§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
On a point of Order. Do I understand you are not calling the Amendment which stands in my name? May I know why that has been passed?
§ The Temporary Chairman
The Financial Resolution does not permit the hon. and learned Gentleman to move it.
§ Mr. Davies
May I make a respectful submission? Looking at Clause 1, the purpose of the Bill is to provide education on a national basis, and it divides the duties between the Minister and the local authorities. Then Clauses 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 set up the machinery. Clause 8 provides for the extensive duty of local education authorities to provide sufficient schools in their areas. I think I should be in Order in saying that this is a duty which they cannot discharge and which ought to be discharged by the Minister.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I beg to move, in page 4, line 42, after "pupils," to insert:including provision for children who have attained the age of two years by the provision of nursery schools or, where the authority consider the provision of such schools to be inexpedient, by the provision of nursery classes in other schools.On page 5 there are a number of instructions which have to be taken into account. For instance, there is the need for securing that primary and secondary education are provided for in separate schools, the need for special schools.
98 Among these I find the provision for nursery schools. That seemed to me to put nursery provision in the wrong order. Ii this is part of primary education, as the Parliamentary Secretary has told us, this seems to me the right place to insert the provision of nursery schools. If the hon. Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Leach) wishes to amend this, or if others wish to leave out "inexpedient," I have no objection. I should like the whole Debate to take place at this point; it is of vital importance, and I have the full support of the Association of Education Committees and the Nursery Schools Association in wishing this to be placed in (a) rather than treated as one of the things to which you have regard later on in the Clause. The right hon. Gentleman's eloquent remarks in the White Paper have convinced many people that there is a real place in the educational system for nursery schools. In Bradford for many years they have gone up to the age of seven, and there are most interesting developments there. On the other hand, the general feeling is that we should like to see a flexible system between two and seven. In some cases the children will go at three, in others at four. This is all experimental but it is an integral part of primary education, and therefore it seems quite wrong to see it in this subsidiary section. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept this simple Amendment, because it has very strong backing.
§ Mr. Ede
This is really transposing Clause 8 (2) (b) into 8 (1) (a). Paragraphs (a) and (b) really have to be read together. Paragraph (a) deals with the whole of primary education and (b) deals with the whole of secondary education. I think there is no doubt, after the former discussion, that the provision of nursery schools is a part of primary education. The Board are fully seized of the desire of the country that it should be expanded, but it does not appear that any substantial gain is made bring bringing it into 8 (1) (a) and leaving it out of 8 (2) (b). Clause 8 (2) sets out the various things to which a local educational authority will have to have regard when drafting their development plans, and so on. That is really the proper place for the detailed provision to be.
§ Amendment negatived.99
§ Mr. Cove
My Amendment in line 42, after "of" to insert "infants and", follows that which has just been discussed and we are very keen about it. The Committee has been denied a chance of voting on this. I understood when the Debate was proceeding that we might have had a chance of registering a decision at this part of the Bill on whether infants should be included. I imagine it would be better in the interests of getting the Bill through that we should have an opportunity of raising the issue.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I understood the hon. Member to be rising to a point of Order. I think he is making a speech
§ The Temporary Chairman
If the hon. Member will wait for an explanation, I will give it. I understand there has been a mistake in the printing and there is no word "of" in line 42. In the circumstances, the Amendment cannot be called.
§ Mr. Butler
Perhaps I can help the Committee. I am astonished at the example of heat that has been engendered, because the Government are as desirous of considering this question—
§ The Temporary Chairman
That is out of Order. There is no question before the Committee. Mr. Lindsay.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I beg to move, in page 5, line 8, after "in," to insert "staffing."
I thought the point of the Clause was to get the scope of those who might be brought within primary and secondary education. I do not feel at all satisfied. Number and character are obviously important in schools, but many attempts 100 have been made by various Members to insert provisions for the size of schools and for staffing. This is only one more attempt to get the Bill to face up to the question of the size of schools and staffing. Other Amendments will follow bringing this down to much more concrete language—30 in a class or whatever it may be. That being so, the word "staffing" is as important as "character" or "number." Probably the most vital part is the numbers in the classes and the quality of the teachers. If you have to have regard to staffing as well as character and number, it seems a reasonable and an obvious Amendment.
§ Mr. Ede
This is an attempt to insert the problem of staffing into this part of the Clause, which is dealing with number, character and equipment—all physical characteristics of the school. It is true that we shall have, at some stage or other, to deal with the question of the supply of teachers and the size of the classes. There are a number of Amendments to a later Clause which deal with that, and clearly it would not be right to put this question of personnel into a part of the Clause which is dealing with physical requirements, the numbers of the schools and their character and equipment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Admiral Sir William James (Portsmouth, North)
I beg to move, in page 5, line 9, after "equipment," to insert:including adequate playing grounds and fields.This Amendment will cause no heat. It is to define more clearly the word "equipment" and to put it beyond any doubt that it will be the duty of school authorities to provide adequate playing fields. There is no one in the country who does not agree that if, instead of playing their games on the streets and being thrown on their own resources, children could gain health and strength and build up their character on their own playing fields, they would have a far better start in life. It is also capable of proof that every new playing field reduces the work of the juvenile courts and of the children's casualty wards. I think it abundantly clear that this policy will never be fully implemented unless local authorities are fully aware of what is expected of them and, what is perhaps more important, have the support of an 101 Act of Parliament. A battle royal for every square yard of open space in the country will be raging shortly. Building societies, property owners, ratepayers' associations, rating authorities, town planners, more concerned with the symmetry of their designs than the symmetry of the children, are all on the warpath. The spies are out, and the spies will soon be followed by the big battalions. Against this overwhelming force the education authorities will strive in vain unless they are armed with the decisive weapon of an Act of Parliament. The Amendment differs in one rather important respect from others. Education never stands still. In 10 or 20 years perhaps a Committee of the House will be building a new storey on this educational structure which is now being erected, but if this golden opportunity to provide playing fields is missed it will never recur because the land will be built on. Posterity will never readily forgive us if we miss this opportunity. I know quite well that playing fields cannot be laid out and planted overnight. If the Amendment is accepted the day will come when every school in the country will have a proper range of playing fields with proper colourful surroundings. These six words will herald in a new, better and certainly a much happier life to the children of the country.
§ Lady Apsley (Bristol, Central)
I am pleased to have the opportunity of reinforcing what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Portsmouth (Sir W. James) has said about the enormous importance of having adequate playgrounds and playing fields. I speak from the point of view of parents who believe that one of the chief aims of education is character building. In addition to the religious background and foundations, we believe that game playing, and particularly team-game playing, to be of almost equal importance in the formation of the character of the young people of our nation. Many of us have heard before that Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. Some of us in this House may believe that this war has been nearly lost—or only just won—on the playing fields of Harrow! But I am sure we shall all agree on the great influence for good of the games played on the village green. We would like to bring the spirit of the village green into the 102 cities, because we believe it would help tremendously to overcome a great deal of the so-called juvenile delinquency and, another point of extreme importance, the accident rate in the big cities. During the last six years something like 5,000 children have been killed and 15,000 injured through being obliged to play in the streets and on the roads owing to lack of suitable playing fields and playgrounds. Another point of great importance is that in countries where games are not played, the children have to take to other and worse forms of activity. When travelling through Germany shortly before the war I noticed only two cases of children plying. One lot were engaged in playing soldiers and another lot were teasing a puppy by tying a tin can to its tail. "The child is father of the man," and we know where that has led the German youth of to-day. It would be a tragedy in the future if we did not make provision now for all our children to have freedom to play and the opportunity to play those team games which are so essential to character forming.
§ Mr. Astor (Fulham, East)
I support the Amendment moved so eloquently by my hon. and gallant Friend. I am sure that it commended itself to the Committee, if only because of the eloquence with which he moved it and the knowledge of many of us of the admirable work he did for the children of Portsmouth during the time he was Commander-in-Chief there. It is not necessary to argue the case for playing fields any further. The Committee has generally accepted it. Indeed, it is implicit in a previous Clause which refers to moral, mental and physical development. It might be argued that the word "equipment" is sufficient to include playing fields, but anybody who looks up "equipment" in a dictionary will see that it means essentially something movable. It means furniture, outfit, warlike apparatus, necessaries for expeditions or voyages. If it was reported that three British divisions had landed on the shores of Italy with their equipment, it would not mean that they brought their playing fields with them. If Westminster School were to be evacuated to Epsom with its equipment, no one would imagine that it took its playing fields with it. Hon. Members may know the poem, which was really designed to describe the immanent presence of the Deity, 103 but it is a good definition of equipment.I am the batsman and the bat;I am the bowler and the ball,The umpire, the pavilions cat,The pitch, the stumps, the bails and all.That is equipment. Neither commonsense nor the dictionary will include playing fields in equipment, and the definition Clause gives no new definition of the word. Therefore, if we are not to prevent reactionary or parsimonious local authorities carrying out what is the clear desire of Parliament, it is vitally necessary to put in the words of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Not many Members on this side were fortunate enough to have any specified playing field when they attended school. I do not like the persistence of that story about Eton. It is time that others in the country got their share of the victory of Waterloo. There were quite a number of representatives of the prisons participating in that batttle, and they deserve to be remembered. When I was at school we had to find any sort of place for playing in. I remember that as youngsters we played on a piece of waste ground adjacent to an old clay pit which had become filled with water. One of my brothers was carried home one evening drowned while playing there. I think I will have the Committee with me on this occasion when I say it will be generally agreed that the wrong brother was drowned. One can see the lack of playing fields in every part of the country, especially in the industrial cities. I passed through a part of Glasgow yesterday and saw the kiddies playing in the streets. The dirt and disease that are bound to be the companions of these children are appalling, and there is in addition the continual menace of the traffic. It is a terrible thing to see in our cities how the children have to make the best of the time when they are out of school. Going into the streets takes their minds from school and any education they have been getting. If there are playing fields where the children can play in classes or in classes competing with one another, they can carry on to the playing fields a certain sense of the education that they have been getting in the school, and the playing field will then become an essential feature of the educational system.
§ Major Sir Edward Cadogan (Bolton)
While I pay my tribute to the hon. and 104 gallant Member for moving the Amendment, I am disappointed that he made no allusion to the factor which, in the view of many of us matters most in the provision of recreative facilities. The need of playing fields and equipment is obvious, for we are hopelessly deficient in them in this country. These things, however, are concerned with organisation from without. What the country wants is organisation from within. I know from experience in London how difficult it is to organise games, and I hope the President will make provision that games should be properly organised from within the schools themselves. I will give an illustration of what I mean. There is at least one layout in London which, within its limitations, more or less answers the purpose which the mover of the Amendment has in mind. I allude to Hackney Marshes. The London County Council in its wisdom has heaped Hackney Marshes with the debris of blitzed London buildings. I do not know how long it will take to restore the marshes to their pristine use as a recreation ground, but at the present time they look like the Alps. Hackney Marshes provide 140 football pitches, and from long experience I can say that 10 per cent. of them are not used on Saturday afternoons. That is not because they are not wanted, for every square inch of turf is booked every Saturday. The reason is that the opposing teams do not always turn up, and the reason for that is lack of organisation.
§ Sir W. James
At Portsmouth there are no playing grounds belonging to the schools. The teachers during the last year have begged and borrowed grounds from the Services. They run six football leagues with 46 teams, six cricket divisions with 37 teams, and they had 1,000 entries for the swimming. The whole of the training, the umpiring and the refereeing is done by the teachers out of school hours and mostly on Saturdays. It is a fair assumption that that could apply to the country as a whole.
§ Sir E. Cadogan
I am not saying anything against the teachers. Portsmouth is lucky. I still say that it is necessary that the President of the Board should provide that organisation should be thorough in this respect. I do not know whether my hon. and gallant Friend could say how many football teams are provided by Cadet units. One unit is housed in good 105 premises and only a few yards away is a magnificent recreation ground. Yet they can get only one team out of an establishment of 200. I have had long experience of this work and have been associated with the Greater London Playing Fields Association. I have, therefore, sufficient experience to express this view. Portsmouth is lucky and I am not deprecating what the teachers have done. A very great deal still remains to be done in organising games. In spite of what has been said by my hon. and gallant Friend, I hope that the President of the Board of Education will bear in mind that, if he accepts this Amendment, it is just as important to organise games as to have equipment and playing fields.
§ Sir Edward Campbell (Bromley)
I daresay that the Minister will reply that the Amendment is not necessary, but I beg him to accept it. It will be a great gesture and a great lead to education authorities. I was for some time on the London County Council, and I found that practically all the people on the Education Committee were frightfully keen about cramming the children full of knowledge but not so many of them considered the necessity of keeping the children fit and, as has already been said, of teaching them to "play the game" properly, whether at Eton, or even in this House of Commons. I beg the Minister is take the Amendment seriously. If he accepts it in this form or in some other form, I am sure that education authorities will be pleased that they have had a lead from the Board of Education. Education authorities so often say this kind of kind: "We are not quite sure whether it is in the Bill and whether we are right, and whether, therefore, we shall get the necessary finance." As I am hearing about health practically all day in the Ministry of Health, I think that the way proposed in the Amendment is one of the finest for getting health, whatever Act of Parliament you may have.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
It would be a great pity if all the speakers in favour of this Amendment came from the other side of the House. I am sure that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on this side are just as keen upon the provision of playing fields or playgrounds for every school as any hon. Member on the other side. I listened to the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth 106 North (Admiral Sir W. James) and heard the excellent account he gave of present conditions. It reminded me of the time, perhaps 13 or 14 years ago, when there was a dearth of such facilities in and about Portsmouth. As one of the Members then for that great city, I assisted in trying to get grounds for those who wanted them. One of the difficulties then was that all the spare ground was in the occupation of the War Office, which was extremely sticky in liberating fields and open spaces for purposes of the kind desired. However, I am delighted to find that my hon. and gallant Friend has had a more pleasant experience.
One aspect of this matter has not yet been mentioned and that is the great loss of child life because there are no playing fields in congested areas. On that ground, if on no other, I hope that we shall see that these words go into the Bill. My own fear is that in many areas it may not be possible to implement the Amendment. It is certainly true that in London, the provision of playing fields in every locality adjacent to the schools is impossible at the moment, but I would like to feel that, by the insertion of these words, the authorities were enabled to bring pressure to bear, so that spaces would be provided, even if it meant actually clearing adjacent sites. I have played many times on Hackney Marshes and I am sorry to learn that the London County Council have been using that area as a dump for debris. In the old days it was the one great open space for boys' clubs in the East End of London. The number of youths who have enjoyed their Saturday there must be legion, and what is good for the youths must surely be good for the children who are still at school. I therefore hope that the President of the Board of Education will agree to the inclusion of the Amendment which, in my judgment, is one of the most useful that appears upon the Order Paper.
§ Dr. Russell Thomas (Southampton)
I have listened with great admiration to the eloquence of the hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth (Sir W. James) and to the hon. Lady. It sounds all right, and I am sorry to put a fly into the ointment, but there is another side to this question. After all, we still have schools in the middle of great cities like Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and London, and so on. How then 107 can you get playing fields around the schools? It is impossible. Indeed, the hon. Member who spoke last suggested this in his remarks. If the playing fields are outside the city—
§ Dr. Thomas
I am trying to look at the matter from the practical point of view. How' will it work out, practically? [Interruption] Hon. Members have put their point of view, and I have every right to put mine. I suggest that the President of the Board will carefully weigh what so many of the Committee have in mind against what is really the practical proposition. Let us say the playing fields are outside the towns, then in that case, as my hon. Friend said who spoke a short time ago, a great deal of organisation will be required and they may lose part of their effect because one would have to organise parties to go there—probably at week-ends only. I trust that the President, before he yields to the desire of the Committee, will think carefully of the practical view I have briefly tried to put.
§ Mr. Butler
I trust that, if I do not indulge in that kind of oratory which has been used by the mover and supporters of this Amendment, the Committee will realise that I want to be quite businesslike while doing my best to help them. The Government are very much in favour of the spirit of this Amendment, and want to do their best to help. Perhaps I might discourse for a moment about the provisions of the Bill which indicate how we can help, and I hope hon. Members will be patient with me. I am advised that my hon. Friend the Member for East Fulham (Mr. Astor) is right, and that "equipment" would not be a sufficient word to cover the provision of playing fields. I am also advised that Subsection (7) of Clause 9, which is:The Minister shall make Regulations requiring local education authorities to secure that the school premises of every school maintained by them conform to such standards as may be prescribed,does, in fact, give the necessary legal power to carry out the desire of the hon. and gallant Member for North Portsmouth. If hon. Members will look at page 73 and at the definition of 108 "premises," they will see that it covers detached playing fields.
The Government do not want, in this matter, to rely solely upon a bare interpretation of the Statute as drawn, because there is a spirit in this Amendment which we should like to meet and we wish the Committee to be sure that they are imprinting their own influence upon the Bill as it goes through. Therefore, after ferreting among the Clauses of the Bill, I have discovered a place where I think I can put in words to carry out the intention of my hon. and gallant Friend. This will be the best way to do it, so as not to spoil the symmetry of the Bill as a whole. When we come to Clause 57, which actually deals with this matter and actually mentions playing fields, I shall be quite ready to move a Government Amendment to the first part of the Clause, so as to impose a duty on local authorities to provide for the various facilities which are mentioned in the Clause. The facilities mentioned include playing fields and play centres, gymnasiums and swimming baths. The Clause will then read:It shall be the duty of every local education authority to secure that the facilities for primary, secondary and further education provided for their area, include adequate facilities, one for recreation and social and physical training …et cetera. If I may add those words, I hope that the Committee will accept the spirit in which the Government have responded.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I beg to move, in page 5, line 9, after "equipment," to insert:such equipment to include the provision of projectors and wireless sets.I want to raise a question to which I cannot find an answer, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will help me. There has been a very slow, increase in the use of films in the schools in this country, out of proportion not only to all parts of America but to parts of the Continent. The real reason is that the cost of projectors is prohibitive, and there is an insufficient number of film libraries in local education authorities. Instead of 500 or 600, as there are at the moment, we need something like 5,000 before it will be possible to have an adequate film library in this country. At present, only the big authorities are able to provide such a 109 library. I do not want to go into the question of the place of the film in the school just now, except to say that those who are interested have no thought that the film can replace the teacher, but they are very much impressed by what they have been told by those who have been in the Army in this war and the enormous help that projectors have been to men in the Services during the last three years. A great many of those projectors will be released, we hope, but, whether that is so or not, we should like to include the provision of projectors for schools. Some of my hon. Friends will no doubt say a word as to the provision of wireless sets.
§ Sir T. Moore
I support the Amendment, particularly in regard to projectors. We learn each day of the increasing power of the cinema as an educational medium, and the war has advanced its uses most substantially. Indeed, a great part of the training of our soldiers is now carried on by means of films. If the screen is so important a method of instruction for adults, how much more effect will it have on the more impression able ages and minds of children? The screen unites pleasure, interest and useful instruction. There is just one point which has not yet been touched upon and it is the question of priority. If the Minister is prepared to consider these amenities, whether in regard to the Clause or in some other position in the Bill, he will have to decide the priorities. We are faced with a three-part priority of projector, film and a room in which to display the film. You may have your projector, but it is no good without the films, and you may have your projector and your films but they are no good sinless you have a room in which to display the pictures. I realise the difficulties with which my right hon. Friend will be faced. At the same time though it may take time and money to provide these facilities I believe that unless it is made statutory they will never be provided at all. Therefore I take it that my right hon. Friend will find a place, whether in this Clause or some future one, for inserting a provision regarding the use of projectors.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)
I wish to say a word in support of this Amendment. I will not add anything to what has been said about films except to remark that I agree with previous speakers on that subject. I wish to say 110 something however about the provision of wireless sets. Here, there is no immediate question of priorities, as I understand that production has already been switched over to sets for civilian use. There is no difficulty about premises, because wireless sets can be used in the ordinary class-rooms. The B.B.C. provide an extraordinarily efficient series of educational broadcasts which are taken by a considerable number of schools. Though the service has been in existence for over 10 years, dealing with history and all kinds of other important subjects—I will not weary the Committee by detailing them although they are extremely good, being given by authorities, being well adapted to the instruction of children and being very much appreciated by teachers—the number of schools which take the service has been, up to the present, very small. This is because schools have not had the authority to have wireless sets. Some schools have got them, others have not.
I think it should be made abundantly clear that every school should be provided, not only in secondary departments, but in infant and all other departments, with wireless sets. It will enable children to take advantage of the present service of the B.B.C. As a matter of fact if large numbers of schools took advantage of the service provided by the Education Department of the B.B.C. they would, undoubtedly, be willing to increase it very largely, and it would be of tremendous help in the future when the teachers, because of shortage of numbers, will certainly need all the help they can get. I hope, for these reasons, that the President of the Board will accept this suggestion that every school should have the authority to equip itself with at least one wireless set.
§ Captain Sir William Brass (Clitheroe)
I support the Amendment. I want to emphasise that at the beginning of this Bill, my right hon. Friend is referred to as the Minister… whose duty it shall be to promote the education of the people of England and Wales….Therefore my right hon. Friend has a duty to perform and in this Clause it is stated:it shall be the duty of every local education authority to secure that there shall be available for the area sufficient schools … and the schools available for an area shall not be deemed to be sufficient unless they are sufficient 111 in number, character, and equipment….I think it very important that schools should be equipped with projectors for visual aids in education. I happen to have had a little to do with this subject. For the last three or four years I have been President of the British Film Institute, and one of our most important duties is to try to increase the number of visual aids in education. We have had a travelling teacher borrowed from the Board of Education who has gone into different parts of the country to try to convince the local authorities of the importance of the use of visual aids in education.
I would press the Minister on this point, because I do not believe people can be taught efficiently and successfully, without using the eyes as well as the ears. It has been illustrated very clearly I think during this war in all the Services. We have had the cinema used in teaching the men of the Royal Air Force, the Army and the Navy, any technical subject, and I know, from my own experience, having taken a few films myself, how great an aid the eyes can be in education—very much more than if you use the ears alone. One of the great difficulties experienced at the present time is that mentioned already, that there are not sufficient projectors and films. One of the reasons why we cannot get projectors in the schools at the present time, is that there are not sufficient films to go round. There is a vicious circle which requires correcting and it is one of the things which I hope the Minister will take into account when he considers, as I hope he will do, the equipment of all schools with projectors. I also hope he will bear in mind what follows, namely, that it is no use having projectors in the schools, unless you have the films to use in the projectors. That is the vicious circle we need to overcome.
I do not want to go into detail too much as the matter arises later in the Bill but I did want to press my right hon. Friend on this point. We cannot really teach the children of this country properly without modern methods. I do not believe that in the future any school in this country will be properly equipped unless it has a projector to be used for films or film strips. I do not agree with my hon. and gallant Friend about a special room; I do not think that is necessary or even 112 desirable. We require in our schools a portable projector as part of the equipment, which can be taken round to all the different class rooms and can be in constant use. I do not like the idea of having a special room for it. What is needed is a portable equipment which can be used in different classes. As well as that we want the teachers to be able to use this equipment and we must have the teachers taught to impart instruction through the eyes as well as the ears. If we once get the provision for which we are asking inserted in this Bill, the fact that we are to have projectors in the schools will be followed up later by courses in teachers' colleges in the use of visual aids in education. Once that is done, we shall be able to use the projectors to the best advantage. I know my right hon. Friend is sympathetic to the idea. Whether he will insert it in the Bill here or not, I do not know, but I hope very much that he will do so. If not, it might possibly be put in later, as he suggested, in Clause 51. I feel very strongly that we shall never take full advantage of the methods of education which have been followed in the Services unless we bring it into the schools so that the children will have the opportunity of being able to see and hear in the course of their instruction.
§ Commander King-Hall (Ormskirk)
I wish to support this Amendment from the point of view of broadcasting. I am well aware that some hon. Members think that this is a small and trivial point, but I believe we have reached an extraordinary big and important aspect of education now and in the future. It was with some surprise that I noticed that neither in the White Paper, nor in the speeches thereon, was anything said about the place of broadcasting in education. In the discussion on Clause 4 the Minister said that he would touch on the question of films and broadcasting. He touched very lightly on it, for all he said was that he would demand that all the most modern technique should be represented and encouraged in the schools. Whether by that he meant representation on the advisory councils or not I do not know. I am anxious to receive an assurance that the Minister and his advisers are aware that they are extremely fortunate in introducing this great educational reform at a moment when they have at their disposal 113 15 years of experience and practice of this new and very successful technique of educational broadcasting.
If my right hon. Friend had been introducing this Bill 500 years ago, he would have said at that time "Thank goodness for the invention of printing." I think he should be very grateful that he is introducing this Bill when these new techniques are coming forward. There will be a big problem because of the shortage of teachers. This is one of the ways in which undoubtedly he will be able to help himself out in that respect. I must not be misunderstood on this point. I know there are suspicions among teachers that broadcasting is intended as a substitute for teachers. That is not so, and it is necessary that it should be made clear that the broadcast talk is only to assist the teacher, not to do the teacher's job. I did this work for five or six years and have had a good deal to do with teachers in connection with it. I have found that once one has convinced teachers that it is a help to them, their suspicion is removed. There is at present considerable suspicion.
Although a considerable number of schools are registered as taking school broadcasts—the number is about 12,000 or 1 in 2 excluding infant schools—it does not follow that they are taking them all, or making the same use of them. It is quite good but I do not think good enough. I think in the future, with the mental boundaries of schools becoming larger, when teachers will have to take the children over unknown territory with ever-extending horizons, it is absolutely necessary that this technique should be used to the greatest possible extent in the school, and that every school should have a good and efficient receiving set. What I think is still more important is that the Minister and his advisers should be prepared to do educational work among authorities not yet converted to the extraordinary help this new technique can give to the teachers.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
I hope the Minister will not accept this Amendment. It seems to me that to discriminate at all and to attempt to describe what the equipment should be, will prove to be exclusive. The Bill says that proper equipment shall be provided, and if we are to ride our own pet hobby horse and try to get our own ideas in the Bill it seems to me that unless we all do that, we shall find certain things 114 excluded in the future. It seems to me that now the matter has been ventilated, it should be left where it is. The provision should be left as broad as possible, and education authorities left all the power possible.
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison (Tottenham, North)
I agree with the Amendment, but, at the same time, I very largely agree with what my hon. Friend has just said. I think there is very grave danger in the acceptance of these actual words, as they may have a limiting effect. For example, a number of Members last week had a demonstration of an instrument called a synchophone which is being used extensively. That instrument seems to be comparatively simple and cheap, but if these actual words relating to wireless sets and films were inserted, it would prevent the use of other things. I have also in mind television. No one knows to what extent television will be a practical proposition for school use after the war. Therefore, I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary, while giving every encouragement to any visual aid to education and any modem improvement of science that may come along, will not accept an Amendment which might have a limiting effect exactly opposite to what the Mover intends.
§ Mr. Colegate (The Wrekin)
I must take this rare opportunity of agreeing with the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes). There is no doubt that he has put the objection to this Amendment concisely. It is not for the House to prescribe what shall be in any particular year the sort of educational apparatus for schools. That must be settled by regulations issued from time to time by the Board of Education, or even by local education authorities. We all have our little fads: I should like to see, for instance, a planetarium in every school, because I am horrified at the way modern children grow up totally ignorant of the stars, and unable to identify any of them until they go into the Air Force, where I am glad to say they are taught something about them. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will not accept the Amendment, which would be far too limiting.
§ Professor Gruffydd (University of Wales)
I rise to support the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes). I was horrified at the lack of proportion which was shown in moving the Amendment. The 115 effect of putting such words in would be, as has been said, to limit the equipment which might come to the schools through the good will of the local education authorities. It would be very much better if the Minister could give some undertaking that somewhere in the Bill he will provide means to enable the local education authorities to spend the money on this and similar inventions. One instance that might be mentioned is phonetic machines: I may say that this House would understand me very much better if there had been a phonetic machine in the school where I was educated.
§ Colonel Greenwell (The Hartlepools)
I notice, from the remarks of some Members, that this Amendment is regarded as limiting. I cannot see that it need in the least limit the amount of equipment which may be provided in future. I join issue with the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) on one remark which he made, which I think would give the President of the Board of Education ample opportunity for resisting the Amendment should he wish to do so. The hon. and gallant Member inferred that projectors must necessarily be of a type and size such as are normally employed in cinemas. I do not think that that is in the least necessary, nor do I think that special accommodation would be necessary for this kind of instrument. The 16 millimetre size of projector would be much more convenient for educational purposes, and would have the advantage that the libraries have films of that size available. If the President of the Board of Education would remember that, he could provide a new form which has proved its worth for education and which need not involve vastly greater expenditure.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall
I would like if it were at all possible to undo a little of the damage which my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has done. One could, of course, answer him easily by asking him if he thinks that the word "equipment" is sufficient to cover all kinds and whether he would take the same view about religious equipment. In that respect, he is more than anxious, I understand, to have a definite type only in the schools. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for The Hartle-pools (Colonel Greenwell) that the words 116 of the Amendment do not limit the Minister in any way. They specifically say that these brings should be inducted, amongst other things, as part of the equipment or a school. Like my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass), I am a governor of the British Film Institute; and that body, which has studied this matter closely, is extremely anxious that some such words should go into the Bill. The Institute, as the Committee has heard, has had a member of the staff going around visiting schools and groups. That Institute is convinced that the use of visual aids of this kind would be of the utmost benefit in every type of school. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Commander King-Hall) has said, the use of films and wireless for this purpose is yet in its infancy. The uses to which the cinema can be put have yet to be tested to the full. There is not the slightest doubt that this Amendment would assist in getting this kind of equipment into schools much more quickly than if it were left out. We all know that many authorities are not anxious to spend money, but if they see that Parliament has laid down that this is part of the modern equipment which should be in every school it would assist them in making provision for equipment, which every school, in my view, should have had some time ago.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)
I rise to support the Amendment. We find in our factories that teaching apprentices by the use of the film projector has been of immense advantage. In several of our works we establish schools, to which people go before being put on the bench. I am sure that the use of films for ocular demonstration of processes, would be of distinct educational advantage in our schools. I am certain that my right hon. Friend and the Parliamentary Secretary himself—because I have heard him speak on this matter from time to time—are both interested, whether they embody this Amendment in the Bill or not. I am certain that it does not limit the opportunities of local authorities, and I am satisfied that it would be a distinct advantage, particularly to those children who are going into industry, and, indeed, to those who are going on the land. I rarely differ from my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), but I hope the Minister will take into consideration the extent to which the introduction 117 of this form of equipment in our schools can be of advantage educationally. On the whole, I think he will agree that the balance will be in favour of giving to children who are going to earn their living in industry ocular demonstration of processes.
§ Mr. Stokes
May I say that I am not in disagreement with my hon. Friend? I object to having these words put in the Bill, but I entirely favour having projectors.
§ Mr. C. Davies
I do not know what this bother is about. We entirely agree that the best equipment should be given to the children. The only question is over the legal interpretation of "equipment." I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has not the assistance of the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General. I, therefore, intervene as an old member of the Bar. If you use the one word "equipment," the widest possible interpretation will be put upon it by His Majesty's judges. Add words after it, and at once they limit the meaning. If you add "wireless," somebody will puzzle, "Does that include television or not?" or "Does it include some other invention or not?" Leave it as wide as possible, and the wishes of all of us will be carried out.
§ Mr. Ede
I thank my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) for relieving me of the task of dealing with the purely legalistic aspect of this matter. We have been advised by competent authority—I would not say higher than his, but at least equal to his—that the effect of putting these words in would be as he has described. But I think we have had a useful discussion. The case for this Amendment has been very well argued, and the Board of Education welcome this demonstration that Parliament is interested in bringing to the aid of the schools all the latest equipment that science can provide. I ought to say a word of caution about the effect that this would have on staffing. I was one of the people who did not have an opportunity of using the cinema but who did have an opportunity of using the old magic lantern, as a visual aid to teaching. With young children, the use of these visual aids entails a considerable amount of preparation and also a very great amount of recapitulation afterwards, 118 to make quite sure that the child has seen just the thing you wanted him to see. So often one discovered that a quite irrelevant detail had captured the child's imagination far more than the particular thing one wanted him to see.
We have issued various pamphlets on visual aids. We have done everything we can up to the present to inform local education authorities of the importance we attach to the use both of projectors and wireless, in suitable circumstances in the schools. We hope that as the school-leaving age rises they will be increasingly used. I am sure that the House will recognise that in addressing us on this subject my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Commander King-Hall) was speaking as one who has done a very great deal in making wireless a real measure of education for the young people of the country. I hope that, in view of the statement I have made and the very carefully-given opinion of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) will not feel it necessary to press this Amendment. May I say, with both the Joint Patronage Secretaries here, that on this occasion His Majesty's Government support the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes)?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Parker (Romford)
I beg to move, in page 5, line 12, to leave out from "aptitudes," to "including," in line 13.
It does seem to me that there is a danger in these words in the Clause, and I should like the Government to pay attention to the point I would like to make and to reply to it. I think there is a danger that, when children at the age of 11 go into a secondary school, the parents may then be asked Are you proposing that your child shall stay in the school until the age of 18 or not; will you agree to the child going into a course by which it would remain until 18, and, probably, then try for a scholarship for the university or training college or go into some other kind of further education?" In my view, many parents would not want to commit themselves when their children are only 11 years old. They cannot tell what their own circumstances will be when the child reaches the age of 16 and whether they would enable the child to stay at school beyond 16, even with 119 family allowances or something of that kind, and it may mean sacrifices. Again, they may not know whether at 11 the child has the mental equipment that will make it desirable that it should go forward beyond the age of 16 with its secondary education. Therefore, I think there is a very great danger that we may have certain forms of secondary school, particularly grammar schools, definitely setting out to be schools in which children should stay until they are 18. There are certain sections of the Norwood Report which rather suggest that that might be done by certain grammar schools. On the whole we think it wrong that working class parents should be asked, when the child is 11, definitely to decide what kind of secondary education it is to have for the whole period of technical education. It might prevent many children, who may develop later, from going into grammar schools if, at the age of 11, their parents were definitely asked to give a guarantee. We should prefer that all secondary schools might be limited in this way. We should like the Government to say something about these particular words and tell us whether there is a danger of schools specialising in that particular way.
§ Mr. Ede
I think the hon. Member, in the speech he has made to us raising his doubts regarding these words, has ignored the fact that this is a duty we are placing on the local education authority to supply a sufficiency of schools of a wide variety. There is not only the grammar school, taking pupils up to 19, but there is the school with a strong technical side that ought to be passing its pupils on to the technological college, and we hope there will be in our rural areas schools which will take children through a very good course of general education leading towards the agricultural college. We want people to be assured in every area that all these considerations will have been borne in mind, but we want to be certain that we shall have, as far as can reasonably be foreseen, a sufficiency of accommodation of every type for leading these children on, in appropriate surroundings, to the further education they will get beyond the secondary sphere. Unless we put these words in we shall not be able to obtain from the local education authorities this necessary assurance. I am quite 120 sure that my hon. Friend will realise that there is something far more than the grammar school point in this. I hope that not too many stipulations with regard to school life will be made at the age of 11, and that we shall have learned from some of the troubles of the last 40 years that we can make selection too early at II years of age. Some child, when it gets into school, may reveal aptitudes that entitle him to a longer course than we would have thought suitable on the day it entered school. We require flexibility, but we also require accommodation within which that flexibility can operate, and these words are designed to assure us that the range of education, as well as the length, will be wide enough to deal with children of the most varying gifts.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir P. Harris
I beg to move, in page 5, line 14, after "respective," to insert "educational."
I suggest inserting the word "educational" before the word "needs" in the phrase "instruction appropriate to their respective needs." It is suggested that the status of a child shall not be conditioned by the poverty of its parents, or by the fact that it has been born in a rural area, so that it should not be limited in the instruction and training which it shall receive. I know that is not the Government's intention, but on reading this Sub-section it appears that it might be interpreted to mean that. The education given to a child should be appropriate to his or her capacity to learn.
§ Mr. Butler
I am advised that these words are not necessary. I give full credit to my right hon. Friend for his intervention, but I am advised that these words are, in fact, unnecessary, and I hope, in view of the fact, that he will not press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Linstead (Putney)
Would it be in Order for an Amendment to be moved by an hon. Member whose name is not on the Order Paper?
§ Mr. Linstead
I beg to move, in page 5, line 14, at the end, to insert:and unless the classes are of a size to ensure that the standard of instruction and training does not suffer by reason of the undue size of the classes.I find myself in a very curious position in moving this Amendment, the reason being that it bears a strong family resemblance to the previous Amendment, and by its acceptance we should be achieving what I myself and some of my hon. Friends have in mind, namely, to ensure that we impose a duty upon education authorities to provide sufficient accommodation when making their plans, not merely for the pupils they have at school at that particular time, but also for those who will have to be at school when the school-leaving age is raised. It is fairly obvious that when this Bill goes on the Statute Book it will only be the end of the beginning, and there will be an enormous piece of administrative work to be done by the Departments and the education authority. We look at an Amendment of this kind as providing a target for local education authorities, and if necessary a lever which will enable the Board of Education to encourage backward authorities.
Of all the reforms which are necessary in the educational field there is nothing greater than the need for smaller classes. We would like to see the figure of 30 mentioned in this Bill merely as a target to which education authorities ought to be aiming all the way through their reorganisation plans. Thirty, of course, is a maximum, and not by any means a minimum. It may be that the Minister will tell us that, in the various instructions or memoranda which will be issued to education authorities regarding the provision of schools, some sort at figure will be laid down, but it seems to us that it is far better to have the provision specifically in the Bill, rather than merely in a Departmental memorandum. We think that there is in the words of this Amendment, or in some words which may seem more appropriate to the Department, a specific duty laid upon the authorities to provide accommodation sufficient to reduce the classes to the reasonable minimum of 30.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
I am very glad to be able to support the plea made by my hon. Friend, and I agree that if 122 you were to ask those who really know education from the inside, the teachers and school administrators, they would tell you that this is really the greatest single reform that anybody could bring about in education—to reduce the size of the classes. One asks oneself what is the main purpose of this Bill. Is it to improve the quantity of education or the quality? I suppose that the President would reply that he had in mind both objects—to improve both quantity and quality—but I would remind the Committee that unless it is emphasised in the Bill and adequate steps are taken to reduce classes, by increasing the quantity of education you are decreasing the quality, and for this reason. At present, there is great overcrowding in the schools, but under this Bill it is proposed that something like half a million more children are to be retained for their school life. That may mean that the overcrowding which exists at present would be made very much worse, and the teachers, who already have an almost impossible task, would really find one quite impossible to cope with. I therefore feel very strongly that somewhere in the Bill the urgent need for reducing the size of classes should be emphasised, and I would like to make this other point.
The President has made it clear that one purpose of this Bill is to try to bring about a greater equality of educational opportunity. If we turn to the public schools, we find that the classes there are much smaller, and that is one of the reasons why they are so successful in their work. It we are going to have anything like equality of educational opportunity, it is necessary that the classes in the schools under the local authority should be of comparable size. I would remind the Committee, too, that it is chiefly in the elementary school where the great overcrowding exists and the teachers in these schools have the most difficult of tasks. I therefore hope that the Minister will see his way clear to accept this Amendment and to ensure that, while he is increasing the school life, he is also taking care to ensure that, in so doing, he is not allowing the present education to suffer in any way, but that, by reducing the size of the classes, he should see that progress is made in improving both the quality and the quantity of the education given.
§ Mr. Harvey
I hope that the President of the Board of Education, who has already delighted the Committee by agreeing to insert words in another place to meet the object of the previous Amendment with regard to playing fields, will be able at this stage to make a similar promise, and that if he is not able to accept these words he will, at some appropriate place in the Bill, insert words which will make clear that it is the intention of Parliament that the size of classes shall be limited. If he cannot put any figure into the Bill, he should make it absolutely clear to local education authorities that we expect, as an essential feature of the great reform which this Bill will inaugurate, a substantial reduction in the size of classes. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) I should be very glad if we could have in the Bill itself a target figure, or at least a target at which to aim, such as the figure of a maximum of 30, but I recognise the difficulty of putting any figure into the Bill.
It is not enough that we should just rely on the firm intention of the present President of the Board of Education. In the past, we must admit, local authorities, and also the Board of Education, have been remiss in this supremely important matter. For several years before the war I kept asking questions of the then Presidents of the Board of Education about the size of classes and I could not get a satisfactory answer. Everywhere, in all parts of the country, there were overcrowded classes, in some cases, overcrowded classes with empty classrooms not very far away, sometimes even in the same school., I remember one such case. A member of the local education authority told me how they could not divide the class into two and utilise an empty room because the Inspector would say it was overstaffing the school. The fault, in cases like this, lay with the Board of Education, or with the influence of the Board of Education in the past. We want to be sure that the whole influence of the Board of Education will in the future be thrown—as I am sure the President of the Board would wish it to be—into the reduction of the size of classes. All other reforms really may be said in some way to depend upon this. You cannot give a chance to the teacher unless he has a small class and you also deprive the children of the education that is their due. If you can reduce classes—even if you do not extend the school age— 124 you can do more for education than if you extend the school age and retain these vast classes, in which it is impossible for the teacher, unless he is an exceptional teacher, to have a personal knowledge of and interest in, and a personal influence upon, every child in the class.
One cannot emphasise too much the importance of this reform, and realising that, we are right in asking the President of the Board of Education to find some suitable words to be inserted in the Bill to express what, I am sure, is the intention of Parliament in respect of this great Measure.
§ Mr. Logan (Liverpool, Scotland)
This is the first time that I have spoken since the White Paper was issued, but I want it to be noted by the Committee that I am in agreement with the Amendment. I also feel it to be very necessary to consider this matter from the point of view of finance. This should receive full attention in regard to any improvements under this Bill. It is necessary to mention this point because, although you can go on improving all the time, there are financial difficulties which have to be met, and I want to know how they are to be met. I am anxious about how the expense of a Bill of this sort is to be met, just as I am anxious about the expenses of the household. A spendthrift wife can spend all that a man earns and she can obtain credit, but later on, perhaps, the husband will be asked to foot the bill. I am wondering who would have to foot the bill if all these Amendments were carried. The Minister stated that he hoped in another place to introduce words which would meet with the agreement of the Committee. I should like to know from him who is to bear the expense of the proposal contained in this magnificent Amendment. I am in agreement with the improvements and in favour of every child getting advantages, but I want, under a national system of education, to keep pace with the expenses which are so essential to it. I have heard many statements that money will be plentiful after the war, but I remember what occurred after the last war, and I am anxious to know whether, if the Minister accepts this Amendment, there will be any easing of the financial burden of those bodies who must of necessity carry the cost of the improvements.
I support the Amendment. I have had considerable practical experience as a teacher and in an 125 administrative capacity and I particularly put the size of classes as a first priority here. If I were asked, as a result of my own experience, what was the first thing to be done to improve education nationally I would say, "Reduce the size of the classes." I would put that even before the raising of the school leaving age. I would do that as the first essential. If you do not reduce the size of classes you are not getting into the schools the best class of teacher. I remember very well indeed an excellent man who taught in the next room to me. He came out of college with the abundant enthusiasm which we all get when we are very young. He was going to put things right in the school. He, like me, found that in his first position as a teacher he had to deal with, or to handle, a class of 70 boys. That is not so long ago.
It is not so bad now, but there are still classes of 40 or 50, which illustrate my point. This excellent and qualified man could not grasp the situation. He could not keep order. I wonder how many of us could. Fortunately for me I did, and in order to make things better, the headmaster said, "I think the best way to deal with them is to have the partition removed so that you can keep order in both classes at the same time." What was the final result? This excellent and qualified would-be schoolmaster left the profession and took up one of those most awful forms of educational drudgery: he went to mark books at correspondence colleges. If the Minister could give an assurance that these classes must be reduced in size, we should be satisfied. Some time ago I tried to draw from the Parliamentary Secretary some figure at which they are aiming. Anybody who has had actual experience knows that 30 is an ample number for a class. Under war condition we have to put up with certain things, and there are some classes with 40 and 50 children. I hope that whoever replies on this Amendment will say that they are not only stopping that, but that they have a definite figure at which to aim. They should bring all classes in the near future to 30. Unless that is done it will be impossible to go on with the excellent scheme outlined in the Bill. We ought to consolidate one position first. That reform ought to have been carried out before bringing in the 126 present Bill. Only by consolidating one position and then another can you get real reform.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I want to apologise to the Committee and I thank the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) for having moved this Amendment.
Mr. Quintin Hoģģ (Oxford)
It is a Tory Amendment.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I was detained, and on this occasion I was not under orders from Moscow but from Washington, but, nevertheless, I ought to have been here to take charge of my own responsibilities. I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan) should be in the unfortunate position of having to introduce into such an important subject the sordid materialism of finance. The important thing is not to think about finance in connection with the size of classes and perfect education. Let us keep in mind a clear system and method of educating our children. That is the big thing. I am one of those who was educated in a very large class in an elementary school about 50 years ago, and I have recollections yet of the teacher being completely worn out before the day was over. [An HON. MEMBER: "I am not surprised."] I would not say that I was responsible for that, but at any rate the class was incapable of getting the advantages of education which the children were entitled to get. Here you have the result of it. On Thursday the Home Secretary found it necessary to inform us that there was democracy in this country. Well, if I had been educated in a small class surely I would have known that. A little later the same day, the Foreign Secretary got up at the Box to inform me that there was freedom in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order."]
§ Mr. Gallacher
I was only illustrating the evils of the overburdened class where the teacher was in the position of being unable to get ideas into the minds of his pupils, and when you come to Parliament you are in the unfortunate position of having to be guided along on the most elementary points. That is just one of the effects. Everyone who has taken an interest in education appreciates that this is a very great evil which hinders and 127 hampers the development of the young mind. How is it possible for a teacher with an enormous class, with such a task before him, to see in the different parts of the class the different possibilities that exist amongst his pupils? How is it possible for him to develop initiative and the very particular qualities which these children have?
The one valuable thing in education is not to get a whole class to recite "Two and two are four; A.B.C.D." and the rest, but to have a class where the teacher is able to study each of his pupils and their different characteristics and encourage them to develop their different qualities, and in that way get the greatest possible co-operation between teacher and pupil, which is impossible in classes where the teacher is overburdened with work. In this White Paper, and in this Bill, the system that is being developed is one that means—if it is effectively carried out—co-operation right from the President, through the authorities to the teachers, and from the teachers to the pupils. Give the teachers a moderate number of pupils that they can handle, that they can understand, so that they can tell the capabilities of each of the pupils, and you can get real co-operation between the teacher and the pupil and, as a result, particular qualities of mind will be brought out and developed. That above everything else is what we want in this country when the war is over, the greatest possible encouragement for initiative and for the development of character among the children.
§ Mr. Ede
There have been several autobiographical references in the course of this Debate and I would like to say that I was taught in a class of 90. The first class I had when I left college was 73, and the smallest class I ever taught before I left the teaching profession, for its own good, in 1914, was 55 in number.
§ Mr. Ede
The Government recognise that this problem of the size of classes, with its necessarily correlated subjects, the supply of teachers, goes to the root of this Bill. It is quite clear that unless we can get an adequate supply of teachers this Measure will not give the country the results for which we all hope. Therefore 128 we have during the past few months devoted considerable attention to the problem of the supply of teachers. One of the senior officers of the Board has been throughout the country holding a series of meetings at which all the local education authorities, the teachers' organisations, and similar bodies, have been represented, and at which the emergency scheme for dealing with this problem has been discussed. The response from those gatherings has been very encouraging. There is a strong determination on the part of all those who have been represented at these gatherings to see that as large a number of teachers as possible may be trained for the schools during the years that will immediately follow. We are, of course, awaiting the Report of the McNair Committee with regard to the long-term permanent policy for dealing with the training of teachers after we have managed to secure a sufficient recruitment to meet immediate needs.
I am sure the emphasis that has been placed on this subject in the Committee to-day will assist in bringing home to those people the importance of this particular issue. I thought my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead), although he was moving the Amendment that stood in the name of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan), the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) and the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) spoke rather more to his own Amendment in which he had declared in favour of a definite number being placed in the Bill. As far as that line of policy is concerned, I am sure that if at any time during the 56 years I have been within the State system of education, a number had been inserted, we should not have made as much progress as we have in the time between. I recall that when I was first certificated it was said that the head teacher could be regarded as the equivalent of 35 pupils, every certificated teacher responsible for 60. That was how I came to have 73—I had my own 60 and a third of his 35. There was a similar allowance for each other type of teacher.
All those figures are now merely matters of history. By insisting that under Regulations the size of classes shall be continually reduced until we reach something like the figure that my hon. Friend the Member for Putney has put in his Amendment, 129 we shall be able to make progress a great deal more quickly than by inserting something in the Bill which will from time to time require all the machinery of an Act of Parliament to alter. Let us be assured of this, that any figure that was feasible to-day for the size we would like to see, would be seized upon by certain people who would say "That is the figure which is permitted for every class," and we should find some classes that are smaller than that to-day being increased because it would be said they had statutory sanction. I hope I have convinced the Committee that His Majesty's Government are fully alive to the importance of this issue, that we shall continue all our efforts to increase the supply of suitable teachers of every kind for the full working of this Bill, and that we, realise as much as the Committee that the success or failure of our united efforts depends upon our being able to secure this recruitment to the teaching profession. I hope that with that assurance my hon. Friend, who made himself responsible for the Amendment which was so kindly brought forward by my hon. Friends from beyond the Border, who are not affected at the moment by this Bill, will feel that he can withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mrs. Cazalet Keir (Islington, East)
If my hon. Friend is not able to accept this Amendment, or to insert an actual figure in the Bill, could he give an undertaking that, in the Annual Report which he is pledged to bring to Parliament every year under Clause 5, he will tell us exactly how the position of classes stands?
§ Mr. Gallacher
In view of the remark my hon. Friend made about his friends from across the Border, I want to say that we are anxious to bring the English standard up to the standard in Scotland.
§ Mr. Tinker (Leigh)
I think we are all impressed with the need to reduce the size of classes, but the reply given by the Parliamentary Secretary clears the point. He has promised, so far as the provisions can be carried out, and so far as teachers can be provided, to reduce the classes 130 accordingly. That is the right answer for a question of this kind, because if we were to put in any fixed number the whole thing might be undone, for it would be necessary to get teachers and that might not be possible. I think, therefore, that the reply ought to convince the Committee that the Board of Education are alive to the difficulty of this matter and that, at the first opportunity, they will try to carry it out. I hope the Amendment will be withdrawn.
§ Major Thorneycroft (Stafford)
I have listened with interest to the remarks of the Parliamentary Secretary; I find them satisfactory. It seems to me that we are in somewhat of a muddle in the Committee owing to the sad business of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) being unable to move the Amendment. In point of fact it is his Amendment which we are discussing. The figure of 30 has been mentioned and I think it is a very suitable figure to work for, but this figure is not included in the Amendment, which deals merely with the progressive decline in the number of pupils in a class so that the standard of education will not suffer. This Clause lays a duty on local authorities to provide schools sufficient for the number of pupils who are going to be there anyway and, progressively as the age is stepped up, for the increased number of pupils who will come in.
Everybody agrees that that duty must be placed fairly and squarely on their shoulders. But at the same time that is only one leg of the proposition. It is wholly insufficient for the authorities to concentrate merely on stepping up the school age. That is going for quantity alone and my hon. Friends who are Members of the Tory Reform Committee are most anxious—and this is the reason why they stepped into the breach left by the hon. Member for West -Fife—that the aspect of quality should be equally emphasised.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I do not think the hon. and gallant Member would be in Order in laying that down now; it is entirely outside this discussion.
§ Major Thorneycroft
That is so, Mr. Williams. If the Parliamentary Secretary thinks it inappropriate to put an actual figure into the Bill I would be inclined to agree. But I would ask the Minister to consider whether in this Clause, or somewhere else, it is possible to include some words which do emphasise quantity and quality as being equally important? I do not think that is asking too much. The Parliamentary Secretary dealt with teachers. Later in the Bill we shall all be talking about the supply of teachers but that is not relevant to this Amendment. We are dealing here with buildings. Surely we can place a duty upon the authorities to build adequately.
§ Major Woolley (Spen Valley)
I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will enlighten us a litte more with regard to the attention that will be paid to different types of schools. There is at the moment great disparity in the size of classes in primary schools and secondary schools. Figures I have here show that 80 per cent. of classes in primary schools in non-county boroughs have over 30 pupils, whereas only 40 per cent. of the classes in senior schools have over 30 pupils. I have figures for three other types of local authorities where the same inference is reflected. Therefore, I hope that the same attention will be given to the primary school classes as will be given to the senior classes.
§ Mr. Harvey
I wish to appeal to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary and to ask him, if he cannot accept these words now, whether he will undertake that at some suitable place in the Bill some words will be introduced to make it clear what is the wish of the whole Committee and what is his wish. We desire to have this in the Act and not merely in a speech made by a Minister. As the reason for not accepting this Amendment my hon. Friend said it was because he disapproved of its words. None of his argument applied to the Amendment which was actually moved. It was directed to another Amendment which has not been called. The Amendment which is actually before us contains no figure. His argument was against putting a target figure 132 into the Bill. What we want is to have the principle made clear, and it ought not to be beyond the power of the Board to find suitable words, if they are unable to accept these words, to convey what is, I am sure, the intention of Parliament.
§ Sir H. Williams
. I find it difficult to understand why there is so much heat about this matter. It does not matter in the least whether this Amendment is carried or not, or even whether the greater part of the Clause is carried. Let us be realists. I do not know how many elementary school children there are—possibly about 6,000,000.
§ Sir H. Williams
The term "undue size" means anything you like. It depends upon what the Minister may think next year, the year after or, possibly, five years from now. If you interpret it on the lines of "the bright young things" opposite, as they are sometimes called, or "the pink 'uns," it is a proposal to deal with classrooms. Suppose you have a school of 10 classrooms holding 45 children in each. That is accommodation for 450. If you are to say that 30 is to be the minimum that is accommodation for 300. Therefore, you have to add 50 per cent. to the number of your classrooms, which will give the Ministry of Works a bigger job than ever. If you change the school age some time or other—and unless you provide more accommodation you will make classes so large that education of the children will be deplorable—you have, roughly, to double the number of separate classrooms in this country. Having got them you are to ask people, because they are unable to get a job in industry, to constitute themselves as teachers. You are to increase the number of teachers by nearly 100 per cent. How long will that take? You cannot seriously start until demobilisation is well under way. I am not considering whether this is good or bad. I am merely looking at it from a realistic point of view. I was brought up in the education profession, so I have some interest in the matter. As I have said, it does not matter whether the Amendment is passed or not, because it does not mean anything. The decision 133 will not be taken by the Minister. There will be two General Elections for certain before any of these things can materially happen. I do not understand why the T.U.C. and other such bodies are continually passing resolutions demanding that something should happen on a particular day, when no human power can bring it about. For the time being this Bill is eyewash. It is not a reality, and cannot be a reality for several years to come. Clause 8 is full of aspirations. When those aspirations will be turned into realities nobody in the Chamber can predict, but I for one say that you will not start until nearly two years from now.
§ Sir Georģe Schuster (Walsall)
I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams). In this Bill we set ourselves a target and we must set ourselves an adequate target. There has been a good deal of discussion whether 30 should be put into the Bill, and the Parliamentary Secretary dealt with the possibility. In Clause 10 the Minister will have to call for schemes from local authorities, and in those schemes a certain standard will have to be set. I imagine that, as a working rule to go on with, he will set himself some standard of what are to be the average sizes of classes. I should like to get some statement from him to the effect that; when those schemes come in, they will be tested by a standard which, it is clear, the opinion of the Committee regards as necessary. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can say something about that. We have to face up to this question. We have to study priorities, and a very strong opinion has been expressed, with which I entirely agree—I am glad to be associated for once with the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher)—that this question of reducing classes and setting ourselves a reasonable target in this matter is of the most vital importance. It out-weighs everything else.
§ Mr. Linstead
The Parliamentary Secretary made one point which has, possibly, rather misled the Committee. He said he was strongly opposed to the introduction of any figure relating to pupils in classes. It seems to me that at some stage we are bound to have figures, because an architect has to draw up plans on paper, and you must give him some instructions as to the size of the classrooms. If earlier Amendments are examined closely, it will be found that we are talking in terms of accommodation, 134 and not primarily in terms of numbers of pupils in classes. In line 8 we are defining what is to be sufficient in numbers, character and equipment.
§ Mr. Linstead
I think I am in Order because the words that follow define "sufficient." The point we wish to make is that accommodation must be one of the elements in the definition of what is sufficient, and it seems that those words could be looked at again with advantage in order that accommodation should be included in what is sufficient for the purposes of a satisfactory school.
§ Mr. Hamilton Kerr (Oldham)
My hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) was quite right when he said the Bill faces us with two big issues—teachers and buildings. On the other hand, I am not happy about the Parliamentary Secretary's reply, because he argued that, if we fixed a definite figure, we should encourage backward authorities to rest content with that figure. We have been told that the problem after the war is going to be the recruitment of teachers. I do not see how you are going to recruit extra teachers unless you have some idea of the exact task that you have to undertake. It is important that we should consider the whole question. We should have a fixed idea in our minds of what the size of classes is to be.
§ Mr. Hugh Lawson (Skipton)
It seems to me that we ought not to let the mischievous and defeatist speech of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) pass without a very strong protest. I think I am speaking for the majority of the Committee when I say that if we had faced the problems of the war in that sort of spirit—"We just cannot do it, it is impossible"—we should have lost long before this. We have gone a long way to meeting the U-boat menace and have built aeroplanes and done all sorts of things, because we just had to. That is the spirit in which we have to face these problems after the war. I should not like it to go out from this Committee to those who are fighting overseas, and are looking to us for a better future, that we were taking this defeatist attitude.
§ Sir G. Shakespeare
I should like to join with others in urging my right hon. Friend to reconsider this matter so that, before the Report stage, he can satisfy us. We do not want a figure to be published which we all know cannot be reached. There is a good deal of truth in what the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) said. In my view, if there is no raising of the school age, and none of these reforms which we are all rejoiced to see in the Bill, the local education authorities have so much leeway to make up, that they could spend five years on it. One of the great leeways is to reduce the size of classes to manageable dimensions. That is the kernel of the whole problem. One realises the difficulty. The figures will vary for different types of schools. For the few years that lie ahead, the question can be dealt with administratively, but I hope that within a very short time we shall see it in the Statute.
§ Mr. Butler
How else can we deal with the question except administratively? The hon. Baronet has done a great service in helping to curtail our discussion. This is the only way it can be dealt with.
§ Sir G. Shakespeare
As the hon. Member for Walsall (Sir G. Schuster) has pointed out, within a year from 1st April local education authorities have to submit development plans, and they cannot do it unless between now and then there is a clear statement, by a circular or by some other means, by which every authority knows the sort of size of classes that is required. If that were done, I should be satisfied.
§ Earl Winterton
I very frequently disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) but the attack made on him was quite unjustified. It would be out of Order to pursue the matter but the hon. Member referred to U-boats. The reason why any form of warfare is carried out is simply because we deny ourselves things which, in peace time, we should not deny ourselves.
§ Earl Winterton
That means exactly nothing. It is the sort of argument that is frequently used on the platform. I will 136 tell the hon. Gentleman what an urgent problem is, and it arises out of this Amendment. It is to provide the accommodation which the Amendment entails. If anyone supposes that in the present circumstances of the war, with Germany and Japan undefeated, it will be easy to do that, he is living in the greatest fool's paradise imaginable.
§ Mr. Ede
I am sorry that my answer has aroused so much further discussion because I hoped that I had made the point which has since been made clearly by my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Sir G. Schuster) and the hon. Baronet the Member for Norwich (Sir G. Shakespeare). This is an administrative matter, and it is best dealt with administratively. When we come to the development plans under Clause 10, the local education authorities will have to disclose as one of the ways in which they will carry out this Bill the size of classes they prefer. In reaching their decisions on that matter they will be guided by the Regulations that will be issued by the Board indicating the size of classes at which they should aim. We are dealing in this Clause more with the question of buildings, but I hope we are not going to reduce the size of many rooms in order to make them fit the smaller classes. I have discovered that the ordinary sized class room in the senior department of the public elementary school is not too large for the 30 children that will occupy it when the school becomes a secondary school. This is a matter to which we have given great care. We are endeavouring to recruit the teachers, and it is no use hon. Members suggesting that this is a case of buildings only. What will determine the size of classes in the long run will be the number of teachers available. I hope that I gave the Committee an assurance that we are diligently pursuing that path with a view to enabling the reforms that we desire to be made at the earliest possible moment.
§ Major Thorneycroft
The hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary made a reference to numbers and said it was not a matter of buildings only. The reason I talked about buildings is that they are the only things which are relevant under this Clause. He says that it will be possible to do something under Clause 10. Does he propose to introduce a reference to a 137 gradual and progressive reduction of the size of classes, emphasising the quality of education as opposed to quantity?
§ Mr. Ede
In Clause 10 (2, a) are the words:give particulars of the proposals of the authority as to the nature of the education to be provided in the school and as to the ages of the pupils.It is clear that in all these matters, in order to make the scheme effective, there must be a statement of the size of classes which the authority proposes.
§ Major Thorneycroft
I am grateful for that answer, but I cannot see any reference to the size of classes. Will my hon. Friend give some assurance that between now and the Report stage he will seriously consider whether some reference can be made to this matter, which the Committee has shown is the kernel of the Bill?
§ Mr. Ede
Clause 10, Sub-section (2, g), says that the plans shallcontain such other particulars of the proposals of the authority with respect to schools for providing primary and secondary education for their area as the authority think necessary, or as the Minister may require.It is clear from what I have said that among the thing's that the Minister will require will be a statement as to the size of classes and the scale of staffing adopted by the local education authority.
§ Major Woolley
Will the Parliamentary Secretary give an assurance that the primary school staffing will not be prejudiced in comparison with the senior school?
§ Mr. Linstead
I still feel that we cannot regard the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary as satisfactory. We want somewhere in the Bill reference to accommodation as well as to other things. In view of the fact that the point can be raised again on Clause 10, which will enable the Minister and us to consider it further, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. Perhaps in doing so, in order that we may—
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. Member cannot go on with another speech after asking leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave withdrawn.
§ Mr. Butler
I beg to move, in page 5, line 18, at the end, to insert:(b) to the expediency of securing that, so far as is compatible with the need for providing efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable expense to the authority, provision is made for enabling pupils to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents.There has been a wide feeling in the Committee and in the course of our previous consideration of the Bill that proper attention should be paid to the wishes of the parents and that nothing in the Bill should take away from the rights of parents or from the existence of the family influencing the child's life. The Government indicated on the Second Reading that they would be ready to consider this matter sympathetically. The fruits of our deliberations have been put upon the Order Paper. The Government have met very fully the desires expressed in more than one quarter with regard to the wishes of parents being borne in mind in considering the number and types of school available. I think that the Government have done this with the imagination that the Committee would have desired, because we have not only re-enacted the relevant Section of the Act of 1921, namely, Section 19, in language which we have revised, but which reproduces the meaning and sense of that Act, but we have also put it in a Clause of the Bill which deals with the general provisions of existing schools, that is, the review of schools as a whole, as well as in reference to the provision of new schools and the notices procedure, which is what was governed by the relevant section of the 1921 Act. To that extent we have fully met the general opinion put to us.
139 There is another Amendment in the names of certain hon. Members in which a desire is expressed that as far as practicable the wishes of the parents should be met. We have, I think, more than met the spirit of that Amendment. I feel that in the course of our discussion it is impossible to prevent hon. Gentlemen expressing their views very fully, and if hon. Gentlemen wish to say something on this subject I would not wish to prevent them. I think, however, that we have met the spirit of what they desire. What we propose is that this should be done, so far as is compatible with the need for providing efficient instruction and training, and the avoidance of unreasonable expense to the authority. I hope that the Committee will accept the Amendment and will take it as covering the one that follows it on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Butler
I have gone back to the source of the Amendment, which, as is well known to the Members who were supporting it, is the Act of 1921, and I have simply put into rather broader language the principles laid down in that Act. There is not anything peculiar or sinister in the wording.
§ Commander Bower (Cleveland)
Parents all over the country will be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for inserting the Amendment, and I am grateful as well. There is one point on which I must disagree with him, however, and it is where my right hon. Friend says that he has simply taken the words of the 1921 Act and brought them up to date. The relevant words in that Act are:shall have regard to the interests of secular instruction, to the wishes of the parents as to the education of their children, and to the economy of the rates.There are three instructions which, so far as I can see, were held to be equal, but my right hon. Friend says in his Amendment:to the expediency of securing that, so far as is compatible with the need for providing efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable expense to the authority, provision is made for enabling pupils to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents.140 The quotation I have given from the Act of 1921 gives the wishes of the parents a status of its own, whereas it is very highly qualified in the words of my right hon Friend's Amendment. We attach very great importance to the primacy of the parents' right in determining the education of their children, and here it is being whittled away almost to nothing.
Who is to determine what is compatible with the need for providing efficient instruction and training? Who is to determine what is unreasonable expense to the authority? I really cannot feel that the wording of the Minister's Amendment is altogether satisfactory. I would like to ask one other thing, for the convenience of the Committee and to save time. This matter of the rights of parents will recur, notably on Clause 10 and elsewhere. Will my right hon. Friend introduce Government Amendments wherever applicable as a result of the Amendment which he is moving now, or does he want us to go on doing it, in which case he will have the laborious process of altering our words? I think my right hon. Friend might well strengthen the wording of the Amendment in the interests of parents, and I hope that he will be able to give us some assurance on the particular points I have raised, namely, as to who is to determine what is compatible and what is reasonable.
§ Mr. Henry Brooke (Lewisham, West)
Having kept silence for three days in spite of great temptations, I would now like to express in a very few words my gratitude to the Government. Some of us were definitely anxious lest administrative convenience should be allowed to override every other consideration, and we did not see sufficient safeguards against that in the Bill. The Minister has introduced an extremely important safeguard. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cleveland (Commander Bower) has expressed some dissatisfaction with the wording. I would point out to him that in some respects the Government Amendment is considerably wider than the provisions of the 1921 Act which he quoted. Section 19 of that Act refers only to the question whether a particular school is necessary or not, but here, it seems to me, the Government's Amendment will require local authorities to have regard to the wishes of the parents over a much wider field than that. We are putting on record here that the wishes of the parents are one of 141 the outstandingly important factors in our educational system. I hope therefore that the Committee will accept this Amendment with a good heart.
§ Mr. Logan
I wish to thank the Minister for the Amendment which he is now submitting and which is stated to be an enlargement of the idea in the Amendment we had upon the Paper. If that be so, there should be no difference in the meaning of the words and there would be no harm in embodying the wording of our Amendment in that of the Government, and particularly inserting the word "practicable" in place of "compatible." In the Oxford Dictionary the meaning given to "compatible" is "consistent," and to the word "practicable" the meaning "that can be done." There is a subtlety in the use of these words. The Minister is most anxious for deeds and not for words, so I should imagine he would consider that what can be done, is more reasonable than that which is consistent, because compatibility may not always be practicable. I do not want to take the Minister through the elementary stages to the higher stages, but I do suggest that, for clear understanding and simplicity of language, which would be better "understanded of the people," the second Amendment would exactly meet the views of the Committee and would be clearer than the Minister's Amendment. I want to be quite honest with this Committee. I am sure that a minority can appreciate honesty. I want to say that I have no time for Ministers when they are piloting a Bill through Committee. A Minister will be suave and most gentle, cooing like a dove. He will do anything to get his Measure through. But I understand that the business of those who are sitting here is not to sit as dummies, but is to watch the movement of the Bill and to see that the Minister does not get altogether what he wants.
I know there is a Coalition but I do not forget that we had opposition once from these benches. It was very invigorating and very inspiring for those sitting in opposition. Therefore I do not think that in a Coalition we should allow a Measure of this description to pass the Committee without taking the best advantage. I suggest to the Minister that he should remove the word "compatible" and insert "practicable." If he would give me an assurance that now or later on he will put 142 in that word I think it would remove my objection because "compatible" has not the same meaning as that a thing can be done. As I am one who wants things to be done I would like the word I have suggested included and the other deleted.
§ Mr. Butler
I am afraid that if I put the word "practicable" into my Amendment it would not make sense. If the hon. Member presses me I am afraid I shall have to turn him down on that score. We have taken a certain pride in the English of the drafting of this Measure and I should not like a breach to occur on this occasion. Seriously the Government have purposely met the wishes not only of those moving the Amendment but the wishes of the Committee. If we are to spend a long time on Amendments the Government propose to accept as well as on those the Government object to we shall take a very long time to get through this Bill. I should like to have the Committee with me in hoping we may get this Amendment to-day.
§ Mr. Lindsay
May I ask a question? Does this include a choice of schools as well as curriculum? Does it include secondary as well as primary schools?
§ Sir H. Williams
I do not know what this means. In practice, suppose I am taking little Billy to school on his first day. Does it mean I have rights as a parent in discussing the curriculum with the headmaster or headmistress and doing the same at intervals throughout his school life, as people have when they are paying large fees for the education of their children? If I have a child, and there is a school three-quarters of a mile away, and another half a mile away, am I entitled to choose to which of these schools I shall send my child? People say that this Amendment has, primarily, something to do with religion. I think it has but it covers the whole range of education. In what way is this enforceable by a parent against the local authority? Can they get an injunction? Unless they have the right to force the headmaster or headmistress to give attention to their wishes I do not believe these words in practice mean anything at all.
§ Sir P. Hannon
I wish to express my appreciation of the kindly consideration of my right hon. Friend in putting 143 this Amendment in the Paper. I think it will give great satisfaction throughout the whole country as showing the attitude of the Government towards the duties of parents of children who attend school. In view of what the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) has said, perhaps at a later stage during the progress of the Bill, the Minister will indicate what machinery he will create, so that the voices of parents of children attending school will be co-ordinated and brought together. I am sure that the President has this at the back of his mind, and so far as myself and other Members who are anxious about the duty of the Government towards the voice of parents on the education of their children are concerned, I would like to say how profoundly grateful we are to him.
§ Mr. Stokes
Might I ask the Minister whether he can assure us that the provisions of this Amendment leave the parents in the same position—in a not less bad position—than they were under the 1921 Act?
§ It being one hour after the hour appointed for the interruption of Business, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon the next Sitting Day.