in 1918. Not only have we a heavy accumulation of arrears, but the supply coming forward before the war was getting steadily less, and we shall have a heavy deficit in prospect before the war is over. I estimate from a high authority that that deficit is not likely to be fewer than about 5,000 teachers, due of course to the increasing under-supply and to the fact that there are many teachers on war service. The problem, I understand, is much more serious in what are known as Chapter V category of teachers, that is, the higher category from the point of view of qualifications. That is serious, because it means that those pupils who are bright and need all the encouragement they can get will suffer from a serious lack of teachers. There will be heavy increased demands after the war due to developments in educational policy which my right hon. Friend has hinted at. The raising of the school-leaving age will demand a considerable extra number. Compulsory day continuation classes will demand a great many more. A reduction in the size of classes, which we all hope for and which is so essential, will further increase the demand. Then there are to be, we hope, special types of secondary schools and other types of schools for backward and handicapped children. All these will mean an increased demand for teachers. We all hope that there will be more nursery schools, and that again means more teachers.
On the assets side there are one or two important factors. Some 2,500 married women and retired teachers have come back. They are working very hard and have been of enormous help to education authorities in every part of Scotland. We are indeed lucky to have been able to use them again during the war. A tribute should be paid to the way in which they have come forward so readily and given such valuable work, in many cases at substantial domestic inconvenience, and in other cases when they are no longer young. It is hoped that many of them will remain, at any rate, during the critical post-war years. It would materially assist the question of the supply of teachers. Another item on the assets side which it is important to remember is that there will undoubtedly be a large fall in the school population. That will relieve the strain after the war. I am told on high authority that it is esti- 941 mated that by 1945 there will be a fall in the school population in Scotland of no fewer than 168,000 with the present leaving age as compared with 1919. There will be 60,000 fewer than in 1937. These are substantial figures, and they will certainly relieve the position. Possibly most Members of the Committee will not have realised what a large fall in the school population is in prospect.
On the other hand, do not let us forget the important fact that many additional pupils will have to be catered for in connection with our post-war plans. I suppose that not fewer than 50,000 more children will be included if the school-leaving age is raised, and I am told that no fewer than 186,000 will have to be included as additional pupils if and when compulsory education classes up to 18 are instituted. There can, I think, be no doubt that some 5,000 additional teachers will be required if the school-leaving age is raised to 15 and day continuation classes are instituted at the same time.
Will my hon. and gallant Friend explain how he arrives at the figure of 5,000 additional teachers? I am very interested, because my own calculation is much higher, and the Committee would be in his debt if he would give the information on which his figure is based.
§ Major Lloyd
It is difficult to estimate accurately, and we may all have our own ideas. My figure is based upon the advice of an expert who is a colleague of mine on the Scottish Advisory Education Council, who is in a position to examine and analyse the figures of those entering training colleges, for many years before the war. My hon. Friend may say that to some extent that is his guess, but he will agree that it is at least an authoritative opinion, although it can only be an opinion.
I suggest that the best way of looking at the question of the demand and supply of teachers is to keep our feet on the ground with regard to the possibility of raising the school-leaving age immediately after the war and of accompanying that forward move by instituting compulsory day continuation classes at the same time. I do not believe it is practicable to do the two together immediately after the war, however much good will and enthusiasm there might be for the move. We must consider the question 942 of the supply of teachers, without which we cannot go forward into the future with any great confidence, for the supply of teachers is vital to the whole of our educational reforms. I think it should be practicable to raise the school-leaving age in, say, the third post-war year and develop compulsory day continuation classes, introduced in the fourth post-war year and brought into full operation by the fifth or sixth year. If it is spread over that period, although it sounds a little depressing as it may take longer than many of us hope, some 3,500 additional teachers would be required to cope with all the new ideas.
It is interesting to note that there is a great preponderance of women teachers, especially in the primary and Class IV categories. Even not counting the war years, I am told that the percentage of men to women teachers was only 24, which is very low. It means we have a substantial dominance of women teachers, especially in the primary schools. Whether that is altogether right or not I leave the Committee to judge. I have always been of the opinion that a boy is better taught by a man, although I realise that younger children may be taught better by a woman. A great many boys who should be taught by a man are, however, now taught by women. I hope we shall be able to make the teaching profession more attractive in the future, and to do that we must certainly increase the emoluments. That was one of the first recommendations of the Advisory Council which the Secretary of State announced to-day, and I hope it will be received in the proper quarters with enthusiasm and with the greatest possible sympathy. Unless we can remedy the shortage of teachers, all our plans will fall to the ground, and in order to overcome the shortage we shall have to make the teaching profession more attractive, to increase emoluments, to give greater amenities, in short, raise the whole status of the profession, so that it will attract the serving men and women coming home from the war and be a profession which they will look forward to joining and in which they will be happy and contented.
I am told that the percentage of men teachers to women is not so bad in the higher categories of the Chapter V class of teachers. There, the percentage of men to women is as high as 61.4 per 943 cent., which is not so unsatisfactory, though even there I would have preferred more men. While I am on the subject of attracting more teachers into the profession, I am convinced that one of the essential things to do will be to offer greater facilities for promotion, and that can be done and will be done when more schools are built and when we are able to reduce the size of classes. That is vital, because it breaks the heart of a teacher to have too big a class, and it is thoroughly bad for the children, who cannot benefit from the individual attention which is so essential. If classes are reduced in size, there will presumably be more scope for promotion and a happier life for the teachers. Not only do we need more teachers, but we need to attract the best types of men and women into the profession. We must improve quality. In saying that, I by no means cast any slur upon the quality of the teaching profession to-day in Scotland, but everything is capable of improvement, and if we can attract the best type of men and women into this vocation—for it is a calling which requires very special qualifications and is by no means everybody's job—we shall have done a great work for the future of education in Scotland.
I want to say a word about the Act of 1918. That Act gives great powers to education authorities in Scotland to develop a very large number of reforms. In that respect no future legislation is required, and therefore I take it that we are in Order in discussing it. Under that Act provision is made for a very large number of reforms, amendments and improvements, but for a variety of reasons of which my right hon. Friend is so well aware, many of its important provisions have not been implemented or are only beginning to be implemented. I am not prepared at this time to go into the reason for it, but it is important to keep in mind that we have had on the Statute Book since 1918 a Measure providing for substantial developments in education which in many cases have not been introduced. For many years education authorities in Scotland have had these statutory powers, and there is great scope for development during the next two or three years; much can be done before the war ends apart from the prob- 944 lem of the shortage of teachers, without the necessity of any further legislation. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will look into these points, as the Advisory Council are looking into them, with a view to seeing what can be done without further legislation to improve existing conditions along progressive lines.
I want to see a revision of the curriculum. Many of our pupils are becoming little examinees. The curriculum needs to be revised to include more properly-taught religious instruction, given by people who earnestly and sincerely believe what they are teaching and are not just doing it because they have been told by the headmaster to do that job. I want to see religious instruction extended and never given by anybody but a convinced and earnest believer in the Christian faith.
§ Major Lloyd
It is a difficult problem, I agree, but I think we ought to try to tackle it. I would almost rather have no religious instruction at all than religious instruction given by someone in parrot fashion who has no personal convictions on the subject. I want to see more teaching of hygiene, more domestic subjects taught, more of the applied sciences—in the later periods—more mothercraft classes, and, above all, and in this I agree so whole-heartedly with my right hon. Friend, the inculcation of citizenship. This last-named subject is not a matter entirely for the local authorities and the schools, and not entirely a matter for the teachers. It certainly is not merely the teaching of civics, as my right hon. Friend rightly pointed out. Parents can co-operate to a large extent in this inculcation of what, for want of a better word, we call "citizenship". Here I am convinced that parents' associations could be most useful. I know of places where, through the enthusiasm of some of the teachers, most live and enthusiastic parents' associations have been formed, and they co-operate splendidly with the teachers, with the result that esprit de corps has greatly improved. I want to see greater pressure brought to bear by the education authorities in Edinburgh and by my right hon. Friend upon certain reactionary and backward education authorities. Some are doing splendidly, but others are doing badly. 945 What are we going to do about the backsliders? It seems to me there is nothing to be done except to exert pressure, and I would urge upon my right hon. Friend to exert that pressure to the maximum of his ability. I should like to see an extension of the bursary system in fee paying schools, and I should like to see State bursaries, for I do not see why bursaries should be exclusively provided by the local authorities. There is always a temptation for wealthy local authorities to offer bursaries while the poorer or more parsimonious local authorities do not do so. Many bursaries should be organised and paid for by the State.
§ Mr. Lindsay
The hon. and gallant Member is saying a lot of things, but is he suggesting that the State should take over education and relieve the rates?
§ Major Lloyd
I said nothing of the kind. In England it is a common practice, and it is going to be included, I understand, in the White Paper on education, that State bursaries shall be part of the educational system. All I am saying is that a principle in which I thoroughly believe should be to a certain limited extent introduced in Scotland, instead of leaving these things exclusively to the local authorities, although I would not take away from the local authorities the right to have their own bursaries as well. I hope that will satisfy my hon. Friend.
I appreciate from a remark which I overheard that I have gone on rather a long time, and so I will bring my speech to a close, but this subject is so vitally important and I have been so intimately associated with it during the last few months that I felt that I had to say what I have said. I earnestly hope that the progress which has been made in the last year will go on; that every effort will be made to extend school meals; that the Secretary of State and the Education Department of Scotland will do their utmost to spur the reactionary and backward authorities to a greater sense of their responsibilities; and that a very considerable number of reforms may be found possible, without legislation, as a result of the recommendations of the Advisory Council also on the initiative of the Secretary of State himself.
Mr. Mothers (Linlithgow)
Once again we have the opportunity, for a few hours at least, to turn the spotlight on Scottish education, and to use the opportunities thereby provided of stimulating ideas in Scotland with regard to education matters. While I am sure that all of us try to work to the Scottish idea of brief speeches, I am glad that to-day we are able to say what we have to say without any feeling of tremendous duress, because we are working under the conditions of unlimited time, the Rule with regard to the rising of the House having been suspended. I do not want to follow closely what the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) has been saying, but the point at which he seemed to become most vehement, if I may use that description of his manner at the time, was that in relation to the occupancy of the schools by Service Departments. I have had occasion to feel something of the indignation he was showing because of the disabilities that were placed upon scholars by such occupation of schools. I am glad to think that the acute cases which I brought to the notice of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland have been attended to, thanks to his intervention, and those schools are now free to carry on their proper functions, and I am told the pupils are now very happily circumstanced as compared with the position in which they were when part of the schools was taken up by the Service Departments.
§ The Chairman
Forgive my interruption, but I do not want the Committee to be under any misapprehension. The Rule has not been suspended for Supply, but suspended only in regard to the proceedings on the Town and Country Planning (Interim Development) (Scotland) Bill.
§ Mr. Mathers
I realise the position. It is a fact that we are dealing with more than the Business of Supply to-day, and we do not need to crowd the other Business into the period that is normally allotted.
§ Mr. Maxton
Am I to understand that there has been an agreement, through the usual channels, to finish Supply rather earlier in order that the Bill might proceed and that that is not now in contemplation?
§ Mr. Mathers
All I can say about that is that the hope was expressed at one time that we might manage both the Estimates and the Bill within the normal time. That was, I understand, much objected to, and the safety valve of an extended period was provided to enable the Business which it was intended to take to-day to be carried through.
The Secretary of State gave us a very comprehensive speech on the different aspects of this subject in Scotland, and I am sure the Committee followed him with very great attention. There were some black spots in the recital. We all regretted the statement with regard to juvenile offenders and the indications of a still-continuing, though somewhat improving, position regarding verminous children and children with diseases that might easily have been prevented by the use of the simple remedy of soap and water. These two problems are largely, if not entirely, matters that cause us to debit the parents with the responsibility for the failure in respect of the young people. Parental responsibility should be stressed, and every effort should be made to bring home to parents their responsibility in these matters.
There were brighter aspects of the statement. I was pleased to hear that school feeding continues to increase and that the statistics show an upward tendency, though perhaps it is not wise to stress that too much, because we still want to see greater activity in that direction. The brightest thing referred to by the Secretary of State was the many cultural activities within the boundaries of the educational system and the statement of what is done in country districts, especially one district that he greatly commended for its activity. It caused me to think again how much better our country people are at developing the real interests in life than are people who are catered for by all the amusement facilities of the towns. In the main, the country people, and especially those in the more remote districts, are able to provide their own amusements and interests, and they are very much better for it. It enables them to get very much more out of life than they would get merely by watching other people live, sometimes merely the representation of the life of other people, as furnished through the medium of the celluloid film, a life that has nothing what- 948 ever to do with the ordinary lives of the people.
I want to refer to one or two items in the summary Report that has been issued to us within the last day or two. I would draw attention to the statement of exemptions granted by local authorities under the Education (Scotland) Act, 1901, as given on page 4, and would ask for greater details to be provided as to the reasons for the very considerable increase in permanent exemptions, and temporary exemptions as well, in 1942, as compared with the preceding years. It is true that we have some indication in the Report of the reason for the temporary exemptions—the increased assistance with seasonal work, such as harvesting and the like—but there is room for further indication of the causes of those exemptions, which, from the educational point of view, are, of course, to be deplored. I was glad that the Secretary of State made reference to his efforts in connection with food education and to the cooking competitions that he has fostered during the past year. There was some sneering about that at the time when he launched his effort to have those competitions started, but the experience gained will have confounded those who sneered. Very great interest has been shown in the competitions, and I am sure that the instruction provided in the making of simple meals out of Scottish products will stand those who took part in them in very good stead in their lives subsequently.
A comment I want to make about statistics relates to page 9 of the Report, where there is a very succinct statement of the percentages of children in the different counties who have been provided with dinners, lunches and soup meals. It would be well, even in a summary Report, to set out the details for each county separately, showing its position in relation to other counties and to the previous year's figures. We ought to encourage the authorities concerned so that when they found themselves in an apparently backward condition they would search for the remedy, and probably they would make a better showing in the following year. This would be the result of their backward position being clearly brought home to them. I commend that suggestion to the attention of the Under-Secretary of State.
949 In addition to the Report issued by the Scottish Education Department, there has come into our hands during this week what I look upon as a very important document, issued by the Educational Institute of Scotland. It deals with proposals for reconstruction, and there I find very strongly brought forward my point with regard to parental responsibility for verminous children. Indeed, the spirit of this part of the Report gets away from its normal atmosphere altogether. The Report is very strong indeed about the necessity for the punishment of parents who allow their children to get into that condition, and it stresses the necessity for punishing parents who do not carry out the recommendations made to them by school doctors for providing their children with the necessary remedies, such as attending to their teeth and their eyes. Those points are stressed by people who see closely and at firsthand the detrimental effect on children involved in conditions which can be and ought to be remedied by the parents. The Report draws attention to the importance of the provision of school meals and the benefits that come about thereby.
§ Mr. Maxton
Do I understand the hon. Member to approve the policy of the Educational Institute of Scotland, of punitive measures against parents?
§ Mr. Mathers
I did not quite put it that way on my own account. I am drawing attention to the fact that those who are most closely in touch with this problem, seeing it at first hand, are most incensed about it, and that they place the responsibility where I believe it lies very largely, that is, upon the parents.
§ Mr. Maxton
That is why I intervened. It seemed different from the hon. Member's usual philosophy and attitude in these matters. Do I take it that he approves of the punitive method of trying to remedy this evil?
§ Mr. Mathers
Other efforts failing, and the case being clearly proved that there is absolute neglect and disregard of what is necessary to be done by parents for their children, I think, as a final resort, there must be some sanction taken against parents for the welfare of the children. I put it as strongly as that. As I said, this section of the Report from the Educational Institute of Scotland is quite foreign to the atmosphere of the rest of the Report. 950 [Interruption.] I know that the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) knows far more about teaching than I do and has come closely in touch with children and that he is in a better position than I am to judge the validity or otherwise of the clear indication that is expressed by those who have framed the Report to which I have made reference.
§ Mr. Maxton
I want the hon. Member to give the Committee the benefit of his views on this matter, but my feeling about it is that no greater psychological hurt can be done to children in their tender years than to make criminals of their parents.
§ Mr. Mathers
I realise to the full the seriousness of that position. The thought came to me that if the influence of a parent is to be discounted in the eyes of the child, what is to be the position? However, if parents completely disqualify themselves from any consideration, they finally have to take the consequences for so doing.
§ Mr. Mathers
Slums are only the physical environment, and they are to a very considerable extent due to mental outlook.
§ Mr. Mathers
Some people can make homes of places which to others would be slums. I should like to quote another extract which will be well worth putting on record in the proceedings of this Committee. It is from this important Report, as I consider it, and is made with regard to education generally:Scottish education has been too intellectual, seeking primarily to teach pupils to think justly. It must be more emotional, teaching them to feel rightly. They must learn to have respect for whatever things are pure, lovely and of good report, reverence for the things of the spirit and a passion for truth and justice.I believe that salvation from many of the evils that we find around us would be found if that ideal were carried into effect. My recollections of my own school days—and they were short, I regret to say—include the memory of a schoolmaster who had that passion for justice for right and truth, and although I do not think it can be laid to his credit that he succeeded in making many scholars, 951 I know he did succeed in making young men and women who had a very high regard for truth, justice and fair dealing. That attitude of mind on the part of those who framed this Report is also shown in that section of it headed: "The Religious and Moral Basis of Scottish Education". I quote again:In the past …. Scottish education has often been too limited in outlook, having as its real, if not its avowed, aim the attainment of social status for the individual. We have taught our pupils. … to think for themselves—That is what the Secretary of State was quoting too:We shall have to teach them to think of other people, to animate them with zeal, in the words of a recent Scottish Education Department circular for the service of their neighbours, their community and their country.'And those who framed this Report go on to say what I believe is absolutely true:The work, we believe, can best be done, and the spiritual welfare of our pupils best secured, if the Christian religion and moral training be made the basis of our education.I have taken longer than I intended, and I want to get to one or two general observations, so I will cease making these quotations.
The education we are trying to foster and establish in Scotland seems to me to require two essentials—equality of opportunity in education, and better quality of education itself. As regards equality of opportunity, a primary need is for smaller classes. Classes of 50 and thereabouts turn teachers into drill sergeants and cause them merely to be keeping discipline instead of instilling real education. Properly educated children cannot be produced by mass-production methods. Children need the opportunity to express themselves in speech and activity. This is quite impossible in large classes, where activity by the very nature of things must be restricted. It would be Donnybrook and a bear garden if there was not some restriction of activity where there are large classes. There should also be a steady avenue—I hesitate to use the word "ladder," because it seems so narrow and restricted—a steady avenue of opportunity from school to the highest posts in the land. I think in this respect that the Government can give a lead by providing that the progress of the young entrant to the Civil Service shall not be so hampered 952 when that progress is compared with the university graduate who enters in the higher ranks of the Civil Service that have to be striven for so hard by the entrant who comes in earlier in the lower ranges of the Civil Service. I know of this to some extent from experience on the railways. At one time it was the accepted thing that young people entered the railway service at the lowest end, and by their own merits and activity they could rise to the highest positions. Very largely that straightforward method has been stultified by bringing in people on a privileged plane into the higher ranks of the service, giving them the opportunity of running around among all those who have the solid groundwork of knowledge of the service, and, as it were, picking their brains and qualifying themselves out of the service of others for the higher positions.
§ Mr. Lindsay
My hon. Friend has raised an important point. Is he suggesting that University entrants to the Civil Service or any other profession should not be at a higher grade, that there is no point particularly in increased education between the ages of 16 and 18, and that all should start at 14 and move up?
§ Mr. Mathers
I did not quite say that. What I am saying is that there should be, for the young persons who go to work at 15, the opportunity to take with them the grounding they get in those lower ranks of the particular service which they have chosen. It will serve them well when they reach the higher administrative and managerial positions in the industry or whatever sphere they have chosen. I am not for a moment discounting the value of university education. I am merely saying that there should be a greater measure of opportunity for those who come in at the lower scale, and that they should not be automatically crowded out by those who come in with no actual grounding in the industry or profession and simply enter it at the upper end and block promotion for those below them. [An HON. MEMBER: Sir Josiah Stamp."] I was not on the L.M.S.
In relation to what I mentioned as to better quality of education, I think I am quoting a not very old statement when I say that there has been improvement in the teaching methods in the nursery and infant classes but that the teaching in the ordinary primary schools in Scotland has 953 not improved much in method in the last 80 years. Another statement which is not original is that the relationship of pupil and teacher has improved in the sports field but not in the classroom during recent years in Scotland. I think that is regrettable and indicates that the outlook of teachers themselves needs improvement in many instances. We come to perhaps a fundamental thing when we make a statement of that kind. I think the textbooks from which they are teaching require to be looked at. I know that the Secretary of State himself has made reference to this problem on more than one occasion, and I would urge him to take in hand at the earliest possible moment a complete review of the textbooks, history books and the like, that are in use in Scottish schools, and try to bring them nearer to modern requirements.
It seems to me—and I have made this reference in the Committee on a previous occasion—that some teachers without the really progressive outlook we would like to see are rather keen on having in use in the schools in which they are teaching the same history books from which they were taught when they were at school. It saves them a good deal of trouble in trying to get hold of new ideas with regard to teaching. I hope that suggestion applies only to a very few. But those who have progressive ideas, coming from the training colleges, into a school like that would have their progressive ideas and initiative and enterprise completely stultified. After a time it would smother their efforts for improvement.
I believe that in Scottish schools to-day much of the teaching is unreal—that is confirmed by various authorities—in having no proper relation to current life. We seek to use our schools for helping forward ideas of a new outlook on life, for better ideas of our position as citizens. Citizenship is a word which has been used by both speakers who have preceded me, and it is true that we need a great improvement in the teaching of citizenship, the relationship of one to another. While tradition may be very valuable as a guide, am certain that we must not spend our lives trying to get back to the traditional ideas but that we must seek to move forward to the new order we hear so much about. There are those with ideas of educating Germany out of her wrong ideas after we have conquered 954 her in this war. I think there are many wrong ideas in our own country to which we could apply a good deal of a similar remedy. We must not as Scots people concentrate unduly upon what Scotland and the Scots have done in the past. We must put more energy into a determination to make our young people give her a future even greater than her past. I believe that the capacity for that achievement is there if we provide wisely and adequately for its expression and development. I hope that to-day the speeches that will be made here by others much more competent than myself to take a lead in educational matters will give an impetus to that forward move in Scottish education which is absolutely necessary if we are not to lose our place as an educated country.
§ Mr. G. A. Morrison (Scottish Universities)
I should like to join the two previous speakers in congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on the statement he has made. The first thought that occurred to me was that his speech was a very good illustration of the greatly increased variety of things which now come under the conception of education. The next thought that struck me was how very much more important it has become to ensure that a supply of well-trained people to carry on the actual work shall be available.
Before I come to the question of the supply of teachers, I should like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for something he has recently done. Speaking from this place last year, I made reference to the failure of certain education authorities in Scotland to honour the decisions of the National Joint Council. That is a body on which authorities and teachers are equally represented. The two points I made last year had reference to war bonus and the supplementing of the pay of teachers on war service. It ought not to have been necessary for my right hon. Friend to remind any public body of its obligation, its moral obligation, to honour a nationally negotiated agreement unanimously reached by a Joint Council. My right hon. Friend issued last year a timely and very helpful circular on the subject. This year he has gone one better. Having tried persuasion without complete success, he has now rewarded virtue by a modification in the grants Regulations, offering a larger grant to authorities which honour 955 in full the recommendation of the National Joint Council regarding war bonus. For that practical recognition and help I can assure him of the gratitude not merely of teachers but of all genuinely interested in education.
I propose to return to a matter which I raised last year—the question of the supply of teachers. I speak with some knowledge on this subject, having served for 21 years on the National Committee for the Training of Teachers, and for the last three of those years on the Central Executive of that body. I would like to read two expressions of opinion as to the importance of the problem. The first is from one of the educational manifestos which we have all been reading:In any consideration of reform in education, whether of its structure or in the content of the curriculum, we realise that at the heart of it all there is the teacher, and that any reform or reconstruction will be of little avail unless the whole scheme of the supply and training of teachers is planned to meet the needs of the children.Here is another:I have dwelt at length on the problem of the recognition of the intellectual and spiritual individuality of the teacher. All other reforms are conditional upon reform in the quality and character of those who engage in the teaching profession. Just because education is the most personal, the most intimate of all human affairs, there, more than anywhere else, the sole ultimate reliance and final source of power are in the training, character and intelligence of the individual.These are the words of America's greatest educator of our century, John Dewey. The warning which I gave last year was repeated by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan) and by others. I know that my right hon. Friend is fully aware of the seriousness of the problem. As he has told us, one of the first tasks which he gave to the resuscitated National Advisory Council was "to find out whether the existing arrangements for the recruitment and supply of teachers are adequate, and to make recommendations."
As I see it, he has two problems, one immediate and the other a matter of long-term policy. The immediate problem is how, without raising the school-leaving age, without day continuation schools, without reducing the size of classes, he can make up the wastage due to war and the shortage caused by the recent sharp 956 decline in the number of teachers. That decline had been going on for several years before the war, and it has been much accentuated since the outbreak of war. The arrears due to under-supply plus the arrears due to casualties—and not all teachers who come back from the war will wish to go on teaching—amount perhaps to 2,500. That means that, in addition to finding the normal supply of teachers from year to year, we have very soon to make an additional recruitment of more than a year's supply. Even supposing that the bulk of the serving teachers return to teaching, here is an immediate problem calling for drastic measures to meet it. Retired teachers and married women are now serving in the schools in considerable numbers—I think the number is about 2,700. You cannot expect these to go on much longer.
What other sources of supply are available? Men and women in the Forces who before joining had some training but had not commenced the actual work of teaching, may be reckoned on. Secondly, there are others who have not yet had training but feel attracted to the work. Appeals ought to be made to such people now. Special arrangements ought to be made for short courses of training and of academic preparation. I can assure my right hon. Friend that the profession, given certain conditions, will not make difficulties about what is called dilution. But in fairness to the new teachers themselves and to the existing teachers, al time limit should be prescribed within which a satisfactory academic standard is to be reached. Men and women drawn from industry and commerce should be encouraged to train in larger numbers for technical teaching. Other methods may have to be tried. But the urgency is great, and the problem must be taken in hand at once. The difficulty, as someone has pointed out, is that it is in the supply of Chapter V teachers that the problem is worst. These are the teachers of the highest classes. Last year the decline was something like 80 per cent. That scarcity has been made much more serious by the practical extinction of the Arts faculties in universities. I confess that I do not see a solution, short of an appeal to the Minister of National Service for the return of some of those in the Services and the suspension of the call-up in the case of intending teachers.
957 Then there is the long-term problem, of how to make the profession more attractive. That has already been referred to to-day. One is glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that his Advisory Council recommends increased remuneration for all categories of teachers. That is not everything, but it is something. I remember that many years ago the late Professor Burnet, of St. Andrews, one of the very ablest of our educators, issued a pamphlet, in which he showed that only a very few of the first-class honours graduates of universities turned to school-teaching. I have no reason to believe that the situation is any better to-day.
An improvement in status and the public estimation of the profession would also be very helpful. Teachers in Scotland have for long been striving for a graduate profession. It must be over 20 years since I moved a resolution to that effect in the annual general meeting of the Educational Institute. Two of the universities of Scotland have departments of education, and in each case the professor is also head of the training centre in the same city. The two remaining universities ought to be encouraged and assisted to do the same thing. Finance is the difficulty. There should be fully equipped and staffed departments of education in all four universities, with facilities for experiment and research, with refresher courses, and post-graduate scholarships for foreign travel and study. This would undoubtedly be a great help towards enhancing the status and public estimation of the teaching profession.
But there is something more. I was greatly struck by the recent pronouncement of a distinguished university psychologist. He works in Scotland, and he was speaking of Scottish education. He holds that self-respecting young men and women are not allured by the system whereby teachers are paid out of local rates and appointed and controlled by local lay committees, some of whose members know nothing about education. There is a parallel in the reluctance of the medical profession to consider the institution of a health service controlled by local committees. Members of this House who have read the literature recently circulated—no small task in these days—will have read the proposals of the Educational Institute of Scotland for a more centralised administration. It sounds very revolu- 958 tionary, but we have already seen revolutions take place. One, in particular, took place when the number of education authorities in Scotland was suddenly reduced some years ago from 960 to 35. That was achieved with incredible smoothness, as Julius Caesar says. Objection will no doubt be raised that if local autonomy is abolished local interest will disappear. But surely interest in education is not dependent upon the holding of control, and any scheme of centralisation would have to provide for local as well as national advisory committees. I must not discuss that at length now: it is part of a long-term policy; but it is a question which must be tackled.
In recent months I have read practically all the educational manifestoes I have been able to lay my hands on. They, naturally, vary very greatly, but there is pretty general agreement on three or four main points, the need for raising the school age to 15 without any exemptions, and as soon as may be to 16, secondly, a reduction in the size of classes, and, thirdly, for provision for part-time education up to the age of 18. I hope that we shall hear before long how and when these things are to be done.
§ Mrs. Hardie (Glasgow, Springburn)
I want to put one or two points to the Secretary of State regarding the development of education and the position of education in Scotland just now. I think that he and the Tinder-Secretary would be among the first to agree that the position is far from satisfactory. We realise the limitations and the difficulties under which the education authorities have been working because of war conditions. While the position has improved regarding the occupation of schools by military bodies and others, it is still far from being satisfactory.
Ninety-eight per cent. of the children in Scotland are receiving full time and only 2 per cent. part-time education. Some of that education is being carried on in overcrowded buildings and so on. At the beginning of the war there was perhaps some excuse for running around and taking over all sorts of buildings, but there has since been time to review the position, and in some districts there is great dissatisfaction. Up-to-date schools have been requisitioned by the military when other buildings have been available, and in one case of which I know a school for 959 defective children was taken over and the children were pushed out and scattered all over. That school was taken over by the military and it has not been handed back to the authorities. It may be that the children who attended there are being educated but they are not being educated under the conditions that ought to apply. I would ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to press very strongly on the Cabinet the fact that we can never make up for or repair the damage done to children by giving education in very unsatisfactory conditions.
We are told that there is an acute shortage of teachers, particularly in mathematics, science and technical subjects. These are subjects in which young people will have to be trained if, after the war, we are to take our position in the world. I am not belittling the more cultural subjects, far from it, but the position is very unsatisfactory in secondary schools. I recently met a special mathematics master who has been a drill-sergeant in the Army for three years. A good many elementary school teachers have been drafted into these schools who are not specially qualified to give the necessary training. You keep key men in their own jobs in industry and even in distributive trades, which are not so important as the provision of education for the future, and yet you cannot demand that key men should be released from the Army and put back in their special jobs in the teaching profession. I am interested in orthodox education and would ask, why cannot you hold classes for soldiers and try to educate them a little more? It is said that they are shifted about so much and that it is very difficult to do anything, but surely that is an extreme waste of man-power. The Department of Education should really go into the question of how many really qualified men are being kept in the Army who are not being used to the best advantage of the country. The point has been made of making use of superannuated and married women teachers. Many superannuated teachers may be very capable, but it must be remembered that people get out of date and that there are now new methods in education and there is a danger that many of these teachers may not be of the best type. I would be the last person to belittle married women teachers, 960 but many of these have been out of education for 10 or 15 years, and unless they have been able to keep themselves up to date they must have a lot of leeway to make up.
The whole position as regards education in Scotland is very unsatisfactory indeed, and even under war conditions something should be done to keep up the standard of efficiency in future. It is said that we have not enough teachers. Nowadays a young woman of 19 is not allowed to go into training as a teacher but is directed into the making of munitions or something like that. The Minister of Labour is not only dealing with young men but is taking a very strong hand with regard to young women, and the Secretary of State for Scotland and education authorities should take up the matter with the Minister of Labour. It was suggested to me on one occasion that a teacher ought to go into industry and learn some of the hardships of ordinary life and that that would be a good training. But the teacher must have a certain academic training, and if the Government prevent these people from getting that training they are not going to have the teachers. It is no use saying that there must be technical education and special classes if you cannot find the teachers to enable you to carry on.
We are told that there were 14,269 children who were exempted from the school-leaving age in 1942, 7,000 of whom were permanently exempted. Why should there be any permanent exemptions from education of children under 14? If it is the home circumstances which are bad some other provisions should be made for the home; children should not be sacrificed in this way by being taken from school. While it is important that agricultural and other work should be done, I am not prepared to agree that the education of school children should suffer, and provision ought to be made for them to return to school later. We are told that there are only something like 35 nursery schools and that we have space in some ordinary schools for another 27 nursery schools. There should be greater development of nursery schools. I am not one who thinks that every child should go into a nursery school from the age of z to 5. If a woman lives in a decent house, with a garden, and she is fairly intelligent and is prepared to look after 961 her young children, that is the ideal way of doing it. I do not picture a nation of little robots, with children being trained from the cradle to the grave without having some chance of developing their own individuality. But there ought to be some provision made for children living with their parents in tenements where they cannot receive the fresh air and exercise which they need, and especially is this so in the case of young married women with children living in rooms, where the whole position is unsatisfactory. I would press upon the Secretary of State to do what he can to encourage education authorities to do something in this connection. I find even from my own contact with councillors, that they are not very progressive on this question. They talk about lazy mothers and generally in a reactionary way. There is no question of that. A woman living in a tenement, if she has her housework to do, can only take her children out for an hour or so daily and that is not sufficient There is no provision for the children to be outside. It is in regard to these cases that the nursery school is most needed. A good many women have been urged to go into industry and leave their children, and the conditions in which they have to leave them are very unsatisfactory indeed.
It is satisfactory to know that the physique of children, particularly in Glasgow, has improved. There is no more damning criticism of this nation than to say that during the war, with all the restrictions on food and so on, the physique of children has improved. It shows a scandalous state of things to have existed when it is said that we allowed our children to deteriorate to such an extent that they were not even fed as well as they are in war-time, with all restrictions on food, which many of us feel it hard to put up with. A good deal more might have been done in that connection. The local authorities are not really standing up to their job when throughout Scotland there is only about 19.1 per cent. of the school children provided with a midday meal. Milk is all right, but it is not enough in itself for older children. The biggest advantage that the Secretary of State could introduce would be to ensure that children should be provided with a good midday meal. I have looked in the Report to see what we are doing in Glasgow, and I find 962 that Glasgow does not stand too high. In the country districts children have to travel further afield, but in the cities the figures are very black; they are only 15 per cent. in Lanark, and in Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh and Fife and other places the percentage is very low. The Secretary of State should press upon local authorities to provide a midday meal.
The milk position seems to be pretty satisfactory, and I agree that there are a certain number of children who cannot take milk. I am not belittling the provision of milk, but I wish the Secretary of State would really go ahead with the provision of a really properly balanced meal, which would no doubt do a great deal to prevent many of the troubles with which children are afflicted. The Report refers to the improvement of children in regard to size, which in my opinion has something to do with heredity. The Report says that, on the average, the children are a little heavier and larger than they used to be, especially in Glasgow schools. On the question of cleanliness, I do not think people are dirtier than they were five years ago, with children being taught swimming and with baths being provided and better housing conditions in some cases, and the installation of baths. I have my own theories about skin troubles. Diet has a lot to do with skin troubles such as scabies. People feed wrongly on sausages and tea, whereas they should have properly balanced meals.
I am told that in the City of Glasgow there are a lot of queer skin diseases of which nobody has heard before. One explanation given is that there are many foreigners there and all kinds of germs are being imported, but there you are. No one is more keen than I am about cleanliness, and at least elementary cleanliness is possible. You can have an elementary standard of cleanliness even under difficulties, but it is not quite fair to blame all the people. These skin diseases are very infectious, and, with regard to the washing facilities provided for school children, there is no more dangerous method of infection than the hand towel. I am pretty sure that children are not provided with separate towels and I would say that, in view of the scarcity of towels, those provided are not enough for them to be kept reasonably clean. I am sure that the sanitary arrangements 963 in schools are not looked after as they ought to be. I would like to see greater use made of school clinics for the purpose of instructing parents in hygiene and nutrition, and the need of sleep for children. One of the difficulties in cities is that children do not get enough rest. While daylight saving may suit me very well, I do not think that it is a good thing for children, particularly in the towns. It is no use saying that parents can put their children to bed earlier, as, with the din that goes on all round, there is no chance of the children sleeping at all. In Scotland, particularly, I am sure the children do not get enough sleep. I suggest that school clinics should not be used only for dealing with these diseases but that at them some instruction might be given to mothers. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has pointed out that we cannot do a worse service than by putting mothers into prison because they do not keep their children's heads clean. It is unthinkable. If there are parents so bad as that, then it is only logical to take their children away from them. I am not advocating that, but it would at least be logical.
I am not so much worried about juvenile delinquency as some people seem to be. I do not think children are worse than they were before the war. I am an old woman, and I think children are better behaved now than ever they were. We were all hooligans, more or less, when we were young. I was speaking to an hon. Member the other day, questioning him about juvenile delinquency, and I found out that when he was young he had been concerned in all sorts of fights and had fits of smashing things. Further, there is a war mentality. Children see the results of bombs being dropped, buildings being blown up and everything destroyed. I am told that some of the smashing of shelters—which I am not justifying—is due to the fact that those responsible are playing at commando raids. So I think we are getting needlessly concerned about this delinquency. I remember once being at an industrial school and seeing what seemed to me to be a rather nice boy. I made inquiries, and I was told that he would not have been there unless he had committed two crimes, which, in this case, were stealing and malicious mischief. I 964 pressed my inquiries further, and I was told that these two crimes consisted of stealing an apple off a tree and kicking a football in a prohibited place with the result that something was broken. That is how we make criminals. Perhaps if we inquire into other cases of juvenile delinquency we shall find that they have been due to a lack of proper playing fields and a proper outlet for the children. I notice that enrolment for continuation classes is poor. These classes were always my pet scheme, because I always felt that while we provided facilities for the smart boy or girl, the ordinary boy or girl was more or less neglected. With the black-out and long hours being worked by young people, however, it is surprising that so many have enrolled; they must be enthusiasts.
In conclusion, may I indicate one or two things that might be done after the war? A White Paper dealing with the reconstruction of education in England has just been issued, and while I do not want to criticise it—it is not my pigeon—I cannot help feeling that it shows a little window dressing. When examined, the goods do not seem so attractive as they at first appear. I hope that in our recommendations for the future we shall strike a more original and thorough note. As I have said, I want more nursery schools, which can also be used as a means of educating mothers. The average mother I meet seems to be doing her best for her children. I deprecate the lecturing of mothers. Never was there a time when mothers were so interested in doing the best they can for their children. There is a different outlook now by fathers and mothers from what there used to be. I suspect that there were a good many unwanted children in the past. Parents looked upon them solely as a means of helping out their own income; they did not make the sacrifices which many parents are making now. I do not agree that fatherhood and motherhood have deteriorated. In olden days people were very cruel to their children. Women need a little encouragement. If they are healthy and strong, they are willing to work and look after their children. A good many lazy mothers are women of low health who are struggling against physical disability all the time. They need a little help, encouragement and advice rather than bullying lectures. I remember a new housing estate in my own division at which there was a baby show. 965 I did not want to choose the best babies for fear that other mothers would be down on me, but I never saw finer children in my life. I am sure that if women were given decent conditions and houses, they would rise to the occasion and realise their responsibilities to the full.
I think something should be done to raise the standard of our elementary schools. For a start we want better buildings. We get them all right for defective children or for secondary education. We want more facilities for games, especially for those between the ages of seven and II, and we want smaller classes. Whether we get the smaller classes depends of course upon the supply of teachers. I have not the pleasant memory of teachers as one of my hon. Friends who spoke a short while ago. I can remember some very unjust things being done to scholars. One of my schoolmasters was a very religious man, who used to say a long prayer every morning and ask a boy to write down the names of those children who used to open their eyes while he was saying it. Afterwards they were punished. If that is the way to teach religion, I do not know of anything better to create atheism.
Why is there such a difference between the standard of payment for teachers in elementary schools and those in secondary schools? The elementary school teachers are doing just as difficult a job, often under worse conditions. Both grades of teachers should have the same wages and conditions. I am sure we all agree about raising the school leaving age, but I do not want the central school education to be coloured and called secondary education. Secondary education ought to be real secondary education. I am very keen on academic subjects being taught to everybody. I do not believe that any knowledge is useless. The giving of stereotyped education to young people who want to be taught only certain subjects is, I think, wrong. The tragedy is that many of us never had the opportunity of getting all the knowledge we wanted. I am very anxious that the knowledge of specialised subjects should be developed in the continuation classes after the age of 16. Up to that age I think a good general education is required, and while I do not find fault with the teaching of cookery and domestic science as part of education, I am much averse to too much specialised instruction.
966 I know some people who have never had a cookery lesson in their lives who can cook some of our chefs blind. I object to too much cramming. Specialised education can be given between the ages of 16 and 18. During that period the boy or girl can have a choice of subjects. I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend say how, in his own area, he mixed pleasurable subjects with cultural subjects, such as dancing and physical exercises. He did not seem to think that that was education. Teaching children to dance—I do not say to box—is just as much. education as taking part in physical exercises. That is the sort of education that will develop character. Young people today will not stand being lectured. Citizenship should be discussed in schools. Do not let it be taught by a teacher of economics who will bore the children stiff. I hope that my right hon. Friend will go ahead and that he will be here when the war is over. It seems hard that when he has such a fine opportunity everything will be made so difficult. I know he has some enlightened views on education, and I hope that he will be able to develop them fully.
§ Lieutenant - Commander Hutchison (Edinburgh, West)
Education is a subject very near to the heart of every Scotsman, and my fellow countrymen to-day have been even more loquacious than usual about it. For that reason I will be very brief and will confine myself to a few comments on the Minister's interesting speech. Unfortunately, I was not able to be present during the first few minutes, and I am not quite clear when the new Bill concerning the reconstruction of Scottish education is to be introduced or whether there is to be a White Paper preceding it as in the case of England. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will mention it in his reply. He dealt in some detail with the subject of juvenile delinquency. I am fairly tolerant towards the activities of the younger children. As the Secretary of State said, boys will be boys and will pilfer apples and so on, and though one does not approve of it, it is probably inevitable. On the other hand, it is desirable on moral grounds and in the interests of the State and of the children concerned that they should be rebuked suitably when these crimes are discovered, and every encouragement should be given them not to indulge in practices of that nature.
967 But what is disturbing a good many people interested in the welfare of young persons is that those in the adolescent age group of 16 to 18 are responsible for a good deal of malicious mischief. I speak with feeling, because they have done it recently in my garden, and probably other Members have suffered in a like way. I feel that when young people come to the age of 16 they should have better sense than that and that we should endeavour to divert their energies into more suitable channels. This youth registration scheme, followed up by interviews, would probably be helpful in that respect. I wish we could cover the gap that exists between those who are registered and those who are interviewed and subsequently join some youth organisation. I am rather impressed by the procedure that is carried out by some of the education authorities in England where registration is done under the auspices of the authorities in juvenile employment bureaux, and I think that scheme might well be adopted in Scotland. As far as I am aware, Edinburgh is the only education authority which possesses a juvenile employment bureau, and I throw out the suggestion that other local authorities might adopt the same idea, which I think is a good one. I was on the Education Committee of Edinburgh for a good many years, and know that the scheme has always worked well there. It is desirable on general grounds that the registration and the interviews should be the province of the education authorities rather than the Ministry of Labour.
To turn to another subject, a point was put to me by someone in Edinburgh who is very much interested in education. Have the Government and the Scottish Education Department in particular any idea in view for the utilisation of country houses at present requisitioned by the Government? Some of these might be used for some educational purposes, for instance, a residential hostel for young persons or something of that kind after the war. I believe the scheme has been adopted in other places, and the use of country houses where young persons could take courses, perhaps week-end courses and the like, under suitable guidance, would be useful in our more advanced system of education. Unfortunately, owing to the economic conditions which are likely to be prevalent after the war, very few people will be able to renew 968 occupancy of these houses for their own private purposes, and it seems desirable that good use should be made of them in the public interest if their original proprietors cannot live there. I throw out the suggestion that education authorities should earmark certain of them for hostel purposes.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) mentioned the question of married teachers. There is a great scarcity of teachers at the moment, and it is likely to become much worse. I feel very strongly that the rules and regulations concerning the employment of married teachers should be relaxed after the war and that their retention might well be encouraged. I feel that the general question in regard to the entry into employment of women in the various professions after the war will come up in many forms and that professional women generally will be very anxious to continue in the work they are doing at present, and that education is one of these professions which might well remain open to married women. I hope the Secretary of State and the Education Department will consider that as a long-term policy.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
I apologise for intervening in this Debate, because I feel that it is very difficult to speak if one has not been wholly educated in Scotland, and I feel somewhat diffident in making many points, except possibly of a comparative and relative nature. I think it is bad luck for the Secretary of State to appear at that Box in the middle of a war and try to put across anything in connection with education. I should like to see him tried out in more favourable circumstances. I think this Annual Report is rather complacent. I should like to ask a few questions about the reason for things that have been said to-day. It is said that there was a shortage of teachers before the war. What was the reason for the decreasing number of entrants? Why is there this absence of cookery in the schools, about which the Secretary of State never ceases to talk? It has been fairly common in all the new schools, and a good many of the older ones, in England to have domestic science. At any rate, it is not a new thing.
Why is juvenile delinquency increasing? Subject to anything the hon. Lady 969 the Member for Springburn (Mrs. Hardie) says, I think it is grossly exaggerated, or, rather, the discussion of it takes far too little account of new ascertainment. Probably much of it was not ascertained before. But, apart from that, why is it actually increasing in Scotland, incidentally in my constituency? We are completely puzzled by it. Expert people who are analysing it from every angle cannot see correlations which are very helpful. It looks as if there are certain pockets here and there, but he would be a bold man who said there was any definite cause apart from the general war feeling and the break-up of the homes, which is common to England, Wales and everywhere else. We have pre-service units highly developed, we have Sea Scouts and a very good A.T.C., Army cadets and a youth centre, a Salvation Army centre, and everything the right hon. Gentleman spoke of, so it is not particularly the absence of youth organisation.
Why, too, is it that in Scotland, where the Secretary of State is himself Minister of Health and President of the Board of Education, he cannot get something more done about nursery schools? In my constituency we have at last got one, but it has taken a couple of years. The education authority knows nothing about it because the 100 per cent. grant was paid by the Department of Health in Edinburgh. The local authority did not pay anything towards it. There is now a waiting list, as there is a waiting list in other constituencies. The right hon. Gentleman told us solemnly one day that this was a matter that we could leave to the Churches, that Scotland was different, and everyone would help it out. That was two years ago. There is a great deal of complacency about these matters, and I think Scotland is living on its past. I quote from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, I think the year the war broke out:I am afraid, however, that England has made rapid strides and, unless we can do something more than we are doing, we are likely to lag behind.Those were his words. I should like to know what he thinks about that now. Why should the number of schools partly occupied have risen last year? In the first three years of the war it might be expected, but why has it risen last year? Why should 16,000 children still be receiving half-time education? We are 970 told that irregularity of attendance is reaching disquieting proportions. Why again is the percentage of meals lower than in England, and why are Kilmarnock and why and one other town the only places where pre-apprenticeship building courses have taken place? Why after three years have only ten authorities got proper schemes for youth advisory councils? There is no excuse for that at all. I know when this thing started, and I had a little to do with it. One of the junior Lords of the Treasury was Under-Secretary of State. I will quote the remark made at Aberdeen by one who has been for long a member of the local education authority. It is all very well for the Secretary of State to quote the club in Aberdeen where the 1,600 are. I fully agree that it is a grand show, incidentally run by voluntary people until recently. The whole origin was a voluntary spirit. Of Aberdeen, where the youth centres are run by the authorities—and very good they are—this is what the convenor says in a little pamphlet which he has written:The department has been timid and halting and at the best has only temporised with a situation requiring radically new treatment. Some really tangible and concrete proposals should be forthcoming.I have asked a number of questions, and I should like to know the answers. I could ask others. I do not actually blame the Secretary of State, because I think he has an impossible job. At one moment he has to come here and with great skill has to satisfy masses of people and different authorities on hydro-electric development. The next moment he has to come down and put forward a complicated Bill on some quite different subject. To-day he has had to know the ins and outs of Scottish education. It is impossible for any one man to contain them in his mind.
Scottish education needs a breath of fresh air right through the whole system. It needs a revival, a pioneering spirit, experiment and an acute examination of its deficiencies. That is why I am glad that Dr. George MacLeod has been given £100,000 just to do some experiments with. I wish there were a few more such trusts that could help. I agree largely with the Report of the Educational Institute of Scotland. For the benefit of English Members, I would say that that is a comprehensive body representing all teachers and not just the National Union 971 of Teachers. Somewhat late in the day the Secretary of State has initiated through his Advisory Council a number of inquiries. I say somewhat late because, although he came in in 1941, these inquiries were set on foot only last November. I am pleased that he has reconstituted the council and varied the terms of reference. I congratulate him on the fact that the council has got going, but surely their work ought to be continuous. Surely the whole field needs fertilising with the best experiments. Who can say that that has been done? I am not blaming the existing Government, but I say that we must get to the bottom of the criticisms which are so often made against Scottish education. There is a Minister of Education for New Zealand, and we must have one for Scotland. We have just under 1000,000 children, and it must be one person's responsibility to be concerned with their health, education, training and employment.
To-day we hear that the Minister of Labour is telling boys of 16 and 17 that they have to go down to the mines. What has been done about the Forster Report? Practically nothing. That Report has been out for some time. There is no entrance-plan into the mining industry or into the cotton industry. There is little planned entrance into any industry unless it is of a highly skilled nature.
Nobody is happy about the 35 education authorities. There is 100 per cent. grant for school meals, and if you want an A.T.C. or engineer cadets there is a 200 per cent. grant. The Scottish Educational Institute goes right through with it and the logic of the thing is an educational commission for Scotland. I do not want to be taken as supporting in every detail of a national commission for Scotland and local advisory committees in various areas and districts, but I say that it is all humbug, whether it is Scotland or England, to talk about equality of opportunity when the chances of secondary education in one county are quite different from those in another. It is fundamentally a question of finance, and it is no good urging local authorities to do better. They are up against it. They have low rates. I do not think education should depend on the rating of buildings. It is a national responsibility and we have Vo work out some method of combining local interest 972 in the school—and there are a good many ways of doing that—with national financial responsibility.
Why are not teachers going into the profession? Why should they go? I have letters from headmasters and rectors of academies, and they tell me why. The reason, first, is because the profession is badly paid, and, second, because they cannot call their souls their own. A headmaster in Scotland, as far as I know the schools, cannot appoint his own assistant masters, although he may help. He is not running his own ship. As long as you have teachers dependent for their jobs on political considerations and on county and city councillors, you will not get people coming back from Tunisia to go into education. Why should they? The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. G. A. Morrison), who knows more about it than most of us, is perfectly right. Teachers are willing to be judged by informed people, but there is no reason why they should be judged by some of the education committees as they are constituted to-day. People talk of democracy as if it were a denial of democracy to say that the teacher should not be appointed by somebody who knows nothing about their subject. We have to work out a new technique for making democracy work, and there are many ways of doing it. There is the technique of a good governing body and a good management committee. I could take my right hon. Friend to places in my constituency where youth organisations have started during the war. Seven or eight people have created a new interest. In the Sea Cadets, for instance, there are 150 boys with six officers, and a year ago there were none. All that has been created by the people themselves. The men who serve on the management committee are ordinary folk who have taken especial interest in a specific unit.
People who are sitting on huge education authorities dealing with sanitation and a whole series of other questions are not necessarily the right people to be in control of schools. I would not hand over secondary schools, as far as I had any responsibility, to the present education authorities as they are constituted. We would be handing over something far too precious. A school is a spiritual community, and thank heaven there are still a few schools left which have a life of their own. I want to see private schools 973 inspected, but I want to see something of the spirit which still remains where a headmaster can call his soul his own and choose his staff and build up something which is distinctive and characteristic not only of himself but of the area in which he is living. I would like to see every headmaster given a small financial float so that he can use it for experiments. Why is it that the vice-chairman of my right hon. Friend's Advisory Council says that it is a pretty poor thing that there have been no residential boarding schools in Scotland? Why does he have to say this now? Because there was no machinery before to say whether it was a good thing or a bad thing. We have the 35 education authorities but very little new experiments going on. I made careful inquiries in the last six months to find out how much experimenting is going on. The system has become rigid. It is examination ridden.
I suggest, therefore, not only from the point of view of Government but from the point of view of creating diversity of opportunity, that we ought to get back to a simpler curriculum, back to the three R's if you like. Old people I know in Scotland who left school at 14 seem to me to be better educated than a good many people who are leaving to-day. They seem to have a greater grasp of literature. Why is it? Apparently because they read a few books and knew them thoroughly, especially between the years 14 and r5. Why do not boys go, to the continuation classes in English and arithmetic? They go in for plumbing, engineering, painting, sign-writing, typing and shorthand because these are things related to the life they know. For the same reason a boy will cycle four miles to do an arithmetic test in order to get into the A.T.C., because he knows that there is a specific object in front of him. They do not go to continuation classes which are dull places, taught by tired teachers, and the pupils themselves are often tired.
I do not agree with the remarks in this document about registration. I do not believe for a moment that registration in Scotland increased the number in youth organisations by 20 per cent. There is no sort of proof of it. I will tell the Committee what happened in Kilmarnock. As soon as they knew it was voluntary the second G.T.C. dropped out. That happened in many other cases. The registration was useful in focusing attention 974 especially on long hours. The time has long gone when it ought to be stopped. It is taking up an enormous amount of time of harassed and over-worked officials and of people on committees. The problem is serious. There are 360,000 young people between 14 and 18 in Scotland, and 200,000 of them are untouched, in spite of what the Secretary of State said, by any organisation. They are turned out at the age when many of the people in this House began their education. Fifty per cent. work on machines and they have machine-made leisure. They do not want preaching. They want concrete opportunities to do things. I know that this is true because I have proved it. We started forestry camps in England and Scotland for boys who are in work and at school, and there are 20,000 applications in an office not far from here for only 5,000 vacancies. If you give them the concrete things which appeal to their imagination and sense of service, citizenship will be a byproduct. You cannot teach it. I plead with my right hon. Friend and the Under-Secretary, who knows a lot about this, to take this problem of the adolescent a little more seriously, and face the problem of the entrance into industry. Have we really come to the time when we can apply pre-service to the air and the sea and cannot apply it to cotton or mining or agriculture? There is no ladder by which a boy can get into agriculture. We have young farmers' clubs in my constituency, but there is nothing else. Pre-service to the Merchant Navy is only just being worked out. We ought, because we are living in a machine age, to have pre-service training for every industry. That will begin to bring a purpose into education.
That is why I suggest that the Secretary of State ought to consider something else besides cooking and citizenship—I know he has taken a lot of trouble over those—consider whether it is possible to go on with this old philosophy in Scottish education. We teach boys that the object of life is to get on, and it has worked, up to a point, for many hundreds of years, but they go out into a world where everybody cannot get on. That is why I interrupted my hon. Friend who sits for one of the Lothians, who seemed to think it was wrong to have a first-class Civil Service, because I had thought that was one of the improvements in the Scottish 975 Civil Service in the last 10 years, and that it was quite wrong to have a differential age at which you move into industry, though at the same time he was not prepared to put forward a scheme of training. My right hon. Friend cannot have day continuation schools to-morrow. You cannot raise the school-leaving age until three years after the war with no proper buildings and teachers. I am not talking about a never-never world, I am not referring to a time when we shall have the school-leaving at r6 and continuation schools and I suggest that my right hon. Friend will have to go very much further and see that there is much greater provision made for organisers and leaders and buildings and the rest. We must bring this matter home to the Scottish people if we are during the next five years to raise a generation which is capable of living and enjoying the postwar world.
§ Mr. Maxton (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I have been interested in the Debate which we are having to-day. It has raised a whole lot of subjects which have been controversial, and porridge is one of the things I should like to be controversial about. I think porridge is just one of the greatest swindles that was ever worked on an innocent and unsuspecting people. I do not think that porridge has any great food value. It supplies what the animal nutrition people call "bulk," but as food it is just no use at all. [Interruption.] Milk is good if it is taken apart from porridge. But it is a characteristic of the Scottish people to tend to deify the things they must just put up with. It was the only foodstuff in old Scotland which we had in any quantity, and it had this great advantage, that you could put it in a great big pot and, by the addition of a little extra, water, spread it out as the family increased. But porridge was rather a byproduct of the Debate, and I am inclined to agree with the hon. Member for Spring-burn (Mrs. Hardie) that there is an attempt to adulate domestic science as a subject for school education. There is a right hon. Gentleman who sits on that Front Bench who was for a period a member of the War Cabinet and Leader of the House. I do not want to misrepresent him in any way, but I understand that he holds the view that it is absolutely wrong to cook food, and that he himself has lived his life for a good number of years 976 and played a distinguished part in the political life of this country without having eaten any cooked food. He takes a handful of cabbage.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Douglas Thomson)
I think the hon. Member might confine himself more directly to the terms of the Vote.
§ Mr. Maxton
I do not think you were in the Chair, Sir Douglas, when the Secretary of State made his opening speech, in which he made a plea, which is also found in the Annual Report, for the extension of cookery instruction as a school subject, and if the best opinion on dietetics on the Front Bench believes that it is best to have uncooked food, it seems rather a waste of Scottish educational time to be teaching our girls cookery. I want to take up also a controversial point that was made by the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd), who has the honour of representing me in this House. As one would expect, he made a strong plea for more time to be spent on religious instruction in schools, and said we should ensure that every teacher should be a most enthusiastic Christian. In an interruption I asked him how he would ensure that. I hope he is not suggesting that we should start religious tests for our teachers in Scottish schools. I think we are too easy-going and haphazard about insistence on religions instruction in schools. I would be the last to say that children should not be taught to think about the origins of the universe in which they live. I would be the last to suggest that they should not ponder over the eternal verities. I would be the last to suggest that they should not try to peer into the future and try to find out what is the meaning of it all. I would be the last to deny that there is a great value in children knowing the Christian ethics and in making a bigger effort to lead their lives in accordance with these ethics than their parents and grandparents did. But I think we are very, very casual about the teaching of religion in schools.
I can remember when I went to my first job as a certificated teacher. I had come fresh from the university and from a course in moral philosophy under a very distinguished professor. I think the Secretary of State had the advantage of that same professor's teaching. I went 977 to an appointment in an elementary school on the South side of Glasgow, and I was handed the curriculum of religious instruction. Part of that religious instruction was the Shorter Catechism. One of the earliest questions in the Shorter Catechism is "What is God?" No, it is not the first question. It was a long time ago, but I think the first question is "What is the chief end of man?" and the answer is this:God is a Spirit,"—if I make a slip hon. Members must forgive me—infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, in His wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.I, according to the best conceptions of Scottish Presbyterianism, which wants understanding as well as faith, was expected to see that children of the tender age of II got a grip of these big, fundamental, philosophic ideas. And I could remember that I had listened to 20 lectures by Professor Henry Jones explaining what was the meaning of the infinite. I had read Plato's Republic. I had read Arthur Balfour's "Foundations of Belief." Well, as the right hon. Gentleman will remember, it was one of the standard works in the school of philosophy in Glasgow University. I had read Green's "Prolegomena to Ethics." And still I was completely vague about the meaning of half the terms of that one question and answer in the Shorter Catechism, yet I was supposed to give an understanding and an intelligent grip of it to children of it years of age. I say that is a psychological atrocity, and I think the educationists of Scotland and the Christians of Scotland should consider whether they cannot convey their religious ideas and their ethical ideas and their methods of forming character by means which are more psychologically appropriate to the age of the youngsters than are presently adopted.
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
Only a fortnight ago a parish minister was deploring the fact that the Shorter Catechism was not now taught in the Sunday schools, apart altogether from the religious curriculum in the ordinary schools, and deploring it from the angle that he had now nothing to which to anchor the religious teaching of young children. I do not make this as a hostile interruption, 978 but as a point of interest in view of what the hon. Member has been saying.
§ Mr. Maxton
Well, I can understand him deploring it. I am not challenging the statement that that was the view of the parish minister in an important parish in Scotland; indeed, I am prepared to believe that it is the accepted view of the majority of the church-going people in Scotland, and I ought perhaps to have made it plain that in raising this issue I am speaking only for myself as an individual and not even for my two most intimate colleagues in the Committee, who in this matter have complete liberty of conscience. But I have had this on my mind as one who has been a teacher, and who tried to be a conscientious teacher, tried to do the best for the youngsters who were put in front of him; and it is not right that we in this Committee, the Secretary of State for Scotland or the education authorities more intimately directing the operations of teachers, should ask them to do things with children's minds that are psychologically wrong. I will tell the Committee something else that ought to appear in the religious curriculum, and that is that children should be taught to understand that the total number of Christians in this world is a minority of the total population of the world. They should learn that in this narrow and shrinking world they will have to live with Mohammedans, Hindus, Confucians and all sorts of people with different religions, all believing in their own particular explanation of the universe just as keenly as, and perhaps more keenly than, the Christians.
I will leave that subject, and will now turn to another. I was very angry when I real one paragraph in the Report of the Educational Institute of Scotland, I have a tremendous appreciation of the work done by the Institute in regard to Scottish education, and I had an association with the Institute upon which I look back with very great pleasure and satisfaction, but I must say that the suggestion that educationists confronted with the problem of parental neglect should rush to the policeman to deal with it arouses 979 my strongest antipathies, as an educationist. Of all the crimes of which the human being is capable, cruelty to and ill-treatment of children is that which I find most revolting. I sat upon an education committee in Glasgow for about five years before coming to this House, and I was on the sub-committee responsible for recommending cases for prosecution. It covered a difficult area in the city of Glasgw, but only once in the whole of that period did I find a case in which the parent was not, in my view, more sinned against than sinning.
I have visited many homes in my constituency where women were making a gallant fight against verminous conditions, a fight which took energy and forethought and which meant failure, effort, failure and effort again. I recently heard about one of our transports that took a very distinguished party from this country across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, it had become bug infested, and before the distinguished party went on board there had been time to cleanse adequately only that part which was to be occupied by the most distinguished traveller of the lot. I understand that the other members of the party carried on an unending but losing battle. They were, however, able to get ashore and find proper facilities for cleansing themselves, but in a Bridgeton slum, or in Edinburgh or in Dundee, where the very walls of the houses are the breeding ground for vermin, the difficulty of cleansing the houses and the children is almost insuperable. Investigation and inquiry into the reasons for the neglectful parent produces in nearly every case a "Not guilty" verdict on behalf of the parent. When one gets down to the case of the woman who has lost heart, or has lost physique or has lost hope, even there the remedies are educational and not penal or criminal.
I am strongly in favour of the development of far more adult education than is presently available. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) is very enthusiastic about the education of the adolescent. When I read about this war being a war for freedom and so on I have a feeling that somebody will have to write a new book on freedom to take the place of Mill. When I listen to the arrangements for maternity, childbirth, nursery schools, elementary schools, post- 980 elementary schools, compulsory continuation schools and registration for this, that and the other, right through our whole human life, I begin to wonder whether we might be able to slip in a wee bit of freedom, where somebody will not be running us. I take my share of responsibility, and I make this confession, that I do not see how to avoid a whole lot of it, in a capitalist world.
My conception of a Socialist system of society does not mean that we shall be run from the time we are born to the time we die. Socialism means nothing to me if it does not mean that a human being becomes master of his own destiny without being run by a State machine or any other machine.
§ Mr. Maxton
Even if it has an objectionable name, I still state it as my faith. When I listen to some of these Debates I often think that before we come into them, in this English atmosphere within the four walls of Westminster, surrounded by the products of the English public schools and English universities and conscious of our own cultural, intellectual and social inferiority, we might read some of the real works on Scots education which give the spirit of Scots education, as distinct from the machinery of it. It would be a good think if some of us went back and re-read Hugh Miller's "My Schools and Schoolmasters," or Robert Louis Stevenson's "Virginibus Puerisque" and in particular "An Apology for Idlers." Hon. Members might read one or two of the better-known poems of Burns. They would remember that Scottish education has ideals and some sort of an idea of an independent-minded man of character and courage, prepared to face the world and not recognise anyone as his master or superior—or to put it in the common language, "Jack is as good as his master, and a damned sight better." In our reports and in our various schemes would like to see a development of that spirit, which I believe to be the true spirit of our Scots education, and I should like it to find its expression in the elementary schools, the secondary schools and our university teaching. We should be confident and bold about our own conception of Scots education, and we should not attempt to make it a cheap 981 imitation of the educational systems that happen to lie in England.
I am saying that we should like to see a great development of the adult educational facilities. Some hon. Members may know that my party, the Independent Labour Party, have for over 30 years run a summer school for one fortnight a year. We have organised a ourselves, and we invite lecturers of all sorts and kinds. We bring there our active keen young members from all parts of the country—South Wales, Northumberland, Durham, Edinburgh, Swansea and Cardiff—150 or so. They come together to share a communal life and enter into controversies. They hear ideas from people whose life and political conceptions are different from their own, and they react on one another's minds. They make new contacts and acquire new understanding of other people and how other people live. That phase of educational life should be greatly developed. The co-operative societies are now doing it to a considerable extent, and I believe that some of the trade unions have also done it; but there is a lack in Scotland of accommodation for doing that sort of thing.
I should like the Under-Secretary of State to take notice of this point. In England it is possible to get schools—residential schools, colleges and so on—in the holiday period. A number of those authorities are ready to rent their schools to voluntary bodies, but in Scotland there are practically no residential schools and colleges, so there are no such places available. The right hon. Gentleman should consider whether he cannot do something in connection with the development of education to provide such accommodation for adult holiday schools of all sorts and conditions of people, to be run by the people themselves, the educational curriculum, staffing and all the rest of it to be run by the people themselves during the fortnight or week or month during which they are in control, the Scottish Office or the education authorities taking no responsibility except for the provision of suitable buildings, suitable grounds, etc.
I wish to put a relatively minor point before I conclude. During the course of the year I, as the Under-Secretary knows, became very interested in the scheme for the selection of young fellows from Scottish schools organised by the Ministry of 982 Labour to provide engineering cadetships and to arrange for the education of the cadets when the cadetship was granted to them. My attention was directed to it by a parent in my constituency whose son had been rejected for one of these cadetships, and, the father thought, rejected unfairly. Most fathers think that about their offsprings, and I did not take that too seriously until I examined the young fellow's credentials. I am satisfied in my own mind as an old teacher who has conducted examinations of one kind or another that this boy who was rejected was just as highly qualified physically and mentally for the cadetship as anyone who was there. Those responsible for making the selection have the tremendous task of rejecting five out of every six applicants. When one looked at the list I, personally, could not see that there was any very noticeable prejudice in favour of one particular class of school as against another or any prejudice against one particular district as against any other particular district, because the successful candidates were distributed fairly reasonably over Scotland.
I understand that the Scottish Education Department was interested in the selection. I am interested in this, because I think that more and more we shall require in the future to have ways of picking out people for important public services of one kind and another. That has got to be done by something other than merely a competitive examination on paper. The selection board on this matter was, I understand, composed of a representative of the Ministry of Labour, representatives of the Services and one representative of the Scottish Education Department. I think that these educational representatives in Scotland and in England should be asked to give a report as to how their selection examination was conducted, and what was the procedure and in what ways they think the procedure can be improved upon for future occasions. I personally would like to hear from the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary of State something about what knowledge and experience they have gained by conducting these examinations.
There is one other little thing I want to refer to, also an individual case. I was asked by a publisher in the City of Glasgow who is producing some first-class work in the way of school books, same really 983 excellent work of superior quality in which there are intelligence and artistry and psychological knowledge, whether he could get some more paper for publishing school books. I approached the Under-Secretary of State and received an answer from the Department to the effect that they could not give favours to one school book publisher as against another. I accept that as being probably the only way in which a Department could work, except that I think they could express an opinion in favour of one type of book rather than another. They could say, "This is the type of book we want." But I got the impression further that the Education Department has not concerned itself as to whether adequate supplies of paper are available in Scotland to keep a decent supply of school books running. I think they ought to face up to the Board of Trade in this matter, just as I think they ought to face up to the Services in the matter of the return of schools.
As the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for East Renfrew said, there is no excuse now four years after the outbreak of war for places like Jordanhill Training College, for instance, being occupied by the Forces of the Crown and the ordinary educational work stopped. I think that the right hon. Gentleman is now entitled to say, "We have recognised your war exigencies. We have recognised the need for improvising, but the needs of education are paramount to the future of this nation, and they must no longer be put in a backward place among the priorities of the public needs." I also ought to add that there is one other thing in which I think that the Scottish Office has been too facile in relation to the Services, and that is in the matter of the supply of teachers. I think it is stupid, and a waste of public money, to have a girl or young fellow do half their training in a training college and then be hauled away into the Services, or to scrub floors in a barrack room or to make munitions in some place. Supposing that the needs of the nation were so urgent that these people have ultimately to be taken, they should certainly be allowed to finish their training, and that should be put up very carefully to the Minister of Labour. The Minister of Labour is a very good friend of mine, but I would never regard him for one moment as one of the education- 984 ists of this country. I think that the Scottish Office should make a stand on this and get the Board of Education in England to associate themselves with the demand.
§ Mr. Francis Watt (Edinburgh, Central)
When I listened to the very refreshing speech of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) I felt more than ever inclined to think that the old days were not necessarily bad days when our teachers were equipped for giving religious instruction to the pupils, by studying the lectures of Professor Henry Jones and the "Republic" of Plato and having also found time to read a book by Arthur Balfour. I think the gain to Parliament was a great loss to the teaching profession when he came here. The future of education seems to fall into two compartments, one which I might call the welfare of the children, the second, education in the sense of teaching them. So far as welfare is concerned, I do not intend to say anything to the Committee, because it must be clear to all of us that you cannot educate a child, you cannot expect it to absorb learning, unless the child comes to school adequately fed and clothed. Therefore on that matter all I wish to say is that the right hon. Gentleman is entirely on the right lines in his programme of developing the feeding and clothing of necessitous children.
But I would venture to say a few things on the subject of education. First of all, I wish to say that it is no good our being complacent on the subject of Scottish education. Judged by results, it is extremely bad and does not justify the expenditure which is being made upon it. When you find, the school age having been extended to 15, that of all the messenger boys that come to the house there is not a single one who can spell potato, whereas my housekeeper who left school when she was barely 14 could always do that, what is the progress of all those years if such a simple standard cannot be attained? The answer is, I think, that we are attempting to do too much. We have too great a width of subjects. We are trying to pump far too much into the children and are not specialising in the essential things that matter. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) deplored the lack of concentration on the three R's. They are just as essential to-day as they were 30, 40 or 50 years ago. I am repeatedly meeting business men who tell me that 985 candidates for posts as typists cannot spell and compose proper letters. You are not going to get on in business, however much you know about botany and have dabbled in elementary science and chemistry, unless you can put your thoughts on paper and add up figures.
I think the main trouble is that education has got into the hands of the wrong people. It has become, not what it ought to be, a means to an end, but it is being viewed almost as though it was in itself the complete consummation. Take our system. You have the teachers in the schools and the directors of education. All of them are concerned with education purely and simply; they have never gone into the wide world or had anything to do with business. Their aim is to get someone who can pass an examination in a wide variety of subjects. They seem to forget that what the business community wants is not someone who has had a smattering of a great many things, but someone who can do particularly well those things that matter.
When, as we are told, Scottish education is reorganised as part of our postwar effort, some degree of common sense ought to be applied in that reorganisation. We shall face keen competition. We are hoping for a very much better world. We are hoping to be able to be prosperous to pay good wages and to float the Beveridge scheme, from which a lot of people are hoping to live on what somebody else makes. It that scheme is to be launched, we shall have to bring trade to the country. If we have a lot of amateur scientists and botanists who cannot read and write properly, we have no chance against foreigners who devote themselves to their job and do it properly. Our first test in post-war reconstruction of education is: Are the people who are being educated capable of performing the ordinary duties which they will be called upon to do in their trade or vocation, or are they not? Again, once you have got that, you must have a system of technical education for those who desire to specialise. I note with interest a speech in which it was pointed out that technical education in this country had not been developed as it ought to be. That is a matter which will call for greater concentration in the future.
I never profess to be an educationist myself. I simply speak as an ordinary citizen. I speak, however, having 986 seen the products of modern education and having not been impressed. I judge by results. I do not need to go to school and see how many pupils pass this particular leaving certificate or the next leaving certificate. The test to my mind is, when they are confronted with some post in life where they are asked to do a job of work, can they do it? Have they the necessary intelligence and efficiency? If you have a lot of theorists and unpractical people controlling education, as we have to-day and have had for far too long, you will not get the pupils developing as they should.
§ Mr. Watt
I venture to say that I went to school with far more success than my hon. Friend did; otherwise, he would share the views that I am expressing. I am going to suggest one or two remedies. They may not commend themselves to my progressive friends on the other side, but I venture to say that they are entirely practical. The teaching profession has developed into a sort of Civil Service, in which the incompetent person is paid as much as the competent. There is no incentive to get on. Bonuses are paid on account of university degrees. Anyone with experience of teaching will tell you that the possession of a university degree is not the slightest criterion of ability to put the knowledge over. Anyone who has gone to a university will tell you that anyone can get a degree. The test is whether the knowledge can be imparted to the pupil. In the old days, before the 1918 Act, teachers unquestionably were far too poorly paid, but I think that when we altered that we were too much inclined to get a flat rate and to develop a system which did not reward initiative enough or give the brilliant teacher full scope. That is one of the chief reasons why you have a shortage of teachers. There is no attraction for anyone with more than the average amount of brains to get into a profession when someone else who is no use at all will get the same financial reward as he gets. Unless you revolutionise that and give bigger salaries for teachers who get results and smaller salaries for those who do not, you will not get the results you desire.
§ Mr. Watt
I have already touched upon the fact that we are attempting in a limited space of time to teach far too many subjects. It may be that one or two brilliant pupils can absorb that wide variety of subjects. One meets special pupils who one realises have benefited. But you have to consider that the strength of a chain lies in its weakest link. You have to cater not for the small number of brilliant pupils, but for the big number of average pupils and the smaller number of backward pupils. The pupil has to pass out with a working knowledge of those subjects which are essential. Do not look at it from the point of view that a small number of brilliant students can swallow this wide variety of subjects and come out with high marks. I have always advocated that, within reasonable limits, there should be a chance to progress. I have always felt that we might develop the bursary system in schools. Many young men or women could go further with financial backing. In any event, we should avoid trying to produce a sort of dead level of pupils, churned through the machine with a wide variety of subjects which they only half understand, and then thrown out in a half-baked condition into the labour market. I have made calculations from time to time to see whether our increased school age has any practical bearing on the question of education. I find that, because of the immensely increased number of holidays in schools to-day, you need to keep a pupil at school to the age of 15 in order that he may attain the same standard that was reached 20 or 30 years ago at the age of 14.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
They do not get more holidays now than the schools did 20 or 30 years ago.
§ Mr. Watt
I must disagree. Before 1914 the holidays were fewer. I remember going on Saturday mornings, and no pupil goes on Saturday mornings now. There is no reason why they should not do so. The holidays are not for the benefit of the pupils, but for the benefit of the overworked teachers. In the old days, when the teachers could not go to Harrogate to recuperate, they nevertheless did a better job of work than they do today. The teachers of this country need a little prodding, with financial encouragement if they do well. Do not leave everybody on the same level, as happens under the trade union system, 988 so that the duds get the same treatment as the efficient ones.
§ Mr. Stephen
What was the school to which the hon. Member went 30 years ago, where he went on a Saturday? The only pupils I have heard of going to elementary schools on a Saturday are some of the backward pupils.
§ Mr. Watt
I am sorry to hear that the pupils at the Glasgow schools were so backward. That, I suppose, is why my hon. Friend sits for a Glasgow seat. He would not have been so backward if he had gone on Saturdays. Our education may be good according to certain standards, but it is not nearly so good as it ought to be. The ratepayers are not getting value for their money, nor are the teachers or the parents getting value for the time that is being spent.
The question of juvenile delinquency has been raised. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock professed to be puzzled at the growth of juvenile delinquency. I speak from nearly 20 years' experience in the courts, where I have acted in both juvenile and in other cases. No one need be puzzled. You have two classes of criminals, those who are born criminals and those who are created criminals by environment. There are people who may be regarded as hopeless criminals, with whom you can do nothing, but there are others for whom there is always hope. If you keep them away from criminal associates you will keep them from developing into criminals themselves. This increase in juvenile delinquency is not solely due to the war. The amount of juvenile crime was rising rapidly before the war began. A Bill was brought into this House to organise the treatment of juvenile offenders on a different basis. The Bill did not pass. I think it was a very good thing that it did not, because I think the Bill proceeded on a wrong basis. Let us first take the case of the juvenile who is criminally inclined. With youngsters of that kind, there is only one answer: a punishment which will discourage them from crime again.
I have spoken to several sheriffs in Glasgow about this matter, and they tell me that they regard our juvenile courts as a farce. Children are brought before those courts with a great amount of formality. The courts can do little with them. I remember waiting to, take part 989 in some proceedings before a sheriff, and watching juvenile proceedings for an hour. The sheriff said to me afterwards, "What that boy needed was a real good thrashing, but I could not give it." The boy was put on probation. He would say to his companions, "I got away with it that time; and you will get away with it, too." The boys get the impression that nothing can be done with them. Some of the boys are unruly because their parents take no interest in them, but if the courts dealt with them properly they would not be so often before the courts. On the other hand, if they got a more salutary punishment in school that would also cure them. Instead of being kept in school and made to write out something so many times, they should get a severe corporal punishment. That was the treatment that was thought from generation to generation to be appropriate, but in this wise period some progressive people think that what our ancestors did was wrong, and that you must not lay a rod upon the child; explain to him the evil of his ways and educate him, and he will be all right. We have been trying that for years, and the answer is that juvenile crime is on the increase. Speaking, I venture to say, with no lack of humanity, but with knowledge of juvenile offenders, acquired both in prosecuting and in defending, I say that people who think that way are making a great mistake. The time to start with a criminal offender is when he is young. Do not wait until he has got hardened. If you have a boy who is merely mischievous, as all boys are inclined to be, differentiate between him and the other sort. Your treatment of the boy when he is young may have a great effect afterwards, but do not let him think that he can do that sort of thing with impunity. Firmness is essential. I think that the parents must be brought to a greater sense of responsibility: there has been a falling off in parental responsibility. But if the parents will not punish, the State must.
Whatever the State does, let that punishment be adequate, let it be proper. That matter is one of crucial importance. The child of to-day will be the citizen 10, 15 or 20 years hence, and the treatment of the juvenile in the matter of delinquency is just as important as the education of the juvenile in school. I am all against the sending of a juvenile to what are known as approved schools. They used to be called reformatory schools, but as 990 we got more civilised we did not like the word "reformatory" and called them approved schools. The first term had some meaning; the second has none, but that is just by the way. In nine cases out of 10—and I have come across a few cases—you may send a child who has no criminal tendencies to one of these schools and you may be very nearly certain that when he comes out he will have these tendencies because he associates with that small core of criminals.
The problem has puzzled all authorities in Scotland, and there is a great divergence of opinion about it, but when we are considering our system after the war it is a matter we cannot leave out of consideration. It is difficult to segregate one class of children from another, but it is easy to seek out these children who are mischievous from those who are criminal, and develop them on right lines. If you train them under the present system you will be storing up trouble for the future. It is said that education is a very important subject, and with that I entirely agree. This nation is going to face far and away the most difficult time it has probably ever had to face. When the present generation ceases to bear the burden, it will fall upon the next. It is our duty and our obligation to see that that succeeding generation gets every chance that we can give it. I for my part do not wish a single remark I make to be taken as meaning in the slightest degree that I wish education to be stinted—far from it—but I feel that we are not proceeding on proper and businesslike lines, and I urge the right hon. Gentleman to use every effort to see that Scottish education in the future is more practical than it has been in the past.
Mr. McNeil (Greenock)
I never speak in this House or Committee without a fair amount of nervousness. In the last Scottish Debate I found myself following the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. F. Watt), and I find in addition to my nervousness something almost akin to anger. I cannot understand how any Member with the training and opportunities of a profession such as the hon. Member has had can commit himself to such propositions as he has to-day. I made a note of some of the phrases he used in relation to education. He said that neither the State nor the parents were getting value for their money, and he told us that the labour market was not being suited by the type of people. He talked with rather 991 a lack of logic, and said that because his housekeeper could spell "potato" and no messenger boy could spell "potato" we were mis-spending ourselves in teaching geography and history. The only person who is not considered in the hon. Member's examination is the pupil. He finished as he began by talking of what gain we could get. He assured the Scottish Secretary that in dealing with juvenile delinquency the problem is simple. I am sure that the Scottish Secretary will be delighted to hear that. Indeed psychologists and educationalists who have concerned themselves with this problem intensively for 100 years will be delighted that this wisdom has newly arrived and that this intricate problem is so simply solved. And apparently it is going to be solved on the one hand by waving the cat o' nine tails and on the other hand by locking up for ever and a day these people who he thinks ought to be described as hopeless criminals. What is a boy or girl with criminal inclinations? Surely that means, in the light of modern research, one of two things: either the child is feeble-minded or is suffering from social maladjustment which it may be very difficult to treat. But surely phrases like "hopeless criminals" and "value for your money in education" disappeared in the middle of the last century. I believe that the Scottish Secretary and the right hon. associate are not completely dependent upon advice of that kind.
I do not want it to be thought for a moment that I am not as concerned as the hon. Member at some of the figures that have been placed before us to-day by my right hon. Friend the Scottish Secretary. The juvenile delinquency figures are startling, but I humbly suggest that you cannot expect to assess the situation finally by saying that in the current year the figures for guilty findings has been up by 800 in Scotland and dawn by 8,000 in England. I would not attempt to argue that these figures do not display a tendency, but there are many other factors. Unless we can analyse these figures, we do not know whether we are talking about the same thing in Scotland as in England; neither can we unless we are satisfied that housing is approximately equal and that the area of parental control is approximately equal in the two countries. There is rather more to be said on the subject than that, and I rather feel that where we 992 shall have to tackle the job positively is in our schools, and I hope to come back to that.
Similarly, I would not like to be as pessimistic about the figures offered to us on scabies by the Scottish Secretary. With him, I welcome most eagerly the exertions which Glasgow is making in the hygiene education both of the child and of the parent in the seven selected schools, and, like him, I do not pretend to say that all parents are angels and that there can be nothing wrong there. There in undoubtedly a proportion of parents who seem unable to adopt ordinary methods of hygiene approximating to the possibilities of their particular homes towards their children. That can only be done, first of all, by having knowledge and, secondly, by being possessed of the will to exert themselves towards their children in that education. If Glasgow or any other municipality can illustrate and practise that lesson, they will be doing a very great service. We should expect in time of war that such conditions as scabies will continue to increase because we have in most of the schools gross overcrowding and a continued deterioration of housing. Overcrowding both in house and school will be one of the biggest single factors contributing to this condition.
Thirdly, the Scottish Secretary, on the brighter side, gave us a reassuring picture of the improving health and nutrition of our school children, and I warmly congratulate him and those people who produce these figures and hope that this tendency can be continued and developed. When my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) was speaking on Friday and again to-day he reminded me of a figure of speech which he used. When talking about the trend of population, he said he objected to people being treated as if they were Ayrshire pedigree cattle, and he illustrated the same aspect of mind again to-day. We might say that when the Scottish Secretary had examined these conditions affecting physical status he almost dismissed the education problem as if these children were some fat cattle that we were feeding for market. We cannot be satisfied because they were well fed and because in some areas slight attempts had been made to accelerate the high degree of cleanliness. I am not suggesting that that is the viewpoint of 993 the Secretary of State, but many of us were a little disappointed that he to-day spent comparatively such a short time in telling us how he means to attack his post-war problem which, with the hon. Lady the Member for Springburn (Mrs. Hardie), I hope he will still be there to tackle.
These problems, as hon. Members have indicated, broadly fall into three groups. We have, first of all, the question of accommodation, and I was very glad that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) and my lion. Friend the Member for Bridgeton emphasised this point; that the Scottish Secretary is having intolerable difficulties put in his way particularly by the Services in their use of premises. In my own division there are three schools which are out of commission owing to Service use. The Scottish Secretary has received a petition from over 600 parents relating to one school which has been out of use since the beginning of the war. There is another school—and I must make it plain that my right hon. Friend has been interesting himself—where an annexe has been taken over by one of the Service Ministries, and the Service Ministry is apparently prepared to stand aside and let the right hon. Gentleman construct hutments for children while the school annexe is to remain within the Services. This is really the wrong way to tackle it. If he can get the labour and material to build the hutments, the labour is there within the Service, and the materials can be more easily got. They should build the hutments for themselves and set free the school. No one attempts to minimise the difficulties my right hon. Friend will have to face in his post-war building programme, but I think they are secondary to the problem he will have in finding sufficient teaching personnel for the improvements which have been outlined in the White Paper. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Renfrew suggested 5,000 as the number which would be needed to raise the school age to 15.
Yes, an additional 5,000 which with the present shortage would give us something like ro,000 as the total needed if the war ends next year. My own estimate is greater. I am told that the Board of Education calculated their 994 needs, as outlined in the White Paper, as 60,000 additional teachers, which would give Scotland proportionately 8,250 which, with this accumulating deficit, would give us 13,250. Where are they coming from? On the 1938 basis which is disclosed in the current summary of Scottish education we cannot get more than 2,000 a year. Another way of saying that is that unless my right hon. Friend has something within his control which does not seem to be within his control at present, it will be at least seven years after the cessation of hostilities or perhaps 10 years before we can raise the school-leaving age to 15 and reduce classes to the size recommended in the White Paper. My hon. Friend the Member for Spring-burn said that there was some window-dressing in the White Paper. That is a gross under-statement. Unless there are some undisclosed facts, the White Paper is a piece of ballyhoo. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend did not find time for the opportunity to address himself to this problem, for I cannot believe that he would expect the Committee to be assured without further examination and Debate of the problem. Even if he can find the personnel we know that our difficulties are only just beginning. Here let me say that we are very confident that in the present Secretary of State we have a man of optimistic vision to attack the educational problems that will exist, apart from the physical problems.
I wonder whether my right hon. Friend, in looking at his delinquency nightmares, has considered the White Paper on youth registration which was issued in May of this year and to which he himself is a signatory. I suppose it is known to most Members that almost since the Reformation we in Scotland have prided ourselves on the fact that we have been in the van of education in Europe and certainly well in front of our English friends.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Clarks Williams)
I am sorry to interrupt, but I think I heard the word, "Reformation," which is not mentioned in these Estimates.
My right hon. Friend the Minister went back to 1750 and, I think, introduced the Plantagenets, so it is a little difficult for us not to follow his example.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I have no objection whatever to an illustration, but I cannot allow such an illustration to be debated.
I would not like to argue on such a matter with my hon. Friend the Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren). I was merely trying to make the point that we have done a little bragging about our educational system. Our local authorities interviewed lately 83,000 youths and adolescents. The interviewers concluded that of the unattached youths the five main leisure occupations of these boys and girls were, in this order: The cinema, dance halls, billiard saloons, the company of the opposite sex, and hanging about waiting for some opportunity of contact with the other four. That is the most devastating criticism ever delivered about our educational system I have ever seen in any White Paper. If it is true, it is a miracle that our delinquency figures are not so high but so low. I should not like it to be thought that I am at all pessimistic about our Scottish youth, because these five occupations are not the end of the story. The boys and girls we are worrying about are those who have been carrying this war on their shoulders. They are working overtime, they have gone out to the fields afterwards, they have swept the enemy out of the skies, and they have just landed in Sicily. They are the boys and girls who jumped into pre-Service organisations.
My right hon. Friend the Minister, when giving us his list of organisations to-day, omitted the pre-Service organisations, and I wondered whether he did so because he is a little chary. We all share his chariness. I should not like to have to admit that these pre-Service organisations have something to offer adolescents which other voluntary organisations have not. But if this is true, let us face it; if it is true, let us find out what it is they have to offer that the other voluntary organisations have not, because it is most important. I wonder whether these young people whose only occupations were the cinema, the dance hall, billiard saloons, the opposite sex, and hanging about were drawn from those who were unattracted by voluntary organisations, who thought they were nobody's business and then found out suddenly on interview that they were important in the community? I wonder whether they jumped in because 996 they found that they had a concrete task to do, a task that was made plain to them and which had to be done. It is no use merely giving boys and girls something to occupy idle hands—it must be an essential task.
Someone said that citizenship was a byproduct. It is. It is something you cannot teach; it is an attitude of mind to society and can only be by-produced in one place—the school. There is a very informing booklet from the Educational Institute of Scotland, to which reference was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers). It is hopeful that we are getting a flow of documents of a similar colour, and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister and his Under-Secretaries will be a great deal more influenced by such documents than by the reactionary and most happily rare kind of speech which preceded mine.
§ Mr. Hunter (Perth)
): I think that when the public come to read the Debate which is taking place to-day the first thought that will pass through their minds is, How many people spoke about education? We have heard about teachers, feeding and the physical welfare of children, but few Members have spoken about their intellectual development. What is the purpose of education? It is to develop intellect and the latent talents of the rising generation. Its purpose is not to stuff them with knowledge of any kind; its purpose is to train them to think and pass judgment for themselves. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has an Advisory Committee, which was spoken of by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd), who, however, left me very much in a mist. I do not know what the Advisory Committee are thinking about; all I heard him make a plea for was for more teachers.
§ Major Lloyd
My hon. Friend can hardly expect me, as a member of that Committee, to reveal what we are thinking.
§ Mr. Hunter
My hon. and gallant Friend said that classes were too large. What we want to know is what the Committee intend to do to interest the people of Scotland in education. I have always been a great opponent of the 1929 Act, which took education out of the possession of large burghs. The City of Perth was one 997 of the principal educational centres in Scotland. It developed and brought out some of the most distinguished professional, medical and business men ever seen in the country. What has happened? The citizens have practically no vote; they have no interest in education. The town council, of which I was Lord Provost at one time, selects certain members to represent them on the county council. I am not exaggerating when I say that eight-tenths of them have no interest in education. Do we ever hear of any elections, controversy or meetings which deal with education? People are elected to deal with electricity, gas, water, drainage and so on; they never speak about anything else. I think the time has come when there ought to be a return to some more suitable form of education. Is there any school that has a writing master nowadays?
I received a letter not very long ago from a university student so badly written that I could not make it out. It is possibly the case right through elementary, secondary and university education. That should not be. The truth of the matter is that we should be content in the elementary schools to teach them to write, read and spell and teach them geography, which is very important to-day.
§ Mr. Hunter
He perhaps had an intellect, but had not been taught writing. Today that is not the point. No one teaches writing in the schools to-day. We should begin with the three R's and lay a good foundation for education, and then they are in a good position to follow up with secondary education. I also have a complaint about administration. Those who are administering education to-day are not selected by the public. They are selected generally by the county councils, and many county councillors in-many parts of the country do not know much about education. When I represented Perth on the education authority I discovered that their main preoccupation was to keep down the rates, and that some who adopted that attitude were those who were financially able to send their children to higher schools but knew nothing about elementary schools. It is simplicity that we want.
998 If I had to make a suggestion, I should say that the Advisory Committee have to find out a better system of administration. Each large burgh should have its own education authority. [An HON. MEMBER: "What size"?] Anything up to 50,000. Everything above 20,000 is a large burgh. Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee are cities of counties, and their councils have the right to appoint their own education committee. As a rule they delegate their whole powers to the education committee, but I do not think anyone is elected to the council especially for education. It is one of the most important things in the country. I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) say he pitied the Secretary of State because he had so many subjects to deal with. I am glad of that, because it indicates to me at all events that he is well educated. He is certainly well informed, and a person who is well informed is well educated.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I agree that the right hon. Gentleman is well educated, but my point was that when you have 1,000,000 children it seems to me that that is a responsibility for a separate Minister.
§ Mr. Hunter
I do not quite agree with that. I still think that Scotland is well served under the present system. Our three Ministers are giving entire satisfaction. I am in close association with the right hon. Gentleman who is going to reply. He knows pretty well what my views are on education, and to a certain extent we are in agreement. He knows that if there is reaction in education, we shall not make progress. A good deal has been said about teachers. What is the good of increasing the number if you do not get sufficient schools to start with? We need more and better schools. There is no use in appointing teachers to crowd your schools, because you will still have unnecessarily big classes. During my lifetime the classics have been prominent throughout the whole of education, but we are sadly lacking in technical education and in technical schools. The best we have been able to do—and it is something to the credit of Scotland—is to have evening continuation schools where they teach trades, and they serve a useful purpose. But if we are going to have part-time day schools, as is suggested—and it is a very good idea—we have to get more schools and make them technical 999 schools. Leave English and commercial subjects to be continued in your classical schools, but let us have technical education. Why should not boys between 14 and 16 learn how to develop their craftsmanship? It is no good keeping them at school until 15 and 16 and then giving it, because by that time they are beginning to think about marriage, without the means to keep themselves. That is the practical side of education as I see it.
I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) refer to the subject of religion. I think there is far too much talk about religious education. What we want to teach in our schools is simply the truths of the Bible. We do not need to go in for any sectional teaching at all. I had the good fortune in my youth to be under a headmistress who could teach us all the stories of the Bible so effectively with the aid of pictures that I remember more about the Bible to-day from her than I have learned in any church that I have been to since. The foundation of our Christian religion is the Bible.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. Member is going into the foundations of religion. That is not the subject of the Debate.
§ Mr. Stephen
Religious instruction is one of the subjects in the curriculum in our Scottish schools.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
It will be quite in Order to say that religious instruction is good, or bad, or helpful, or otherwise, but I. do not think it is in Order to go into religious foundations, which I understand the hon. Member was coming to—the foundations of religion as separate from the value of religion in education.
§ Mr. Maxton
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) expressed very strong views about religious instruction and its extension. In your absence from the Chair, Mr. Williams, I entered into conflict with the view that he expressed, giving examples from my own experience of the difficulty of teaching religion in schools. I take it that the hon. Member is replying to that. Surely that is not out of Order.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I am sure the hon. Member would not be out of Order 1000 on those lines, but the hon. Member who is in possession of the Committee was getting to a point when he was arguing as to what is the foundation of the Christian religions, and he said it was the Bible. If you take that a step further, you get to the whole foundations of Christianity, which cannot possibly have anything to do with a Scottish Debate. Even if the hon. Member wishes to say that Christianity is valuable education and it is wanting in Scotland, I have no objection, but I object to his arguing about the foundations of Christianity.
§ Mr. Stephen
With all due respect to your Ruling, Mr. Williams, in the Scottish schools religious instruction is a definite subject in the curriculum. If you are to have religious instruction, you must see what the basis of religion is, so that the religious instruction will be on a sound basis.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
There is no reason why we should not discuss the curriculum, and I am not objecting to that. I am objecting to turning this discussion on the Estimates for education into a discussion of the foundations of the Christian religion.
§ Mr. Mathers
In your previous remarks, Mr. Williams, you declared that the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Hunter) was getting to the point of transgression. Are you now going to make sure that we do not get out of Order? Is not your proper function to tell us when we have got out of Order? I put the point to you that in putting the hon. Gentleman right before he had quite gone wrong all this argument has taken place when it might have been avoided.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I have often been called to Order for being out of Order and have also often welcomed the fact that the Chair has advised me that I was about to get out of Order. I was endeavouring, out of kindness to the hon. Member, to point out that it seemed to me that he was not actually out of Order but just about to get out of Order and was approaching the line when he should cease to develop the argument.
I take it that subsequent speakers will be in Order if they do not go further than reply to some of the points in the curriculum which, as the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) pointed 1001 out, had been in the past few years regularly taught in the Scottish primary schools.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I presume the curriculum comes under the Estimates, and hon. Members will be in Order to bring up points in it.
§ Mr. Stephen
The hon. Member for Bridgeton pointed out that the question, "What is God?" is in the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, and he said that the answer to that question was taught in the Scottish schools. I cannot think of anything that goes more to the basis of religion than the answer to that question. That is in the curriculum.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
We are now getting into an interesting theological argument, and as the duty of the Committee is to deal with the financial side of education, we had better not go deeper into this point.
§ Mr. Hunter
I am sorry that I started such a hare. I had no intention of venturing into a theological argument, for that would have been a most stupid thing to do. What I was trying to say was that as religious education was in the curriculum of Scotland, the simple way to apply religious education to children was to base it on the stories and the truths of the Bible and not to go any further or deeper than that. I am confident that if the Scottish children were taught the truths and stories of the Bible, they would have a solid foundation for their future welfare. I am certain that those remarks will be appreciated by a large section of the people.
On the question of juvenile unemployment, the employment exchanges have juvenile labour committees. I have served on such a committee. The most valuable service that they have been able to do is for selected members to meet boys and girls about to leave elementary and secondary schools and, with their parents, discuss the most likely occupations into which they should enter. It is an important part of education to put boys and girls on the right line, because it is no use putting them into occupations if their hearts are not in their work. The first job is to find out their bent and what they would like to be, and then to make sure that their desires are met. Nobody 1002 has a higher respect for the teachers than I have, and I think I can be regarded as their friend in my part of the country, because I have done everything I can to help them. We should bring up the children to learn the simple things to start with, and as their minds develop we should let them tackle the bigger subjects. That is the essential beginning of education. After that the next thing we need to do is to get the Scottish people again to take an interest in education. We talk a great deal of bureaucracy and democracy. There is no democracy in Scottish education to-day because people have no say in the matter. The Educational Institute of Scotland say a rather astonishing thing in their Report:We suggest that the 35 Education Authorities should be abolished and their place taken by one Education authority for Scotland—a Commission of, say, 20 people, men and women of proved capacity and wide vision. To the Commission the Educational Institute of Scotland might elect, say, four members, the City Councils might elect, say, two, the County Councils, say, four, the Churches, say, four, and the remainder would be chosen because of their special interest in the education and welfare of youthIn other words, the people of Scotland are not to be consulted in any shape or form about what is to be the future of the education of their children. When the existing system was changed it was not an improvement on previous education. The hon. Member for Bridgeton will know something about country education and he will agree with me that in the old days the country schools were producing some of the most brilliant scholars in the country. The teachers took a pride in the children. I have known school teachers whose greatest pride and reward were to follow the careers of some of the boys and girls who passed through their hands and became persons of note in the world. If you begin to cut it down and end the people's interest in education, you end education with it, because boys and girls will grow up to think that education is a great machine through which they pass like so many sausages, and then their interest in education will vanish. I think that greater simplicity is needed. I know the deep interest which the Secretary of State and the Joint Under-Secretary of State take in education, but I think we have to get back to the beginning if our people are to take as great an interest in education as they did and education 1003 ought to be under a separate ad hoc body. If we do that we shall see Scotland coming back to the place which it occupied when it was one of the great examples to the world of what true education means, which is the training and developing of youth so that young people grow up to think for themselves and do not need to take the advice of other people in forming their own judgments.
§ Mr. McLean Watson (Dunfermline)
The speech of the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Hunter) awakes interesting recollections in Scottish Members who were in this House a number of years ago when our Scottish education system was changed. I venture to say that if that Local Government Bill had been taken upstairs in Committee instead of on the Floor of the House, it would never have been passed. The majority of the Scottish Members did not like the new education system introduced into Scotland and have never taken kindly to it. There is a great deal to be said for the point of view expressed by the hon. Member for Perth. It must have surprised the Secretary of State for Scotland that this discussion has gone on so long. An important Bill has still to come up for its Second Reading, and here we are still discussing education, but no wonder when we review education as extensively as we have done to-day. The Scottish Secretary cannot complain that he has been left in any doubt about the views of Scottish Members on quite a number of subjects. I want to deal with one which has been mentioned several times—it has figured in almost every speech from the first to the last—and it is one to which I hope the Secretary of State will pay serious attention. I refer to the possibility of the recovery of school buildings from the Service Departments. We have been uncomplaining, though for a number of years local education authorities have not had the use of their buildings. Where stop-gap arrangements have been made we find the pupils distributed over a number of unsuitable places, places never meant to be used for education purposes, and headmasters who have to supervise things under such a system must have a terrible experience. From an educational point of view it must be agony to them to try to educate their pupils under these conditions.
1004 There has been some change in the military situation, and surely there must be some easement of the requirements of the military authorities in respect of school buildings. Local authorities have been very patient, but I hope a serious effort will be made to recover the buildings so that the local education committees can resume education in the schools built for that purpose. What has been said by a number of Members on both sides ought to have consideration from the Scottish Office in the immediate future. The Secretary of State devoted a reasonable time to dealing with an important part of education—the feeding of children in school, the provision of milk and the provision of meals. He gave us figures to show the advances that had been made. I dare say a great deal of that is the outcome of war conditions and the food and milk restrictions; school feeding has proved a very convenient method of getting extra for the children. I hope the improvement which the Secretary of State noted will be continued and that we shall have more meals provided in schools. While we welcome the improvement we want still more done in that direction. I should like the Under-Secretary to say a word on whether education authorities are finding any particular difficulty in getting the necessary equipment for meals in schools. I understand there has been difficulty about it in one or two places. Can the Under-Secretary say whether there is anything in that contention? Possibly the difficulties have been due to a shortage of materials or to supplies not coming for-word, with the result that there is not the equipment that is necessary if we are to increase the number of meals provided in schools.
I very much agree with what the hon. Member for Perth said about education. A great deal more might be done to improve the quality of the education in our schools. At the same time, I think we have done remarkably well seeing that we are in the fourth year of the war. We have done quite well to be able to report these improvements in the feeding of the children and in regard to teaching itself. This progress is to be welcomed, but a great deal more might be done. There is another complaint, of which something has been heard to-day, about the taking of teachers into the Armed Forces, especially boys and girls who were just preparing for an educational career. I hope 1005 that the Secretary of State will take up the matter with the Minister of Labour even to the extent of releasing from the Forces young men and young women who ought to be continuing their education in preparation for becoming teachers. In the future we shall be in a serious position for teachers unless we can get more young boys and girls into the teaching profession.
A great deal has been said about the unattractiveness of teaching now. It may be that during this war the profession has become unattractive because other occupations have become more lucrative. Teaching requires a long preparation and expenditure by the parent, and the short way has been to go into industry that can pay big wages. It is unfortunate that we should be passing through a period that will have such a serious effect on teaching after the war, and I hope that the Scottish Office is giving consideration to the matter and will do everything possible to get young men and women trained for this profession. It is all very well for the Secretary of State to say that so many thousands of married women have come back into the profession, but, as has already been stated by the hon. Member for Springburn (Mrs. Hardie) and others, many of those women have been out of the occupation for years and do not know the more recent methods of teaching. They themselves require to go through a process of training before they can be qualified to take their places in the schools. However, they have come in and are being used, and the opinion has been expressed that they should be used after the war. I hope the Scottish Office will draw the attention of as many young people as possible to this profession. There is no need to talk of raising the school-leaving age to 15 or 16, either next year or three years after the war, if we are not to have the schools or the teachers for the pupils. I hope that this matter will receive attention as well.
Reference has been made to the document issued by the Educational Institute of Scotland. I would rather follow the hon. Member for Perth in going back to the system that we have tried in the past and have found very good indeed rather than having the system outlined in that Paper. I hope that we are not going to have that Commission, and co-opted persons, instead of publicly elected 1006 individuals who ought to form those bodies. There was a case for getting away from the old parish school board and putting education on a county basis; but to argue from that and to say that there is a case for making education a national question, because teachers are paid different salaries in different areas, is not acceptable. The variation in salaries is due to the action of local representatives. I agree very largely with the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) about Commissions. We have had enough of them during the war to last us a good long time. Instead of running things by Commissions after the war, I hope we shall have a great deal more freedom, even in connection with our public administration, and shall hold on to the foundation being the elected individuals, whether of town council, county council or, as I hope, education authority.
To a certain extent I agree with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay). I do not agree that we should have a Minister for Education, but this is such an important matter that it should have an ad hoc authority to deal with it. We should get what we have had in the past, men and women keenly interested in education and who did nothing else; instead of which we have had education mixed up with everything else since 1929, in connection with local authorities. It has been a mess that I hope we shall get out of in a very short time. When I hear the English system of education explained, I thank heaven that we did not have the English system in Scotland. Our system may be bad enough, but at any rate it is not the English system of education, and I hope it never will be. I promised to restrict my remarks, and I close by expressing the hope that the Scottish Office will pay very serious attention to the matters that have been discussed here. There is very strong feeling in Scotland that we should make progress in this direction. We have had a feeling for a number of years that we have been slipping behind in education, and we want to feel once again that, in education, Scotland leads.
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
I venture to intervene for a few moments only, because I know that the Under-Secretary of State is anxious to reply, and I will limit my remarks strictly to five minutes. I should not have risen at all but for the very 1007 interesting and—I do not say this to curry favour with him—brilliant speech of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). The whole of the opening part of his speech was devoted to the question of religious education in the primary schools of Scotland. When the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Hunter) attempted to reply to him, he raised a point on which you, Mr. Williams, felt you had to step in and call him to Order. That led to several points of Order between you and various Members of the Committee. I have no desire to fish in deep or troubled waters, and therefore I will confine my remarks simply to the one point which the hon. Member raised.
It seemed to me that he was somewhat in error in suggesting that the Shorter Catechism was now regularly taught in the primary schools of Scotland. If that is so, he would be equally correct in suggesting that the Longer Catechism, upon which the Shorter Catechism was founded, is one of the instruments of religious instruction as well, which teachers in Scottish elementary or primary schools use to-day. Indeed it would have been very apposite if he had done so in 1943, when we are celebrating the third centenary of those Westminster divines upon whose teaching and instruction both those Catechisms are based. That Assembly was frustrated by Cromwell. Had it had its way, it would have extended the same system of Church government, and therefore of religious instruction, to the people of England which we in Scotland have enjoyed ever since 1690. I think the hon. Member was at fault when he suggested that—
§ Mr. Maxton
The point I was making was that the answer in the Shorter Catechism to the question "What is God?" which I quoted, gives in tabloid form the whole philosophic conception of the Deity. I was pointing out that that conception is far beyond the mind of the child and that it was psychologically wrong to attempt to teach it in the elementary schools.
I quite agree. I quite follow the hon. Member. I was endeavouring to show him his error in suggesting that the Shorter Catechism is now the instrument which the teachers in the primary schools in Scotland use to convey 1008 religious instruction to the children committed to their charge. I should love to spend a long time delving into philosophical matters, but as you have already said, Mr. Williams, that would be out of Order, and I have not time to do it. May I give this example? Only a week or two ago—I have already said it by way of interruption, so I may as well say it in my speech—I heard a minister preaching about the religious instruction of youth in Sunday schools in Scotland and complaining, if that is the right word, that now the Shorter Catechism was no longer the appropriate instrument or vehicle of religious instruction and that in common with most of his other parish brethren in the ministry of the Church of Scotland he had had perforce to drop it, and he complained that he had now nothing on which to anchor the religious instruction of the young people. That is a very serious thing. I hope the hon. Member for Bridgeton will take that seriously to heart. He did say that he, for one, wished to see a system of Christian ethics forming a foundation of religious instruction to the young people of Scotland. Indeed, I suppose he would extend his zealous care to the young people of England and Wales as well. But Christianity is very much more than a system of ethics. Again, to go into that would be going beyond the scope of the Debate. I hope the Under-Secretary, when he comes to reply, will be able to clear up that point, though it is a very big point to be cleared up in 40 minutes.
I was very sorry to hear the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) suggesting that the young people of Scotland in this generation are not so good from the educational point of view as were their parents or grandparents. The hon. Member shakes his head. That was my impression, and I think it was the impression of other Members in other parts of the Committee. The hon. Member shakes his head. I am glad to hear it. [Laughter.] I should say that I am glad to see it as an indication that his remarks did not bear the construction I put upon them.
I think there has been a tendency in the Committee to-day in some quarters rather to disparage Scottish education at the present time. One might have thought from some of the speeches that nothing at all was being done. But the Secretary 1009 of State in his illuminating speech gave us clearly to understand that he was just as much alive to the necessity of keeping Scotland up to its educational standards as those responsible for the administration of educational affairs in England and Wales. We all know that Scotland would never have played the part it did in what, for the benefit of my hon. Friend, I will call Imperialism—in developing the British Commonwealth of Nations—but for the splendid system of education which we largely owe to the Presbyterian system of Church government and the educational system set up by John Knox. I very much hope that the Under-Secretary will be in a position to say something on this vexed question, or vexed so far as the hon. Gentlemen the Member for Bridgeton is concerned, on the instruments used in conveying religious instruction to the youth of Scotland in the primary, and for that matter the secondary, schools of Scotland, too.
§ Mr. MacLaren (Burslem)
I wish to participate in this Debate for a few minutes for this reason: I went to Glasgow as a boy and got my elementary education in Scotland. For years one felt proud of the traditional development of education in Scotland, and, if I may say so without offence, there was still to be found that patronising pity that English people have suffered from a bad system of education. But in recent months or in recent years the feeling has been growing in my mind, living in England and representing an English seat, that some deterioration has set in in the Scottish system of education. One feels that there is a sort of attempt to make the Scottish system of education run into the pat tern of the English conception as we know it. To my mind, this would be a distinct loss to the civilisation of mankind, and for the one or two minutes I shall speak I want, as it were, to hammer at the door of the Scottish Education Department. I do it in all sincerity. Otherwise I should not have intervened at this moment.
Five, or it may be seven, years from now the boy and girl of to-day will have passed to that age when they will be the recipients of the vote, of the power to make Governments. Is it not an appalling thought that you can go into the streets of our country to-day and know that 90 per cent. of the young people are utterly 1010 devoid of anything in the nature of knowledge of the rights and duties of citizenship? Never was there a time in our history when the voters of this country were called upon to make decisions equal to those which will have to be made in the near future. All the aspirations behind those now in the Battle of Europe will fall, as it were, into dust; they will be nothing more than a mere mirage unless the young people of our time now receive the education that will prepare them to equip themselves for when that time comes to make these great decisions. I appeal to the Scottish Office to try and do something to redeem the tradition, the old tradition, of the Scottish educational system, which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) rightly said earlier to-day, was a system that aimed at strengthening the character of the individual, creating individual thinking, empowering the individual to make decisions for himself and not merely be led in the mass and in the herd according to centralised domination and dictation.
I appeal to the Scottish Office that, in the circumstances of the moment, and in view of what is coming in the near future, they will realise what they have to do. I am speaking again as a Member representing an English constituency, but having more than an ordinary reverence and respect for those past traditions of Scottish education. I appeal to them not merely to let this pass as an ordinary Debate on Scottish education but as a step towards that great duty which will give this country independent, intelligent, democratic thinking to save our country from falling into the moulds which we see now falling to pieces in Europe. I would commend to the Scottish Office, if they have not already got them, two books, "The Future of Education" and "Education for a World Adrift." In these books there is sufficient to give an indication of what I am trying to say now. The time is too serious to be flippant about education. It is the source and the centre of all that is hoped for in this country of ours. I speak as one who has come from Scotland, believing that if the Scottish people will retrieve themselves, if the Scottish Education Office will get back to a greater conception of the meaning of education, it will mean so much in leading this world in future. 1011 Last, but not least, I wish that the Secretary of State would have some authority and power over the picture-houses that belch out this insidious filth to the youth of Scotland. We have no power over them in England so far; but it matters not how much we do in the schools if, passing into these places, they imbibe this poison, which degenerates them. I hope that the Secretary of State will see that the outside influence of these great powers can do much to make or to mar intelligent purposes. I thank the Committee for allowing me, as a foreigner—or, should I say, as an exile?—to intervene. I have an inordinate respect, a slavish respect, for our Scottish scholars and our Scottish thinkers. The world owes much to them. I still believe that degeneracy in the Scottish intellect would be nothing short of a step back in the progress of mankind.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Westwood)
I can assure the Committee that we shall not let this pass as an ordinary Debate. It has been one of the finest Debates we have had on Scottish education, certainly during the whole time I have been in this House. I think that there has been only one other occasion when a whole day has been devoted to debating Scottish education. I can assure the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) that I have not the slightest intention of entering into a Debate on the Shorter or the Longer Catechism. The catechism that we have had on Scottish education to-day has been so good that it will take up all the time at my disposal to answer.
§ Mr. Westwood
That is getting on dangerous ground. If we start on that, it will only lead other hon. Members to intervene. I have a limited time at my disposal; and I think the hon. Member will agree that I have been scrupulously fair in giving myself so little time, in order that nobody who wanted to speak should be cut out. I will do my best to reply to the various points that have been raised. Every suggestion that has been made will be carefully scanned in Hansard, with a view to our benefiting from the collective wisdom of this Committee in dealing with what I believe is really one of the great social services that we have to administer in 1012 Scotland. In the time at my disposal it would be practically impossible to deal with all the questions that have been put, but I shall see, as I have on previous occasions when we have been discussing Scottish Estimates, that any Member who does not get a reply on any point now will get one later. For instance, if I were to deal with all the points which the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) has raised, I should have no time to deal with points raised by other hon. Members. He, like other hon. Members, will get replies to all of those points.
Among the main points which have been discussed are the supply of teachers, school feeding and juvenile delinquency. My hon. Friend the Member for Spring-burn (Mrs. Hardie) referred to exemptions and the development of nursery schools. I am sure the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) will forgive me for saying—because I mean it, just as I am sure he always means what he says—that there is no other subject on which he can keep the attention of this House, and deliver such a fine speech, as he can on education. To-day has been no exception: he gave us a scintillating speech. He raised the problem of adult education. It was apparent that there was a difference of view in the Committee as to the best method of dealing with juvenile delinquency and on some of the other problems that crop up in our schools. Some Members were in favour of punitive methods. Then the problem of the occupation of our schools, which were built for the education of our children but are now used for various purposes, was discussed, and there was the suggestion that there should be more central control of education and of teachers. I want to deal with that point briefly.
I have a vivid recollection of the teaching profession in Scotland being most enthusiastic about the changeover from the ad hoc authority to the county council. I believe that they were hopelessly wrong then, and I would not mind taking a vote of the Educational Institutes of Scotland now on whether they would prefer the present or the old system. I am sure that that attitude would be reversed. As they made a hopeless blunder then, I am inclined to think that their suggestions for the control of education to-day are even more hopelessly out-of-date and even more indefensible. It is 1013 Syndicalism run mad. If the teaching profession want to get control of their profession, why should not the miners get control of their profession and the engineers get control of theirs? Why we should have this lack of faith in the elected authorities, I do not know. I thought that we were fighting for democracy. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the teachers want to get still further away from—I use the term in the best sense-their masters. I have yet to learn that the teaching profession and the education of our children benefited by the changes which took place in 1929.
The hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) suggested that we should take action against the reactionary authorities, but these authorities were not named, so that we are in a bit of a fog as to which authorities were meant and what were their reactions. We leave education authorities in Scotland with a certain amount of freedom. They do not all develop education on exactly the same lines. One authority may spend its income on the development of clinics and another in giving better bursaries, and some may have to spend income in paying travelling expenses. They are all different methods which have to be adopted by the education authorities to deal with problems in their own areas. I still believe, because I have faith in local administration and because of the progress that has been made in local administrative machinery, in the elected representatives of the people dealing with these particular problems, but if there are any particular points in so far as the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew is concerned we shall be only too willing to look into them.
§ Major Lloyd
I suggested that there were backward local education authorities which needed spurring on. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that there are no backward authorities in Scotland?
§ Mr. Westwood
No, I prefer to put it that there are some local authorities which are more progressive than others. If the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew would draw the attention of these authorities to these matters they may consider them with a view to improving conditions. The question of the supply of teachers has been raised. This is a great problem. There is a shortage of 1014 teachers and it is likely to be still greater before the end of the war. It is not merely the supply of teachers but the training of teachers which has to be considered most carefully, and we cannot, as pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Watson), make the progress we want to make unless we have an adequate supply of teachers. You cannot extend the nursery schools as suggested, raise the school age and get that different form of teaching which must be given to the pupils between 14 and 16, if you are to extend the age to 16, unless you have an adequate supply not only of teachers but also of properly trained teachers, because of the new problems we have to face.
In dealing with the problem of juvenile delinquency, the experience we are gaining in connection with the youth movement and likewise in the running of certain classes for the Forces is important. Last week I met one body of 200 airmen who were being given special training. It was agreed before I met them that under the heading of "Citizenship" they should discuss the problems of education, because we were going to debate education in the House of Commons this week. The class had their debate on education and selected their representatives to meet me and tell me what they thought about education and its problems and the suggestions they were prepared to make. They had been taken into consultation by the teacher. The curriculum had even been changed on purpose to get still better results as far as these airmen were concerned. They were not being trained in a course for the Air Force but in a course to make them still more fit to be benefited by the course that would be given them afterwards. They were gaining experience, and it was an experience to teachers and to administrators. We are indebted to the City of Edinburgh and its Director of Education and to other cities and directors of education for helping us in this great work, which may be of tremendous advantage, not merely to the airmen who are getting the immediate results, but to those who are getting the experience.
Our teachers are being trained. We are to run our day classes in future. I do not like to use the word "continuation" classes. I want this to be a general education provided so far as the 16s to 18s are concerned. Once we have got the day 1015 classes running for those engaged in industry, we shall try to get another name for them. It may be called further education; it is not quite adult education, as it is dealing with adolescents. We are gaining experience as far as the youth movement is concerned by the variety of subjects that are being taught, and the fact that in many instances these youth clubs and organisations, which are not directed but advised by the central authority, are being carried on brings in all kinds of experiences, including taking into consultation those who are being taught and asking for their advice, and sometimes there is something to be said for the advice given by the students themselves.
The vital thing, if we are to make education a success, is to get a school curriculum that will induce children to remain at school instead of putting fear into the minds of the children. The great majority in the schools to-day are looking forward to leaving school at 14 instead of fearing for that day coming along because they have to leave school. No one can say that I do not believe in religious teaching and that I did not come from a religious home, but the vital thing is that, if we should change the curriculum so that there would be a religious test as far as teachers were concerned, there would be little chance of getting an adequate supply of teachers. We must make education attractive. There will have to be changes in the curriculum. The experience of the Secretary of State in running classes in Kirkintilloch is that, if you give pupils the education they like, it can be used as an attraction for the time being and prepare them for the things they do not like, and they will get interested in real problems of education that we want to get across as far as the pupil is concerned. With regard to certain types of students at the advanced division schools or what now are to be called our secondary schools, if they had an engine with which to play, a watch to repair or a machine to take to pieces it would give them an attraction. A boy likes to meddle with and to handle these things. By doing these things, you can make the other side of education attractive. I can assure the Committee that we shall do everything possible to help with the supply of teachers to meet the problems we shall have to face.
1016 We are doing everything we possibly can to develop school feeding in Scotland. There has been a vast improvement in the last year, but it has not been so great as we would have desired. There have been some difficulties about the supply of equipment, but we have had the wholehearted co-operation of the other Departments with which we have to work in these matters. We have had no difficulties with the Ministry of Food about the supply of food; we have no difficulties whatever with the Ministries of Supply and Works. But if material is not there, then a Ministry cannot supply it. If special difficulties occur and my attention is drawn to them, I shall be only too glad to do what I can to help. We are determined to give school meals to at least 50 per cent. of our children in Scotland. We are doing everything we can to encourage the local authorities, who receive per cent. grant for equipment and accommodation.
The problem of juvenile delinquency is not so simple as some hon. Members have suggested. It is one of the most difficult problems we have to deal with, but I can assure the Committee that we are doing all we can. My right hon. Friend and I do not believe in punitive action as a solution to this problem. Indeed, some boys are so made that if punitive action is taken, it means that they become criminals instead of merely delinquents.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Does my right lion. Friend believe in extending the system of probation officers? The Secretary of State gave a figure of about 60, half of them being part-timers.
§ Mr. Westwood
That is not taking punitive action, but even so it does not follow that this is the only solution. We have tried it out, but have not had the success we hoped. I have been keenly interested in the extension of the probation system. As a matter of fact, I have carried through experiments myself as a magistrate. I have never yet sent a child or a parent into close confinement in cases where a child has been brought before me for playing football in the streets or for any other such minor delinquency. Always I have adjourned the case and given parents an opportunity of making good the damage that has been done. Advantage has been taken of that, and when the case has been brought before me again I have given a warning to the child not to create any further trouble. 1017 The problem of exemptions has been raised. In many instances exemptions have been granted when the child has passed 14 years of age. We have varying dates on which children can leave school. Some authorities have only two leaving dates in the year, and others have five, which really means six in the way in which they are arranged. Because of war conditions it is possible that exemptions are being more freely given by local authorities. Because of the labour position, especially as regards agriculture, some of our local authorities have been granting temporary exemptions to enable children to help with the grain and potato harvests.
§ Mrs. Hardie
I know the reasons for the exemptions, but ought we not to stop the permanent exemptions? Why should one child leave school at 14 and another have to continue?
§ Mr. Westwood
The question is left to the local authorities. I cannot give the reasons which have weighed with them. All I can do is to give a general explanation as to why these exemptions are being granted.
I have time to deal with only one other point, namely, the development of nursery schools. We have not the accommodation for development on the lines we would like, neither have we sufficient woman-power.
§ Mr. Westwood
No. We are developing as far as we can war-time nurseries, which actually come under the Department of Health. The ordinary nursery school, generally speaking, is for educational purposes; the war-time nursery school is really for health purposes, and that is the reason it comes under the health authorities. All health authorities in Scotland have the right to provide wartime nurseries; in the case of nursery schools only the education authorities, numbering 35, have the right. There are the large burghs which are added to that number who deal with health problems, so that the war nurseries come under the control of the large burghs as well as the counties.
I have tried to be scrupulously fair in giving the maximum time to all Members in my reply. I want to make it quite 1018 clear that any point I have not dealt with will be answered by correspondence, as in the past. We are desperately anxious that Scotland shall not be behind in the race for education. We must put education in the forefront; we want our children to be well educated, because we believe that without an educated democracy we shall be liable to make all kinds of mistakes in the future. Consequently, because of the responsibilities which will fall upon the generation that is now at school, we are determined as far as lies within our power to see that they get the very best education that we can provide for them.
§ Lieut.-Commander Hutchison
Will the right hon. Gentleman comment for a moment on the question of a White Paper being issued?
§ Mr. Westwood
If I yielded to that invitation, other Members would equally be entitled to raise points. I am prepared to send a reply in writing to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and I will do the same as far as any other Member is concerned.
§ Mr. Buchanan
The question is a general issue of widespread importance in which we are all interested. Is it intended to issue a White Paper?
§ Mr. Westwood
No decision has yet been arrived at, in view of the fact that we have an Advisory Committee which is considering the various remits which have been made to it and is coming to conclusions on them, and as and when they come in we will consider whether it is advisable to issue a White Paper on similar lines to England.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I asked a specific question and was told that there is only one report, on teachers, which is interim, and that the others will not be ready till later in the year. Therefore, what are we to have a White Paper about?
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again" [Major Sir James Edmondson], put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon the next Sitting Day.