§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
I beg to move, in page 14, line 6, to leave out from the second "the," to the end of the Subsection, and to insert:body of managers or governors of the school is in this Act referred to as the school council and the instrument providing for the constitution of the school council is in this Act referred to as the instrument of council.If this Amendment is accepted it will mean a whole series of Amendments of this character, but if it is rejected there will be a wholesale slaughter of the innocents. All the others will have to go. I think it would have been wiser if I had merely put down this Amendment and held the rest in store; at any rate, it would have saved paper, which is important at a time like this. It is quite obvious that a simplified type of machinery will be used for primary schools and that another type will be used for secondary and grammar schools. I can see no reason why there should not be the same kind of managing, directing or advising body in connection with all the schools. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has just said that he liked the term, "brotherhood of the schools," better than the Latin phrase which was used by my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd). That term is attractive; the brotherhood of a school is not merely a question of teachers and scholars. It embraces all those associated with the responsibility for developing schools and education from the top to the bottom. The Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary must be part of that brotherhood of the schools.
I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary: Where do governors come in, in association with that brotherhood? There are two types of governors, both of them bad. There is the "old school tie" type 2242 of governor, a "superior" person, someone who would not take part in the brotherhood of man but in the governing of less fortunate people. Such governors are associated with schools which are trying to produce a dominant section of society. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Oh, yes. Moreover, many people who have been to schools where these governors reigned are "snooty" persons. Other people have to step off the sidewalks to let them pass. Such schools have produced that impudent arrogance which has been so much associated with the "old school tie." We have had to pay a terrible price for such governors and the schools where they have played their part. There is also the other type of governor—the man who rules the children who have misbehaved themselves and have been caught. Fortunately, I was never caught.
§ Mr. Muff (Kingston-upon-Hull, East)
I would like to correct the hon. Member. They are called "headmasters" now. There are no governors at approved schools.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I am not talking about approved schools; I am talking about industrial schools, Borstal Institutions and the like, where there is control by a governor. The governor has power of oppression and suppression. He is not interested in developing a spirit of unity and brotherhood. In the new school system the term "manager" will apply to the primary school, which caters for children up to II years of age. After that age the schools become "governor" schools. Therefore, we shall not only have the "old school tie" type of school but some of the working-class schools will also have governors. The tendency will be, in the superior type of school, for the governor to be an "old school tie" person and in working-class schools for the governor to be of an institutional type. I ask that there should be brotherhood from the top to the bottom, and that the Minister will do away with governors and institute the fullest measure of co-operation for all schools by getting recognised councils to govern them.
§ Mr. Ede
I think it might help the Committee if I give an indication of what the nomenclature adopted in this Bill means, and how it differs in the existing circumstances of the schools. At the moment in England and Wales we have a parallel system of education for children over 11. 2243 There are certain municipal and endowed schools which have governing bodies, and to which about 10 per cent. of the children under 11 manage to go when they reach that age. Parallel with that is the new senior school, or the old full-age range school, which is an elementary school and has a body of managers. Undoubtedly, at the moment, in the England and Welsh system of education, the difference between manager and governor is in relation to the social and educational status of the school. One child of 13 will be in a school controlled by governors and another of the same age will be in a school controlled by managers.
We propose that in future children over 11 shall be in schools the managing body of which will be called a body of governors. That is to say, it will be the same form of body as is now used for the municipal secondary school and the endowed secondary school. I believe also that the bodies that manage some of the public schools, with which, I regret to say, I am not very well acquainted, also call themselves governors, and they may possess all the vices the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) accuses them of. I do not know them and I am unable to speak either in their defence or in further attack upon them. But the term "governor" in English education has not the connotation that the hon. Member gives it. I believe that all the local education authorities of the country, no matter what their composition, regard a body of governors as being a responsible set of people who have placed upon them certain very heavy educational responsibilities. They will have in future a very heavy duty placed upon them in arranging that the curriculum of their schools shall be far wider in some cases than it has been hitherto, and they will have very heavy duties put on them with regard to helping the young people attending their schools to get into suitable employment when they leave.
The machinery that now exists in local government for creating governing bodies is the kind of machinery which it is necessary to provide for the new and wider secondary schools of the future. But, with regard to the primary school, I do not think they want the terrific machinery that the English governing body really is. When one thinks of the way it is usually constituted, 2244 there are so many people appointed by the local education authority, so many by the county district council served by the school, a representative of one of the universities that serves the neighbourhood, and other people who are brought in representing other interests of that kind. I think such a body will be more than ever necessary in the future, but I cannot think you want the same terrific machinery to deal with the problem of the child under 11, and I think the term "body of managers" for the primary school is a very appropriate term, and "body of governors" for those schools over 11 represents a very appropriate term for them.
We are here only dealing with names, and the term "governors," in spite of the connotation that it may have to the hon. Member's mind, is not the connotation which it generally beats in England and Wales. These are regarded as bodies on which people of all classes are exceedingly willing to serve, they regard service on them as an honour, and they devote their energies to securing the best possible education for the boys and girls who attend the schools. My right hon. Friend does not feel that this departure from well-established nomenclature is justified by anything that exists in the present education service, and we believe it will carry in to the new service a very valuable tradition from the old.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr)
In county boroughs the committee that is responsible for the administration of our secondary and even our county schools is a subcommittee of the education committee. With one or two exceptions they are the elected representatives of the people. Does by hon. Friend anticipate the changing of that system, which has worked very admirably indeed?
§ Mr. Pritt (Hammersmith, North)
I think it is useful to have had the exposition my hon. Friend has given us but in one or two of his phrases he has really established the case for the Amendment. If I understand the matter properly, what he has told us about the lack of any real 2245 necessity for establishing the terrific machinery of what the Bill proposes to call "governors" for schools for which a body of managers is sufficient, is irrelevant. As he has said, the Amendment deals with words only. We agree that he should have his machinery. We do not in any way challenge the sort of machinery that he wants for his governors or managers. We want nothing whatever but suitable names. We say that the phrase "governors" carries a tinge of snobbery and superiority and that that is undesirable. The Parliamentary Secretary as good as said so as well. He admitted that it carries a social tinge, but proceeded to describe it as well established phraseology from which he does not want to depart. In other words, for reasons which are good to him if we rule out sentiment, memory and association, he wants to keep the two sets of words because he thinks they are appropriate at the moment, but he says they have a social tinge. It is the well established social tinge that we want to get rid of. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Only the tinge?"] There are other things that we want to get rid of but only the tinge is relevant on this Amendment. If he will keep his machinery and get rid of the name, which would be appropriate if it did not have a bad connotation, we shall be very happy. Suppose we took the word "snob" and wanted to use it in relation to some of the scholars, the Parliamentary Secretary might be able to explain that "snob" really means a working-man, and that is what it originally meant.
§ Mr. Pritt
I am much obliged. On anything that is really old, the hon. Member is an authority. It might obviously be undesirable to use the term here, because it has obtained a different meaning. The word "governors" has an undesirable connotation, and therefore we ask that the Amendment should be accepted.
§ Professor Gruffydd
I think the mover of the Amendment has ensured that we should be quite clear in our minds—at least that is my sentiment after listening to him—that what he wants is that there should be a good deal more snobbery in the future in the schools, and he is 2246 going to get it in this way. There will still be public schools with governors, and they will be called governors. No one can stop them being called governors. The hon. Member's sons and mine will go to these new schools and they will be asked, "To what school did you go? Did you go to a Gallacher school with a council, or to a public school with governors?" They will say, "We went to a council school," and they will have the taint of inferiority always attached to them. The word "snobbery" can have no meaning here at all, as applied to the universal population. Every one must go either to a modern, a technical or a grammar, all of them a secondary type of school and each of them, without any distinction, will have governors of some kind. How can you have snobbery here? Snobbery means a feeling of your own superiority over your fellows, or a mean exploitation of the superiority of others.
§ Mr. Gallacher
It has been said that, no matter what the circumstances may be, a Liberal never changes his policy. Liberals for generations served up this argument. All you want to do to put an end to snobbery is to send more Liberals to the House of Lords, and every new batch of Liberals that went to the House of Lords—
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Charles Williams)
If the hon. Member proposes to discuss the number of Liberals in the House of Lords, I shall be obliged to rule it out of Order.
§ Mr. Gallacher
Now the hon. Member says we all agree that it is very undesirable to have public schools where there are governors. The way to cure it is to make them all undesirable. If they are all undesirable, who will be the snobs? Is the hon. Member incapable of understanding that some boys and girls are more subject to the disease than others? They will discover that they are part of the governing class and they will get all the snobbery, and the workers' children will be corrupted. I do not want to see that. I want to see the best possible education for every one without anything of this character in it. Did the Parliamentary Secretary ever think of saying, "A city council is a very important body, with very great responsibility, therefore we must call the city council governors"?
2247 In the machinery of responsibility it does not make any difference whether a body is a city council or an urban council. It is nonsense, because there is a wider range of machinery for the secondary and advanced school that it should have a different nomenclature from that of primary schools. Such distinctions have no real value and they are therefore bad. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) tried to catch the Chairman's eye just now, and I hope he will get up and tell us whether there is any advantage to the education of the children, in having governors for one type of school and managers for another.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I think that I should inform hon. Gentlemen opposite of the meaning of the word "snob." Snobbery consists in paying excessive attention to conventional words and to titles, and the Committee seem to me to have paid a great deal of attention to this particular conventional title.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. Jewson (Great Yarmouth)
I beg to move, in page 14, line 14, after "authority," to insert "after such order has been approved by the Minister."
The instrument of management or government is a matter of first-class importance. The Parliamentary Secretary has referred more than once to-day to the importance of the tradition of the school and the fact that the building is not the school. Those of us who happen to belong to churches whose buildings have been destroyed have had brought home to us in the last few years that the building is not the church. This is just as true of a school. Whether it is an old tradition that has to be preserved or a new one that has to be set up, the instrument of management or government is of the greatest importance. That being so, all schools should have the benefit of the advice and consideration of the Minister.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The point raised by this Amendment is also raised by the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for West Lewisham (Mr. Brooke)—in line 22, after "authority," insert: "and approved by the Minister"—and that in the name of the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd)—in line 25, leave out 2248 from "government" to "by" in line 26. The three Amendments can, therefore, be discussed together.
§ Sir Georģe Schuster (Walsall)
I wish to support the Amendment. I should like to link it up, although I must not get on to the general importance of this Clause, with what appears to me to be the main significance of this question. The whole of the Clause and the position of managers or governors, whatever we like to call them, in relation to the public authorities, whether local education authorities or the Board, represent one of the most important points in the Bill. My right hon. Friend, in his first speech on the White Paper, used a phrase which gave me a great deal of pleasure when he said that he wished to do everything to avoid the fear that a dull uniformity would creep over our school system. For that reason, it is of the greatest importance that the managers or governors of a school should be a body which can play a role of its own and have its own character. The Amendment suggests that the Minister's approval should be obtained in certain cases. I can, perhaps, support an Amendment of this kind with a good conscience, and not risk being accused of wishing to push local authorities out of the picture, because I was instrumental, on an earlier Clause, in getting an Amendment accepted to bring the local authorities in with the Minister, when the Minister had the power alone. I would like to see no distinction in connection with any of these bodies. Whether they are managers or governors, or whether we are dealing with instruments of government or rules of management, I would like to see both the local education authority and the Minister concerned in every case. That would be valuable. We want to have the Minister interested in the development of this relationship between individual schools and our national system. We want to have local interest brought into it, and, above all, we want to have the supervision of Parliament to see how this new system develops.
§ Mr. Cove
I hope that the Minister will not accept the Amendment. I am very jealous, and sometimes rather apprehensive, about one of the effects of the Bill in relation to the powers of the Minister and the lessening of the power and privileges of the local authority. There is some apprehension that the powers, privi- 2249 leges and prestige of the local authority are being adversely affected under the Bill. I want to say emphatically, with regard to county schools which are fully maintained out of public funds, that the local authority ought to be the final judge. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will not, in the interests of the prestige and power of local authorities, accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Denman (Leeds, Central)
You indicated, Mr. Williams, that the Amendment to line 22 would be taken with this one. The subject matter is not identical, because the Amendment that has been moved deals with the instrument of management and the instrument of government, that is, the instrument laying down the constitution. The Amendment to line 22 deals with the rules of management, which are a different matter. Why is there a differentiation, in paragraphs (a) and (b) between the rules of management of primary schools, and the articles of government for secondary schools? In the case of the primary school the order is made by the local education authority alone. In the case of the secondary school the order is made by the local education authority and approved by the Minister. We ask that the approval of the Minister should apply to the primary school, as to the secondary school. I imagine that the purpose of the President is to raise rather than diminish the status of the managers. If the order is left merely to the local education authority, there is no guarantee that the authority will not diminish the status of the managers in the rules which it lays down.
§ Professor Gruffydd
The Clause gives a great advantage to the auxiliary schools. Those schools will, rightly, get an instrument of government approved by the Minister, but in the case of the county schools the instrument will not be approved by the Minister but will be taken as read whatever order is made. I differ from my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove). He forgets that it is possible for a local education authority to consist of men, not one of wham has any concern with education, that is to say, they are not elected on the educational issue but on general issues.
§ Mr. Hutchinson (Ilford)
Surely the hon. Gentleman knows that all education committees have co-opted members who 2250 are co-opted because of their knowledge of education.
§ Professor Gruffydd
I know that they have the power of co-option, but I also know that in some parts they co-opt each other, and when there is a vacancy they may well take in men who know nothing about education. I will give an example. When the Council of the University College of Cardiff was asked to supply a person to be co-opted on a certain authority in South Wales, they appointed for many years a man who was a county councillor and had nothing whatever to do with the college as an educational institution. Some local education authorities are quite incapable of drawing up this instrument.
§ Professor Gruffydd
I do not want to cast any slur on them, but members of local education authorities would agree with me, if I asked them, that, on the whole, they are not elected on educational issues but on general issues. It often happens that there are authorities on which there are no members who are capable of drawing up an instrument of government. They ought, therefore, to be allowed to get the best advice, and that advice will come from the Minister.
§ Mr. Butler
I suggest that I might possibly give the Committee a little guidance as to the method by which we might get this topic considered. We have an Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Walsall (Sir G. Schuster). Reference has been made by the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman) to an Amendment to line 22. I was proposing to say a few words on those Amendments first, but to reserve a general statement of the position on Clause 16 to the Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. K. Lindsay), in line 25, a little further down the page. If that would be convenient, it would perhaps be best if he would move his Amendment later, and if I were to follow it, after some speeches had been made, with a statement of the Government's attitude on the operation of the 2251 Clause as a whole. If that course were adopted, I would be able to give some guidance as to the Government's general attitude, but, to keep myself in Order, I must now address myself to the actual Amendment before us.
I do not feel that, on the Amendment, it would be right to make a general statement on the operation of the Clause, because the Government could not accept the Amendment, very largely for the reasons which have been put in the Debate hitherto, and partly because the Amendment applies to both primary and secondary schools. I do not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall can quite have realised that to insert the Amendment at this stage would mean that the actual management instrument for the primary school would have to come, in every case, before the Minister, which would be a quite intolerable position and a reversal of the existing practice. I do not think it is necessary to take out of the purview of local authorities the setting up of the ordinary governance of primary schools throughout the country. I do not think, if the hon. Gentleman would listen to what I may say later to-day, that he would wish to press the Amendment.
I would like to accept the general spirit of his words, however, that the object of the Clause as a whole is to preserve a proper life for the school, but it is equally much the object of the Government to preserve the proper position of those who have the responsibility for education in their own areas. It is in order to meet those two sides of the question that we have drafted the Clause in the way we have. Having said that the Government, for the reasons I have given and, in addition, for the reason that these are county schools, cannot accept the Amendment, I should say a word about the Amendment suggested by the hon. Member for Central Leeds, not discussing the Amendment itself but discussing the speech which he made on the subject of the Amendment, since the Amendment is not before us.
The Amendment in question, if it had been before us, would have demanded the Minister's approval to what is now described as a handbook compiled by the authorities for use in elementary schools. If that was so, it would equally impose a very severe handicap upon Ministers, and would bring the general primary education 2252 of the future into a situation which has never been experienced. I think the Amendment is wider and more complicated than he thought. My advice to the Committee would be not to press the Amendments before us, which are too wide, and to allow a Debate to develop on the later Amendment, which deals with the whole question of the government of school, the position of the local authority, the question of laying model articles, and so forth, on which I shall be prepared to make what, I am afraid, will be a fairly comprehensive statement, indicating what we have in mind.
§ Mr. E. Harvey
I very much regret that the President has not been able to take some steps at this stage, even though he does not seem able to accept the Amendment, to meet a very real need in regard to the present situation in many elementary schools, which is for the creation of a real body of managers. There are too many education authorities with no managers at all, because the education committee themselves are, in effect, the body of management. I know of one large city of about 500,000 inhabitants where the education committee are the managers, and they have some three co-opted members. As a general rule, none of the elected members goes into the school, and the result is that no one can act as intermediary between the teachers and the local education committee. A school manager may have very small power, but he may have enormous influence. He can help to keep the machine working smoothly, and he can be the means by which the teacher can express his grievances. He can talk over difficulties, and very often he can informally help to alleviate a position, when difficulties have arisen between the central office and the staff. The body of school managers in the local education authority gives an opportunity of civic service to a large number of people who would never have aspired to a position on a municipal council or corporate body, but who, nevertheless, can do very great service. We ought to see that opportunity extended. The President must realise—I think he does—that in many of our educational authorities there are no such managers dealing with council schools, and there ought to be, I think—
§ Mr. Butler
I do not wish to interrupt my hon. Friend unnecessarily, but if he 2253 will look at the Clause he will see that the whole object is to set up an instrument for every school. The whole question was, not whether that instrument should be set up, but whether, in every single case, a primary school should come to Whitehall and to the Minister. We wholly accept the hon. Gentleman's views about the setting up of an instrument of management.
§ Mr. E. Harvey
Provided that we shall be assured at the right time that such an instrument shall provide an effective body of managers connected with every school, I shall be entirely satisfied. If I may assume that that is the view of the right hon. Gentleman, I am greatly relieved.
§ Sir G. Schuster
It was my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Mr. Jew-son), who moved the Amendment, and not I, and I think he is going to ask leave to withdraw it. Before he does so, perhaps I may say a word. My right hon. Friend did me some slight injustice in saying that I had not realised how wide the Amendment was. I did realise it perfectly, and equally I did not expect him, for that reason, to accept it, but I thought it worth while to raise the question, because I wanted to give expression to a point of view. I object to any distinction being made as regards the importance of the supervisory function that is to be exercised in regard to primary and secondary schools. I do not see why the people who supervise primary schools should be called managers, and those who supervise schools should be called governors, since their tasks appear to me to be equally important. I also object to any distinction being made in regard to favourable treatment—it is assumed that it connotes favourable treatment to bring the Minister in, if his approval is required—between schools which are financed entirely out of public funds and schools part of the money for whose finances has to be found elsewhere. The children in those schools deserve equal care, and therefore there is a principle of justice underlying the amendment which I am sure my right hon. Friend appreciates. I do not wish to press the matter any further at this stage.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.2254
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
I beg to move, in page 14, line 25, to leave out from "government," to "the," in line 28, and to insert:which are in general conformity to model articles set out in a Schedule to this Act and are approved by.I think you would agree, Mr. Williams, that the Amendment covers all later Amendments in the names of the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd) and some of his hon. Friends, and, I believe, that of the Senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). I am strongly fortified in having that wide backing. I believe there is, in the Committee, and certainly in the country, a very strong feeling that this issue is central to the whole Bill. I would like to make one quotation, which stands at the head of Mr. Lester Smith's book. He is the director of education for Manchester, and his book is entitled "To Whom the Schools Belong." This is the quotation:To whom does the school belong—to the family, to the community, to the Church, or to the State? All these are interested in the school. The problem is, can these various interests be assisted by a just consideration of their rights and duties?I hesitate to quote a distinguished philosopher from Cambridge, who is being brought back, but Mr. Bertrand Russell made very much the same remark some years ago, when he said:The State, the Church, the schoolmaster and the parent—no one of these can be trusted to care adequately for the children's welfare, since each wishes the children to minister to some end which has nothing necessarily to do with its well-being.More important than that is the Spens report, which is the document I myself wish to quote, because it is the result of consideration by a large body of people connected with secondary education. They say:We feel bound to assert our faith in the English compromise between State regulation and freedom of teaching, and to express the hope that circumstances will never arise to endanger its continuance, for where the schools lose their freedom, the freedom of the individual citizen is in peril.In this Clause there are these words:and such articles shall, in particular, determine the function to be exercised in relation to the school by the local education authority, the body of governors and the head teacher respectively.Previously, my right hon. Friend, in his Second Reading speech, said that elaborate 2255 provision had been made for instruments and articles of government, and he went on to quote Sub-section (5) of the Clause, which says:the Minister shall have regard to the manner in which the school has been conducted theretofore.Hon. Members say: "Why all this worry, if you have the instruments of government, and if you have the Minister's word? Why go on with it?" The reason why I go on with it is that, among other things, all the headmasters and headmistresses on the Fleming Committee, all the governing bodies of the public boys' and girls' schools, the Association of Headmasters and Headmistresses, and the Association of Assistant Masters and Assistant Mistresses, have written to the "Times" and asked that negotiations shall be set on foot now, so that an agreement may be reached upon the principles which shall apply to articles of government for the secondary schools.
Therefore, I am not speaking just for myself or for other hon. Members, but for the whole body of the people who actually operate in the schools. I am not now speaking or attempting to speak for local education authorities or for the Churches, but for the people who actually conduct the schools. I have letters—although I have not brought them all, as they are a large number—from scores of headmasters all over the country who are extremely worried. The one thing on which the Fleming Committee were agreed, wassuitable instruments and articles of government should be adopted by local education authorities and governors, on the lines of the model proposed by the Board of Education, after due consideration of the parties involved.The Fleming Committee was appointed on 2nd June, 1942. On 7th November the President asked them to report on fees in grant aided schools. In February they reported. He incorporated some of their conclusions in the White Paper, but the Report was not issued until the Summer Recess in August. Therefore, we have never had any discussion of this interim Report. I am very disappointed that we should be here discussing this vital Amendment without the full Report from the Fleming Committee on it. It is extremely difficult and I can only go upon the minority and majority reports on the 2256 question of fees, which is one issue. The question of fees cannot be considered here but I cannot dissociate fees from this issue, because it raises a number of allied problems; the rôle of the governing body, which we are discussing here, the parent's choice of school, and the schools' choice of their pupils are absolutely vital. We are asking the Board to produce model articles either in a Schedule or to lie on the Table, and only in the last resort that there shall be some White Paper, though I personally do not want that. I want to see them produced by the President in a Schedule.
I cannot for the life of me see why he has not adopted the conclusions of that Fleming Report. There are no fewer than 38 paragraphs of the Fleming Report devoted to this question of school governance, and anyone conversant with English education knows perfectly well that many schools will, unless there is a legal safeguard, be levelled down and degraded. I say levelled down and degraded because the essence of the school is its individuality. The individuality is very much tied up with the kind of points which we wish to see in the model articles. What are these points? They are freedom to choose the headmaster, the right of access by the headmaster to the governing body—[Interruption]—the governing body. I may say that if my right hon. Friend would take the existing practice of local authorities and their schemes he would see that in many cases the relations between the local education authority and the governing body is a very happy one.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Perhaps I had better make this quite clear. There are two questions we have to bear in mind the whole time. One is the freedom of the school, the other is the relation of that school to an area, to a community. I do not wish to avoid the issue. I do not wish to say that there are not many cases, as for example Bishop Wordsworth's School in Wiltshire, where there is a very happy relationship indeed, but I know of many cases of maintained schools where relations are quite otherwise.
§ Mr. Cove
I understood the hon. Member to make the point—I may have misunderstood him—that he wants what he calls the independence of variety of these schools, and one of the 2257 safeguards he suggests for that independence of variety is that there should be model articles to compel the local authority to allow the governors to appoint the headmaster? Is that his position?
§ Mr. Lindsay
No. If the school is independent the question does not arise; the governing body choose a headmaster as they wish. If there is a relation between the State or the local authority and the school, the appointment is co-operative; if my hon. Friend will listen—
§ Mr. Lindsay
It has to be. I am prepared to have this debated for some time if something is not done. I am not going to hand over the whole of the secondary schools, the old grammar schools of this country, whose individuality has been handed down by successive headmasters, to local education authorities as they are constituted in this country at the present time, without legal safeguards.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I am quite prepared to have an argument about democracy with my hon. Friend, but I agree with the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. E. Harvey) that this idea that because a certain number of people are elected to a local authority for a great many reasons other than education they are therefore to have control, as they may have, of the curriculum. The Parliamentary Secretary said to-day that governing bodies will deal with the curriculum and careers. How do we know that?
§ Mr. Lipson
Would not the point which the hon. Member has raised about the appointment of headmasters be met by the practice of many local authorities that the governors of the school consider the applications and make a recommendation to the local authority, and the local authority has the right to approve or otherwise?
§ Mr. Lindsay
I do not object at all to the local education authority having the right of approval in certain cases but there are a great variety of ways in which a headmaster can be appointed, and the relationship between the assistant masters 2258 and the headmaster is important. Let me quote London, since my hon. Friend is pursuing this point, and I know a little about this, as I went to one of the oldest Elizabethan grammar schools in London for some years. On the whole it was a very good arrangement. There is a close scrutiny of the general accounts which has to be conformed to, and also the staffing ratio, which is a somewhat different point. So far as the freedom of the school curriculum and all questions of discipline and the rest are concerned the headmaster is entirely free. He has a representative body of governors; some come from universities, some from Guy's Hospital, etc. In the case of a maintained school in London, the vacant governor is chosen by the Party Whip. I am not prepared to see that happen to schools of that standard, remembering that, according to what the Parliamentary Secretary said to-day, every reorganised senior school or as we call it now, modern school, is to have a governing body.
This is a first-class issue. I am in favour of free secondary education, but I want to say this: there is a great deal of humbug going on at this time. Sooner or later there will come a clash. Anybody who says to me that the children attending the 450 odd unreorganised departments in London, with some 40,000 children, are attending the same type of school as the grammar schools which have existed for many years, with a sixth form producing classical and other scholars who have gone on to Oxford and Cambridge for the last 200 years, is talking nonsense. The two things have no relation to each other. Yet in this comprehensive way we say that these are all secondary schools. I want to level up. It is not the task of the reformer to cut down a good and growing thing. There is no point or value in it. There is a danger that without these safeguards, we may lose this freedom. I remember a distinguished headmaster saying, "I see the encroachments on our powers and independence year by year, and I see what has been lost." There is not the most wide distribution of classes in the grammar schools of this country. I agree to the abolition of fees. But fees are a symbol to some extent of freedom, so is endowment money; and if you abolish fees I want a quid pro quo. The quid pro quo is the governing body and articles 2259 which lay down in far closer definition the points which my right hon. Friend has referred to in his Second Reading speech and his speech on the White Paper.
May I give the reason which the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. G. A. Morrison) put forward on the Scottish Estimates? He speaks with enormous experience as an old headmaster in Scotland, where incidentally there is less freedom. He said in effect, "Do you think men are coming back from the Forces to serve in schools under men who have no knowledge of the subject to which they themselves are giving their lives?" He said that as an old headmaster of a Scottish academy. I think we are entitled to listen to him.
§ Mr. Lindsay
It does not prove anything, but it is worth listening to. There are, of course, a great many other points. On the question of the wider areas I support the hon. Member who has just interrupted me. I believe in them. One of the points I made when we discussed this, I repeat it, is that if we are to have wider areas, counties and county boroughs, we must associate in some way the local people who are interested in education with the individual school. I think it is better to do that through persons in what I call direct democracy. That is why we seek to provide that parents shall be represented. This principle is being practised at the moment in Moscow both in relation to housing and education. It is not a question of putting people on a local authority and then into contact with schools. It is associating them directly with a housing estate or a school. It is a very remarkable development.
§ Mr. Butler
Are not the elected representatives of local government a direct democracy? If the hon. Member will define his case it will be easier for us not to misunderstand him.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I do not want to be misunderstood, particularly by my right hon. Friend. There are a large number of people who cannot afford the time or money to sit on a local authority. There are to my certain knowledge a large number of people who wish to be associated with schools, with pre-service units and 2260 other educational agencies. They are willing to sit one day or two days a month and to be associated with a particular school. At the moment, unless they get co-opted on a local education authority, there is no method by which they can give that valuable service. Therefore I want to make provision that the governing bodies of secondary schools shall enlarge the scope of their representation through men and women who are prepared to give direct service. I have made a longer speech than I would otherwise have done, because I do not intend to move on Clause 19, when we reach it, an Amendment dealing with the access of the headmaster to the governing body. No one ever mentions the staff, the assistant masters; here again I have an Amendment later, which will not be called, proposing that there shall be indirect representation.
§ Mr. Lindsay
In that case I will not refer to it as an Amendment, but as one of the items in the articles of government under this Clause. Some of us wish to see the assistant masters given indirect representation on the governing body. There is no guarantee here that it will be done. In London to-day there are four different types of school—independent, direct, grant-aided, and maintained—and there is a great variety of instruments of government, which I have been trying recently to analyse. Take a school like Dulwich College, take a school like St. Dunstan's, and then take, whatever it is to be called, a re-organised senior or modern school. We want to be certain that in drawing up the articles of government you will not take the worst examples. My right hon. Friend may say, "If you put down model articles, you may get the lowest common factor." I do not think that that is necessarily the case. We do not regret spending two hours on this question, which raises the whole issue of the freedom of the school. I think this is not only greatly desired but will make a number of people much happier about the passing of this Bill; because I know that outside there are many people who question this particular Clause; and many who have written to the Press and to me. In that spirit, I ask my right hon. Friend to give the matter the most careful consideration.
If I may begin by consulting you, Mr. Williams, may I ask whether the second Amendment to line 32, in my name and those of four or five of my hon. Friends—at the end, to insert:and(c) such rules of management and such articles of government shall conform, so far as may be reasonable and practicable, to model rules and articles set out in a Schedule to this Act"—is to be discussed with the Amendment now before the Committee?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Yes, that is so. That Amendment is considered to be covered by this Amendment, and we are discussing the two together.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Thank you, Mr. Williams. I should, naturally, have preferred my own form of words—I suppose even my own form of words would not exactly do, because one is always told by the draftsmen that one's form of words will not do—but, speaking generally, I wish to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend, and, speaking generally, I wish to support his argument. With apologies to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), who seemed to think it improper that anybody should discuss anything in the nature of general principles in this matter, I propose, with the consent of the Chair and the indulgence of the Committee, to say a word about the general principle involved. First of all, this is an agreed Measure. If it is not, in the main, an agreed Measure, we ought to be discussing it at much greater length and with much more ferocity. It is, therefore, to be taken as an agreed Measure if we are to get it through at all. There are, no doubt, some Members of this Committee, and some persons interested in the subject outside, who honestly believe that the most important and useful thing for the progress of education is that there should be one single, uniform system, they do not much care what it is—certainly they do not much care what it is, if only it is controlled by the State. I do not wish to argue against that. But it is necessary that this Bill should be carried in such a form as not to be disagreeable to those who take the opposite view; otherwise, this Bill is an organised hypocrisy from the first and it will not work. If what we most desire is 2262 that there shall be such administrative reform as may be possible without any diminution in variety of the educational system, this is, as my hon. Friend on the Front Bench opposite said, almost the central point of the Bill, and we need not apologise for taking some little time over it.
I want to put for the consideration of the Committee this proposition: That in any affairs, from the greatest to the smallest, from the State to a dominoes club, there can be only two safeguards for proper management. One is the character of the people who do the managing, and the other is the limit within which their functions are confined. I do not think human ingenuity has found any third provision. We do not know and we cannot know who are to be the governors of these schools—but we do know, roughly, what is to be the character of the governors of these schools. I think it was that great man Archbishop Magee, but I am not sure—I am certain it was an episcopal character—who said that there was no set of men who did so much harm as those who went about doing good. That is the curse of education. The philanthropists, the busybodies, the chaps who like to do good to other people: those are the chaps who tend to govern education. Some are better than others, and some are a good deal worse, but they are the chaps. Their motives were put rather neatly, although he did not mean to do so, by the Parliamentary Secretary on an earlier Amendment to-day. He said first that they have great responsibility. So they have, in the modern sense of "responsibility," which means that it does not matter what happens to the school; they never go to jug, anyway. The second thing said about them was that they were exceedingly willing to serve—which is a roundabout way of saying that they are busybodies—and the third was that they regarded such service as an honour. I am not in the least disposed to sneer at the governors of schools.
§ Mr. Ede
The hon. Member I am sure does not want to misrepresent what I said. What I did say was that these people regarded it as an opportunity for honourable service—in much the same way as my hon. Friend the Member of Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) said that they had not the time to serve on the local council, but they did want an opportunity of service. It is not because they want 2263 any glory, but because they want to serve their fellowmen in all humility.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I am sure my hon. Friend does not want to talk out his own Bill. I think I reported what he said, with great accuracy. I think one of the things he said was about their exceeding willingness to serve, and the other was that service was an honour. I regard those as very good motives, but they are motives which those who are to come under the management of the men actuated by them, should regard with suspicion. The old tag aboutPower corrupts everybody, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,applies here. These are perfectly good motives, but motives which if not, I will not say confined, but limited and directed within the field of function which those who are to be governed consider proper, tend to turn into bad motives. Therefore, there is all the more reason why we should know what is the constitution under which these men are to act. It does not seem fair to the Committee to tell us that we must trust my right hon. Friend, who is necessarily an evanescent figure, or that we are to trust his officials, or that we are, in general, to trust to good will anywhere.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I agree. It is the business of the House of Commons not to trust anybody in passing legislation.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Nor, I think should we pay too much attention to two arguments which are put up. One is that if you put in a model set of articles, what you intend as a minimum standard may well turn into a maximum. I agree that there is that danger always, but I do not think that we should pay too much attention to it. If we do, we cut off the people who use it from also using the argument about trusting to good will. It is quite clear that if there is any genuine reason why we should trust the good will of the Minister or his officials or their successors, we do not need to fear that if a minimum standard is put into a model set of articles it will turn into a maximum, because if there is good will in the management that cannot possibly happen.
2264 It may be said to the likes of me, "You profess to be championing varieties." I hope I am. For myself, I would be bold enough to say that I would rather have any form of variety, even bad, than any form of uniformity, even good. They then say, "But, really, what you are suggesting is that the thing will not be manageable under the existing variety, and, therefore, we shall have to reduce variety." I do not think that an argument to which the Committee should pay too much attention. Recently we passed a Reinstatement in Civil Employment Bill. In that Bill—I have not looked the Bill up, but it is within the recollection of the Committee—came the words "reasonable and practicable" in several places. There were to be rules or reinstatement, which were to be stuck to as often as was reasonable and practicable, and so on. Think of the infinite variety of jobs from which men went away, and of the changes that will happen in those jobs while they are away; and the changes that will happen to the men themselves, so that some of them will be more efficient when they come back, and others less efficient. In spite of that infinite variety of circumstances, it is possible to do there the thing which is asked here. Therefore, I ask my right hon. Friend whether we ought to take the very long step which is necessary if this Bill is going to amount to anything at all—and, of course, it is highly hypothetical; we none of us know what conditions will be like in 18 months' time—without asking for some assurance, not merely good will, but some undertaking which will have a legal obligation, of what are to be the limits of function within which these boards of governors are to keep themselves.
§ Mr. Cove
I would like to refer back to the speech of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay). It was a most astounding speech, characterised by a complete lack of faith in elected bodies, a complete lack of faith in local authorities. With all the specious talk of lack of variety, what is really actuating the mind of my hon. Friend?
§ Mr. Cove
Because the same thing actuates the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). He has revealed, even more than my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock has, what is 2265 actuating him. It is the desire for the preservation of class distinction in the field of secondary education.
§ Professor Gruffydd
The statement of the hon. Member ought to be corrected. The letters that I and other Members have received have not come from headmasters of public schools but from headmasters of county schools.
§ Mr. Cove
It is none the less true that, even there, you can have the snobbery that one does not want to exist in secondary education from those who are employed in the schools. That is where the letters come from. They have not come from representative local authorities. One of the things that depresses me in listening to the Debate to-day is the fear, the suspicion in regard to the powers of local authorities—the lack of trust in those elected authorities. This note has been running through the Debate all the time. Complete distrust has been expressed over and over again. You cannot have good will when distrust is being displayed. I am profound in my belief in the powers, prestige and authority of the local elected representatives, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will do nothing to take away those powers. I believe in democracy, not by lip service but by actual practice.
Look at the Amendment. It is said that we want variety. What does the Amendment do? It asks for a model scheme. This is autocracy asking the Minister to provide a model scheme. It is rigidity. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock may shake his head, but that is what he is asking. He is asking for a model scheme, which must have the approval of the Minister, to be imposed on every local authority. There is rigidity in his Amendment, and variety in his speech. I have seen this occur over and over again; it is a plea for the special public school and the direct grant-aided school and all the class distinction schools that my hon. Friend can preserve. Look at the Clause. The Minister himself has power under the 2266 Clause. The instruments of government have to be drawn up by the local authority, and it is of that that my hon. Friend is afraid. But the position of the Minister is sensible. Then he reserves to himself the right to approve of the instruments of government. What more does my hon. Friend want than that? As I have said before, there is in this an innate distrust of the powers of the local authority, the fear of real democracy and the desire to preserve class privilege in the whole range of secondary education.
§ Mr. E. Harvey
I very much regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) has felt that he must transmute light into heat in the way he has done. I am sure that the Amendment is moved as much in the interests of the secondary schools under local authorities as of other schools. I saw last week a letter in the Press from two headmasters of secondary schools under a large Northern authority in which they pleaded for greater power for their governors, and a greater position of responsibility. They pointed out how under that authority—it is not so under all of them, as there are many enlightened authorities where the position is entirely right—anything which the governors did or any minute which they passed was ignored entirely. In some cases they did not always get to the education committee at all. We want to sever schools like this from the tyranny of a narrow bureaucracy. It is not a case of overriding the elected representatives if the governors are given a position of responsibility. You can safeguard in every way the authority of elected representatives of the people, and yet there can be sufficient authority entrusted to the governors to make it worth while for them to give their time to this very important duty.
I emphasise the enormous importance of the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) on the individuality and personality of the school. Every school ought to have—and every good school has—an individuality and a personality of its own, whether a simple elementary school or any other kind of school. We want to preserve that, and to encourage its growth where it has not yet come into being. Therefore, we need to have in the Bill, when it becomes an Act, some provision which will ensure the free and healthy 2267 development of the life of the schools, preserve their personality and encourage the free gift of service which is of such value and which is being given to-day by so many governors. The Amendment is in the interests of the children and school, the staff and school, and in the interests of the citizens. It is very important that the staff should feel that they have the loyalty of the school and that they are not just part of an enormous regiment who may be transferred hither or thither by some bureaucrat. If we can get from the President of the Board of Education some assurance that in this Measure there will be provision to meet the spirit of the Amendment, I think we shall be satisfied.
§ Professor Gruffydd
Judging from some speeches and a large number of the interruptions, I should say that the main concern of the Committee seems to be the dignity and the feelings of the local education authority, and not the education of the child. May I try to bring back the Committee to a sense of reality in this matter and to say again what I have said before, that, in the first, second and third place, what we are concerned with is the education and well-being of the child in the school. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay), that these discussions are shots fired in a war for the secondary schools of England and Wales. It has been suggested by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) that we are trying to institute a new kind of snobbishness, but what we are trying to do is precisely the opposite. We are trying to put an end to the terrible gap which still exists in this country—and will exist even under the provisions of this Bill between the free county secondary school and the public school, with its immense tradition and prestige. I want to close that gap not by pulling down the prestige and esteem of the public school, but by raising the prestige of the free county school to the same level. Clauses 15 to 19 go to the very root of the philosophy of education and if the provisions in these Clauses prove unsatisfactory, the whole intricate mass of this Bill will have lost a good deal of the reason for its existence.
I am surprised that it has not been noticed in this Debate that the Bill gives a new definition to the word "secondary," altogether a new meaning in the history of education. Before the Bill was 2268 brought forward this term was generally confined to schools of the grammar school type, providing education and preparing for the professions and for the university; schools which aimed at what is called a liberal education, whether that ideal was reached or not. It was precisely that aspect of education which captured the imagination of the poorer parents of this country who wanted their children to get on. These parents did not actually in the past think very much of what we now call senior-school education or modern education and not very much of technical education. It was, in quality, precisely the type of education which was being given in the public schools of England and Wales that the parents wished to see their own children enjoy. That might have been wrong and it might have been snobbish or very ill-advised, but their ambition was that their children should have the same education as the children of the rich, to have the same opportunities, tasting the rare and refreshing fruit of office and privilege which the other classes had. Therefore, the cry "Secondary education for all" became a slogan in this country, and now this Bill is going to try to implement and to satisfy that cry by giving a secondary education to all children over 11 plus years of age.
The right hon. Gentleman is going to do that, I am afraid, merely by using the word "secondary" in a new connotation and not by creating a really new system of secondary education. The secondary schools of England and Wales in future will not only be secondary schools of the grammar school type, but they will also contain all the residue, the children who fail to pass the examinations to go into the grammar school, the children in the modern and technical schools, which necessarily must, if education is to be compulsory, contain a large proportion of the unteachable, who must by law go to these so-called "secondary" schools. All these are going to be called secondary schools, there is going to be no distinction between the county modern and the county grammar school. How then are the county free grammar schools going to compete with the Public Schools under those conditions? They can only compete with them if they have two of the characteristics which mark grammar schools, namely a distinct and definite Articles of Government and a Governing Body of their own. I challenge the 2269 Minister to say that anybody in the country, whether a teacher or a member of a local education authority, or anybody else, would deny that this is an indispensable condition of this freedom for the secondary school. I beg the Minister to consider very closely the pleas that have been made by the mover of the Amendment and others. Of course, it may not be possible for him to go as far as the Amendment, but it will be possible for him, I think, to do something to satisfy us that the very excellent start in secondary education which this country has made, in England as well as in Wales, is not going to be stultified by degrading the standard of the secondary schools we have already got.
§ Mr. Lipson
I am in favour of the freedom of the secondary school, but where I part company with the supporters of the Amendment is that I cannot agree that the way to freedom is the way suggested by the Amendment. I cannot see how, by setting up a model imposed by the Board for secondary schools, you are going to get freedom.
§ Mr. Lindsay
This is the third time that that has been said. I said that there is a series of models based on the best practice in the country. It is not a question of imposing one model on each school, but the very reverse.
§ Mr. Lipson
The assumption is that you cannot improve on the best practice. That is the assumption behind it, but if I may pursue the matter further, my objection to these proposals is this. I understand the freedom of the school to mean the freedom of the headmaster and his staff to carry on their own particular work in the school without undue interference, and the suggestion behind a good many of the speeches by the supporters of the Amendment is that that freedom is in danger from the representation of the people who sit on local authorities. Let me say that there is, perhaps, even more danger to the freedom of the headmaster in his own school, from a member of a governing body who is not one of the representatives of the local authority, but is himself a person of academic qualifications. The real danger to the freedom of any school is the governor who, himself, has been a schoolmaster or headmaster and who thinks he knows how it should be run and who wants the school to be run as his school 2270 was run. He is a great nuisance to the headmaster of a school.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Do ex-schoolmasters become innocent on local bodies, although they are so noxious on governing bodies?
§ Mr. Lipson
I am not suggesting that, but if you stand for the freedom of the headmaster, it surely means that there should be as little interference as possible from the governing body whether it is from a governor or a local authority representative. I say the danger is at least as great, and, from my own experience in practice, is greater from the ex-school-master and ex-headmaster. Do you think that in this atmosphere of suspicion that you are going to get this Bill implemented as it ought to be? If you say to local authorities that you have put this into the Bill because this Committee does not trust them to do their work properly and that they have got to work within certain limits approved by the Bill, is that going to create a proper atmosphere? Every local authority and every school has to work out its own salvation. The one advantage of having the school governors on the local authority is that they are responsible to the people of their area. If they do not do their job properly, the blame is not only on them, but on the people who sent them there. There are incompetent governors who do not play their part and it is very difficult to get rid of them. Therefore, I maintain, in the interests of educational freedom, that if we give certain powers to local authorities we should say that we trust them to do their job. I oppose the Amendment.
§ Mr. Butler
I think we have had a useful Debate on this point, and it may be valuable to the Committee if at this point I put before them the Government's attitude towards this Amendment. I hope that Members, when they have heard what I have to say, will realise that the Government have given this matter very careful consideration. Nobody has come very well out of this discussion. We are told by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) that education suffers from educationists who go about doing good. We are told from other hon. Members that the local authorities are not fit to run education, and we are told from other sources that to leave too much to the Minister—which is where I come into it—might be leaving too much discretion 2271 to one individual and that it would be wise to have some indication of the manner in which the mysterious mind of the Minister will work. As nobody comes out of it with flying colours, I have, as usual, to adjudicate on the claims. I propose to indicate to the Committee how, in this case, I propose to achieve justice for all concerned.
The Government are fully alive to the anxieties of hon. Members, and there has not been a speech to-day which has referred to the importance of preserving the individual life of a school, with which I disagree. The Bill is based on the school and its life and the family and its life. These units must be healthy. Without this, true education cannot be formed or administered. It is against that background that the Government drafted Clause 16 of the Bill. I am a little surprised that some hon. Members have not picked out of Clause 16 some of the undoubted merits it possesses. I do not believe that it would be correct to say that the secondary school world is against the provisions of Clause 16. I have very good reason to believe that the secondary school world, as a whole, is grateful to us for the manner in which this Clause has been drawn and, in the course of my speech, I hope to show that it has many virtues for dealing with a vital part of the Bill. But before I consider the details and suggestions made by hon. Members, I want to remind the Committee that we are entering a new secondary school world under this Bill which has two main characteristics.
The first is that the pupils will be encouraged to go to whatever type of secondary school suits them best, grammar, modern, or technical, and they will not go by rigid examination tests. There is, thus, one secondary school world and not two or three. The second characteristic, which is a distressing one perhaps, but a necessary one, is that the Government have introduced a new general overriding system into which the secondary schools will fit with the corresponding result that their relationship with the education authorities will be, in many cases, much more closely defined than before. I think that that is something which those who are moving this Amendment will realise, goes the way of their arguments. In view of the fact that relations may be more closely defined, they 2272 want to be sure that those relations are satisfactorily defined. I would answer their fears by saying that, in my view, the very definition of relationship may result in a better atmosphere existing between the authority and the school, and do away with the friction which may result at present, from an indefinite relationship and uncertainty between the two partners. That is why I think there is value in the approach made by the senior burgess far Cambridge University.
This need for defining relationship with the authority gives us an opportunity of avoiding friction, and making the independent life of the school as satisfactory as hon. Members desire. What has been the position hitherto? Hitherto, while the relationship between modern schools and authorities has been closely defined, that between grammar schools and the authorities has not. It has been wholly negotiated between the parties concerned. It is true that the Board, some time ago, issued a model statement, including model articles, but no one was obliged to follow it and the articles drawn up by the local education authorities do not require the Board's sanction. The great merit of Clause 16, to which I referred in my opening remarks, is that under this Clause the articles of government will have to be made by the Minister or will require his approval, and I think it is time that somebody paid a tribute to that feature in this particular Clause. We shall, therefore, be in a better position to secure the acceptance of any principle we lay down.
I would like to define the Government's attitude to the doubts which have been raised. Some hon. Members, especially the hon. Member who represents Cambridge University, desire a Schedule to the Bill including the articles of government indicating how the individual life of a school can be preserved. For reasons which I will give, the Government cannot accept the suggestion. Clause 16 was drafted so as to make it possible for individual articles to be agreed for individual schools and to lay down one particular model would, I think, make it more difficult for that to come to pass. To lay down one in a schedule would not give an opportunity for considering the individual characteristics of schools and the manner in which they fit into their own locality, which, I think, is one of the most important features of the educational 2273 development in this country. The reason why the last words of Clause 16 were inserted was because we wanted to preserve the local characteristics of schools and their traditions.
If we cannot lay down a model article, what can we do to assist the hon. Gentleman and his friends? We surely could work out some sort of system of general principles which could apply not only to one class of secondary school—and this meets the point of the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr Cove)—but to the secondary world as a whole, and we should like, in framing these principles, to make sufficient allowance for variation in individual schools. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) referred to certain letters which had been written to the newspapers and to certain anxieties which had been expressed. I, of course, have had the opportunity of being in touch with representatives of the different interests in the world of education and I have been aware of the anxieties that were being felt, despite several meetings I have had. But in view of the need for bringing everybody along together in the world of education, and the need for making everyone realise the inherent virtues in this Clause, I decided to start certain conversations at once with the partners in education on this matter. I dare to say that these talks, which I deliberately started in view of the interest shown by the Members of the Committee, have made a good beginning and will be continued. Our idea is to frame a broad body of principles which will generally influence the life of the secondary schools of this country. But I am anxious that these talks should proceed normally, and should not be rushed for reasons of any particular consideration of this matter on a certain day because to try to discuss the future government of schools, against a background of political rush on the Committee Stage in Parliament, would be most unwise, and I ask the Committee to let me discuss these negotiations in an atmosphere of education, and not in an atmosphere of trying to achieve them by a certain date.
I think the Committee would be wise to ask me to present a report on the conclusions reached by these negotiations, so that they may have an opportunity to examine the progress made, and some idea of the lines upon which we are work- 2274 ing As showing the bona fides of our intention in this matter, I will outline some of the principles which are being agreed between representatives of the various branches of the teaching profession, the local authorities and others interested in the schools. I will add this quite shortly simply to show the Committee how seriously the Government takes this portion of the Bill. First, we have so far—and we have only had a few talks—achieved an understanding which will help to set up certain great principles, and yet allow for variation in detail. Second, and this is most important, it is felt that these principles should apply to the general broad field of secondary education and should be capable of application to the different types of school—county, controlled or aided. Coming to some of the details which may interest members of the Committee, there is a feeling that the school should be governed by a properly constituted governing body, and there is a general feeling that these should not be sub-committees of the local education committees. An interesting suggestion has been made that if any grouping, of schools takes place, it may be convenient to group different types of secondary schools so as to include pupils in the different types of the secondary world. That does not command general approval, but it does command approval is certain areas. It indicates the need to preserve variety in the method of governing or arranging our secondary schools.
With regard to finance, we have had put to us the view that governing bodies should have the right to control expenditure within the broad headings of approved expenditure. There is also the suggestion that the governors and head teachers should have a small contingency fund, but this view is not universally accepted. The control of the curriculum, and the appointment and dismissal of teachers can be discussed by the Committee later, perhaps on Clauses 22 and 23, but I would ask the Committee again to recognise something in Clause 16 to which they have not paid tribute—that in it, for the first time, the head teacher finds a defined place in the statute. That is an indication that we are making history and seeking to preserve the position of the head teacher and the independent life of the school. On the subject of head teachers, these talks seem to have reached the general view that the appoint- 2275 ment should be made, in county and controlled schools, by the governors and the authorities in collaboration. We have examined the system, not only in London but in other parts, and will apply it at a later stage when we are able to make a report on these talks and reach some sort of understanding as to the commonsense method adopted by authorities in this matter. It is thought that assistant teachers should be appointed on the recommendation of the governing bodies.
The curriculum is dealt with under Clause 22, and I will only say that I think, in general, the Committee will agree with me that you cannot divorce a school from its own locality. You can preserve the independence of the schools in so far as the governors can develop their own curriculum and their own attitude towards what is agreed, but it must be subject to the authority's right to plan the education of an area. It may be thought that single secondary schools should specialise in certain subjects and that certain other secondary schools should specialise in others, and it is impossible to say that the curriculum can be taken away from the purview of the local authorities. I do not think the democratically-elected representatives of the people should be deprived of their influence on the schools which the children of their own citizens attend.
There have been many other matters discussed. I could describe the approach made, but I am, purposely, confining myself to certain heads, in order to show that the Government are serious in this matter and that we do intend to try to agree on general principles. But I must, finally, bring the Committee right back again to the hard facts of the case. If we pursue a search for some general principles, those general principles cannot have actual legal application. You cannot have, so to speak, a Schedule which is not part of an Act. If it is to be a Schedule, it must be part of the law of the land, and, if part of the law of the land, it must be imposed in the different districts. That has not been brought out in the discussion. I think people have a feeling that they can have it both ways—that they can have rules but need not have them enforced locally. I remember, when engaged in discussions almost as lengthy as these on the Government of India Bill, we had the great 2276 problem of how to put into legal form a document known as the "Rights of Man." It was found very easy to draw up a statement, but very difficult to put it into legal language such as would apply in the courts. We had another instance where it was necessary to define the relationships between the Governor-General and certain governments, and on that occasion my right hon. Friend who was in charge of the Measure laid a statement before the House in which he indicated how the operation of these great personalities would react upon one another in interpreting the Statute.
In this connection, we have a similar sort of problem, a problem in which you cannot give actual legal sanction to general principles, but you can so draw up general principles that the Minister will get into trouble if he does not follow them. What I suggest to the Committee is that, at some stage when these talks have got a bit further and we have consulted every interest, we should lay before the House a document including these general principles, and we should be able to investigate them and so arrange things that these principles are taken as being those upon which the secondary schools of our country can be organised. By that method we shall have avoided the difficulty, on the one hand, of regulating through Parliament the lives of individual schools, and, on the other, of leaving the position so vague that the lives of these schools are not secure. If the Committee will follow me in that, I will, for my part, lay something before them at a later date.
§ Sir Richard Wells (Bedford)
I have been a governor for over 20 years of four large schools. Under this Bill, it is quite possible that these direct-grant schools will join aided schools, and become auxiliary schools, and so largely come under the local education authority. My experience as a governor has been a happy one during 20 odd years. We have a very varied list of governors. We have two from Oxford University, one from Cambridge and one from London University, one nomination by the Lord Chancellor, and others from the staffs of the school, the parents and the borough and county councils. This works exceedingly well. We have been working for many years under a scheme drawn up by the Board of Education, and agreed 2277 upon with the Board, covering all four schools. If the schemes of the future are to be like that, I think there is a great deal of hope for the secondary schools. What the direct-grant school and the aided schools are afraid of, is a lowering of the educational standard.
There are many points regarding the work of these old grammar schools which, I think, should, and must, have consideration. At present there is the control of the governors, and you are going to have an overriding control of the auxiliary schools by the local authority. There can be no question about that—if the governors want to do anything, they must go to the local authority for consent. I can mention, as an illustration, the fact that we have a property in London, and, in one night, we lost many thousands a year by bombing. One school was deficient. We went to the local authority and said "Will you make good the deficiency?", and they said "Of course, on conditions," and one of the conditions was a lowering of the salary of the masters by which their pensions would be prejudiced. We went to the Board and they gave us help. I should like to suggest to the President of the Board of Education that an appeal should be allowed to the Board of Education in any question of dispute of that sort which might arise. I think that would be very helpful. There is another point—the question of boarders. Many of these old grammar schools have boarders and they help the school, raise the school-leaving age and increase the educational value of these schools. I do not know quite what the local authorities would say regarding boarders—
§ Sir R. Wells
I apologise, Sir Robert. But I would say there is also the question of the admission of pupils, in which the local authority will want to have a very large say. The governors will also want to have a say about the admission of boarders. I think these points are worthy of consideration, because they mean so much to the schools.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I recognise the position of the Minister, but I want to draw attention to this fact. At one time education was in the hands of the Church, but the 2278 Church was concerned with education only for the purpose of getting a sufficient number of students for the services of the Church. The great mass of the people went without education. With the coming of the industrial system, it became necessary to extend education. Educated workers had to be produced in greater and greater numbers, until it became a State system. Education then became purely utilitarian and it developed at a much faster rate in industrial areas than in rural areas. Local authorities in industrial areas had to encourage education in order to get the necessary skilled men for the factories.
What has been happening in rural areas? Have local authorities taken advantage of the opportunities for development in education? Go into the rural areas and see what has happened. It is necessary, from the point of view of making this a Bill which fits all the people, that it shall not be left to the gentry in the country to decide what is to be done in education. The Minister has certain powers, and he says that he wants to keep a school's particular individuality and tradition. I do not like that.
There are educational methods and schools which have produced a very useful and valuable citizen like the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) but there are no traditions attached to such a school. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] No, no, you cannot come along and talk about traditions. You are talking about something else, about the lopsided, absurd system of education that has produced the useless and anything but ornamental exhibits that we see on the other side. We should get away from this idea of tradition. I am concerned that the Minister, who has very considerable power, should have even more than he has at the present time, so that he can cover the whole of the country and develop high standards not only in the urban, but in the rural districts. Because of that I regret that he is not giving more consideration to this Amendment.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I am glad to have the support of my hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) on rather new grounds, and I only rise to say that I think those who supported the Amendment will admit that my right hon. Friend has met them very handsomely. There 2279 are only two questions I want to put before we close. I do not consider wasted the two hours' discussion which we have had on the freedom of the school, but when will the Report be produced? Will it be produced before the end of the passage of this Bill? Secondly, could the Minister give any more indication of the form he expects it to take? Will it be in the form of a White Paper, or something which will be laid on the Table?
§ Mr. Butler
I would rather give no absolute undertaking as to when these discussions will be ended, because I do not quite know how long they are likely to go on, but I will certainly put it before the House in whatever form the hon. Gentleman may think advisable. I should have thought it would be wiser to put it in the form of a White Paper, indicating the nature of the progress made, and the Committee could then consider it in the light of the contents. I should like the aid of the Committee in this matter, but I would have thought, in the first place, that it should be in the form of a White Paper.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Would that be before the Bill is through? I am only concerned that my right hon. Friend, with his tireless patience, has now a variety of discussions going on with a number of parties on religion, finance, local government and so on. Some of us are a little concerned that some of these shall come to a conclusion reasonably early, and especially this particular one.
§ Mr. Butler
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the consideration which I put before the Committee—that is, that if this is negotiated against the wrong background we shall not get the same satisfactory results? If I find that the discussions proceed in such a way that I can lay the result before the end of the passage of the Bill—either here or in another place—I will; but if I felt that was not feasible, I should come to the Committee and inform them in answer to any points the hon. Gentleman might put to me. I would rather give no definite date, but I will carry on the conversations as quickly as I can and lay the results before the House.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.2280
§ Sir P. Hannon
I beg to move, in page 15, line 8, at the end, to add:(6) If a local education authority inform the Minister that they are aggrieved by an order made by him under this section the order shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be thereafter and if either House of Parliament within the period of forty days beginning with the day on which any such order is laid before it resolves that the order be annulled the order shall cease to have effect but without prejudice to anything previously done thereunder or to the making of any new order or amendment.In reckoning any such period of forty days no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days.This Amendment follows the general line of the Amendment approved earlier to-day in relation to giving the local authority the fullest possible notice of any proposed transfer. Many of the local authorities feel that before the Minister decides on the contribution of the Government to the management of schools, there should be an opportunity for their views to be taken on the decision to be arrived at. I would ask my right hon. Friend to consider whether, if he cannot accept the suggestion that the school managers should be told of the arrangement, he should at all events give the House of Commons an opportunity of examining the whole attitude of the Government to the schools. I think he cannot remove from the control of these managers the constitution of the government of the schools without giving the Committee an opportunity of hearing the decision arrived at.
§ Mr. Butler
I have no great abstract objection to this Amendment, but I must confess that in view of the experience of the delays in amending final Orders under Section 32 of the Act of 1921, I react with something like horror to the thought of the immense strain which would be placed upon the machine were we to accept the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend. I think it would involve far too many Orders and I do not think really it would be a great safeguard to the House, because of the multiplicity of matters that might come before them. Therefore, I think I should be wrong were I to suggest that this should be regarded as a necessary Amendment. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will not press it because, if he does, he will find it becomes almost too much for those of us who have to administer education.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir J. Mellor
I would like to ask my right hon. Friend if he will take the opportunity now of explaining how he proposes to implement an assurance which was given to certain schools some time ago. I think it arises under this Clause, because the future of these schools will be very largely determined by the provisions of this Clause. I refer to the schools which, between 1922 and 1926, relinquished a direct grant and proceeded to receive a deficiency grant through the local education authorities upon an assurance from the Board of Education that they would not thereby lose status. This is a matter of very great importance. They were given that very definite collateral assurance—which was not contained in the terms of circular 1259—which required them to elect between receiving a direct grant and an indirect grant. It was not, so far as I know, put on paper, but I do not think there is any dispute that such an assurance was in fact given, and was relied upon by those schools who elected to abandon the direct grant and received a deficiency grant through the local education authority. Their position under this Bill, if they become maintained schools, must be very seriously affected because, under Clause 59, they would not be permitted to charge fees. That being so, they would have to rely for finance entirely upon endowment and upon such grant as they received from the local education authority. Therefore unless my right hon. Friend permits these schools to revert to direct grant status they are going to be far more subject to control by the local education authorities than they ever have been in the past. That clearly involves a drastic change of status, and I want to ask my right hon. Friend what steps he proposes to take to implement the assurance given by the Board of Education that their status would not be affected by the change. It may well be that his reply will take us into the question of finance, and, therefore, cannot be fully debated until we reach Clause 93, but it would be a great help to the Committee, and certainly to me, if he would give some indication at this stage of what are his intentions.
§ Mr. Butler
I think the hon. Gentleman is quite correct in saying that where this really arises is on Clause 93 (1, b). I know, however, that the hon. Gentleman has been feeling rather pent up on this question for some time—
§ Mr. Butler
—and I gather that some other quarters take the same view. I will not go into the same detail as I would on the Clause on grants, but, speaking very generally, the hon. Gentleman must not under-estimate the benefits which a school derives from being on aided status, which we are in order in discussing on tins Clause. The financial benefits, for example, to a school on aided status, provided that we regulate satisfactorily the independent life of the school on the basis of the speech I have just made on this Clause, are very great indeed. I anticipate, indeed, that there will be several secondary schools who are at present on the direct grant list which will be so attracted by the offer of aided status and the increases in the realm of finance and maintenance involved, that they may well pass over happily to that status. For example, the whole of the salaries in an aided school will come out of public funds, and it is an advantage which governors should not readily set aside.
If the hon. Gentleman accepts my euphemistic description of aided status, I will for a moment turn my attention to his observations upon the direct grant status. I can only use the following general language at this stage. While not wishing to place any numerical restriction on the number of aided schools admitted to the direct grant list, I could not contemplate any general transfer of responsibility for the local provision of secondary education to the State, as I think that would be undesirable. The schools on the direct grant list depend for their financial resources on Exchequer grants. If the hon. Gentleman will believe me, such a general step would go far to remove the confidence of those responsible for education in their own localities, namely, the local authorities. I cannot guarantee, therefore, that there could be any wide transference of schools from one status to another, but naturally, as I said in my Second Reading speech, the Government will be ready to consider, 2283 where valid grounds exist and where governors could undertake the necessary responsibility, to consider individual cases on their merits. That, I think, will be the best way of tackling this difficult subject. If the hon. Gentleman will rest content with that for the time being, he will see that whichever way the traffic flown—either from the direct grant list on to the aided status, or the other way round, or both—that there are advantages. But I cannot anticipate that there will be any very violent rush of traffic away from the local provision of secondary education because that, I think, would be undesirable.
§ Sir J. Mellor
Can the right hon. Gentleman give this assurance, that those schools who on that assurance between 1922 and 1926 abandoned their direct grant status, will not be in any worse position with regard to future arrangements than if they had retained direct grant status? I am only asking that their position shall not be prejudiced by having acted upon the assurance which they received from the Board of Education.
§ Mr. Butler
My hon. Friend will realise that I am in some difficulty because I communicated with him saying that I would make a full statement on a later Clause. At this stage I can only refer to generalities, but I can say that it is not our desire to fill the breasts of the people responsible for these schools with apprehensions, fears or doubts, or to take away from them the possibility of a school transferring from this status to that. It may be necessary. I cannot go further than that, because I would like the governors of these schools fully to realise the implications of the set up of education as against the background of the talks of 1922 to 1926.
§ Sir W. Davison
Are we quite clear that each of these cases will be considered on its merits, and that where a school has been deriving its pupils from more than one local authority's area, although situated in a particular local authority area, if it is in a position to provide adequate finance and will not be tempted by the additional money it would receive by being a controlled school, it will have its case considered by the Board? The fact that some years ago such schools were induced to become aided schools, receiving grants, will not, I hope, prejudice 2284 them in being semi-independent of the local authorities and receiving a direct grant from the Board when the latter are satisfied that the system of education is efficient and that proper provision for the pupils is made.
§ Mr. Butler
I think the best definition I can give the Committee as to the merits of the case is that merit does not only mean considering the matter from the angle of the school but also from the angle of the locality. We have to consider both. If my hon. Friend will accept that, I think he can feel satisfied that the matter will be properly understood.
§ Mr. Silkin
I think the President is dealing with this question on the right lines, but I would like him to give it a little more consideration. I understand that discussions are to take place with interested parties. Who will be the parties? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman could enlarge on the general principles he hopes to lay down. I would like to impress upon him the necessity of the Committee having a decision on this matter before we part with this Bill. It is no use getting a White Paper when the Bill has been disposed of, and when we should not be in a position to influence the matter very much. The time to discuss a White Paper is while this Committee is in possession of the Bill. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not stick to the position that as regards the county secondary schools the articles of government can only be made by the local authority and approved by the Minister. After all, they are domestic matters and the local authorities can be trusted. [An HON. MEMBER: "Sometimes."] There is a tendency to suggest that local authorities cannot be trusted to frame satisfactory rules of government. Well, if they cannot do that how much less can they be trusted with this Bill, the success of which depends upon their administration? The Minister took the right line, in dealing with county primary schools, in saying that the rules of management should be dealt with by the local authorities. I think the same should apply as regards the county secondary schools. While I do not object to the Minister having a voice in dealing with auxiliary schools I submit that the local education authorities should be in a position to control finance.
The articles of management should provide that local authorities should be in a 2285 position to control the expenditure of auxiliary schools in a satisfactory manner. For instance, an auxiliary school may expend capital money out of accumulated funds which may, in itself, impose an additional burden on the local education authority. The school might want to build an extravagant swimming bath and might do so out of its own funds. But the maintenance of that bath will be a matter for the local education authority and that authority ought to have a voice in such expenditure. I therefore ask the Minister, when he comes to deal with articles of management, to ensure that local education authorities will have satisfactory control in such matters.
§ Sir P. Hannon
Surely the scheme cuts two ways. The local education authority, or the Minister, lays down the standard for the auxiliary school and imposes upon the governors of that school an obligation to provide, say, a swimming bath. Would that not be an obligation on the school?
§ Mr. Silkin
I am glad of that interruption, because it enables me to explain what I mean. The principle of a private swimming bath may be accepted but that bath has to be maintained. Suppose an auxiliary school is able to raise a large sum of money and build a bath which, in the opinion of a local education authority, is extravagant to maintain. The burden of maintaining it will be on the local education authority. All I am asking is that the authority should have a voice in saying whether this is reasonable or not.
§ Mr. Butler
I think I can answer the hon. Member's point very briefly. I attempted to outline the content of the principles which should be laid down for governing the lives of secondary schools. I do not think that at this stage it would be wise to develop them further. In regard to the people to be consulted I would be ready to initiate any sort of discussion with any bodies representative of the main interests concerned. We have not by any means covered the field yet, and until we have done so I think it would be rather like trying to agree about a time-table when all those who thought they should be consulted had not had the opportunity of being consulted. I do not want to be too precise until we have everybody with us in these discussions. As regards the date for producing this document, I do not want to be tied, 2286 because I want to see how things develop. But it might be possible, in any case, to consider enlarging what I said in my speech, even though negotiations have not arrived at a complete conclusion and I will report at the earliest stage I can the lines on which we are proceeding. I cannot, however, guarantee that the ultimate negotiations will end by a particular date.
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.